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357
SOARING

I felt convinced Lady Osprey would describe her as "a most eccentric person" on the very first opportunity;—"a most eccentric person." One could see her, as people say, "shaping" for that.

Beatrice was dressed very quietly in brown with a simple but courageous broad-brimmed hat, and an unexpected quality of being grown-up and responsible. She guided her step-mother through the first encounter, scrutinized my aunt and got us all well in movement through the house, and then she turned her attention to me with a quick and half-confident smile.

"We haven't met," she said, "since——"

"It was in the Warren."

"Of course," she said, "the Warren! I remembered it all except just the name. . . . I was eight."

Her smiling eyes insisted on my memories being thorough. I looked up and met them squarely, a little at a loss for what I should say.

"I gave you away pretty completely," she said,, meditating upon my face. "And afterwards I gave away Archie."

She turned her face away from the others, and her voice fell ever so little.

"They gave him a licking for telling lies!" she said, as though that was a pleasant memory. "And when it was all over I went to our wigwam. You remember the wigwam?"

"Out in the West Wood?"

"Yes—and cried—for all the evil I had done you, I suppose . . . I've often thought of it since. . . ."

Lady Osprey stopped for us to overtake her. "My dear!" she said to Beatrice. "Such a beautiful gallery!" Then she stared very hard at me, puzzled in the most naked fashion to understand who I might be.