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book to-day, for I wanted to find out when I
paid Gurk's last bill. I found here and there
notes made of large sums of money you had paid
a Miss F. Who is Miss F.?"

"It has come at last," said Sir John to himself.
"How the mischief I am to get out of the
mess now is more than I can see at present.
What did you say, Annie?" he asked, in a louder
voice, and to gain time.

"I asked," said Lady Milson, "who Miss F.
is, for you seem, by your cheque-book, to have
paid large sums lately either to her, or on her

"Miss F., Miss F.," Sir John kept repeating,
as if he could hardly understand the question.
"I don't know any such person. I gave you a
cheque for Miss Lamb, your dressmaker, some
time ago; have you mistaken L. for F., Annie?"

"No, John, I made no mistake. There are
at least seven or eight amounts noted on your
cheque-book as paid to Miss F., and I wanted
to know who that person is."

"Oh," said Sir John, a bright idea seizing
him, "I see now what you mean, Annie. I
remember all about it. You know Franks, the
old Bombay colonel, who is always at the club?"
(Sir John knew very well that Annie had never
heard of the man before in her life, but he went
on boldly.) "We always call Franks 'Miss,'
because he is so smooth-faced, and talks so very
like an old maid. Well, I have had some money
sent me on his account from India, a kind of
joint speculation in which he and Watson had
shares, and I was to receive the dividends
and pay each his quota. Watson took all his
portion in a lump; but Franks asked me to
invest his for him, and pay him the principal as
he wanted it. I did so, and marked down each
payment I made as for Miss F.—Miss Franks."

"That is it, is it?" said Lady Milson. "Do
you know, I really began to think all kinds of
strange things, John, when I saw those entries
in your cheque-book;" and up-stairs went Lady
Milson to the drawing-room, whilst Sir John
retired to his study to smoke his after-dinner
cheroot, and wonder whether he would have
earned his bread if he had followed the calling
of an improvisatore. Inquiry was stopped for
the present, but it was only for a time. A few
days later came the long impending explosion.

Sir John's wards had several times asked
him to take them out a little in London, and to
let them see something of the metropolis.
Amongst other places they were very eager to
visit was the Crystal Palace. They were so
very new to London that they could not possibly
go there alone, and their governess, who
had lived nearly all the time of her sojourn in
England with a noble family that resided in the
country, confessed that she would be of little
or no use in going with her pupils into public
places. Sir John at last consented to take
them to Sydenham. The day was fixed, and
Milson proceeded to the house at Kensington
where his wards resided. He found one of
them suffering from a bad headache, but very
urgent that her sister should not have to remain
at home because she was too unwell to go out.
Milson was by no means an ill-natured man.
He would have been only too glad to take the
daughters of his old friend out all day, and
every day, had their existence, and who they
were, been known to his friends, and particularly
to his wife. But he dreaded being seen
abroad with young ladies whose companionship
might be construed into something which,
although far from the truth, was a perfectly
natural surmise. However, on this occasion he
thought, for once, that he might lay aside his
caution. His wife, he knew, had gone to
lunch with Lady Fantzle, the wife of an old
Indian friend, and in the afternoon the whole
party were to proceed to see the pictures at the
Royal Academy, which was just opened for the
season. When Sir John left home, he told his
wife that he was going into the City on business,
that afterwards he had to see an official at the
India House in Victoria-street, and that if he
could get away in time he would join Lady
Fantzle's party in Trafalgar-square. However,
man proposes, but the gods dispose of events
in this world.


"NONSENSE!" said my tenderest friend and
life-companion, when I told her, as I always
do, what I was going to write about. "You
cannot possibly find anything to say about flies."
This was my wife's first impression of the matter.
"I should think," I replied, "that a good deal
might be said about flies, and their uses in the
economy of creation." "No doubt," said she;
"but flies are a nuisance, especially those horrible
mosquitoes, from which we suffered so much in
America. Indeed, now I come to consider it,
I think you might write something readable
about those dreadful pests. I think the plague
of flies, that afflicted Egypt when Pharaoh would
not let the Israelites go free, must have been a
plague of mosquitoes." "Very likely," said I;
"and then you know that one of the names
given to the devil is Beelzebub, or the Lord of
the Flies." "I wish he had them all in his own
dominions, then," rejoined my wife. "What all
the flies?" I inquired. "Would you banish the
bees and the butterflies in all their innumerable
varieties of beauty, and the flying beetles, and
the fire-flies that make night brilliant in warm
latitudes?" "No," she replied. "I was
wrong. I would only banish the common flies
and the mosquitoes." "Then I will write about
common flies and mosquitoes, and leave the bees
and the butterflies alone."

The busy, impertinent, buzzing little creature
known in most parts of the world as The Fly,
is chiefly remarkable for its incessant cheerful
activity, and for its constant thirstiness. It
seems to have a love for everything that is
succulent and sweet. In this respect, it is honourably
distinguished from the culex, or gnat family,
of which there are no less than thirty varieties
in the British Isles, none of which have any taste