CHAPTER LIV.

At our interview of the next day, Mrs. Tenbruggen's capacity for self-reform appeared under a new aspect. She dropped all familiarity with me, and she stated the object of her visit without a superfluous word of explanation or apology.

I thought this a remarkable effort for a woman; and I recognized the merit of it by leaving the lion's share of the talk to my visitor. In these terms she opened her business with me:

"Has Mr. Philip Dunboyne told you why he went to London?"

"He made a commonplace excuse," I answered. "Business, he said, took him to London. I know no more."

"You have a fair prospect of happiness, Miss Helena, when you are married--your future husband is evidently afraid of you. I am not afraid of you; and I shall confide to your private ear something which you have an interest in knowing. The business which took young Mr. Dunboyne to London was to consult a competent person, on a matter concerning himself. The competent person is the sagacious (not to say sly) old gentleman whom we used to call The Governor. You know him, I believe?"

"Yes. But I am at a loss to imagine why Philip should have consulted him."

"Have you ever heard or read, Miss Helena, of such a thing as 'an old man's fancy'?"

"I think I have."

"Well, the Governor has taken an old man's fancy to your sister. They appeared to understand each other perfectly when I was at the farm-house."

"Excuse me, Mrs. Tenbruggen, that is what I know already. Why did Philip go to the Governor?"

She smiled. "If anybody is acquainted with the true state of your sister's feelings, the Governor is the man. I sent Mr. Dunboyne to consult him--and there is the reason for it."

This open avowal of her motives perplexed and offended me. After declaring herself to be interested in my marriage-engagement, had she changed her mind, and resolved on favoring Philip's return to Eunice? What right had he to consult anybody about the state of that

-248-

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