'Yes,' said Lady Elton, whose kind face had grown curiously soft. 'Tell us about Tom. The dear fellow is such a favourite of mine! Do you know it is quite delightful to me to think that he is well off—not, of course, that riches mean happiness. I hope I am not so foolish as to imagine that. There are other things'—looking round her with a glow of happiness in her sweet old eyes—that come far, far before riches. Still it is pleasant to have a competence. A number of little anxieties are knocked off at once, and then you can do kind things without counting the cost.'

'But, my dear wife,' said the General, 'permit me to say that I don't think you have quite grasped the position. The boy is the rajah of Gumilcund's heir—his heir, mind you. Why, he will be ridiculously—phenomenally rich!'

Lady Elton's colour rose, and she gave a little troubled glance round the table, whence a prolonged 'Oh!' had risen. 'Then I can understand his mother's uneasiness,' she said in a low voice. 'It is always troublesome and dangerous to be exceptional.'

'But think of the pleasure and triumph if you can be it well,' said Maud, the second girl. It was she who had held the rudder-strings in the boat that evening.

Then came the mutinous little voice in the corner again.

'We are wandering from our point,' it cried discontentedly. 'The point is Tom. Tom the fortunate man, Tom the handsome man, Tom the heir of this romantic person in India—what did he say? How did he look? Did his eyes shine? He has such expressive eyes, you know! Never shake your head at me, Grace. You said so yourself—I heard you— 여우알바 to mother, "capable of expressing every shade of feeling"—those were your very words.'

Upon this Grace blushed, a circumstance which seemed to give the keenest satisfaction to the mutinous little person in the corner; the other girls laughed, and Lady Elton called them to order. In a momentary lull the General was heard to say:

'You young ladies observe pretty minutely, I must confess.'

'Yes, yes!' cried Trixy. 'Girls, do let father speak.'