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The Two Guardians
by Charlotte Mary Yonge
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"And the Church-going on Christmas day," whispered Marian.

"Ay, she led me up," said Lionel.

"Everything is so very comforting," said Marian.

"So Walter says."

"Lionel, do you remember the print you and Gerald gave me long ago of S. Margaret walking through the dark wood of this world, and subduing the dragon? I am sure she is like it. She had all this world before her, and she chose vexation and trouble instead of doing wrong! O Lionel, it is very noble!"

"That it is," said Lionel, "only things never seem so at the time. I wish they did, but. I am glad my father saw it all right before, and said he was glad she had given him up."

"Yes, that is a comfort."

"My poor father!" said Lionel presently, "I never guessed he cared so much about—things. Do you know, Marian, I think even if I do get back my eyes, I could not go after the Australian bulls, unless 'twas the only way of getting a living."

"I am glad you have put them out of your head," said Marian, smiling sadly.

"Ay, I was very mad upon them once," said Lionel, "but I see that eyes or no eyes, we must set ourselves in earnest to be some sort of comfort to them, and if Johnny is to be always at sea, I had better not be on the other side of the world. If I am to see, why then it is all right; if not, I'll do the best I can at home."

"That's right, Lionel."

"I can do a good deal already, I am no trouble to any one, am I? I can go all over the house and park by myself, and find all my own goods without any one's help, and I'll do more in time, so as to be no bother to any one, and I do believe now they like to have me at home. Don't you remember, Marian," and he lowered his voice confidentially, one reason why I wanted to go to Australia, and make a fortune?"

"Yes," said Marian, knowing that he meant his vision of winning love from his parents.

"Well, I think," said he, "that being blind has answered as well."

A silence, then he went on, "I know what you meant now about a time when I might he glad to have been blind. If Caroline had married that man, she would not have died as happily as that, and there was an end of all the trouble and vexation; so there will be an end to my blindness some time or other, and it will keep me out of lots of mischief. I don't mean that there is not plenty of opportunity of doing wrong as it is," he added, "but not so much. Better be blind than like Elliot, and perhaps I might have come to that."

"O Lionel, it is such a comfort you can speak so!"

"I've tried it now, and 'tis not so very bad," said Lionel, turning with an odd mixture of smile and sadness, "besides I saw almost the last of her face, and I should only miss her the more like her voice. I have got her face stored up with all of yours. You know I shan't see when any of you grow old and ugly, Marian. Well, and after all I am glad it is to be settled now, I don't think I shall mind it near so much as I should another time, now I have just heard all that over her grave. I got Walter to read it to me all over again when we came home. It has been very nice to have Walter."

Marian guessed how Walter had strengthened and helped him, and she judged rightly, but she did not know how silently he listened to all Walter's talkings and readings, unable to pour out his full feeling to any one but herself.

The others came in from their different quarters, it was late, and Marian was about to wish good night, when Walter in a low hurried voice said to her and Clara, "Don't go yet, my father wishes to have prayers."

A moment more and the servants came in, all were kneeling, and Marian's tears of thankful joy were streaming fast as Walter read an evening prayer. Was not Caroline glad? was the thought, as she recollected that first morning, when all had seemed to her childish mind so dreary and unhallowed, and when Caroline had lamented the omission. Yes! was not Caroline glad, now that one of the dearest wishes of her heart had been gained? Was she not glad of this first token that trouble had brought a change over her father?

Each fresh petition brought such a gush of earnest softened tears that Marian's face bore evident traces of them, when she rose up, and had to wish Mr. Lyddell good night. She did not speak, but held out her hand. He spoke with difficulty, "My dear," he said, "I have wished to thank you, but I cannot otherwise than by leaving more on your hands. Walter has told you how it is with us. You are kind enough to help Clara. I don't know what we should do without you. I rely on your judgment entirely."

"I'll do my best," said Marian, "I am glad to be of use."

"You were her best friend," said Mr. Lyddell hastily. "Well, good night, thank you, my dear," and he kissed her forehead, as though she had been his own daughter.



CHAPTER XX.

"Let us be patient. These severe afflictions Not from the ground arise But oftentimes celestial benedictions Assume this dark disguise.

"We see but dimly through the mists and vapours Amid these earthly damps What seems to us but sad funereal tapers May be heaven's distant lamps."

LONGFELLOW.

There were morning prayers before the hurried breakfast, which was interspersed with numerous directions about what was to be done for Mrs. Lyddell, and what letters were to be sent after Mr. Lyddell. Lionel was grave and silent, as became one whose fate was in the balance, without either shrinking or bravado; but somewhat as if he was more inclined, than had been the case last night, to hope for a favorable result. With heartfelt prayers did Marian watch him as be crossed the hall and entered the carriage, calling out a cheerful good-bye,—prayers that, if it were the will of Heaven, his affliction might be removed; but that if not, help might be given him to turn it into a blessing, as he seemed almost to be beginning to do. His father, too,—little had Marian ever thought to feel for him the affectionate compassion and sympathy, of which she was now sensible, as she responded to his kind, fatherly farewell, and thought of what he must be feeling; obliged to leave his wife in so anxious and suffering a state; his daughter, the pride of the family, removed so suddenly; his most promising son probably blind for life; his eldest, a grief, pain, and shame to them all. Marian must pray for him too, that he might be supported and aided through these most bitter trials, and that the work which they had begun in him might go on and be perfected; that these troubles, grievous as they were, might in his ease also turn to blessings.

The occupation of the two girls was all day the care of Mrs. Lyddell. She was not worse, as far as bodily ailments went; the attack of cold, brought on by leaving her room to attend on Caroline, had gone off, and her strength was in some degree returning; but she was restless, excited, irritable, and with an inability to restrain herself, that was more alarming than Marian liked to own to herself, far less to Clara.

She insisted on getting up at an earlier hour than she had hitherto attempted; she was worn out and wearied with dressing; she was impatient and vexed with Clara, for some mistake about her pillows; and the trembling of her hand, as she was eating some broth, was uncontrollable. The broth was not what she liked, and she would send for the housekeeper, to reprove her about it; asked questions about the arrangements, found them not as she wished; spoke sharply, said no one took heed to anything while she was ill, and then burst into a fit of weeping at the thought of the daughter who would have been able to supply her place.

