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ened with great attention to Mrs. No, not exactly Tudor's scoring quatorze to a king,

'I understand. The person you and began playing with her fingers were thinking of when I first interupon the rail of the balcony; and, rupted you just now.' finally, suggested, rather faintly, Oh dear no. I was thinking then that the air was growing cold, and of-of my old home in Devonshire. she thought perhaps it would be Don't you think the sky is looking better to go in.

clearer, Mr. Chichester ? *Not at all,' answered Paul in his She krew, even in that dim light. decisive way.

• What should you that Paul's eyes were upon her face, go in for?'

and that he had seen her blush, * Because it is getting cold.' ‘Don't you feel a colder air coming

'I will bring you a shawl, then. up from the sea ?' And without being heard by either "I feel sensible of a great chill, Mrs. Tudor or Whitty, he made his Miss Fleming. It has come on me way softly into the room and brought suddenly-in the last few seconds.' out a light shawl of Mrs. Tudor's ' And we had better go in, then?' from the sofa. Will you let me "As you will. Yes; probably it put it on for you? Thank you, you is better, for me, at all events, to go.' need not stoop. I am tall enough Elsewhere I have disclaimed for to reach your shoulders when I hold Esther every quality belonging to a myself very upright.'

coquette. She had, however, enough "Oh, Mr. Chichester, how can you instinctive vanity to catch at the talk such nonsense ? You are taller meaning of Paul's tone. “I think than me by three or four inches.' you must be very sensitive, Mr. Chi

“No, Miss Fleming, I am not. I chester,' looking up at him with her am as inferior to you, physically, as shy half-smile. You must be in a I am mentally and morally.'

very delicate state of health if you The words, although Paul's tone are so dreadfully afraid of getting a was jesting, hurt Esther with quite chill.' a sharp pain. What woman is not Afraid ? No, that is not the pained by an allusion to her intel- word. The effect cannot by any lect from the man she is prepared possibility be serious to me, but to love? 'You mean that I set my- the immediate effect is unpleasant. self very high, Mr. Chichester,' she You' understand ?' cried; but you are just as wrong Esther leant forward across the in that as you are about my size. railing of the balcony, and made Stand close to me, please, and you some remark again upon the beauty will see what a mistake you have of the night. Those broad circles

of gleaming light on the calm sea He stood by her side, but not betokened fine weather. She had close. Something in her eager child- no doubt Mr. Chichester would have ish face would have withheld even a pleasant day for his journey toa different man than Paul from mis- morrow. interpreting her meaning.

• And I shall carry with me a ‘Now which is the taller, Miss pleasant remembrance,' said Paul, Fleming?' he asked, when Esther coming a step closer to her. "Yes, had gravely held her head as high in spite of that sudden chill I got and majestically as possible.

just now, Miss Fleming, I shall re“You, by a great many inches,' member this hour that you have she answered, glancing up at the allowed me to talk to you with graceful outline of Paul's figure, as gratitude. It is mine, you know! it cut, sharp and clear, against the Although, I dare say, you will never evening sky. 'I am sure, although think of me again, you have thought I did not think so at first, that you of me now, and I shall remember are nearly as tall as

this one hour out of your life as 'As---?'

belonging to me exclusively. Are 'A friend of ours, Mr. Chichester. you offended ?' Some one I was thinking of

Oh, Mr. Chichester!' and she • Your cousin David, in short.' turned to him with that serious


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you here.'

smile that at times made her face and a half to deliver he must be a absolutely beautiful; 'why should more devoted lover than I thought I be offended ? I am glad you him.' have cared to talk to me. I wished * And I think I must get you to so much to meet you and know you show me that way of turning back —for Jane's sake.'

the hair, Miss Fleming,' whispered And for Jane's sake you will not Miss Whitty, as she was preparing forget me?'

to depart. It gives a soft, pensive No.

look to the face that is really most I cannot take upon myself to say interesting.' what answer or what equivocation that 'no' of Esther's was intended to convey; but Paul seemed satis

