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engagement to you, instead of mak- almost certainty, of the mutiny being ing me weaker, will strengthen and over before Mr. Carew reached Inhelp me in my duty; that-that- dia; the necessity of putting their I can't well express what I mean, engagement upon some tangible and, indeed, the lad's voice was and business-like footing; all these choked with his own earnestness; things, which to a Dashwood at

but what I want to say is, that you seventeen would have occurred as should let me go away from you a matter of course, never entered full of hope and spirit, and not into Esther's brain. She had already thinking of your poor miserable face done a great deal for Mr. Carew by here at home.'

the help of her own imagination; * Oliver, don't reason with me,I had put a great deal of purple and can't help feeling as I do!' And fine linen upon him out of the then, as a child checked from its treasury of her own vivid fancy; sorrow for a moment, goes back, now, chance effected the finishing with sudden passion, to its first stroke to the ideal she had all along plaint, she burst almost wildly into been creating. She saw him as a tears, and hid her face down on his hero. Yes, if she had not really breast.

loved him before she loved him If she had never really loved him now; and Oliver felt it. Perhaps, before; if she had mistaken emo- little as Esther could have believed tions roused by a handsome face it then, he was more in earnest than and pleading voice and sunset walks, she was, when, clasping her in his and her own first girlish pleasure arms, he swore to be true to her in being admired; if she had blindly till death; that, as she was his received all this counterfeit for the first, she should be his last love; true coin hitherto, in these moments and that neither time, nor distance, of parting she was, at least, not mis- nor any change, save in herself, taken. She loved him now. When should efface her from his heart. women waved their handkerchiefs And I? Ah, Oliver! you will and wept over the Guards on that have plenty of things to think of dull autumn day when they and to do; but I-you will write to marched through the streets of me very often, won't you?' London before they left for the "Of course. I am a horrid letterCrimea; when women wept over writer in general, but you'll not the shattered few—the gaunt wan mind that, Esther.' heroes' faces which another year As if

your letters could be horrid brought back to them, they were to me!' under just the same influence which . And you must answer them rerent this poor little country girl's gularly, not crossed, if you can help heart now; about the strongest emo- it, and tell me all that you are doing, tion (save one) that women's hearts are capable of, and one simulating 'I shall be doing nothing. I shall genuine passion so well that with tell you all I feel. the breast tightening under its Oh, yes—' Mr. Carew had a direct influence, the hands clasped vague feeling that such letters could warmly in the parting hero's own, not be very long, and I think he it would require a much cooler and was relieved. Long letters required more impartial analyst than poor long answers; and, as an Eton boy Esther to determine the actual in- should, he had dreadful misgivings gredients of which it is made up. as to his own spelling and general She loved him; she was quite sure diction. This sort of thing, under of that; and he was leaving her- the shade of a sycamore, was easy he was going away to die for his enough, or in a ball-room, or at arcountry - and she was to remain chery fêtes, or even on lonely moonhere with half the world between lit moors ;-but letters! · Whether them in this dull, silent old home I write or not, Esther, and whether of hers in Countisbury. The re- my letters express it or not, realities of the case; balls at Malta, member that I love you, that I flirtations in Bombay, probability, shall never love any one again as I

you know.'



do you, and now—now Esther, my absence, but the application of other own dear love, I must leave you stimulus, cures: that not the mere indeed.'

