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"That he is gone?"

"I really cannot say; I have not been to look for him," she answers in a devil-may-care voice, averting her eyes.

"Lenore!" I cry reproachfully, "what is the good of keeping up this affectation with me? It is all very well before Sylvia; but have you forgotten that night at Morlaix, when you were so happy, and when you came and told me all about it ?"

"I remember," she answers, with a hard laugh; " and how pleased you were at being waked out of your beauty-sleep, and how kind and complimentary you were about him."

"I was not kind," I answer, rather crestfallen. "I was sleepy, and very ill-natured, and rather envious; but I am not ill-natured now. I would help you, if I knew how; and though you are determined to hide it from me, I know what you are feeling."

"Then you know more than I do myself," replies my sister, quite collectedly. "I give you my word of honour, at the present moment I feel absolutely nothing."

I am not generally short of words, but I can find none now.

"When I first got that," she continues, nodding her head towards a note, which lies open on the dressing-table-" you know I had been buoying myself up with hope all night, because he came back here, instead of going straight away-I thought it a good sign-but when I got that I think I must have gone mad for five minutes-do people ever go mad for such a short time ?-I found myself down on the hearth-rug, beating my head against the floor. That was wise, was not it? So likely to bring him back. Jemima!" (grasping my arm with her burning hand), "I am going to tell you a secret; if I could have found anything to do it with, I should have tried to put an end to myself. I should have done it in a bungling, journeyman way, and very likely, when I got into the other world, I should have been sorry that I had not staid here; still, I should have tried; but you see (laughing) "it is difficult for the best-intentioned person to commit suicide with a cake of Windsor soap or a back-hair glass!"

"Lenore!" I cry angrily, "you frighten me! Why do not you cry? Why do you laugh? I wish you would not look so odd!"

"Do I look odd ?" she says, rising and going over to the long cheval glass. "Well-yes!" (making a derisive bow to her own swollen disfigured image) "a charming-looking person!-the belle of the ball! I always told Paul" (a sharp contraction of the muscles of her face as she speaks his name) "that I looked nothing without my plaits."

I stand stupidly staring at her, with my hands clasped.

"If you want to ask any questions, now is your time," she continues, calmly; "it will be back on me just now-rushing, tearing back; but for the moment I feel as little as you do, or, if possible, less; I

say over 'Paul is gone!' and then 'Charlie is gone!' and the one fact seems as little afflicting as the other." "You

"Lenore, are you speaking truth?" I cry, incredulously. look as if you were! Tell me, if you are sure you can bear to do it, how was it? You know I am quite in the dark-how did it come about ?"

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Incompatibility of opinion about Mr. Scrope," she answers, with a forced laugh; then sinking down on the floor, hiding her face in the folds of my gown like a child. "I do not think I will tell you, after all!" she says, moaning; "when one's ship has gone down, what is the good of going into the details of the wreck ?" At the last word she breaks into tumultuous weeping.

"Perhaps it has not gone down," say I, eagerly. "Who knows? Let me see the note. May I ?" (stretching out my hand to take it). "If you like" (then laughing again painfully between her sobs); "it is not so affectionate that one need be ashamed of showing it."

I pick it up eagerly. It is not very tidily written-scratchily rather, and shakily-several of the little words are left out :

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"December 28th, 51 A.M.

"I would not have come back here last night, if I could have helped it, but it was unavoidable. I shall, at least, not intrude upon your sight again, as I shall be gone hours before you are up. I will send back your letters in a day or two; also, if you insist upon it, your photographs. Do not send back anything of mine-it is the last favour I ask of you.-P. LE M."

"Look up!" I say, cheerfully.

I touch Lenore's heaving shoulder. "I am in better spirits. There is hope!"

She lifts her heavy head. "Hope of what?"

Poor soul! The tears are running flat races down her cheeks, coursing down her nose, and making hot wet spots on the breast of her smart rose dressing-gown.

"He is angry," I say, smiling; "there is always hope when a man is angry."

She does not answer in words, but she draws herself up into a kneeling posture, and clutches my arm with painful tightness, while a little red creeps into her cheeks; there is already plenty in her nose and eyes. With her loose streaming hair, and upward wet eyes, she looks a Magdalen all over. The old painters, if you remark, have a knack of making their Magdalens' noses a little red.

"If you wish it, and are willing to take him on his own terms, I believe you may get him back.'

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Still she says nothing; only the clasp on my arm tightens, till I wriggle uncomfortably under it.

"You must, of course, write at once," I say, in a matter-of-fact voice; "and tell him that you are sorry, and that you will not do it --whatever it was—again."


Say I am sorry!" cries Lenore, starting to her feet; "eat dirt, and go, like a whipped child, with its finger in its mouth, and say, 'I'll be good!' Not if I know it!"

She no longer looks like a Magdalen, or, if she does, it is a very restive one.

"Very well," say I, coolly; "if you prefer your pride to your lover, of course it is a matter of taste which is best worth keeping. I have no more to say."

No answer.

"I see," continue I, with affected enthusiasm, "you are conscious that you were in the right, and that he was so completely in the wrong that the first advance must come from him. I understand, of course! I respect you."

"Do not," cries Lenore, gruffly. "I was not in the right—am I ever? But the knowing that one is in the wrong does not make it any the easier to say it."

"There are so many ways of implying a thing without exactly saying it."


"My dear child,” I say, stretching out my hand to take one of hers, which is twisting and turning its fellow about; "the question is, how can you live best: with your dignity and without Paul, or with Paul and without your dignity?"

