that Reginald would probably become Squire of Bragton, it was more impossible than ever. As Squire of Bragton, he would seek some highly born bride, quite out of her way, whom she could never know. And then she would see neither him--nor Bragton any more. Would it not have been better that she should have married Larry Twentyman, and put an end to so many troubles beside her own?
Again she walked back with him to Dillsborough, passing as they always did across the little bridge. He seemed to be very silent as he went, more so than usual,--and as was her wont with him, she only spoke to him when he addressed her. It was only when he got out on the road that he told her what was on his mind. 'Mary,' he said, 'how will it be with me if that poor fellow dies?'
'In what way, Mr. Morton?'
'All that place will be mine. He told me so just now.'
'But that would be of course.'
'Not at all. He might give it to you if he pleased. He could not have an heir who would care for it less. But it is right that it should be so. Whether it would suit my taste or not to live as Squire of Bragton,--hand I do not think it would suit my taste well,--it ought to be so. I am the next, and it will be my duty.'
'I am sure you do not want him to die.'
'No, indeed. If I could save him by my right hand,--if I could save him by my life, I would do it.'
'But of all lives it must surely be the best.'
'Do you think so? What is such a one likely to do? But then what do I do, as it is? It is the sort of life you would like,--if you were a man.'
'Yes,--if I were a man,' said Mary. Then he again relapsed into silence, and hardly spoke again till he left her at her father's door.
THE LAST EFFORT
WHEN Mary reached her home she was at once met by her stepmother in the passage with tidings of importance. 'He is upstairs in the drawing-room,' said