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"I cannot desert you," she said simply; "it is not the

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'I hope you told her that some spirits would be glad to have been broken long ago,' said Theodora.

'I only told her I had perfect faith in Violet's management.'

Percy was wanted speedily to set off for his new situation, and the question of the marriage became difficult. His income was fully sufficient, but Theodora had many scruples about leaving her mother, whom the last winter had proved to be unfit to be left without companionship. They doubted and consulted, and agreed that they must be self-denying; but John came to their relief. He shrank with a sort of horror from permitting such a sacrifice as his own had been; held that it would be positively wrong to let their union be delayed any longer, and found his father of the same opinion, though not knowing how Lady Martindale would bear the loss. Perhaps his habit of flinching from saying to her what he expected her to dislike, had been one cause of Mrs. Nesbit's supremacy.

John, therefore, undertook to open her eyes to the necessity of relinquishing her daughter, intending to offer himself as her companion and attendant, ready henceforth to devote himself to her comfort, as the means of setting free those who still had a fair prospect.

As usual, Lady Martindale's reluctance had been overrated. John found that she had never calculated on anything but Theodora's marrying at once; she only observed that she supposed it could not be helped, and she was glad her dear aunt was spared the sight.

'And you will not miss her so much when I am at home.'

'You, my dear; I am never so happy as when you are here; but I do not depend on you. I should like you to spend this winter abroad, and then we must have you in Parliament again.'

'If I were sure that you would be comfortable,' said John; 'but otherwise I could not think of leaving you.'