s action. Some women are heartless--we know that. But Anna Hethbridge was too impulsive, too excitable, and too much given to pleasure to be devoid of heart. Behind her action there must have been some strange, illogical, feminine motive, for there was a deliberation in every move--one of those motives which are quite beyond the masculine comprehension. One notices that when a woman takes action in this incomprehensible way her lady friends are never surprised; they seem to have some subtle sympathy with her. It is only the men who look puzzled, as if the ground beneath their feet were unstable. Therefore there must be some influence at work, probably the same influence, under different forms, which urges women to those strange, inconsequent actions by which their lives are rendered miserable. Men have not found it out yet.
Anna Hethbridge was at this time twenty-four years of age, rather pretty, with a vivacity of manner which only seemed frivolous to the more thoughtful of her acquaintances. The idea of her marrying old Squire Agar within six months of the untimely death of her clever lover, Seymour Michael, seemed so preposterous that her hostess, good, sentimental Mrs. Glynde, never dreamt of such a possibility until, in the form of a fact, it was confided to her by Miss Hethbridge, one afternoon soon after her arrival at the rectory.
"Confound it, Maria," exclaimed the Rector testily, when the information was passed on to him later in the evening. "Why could you not have foreseen such an absurd event?"
Poor Mrs. Glynde looked distressed. She was a thin little woman, with an unsteady head, physically and morally speaking; full of kindness of heart, sentimentality, high-flown principles, and other bygone ladylike commodities. Her small, eager face, of a ruddy and weather-worn complexion--as if she had, at some early period of her existence, been left out all night in an east wind--was puckered up with a sense of her own negligence.
She tried hard, poor little woman, to take a deep and Christian int