CHAPTER XVI. fied with it; and it took him very nearly another hour to exhaust the subject of Miss Dashwood's mes- When Esther found herself alone sages, and to impress upon Esther's for the night her first action was to mind the extreme improbability, unlock the little box in which she even if they should meet, of her kept those priceless treasures Mr. ever giving him her full and undi- Oliver Carew's letters, and spread vided attention again. 'I believe them out, lovingly, before her sight. I must go away now,' he remarked, She felt (in her profound ignoat last. 'I hear sounds of Mrs. Tu- rance of human nature, her own dor's being about to win her last especially) as though the very touch game, and it will be wise of me to of these letters would do her good: escape before Miss Whitty requires as though she had but to read them an escort home. Don't come in, over to feel how marvellously supethank you. I will say good-bye to rior their writer was to Paul Chi

chester and every other man living. Good-bye, Mr. Chichester.' And yet she knew, instinctively, * Does myrtle grow on these sea- that she dared not, in her present side balconies, Miss Fleming? A state of mind, open the last. One subtle sense of its presence has or two terribly ill-constructed, not seemed close to me all this evening to say ungrammatical sentences, Really, if I could see where it grows rankled too freshly in her memory I would ask you to give me a piece. yet for that: the earlier letters, all One doesn't get myrtle in London full of warmth and truth and tenat this season of the year.'

der recollections of their walks at * There is no myrtle here but this Countisbury, those were what she little piece I have in my belt. It is needed to calm, to refresh her in fading already. I brought it yes- this strange fever in which she terday with some other flowers all found her thoughts! And so, after the way from Devonshire. It is not going duly through the initiatory worth your having. And she gave rites always performed upon the it to him.

opening of that sacred repository, • Thank you, Miss Fleming. You the letters were brought forth are very kind; and I do not mis- slowly, one by one, and read. interpret your kindness. Thank She wished she had left them you. Good-night.'

alone: she wished, at least, she had He held her hand closely for a not read them till to-morrow. Never second, then left her, and in another before had they seemed so trite minute had got through his com- and schoolboy-like as at that parpliments to the ladies in the draw- ticular moment, when she would ing-room, and left the house. have given all for them to prove

* The Miss Dashwoods seem to clever, or, at least, decently wellhave sent long messages,' remarked expressed. She could have written Mrs. Tudor, when Esther at last better letters when she was eleven; made her appearance. 'If the Joan, David, anybody could writo young man could really remember better letters. Why, some of the stories that took him over an hour sentences began in one tense and

ended in another; and some, if you investigated them strictly, had no very immediate meaning at all; and some, which should have been long and overflowing with feeling, were bald and curt; and others (full of such interesting details as the excellent dinners on board, or the price he had settled to give for a grey mare) were involved and lengthy; and all were in the style of the Polite Letter-Writer:' and all-very bitterly she reiterated this -were worse in thought and style, too, than she herself could have written when she was eleven years old.

And what if they were ? Is it not proverbial that English lads, fresh from public schools, can scarcely spell their own names ? that all young men are bad correspondents ? that Oliver had, himself, asked her indulgence for his letters? And was she in love with Oliver Carew, or with his letters? Were his generous, manly qualities to be outweighed by defective syntax and doubtful orthography? He had never assumed intellect: she had chosen, of her own free will, to fall in love with him simply as he

This very night she had told Paul Chichester that she would deliberately shut her eyes to all faults in the person she loved; and here she was carping over the one very small demerit that it was possible for her to find in her poor absent Oliver. Paul Chichester: she wished she had never seen him. In some way or other he was the cause of her taking out those letters, and seeing mistakes in them, and being bitter over them. Did she think him so immeasurably superior, then, in intellect to the man who was to be her companion for life?

Quite in a flush of indignant denial at the suggestion Miss Fleming sprang up, and, after tenderly storing away the letters, but wisely abstaining from reading another word of them, locked up her little desk and put it away out of her sight. Paul Chichester superior to Oliver ! the idea was monstrous. To reflect upon its enormity at her ease she hid her candle in the further corner of her room, then seated herself on

the floor by the window, bent down her face upon her knees, and began to look out at the night.

