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He says you may dress and come down as soon as you like.”

“ As soon as I like?" repeats Lenore ironically; " that would be a long time off. Why may not I stay here?"—(stretching out her arms lazily). “I am happy. I like to lie here all day long; the noises of the house seem so far off, and your footsteps outside sound so gently. I like to listen to the clocks one after another, and count them as they strike. I feel nothing-I think of nothing. I have not been so happy for years."

“ He says that staying in bed is very weakening.”
“ Then I like being weakened.”
“Nonsense! Please talk like a rational being."

Never was toilet more slowly made than Lenore's—partly from weakness—for her illness, though brief, has told upon her ; partly from a deep and innate unwillingness to return to the well and worka-day world. At length there is no evading the fact that she is fully dressed ; not only fully dressed, but established in an arm-chair before Sylvia's boudoir fire: a banner screen between her face and the flame ; novels, workboxes, point lace, a pug-everything that is necessary to make a rational woman's happiness-within easy reach of her hands. There is one other addition, without which, many rational women think happiness incomplete—a lover; and even he is not far off.

As a man's heavy step sounds muffled along the carpeted passage, as a man's fingers close on the door-handle, Lenore turns her head resolutely to the other side-like a child averting its face from the inevitable rhubarb and magnesia-and rests her cheek on the back of her chair.

He enters softly, and afraid even of breathing over-noisily, imagining she is asleep, stoops his waved gold head over her. He is soon undeceived.

“I wish,” she says, in a most wide-awake voice, opening her beautiful petulant eyes full upon him, " that you would not come creeping in, in that creakily tiptoe way; nothing in the world fidgets me so much.”

He starts upright again in a hurry.

" It was a stupid trick,” he says humbly, and then stops suddenly, afraid of rousing livelier wrath by further speech. As for her, she rolls her pretty pettish head from side to side, and affects not to see him. He grows tired at last, of standing with his back to the mantleshelf, silent, and says, with eager tenderness but in a rather frightened voice:

“ You are better ?”

“Yes, I am better,” she answers quickly; " at least, so they say; but I am still far from well—very far; it will be long enough before I am strong again, and—and—and-up to anything.”

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Riley says that there is nothing like-like change of air” (reddening guiltily).

“Riley is an old woman” (reddening too).

“ Lenore !" throwing himself down on his knees, on the rug beside her, and in so doing, giving an unconscious buffet to the pug's black face, who forthwith departs howling, unheeded, and with his tail uncurled. “ Lenore! why need we have half the county to see us married? Why need we put on smart clothes ? Why cannot you come quietly to church with me to-morrow, in your common bonnet and shawl ” (Scrope is unaware that shawls are, for the moment, extinct,)“ with only the clerk to say 'Amen'?"

“ Where is the hurry ?” she asks, tapping her.foot impatiently on the fender. “ You talk as if we were two old people, each with a leg in the grave. Supposing that we put it off for a year, we should still probably have fifty to gape opposite each other in.”

“Even if we were sure of the fifty,” he says gently, “I should still grudge the one; can one be too long happy ?” “I never heard any one complain of being so.”

Do you like sickly women ?" she says abruptly, apparently half softened by his tone and looking amicably at him. “ I think I am radically sickly—see how half a day has pulled me down-my elbows stick out like promontories” (pulling up her sleeve to show one)—“ if you married me you would have to be always cosseting metrundling me about in a Bath chair, and measuring out physic in a spoon for me.”

He is about to burst into a storm of protestations, but she interrupts him.

"Do you know what Jemima said, that day, when I told her I was going to marry you ?"

“ No."
“ Well, she said it was indecently soon.”

“ I do not see what business it was of Jemima's,” says the young man, looking rather surly.

“ Neither do I; but all the same it is true--indecently soon—that is the very word that expresses it.” As she speaks, her face becomes spread with a hot blush, and his own is not slow to repeat it in the deeper colours of manhood.

“What does this mean?” he asks, rising to his feet, while a look of utter fear makes the red in his cheeks give way. “ What is this the preface to? Is it indecently sooner than it was yesterday, or the day before, or the day before that?”

“Do not be angry,” she says deprecatingly, stretching out her hand on which his own diamonds are flashing.

“ You know you are always reasonable—you always mind what I say, even when it is not reasonable; that is why I like you.”

There is something of the turkey-cock about every woman; gobbling and swelling if a man is frightened and runs; small and silent if he stands still and cries “ Shoo!” It is his turn now; there is no use in gobbling at him; he affects not to see her hand, and only says briefly, “ Go on."

“ You know," she says, sitting upright in her chair and straining her neck backwards, so that her eyes may attain his face and watch it, “ that I proposed to you—it is not a sort of thing that a man would be likely to forget. I try to think of it as little as possible, but it is true; and you accepted me; – I suppose” (laughing awkwardly) “ that you could not well have been so uncivil as to do otherwise." “ Go on.”

Well” (fidgeting uneasily), “ I mean to marry you still—fullybut-but-it must be-not just yet-not now; a year-six months hence, perhaps—instead.”

Unwilling to witness the effect of her words, she has dropped her eyes at the last clause ; but as the moments pass, and no sound comes, save that of a cinder falling from the grate, she looks up again.

"Have you no tongue ?" she says, irritably; "are you never going to speak ?"

