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pastor?" asked the Squire of his daughter at lunch.

"I don't like him at all," was the answer; but Penelope never did like the curates, often with reason, her father thought. This, however, was a more serious matter.

"I am sorry to hear that, my dear," he said. "What's the matter with him?” The girl made a little grimace.

"I don't know," she said frankly; and the Squire refused to see any fault in his guest after an evening spent in his company.

"A thoroughly good fellow, a gentleman, and well educated. A boon to us all in a dull little place like this."

"I'm glad you like him, dear," laughed Penelope, as she put up her face for a good-night kiss.

Upstairs she stood before the glass for several minutes, but she was not meditating just then on her own charms.

"After all, he's better than the noodles we've had before," she told the vision in the glass. "It would have been a horrible bore to have had one of them as a fixture. But I think he's a woman-hater-that's what is the matter with him!" For although she had an intense admiration herself for her good old father, it was a little curious, not to say unusual, that а young man should spend a whole evening in her company and but rarely look her way.

The evening had gone off in other respects very well, for the Squire, discerning in the new Rector a kindred spirit, had discussed wider topics, and parochial matters were not touched on till the close. Then, with a hearty grasp of the hand, the host had said, "We are exceedingly glad to have you among us, my dear sir; and you will find plenty to do. Poor old Wilson had such bad health of late that he could not look after the place; but my

little girl here will do what she can to help you. I expect Mr. Hardinge hardly guesses what a right hand he will have in you, Penelope-eh?"

"I expect Mr. Hardinge is a host iu himself," replied that young lady quite pleasantly, yet with a certain indiffer. ence which somewhat galled the Rector. He went home, notwithstanding, in excellent spirits, soothed and cheered by the refinements and pleasantries of the evening, while the kindliness of the old people and even the conventionality of the daughter augured well for the future. There would be little fear, he fancied, of open warfare with Miss Penelope, and if her last remark had a flavor of sarcasm about it, it was well within the bounds of politeness. So far, so good, for the idea of having "words" with any woman, whoever she might be, had been most distasteful to him. As a matter of fact, no idea of warfare had entered Miss Penelope's pretty head. She had recognized him instantly as a man of different calibre to his predecessors. She had been surprised, a little taken aback, perhaps, by his easy assumption of authority in the morning, but her latent dissatisfaction with him was as a man, and not as a parish priest.

It would take too long to tell in detail the tale of this country parish during the next few months. The work prospered, as it could not fail to do when two such energetic spirits worked hand-in-hand, for this was what the Rector and Miss Penelope were actually doing, without argument or protest on the former's part. He acknowledged to himself that she had won all along the line, but what could he do? He had suggested vases in the church; Miss Penelope, on the spot, desired her father to present them, and promised to keep them filled herself. The church hangings were shabby; Miss Penelope had had les


sons in church embroidery, and undertook to renovate them. Mr. Hardinge wished to start a night school, and the Squire's daughter, while falling in with most of the arrangements, suggested others so full of common sense that he adopted them forthwith. talked of a cricket club in the summer, and Miss Penelope set to work on flags for the field and monograms for the members' caps. He told himself that others ought to have an opportunity of sharing in the work, but could he pretend that any one else in the place was capable of doing all she had undertaken? She was, as her father had said she would be, his right hand; and she so far fulfilled his dreams that he saw her often disappearing round corners very quickly-on her bicycle.

In the late spring came a wire from his friend Cox to say that he could get away for a few days; so the Rector, polishing off his work quickly one morning, rode down to the station to meet him. At least, he started, but halfway was stopped by Miss Penelope. She had something to ask him. That it must be something important he knew, for, although she never avoided him, she never troubled him unnecessarily. He dismounted, therefore, with alacrity, and the minutes flew unheeded by. Thus it came about that the train came in and Charlie Cox came up just as Miss Penelope was mounting and calling out, "All right; I won't forget."

"Lucky man! does she mean you?" muttered Cox, but Mr. Hardinge did not hear him, and the usual greetings followed.

"Were you coming to meet me?" asked the guest a little maliciously.

"I was. I'm sorry I was late." "Don't mention it," was the answer. "You had a pretty enough excuse. Who is she?"

"Miss Penelope-" began the Rector, but, almost before the words were

out of his mouth, it flashed across him what their effect would be on his companion. As it was, Charlie Cox, who was coasting down hill, nearly fell off. His bicycle swerved dangerously as his hearty laugh rang out.

"Miss Penelope!" he cried.

"Don't shout her name to the four winds, man," said the Rector, trying to look stern.

