In one hour or in two, said the experts, this sea of mist would drift up and envelop the heights. It might also be relied upon to obscure the fleeting forms of "the hares," and to play subtle tricks with the panting hounds—a prospect which was full of terror to the majority, but of great interest: (1) to a certain Bob Otway, who had persuaded Nellie Rider to be his partner in the promise of the day; and (2) to his friend, Dick Fenton, who had promised to fly with her sister Marjory, if not to the ends of the earth, at least to the chalet where lunch would be found at one o'clock precisely.

Fenton, as will be gathered from the foregoing, had been chosen for a hare, sharing the honour with Keith Rivers and that engaging performer, Miss Marjory Rider. Allowed five minutes' grace, these three, who wore fine scarlet sashes, set out at nine o'clock precisely, and quickly disappeared in the direction of the Park Hotel. Immediately they were gone, the concourse of indifferents, tempered by a few such experts as Bob Otway, lined up before the porch of the hotel, and prepared to carry itself with what grace it could. The light of it, conversationally considered, was Miss Bess Bethune, who, moving like a sprite amidst the company, assured each and all that something dreadful was about to happen at the Palace, and that the night would bear witness. When she had thus breakfasted upon horrors, she sought out Dr. Orange, and attached herself firmly to him, until she discovered that he preferred the seclusion of the skating rink, where he might hold out the tails of his threes to the delight of the elect. Bess hated him in the instant of that avowal; and, oh! the malignity of Fate, she was left to enjoy the society of Sir Gordon Snagg, who insisted upon treating her as a child, despite her thirteen years.

Perhaps Bess would have captured Bob Otway, but for the expert tactics of his vis-à-vis, Nellie Rider. Three seasons had Miss Nellie (and her sister) pirouetted vainly at Andana, and she was determined that the fourth should pay for all. The gossip of chosen friends, feeding upon the inflated estimates of rumour, declared that Master Bob had just come into a fortune of fifteen hundred a year—a tale, by the way, told also of his friend, Dick Fenton—and this sum being clearly in her mind and sweet romance, as it were, jangling the silver bells upon the neck of that good horse, Matrimony, she attached herself to Bob with the tenacious grip of an octopus (the words were Bess's), and so led him instanter to the heights, as to the place of execution duly appointed.

To be sure, they cared little for the paper-chase. Both were experts, and the delight of climbing could not be marred by any thought of direction or rendezvous. Sufficient to know that they were mounting far above the mists, winning their way steadily to the entrancing slopes and the golden fields of unbroken sunshine. When, at last, Bob discovered that they were lost, he added the intimation that!