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perience glistening with a glamour of romance. Above all, I was not yet twenty.

But selfishness I knew. I had watched it in others, hated it in myself. It was the groundwork of that flimsy fabric of my construction which I had misnamed “human nature.” I attributed it remorselessly to Kate. I thought that her silence was owing to her happiness. She was too much in love to think of me. The voluptuous life of a Southern world, the articulated lovelight of her husband's eyes, had passed over her heart like the breath over a mirror and had dimmed it. From it had passed the life at Ivy Lodge—from it the palefaced sister.

“It would have happened as I said,” I cried, with almost cynical exultation at finding a misanthropical conjecture realised,“ had I consented to live with her. She would have wearied of me—found me an intruder, and by perceptible toleration have taught me that dependence becomes more extravagantly bitter in proportion as we think we can claim it as a right.”

But this hateful bitterness of mine was soon to be changed into despair. What an agony of remorse seizes me as I write, as I recall the cruelty of these passing sentiments towards my sister !

One morning a letter deeply edged with black was placed in my hand. I knew the handwriting at once. It was Major Rivers's. It bore the Paris postmark. I hesitated before I opened it. My dread was the greater because I stood on the edge of a precipice of whose existence I had wandered on in ignorance. I tore the envelope ; glanced at the enclosure; and read that Kate was dead.

I read and doubted; nor could I prevail upon myself to believe until I had read the letter many times. It seemed incredible-impossible. I was stunned. I stared with vacant eye at the written lines, and went on mechanically reading; but no meaning took shape from what my eyes rested upon.

The letter was brief-brief as a sob, and as full of misery. The writer spoke of himself as heartbroken. Kate had died at Rome, giving birth to a boy. Her health would not allow her to return to England for her confinement. He—the writer--had been too prostrated to send me the news before. He was on his way home, and would be in London in a few days.

I sat for a long time tearless. I was too stunned to feel acutely yet. I could only think like one who is horribly startled. Presently dim conceptions of the reality floated upwards. They became stronger and stronger until they ended in an agony.

How was it I could not weep? How was it that these eyes remained stony, these lips tight? I prayed for tears, for there was a roaring in my head like the rushing of waters.

Suddenly my aunt entered the room. She came in with an expression of terror. She had heard of my having received a black-edged letter, and the thoughts of the mother flew to her son. Seeing my frozen attitude, my dilated eyes, my pale closed lips, she uttered a scream and snatched the letter from my hand. She read it. Her face relaxed her first expression, and took another—full of pain, but without the agony in it of the first.

“Good God !” she ejaculated, tossed up her hands, and burst into tears.

Her sobs made me shudder at first. I was incapable of comprehending her sorrow, for I could not understand my own. But she turned her face towards me; the plentiful tears coursed down her cheeks, the spectacle burst the iron-like bonds that compassed my heart. I fell with my head upon the table, and hiding my face in my arm, wept, as I have only wept once since.

My anguish was unutterable. My sobs shook me from head to foot. I trembled to them like a vessel trembles to the blows of hurling waves. My aunt endeavoured to comfort me. Her voice fell harshly. I raised my head, flung back my hair, and with my face buried in my hands glided to my bedroom.

Dead! What a change! It was the change that struck me dumb. The rapidity of it!—the unexpectedness of it! Dead, in the eye of that morning of joy which had dawned upon her after so long and bleak a night! The train of the vanished days swept past me mournfully; spectre-like, I mused with the apathy that follows temporarily the explosion of unspeakable grief. Memory restored her to me with awful vividness. I beheld her, the little child, leaping hand-in-hand with me; I heard her lisping laughter-saw the humid gladness in her young eyes. I beheld her meditative beneath the inexorable dominion of my aunt, with fallen merriment, with whispering accents. I beheld her budding in the beauty of womanhood : girlish in her maturity; but sad, spiritless, yearning for a new life. I beheld her as she wept upon my neck on the evening before her marriage. I heard her whispering of the graves of her parents ; her parting kisses-her clinging kisses—were still moist on my lips.

O sister! Gone in the moment when life was fairest with promise! Dead in the very shadow of that triumphal arch which love had raised for thee! Dead with the roses about thee! Dead with the light of a royal dawn upon thy clay-cold eyes !

As I whispered to myself through the scalding tears that smarted on my cheeks and lips, my thoughts reverted to my cousin George. I saw his tearful eyes weeping for him and her, but calm, trustful. How I longed for his sympathy then! How lonely, how unutterably lonely I felt!

I looked towards the sky. I pictured my sister mournfully gazing down upon me in company with our father and mother. I extended my arms, and out of the depths of the keen bitterness of solitude and woe my whole heart went forth into a wild passionate appeal for death.

A dreary time followed. It was clad in deepest mourning. I grew thin: and my face became white. I looked at my transparent hands, and hoped that they held death. A fortnight passed, and then my grief took to itself that undertone of resignation which is like a peace that blesses and promises rest to the aching heart.

November came. It was the anniversary of my sister's wedding. The morning had passed with me in prayer, meditation, and earnest struggles to conquer the lingering woe which many sobbing appeals to God had taught me was profitless. I was preparing to descend when the servant's knocking at the door told me I was wanted below. My heart gave a leap, then fluttered painfully. I knew, I guessed who it was. I passed downstairs and entered the parlour. There sat Major Rivers. As I entered he rose, held my hand in his for many moments, unable to speak, then drew a chair and led me to it.

