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did not think the same as Miss Clara. She makes a regular ass of Elmes, and if Sil don't have him, there'll be the deuce to pay between Miss Dinsdale and herself.”

“ There's no love thrown away in your case, anyhow."

“No, by Jove ! she hates me like poison, and I'd as soon have her room as her company. By the way, she was particular in her inquiries after you, she's heard a deal about you in one way or another ;” and Roger slipped down in the chair, getting his legs at full stretch, a favourite attitude of his when he was amused. “She seems to think you a dangerous sort of fellow ;” he paused, and laughed, as if undetermined whether to go on with his reminiscences or not; Gerald's face did not look encouraging, however, so he finished up with—“I told her enough to make her hair stand on end, and I believe she's had a hand in putting Charley's back up to-night.”

" It was all an accident, Roger. I'd no idea I had kept your sister up so late," said Gerald. “I daresay Elmes, and you too, thought it very queer ; when your mother went upstairs we were finishing a game at chess, and then, when that was done, we began talking, and—”

“ "All right, old fellow," laughed Roger ; "there's nobody to blame that I can see, and I don't see why Charley, or any other man, has a right to make remarks; but if he does consider himself aggrieved, he's big enough to fight his own battles, and won't let the grass grow under his feet now, or I'm much mistaken ; after all 'its an ill wind that blows nobody good,' and the breeze at Wellingford will do you no harm.”

Gerald's face flushed deeply for an instant; what could he answer i That he did not wish to come between Charley Elmes and his love ? A month ago he could have said so honestly, but since Charley had appeared on the field, matters had been undergoing a change. Silvia had overstepped the threshold between childhood and womanhood without his noticing the fact; and when Charley, with all his advantages of good looks, good-nature, and good fortune, showed as a suitor, the progress of time was made evident, and it was with a sort of startled regret that he looked back upon the days that were past; the happiness of the home life of Thornhill had been creeping into his very soul. We all know what the haven is to the storm-tossed mariner, and such a rest had Thornhill been to Gerald-the ocean of whose life had known few calms. The great iron gates of the park at Thornhill had seemed to shut out the world, his world as it had been, at least, and even the fiery struggle that had gone on in his own heart had been like the ordeal of old, from which the votary came forth purified and renewed; once he knew that there was no hope, that the frail straw he had clutched was going down with him, and that the cold waters of despair had met over his head, he resigned himself to his fate.

Passion is said to increase when the object of desire is beyond our reach, but I think it is just as often the other way, and that if pride and obstinacy would only let us alone we should soon reconcile ourselves to our lot; with Gerald at least it had been so. Perhaps his feelings had not been so deep as he imagined, or, as is often the way, events of the moment had given them a false strength and colouring. Perhaps Lady Wimborne's own way of treating him helped to diminish the delusion; since the day he had pleaded his love she had never allowed a shadow of uneasiness or distrust to show itself in her face or manner, all that she felt she kept to herself-conscious that the greatest severity here, as in many cases, is in the end the greatest kindness.

He could not pretend to misunderstand Roger's meaning, the words were plain enough, too plain, Gerald felt; they sent the hot blood bounding through his veins; what was he to say ? Roger was sitting there with his head thrown back, and his long eyelashes half closed, waiting, so Gerald supposed, for an answer ; but Roger was doing no such thing, he was thinking how Lilly Babbington's temper flashed forth in his defence, and how she had taken him into her confidence in such a curious excited way; and then something in Gerald's face recalled the glimpse of the mysterious lover; he was like Gerald, that would account for the fancied recognition ; then, just as Gerald had made up his mind to speak out, Roger cried—“You've been doing something with your head, Gerald ?"

“Yes, got my hair cut, and the blackguard trimmed me up as you see,” he turned half round, the lights upon the chimney-piece, the only ones in the room, threw half his face into shadow, and Roger started bolt upright.

“Don't move, Gerald. Ah! I see it now, you are like Harry–Lilly told me so to-day, and-by Jove!"

Roger's face grew red, then white again. “By Jove !" he repeated under his breath, gathering himself together, and looking straight into

, the fire for nearly two minutes, when Gerald, who could not see any cause for such an extraordinary excitement because there existed a slight family likeness, enhanced by the familiar Chichester fashion of hair-cutting, got up, said something touching sleep, and brought over a bed-room candlestick. He looked down at Roger as he lighted it ; Roger's face was working strangely, and something very like tears were glistening upon his eyelashes. Poor fellow, thought Gerald, he has a soft heart after all. “Goodnight, old fellow, please God we'll have Harry back before another year is out.”

There were tears in Roger's eyes, but a wild glad light was shining through them, and a deep earnest thrill shook his voice when he said

"God grant it, it will be the happiest day of my life !” and then he added, half to himself, “ It must have been him."

CHAPTER XXXV.

“THINKING.”

I DON'T suppose it can be an agreeable state of things, when a woman discovers that her daughter is in love with a man who has been worshipping at her own shrine ; almost as bad, perhaps, as to discover that the worshipper himself has become an apostate. However philosophically she may have long ago made up her mind to treat the gentleman, and however earnest the conviction she has impressed upon herself that he can never be anything more than a dear friend-how dear there is no need to anticipate-there must be a struggle, and it may be that this very struggle, by aggravating the wound, shows how deeply-seated the disease has been.

Fatal diseases are not always necessarily painful. Death may lurk in the blood, and slowly and silently sap out the life thereof, for many a day, and sometimes many a year, before the thread is so taut as to become sensibly felt, and then it is often by accident that the truth makes itself known.

