'O, Lady Elizabeth, it cannot be that.'
'I have always been prepared for something of the sort. But what, my dear?' seeing her agitation, and quickly infected by it.
'O, don't let her,' was all Violet could utter.
'Tell me! what is he?--what do you know of him? They spoke of him as once having been extravagant--'
Violet drew a long breath, and tried to speak with composure. 'He is a dreadful man, gambling, betting, dissipated--such a person that Arthur never lets him come near me or the children. How could he dare think of her?'
'Can it be the same?' said Lady Elizabeth, infinitely shocked, but catching at the hope. 'This man is Lady Fotheringham's nephew.'
'Yes, he is,' said Violet sadly. 'There is no other cousin named Mark. Why, don't you remember all the talk about Mrs. Finch?'
So little had Lady Elizabeth heeded scandal, that she had hardly known these stories, and had not identified them with the name of Gardner. Still she strove to think the best. 'Arthur will be able to tell me,' she said; 'but every one seems fully satisfied of his reformation--the curate of the parish and all. I do not mean that I could bear to think of her being attached to a person who had been to blame. Her own account of him alarmed me enough, poor dear child, but when I hear of the clergyman, and Theresa Marstone, and all admiring his deep feeling of repentance--'