This spent itself, (for the girls were unable to do anything effectual in soothing it away); the doctors made their daily visit, and cheered her up a little. The consequence of this exhilaration was, that she began talking about Lionel, and anticipating his perfect recovery; arranging how they were all to go and join him in London, and working herself up to a state of great excitement; pettish with Marian for not being able to answer her hopefully, and at last, hysterically laughing at the picture she drew of Lionel with restored sight.

Marian asked if she would be read to, and took up a serious book, with which she had put her to sleep two or three times before, but nothing of the kind would she hear; and as the best chance of at least quieting her, Marian went on a voyage of discovery among the club books down stairs, and brought up a book of travels, and a novel. Mrs. Lyddell chose the novel; it was a very exciting story, and caught the attention of all three. Marian grew eager about it, and was well pleased to go on; and so it occupied them most of the afternoon and evening, driving out a great deal of care, as Marian could not help gratefully acknowledging, though she would willingly have had space to work out with herself the question, whether care had best be driven out or grappled with. Mrs. Lyddell was indeed in no state to grapple with it, and there was nothing to be done but to take the best present means of distracting her attention; yet it was to be feared that, though put aside, the enemy was not conquered,—and might there not be worse to come?

It was about half-past seven and the two girls were drinking tea with Mrs. Lyddell in her room. She was just beginning to make herself unhappy about Mr. Lyddell's late journey and night-voyage, when there was a tap at the door, and on the answer, "Come in!" it opened, and Lionel stood there.

There was a sudden exclamation: they all three sprang up and looked at him, but alas! it was still by feeling that he came forward, though his countenance was cheerful, and there was a smile upon his lips.

"Well, mamma," he said, in a brave, almost a lively tone, "you must be content to have me at home." And in answer to their broken, half expressed interrogations, "No, he can't do any thing for me; so it was not worth while to stay any longer in London. How are you this evening, mamma?"

He was guiding himself towards her chair, one hand on the table; she threw herself forward to meet him, flung her arms round his neck and sobbed, "My boy, my poor dear boy! O Lionel! it has been all my fault and neglect!"

"No, no, don't—don't say that, mamma!" said Lionel, extremely distressed by her weeping, and not knowing where to rest her, as she hung with her whole weight abandoned on him. Marian and Clara were obliged to help him, and seat her in her chair again; while she still wept piteously, and poor Lionel stood, hearing the sobs, and very much grieved. "Ought I not to have told her?" said he to Marian. "I thought if she saw I could bear it, it would be better than writing."

"Yes, yes, you did quite right; she will be better presently."

She was soon better, and leaning back on her pillows exhausted, looked up at the fine tall boy before her, the glow of youth and health on his face, spirit and enterprise in every feature,—but those large blue eyes, bright as they were, for ever darkened and useless.

"O Lionel!" she sighed again.

"The man behaved very well," said Lionel; "he did not plague me at all. He only pulled up my eyelids—so—and studied them, and I suppose he gave some sign to my father, for I heard him make a noise that showed me how I was; so I asked. He told me there was not a chance, and made me understand the rights of it; and so here I am. Never mind, mamma, there was a tendency to it all my life, and nothing would have stopped it in the end; and now I know what it is, I have no doubt but I shall do very well. I mean to be like the blind man that unharnessed all the horses in the middle of the night, when the coach was upset, and no one else was of any use."

He stopped once or twice in his harangue, to judge how his mother was, by her breathings; and he spoke with a smile and look of resolution and eagerness, as he concluded with another "Never mind, mamma, for I don't." She took hold of his hand, and pressed it, too much overcome to speak.

"Is papa gone?" asked Clara.

"Yes." And Lionel proceeded to give a message which he had sent back.

"And where's Walter?"

"In the drawing-room."

More people were already in the room than Marian thought good for Mrs. Lyddell; and understanding Clara's wishes, she went down to speak to Walter, to carry a message that his mother would see him after tea, and to arrange for a substantial supper for the two youths, who had had no dinner.

Walter was waiting anxiously to know how his mother had endured the tidings.

"She was very much, overcome at first," said Marian; "but now she has had a good cry, she will be more likely to go to sleep quietly. Poor Lionel! he did it admirably."

"It has been his chief thought," said Walter. "He begged to come home at once, saying it would be the best way to have it over before night; it would save all hoping and worrying, about him; and the instant we arrived, he ran straight up stairs."

Walter and Marian were not familiar enough to say it to each other, but both were comparing his present conduct with his former bitterness of spirit against his mother. Death, sorrow, anxiety, and illness had drawn close the cords of love, and opened the well-springs of affection, so long choked up and soured by neglect and worldly care.

"How did he bear it at the first?"

"Bravely; he had wound himself up. He was flushing and turning pale all through the journey; but when once he came to the door, he was as calm and steady as possible. My father was much more agitated; he would lead Lionel himself, and very nearly threw him down the steps. You should have seen how Lionel never flinched,—did not let one feature quiver while he was being turned round to the light and examined. We saw how it was by the doctor's face, but Lionel spoke first, as—no, more steadily, than I can tell it, 'There is nothing to be done, then?'—attended more firmly to the explanation of the causes than we could, spoke as freely as if it had been about some indifferent case. The doctor was quite struck with it. He shook hands with him when he went, and kept me a moment after, to say, of all the many cases he had seen, he had never known greater resolution,—never seen any one he had been more sorry for. However, it was not only that,—that might have been the pride of firmness; but it has been the same all along. He set himself to cheer my father, who was very much overcome; and ever since has been telling me of all his schemes for employment, and arranging how to spare my mother as much as possible. Yes, he is a fine fellow!" said Walter, stopping with a heavy sigh.

"I am sure he will make himself happy," said Marian earnestly; "you don't know how many resources he has, and you see how wonderfully independent he is already."

"Yes," said Walter, sadly; "but though I know it is all right—to see what he might have been! But that is mere nonsense," he added, catching himself up; "we should never have known what was in him; and perhaps he would have been very different."

Not a word expressed of Walter's sincere thankfulness for the change that affliction was bringing on them.

Lionel came down presently, Marian presided at their tea, and would have enjoyed it very much, if she had not been sorry Clara should not be relieved from her harassing attendance up stairs. But her mother could not spare her, and perhaps the being positively useful, and pulled by force out of her childishness, was the best thing for her.

"Marian, I hope you will be able to ride with me to-morrow, if mamma does not want you?" said Lionel.

Walter looked full of inquiry and consternation.

