Iris could avail herself. She arrived at a clear understanding with Lucy Acton, as She had come to an explanation with Lady Thwaite. There is not one word of truth in the story that I am to marry Sir William Thwaite,' she impressed on Lucy with solemn earnest ness; only I fear grandmamma wishes it,' she added, with a fall in her voice and an involuntary tight interlacing of her fingers. But I could not do it, even for grandmamma; my duty to her and to poor grandpapa does not absolve me from my duty to myself, to Sir William, and to God, Lucy. He ordained marriage as the nearest, most sacred tie, a relationship we might not enter into lightly, with divided minds. Think how unlike Sir William and I are, with not a taste, very likely not an opinion or principle, in common.' Lucy listened, startled, while Iris continued to speak in the same unnaturally grave, almost portentous, tones.