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"Is it not that she takes little interest in anything ? Sir Mark asked quickly, and the next moment regretted the question.
'I should be truly ungrateful if I assented,' his mother replied, gently. "I have seen her show no want of interest in the old sick woman she was sent to nurse. No light-minded, coldhearted, common-place girl could have been to me what she has been. I think, Mark, she has been badly trained. Her mother, perhaps, is uncongenial. I could imagine her one who has been alternately spoiled by petting and coercion. I used to wonder at the little care which had evidently been taken to plant sound principles in the mind, and induce clear reasoning. But there is no poverty in the mind itself, and I am struck with astonishment at the way in which it has worked itself into the true course—or, should I not rather say, been guided ?'
• Not by me,' he interposed.
No, Mark; by One mightier than you, whose child she now knows herself to be.'
Mrs. Philipson proceeded to tell him how great a change Eve's presence had wrought upon herself, her health, her comfort, even upon her establishment. She could not weary of the recital of the many unselfish acts, the diligence, the tenderness which had won her love to her daughter-in-law.
You saw all this in her during Mordaunt's illness, of course. I do not wonder that you loved her.'
The usually stern face was flushed with joy and surprise. He could not even refrain from a smile.
"You perceive then, mother, that I was not captive to the red and white, and the flaxen curls of a mere doll.'
'I never thought so, Mark; and forgive me if I add that Eve's beauty always struck me as overpraised. She is lovely in my eyes now, but it is rather loveliness visible to my heart than my gaze.'
Because you never saw her in her real beauty,' he answered ; 'but when I first beheld her, I thought I had never looked on anything so perfect. Even now the form and features are exquisite, but the light has faded. How ? where ? As well might one ask for the rays of last year's summer, or the scent of its faded flowers.'
'I fear her health is very delicate,' Mrs. Philipson said, at last, seeing that the long
lashes of his downcast eyes glistened as he spoke.
Just then the door opened, and Eve glided in with an aspect more serene and cheerful than she had yet worn that day. They exchanged glances which agreed that the news should be broken to her now; and accordingly, without entering upon the subject of his own anxieties, except in as far as stating that there were many difficulties now in all business affairs, he proceeded to tell her how desirable it was that some one should go to represent him. He briefly described the character of the person required, the powers which must be intrusted to him; and then, as gently and skilfully as he could, he added that she would soon guess who alone could fill this post, who alone volunteer to accept it.
Who? she echoed, feebly, as the colour faded from her cheek; and when her husband spoke the name, who can unravel the chain of recollections which surrounded her? Mordaunt's early sorrow, struggles, self-devotionher own resolve to save him—the cost at which she had striven to fulfil it; and now—now this crowning sacrifice, which showed her that all she had done, so evilly done, was vain.
The risk, the exile-even Jane's possible anguish—rose in an instant before her already overwrought mind.
She was weak and worn in body to an extent unguessed, even by Mrs. Philipson. Every event of the day had tried her nerves severely, and now they yielded to this fresh shock. The clasped hands dropped listlessly, and Sir Mark caught her senseless form in his arms.
I am going, O my people,
VE'S first look of consciousness encoun
tered a face not very familiar to her—that of Mrs. Philipson's physician, who was bending over her solicitously; her next was into that of Mrs. Philipson herself. Unresistingly she swallowed what they held to her lips, listlessly lay back, too weak to speak or think. Her utmost effort was to glance up and see that it was her husband who supported her, and try to smile reassuringly. But even that was too much, and in the exhaustion which followed she saw and heard no more.
She awoke at last as from deep sleep, and found herself in a dreamy, indolent state, which might not have been unpleasant had it not been for the headache which accompanied