"If we can manage it," said Marian, cheerfully; though now that the custom had been disused for a time, she did not like the notion quite so well as before; since she could not now even figure to herself that Lionel guided himself at all, He had said it chiefly for the purpose of asserting his intention of continuing the practice, and was quite satisfied by her answer.

Walter went up stairs to his mother shortly after, and Lionel was left alone with Marian.

"I am sure I hope it won't hurt her," said he; "I thought it was best to have it out at once."

"Much the best, since it was to come."

"Yes," he said, pausing for some space, then exclaiming, "I don't know, though! I thought it would be better to know the worst, and have one's mind made up; but I don't think 'tis more comfortable, after all. I should like to get back that little spark of hope I had this morning! O, Marian, there was one time when the sun shone out full, and so warm, exactly on my face, and some one in the train said it was a glorious winter day. It was close by Slough; I knew we were in sight of the castle, and perhaps one might see the chapel, and the trees in the playing-fields. I thought soon, I might be seeing it all again: and I vow, Marian, I could have leaped from here to Windsor at the bare thought. It was being a great fool, to be sure; but as we came back, I was half glad it was dark, so that nobody else could see it."

"Yet I am sure your last half year at Eton was no happy time; you went through a great deal."

"I'd do it all again, if I could see as much as I did then," said Lionel. "I don't mind it so much in general now; I get on much better than I thought I should, and it is not nearly as bad now I am quite in the dark, and wake up to it, as when the glimmer of light was going. I can do very well, except when a great gush—I don't know what to call it—great rush of remembering the sky and all sorts of things comes on me, and I know it is to be darkness always. Then!—but it is all nonsense talking of it. I shall get the better of that, some day or other, I suppose. But I did not think, yesterday, that the being sure of it would be half so bad!"

"You braced yourself yesterday, and that helped you to-day."

"Yes; and then there was my father,—he has enough to vex him, without knowing all this. And, after all, it is nothing; I've got plenty to do, and I'll manage it capitally. I'll tell you what, Marian, if mamma can spare you, we'll ride to Salisbury, and get some of that good twine, and I'll make Gerald the fishing-net you said he wanted."

Lionel had hitherto never consented to learn to net.

Mrs. Lyddell was better the next day, and all was quiet and prosperous, so that Walter could write a satisfactory account to his father. Clara had a good walk with her brothers in the morning, and in the afternoon the ride took effect: Marian came into Mrs. Lyddell's room in her habit, and gave notice, "we are going to ride," so much as if it was a matter of course that Mrs. Lyddell asked no questions, and feared no dangers. Walter went with them, and Marian could have wished him away, for he was so anxious and nervous as very nearly to make her the same, and though he said nothing of his anxieties, Lionel found them out, and told him in his old gruff way that there was nothing to be in a taking about; indeed, Lionel was the more inclined to be adventurous in order to show himself entirely at his ease.

However, nothing went wrong, and Marian and he both felt it a point gained that their riding together was established. A few days passed on quietly and gravely, a pause of waiting and suspense. Mrs. Lyddell, though less ill, was not materially improved as regarded the excitability of her spirits. She would be excessively depressed at one time, at another in such high spirits as were much more alarming. Sometimes she would talk about their being all ruined and undone, and go on rapidly to say they must give up the house in London, retrench, live on nothing; at others she anticipated Mr. Lyddell's bringing Elliot back, all his debts paid, to live at home and be a comfort, or some friend was to give Walter a great living, or Clara was to come out, and to be presented in the summer. At the same time the fretful irritability of nerve and temper continued, and any unusual excitement, the talking a little longer in her room, a letter, or a little disappointment, would keep her awake all night. One thing, however, seemed certain, that Lionel's presence had some of the same power over her as her husband's; she was too much occupied with watching him, to work herself into her anxious excited moods, and now that he had grown more familiar with her, his cheerful lively way of speaking always refreshed and pleased her. He would come in, in a glow of bright health, from a quick walk or ride in the clear frosty air, and show such genuine pleasure and animation as must console those who were grieving for his privation; he would undertake her messages, and find things in a wonderful manner, and he liked to listen to the reading aloud that always went on in her room. When Lionel came in, Marian and Clara always felt relieved from half their present care.

At last came a letter from Mr. Lyddell to Walter. The worst of his fears were fulfilled. Elliot was actually married, and report had not exaggerated the disgrace of the connection. Mr. Lyddell had not chosen to see him, and intended to be at home, by the end of the next day, after they would receive the letter.

It was a great shock, but perhaps none of the four young people had such lively hopes of Elliot as to be very much overwhelmed by the disappointment, as far as he was individually concerned. He had never been a kind elder brother to Clara or Lionel, and it was only Walter who could have any of those recollections of a childhood spent together, which would make the loss of intercourse personally painful. They had all been brought up to a sort of loyal feeling towards Elliot as the eldest, and to think his extravagance almost a matter of course, but only the tie of blood, and sympathy for their parents could cause them any acute pain on his account.

For their parents they were greatly grieved, for Elliot had with all his faults, been their especial pride and hope, and the effect on Mrs. Lyddell in her present state was very much to be apprehended. It was a comfort however that it was decided in full council that they might put off the evil day of telling her, for there was no occasion that she should be informed till her husband returned. He came the next day, and very worn down, broken and oldened did he look, as he returned to his mourning household. Not a word did he say in public of the object of his journey, and all that transpired to Marian, through Lionel, who heard it from Walter, was "that it was as bad as bad could be; it was thought Elliot had done it out of spite, at any rate he was never likely to bring his wife to England." Neither did Mrs. Lyddell speak of it, and Marian only knew that she had been informed of it, by the increased excitability and irritation of her nerves. Poor Clara underwent plenty of scolding, for she was the only victim, since Mrs. Lyddell's continuous dislike to Marian kept her on her ordinary terms of ceremony, scarcely ever asking her to do her any service, thanking her scrupulously, and never finding fault to her face.

Marian was at first very sorry for Clara, who was bewildered, and disconcerted, but after a day or two, things seemed to right themselves wonderfully. Clara grew used to the fretfulness, and was no longer frightened by it, nor made unhappy, but learnt how to meet it and smooth it down without being hurt by it. It was surely the instinct of natural affection, for inferior in every way as she was to Marian, yet in her mother's sick room she suddenly acquired all the tact, power, and management that Marian failed in. Hitherto she had been childish and astray, as if she wanted her vocation; now she had found it, and settled admirably into it, acquiring a sense, energy, and activity that no one could have supposed her capable of.

