THE CHRISTMAS TREE Two old ladies sat in the corner of the drawing-room. The youngera colonial cousin of the elderwas listening eagerly to gossip which dealt with English society in general, and Rickwell society in particular. They presumably assisted in the entertainment of the children already gathered tumultuously round the Christmas tree, provided by Mr. Morley; but Mrs. Parry's budget of scandal was too interesting to permit the relaxing of Mrs. McKail's attention. "Ah yes," said Mrs. Parry, a hatchet-faced dame with a venomous tongue and a retentive memory, "Morley's fond of children, although he has none of his own." "But those three pretty little girls?" said Mrs. McKail, who was fat, fair, and considerably over forty. "Triplets," replied the other, sinking her voice. "The only case of triplets I have met with, but not his children. No, Mrs. Morley was a widow with triplets and money. Morley married her for the last, and had to take the first as part of the bargain. I don't deny but what he does his duty by the three
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