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´╗┐Title: Isabel Leicester - A Romance by Maude Alma
Author: Alma, Maude, -1895
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Isabel Leicester - A Romance by Maude Alma" ***

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  [Transcriber's Note:
  The form of this e-text is predicated upon an assumption about the
  editorial practices that obtained in Canadian publishing around the
  year 1874. It is presumed that the authoress had the opportunity to
  review pre-publication galley proofs and make any changes or
  corrections she deemed appropriate, and that the published book is
  therefore an accurate reflection of her wishes and intentions.]



               ISABEL LEICESTER,

                   A ROMANCE,

                       by

                  MAUDE ALMA.



    "Twist ye, twine ye, even so,
    Mingled threads of joy and woe,
    Hope and fear, peace and strife,
    In the cord of human life."


  HAMILTON:
  SPECTATOR PRINTING HOUSE.
  1874.



ISABEL LEICESTER.



CHAPTER I.


In a spacious apartment superbly furnished, and surrounded by every
luxury that could please the most fastidious taste, sat Isabel
Leicester, attired in deep mourning, with her head resting upon her
hand, her face almost as white as the handkerchief she held. Isabel's
Father had failed in business, and the misfortune had so preyed upon his
mind, that he sank under it and died. The funeral had taken place that
day, and she was to leave the house on the day following--the house
where she was born and had always lived, except when at school. The
servants had all been discharged but two, who were to leave next day.
A friend had offered Isabel a home until she could procure a situation
as a governess, which that friend Mrs. Arnold was endeavouring to obtain
for her, in the family of a lady who had been one of Mrs. Arnold's
school-fellows. Mrs. Arnold was the widow of a clergyman, with a very
limited income, and Isabel was unwilling to trespass upon the kindness
of one whose means she knew to be so small. But she had no alternative
at the time and trusted that it would not be long before she would be
able to procure the situation she had in view, or some other. The tea
remained untasted on the table, for Isabel was absorbed by the
melancholy thoughts that filled her heart. She tried to feel resigned,
but her pride was wounded at the idea of becoming a 'governess.' She had
been the spoiled petted daughter of a wealthy merchant of the city of
New York, whose chief delight had been to indulge her in every way. But
still Mr. Leicester had been a truly good and christian man, and had
taught his daughter not to set her affections on earthly things, and to
remember that wealth was given to us for the benefit of others, as well
as for our own enjoyment. And he was rewarded as she grew up to find
that her chief aim was to do good to the many poor families whose
necessities came to her knowledge. Great also was his satisfaction to
find that after two seasons in New York, where she had been the Belle,
she was still the same loving, unassuming, pure-minded girl she had ever
been, tho' the admiration and attention her beauty and accomplishments
had excited, had she been less carefully trained, might have rendered
her haughty and vain.

During her Father's illness, when her time and thoughts were occupied
with attending upon him, and in anxiety for his recovery she had thought
and felt that the loss of property was an evil of little moment, and
tried to persuade her Father not to think so much about the reverse,
urging that he could get some employment, and they would still live very
happily together in a cottage.

But now that he was gone, and she had no one left to look too, her
lonely and self-dependant position was felt severely, and the tears she
could not restrain, fell unheeded. The fire sank low, and finally went
out, and still Isabel sat thinking of the miserable prospect the future
presented. At last she rose with a shudder, and rang for the tea-things
to be removed, then retiring to her own room, she threw herself upon the
bed in an agony of grief.

She had remained there some time, when she felt a kind hand laid upon
her shoulder, and turning her head she saw the old housekeeper, Mrs.
Stewart, with a cup of hot tea. "Come my dear young lady," said she,
while the tears streamed down her aged cheeks, "You must take this,
it will never do for you to go without your tea."

"I know you attach great virtue to a cup of tea" replied Isabel, "so to
please you I will take it."

"Oh dear, dear," muttered the old woman as she descended the stairs,
"how pale and ill she looks, and no wonder poor lamb, if she goes on
like this she will be laid up. Oh, how I wish Mrs. Mornington had not
gone to Europe. Poor child, poor child."

After Mrs. Stewart had left her, Isabel knelt down and prayed for
strength to do her duty, however trying she might find it, and for the
holy spirit to comfort her in affliction, after which she retired to
rest, and was soon in a calm sleep.

Next morning she arose much refreshed, and having sought divine aid and
protection, she commenced to arrange for her departure. Her Father's
creditors knowing him to be a man of strict integrity, and that his
failure was not attributable to any want of prudence on his part, had
kindly arranged that she should retain whatever she particularly wished.
This was a great gratification to Isabel, tho' she was too honorable to
take an undue advantage of this benevolent intention, indeed she was
almost too conscientious upon this point.

The task before her was a sad one, and although she strove very hard she
could not restrain her tears as she made her selections. She was soon
joined by Mrs. Arnold, who told her she had come to help her to pack,
and that she should not leave until Isabel accompanied her. "Come" she
said, kissing her affectionately, "the sooner this painful task is over
my love the better. I have good news for you. I have heard from Mrs.
Arlington, and she says that she shall be most happy to obtain the
services of any one recommended by me. The salary I find is only two
hundred dollars a year, it is indeed less than I expected, but you must
remember that this is your first engagement, no doubt if you remain
there a year or two, you will be able to obtain a much more remunerative
one."