Silently and unrecked of for ages, the little borer works its million tunnels in the limestone rocks, those natural walls that keep off the mighty sea; but one day the storm comes fiercer and breaks away the falsely secure crust, behind which lies destruction. The rotten honey-combed rock crumbles away, and over the smiling country rushes desolation and despair.

“Had we known the danger we might have prepared ourselves to meet it.” "Had we known of the heart-burning and shame that was to be our portion for life, we would have fled from the temptation," says many a broken heart; but, dear reader, we all know how easy prudence seems, when we are smarting from the consequences of our folly. The temptation looks trivial enough in retrospect, perhaps is lost sight of altogether, for dark indeed is the gulf of remorse, and many a weary milestone of life may lie between us and the first false step, and mortal conscience is dim of comprehension, at least in an ordinary way, although there are flashes of light sent into even the finite mind which lay bare the veriest tittle of that account, the balance of which is so terribly on the debtor's side.

I remember a friend of mine who had been half drowned, telling me, that during the few seconds he lay at the bottom of the sea, his whole life flashed upon him like a gigantic picture. “I saw my first lie,” he said, “and it looked very terrible.”

Who is it starts the theory, that the air we breathe is to be the witness against us ; that every word and thought is stereotyped therc, and that there, written in letters of fire, our life's story will be read by an assembled universe ? Perhaps it is a miraculous glimpse of the great photograph that flashes in upon us at the hour of death, or some moment when death is close enough to be felt and seen. Ah! what would we not give for such glimpses when the heart and brain are cool, and ready to retain such a lesson ?

It would be well indeed for us to see self honestly reflected; for selfexamination, though much talked of as a duty, is hard to follow ; I never could honestly, could you? Are we not warned, "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked;" and will not the one tendency stir up the other to greater resistance ? Depend upon it, the devil is nearer at hand when we are dealing with our own sins than those of our neighbours; and if we were to measure the shortcomings of those we are prone to condemn by a scale regulated by the secrets of our own inner life, few but would follow the example of those men of old, who went out conscience-stricken from the Temple, and left the Merciful • alone with the sinner, to pronounce the words that have healed so many hearts—"Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more.”

Lady Wimborne had never been a religious woman. In the first place she had been subjected to the then existing code of French education, and that, as everyone knows, had but one object-marriage. For this end, all the lesser details of morality, book learning, or sound principle, were neglected ; a girl was taught to practice some showy accomplishments, to dress and walk well, to affect a modesty she seldom felt

, and in fact to step out and show her paces to her bidders in the matrimonial market.

Leaving school at sixteen, Lady Wimborne was married within a week of her seventeenth birthday.

Had the events which followed upon that ceremony been of a more ordinary character, had matrimony only entailed its usual happiness and excitement, and the bride been allowed to settle down to the ordinary duties incumbent upon a country gentleman's wife, I daresay Lady Wimborne would have made an admirable Lady Bountiful, and taken to the education of the rising generation kindly. But the fates forbade, the incidents following her marriage had been such as, happily, seldom fall to our lot, and if anything of religion had stolen into her heart during the brief day of her first happiness, the shock that desecrated the purity of marriage had left her the choice between two evils, a life of lonely separation, or, by holding fast to her present, to learn to bury the secret of her shame in her own heart.

When, too loving or too weak to face the scorn or pity of the friends she had left with such bright hopes, she chose the sin, you can imagine how the chances of religion fared.

Now and then, when thoughts of another life and world would rise, of

death, of the unavoidable separation, which, in spite of her sacrifice, must come, and which every day was bringing nearer and nearer,she thrust them away with a shudder, remembering some words she had once heard from the pulpit, “If you cherish one secret sin in your heart, your prayers are of no avail.” The words had fallen upon what the preacher would have called good ground, but I question much, if, at the reaping of the great harvest, the hundredfold crop of such rash words will prove crowns of rejoicing to the speakers. But for those few words, Lady Wimborne might have prayed, but each time the yearning for communion with the unseen Father came over her, as I believe it comes, at times, over all of us, even the worldliest and coldest, each time she felt that to throw herself down, and telling her grief and anxieties, ask for help, would be comfort unspeakable, there came the damning remembrance of her sin, blazoned forth by the fatal light of the preacher's words. And so year after year went by, and she had learned to think she could do without God.

When her trials began to rain thickly upon her she had found temporary comfort in a sort of vague hanging on at the skirts of religion ; she had gone about in the outward garb of a ministering angel, but she soon saw the meanness, deceit, and greed, that often scare even the most experienced in the ministry to the very poor; she heard the canting whine, the strident lie, the complaint, broken in upon by some jealous slander of a neighbour ; she was told—“Oh! you went to see her a deal oftener nor me," and, feeling unequal to contend with such difficulties, she gave up searching after comfort in this fashion, as, I fear, many others have done before her.

Even the Bible, which she read systematically, seemed only beautiful words, words which, although they fell without any personal meaning or application, nevertheless were like the breath of the south wind to the weary frozen traveller, soft, soothing, and healing.

When her husband, in his simple way, spoke of his hopes of pardon, she would turn away in spirit, a dull pain at heart; she dared not tell him that she had long ago given up hope, and if she had done so, how could he be saved. She thought she saw, in those outbursts of his, only a new cause of fear, a new proof of the increasing disease, and when, sometimes in the solemn silence of the night, as she lay awake, battling silently with the anxiety that was gathering so closely round her, he had said

“What awake, Madge; so was I. Sleep seems hard to catch, somehow. I was asking God to forgive me. Don't you think He'll hear as well that way, as if I went about singing psalms ?"

When death came, and the sin which had stood between her and her God was over, even then no change came.

She heard the prayers offered, first by the clergyman, then by Silvia, that peace and resigna

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