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tive. He long secretly intended to bequeath Carisbroke to you ; latterly he confided the intention to me, made all the necessary arrangements, and was happy in the certainty that Walter's choice would have been the same.'
'Impossible! Jane, you, by every imaginable claim, are the rightful owner. This cannot be suffered for one instant.'
You are too late,' she said, faintly. 'Worldly things will never again have word or thought from him. As for me, more than I can ever need of earthly riches have been already poured into my cup.
This has been done deliberately, with my fullest approbation, not only on your account, but because I knew that he, whose it would have been, would have so willed it, had he been consulted.'
'Never, whilst you survived him. You, his nearest and dearest-he could not have borne to picture a day when you would not be mistress of Carisbroke.'
Jane interrupted him in a tone of mingled perplexity and annoyance. “That day must soon have come had he been spared. He could have had no idea of any indissoluble tie between me and this place. In any case, I must have given way to his wife.'
A moment of surprise and incredulity, then the hurried words, Forgive me—but I must know-his wife—yourself?'
'No, never! his-oh! Dauntless, could you think so ?'
Even in this world the knowledge was to come. Without another word the secret lay unveiled before her; she knew all now, the passionate boyish love, which had won her young heart with no other pleading than those looks and tones, which afterwards had seemed a dream when he returned cold, changed, and distant: the fatal mistake, the faith he had kept to his friend's memory, the true cause of the barrier which had parted them for years.
It needed not the wild clasp of her hand in his to tell her this, and more than this, the love, the despair of his life.
Moments were precious in so short a stay.
Y DEAR EVE, - Prepare my mother
quietly for the surprise of a visit from
I shall be with you a couple of hours after you receive this for a very hurried peep at
· Ever yours,
She was at the door of Mrs. Philipson's room when the letter was put into her hand. It was only the keenness of her anxiety which had prompted her to open it before she went in. She read it hastily, stood still, and then walked quickly on with the one thought of 'to be alone, to think.' But the new principle of
self last,' was gaining power over her ; she turned back, and went quietly in to break the
glad tidings as gradually and playfully as possible, although happily Mrs. Philipson was now almost as strong as ever. After that, there were many directions to give for Sir Mark's reception, seeing that the management of his mother's house had gradually passed very much into her hands. Then she assisted Mrs. Philipson as carefully, and read to her as steadily, as usual ; then she went to the rooms prepared for her husband, and made various little alterations in their arrangement. By watching and noting all his tastes and fancies she had peculiar skill in suggesting what he would like—a skill diligently concealed from his knowledge.
The hour when he might come was approaching ere she at last sat down alone, and tried to steady herself for his reception. •
Prepare my mother.' Poor Sir Mark had no notion that any emotion would be stirred in the breast of his impassible wife. He could not guess how her colour came and went, or with what extreme difficulty she suppressed outward tokens of the inward storm. It seemed to her as if a lifetime had been crowded into the weeks which had elapsed since they parted. She had learned to love and be beloved by his mother, to know her own weakness and need of a wisdom and a guidance mightier than man could give; she had learned to understand her husband himself better than if she had spent ten years with him in the chilling estrangement which had become habitual. She had always respected him above every one, but there was more than respect now in the absorbing interest with which he was regarded. She felt keenly how one departure from truth and rectitude involves us often in a labyrinth of error—entails upon us an apparent necessity for further deceit—and throws doubt upon every future action, however sincere.
Could she go forward now and meet her husband as inclination prompted, warmly and frankly? It seemed impossible, even with the strong recollection of his parting look. And even
now the sound of his arrival struck
upon her ear-before the time. Starting up, her progress was stayed by giddiness, which compelled her to cling for support to the nearest object. He was with his mother before she could find strength to reach her room—the meeting was constrained, as meetings in the presence of a third person are cer