'Were you asleep, dear?' said Mrs. Gregory gently.

As she spoke she cast her eye timidly round the room. It fell on the writing-drawer, which Tom had not been able to shut on account of the quantity of papers. 'You have been busy?' she said with a vague smile.

'My business will keep,' he answered. 'Only some papers, mother— 고소득알바 about the property, I suppose. Mr. Cherry gave them to me this morning. They were with the will—addressed to me.'

'How strange! And you have read them?'

'Not yet. They seem rather elaborate. I expect they will take time.'

Mrs. Gregory brightened. 'Then they must keep,' she said cheerfully, 'for I want you. Lady Winter and her son are in the drawing-room. They have come on purpose to congratulate you, and I should like you to see them.'

'Very well, mother. Just let me make myself tidy first.'

'All right, dear, and I will entertain them. You know,' she lingered, looking at him wistfully, 'Lady Winter has always been so nice to me; and Sir Reginald knows everyone. He could help you on in society. You will make yourself pleasant to them—for my sake?'

'My dear mother,' said the boy, turning his strained-looking eyes upon her, 'I will do my best. No one can do any more.'

With a little sigh she left him and returned to her visitors.

Society has some curious arrangements. It reverses, as a general rule, the Scriptural order. Those who honour themselves it delights to set on high in its banquets, while the humble are allowed to fill perpetually the low seats that they have chosen. Lady Winter honoured herself, and her honour was accepted as the true estimate of her worth. She seldom paid calls. She received them. Her parties were general, for if anyone who could by any possibility be said to belong to society had been shut out there would have been painful heart-burnings, and her neighbours, many of whom were far richer than herself, were flattered when she accepted little services, such as the use of their carriages, and presents of flowers and fruit, game and vegetables. Besides preserving this comfortable worship she could do three things well. She could dress so as to hide the ravages of time; she could manage a small income with grace and success; and she could say pretty things with an abandon that marvellously enhanced their charm. She had in consequence many friends. Amongst these Mrs. Gregory, as she was telling her to-day, had always taken a high place. Some people might have thought that the change in their fortunes had quickened the flame of friendship. Mrs. Gregory did not. She was a simple woman, and Lady Winter, as she had told her son, had always been very nice to her.