The moon, that was showing faintly across the downs when Paul first spoke to her, had now travelled far away southward, and was shining, high and alone, on the pure purple of the midnight sky. Involuntarily Esther felt that she too had travelled far in the short space of the last few hours—that she had quitted for ever the land of dawning dreams-had stood and looked, for the first time, upon the wide sea of actual life and actual passion. Her engagement to Oliver had never made her feel thus. ... What had made her feel it now?

Paul Chichester?

She wished again she had never seen Paul Chichester. That chance accident of likeness to the picture at Countisbury gave her a kind of foolish interest in his face which she was far from extending to Mr. Chichester himself. What was there, if one came to reason calmly, that was superior about him? His appearance ? why, most people, no doubt, would think Oliver, with his fine broad shoulders and ruddy face, a vast deal better looking. And what mattered looks, too? Was & man better for having an intellectual forehead and refined cast of features ? Could not a good, round, Saxon head and face express just as many excellent moral, if not, perhaps, intellectual, qualities, as any sombre, Vandyck countenance in the world ? She was not sure, now, that she thought Paul Chichester at all good-looking. And his manner? abrupt and fitful; reserved one moment, and then suddenly advancing to the most intimate confidences the next! Had he behaved rightly in speaking as he had done of Jane? Had he not confessed to acting out a systematic course of deception simply for the sake of the pleasant sensations which his moral experience might occasion to himself? And was not [another still, small voice, loq.] was not all that he had said about Jane and about his engagement half a jest ? Had she, Esther Fleming, caught, in fact, one glimpse of Paul's true


She made this exposition of faith aloud, for greater solemnity, as she took one more look at the sea after putting out her candle; and then she went to her rest, poor child! and dreamt, not of Oliver Carew, but of the little old Vandyck upon the wall at Countisbury.


character ? Did not his face and voice tell of qualities widely different to any that their brief conversation had called forth ? Had he not talked down to her-as men do to foolish girls of eighteen? Oliver had not talked down to her, because-because—he was so young himself, not yet one-and-twenty, and Paul Chichester was quite old -thirty, she should think, a dozen years older than herself.

Still, she would certainly like to know something more of him than what he was when he was talking nonsense and asking for bits of myrtle ;—that myrtle rankled in Esther's conscience, so she tried to make quite light of it in her meditations, It would, she was convinced, be pleasant to be intimate, for once, with some one altogether stronger and cleverer than herself. Joan, perhaps, was cleverer ; but then Joan was not agreeable; David was book-clever, but a child in knowledge of life and of human beings; and as to Oliver-well, of course he was intensely agreeable, and had seen a great deal more of the world than she had; but Oliver only saw on the surface, and had a habit of opening his blue eyes wide in rather a discouraging way if she tried to engage him in any little speculations on those subjects of right and wrong, and of the necessity of right and wrong existing, which to her own mind had been quite familiar problems since the time she was twelve years old. Oliver, in short, continually got out of his depth. She would prefer getting out of her own depth, and being upheld and set right again by a stronger mind than her own.

Then she preferred Paul as a companion to Oliver. The desolating conclusions at which she seemed fated to arrive on this evening overcame Esther with quite a sharp pain. Although strong enough to analyze her own new emotions, she was weak enough to feel shocked at the result of her own self-questioning!

Oliver, you are first with me, Oliver, I will never, even to myself, allow that any other person can be superior to you!

THE TRIALS OF TOAD-EATING. A month at the seaside was the utmost limit which Mrs. Tudor's regard for health, or even for fashion, could enable her to live through. She missed her whist, she missed her enemies, she missed her doctor, she missed her friends: she almost missed her accustomed pew in church. And then Wilson was so dissatisfied. Wilson averred that her bed had lumps like bullets in it: Wilson never found the seaside agree for long together with her head: the lodging people did not prepare buttered toast to Wilson's taste. How was it possible to remain more than a month in a place where Wilson could not get properly-arranged buttered toast for her tea?

'I really don't know what we should have done without you, Miss Whitty,' said Esther, kindly, as, on the morning of their departure, Whitty was fastening on labels and tying up parcels for Mrs. Tudor.

Aunt Thalia would scarcely have lived through each day as it came round if it had not been for the prospect of your game at piquet in the evening.'

