THE people came of course, but not in such numbers as had been expected. Many of those in Rufford had heard of the accident, and, having been made acquainted with Nokes's report, stayed away. Everybody was told that supper would be on the table at twelve, and that it was generally understood that the house was to be cleared by two. Nokes seemed to think that the sufferer would live at least till the morrow, and it was ascertained to a certainty that the music could not affect him. It was agreed among the party in the house, that the ladies staying there should stand up for the first dance or two, as otherwise the strangers would be discouraged and the whole thing would be a failure. This request was made by Lady Penwether because Miss Penge had said that she thought it impossible for her to dance. Poor Miss Penge, who was generally regarded as a brilliant young woman, had been a good, deal eclipsed by Arabella, and had seen the necessity of striking out some line for herself. Then Arabella had whispered a few words to Lord Rufford,and the lord had whispered a few words to his sister, and Lady Penwether had explained what was to be done to the ladies around. Lady Augustus nodded her head and said that it was all right. The other ladies of course agreed, and partners were selected within the house party. Lord Rufford stood up with Arabella, and John Morton with Lady Penwether. Mr. Gotobed selected Miss Penge, and Hampton and Battersby the two Miss Godolphins. They all took their places with a lugubrious but businesslike air, as aware that they were sacrificing themselves in the performance of a sad duty. But Morton was not allowed to dance in the same quadrille with the lady of his affections. Lady Penwether explained to him that she and her brother had better divide themselves,--for the good of the company generally,--and therefore he and Arabella were also divided.
A rumour had reached Lady Penwether of the truth in