fact of being left, but being left It was five minutes longer before alone, fosters love and keeps it they parted, and at the end of that alive. "L'homme a sa force et l'extime Esther had not spoken one ercise de sa puissance: il agit, il word about their engagement and va, il s'occupe, il pense, il embrasse the footing on which it should be l'avenir et y trouve des consolaplaced; neither had it entered Ca- tions. La femme demeure; elle rew's mind to disclose the truth reste face à face avec le chagrin concerning his own future position, dont rien ne la distrait; elle descend which, with a boy's foolishness, he jusqu'au fond de l'abime qu'il a had till now kept from her. I don't ouvert, le mesure et souvent le think a dozen words that could be comble de ses væux et des larmes.' reduced to typography had passed Mr. Carew in four-and-twenty between them, at all, during these hours was with his regiment on its minutes. They held each other's way to the East; Esther, alone and hands; they looked, as cyes under unoccupied, was dreaming of him twenty-two do look, when their pos- among the lonely silence of the sessors believe that they love and Countisbury hills. Could absence know that they must part; and under such opposing circumstances then, then, Esther stood alone under by any possibility bring about a the shadow of the sycamore and precisely similar form of result? knew that the first act of her life One thing it undoubtedly did for was over for ever. Play such a part Esther Fleming's love: it idealized again in sober earnest! look back it marvellously. It was not easy upon this as on a rehearsal to be very poetic about Mr. Carew, Rachel or Talma might have looked however much you adored him, in back to the first crude awakening his presence. His handsome, boyof their powers

as the maestro ish, sunburnt face was one you could looks back from his glorious Mass not be sentimental about if you in C to the first vague dream which would; his constant flow of animal foreshadowed it in his youth !-when spirits, his hearty ringing laugh, did such heresy (such truth) ever were all things that set romance at enter a heart as honest, and as ig- defiance. But away; gone to that norant of itself, as

was Esther far post of danger from whence she Fleming's at scarce eighteen! should possibly never see the brave

young face return; Esther could dream him into a position much .

nearer her own ideal than he had CHAPTER XII.

ever come in reality. If the feeling

had dimly struggled up in her mind MISS JOAN EVINCES HER STRENGTH

at times, during their three weeks'

friendship, that she was, in truth, Is love, in the majority of cases, Carew's superior; that there were strengthened or weakened by the thoughts of hers, girl though she absence of its object? A great au- was, to which he could never thority, and one prone to terrible reach, feelings he could never share, truth in such matters, tells us that she was too innately generous for for the malady of love there is one such convictions to trouble her in humiliating but almost specific

his absence now. She remembered cure - absence. Another, and a his tender words, his manly tender philosopher, lays down as an axiom words of love for her, not those that the sentiment is strongest, the little occasional tokens of mental passion weakest in the absence of inferiority which had made the the beloved object. Passing over blood start with such a sense of all pretty little poetic platitudes uneasy shame into her face when about the purifying effect of time they were together. " What does and distance upon the affections, I intellect matter?' she questioned think we may conclude that not herself once, once only—and this was


after she had been made censorious of which she had not experienced by some rather curious grammar in the slightest, the most passing throb Mr. Carew's first letter-Should I

in his presence.

She made pilprefer some conceited clever gen- grimages to all the places where tleman, who could write me pretty they had been together. She found, verses and think of nothing but his or thought she found, the exact own ability, to the simple, manly spot where Oliver Carew first spoke heart that is mine so entirely?' to her of love, gathered up some

And then Mr. Carew's letter, of withered petals of the wild roses on course, went through quite an ova- the bank, and wore them next her tion of remorseful tenderness. It heart in a little locket-from whence would have been more truthful to she was first obliged to dispossess say, 'Should I prefer a man who a lock of poor David Englecould be brave and handsome, and heart's grizzled hair. She liked yet write grammatically, and possess more than ever to spend her evenat least as much brains as myself ings in the house place, the only into the bargain ?' But Esther did room in the house that had known not want to be truthful; she wanted Oliver's presence, and to dream, to make out the strongest possible sitting there in the spot she had sat case in favour of the man she had by him, that she could still see his promised to love; and aided by her handsome face shining on her in the imagination, and still more, as I golden light. Even to walk down have said, by the happy chance of to the hotel where he had lodged her lover's absence, she succeeded in and look up, shy and blushing, to doing so.

the window where he used to stand, Indeed, this letter, after her first made her pulses thrill strangely. disappointment as to its ability had To walk alone and think of him past, was a strong tie that bound among the odorous lanes at night her afresh to Oliver. A very young took her into a world of passion woman always believes she finds more subtle and delicious than any some new clue to the character of to which word or look of Mr. Cathe man who loves her in the first rew's had had power to transport letter she receives from his hand. her when she was with him. Those words, 'my promised wife, 'I thought you would have pined 'your attached till death,' and a little for the knight who loved others of a like kind which occurred and who rode away,' said Joan, several times in it, appealed to all spitefully, to her once; and inthat was deepest in Esther's heart. stead of that you look better and Now that she saw these things happier than ever.