Outside that room, she was the same Clara still, without much either of rational tastes or conversation, afraid of her father, and not much of a companion to her brother, helpless in everything that did not regard her mother, and clinging to Marian for help and direction, Marian must speak for her, tell her what to say if she had to write a note, take the responsibility of every arrangement. Nothing was much harder than to shove Clara forward into becoming the ostensible lady of the house, as it seemed as if she must continue for some time to come, since the doctors spoke of the most absolute rest and freedom from excitement being necessary to restore her mother's shattered health and spirits. She was to see no visitors, be soothed as much as possible, have no cares or anxieties brought to her, be only moderately occupied and amused, or the nervous attacks would return. Marian had a suspicion that they feared for her mind. She became stronger, was able to rise earlier, and to drive out in the carriage, but she never dined with the family, and remained in her sitting room up stairs, with Clara for her regular attendant, and visits from the rest.

Walter returned to his curacy as soon as he could be spared, and Lionel became, as usual, chiefly dependent on Marian, who read to him, walked with him, rode with him, assisted him in his contrivances for helping himself, and was his constant guide and companion; doing at the same time all she could for Clara's service, but keeping in the back ground and making Clara do all the representative part for herself.

They missed Caroline every hour of the day, far more since they had settled into an every-day course of habits and most especially in the evening and at meal times. There always used to be so much conversation going on at dinner and now no one seemed to say anything; Clara sat at the head of the table in awe of her father, Lionel and Marian did not feel disposed to talk in their own way before him there never had been any freedom of intercourse, and nobody knew how to begin.

Marian thought the silent party very sad and forlorn for poor Mr. Lyddell, and that it must remind him grievously of the state of his family. Some one must talk, but how were they ever to begin? She was the worst person in the world to do it, yet try she must.

She began talking over the ride they had taken that day, but Clara was not at her ease enough to ask questions, or make observations, Lionel did not second her, and Mr. Lyddell said no more than "O." Another day she tried giving a history of a call that had been made by some of their neighbors, but nobody would be interested. How could she be so stupid? She almost dreaded dinner time. At last one day, she luckily cast her eyes on the newspaper, and it is a melancholy truth that the sight of a horrid murder gave her a certain degree of satisfaction! She began about it at dinner, when every one talked about it, every one had some view as to the perpetrator, and it really carried them through all dinner time without one dreary tract of silence, and served them on a second day.

A second day and a third, for more intelligence came out, and then luckily for her, came a revolution, next a dreadful accident, and at last the habit of talking became so well established that there was no need to look for topics in the newspaper. It was without an effort that she could originate a remark addressed to Mr. Lyddell. Lionel began to shake off his old schoolboy reserves, and rattle on freely. Clara grew more at ease, and Mr. Lyddell began to be entertained, to be drawn into the conversation, and to narrate his day's doings, just as of old when his wife was there, pleased with their interest in them, making explanations, and diverted with Lionel's merry comments.

It was however dreary and uncomfortable, with all these vague anxieties for Mrs. Lyddell, and with the whole house in the unsettled state consequent on missing its moving power. The servants had been used to depend on her, and could not go on without her; they teased Clara, and Clara teased Marian about them, no one knew what to do, nor what authority to assume, and the petty vexations were endless that were borne by the two girls rather than annoy Mr. Lyddell; perplexities, doubts whether they were doing what was wise or right by the house or by the servants; Marian's good sense making her judge the right, but her awkwardness, and Clara's incapacity, breaking down in the execution; continual worry and no dignity in it.

The loss of Caroline as a companion was severely felt. Marian had not been fully conscious how very closely entwined their hearts had been, how necessary they had grown to each other even before those latter days of full confidence. Every pursuit was mixed up with Caroline, every walk recalled her, every annoyance would have given way at her light touch. There was no one left with whom Marian could have anything like the conversations they had been used to enjoy from almost the earliest days of her coming to Oakworthy. Lionel was indeed a very agreeable companion, nay more, a friend, full of right feeling, principle, good sense, thought, and liveliness; but a younger boy could never make up for the loss of such a friend of her own sex. Each evening as she sat over the fire in her room, her heart ached with longing for Caroline's tap at the door, or with the wish to go and knock at hers, and then the thrill at thinking that there was only gloom and vacancy in her room. Had they but found each other out before! But oh! how much better to think of her as she did of her own parents, added to her store in Paradise, than to see her the wife of that man, unhappy as she must have been unless she had lost all that was excellent and hopeful.

These thoughts would comfort Marian when she went up to bed, harassed, weary, disgusted with cares and vexations, and craving for rest and sympathy. She thought of the home that awaited her at Fern Torr, the hope that had carried her through last autumn, but withal came a dim vague perception that a great sacrifice might be before her. Would it be right to seek her own happiness and repose there, and leave the Lyddells to their present distress? She did not think she was of much use, Clara was all-sufficient for her mother, and Marian was rather less liked by Mrs. Lyddell than formerly; but as a support to Clara, as a companion to Lionel, and as some one to talk to Mr. Lyddell, she was not absolutely useless. She had no doubt Clara and Lionel would miss her sadly, indeed it would be unkind to leave them, it would be positively wrong to forsake them when she was of some value, and go where she could not suppose herself to be actually wanted, though she might be loved and cherished. Yet to give up that beloved hope! The vision that had delighted her from the first years of her orphanhood; the hope become tangible beyond all expectations, the wish of her heart. To give up home, Edmund and Agnes, for this weary life! How could she? But it was not worth while to think about it yet, things might change, before they were ready for her, Mrs. Lyddell might recover, Clara and Lionel might grow sufficient for each other, anything might, would or should happen, rather than she would give up her beloved hope of the home she longed for, especially now the house was actually building, and each letter brought her accounts of its progress.



CHAPTER XXI.

"Perchance it was ours on life's journey to enter Some path through whose shadows no lovelight was thrown, With heart that could breast the fierce storms of its winter, And gather the wealth of its harvest alone; It is well there are stars in bright heaven to guide us To heights we ne'er dreamt of,—but oh, to forget The fortunes that bar, and the gulfs that divide us From paths that looked lovely, with some we have met."

F. BROWNE.

Many weeks had passed away, and nothing had changed, in any material way, since the spring. Mrs. Lyddell's condition was still unsatisfactory, and she seemed to be settling into a confirmed state of ill health, and almost of hypochondriacism. So many shocks, following each other in such quick succession, on a person entirely unprepared by nature, experience or self-regulation, had entirely broken her down, and shattered her nerves and spirits in a manner which she seemed less and less like to recover. She was only able to rise late in the day, take a short drive, and after dining in her own room, come down in the evening, if they were alone, and it was a good day with her.

