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                   BLACK SHEEP!

                       &c. &c.

                     BOOK III.


IT was a beautiful day in the early autumn,
and though "all the world" had not yet
mustered at Hombourg von der Höhe, though the
hotel of "Quarter Sessions" had not yet a tithe
of the illustrious names for contribution to the
visitors' list which it was destined to have, the
scene presented by the little white tower in its
setting of greena green nearer to emerald
than any between itself and the shores of
Dublin Baywas gay, striking, pleasant, and
varied. Groups of fluttering dresses, whose
bearers were further adorned with perfect boots
and exquisite hats, and could, for the most part,
boast of the attractions of youth and prettiness,
were abroad in the alleys, under the shade of
the slim, graceful trees The sounds of distant
music from the bands dispersed about for the
delectation of the visitors, and those of glad, careless
voices in such leisure talk as suited the scene
and the season, mingled themselves, and came
floating in upon the warm air at the open
windows to regale the ears of such as had not
gone out to share in the busy idleness of the
majority of the sojourners at the Baths.

At one of these open windows, which looked
out upon a pretty prim little garden, bordered
on the confines of the broad shady alley
down to which it stretched by some trees
nobler and more rich in foliage than their
fellows, the strollers in the alley might have
observed three gentlemen in earnest and
protracted conversation. One was seated in a
large arm-chair, which occupied one of the
sides of the bay-window; a second leaned
against the open frame of the central
compartment; and the third, a shorter and slighter
man than either of his companions, stood
upright between them, and as he spoke turned
his head and his keen eyes from one to the
other with an animated and characteristic gesture.
The gentleman seated in the arm-chair
was a tall, frostily grey, scrupulously dressed,
laboriously polite elderly man, who constantly
twirled a heavy gold eye-glass in very white
and bony hands. He seemed agitated indeed,
so much so, that some of his acquaintances in
the far-off English district which had the honour
of being his home would have found some difficulty
in recognising him. He was hardly pompous
as he sat this fine morning looking out on
the Taunus, and taking note of neither mountain,
nor valley, nor forest; his manner was actually
that of a man seeking and welcoming sympathy;
it really seemed possible that an observer of the
scene might have ventured on taking the liberty
of feeling sorry for Mr. Carruthers of Poynings.

The smaller, slighter man, who formed the
centre figure of the group, was of somewhat
remarkable aspect. Very wiry and alert of frame,
well knit and upright, his figure had a certain
youthfulness about it which was contradicted
by his facethat of a man who had passed the
confines of middle age. His face was handsome,
thoughtful, and bore the impress of heavy
trouble, and in the dark eyes, and generally in
the straight and refined features, it presented a
strong resemblance to that of Mrs. Carruthers.

Not unnaturally, for the gentleman in question
was Mark Felton, Mrs. Carruthers's

The third component of the group, a young
man, who leant against the frame of the open
window and looked out, his face turned away
from the speaker and the "other listener," his
tall, loosely-built figure distinctly visible from
the road, was George Dallas.

"Under these circumstances, and seeing that
waiting was inevitable, and that I could do
nothing in that matter actively," Mark Felton
was saying, " I determined to come on here at
once. All I heard at Poynings——"

"I hope you were properly entertained
there?" said Mr. Carruthers, in the old "of
Poynings" manner.

"Perfectly, my dear sirperfectly. As I
was saying, all I heard at Poynings, and what
George told me"—he cast a quick glance at his
nephew here, in which there was already hearty
liking—"made me more than ever anxious to
see Laura. Besides, I was exceedingly anxious
to make your acquaintance without any further

"A wish which I reciprocated, I assure you,
Mr. Felton."

"In bringing George with me, I acted on my
own judgment, and on a conviction that you
would regard the matter as I do. I believed
you would consider him entitled to see. his
mother, and would be glad to learn from me