"Good Lord!" said Cox in a strangled voice, recovering himself a little. It was in vain his friend assured him that, although she might not be all his fancy had pictured her in person, she still fulfilled the sexton's prophecy in almost every particular: that she had indeed a "finger in every pie," and "ways" innumerable, though here he was not quite honest, for the "ways," though all her own, were not unpleasant.

"May all my troubles vanish as sweetly!" was all that Cox would say. "I should like to see her again."

"You can do so if you like, for they are having some tennis on the asphalt court this afternoon."

"Good. We'll go," decided the guest. These afternoons at the Hall were usually most enjoyable. The Squire and his wife and, it may be added, their daughter, had all the happy knack of putting every one at their ease. To-day was no exception to the rule, although Mr. Hardinge thought that Charlie Cox made himself almost too much at home. He was undoubtedly encouraged by Miss Penelope, who devoted a good deal of attention to him, and almost ignored her rector. She left the latter to talk to the older people, and so arranged that he should have for a partner at tennis a sporting lady, whom she must have known he particularly disliked, while she played on the other side of the net, herself, with his friend. But the friend, in spite of his chatter and nonsense, was not unobservant. He "wondered" a

little, too, but decided that Miss Penelope, in common with others of her sex, had moods.

Soon afterwards the Hall party went for their annual change. It lasted about six weeks, and the last few days of it were spent in London. One afternoon Penelope was walking with some friends in the gardens of the Imperial Institute when she found herself face to face with Charlie Cox. The recognition was mutual, and the young man was evidently well pleased to meet her.

"How d'ye do, Miss Penelope? This is luck! How's Hardinge?" he cried.

Penelope got scarlet, much to her own annoyance and her companion's surprise. He had put the question about his friend quite innocently, for, after all, she was just a link between them, and it was natural to inquire after him. He had been abrupt, however, and Miss Graham was evidently embarrassed.

"He is quite well-I believe," she answered rather formally.

"I don't suppose I ought to have said 'Miss Penelope,' "" he went on quickly, by way of saying something, "but I've never heard you called anything else, you know."

"Haven't you?" laughed the girl, herself again. "I believe the village people always-but you have not been much among them," she broke off to add.

"Oh, for the matter of that, your rector does it, too! In fact, he called you 'Miss Penelope' to me before he ever saw you!"

"Really!" said his companion, bent apparently on dislodging a stone with the point of her parasol, and not looking particularly displeased.

"I suppose he told you the awful phantom he conjured up as likely to be you before he saw you?"

Penelope shook her head.

"Didn't he?" exclaimed Mr. Cox. And

the Squire's daughter laughed merrily at his description of the Rector's forebodings.

"But all the same, I don't see why he should have taken it for granted that I should be like that," she remarked. Her eyes were sparkling. It pleased her to reflect on what must have been his feelings that first Sunday morning.

"Well, I think it was that old sexton chap's account of the way you went about the parish-and-saw to everything, don't you know!"

"Wicked old man!" cried Penelope, "to insinuate that I was such a busybody."

"Yes; that's just what he did say― that you had a finger in every pie!"

"Mr. Hardinge has not found it so, I hope," said Miss Graham, only half in earnest.

"Well, I'm not so sure," Charlie Cox answered mischievously. This girl could evidently appreciate a joke against herself.

"Has he ever said so since he has known me?" she asked, now wholly serious, and rather sharply.

Her companion opened his mouth to say "no," then remembered that the Rector had indeed used those very words: he hesitated, and was lost!

"When did he say so?" asked Miss Penelope, with rising color, as she looked at him very straight.

"Oh! I don't know," began the unlucky young man, suddenly alive to the fact that he was in rather a hole. "Last time you were down?" the girl continued, relentlessly; and he uttered a reluctant "yes."

"Oh! come now, Miss Penelope," he cried hastily, for, of course, he must convince her that her rector could not have meant what he said, but his good intentions were frustrated by the rest of the party coming up, and the conversation ended abruptly. He felt decidedly uncomfortable. He wished

that he knew when the Grahams were returning to Lavington. He must in all fairness give his friend a hint of what had happened.

But he little guessed Miss Penelope's real feelings at learning in what light her pastor viewed her efforts to do good. She had never felt so hurt and humiliated in all her life before! "A finger in every pie!" What a vulgar thing to say; as if she was some prying, meddlesome old maid. And she had done nothing more than she used to do when the former curates had been there. The only difference was that he took the lead more than they had ever done. He was fitted to do so; and, somehow, it had never occurred to her to make him the impatient little speeches to which they had in turn been treated when their incompetence, or slackness, or the truth must out— their love-making irritated her. That was one thing to be thankful for. He had never troubled her that way; on the contrary, he was generally quite cool and formal, although he could be charming when he liked. He had been so on occasions to her. But he must have a horribly uncharitable mind to speak of all her work in such a fashion. She loved it so-and the village people; she was sure they too loved her. No one, so far as she knew, had ever blamed or held her in contempt before. Miss Penelope's pretty violet eyes were drowned in tears.

