THERE were but two days between the scenes described in the last chapter and the day fixed for Mary's departure, and during these two days Larry Twentyman's name was not mentioned in the house. Mrs. Masters did not make herself quite pleasant to her stepdaughter, having still some grudge against her as to the £20. Nor, though she had submitted to the visit to Cheltenham, did she approve of it. It wasn't the way, she said, to make such a girl as Mary like her life at Chowton Farm, going and sitting and doing nothing in old Lady Ushant's drawing-room. It was cocking her up with gimcrack notions about ladies till she'd be ashamed to look at her own hands after, she had done a day's work with them. There was no doubt some truth in this. The woman understood the world and was able to measure Larry Twentyman and Lady Ushant and the rest of them. Books and pretty needlework and easy conversation would consume the time at Cheltenham, whereas at Chowton Farm there would be a dairy and a poultry yard,--under difficulties on account of the foxes,--with a prospect of baby linen and children's shoes and stockings. It was all that question of gentlemen and ladies, and of non-gentlemen and non-ladies! They ought, Mrs. Masters thought, to be kept distinct. She had never, she said, wanted to put her finger into a pie that didn't belong to her. She had never tried to be a grand lady. But Mary was perilously near the brink on either side, and as it was to be her lucky fate at last to sit down to a plentiful but work-a-day life at Chowton Farm, she ought to have been kept away from the maundering*idleness of Lady Ushant's lodgings at Cheltenham. But Mary heard nothing of this during these two days, Mrs. Masters bestowing the load of her wisdom upon her unfortunate husband.
Reginald Morton had been twice over at Mrs. Masters' house with reference to the proposed journey. Mrs.