I am glad to written she felt how solemn the tie see you are so tough-hearted, Esther, was that held her to Oliver, how after all the nonsense David has sacred were the promises she had talked since you were four years tacitly taken upon herself. She old about your sensitiveness and began to think, not so much of the your warm affections and your painhandsome lad she had known for ful depths of feeling.' three weeks among the moors, as of Why should I grieve for Mr. the man who called her his pro- Carew ?' said Esther, rather hypomised wife, and who wrote himself critically. Surely, Joan, you would hers until death. And it is always not have me break my heart for again for a commonplace lover every well-looking stranger one when he begins to lose his indi- chances to meet upon our moors? viduality!

If Mr. Carew liked to ride away, I Esther had long held opinions of am sure it is much better that I her own as to what should con- shouldn't trouble my head any more stitute the character of a man she about him.' could love; and as soon as Oliver, by Partly because he had himself dint of absence and imagination, desired that their engagement should was placed on the throne of this be secret, and partly influenced by visionary ideal, the girl's memory her own vague terror of Joan's tenclung to him with passion-passion der mercies towards all lovers,

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Esther had told Oliver to send her She did not confine herself to acriletters under cover to poor David. monious playfulness with Esther Miss Engleheart's suspicions as to and scarcely-veiled contempt for the the existence of any positive engage- besotted fool David; she resolved to ment were, therefore, suspicions part them. Mrs. Tudor had already only. But she had sufficiently invited Esther to spend some months sharp intuitions, even in love mat- of the coming winter with her in ters, to tell her that Esther's placid Bath; and so, without any discusface, after the terrible paleness of sion of the matter even with her the first two days passed off, be- mother, Joan wrote and proposed tokened confidence at least in Ca- to her aunt that Esther should join rew's good faith; and the extreme her at once at the seaside.

Her lowness of David's spirits, and the visit will, of course, be for three visible change in his demeanour months, as you proposed, Miss towards Esther, strengthened her in Engleheart wrote; and if a month her belief that not only was the of it is spent at the seaside with girl's heart won, but that David him- you now she must return to us one self was perfectly conscious of the month earlier in the spring. The desperate folly of his own long- change to a gay watering-place will cherished dreams.

be a treat to the girl after her life This was precisely the state of here, and I will pay her travelthings at which Miss Joan had desired ling expenses from Weymouth to to arrive; and for several weeks Bath. after Oliver's departure she was un- Mrs. Tudor was not unfrequently usually lenient in her conduct to amiable when it involved no diffiEsther, never questioning her as to culty of any kind to herself to be her lonely musings on the garden After all, she wanted the girl terrace or the moors, or the absent more in her seaside lodgings than and distracted way in which she at Bath. She could go to market went through the daily routine of instead of Wilson; she could carry her work at home. But when, gra- her air-cushion to the beach; she dually, David began, as of old, to could play piquet of an evening. be the girl's companion; when, in- The two first offices Mistress Wilstead of Esther sitting alone in the son-Aunt Tudor's own maid starlight on the terrace, David got performed with exceeding sulkiness back to her side as he had used to (and all demonstrations of nerves do before Carew ever came; when on the part of Wilson made Mrs. long conversations and lingering Tudor miserable; where should she walks and evening readings became find such an inestimable, faithful once more the staple of David creature, one so versed in wigs and Engleheart's life, Miss Joan's milder dyes and paint and scandals, at feelings underwent a sudden and only twenty-five pounds a year sharp revulsion. Esther was making again ?): for cards—and cards in David her confidant; it was not for some shape, even without playing him but for Oliver that the girl's for money, were a necessary aliment face flushed up as she talked to to Aunt Tudor's life-she was rehim. David, poor fool! was listen- duced to the doctor's wife when, ing for another to all the tender with professional kindness, that lady nonsense he had coveted to hear at would come and sit with her an first-hand, and would end by be- hour or two of an evening. Yes, coming more hopelessly besotted Esther would be a decided relief. by his ridiculous passion than ever: Mrs. Tudor wrote back quite an perhaps, if Carew did prove false, affectionate response to her niece's would end by winning Esther, not appeal; and Joan, without any note to love him-Joan never thought of warning or preparation, anthat—but to accept his honest love nounced to Esther at once that and ugly face in exchange for the she should pack up her things and false fair stranger she had failed to start. win.

