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baby, while Molly, whom he had never understood was always getting into trouble.

Mrs. Fortescue's arrival in the village had made little apparent difference in the life at the Rectory. Margaret had accompanied the Rector when he made his first formal call, but she could not get over the mystery that surrounded the lady, so discouraged, as far as she could, all intercourse with Rosebud Cottage. Only Marjory defied her, and it was no good appealing to her father, as he liked Mrs. Fortescue and would not believe anything against her. He was always kind and genial whenever they met, and not infrequently looked in to have a little talk with her. To Marjory alone Mrs. Fortescue made a

vast difference. Until now she had spent most of her time alone with nature. There was not a plant she did not know, and every living thing from the smallest insect upwards was a friend and companion to her. She kept quite a menagerie of pets at the Rectory, to Margaret's great disgust. Her only other hobby was painting Somehow she had often felt dissatisfied with her life, although she hardly knew why. She lived entirely for herself, though she had no wish to lead a selfish life. If she offered to help the three elders in their work, she was promptly snubbed and told she was too young and frivolous to be useful, and that if she were allowed to visit among the poor it would only lead to idle gossip. Now at last she had found some work to do, and felt she no longer a

useless brance. She was quick to notice how Mrs. Fortescue's careworn face brightened when she came in, and felt that they were indeed mutually helping each other.

was

mere

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CHAPTER IV.

"The Whim."

All through the summer, whenever Mrs. Fortescue was well enough, Marjory used to take her for long drives in her little pony carriage. Their favourite drive was to Heathersea, a picturesque town built in terraces above the sea. Here they used to sit on the beach talking, or sometimes reading, while they listened to the waves breaking on the shingle and drank in the lovely, health giving air. Marjory knew every inch of the neighbourhood, and enlivened her companion with stories about the places they passed through and the people who lived in them. There was one house close to the sea where an eccentric

old maiden lady lived. She kept a horse and pony, with a man and boy to look after them. She had no servant in the house, but did all the cooking and housework herself, because she was afraid of being robbed and cheated.

stables were most luxuriously appointed, and she often sat there and played her fiddle, so as to keep the horse and pony from being dull. Neither of these animals, or the man or boy, could ever be left behind when this suspicious old lady took an airing, as she could trust no one, and was not satisfied unless they were all with her. They went out in a sort of procession, led by the lady on horseback, and followed by the man and boy driving in a little cart drawn by the pony.

One day as they were driving out of Heathersea, Marjory proposed stopping to call on Mrs. Smith, the owner of a quaint little round house called the “ Whim," which had often attracted her friend's attention as they passed. Mrs. Smith was a grocer's widow and quite blind. Mrs. Fortescue felt at once drawn towards the patient, sunny-tempered old lady, who came forward to greet them. While tea preparing, Marjory, at Mrs. Smith's request showed her friend the house, which certainly was most uncommon.

was

a

It was

round one-storied house, consisting of three circles, one inside the other. The centre circle was a paved yard with a lamp-post in the middle, which gave light at night to

passage (the second circle), which ran all round the

a

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