I noticed but little change in him. Habitually dressed in dark clothes, his mourning dress made no difference to him. His face was calm, with the composure of the will. That composure, too, was familiar.

He looked at me with all his old wonderful tenderness in his eyes. In a moment my deep passion for him, which grief could not kill, time repress, disappointment change, revived in me.

He commenced speaking of Kate's death at once. His low melodious voice—that voice which lives along my heart-strings with an unconquerable fascination to this hour—was filled with pathos. The story of her death was very simple. She had been seized with a fever after having been already ill from a protracted attack of morbid hysteria. So abrupt was the attack that it had laid her low at once, utterly disconcerting their intention of returning to England. This was at Rome. An eminent French physician was telegraphed for from Paris, and he attended her in the illness that terminated in death in a fortnight from the time of the attack. Death was hastened by her confinement.

“It taxed the cleverness of the doctor," said Major Rivers, “ to preserve the poor little bairn. Its first cry was uttered as my poor wife died.”

I had been crying very bitterly during his narrative. He took my band as he concluded, and said: Maggie, I have come to ask you to teach me how to bear my

You must not give way to your grief. Think of my greater pang. If it is terrible for you to lose your sister, what must it be for me to lose my wife ?"


He seemed almost to draw me to him by my hand, which he still held, as he continued :

“I would have come to you before, but I had not the heart. Your own pain was, in my mind, above mine. I knew your love for her: I knew how your past lives had sanctified your associations: I knew how

your heart would be lacerated in having her torn from it. But see me. I am calm: my eyes are clear-my voice resolute. I have looked this frightful misery of mine in the face steadily, bearing its blighting gaze until it has lost its horrible form. You have more fortitude than I. You can do this—and more. Think

Think upon her now as I do—as a sweet saint. Make her memory a holiness, not a woe, in your heart. Her presence there will ring your life with a halo: you can make it the fount of sacred thoughts, and the inspiration of noble desires."

I heard his words; his hands clasped mine: my tears ceased to flow, and I listened, mute, obedient, charmed. “ Think


that it has cost me no effort to be able to offer you such consolations ?” he went on. “Is it not rather for me to plead for commiseration ? Veil your sorrow as I do mine. It is too sacred to be expressed by tears—ignoble drops that any grief will prompt!"

I did as he commanded, and looked up to show him that my eyes were tearless. I met his gaze. Was there anything in my eyes that sent an expression flitting across his face vague, indefinable as the shadow of gossamer seen floating ath wart the moon ?

“You must be brave, Maggie. I shall want your bravery. You who were dear to my wife are now dear to me: Kate's child is motherless—will you be its mother ?”

I started as if a ghost had crossed before me. He went on quickly, seeing that I had misapprehended his meaning:

“I have no one to whom I can confide the charge of this helpless little creature. I could trust no one but you. Could I secure safer guardianship? He has your blood in him, being your sister's child. Those nameless sympathies which exist in the blood of families will speak to him in your eyes, your caresses. Shall I be imposing a troublesome charge?”

No," I answered; "you offer me a duty which it would be my pride, my delight to perform. But.

“What is your objection ?” he asked, seeing me pause.
“ You will send him here?”
“No. You will return with me. My home is yours.”

“I cannot return with you. Send the little pet here, and I will devote my life to it.”


"You cannot return with me? Why? I have a house at Newtown newly furnished. It was to have received us. But it will be like a sepulchre. Come ! leave this existence which has been made unendurable to you. Am I not your brother?”

“I cannot live with you. Do not ask me. I am not wretched here now. Since George has left us my aunt treats me like a daughter. She will love your child : for poor Kate's death has been a terrible shock to her, filled her with keen repentance, and her remorse will guarantee her devotion to the offspring from whose mother she has wrung so many tears.”

“But my home will be so lonely-so fearfully lonely. Death has robbed me of love-I am selfish. I want, I crave for the companionship of one whose affinity with her whom I have lost will lighten my trouble. Do not leave me to my solitude.”

What would I have given to have said, "Yes, I will come”? But the lifelong influence of my aunt had filled me with something of the strength of her disciplinarianism: I found it fortunately operating at the moment which demanded its exercise.

" I could not live with you," I answered, not daring to meet his eyes. “Think of what you ask !"

He was silent. I felt that he was watching me intently. Presently he said:

“Be it so. The child shall be sent to you. It is delicate, and will need all your care. Will your aunt object ?"

“ No. She will welcome it." "

“Are you sure ? Suppose she should be angry with you for receiving it here—will you make my house your home then?”

I can safely promise. The supposition is more than unlikely.”

As I spoke my aunt entered the room. Major Rivers saluted her with distant politeness; but she did not notice it. She had tears in her eyes as she seated herself. “My son George was with me when I saw you last, Major Rivers,” she said.

He did not answer; but seemed struck with this illustration of the selfishness of sorrow. She dried her eyes tremulously, and then commenced to speak of Kate. She drew him over the same ground he had traced with me,I noticed his impatience—and then spoke of the baby. She manifested all the curiosity of a woman in her questions about the child, then paused, leaving me to fill up the silence by telling her of Major Rivers' proposal. There was no mistaking the expression upon his face of desire that she would object. But he was disappointed. She acquiesced with unwonted cordiality, named the room to be allotted for the nursery, and I could see welcomed the

" Yes.

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