No change, neither sea air, nor London advice, had made much difference, and her condition had become so habitual, that her family had ceased to expect any considerable amendment; and it was likely that Clara would, for many years, have full employment as her companion and attendant. Lionel was perfectly, hopelessly blind, but growing reconciled to his misfortune, and habituated to the privation, as well as resigned in will. His natural character, of a high-spirited, joyous, enterprising boy, showed itself still in his independence and fearlessness, joined to cheerfulness, and enlivened the house. He had even gone the length of talking freely and drolly to his father, and Mr. Lyddell had learnt to smile, and even laugh at his fun.

There had been fears that the removal to London, for the session of Parliament, would be a great privation to him, since he would miss the wandering about the downs by himself, and the riding with Marian; but his temper and spirits did not fail. He walked every day with her, and was entertained with all he heard, both by his own quick ears, and by her description. They went to exhibitions, where she saw for him, and there were lectures, readings, and other oral amusements, to which his father, or some good-natured friend, would take him. He began to acquire a taste for music, which he had hitherto never cared to hear, and concerts became a great delight to him: though he had not the correct ear, and admirable appreciation of music, that often, in blind persons, seems like a compensation for the loss of the pleasures of the eye.

Lady Marchmont became very kind to him. She was thoroughly good natured, and the sight of the blind youth, whose arm Marian held as they walked together, stirred all her kindly feelings. He was gentlemanlike and pleasant looking, and his manner, now divested of schoolboy brusquerie, was frank and confiding. Selina was disposed to like him, and to be interested in him. She found, too, that Marian did not like to go out when his amusement was not provided for; so at first for Marian's sake, then for his own, she made him join them when they went to concerts, or to any other amusement that could gratify him. Her bright liveliness and spirited way of talking, won him; and it delighted Marian to see what great friends they became, even to the length of laughing over the old Wreath of Beauty story together. And when at length she was brought, of her own accord, in some degree to patronise Clara, it was a triumph indeed; and Mrs. Lyddell was more obliged to Marian than for all the real benefits she had conferred, when she saw Clara dressed to go to a party at Lady Marchmont's.

All this time Marian was becoming more and more a prey to that secret doubt, whether it might not be a duty to give up her cherished hope of a home at Fern Torr. She did not see how she could be spared. Clara was an admirable attendant on her mother, and was becoming a better mistress of the house; but she was not able to be at the same time a companion to her father and Lionel, and, poor girl, she would be very forlorn and much at a loss, without Marian's elder sisterhood; for the sense of help and reliance that Marian's presence gave her was little less. For her to go away, would be to bring home to Clara the loss of Caroline more than she had ever been left to feel it.

Yet, on the other hand, Clara was no companion. They talked, indeed, but they never discussed,—never had any interchange of higher sympathies or reflections; it was not getting beyond the immediate matter in hand; and often Marian, would be sensible that, if her own pleasure were consulted, a walk or ride, with her thoughts free to range in meditation or day-dream, was preferable to Clara's chatter.

Her own pleasure,—that she enjoyed but little, and less now than ever, for her time was never her own. There was Lionel on her hands almost every day, to be read to, or walked with; and if he went out with his father, or spent an hour in his mother's room, there was Clara wanting her quite as much, for gossip, exercise, or consultation. Mrs. Lyddell, too, must be visited; for though Marian was not the most beloved, or most welcome person in the world, yet a change of society and conversation was desirable, both for her sake and Clara's; so more than two hours every day were spent in her sitting-room. Then, in the evening, Marian's thoughts and ears must be free for Mr. Lyddell and Lionel. All her own pursuits were at an end, she had hardly touched a pencil the whole year, nor opened a German book, nor indeed any book, excepting what she read to Lionel, and these were many. She was very seldom able to enjoy the luxury of being alone; she could hardly even write her letters, except by sitting up for them; and even the valuable hour before midnight was not certain to be her own, for if Clara had no other time to pour out her cares, she used to come then, and linger in her cousin's room, reiterating petty perplexities, endless in detail.

How delightful to escape from all this, to quietness, peace, freedom from her own cares and other people's,—Fern Torr air and scenery, Edmund and Agnes for companions, and liberty to teach school children, go about among her own people, do good in her own way, and enjoy her own studies. It was like a captive longing to be set free,—a wanderer in sight of home.

But the captive paused on the threshold of the dungeon; the wanderer stood still on the brow of the last hill. Marian paced up and down her own room, and thought and reasoned half aloud,—

"Sweet is the smile of home, the mutual look, When hearts are of each other sure; Sweet all the joys that crown the household nook, The haunt of all affections pure: Yet in the world even these abide, and we Above the world our calling boast."

"And I am making them the world, if for their sake I give up what my conscience calls on me to do. I know, though I do little good here, my going away would make them more uncomfortable. Have I any right to seek my pleasure? But I should do more good there; I should go to school, read to the poor people, go to Church in the week, be more improved myself. O that home of peace and joy! And Gerald—my first duty is to him. But what harm would it do him? I could go home for his holidays. I must not deceive myself; I have been put in the way of positive duties here, or rather, ways of being useful have grown up round me. Is it right to run away from them,—poor Lionel, poor Clara! Would not every weary hour of Lionel's—every time Clara was teased, and teased her father,—be my fault? But how Edmund and Agnes will be disappointed!—they who will have been throwing away so much kind care! O you goose of a Marian! are you going to fancy it is for your sake that they mean to marry? don't you think they can do very well without you? How very silly to be sorry that it must be so!—how very, very silly! And even Gerald will marry one of these days, and will not want me; and shall I always be alone then? For as to that other sort of affection, I am sure it is quite certain that I can never care for any body enough to marry,—never half as well as for Gerald. No, no one will ever love me as I do others; every one has some one nearer to them; a lonely life, and never a home! Well, then there is a home somewhere else, and those who made my earthly home are waiting for me there, in the Land of the Leal."

Such was the tenor of Marian's oft-repeated musings. The practical result was a resolution to consult Edmund when she should go to Fern Torr to his wedding, early in August. She could not write her pros and cons, but to Edmund she could tell them, and trust to him as a just and impartial judge; and if Agnes was angry, it would serve them, thought Marian, smiling, for a quarrel, for they won't have many other chances of one.