It was a moment of triumphant With Joan to think was to act. glory to Miss Engleheart when she broke out with the sudden news to simply speechless and stupefied, unDavid. He was sitting in his little conscious what further vials of sanctum in the sinking autumn wrath Joan might be about to pour evening with Esther; the futile pre- upon his head. Just when he was text of tying flies to occupy his beginning to get a little happy hands, but his eyes—those great again, to have at least two or three foolish eyes of his, as Joan would hours of daily confidences from call them, under the evil influence Esther-you must remember there that possessed her! those foolish, are human beings, even men, who and not at all handsome eyes of his, would rather be the confidant of a fixed with their accustomed mute passion than go for nothing in it, adoration upon his companion's would rather be talked to about face. Esther had not, as you know, another lover than not hear any one particle of a coquette in her mention of love at all-for this nature; and of all living creatures woman's inexorable sharpness to she would least have led astray poor have dragged his poor secrets to simple, trusting David. But it is light again, and for her to be difficult to speak of the thing avenged upon him thus! He could nearest ne heart without some

scarce ha felt more hopelessly unconscious softening of the voice; miserable had she said, David to speak of love and of a distant Engleheart, you will marry me tolover without some of the incense morrow morning. Indeed, I almost originally meant for the object of think, of the two, it would have supreme worship shedding its dan- crushed him less: provided, always, gerous sweetness upon the senses that Esther might have been preof the unhappy neophyte who is sent at the wedding. humbly playing his little part of • You will start, by the coach, at assisting at the altar. Esther was five to-morrow morning, and get to thinking wholly of Oliver, and not Weymouth in time for a late tea; one whit of David, as, blushing and Joan's voice sounded quite genial and eager, she knelt by his side and good-humoured. Nothing pleases repeated to him some solemn unim- Aunt Thalia more than to find portant bit of intelligence out of people don't want to eat, so I'll put Carew's last letter; but I must con- you up some hard-boiled eggs and fess there was enough in the beauty sandwiches for the journey. What of her flushed face, in the childish are you looking so odd for, child? grace of her familiar attitude ; thought it would be a treat for enough in the unconscious charm you to get away a month or two of her perfect confidence and the sooner from home, and see a little guilty start of poor David on sud- gaiety at a place like Weymouth.' denly hearing Joan's vicious snap 'I like home better than Aunt at the handle of the door, to justifyTudor, Joan. I don't care about all that lady's preconceived visions gaieties at all; and if you please I as to the peril of this prolonged will write myself and tell her so! and unchecked intimacy.

Her voice broke again. Esther, you will go to Aunt Miss Joan seated herself with that Tudor to-morrow morning.'

peculiar angular sharpness that Cousin?

always betokened the advent of a She is at the seaside, and wants few forcible opinions, and looked you. Shall Patty iron out your straight into David 'Engleheart's lilac muslin, or will you travel in face. 'David, shall I tell you what one of your cottons ?'

ails the girl ?' she remarked with Oh, Joan!

perfect callousness to her victim's * Make up your mind quick. I nervous writhes and deprecating am going to pack your things.' gestures. “Shall I tell you what

' But, Joan, it is very sudden.' ails our little Esther?'

The wrench of parting from Joan, if you please, I would Countisbury, from all that remained ratherto her of Oliver, made Esther's Our little Esther fancies herself voice choke; as to David, he sat in love with Mr. Oliver Carew.'


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