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Miss Merivale's Mistake   By: (1853-1908)

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E text prepared by Jonathan Ingram, Beth Trapaga, Charles Franks, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team

MISS MERIVALE'S MISTAKE

By

MRS. HENRY CLARKE, M.A.

[Illustration: PAULINE SAT DOWN IN THE LOW CHAIR BY THE WINDOW AND TOOK UP THE PHOTOGRAPH FRAME.]

CONTENTS

CHAPTER I. A STARTLING DISCOVERY II. WOODCOTE III. A VISIT TO KENTISH TOWN IV. TOM AND RHODA MEET V. "A MERRY HEART GOES ALL THE WAY" VI. PAULINE'S DIPLOMACY VII. APPLES OF SODOM VIII. AN INVITATION IX. PAULINE HAS HER SUSPICIONS X. A CONFESSION XI. POLLY SMITH XII. CONCLUSION

ILLUSTRATIONS

PAULINE SAT DOWN IN THE LOW CHAIR BY THE WINDOW AND TOOK UP THE PHOTOGRAPH FRAME.

PAULINE LEANT AGAINST THE DRESSER AND WATCHED HER.

HE STARED AT HER, NOT COMPREHENDING.

CHAPTER I.

A STARTLING DISCOVERY.

Miss Merivale had not been paying much heed to the eager talk that was going on between Rose and Pauline Smythe at the window.

The long drive from Woodcote had made her head ache, and she was drowsily wishing that Miss Smythe would get her the cup of tea she had promised, when the sound of a name made her suddenly sit bolt upright, her kind old face full of anxious curiosity.

"Rhoda Sampson, the creature calls herself," Pauline was saying in her clear, high pitched voice. "Her people live in Kentish Town, or somewhere in the dim wilds about there. You would know it by just looking at her."

"Does she come from Kentish Town every day?" asked Rose.

"Three times a week. On the top of an omnibus, one may be sure. And she imbibes facts from The Civil Service Geography all the way. I found the book in her bag yesterday. I believe she wants to get into the Post Office eventually. It is a worthy ambition."

"Whom are you talking of, my dears?" asked Miss Merivale from her seat by the fire. Pauline turned round with a little stare. Miss Merivale was so quiet and unassuming a personage that she had got into the habit of ignoring her. "Of Clare's new amusement, Miss Merivale," she said, with a laugh. Her laugh, like her voice, was a trifle hard. "It was scientific dressmaking when I was at Woodcote last, you remember, Rose dear. Now it is a society. Clare is secretary."

"But you spoke of some girl who came here," persisted Miss Merivale.

Pauline lifted her delicately pencilled eyebrows. "Oh, that is Clare's typewriter. She is part of the joke. If you saw Clare and her together over their letters, you would think they were reforming the universe. It hasn't dawned on poor Sampson yet that Clare will get tired of the whole business in a month. It is lucky she has the Post Office to fall back on. Clare is exactly what she used to be at school, Rose, 'everything by starts and nothing long.' It amuses me to watch her."

"She doesn't tire of you, Pauline," said Rose fondly.

Pauline frowned a little. She did not care to be reminded, even by foolish, flattering little Rose, that she was, in sober fact, nothing more nor less than Clare's paid companion.

"Oh, we get on," she said coolly. "We each leave the other to go her own way in peace. And it suits Lady Desborough in Rome to say that Clare is living with her old governess. People think of me as a spectacled lady of an uncertain age, and everybody is satisfied. But you would like some tea. I wish Clare was in. She isn't afraid of that gas stove. I am ashamed to confess that I am. Come out with me while I light it, Rosamunda mia. And you shall make the tea. I never can remember how many spoonfuls to put in. How pretty you look in blue! I wish I was eighteen, with hair the colour of ripe wheat, then I would wear blue too."

She went off, laughing, with Rose to the tiny kitchen on the other side of the passage. The sitting room was the largest room in the little Chelsea flat, and that was smaller than any of the rooms at Woodcote; but the diminutive dimensions of the place only added to the fascinations of it in Rose's eyes.

As she took the cups and saucers down from the toy like dresser and put them on the lilliputian table between the gas stove and the door, she felt a thrill of ineffable pleasure... Continue reading book >>




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