They went home the next day; but already her mind was made up as to what she was going to do. Her first impulse, to give up all parochial work, was put aside as not only impossible, but unworthy, for any good she had done in her native place had not been done simply because it had fallen to her hand. No, she would still do her duty to her poorer neighbors, but never again would she offer her rector advice, or show more than a perfunctory interest in his plans.

She was not, however, prepared to meet him quite so soon as the very first evening of their arrival, but it so happened that Mr. Hardinge had a knotty point to settle, and, all unaware of what was in store for him, pretty sure, too, of a warm welcome, he walked up to the Hall after dinner. It was Miss Penelope he wanted to see; but Miss Penelope was busy, and it was not until he told her mother that his business was urgent that she condescended to appear. Moreover, when she did appear, she had no opinion at all on the subject. He must really please himself!

The Rector looked surprised-as well he might. They had parted very good friends, a fact which had been his one solace during the last six weeks. For, strange to say, Miss Penelope's absence had accomplished what her presence had failed to do. While she was about the place she was a constant reminder to him of those first principles of his rights as rector, and his abhorrence of feminine interference, which he had at the beginning so forcibly impressed on Charlie Cox. He had drifted on through the summer in seeming tolerance of her and her "ways," but after his friend's second visit he had taken himself seriously to task. Blue eyes or green, what did it matter? It was due to himself to act as if she were indeed all he had believed her to be while still unknown. Then she went away, and lo! the parish was a barren waste, and his parishioners as dull as ditch-water. he gave in, and found immediately that he must have been blind, and deaf, and a fool not to have done so long before. What a rector's wife she would make! The distance between the Hall and the Rectory was not far in reality; that it might be deemed SO metaphorically never entered his head. She had always been his good friend, a good basis, he fan


cied, to work on, and so, full of the delight of seeing her again, he rose to meet her now. She might, however, have been meeting him almost for the first time. ing, and all the while Penelope flattered herself that, except for a little proper reserve, her manner was much as usual. At last, as he could get nothing more out of her, mystified beyond measure, he took his leave, conscious that for some unfathomable reason the evening was ending most unhappily for him.

Her politeness was freez

The Squire met him on the threshold of the library, where they had been sitting.

"Just off, are you? Here, Penelope, unlock the wooden gate for Mr. Hardinge. The boys are not proof against my Bleinheim oranges," he explained. "and we lock the gate till the apples are gathered."

Now it was a short cut through the orchard, which the Rector always took, and he might take now, if Miss Penelope would only open the gate for him. But he expected to see her hand over the task to a servant. She came forward, however, and taking the key, stepped out by his side into the moonlight. He glanced at her, more puzzled than ever. She looked pale, and rather grave. He uttered some conventional remark, and they reached the gate. Penelope unlocked it, and passing through, he turned round and put out his hand to say "good-night." But the girl put both hers behind her.

"There is something I wanted to say," she began, all in a hurry. "You are aware that I have worked in the parish ever since I was a child, and done my best to keep things together through all the changes

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"And a very good 'best' it was," put in the Rector.

"Please don't interrupt!" said Miss Penelope, in a tone that rather startled

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"Yes?" said her companion inquiringly, and waited.

Now, although Miss Penelope had had no intention of speaking at all on the matter when she left the house, she had rehearsed her words many times and well; but she had not rehearsed the inclination to cry that now possessed her. It was the outcome, of course, of the indignation which was almost choking her; at the same time, it was inconvenient. At any cost she must preserve her self-possession.

Seeing that she could not speak, and also that she was not altogether angry as he had thought, Mr. Hardinge said gently, "What's the matter? Tell me." "This- cried the girl, with a catch in her breath, her courage returning. "I understand that you think me meddlesome and interfering.”

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"Miss Penelope, I assure you" began the Rector warmly.

"You told somebody-your own friend-that I had a finger in every pie."

"My own friend is a traitor," remarked Mr. Hardinge, with a quietness he was very far from feeling; but he was beginning to see light.

"Then you can't deny it!" cried the Squire's daughter, the tears all gone, and her head held high in triumph. He would, of course, attempt to do so all the same; but what was the man saying?

"But I like your meddling! Penelope -as my wife, you could meddle to your heart's content."

"Indeed! It's a right I don't covet at all, let me tell you," came glibly from the girl's lips, but her voice trembled a little.

"No? Then allow me to lock the gate for you," said James Hardinge, as he laid hold of the big key, whose cold, unyielding iron Penelope had been clasping tightly in both hands for some

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