• Oh dear, no! Miss Fleming,' answered poor Miss Whitty, humbly. It is very good of you to say so; but I am sure playing with me for nothing must have been dull work after all your aunt is accustomed to at home. If I have afforded my little quota of amusement, it is, of course, very gratifying to reflect on-very gratifying indeed. I can never do enough in return for all dear Mrs. Tudor's great benefits to me.'

Esther had never yet been able to find out what were, in real, solid fact, the benefits accorded to Miss


Whitty by Mrs. Tudor. She knew when we came, and I wouldn't have that Whitty occupied the parlours them over again if I was paid for it.' beneath Mrs. Tudor's drawing-rooms And she glanced at Miss Whitty, in Bath, and that she was always who, hot and patient, was sewing up realy to play double-dummy or the parrot's cage for the third time, piquet when required, or to prepare as though to indicate a fitting perthe rooms for a party, or to make son-though not paid for it-to tea in the back drawing-room, or to fulfil the office that was so much put away the plate again in silver- beneath herself. paper, or clean the vases, or wind And then it was, when Wilson up the time-piece, or perform any had left the room, that Mrs. Tudor other office for which Mistress Wil- made the generous offer to Miss son was either too high or too low. Whitty of accompanying them first But none of these things appeared class. “It wouldn't be agreeable for sufficient, to Esther's untutored you, my dear, to be getting in the mind, to constitute a debt of grati- same set of carriages with Wilson, tude on the part of Miss Whitty. and my niece and myself will be She could never hear of any benefits very glad of your company.' more substantial than a rare tea, or Esther thought the offer exceedrarer dinner, or occasional present ingly kind for Mrs. Tudor, as it really of mouldying jelly, disclaimed, no involved an expenditure of several -doubt, by Wilson, after a party; shillings in hard money. But poor and, ignorant of the thorough spaniel Whitty looked rather red and hesiqualities inherent in persons of the tating as she tendered her gratitude; Whitty tribe, she began to think and then, in a very weak suggestive her a very amiable woman indeed voice, remarked, that of course Loto for putting up with all Mrs. Tudor's would go with the other dogs. tempers, and persisting still in re- 'Loto will not go with the other garding her as her own especial dogs, Miss Whitty,' said Mrs. Tudor benefactress.

in a fierce manner, contrasting forciOn this occasion of their journey bly with the humble one she had home to Bath, Miss Whitty was to

used towards Wilson. “Loto is not accompany them, Mrs. Tudor, from going with the other dogs, to get motives hereafter to be unfolded to bitten and worried, or catch the disEsther, generously paying the dif- temper. Esther, my dear, you will ference between first and second have no objection to my little faclass, to enable her to travel in the vourite being in the same carriage samo'carriage with herself. And so, with us?' from very early in the morning, Miss "Oh dear, Mrs. Tudor! Oh my Whitty had been packing and un- dear Mim!' exclaimed Whitty, in a packing, and cording and uncording, moment, 'I shall be very glad to with a ready subservience to all take charge of Loto, very glad inMrs Tudor's caprices that called deed. I'm sure it's the least I can forth many withering smiles on the do, after your kindness in paying face of Wilson.

for me.

I only-only meant, you *Loto's not to come with me, know, that perhaps the railway ma'am,' that potentate announced people might not allow her in the with true autocratic abruptness, at a carriage. very early period of the day. “I've ‘Loto must be wrapped up, Miss had her once, and I'm not going to Whitty,' remarked Mrs. Tudor, with have her again, not on any account, slightly relaxing severity. “I am Mrs. Tudor.'

perfectly aware of that. Loto must "Oh, but Wilson,' expostulated be wrapped up.' Mrs. Tudor, aghast.

'In my shawl!' cried Whitty, with I'm not going to have Loto again, exultation. 'In my shawl. Dear ma'am,' Wilson repeated, with an little creature! so she must, of inexorable sniff of resolve. “I know course. I wonder I didn't think of my own place, and I travel in my it before.' And, under the prospect black silk. I had quite enough of of this new favour, she seemed more such disgusting undelicate works persoveringly amiable, and desirous

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