She falls on her knees beside me again; she buries her face in my lap.

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Jemima, never tell anybody, and, if you are asked, say that it is not so; and never remind me, when you get angry, that I have said it but-but" (very indistinctly) "I would eat all the dirt that ever was in all the world to get him back again-there!" (looking up and colouring violently). "Was there ever a case on record of anybody having said anything so mean?"

I shrug my shoulders. "What does it matter about being mean, so as one is happy?" say I, with a philosophy of doubtful morality if carried out to its final consequences. "Write, write, WRITE; and, if possible" (picking up the note again and laughing), “write with a better pen than he did, Lenore" (examining it more narrowly). "I do believe he cried over it. Look! what a suspicious blot over the 'P.'!"

"Only a sputtering pen or bad blotting-paper," replies Lenore. But she is laughing too, and there is an alertness in her gait as she walks across the room in strong contrast to the heavy droop of her attitude five minutes ago. "Jemima" (her poor red eyes sparkling


again, and a tender tremor about the quivering corners of her mouth), "I will write. God knows what will come of it, or how I shall bear the waiting for the answer; but-I will write."

"Do," say I; and then I draw an armchair to the fire, and Lenore sits down to the writing-table. The opening sentences seem to be hatched with difficulty, but after them her pen runs glibly enough: it is going to be a longer letter than his. "Lenore," say I, presently, turning my head round, and speaking diffidently, "I think that, on the supposition that this may not bring him back—a most improbable one, but still possible-I-I (do not be angry)-I would not make it too affectionate." She flushes scarlet, reads it hastily over, then tears it into a thousand bits, and, running over to the fire, tosses the fragments in. "Nor too cold," I subjoin, rather startled at the effect of my caution. "Do not you understand?" I continue, eagerly. "The kind of letter you should write is one that, if he is so disposed, will bring him back again; and that, if he is not so disposed, will not make you hot to think of having sent it."

To compose such a letter as I have thus described seems a hard task. The hearth is strewn with little shreds of paper before one, that hits the golden mean between the fond and the frigid, is written fairly out without blots or erasures.

"Will you read it ?" asks my sister, holding it out rather reluctantly to me, when it is at length finished. "I think I had rather you did not, but you may, if you wish."

I shake my head, and swallow down my curiosity: "Why should I? It is between you and him; what has a third person to do with it ?"

She turns away relieved, folds it up, directs it, and fastens the envelope. "Jemima," she says, clasping my arms with her two hot slender hands, while her great solemn eyes fix themselves, feverish and miserably excited, on mine, "the responsibility of this lies with you. I do not know whether it is affectionate or not; I cannot judge I hardly know what is in it; but if it fail, the shame of it will lill me."



Ar the lowest calculation there must be forty-eight hours between the sending of any letter by post and the receiving of the answer. In most cases sixteen or eighteen of these hours are slidden over in sleep; but in a great anxiety who can sleep? In heavy grief one may sleep— probably one will; when hope has stolen out of sight, and despair sits by us with veiled head, then one sleeps most deeply. Sometimes, in slumber, God gives us back our dead: him that but yesterday we

coldly kissed in his strait shroud, we see coming towards us with lifecoloured lips and open eyes: the dead never come back to us dead: always they are alive-talking, smiling, occupied in some commonplace employment, making some foolish tender jest. But sleep refuses to come to the troubled, who have yet an uneasy hope she will not be made use of merely as a bridge over obnoxious hours: she will be loved and wooed for herself, or else she will stand relentlessly apart. I think that there are very few of the thousands of minutes that constitute those forty-eight hours that do not find Lenore consciously, broadly wakeful. She refuses all proposals that tend to divert her thoughts by exercise or employment: she will not walk-she will not drive; she will not even come downstairs. All day long she sits in the window-seat in her room-sits there, with drooped figure and carelessly dressed hair: her eyes fixed alternately on the brown winter outside, or the avenue by which all carriages and all foot-passengers must approach the house, and on the watch which lies on the table before her; as if by looking, looking, she could make the slow hands pass more swiftly over the dial-plate. Oh, unwise Lenore! to wish to hurry the feet of the swift minutes! They may seen unsweet, nay most bitter, according to our present gauge of sweet and sour; but oh! are they worse-are they worse than the deep timeless grave, and the leaden-coloured shores of Eternity, towards which, in their flitting, they carry us? Once, coming in suddenly, I find her with all Paul's letters strewn round her: she is reading them all through in orderfrom the first seasick note he wrote her from Jersey on his homeward journey, to the three scrawling, galloping lines which, less than a week ago, announced the train and the hour which were to bring him back to her. I think, poor soul! she is trying to extract more love than is in them, from the loving phrases that fill them. The short winter day treads heavily past to his rest, and the night comes-the winter night in its dull endlessness-then the dim, late morning light. Lenore makes no complaint, and cuts me short when I begin inquiries; but I know she has not slept. The postman comes and goes without any special interest attaching to him: it is impossible that he can bring anything yet.

Another day walks past with lagging feet. Lenore will not move, will not eat all her life seems to have passed into the eyes which grow to the face of the watch that ticks ever before her. She has turned Paul's picture, which hangs opposite her bed, to the wall; when I ask her why she has done it, she answers that, unless he is hers, she has no business to look at him.

The second slow day dies: its life is so faint and dark that there is but little difference between it and its death. Sylvia and I dine têteà-tête, and get over our dinner with a surprising and feminine celerity. It is astonishing how the presence of even one man prolongs the dura

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