Stephen made no reply. It had just dawned on his consciousness that he had been blundering frightfully, and his mind stood still for a moment, as a man halts suddenly, when he finds himself in a totally wrong road. To turn short about is not always the best way of getting off a wrong road, though it may be the quickest way. Stephen turned short about, and exclaimed with a forced laugh, "Well, mother, I don't suppose it will make any great difference to you, if she doesn't. It is not a matter of any moment, anyhow, whether we see any thing of either of them or not. I thought she seemed a bright, cheery sort of body, that's all. Good-by," and he ran out of the house.