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The Return

The door opened. Lawford rose, and into the further rays of the candlelight entered a
rather slim figure in a light summer gown.
'Just home?' said Herbert.
'We've been for a walk--'
'My sister always forgets everything,' said Herbert, turning to Lawford; 'even tea-time.
This is Mr Lawford, Grisel. We've been arguing no end. And we want you to give a
decision. It's just this: Supposing if by some impossible trick you had come in now, not
the charming familiar sister you are, but shorter, fatter, fair and round-faced, quite
different, physically, you know--what would you do?'
'What nonsense you talk, Herbert!'
'Yes, but supposing: a complete transmogrification--by some unimaginable ingression or
enchantment, by nibbling a bunch of roses, or whatever you like to call it?'
'Only physically?'
'Well, yes, actually; but potentially, why--that's another matter.'
The dark eyes passed slowly from her brother's face and rested gravely on their visitor's.
'Is he making fun of me?'
Lawford almost imperceptibly shook his head.
'But what a question! And I've had no tea.' She drew her gloves slowly through her hand.
'The thing, of course, isn't possible, I know. But shouldn't I go mad, don't you think?'
Lawford gazed quietly back into the clear, grave, deliberate eyes. 'Suppose, suppose, just
for the sake of argument--NOT,' he suggested.
She turned her head and reflected, glancing from one to the other of the pure, steady
'And what was your answer?' she said, looking over her shoulder at her brother.
'My dear child, you know what my answers are like!'