However, the time drew on when, behold, every one's calculations were disturbed by a sudden dissolution of Parliament. Hitherto such events had not made much difference to the Lyddells; as Mr. Lyddell's election had been, for the last twenty years, unopposed; and the only doubt at present was, whether he thought it worth while to stand again, considering that he was growing old and weary of business, and besides could not well afford the London house.

He had been hinting something of the kind to Lionel and Marian in the evening, as a matter under consideration and they had heard it with joy, when the next morning made a sudden change in affairs, by bringing tidings that Mr. Faulkner was soliciting the votes of Mr. Lyddell's constituents on the opposite interest, taking the wrong side of the question,—a most important one, upon which the dissolution had taken place.

Here was indignation indeed. There was something so unfeeling in such a proceeding, on his part, that the mildest word spoken against him was Marian's, and that was "atrocious." To give up was one thing, to be thus turned out was quite another; and it was clearly right to the moral sense, as well as satisfactory to the indignant temper, that Mr. Lyddell should oppose "to the last gasp," as the furious Lionel expressed it, one who espoused principles so pernicious both in politics and religion. One thing was certain, that nobody would ever wish again that Caroline had married him. Ill as Mr. Lyddell could afford the expense of a contested election, his blood was up, and he was determined not to yield an inch. Never had Marian believed she could grow so vehement about anything that concerned him, but now her whole soul seemed to be in his success. He had always been on the right side; and now that a steadily growing sense of religion was influencing all his actions, he was just the fit person for his position, and Marian could, on principle, wish earnestly to see him retain it, for his own sake, as well as to keep out Mr. Faulkner. But, alas! poor Marian, that the ministers should have chosen this precise time, so as just to bring the election the very week of Edmund's wedding!

What was to be done? Mrs. Lyddell could not believe that an election would go on right without dinner-parties of every visitable individual in the county; and how was Clara to manage them all? Mrs. Lyddell's only experiment, in coming into the room when there was company, had done her so much harm, that it was not on any account to be repeated; and her restlessness and anxiety,—her persuasion that nothing could be done well in which she was not concerned,—made the keeping her quiet a more anxious business than even the receiving company. There was Mr. Lyddell wanting to have lists written, and needing all sorts of small helps to which he had been used from his active wife; everything came on the two girls, and Marian did not see how she could be spared even for the three days it would take to go to the wedding.

Perhaps that excitement about the election would have somewhat dulled the acuteness of the sacrifice, if it had not been for what was to come after it. The die must be cast without consultation with Edmund; she must write and tell them that their kind design for her was in vain.

Gerald was at Oakworthy for the first week of his holidays, and he was the only person she could call to hold council with her. She had some difficulty in catching him; for he was galloping about with messages all day, figuring to himself that he produced a grand effect in the canvass,—making caricatures, describing them to Lionel, and conducting him wherever he was not expected to be seen. However, catch him she did, at bed-time, and pulling him into her room, propounded her difficulty.

"Gerald, I don't see how I am ever to manage to go with you to their wedding."

Ha? don't you? Well, it would be a pity to lose the nomination-day, and the show of hands; I should travel all night to be in time, but you could not, I suppose?"

"I? why you don't think I should go to it?"

"Lionel will—I am to take care of Lionel. Can't you go? What a bore it must be to be a woman! Well, then, why don't you come to the wedding?"

"Because I think Clara will get into such a fuss, if there is no one to help her at the dinner the evening before. There is Mrs. Pringle coming to dine and sleep, so it can't be only a gentleman's party: and there is so much to do."

"Whew! it will be very stupid of you not to come; and how Agnes will scold! But I suppose yen can't be everywhere. One would give up something for the sake of beating such a rogue as that Faulkner."

"If we were but sure of doing it."

"Sure! Why we shall smash him to shivers, if one fortieth part of the people are but as good as their word. Did I tell you, Marian, how I answered that old farmer to-day?" &c., &c., all which Marian had to hear, before she could get him back to the matter in hand.

"I am almost sorry to give up those three days," he said, "though it is for their wedding; but you see, Marian," and the boy spoke with his air of consequence, "I think it is expected of me, and they would all be disappointed. It would not look as if it was well between Edmund and mo, if I was not present; but you can please yourself, you know."

"Yes, yes, you could not stay away," said Marian; "I should be very sorry that you should. You must go."

"And if I come away that afternoon, I may be back by the mail train by one at night, and be in time for the show of hands. Hurrah! I've a'mind to write to Jemmy, to buy up all the rotten eggs in Fern Torr."

"You wild animal! But do be sensible a little while, Gerald, for I have something serious to ask your advice upon."

"Well,"—and all the wisdom of sixteen was at her service.

"I want to know what you think about my living here, or at Fern Torr?"

"Hollo! why I thought it was settled long ago that you were to live at the Quarry with them."

"So it was; but I don't know whether I am not more wanted here than there."

"You don't mean that that have changed their mind, and don't want to have you?"

"Not a bit—O dear, no! but I think, somehow, Clara and Lionel find me of more use than they would."

"To be sure, this place would be in a pretty tolerable sort of a mess without you. I don't know how any of them would get on."

"Well, then, I wanted your opinion, Gerald; I had better tell Edmund and Agnes that I ought to stay on here."

"But what am I to do? I mean to be at Fern Torr in the holidays, I assure you, except a week or two, just to see Lionel; and I don't mean to have my holidays without you, I declare!"

"O, I hope always to come home for them."

"Why, then, if I have you when I am at home, I don't care,—I mean—" said Gerald, conscious of the egotism he was committing, "I mean you don't like it half so well, do you?"

"O no—I mean—I don't know—"

"Which do you mean?"

"I don't know—at least, of course, I had rather be with Edmund and Agnes than anybody else, except you; but then, if I was thinking Lionel had no one to read to him, or to ride with, or that Mrs. Lyddell was worse, and Clara unhappy, I could hardly enjoy it."

"You would not think so much about it if you were away from them."

"Perhaps not, but it would be the same, and it would haunt me at night."

"But, Marian, you can't give up Edmund and Agnes now they have built a room for you."

"I must have it when I come for your holidays."

"Well, you must do as you please," said Gerald.

"And you won't be vexed?"

"Vexed! Why should I? It is nothing to me, if I have you when I am at home; and, indeed, I don't see what poor Lionel would do without you. I suppose it is the best way, since you like it; only you must settle it with Agnes your own way. I shall tell her it is not my fault. Won't she be in a rage, that's all!"