A year hence !” he says, in a low voice, turning a face, white as the face of the uncoloured dead, towards her. "That means never. Thank you for leading me so gently up to it. Do you think I do not see what you are aiming at? Do you think I have not watched it coming during the last fortnight? I have prayed not to see" (striking his hands together). “I have entreated God to let me be blind always. Good God !" (flinging his arms down on the chimneypiece, and hiding his face on them,) "how do men bear these things? Who can teach

me?"

“Bear what?" she cries, rising hastily to her feet and putting her hand on his coat sleeve. “What are you talking about? What is there to bear ?”

“So you have been tricking me all this time, have you ?" he says, raising his ruffled head and looking deliberately at her, with a resentful calm in face and voice. “At least, it can hardly be called trickery: it was so lamely done, a child might have seen through the deception.”

Silence.

“Of course you know best" (in the same polite, cold tone); “but would it not have been simpler, and come to much the same thing in the end, to have left me alone in the first instance ?"

Left him alone! The very question, in almost the same words, that Paul had once asked.

“ I had gone clean away,” he continues, in the same repressed and sedulously quiet voice. “Your polite speeches had effectually rid you of me. A man would not willingly listen twice to some of the compliments you paid me at that ball. I had no intention of coming back; why did you send for me ?”

Still no answer, no attempted defence.

“I can at least” (with a bitter smile, that sits ill on his fair smooth face,)“ pay you the compliment of saying that you are not a good liar. You are not apt at the trade; you bungle. Every day, and fifty times a day, your mouth has said to me, “I like you—you are a good fellow-we shall be happy together;' and every day, and fifty times a day, your eyes and every movement of your body have said, I loathe you. I can hardly bring myself to speak civilly to you.'

Still silence.

“ Did it ever occur to you” (taking her by both slender wrists) “ to make a rough calculation how many falsehoods you have told me during this last month ?"

“Stop!" she cries, wrenching away her hands from his grasp, which has more of the gaoler than the lover in it. “Stop! you are very bitter to me-very. I can hardly believe that it is you ; but you speak truth. I have told you many, many lies, but at least I have told them to myself too. I have said them over and over again, in the hope that they would come true at last.”

He smiles a dry smile of utter incredulity. “ That was very probable.”

“You do not believe me ?” she says passionately. “Well, I take God to witness—you will hardly disbelieve me now—that ever since that day in the library, when I thrust myself so immodestly on you (she is crimsoner than any closed daisy's petals at the words), “I have longed and striven with all my heart and soul and strength to-tocare for you—as-as-you wish to be cared for."

“ Well ?”

“I have said over and over to myself all your good qualities, like a lesson. I have tried” (her face contracts with an agony of shame)" to wrench away all the love I ever had to give from—the—the person who once had it, and to give it to you instead.”

" Well ?"

“Sometimes, when I was away from you, I thought I had succeeded; but when you came near me, when you touched me, good and kind and handsome as you are

She stops abruptly.

“Go on,” he says, in a hoarse whisper. "Do not let any consideration for my feelings stop you; it would not be you if you did — good and kind and handsome as I am” (ironically repeating her words).

“It was too soon—too soon,” she cries, clasping her hands in deep excitement, while the large scalding tears drop hotly over her cheeks. “Jemima was right, it was indecently soon. In the grief and shame of being so treated, I wonder, Charlie” (smiling painfully) “ that you are so anxious to marry a jilted woman. I thought I could forget all in a minute, but I cannot; nobody could. If I were to go away to-day, and throw you over for ever, could you forget me all in a minute ?"

“I would try my best,” he says, with a fierce white smile. “Perhaps it would be more correct to say, 'I will try my best.””

“Do you think I do not wish to forget ?" she says, taking his hand of her own accord, while her wet eyes gaze wistfully upward, into the deep angry blue of his. “Do you think I remember on purpose? Does one enjoy not sleeping and not eating, and being in miserable uneasy pain all day and all night ?"

He keeps sileuce.

“I am no great prize at the best of times," she says, half sobbing. “My sisters—all my people--will tell you that; but what sort of woman should I have been if I could have jumped straight out of one man's arms into another's, quite easily and comfortably, without feeling any shame? It was bad enough to be able to do it at all. Oh, Charlie! Charlie ! knowing what you did about me, how could you think me worth taking? How could you take me ?"

How could I take you?" he says, with a harsh low laugh, as unlike the jocund sound of his usual boyish mirth as possible. “Do

know that when a man is starving he is not particular as to having a whole loaf ? He says 'thank you' even for crumbs. I tell you, Lenore, that morning in Ireland, when I got your note, I had as little hope of ever holding you in my arms as my wife, as I had of holding one of God's angels. When I found that there was a chance of my so holding you, judge whether I was likely to throw it away.”

He has put one of his hands on each of her shoulders, and stands gazing steadfastly at her with a bitter yearning in his eyes.

“I knew that your soul was out of my reach,” he continues, sadly; " that I should get only your body, and even that shrank away from

Shall I ever forget those first two kisses that you gave me that I made you give me? They were colder than ice.”

A little pause. The fire-flame quivers and talks to itself; the pug plucks up heart again, and, returning, lies down, with his nose resting on his bowed forelegs.

“I suppose it is all for the best,” says Scrope, presently, with a forced smile; "at least it is as well to say so, is not it? I was so idiotically fond of you that, if you had been decently civil to me, I suppose I should have been happier than any man can be and live.” No answer. “Do you know," he resumes, in a tone of deep and

not you

me.

VOL. XXXIV.

2 G

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