XV.

Now that Gordon was gone, at any rate, gone for good, and not to return, he felt a sudden and singular sense of freedom. It was a feeling of unbounded expansion, quite out of proportion, as he said to himself, to any assignable cause. Everything suddenly appeared to have become very optional; but he was quite at a loss what to do with his liberty. It seemed a harmless use to make of it, in the afternoon, to go and pay another visit to the ladies who lived at the confectioner's. Here, however, he met a reception which introduced a fresh element of perplexity into the situation that Gordon had left behind him. The door was opened to him by Mrs. Vivian's maid-servant, a sturdy daughter of the Schwartzwald, who informed him that the ladies--with much regret --were unable to receive any one.

"They are very busy--and they are ill," said the young woman, by way of explanation. Bernard was disappointed, and he felt like arguing the case.

"Surely," he said, "they are not both ill and busy! When you make excuses, you should make them agree with each other."

-150-

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