With which sentence Sir Gerald's acquiescence was conveyed, with little perception of the struggle in his sister's mind, and of the pain and grief it was to her to write to her cousin and friend, begging them to release her from her promise.

As to the rest of the house, they never appeared to think at all about her quitting them; or if Clara and Lionel did, perchance, remember that it had been spoken of, they hoped it had blown over, and dreaded the revival of the idea too much to refer to it. Not one of the whole family guessed that to them was sacrificed the most treasured project of Marian's life.

She had made up her mind, but she could not bear to write to tell her friend that her plans were frustrated; so it was to Edmund that she wrote the full detail of her reasons and regrets, begging him to forgive her, and to make her peace with Agnes; while she begged Mrs. Wortley to excuse her for missing the wedding.

Edmund's answer was just what she wished, and indeed expected. "You are right," he said, "and it is of no use to tell you how sorry we are. It is impossible to be so selfish as to wish you to act otherwise, and in process of time you may perhaps obtain Agnes' pardon: in the mean time we never walk to the Quarry, without her abusing you for giving so much trouble for nothing. I would only advise one thing, namely, that you make no promise nor engagement respecting your place of residence, since circumstances may alter; and you had better not feel yourself bound. With this proviso we resign you to your own judgment, and to the place where you seem indeed at present to be most wanted."

So wrote Edmund: Agnes did not write at all. Marian announced that she had given up going to the wedding. Clara was sorry she should miss it, but could not guess how she should have managed without her; and no one else had leisure to think at all, or else considered it quite as a matter of course that site should not go away when she was wanted.

If any one had, seven years, or even one year ago, told Marian how she would spend that bridal day, her incredulity would have been complete. So absorbed was she in Mr. Lyddell's election affairs that she hardly had time to think about it, between hopes and alarms, doubts and intelligence, visitors and preparations, notes to be written and papers to be found, Clara to be helped, Mrs. Lyddell to be kept quiet, Lionel's news to hear, the dinner party to be entertained. Very differently had Marian now learnt to sit in company from former days. She had a motive now, in the wish to help Clara, and all her distant coldness had melted into a quiet, kind, obliging manner, which had taught her to take genuine interest even in common-place people, and caused it to be said that Miss Arundel had ceased to be shy and haughty. It was all one whirl, leaving no time for sitting down, and still less for musing. Lionel went indeed with his father to the committee-room, and was there half the day; for his services were wonderful, and particularly his memory for names and places, to which Mr. Lyddell declared he would rather trust than to any memorandum. He was thus out of Marian's way all the morning, but there was enough to occupy her without him, and in the afternoon he came home, full of news, and especially full of glory, in a conquest of his own, a doubtful voter, whom he had recollected, and undertaken to secure, had made the servant drive him round that way, canvassed on his own account, and obtained a promise, extracted as Marian suspected, by admiration of the blind young gentleman's high spirit and independence.

Mr. Lyddell was particularly delighted; when became home very late, just before the eight o'clock dinner, he came up into his wife's room, and told her the whole story, told Marian all over again on the stairs, and told it a third time to some of the dinner guests, before Lionel came down. Marian saw he valued that vote above all the rest.

Busy as the day had been, Marian was resolved to sit up till her brother's return at two o'clock in the morning, to hear his tidings, and she expected to enjoy the space for thinking; but the thoughts would not be settled, and instead of dwelling on Edmund and Agnes, she found herself continually going back to the voters' list, and counting up the forces on each side. Then she grew sleepy, and fell into a long musing dream of shapeless fancies, woke herself, tried to write to Agnes, and went off into her former vision of felicity in the house at the Quarry, which she indulged in, forgetting that she had renounced it. At last came the sounds of a carriage, and of opening doors. She met Gerald on the stairs, but he was sleepy and would say little. "It had all gone off very well—yes—nobody cried—he had a bit of wedding-cake for her, and here was a note, she should hear all about it another time;"—yawn, and he shut himself into his own room. That was all Marian obtained by her vigil. You, there was the note, put in with the wedding cards.

"MY DEAR MARIAN,—I can't relieve my mind by scolding you, and I don't know what else you have a right to expect after the way you have treated us. They tell me I must write, and I have not a word to say, though I always promised you should have the first letter from

"Your affectionate cousin,

"AGNES ARUNDEL."

Wild as ever, thought Marian, as a little disappointed, she laid down the note, but she understood how Agnes had felt obliged to write, in hurry and agitation, and just because she felt deeply, had been unable to express herself otherwise than what some people would call foolishly and unsuitably.

There was not much more of the wedding to be heard from Gerald the next morning, for he was full of the nomination, and proud of having Lionel under his especial charge.

This day was as wild a bustle as the former one, and there was still more excitement in the evening. Of course the show of hands had been in favour of Mr. Faulkner, of course he and his proposer and seconder had behaved one only more disgracefully than the other, of course the rabble bad behaved shamefully, and the boys were almost beside themselves with wrath; and besides the details of all these matters-of-course, the boys had adventures of their own, for somehow Gerald and Lionel had been left in the midst of a vituperative mob, out of which Gerald had brought off his companion in a most spirited and successful way, without letting any one discover Lionel's blindness, which would have been the most efficient protection for both. Again and again Marian was told of the gallant way in which both boys had conducted themselves, and proud and pleased was she.

Mr. Lyddell lost his seat, and the boys were half mad, a hundred times more concerned than he was himself, while Marian moralized to herself on why it was allowed to happen that he should be set aside from public life, just when he would have begun to act on truly sound principles. And yet perhaps the leisure he thus obtained, and the seclusion from the whirl of politics were the very things he needed, to draw him entirely apart from the world which had so long engrossed him.

It was about sis weeks after this that Mr. and Mrs. Edmund Arundel, in acceptance of a warm invitation from Mr. Lyddell, were driving along the white road leading to Oakworthy, after a very pleasant visit to the Marchmonts, when Selina had treated Agnes so affectionately, as to cause her to forget all past neglect, and had, as Edmund said, scaled their friendship, by raving at Marian's decision, "It was too bad," said she, "when they had given up London,—the only thing that made it tolerable."

To which, however, Agnes did not quite agree.

"And now," said she, "I shall see whether Marian is happy."

"I don't believe you wish her to be so," said Edmund.

"No, I am not quite so spiteful," rejoined Agnes, "but in order to forgive her, I must think it a very great sacrifice."

"And have a marvellously high estimate of our two selves," said Edmund.

"What do I see?" said Agnes. "Look at those two people riding on the down up there against the sky, don't you see their figures? It is a lady. Gould it be Marian? No, she is riding so close to the other—he can't be a servant."

"Lionel, I suspect," said Edmund.

"The poor blind boy! O surely she does not ride alone with him! O what a pretty cantering on the turf. It is really Marian, I see now. How I do like to see her ride."

A moment or two more, and descending from the high green slope, the two riders were on the road meeting the carriage. Marian looked her best on horseback, with her excellent seat, and easy, fearless manner, her little hat and feathers became her fine features, and the air and exercise gave them animation, which made her more like a picture of Velasquez and less like a Grecian statue than she was at any other time. Lionel rode almost close to her, a bright glow of sunshine on his lively face, and a dexterity and quickness in his whole air that made Agnes hesitate for a second or two, whether he could really be the blind youth. A joyous "How d'ye do?" was called out on each side. "Well, Lionel," then said Edmund, "are you quite well?"

"O yes, thank you," replied a gay voice, "we thought we would see if we could not meet you."

"We rode over the down," said Marian, "and we are going back the same way. We shall be at home as soon as you are. Good-bye. To the right, Lionel."

And they were seen trotting up the hill again, then as the carriage came in sight of the front door, there was Lionel jumping Marian down from her saddle. Agnes did not know how to believe that he could not see, as she watched his upright bearing, and rapid, fearless step, so unlike the groping ways of persons who have lost their sight later in life.

Clara presently came down, and Agnes was struck with her more thoughtful face, and collected manner, so unlike the giddy child she had last seen, not intellectual indeed, but quiet, lady-like, and sensible. And as to Mr. Lyddell, he looked so worn and so much older, so subdued in manner, and so free from those over civilities of former times, that Agnes made up her mind that he must not be hated.

Of Mrs. Lyddell she saw very little, only sitting in her room for an hour each morning, as a visitor, but it was evident she was very much out of health, and a great charge to them all. Agnes could be sorry for her, but could not like her while she did not speak more cordially of Marian. All praise of her had something forced and against the grain, and Agnes thought her intensely ungrateful.

Lionel interested Agnes extremely, with his happy, independent ways, unrepining temper and spirit of enterprise. He was always eager about some contrivance of his own, and just at this time it was wood-carving. His left hand showed as much sticking-plaster as skin, and he used to come into the drawing-room with it wrapped up in his handkerchief and say, "Here's another, Marian," when Marian very quietly produced her sticking-plaster, as if it was quite an ordinary matter; nay, would not follow up the suggestion that he should not have so sharp a knife, saying that it was much better to cut one's finger with a sharp knife than a blunt one. He had cut about twenty bits of wood to waste, to say nothing of hands, but he persevered with amusing energy, and before the end of the visit had achieved a capital old man's head for the top of a walking stick, which he presented to Edmund. He promised Agnes a set of silk winders, and in the mean time made great friends with her, getting her to tell him about her brother's sporting adventures, and in return making himself very amusing with relations out of his sailor brother's letters. Johnny had been concerned in the great exploit of climbing the Peter Bottle mountain, and Lionel was as proud of it as if he had done it himself, making Marian show everybody a drawing which Gerald had made of the appearance that Johnny must have cut, standing on one leg on the highest stone. They were also struck with the change in the manner in which Walter was regarded, and the pride and affection with which all the family spoke of his doings at his curacy.

But that Marian, though not prominent, and apparently merely a guest, was necessary to the comfort of each member of the family, was a thing that at the end of a fortnight, Agnes could not deny. Nor could she attempt to make up a case to show that she and her husband were equally in want of her.

"So, Marian," said she, as they parted, "I forgive you on condition of your spending Christmas with us."

"And I ought to forgive you," said Edmund, "in consideration of the fulfilment of my prediction that you would not be able to leave the Lyddells when I was ready to receive you."

Marian smiled, and watched them from the door. As they lost sight of the house, Edmund turned to his wife, saying, "How little we are fit to order events! Here, Agnes, I looked back at this house six years ago in a sort of despair. I was ready to reproach Providence, to reproach everything. I thought I saw my uncle's children in the way to be ruined, all his work undone, and there was I, unable to act, and yet with the responsibility of the care of them. I tell you, Agnes, I never was so wretched in my life. And yet what short-sightedness! There has Marian been, placed, like a witness of the truth, calm, firm, constant, guarding herself and her brother first, and then softening, and winning all that came under her influence."

"Oh! but, Edmund, your coming home saved Gerald," said the wife, who could not see her husband's credit given away even to Marian.

"I brought the experience and authority that she could not have, but vain would have been my attempts without the sense of right she had always kept up in his mind. Trouble has done much for those Lyddells, but I don't believe that without her, it would have had that effect: When I remember what Mr. Lyddell was, his carelessness, the painful manner in which he used to talk; when I see him now, when I think of what that poor Caroline was saved from, when I see the alteration in Clara, and watch that blind boy, then I see indeed that our little Marian, whom we thought thrown away and spoilt, was sent there to be a blessing. If she had been naturally a winning, gentle, persuasive person, I should have thought less of the wonder; but in her it is the simple force of goodness, undecorated. I once feared the constant opposition in which she lived, would harden her, but instead, she has softened, sweetened, and lost all that was hard and haughty in her ways, when it was no longer needed for a protection. Selina Marchmont has failed too in giving her the exclusive spirit which I once feared for her. It is as if she had a spell for passing through the world unscathed."

"And you think she is happy?"

"As happy as those that never look for their happiness in this world."

Agnes sighed. "My vision has always been," said she, "to see Marian as happy as—ourselves."

"She may be yet," said Edmund smiling, "but she has the best sort of happiness. She is in less danger of clinging to this world than we are. And somehow she gives me the impression of one too high and noble to seek her happiness in the way in which most people look for it. Yes, we ourselves, Agnes, we have a nest and home in this world; she stands above it, and her only relation with it is to make others happy."

"She little thinks how we talk of her," said Agnes. "And still stranger it is, that with the reverence I have for her, I can play with her and scold her."

A silence; ending with Agnes repeating,

"GOOD LORD, through this world's troubled way Thy children's course secure; And lead them onward day by day, Kindly like Thee and pure.

"Be theirs to do Thy work of love, All erring souls to win; Amid a sinful world to move, Yet give no smile to sin."

THE END

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