This announcement of Mrs. Arnold's brought to Isabel's mind in full
force all the annoyances to which she would be subjected in her new
position, and clasping her hands, she gave way to uncontrollable
emotion.

"I do not wonder, dear, at your being disappointed, after what you have
been used to, two hundred dollars must seem a very paltry sum. I dare
say you gave nearly as much to your maid Harris, but my dear, as a
governess your requirements will be less, so with the wardrobe you now
possess, you will be able to manage very nicely."

"Oh, Mrs. Arnold, I was not thinking about the salary, I am sure I can
make that do very well," sobbed Isabel. "You are very kind indeed to
trouble yourself so much about me."

"You need not go to Elm Grove at present, my love, you are quite welcome
to stay with me until you get over your loss a little, and feel better
able to conform to circumstances," said Mrs. Arnold kindly.

Isabel made an effort to respond gratefully to her kind friend, and
expressed a hope that she would shortly be able to undertake the duties
of her new situation.

"I have no doubt you will be very comfortable at Elm Grove, it is a
lovely place. Of course it will seem strange at first, but people soon
get used to a place you know if they only try. I am very happy now, but
I am sure at one time, I thought I never should be again," continued
Mrs. Arnold, "but we will say no more on that subject now, we must get
on with our work." And she began to give advice about what Isabel should
take, and said that whatever she did not like to take with her to her
new home, she could leave at her house.

Fortunately the housekeeper then came to ask if she should pack.

"Certainly," exclaimed Mrs. Arnold, "the very person I wanted," and off
they went to Isabel's great relief.

Being left to herself, Isabel soon concluded her selection, and ordering
Mary to take them to be packed, she went into the library to get a
little rest, and time to think, tho' the latter she could scarcely do,
as her temples throbbed violently. Laying her head on the old familiar
couch, she endeavoured to calm the tumult of her feelings, the bright
sunshine, and the merry sound of the sleigh bells outside, only made her
feel her desolation more acutely.

"Luncheon is ready dear, and the packing all done," said Mrs. Arnold,
throwing herself in an easy chair.

"You have indeed been quick," replied Isabel, heartily wishing they had
been longer.

"It is all due to Mrs. Stewart, she is really the most clever person at
packing I ever saw, tho' poor soul she was nearly blinded with tears.
Come love, we must have luncheon now, and after that we will send for a
sleigh."

"Indeed, dear Mrs. Arnold, I cannot go until evening, I am sure Mr.
Macdermott will be here presently, for he knows that I am going to-day."

"Ah, I know, you want to be alone to muse of things in your dreamy way,
but my love, it is better not to do so, it only makes things harder to
bear. Try to banish disagreeable subjects as much as possible, that is
my maxim. But I cannot refuse you anything just now, so after luncheon I
will go home, and will come back for you in the evening."

Soon after Mrs. Arnold's departure, Mr. Macdermott the clergyman, called
as Isabel had expected, and his sympathy, and advice, tended greatly to
soothe the pain she felt at leaving the home she loved so well. He said
that Mrs. Macdermott was still too ill to visit her, but that if she
felt able she would try to see her at Mrs. Arnold's. He told her also
that he had that morning received a letter from Louis, in which he
desired to be kindly remembered. Mr. Macdermott remarked the rich
crimson that suffused her cheeks, at the mention of his nephew's name,
but the remotest idea of their engagement never entered his mind. He
remained with her about an hour, then after enquiring if he could be of
any service to her, he took his leave.

At last the dreaded hour arrived, and Mrs. Arnold with it. After bidding
the housekeeper and Mary a kind farewell, (they had both been with her a
great many years,) Isabel accompanied her friend to Rose Cottage.



CHAPTER II.


The setting sun shed its bright tints over the snow which lay thick upon
the ground, making it glisten like diamonds, the cold was intense, and a
bitter wind howled through the leafless trees, when the train arrived at
M----, and Isabel almost benumbed with cold, procured a conveyance from
the station to the Rock Hotel, where Mrs. Arlington had promised to send
for her.

On arriving at the hotel, she found the sleigh waiting punctual to the
time appointed. Isabel would gladly have partaken of some refreshment,
but Mrs. Arnold had informed her, that Mrs. Arlington was very
particular, and to have kept the horses standing, Isabel felt would have
offended her, which she was very anxious to avoid although she was
shivering with cold.

It was a long drive of twelve miles to Elm Grove, but the horses went at
a great speed, and in less than an hour they arrived at their
destination. As they drew up at the door, it was opened by a footman,
and a woman who seemed to be an upper servant met her in the hall, and
conducted her to her room.

"I suppose you would like some tea Miss," she said "I will order it
while you are taking off your things, and then I will show you the
school-room. Mrs. Arlington and the young ladies are dressing for a
ball, so they cannot see you to-night."

When Norris had left the room, Isabel sat down with a sigh, and looked
about to see what kind of accommodation she was to have. It was a nice
sized room, with a bay window having an eastern aspect, at which the
wind was now howling with great violence. It was neatly, but plainly
furnished, the fire had burnt low, and the room was cold. She took off
her things as quickly as possible, and sincerely hoped that the
school-room would be more comfortable.

Norris soon returned, and Isabel desiring her to have more fuel put upon
the fire descended to the school-room, which she found very bright and
pleasant looking, the large fire and lamp making it look quite
attractive.

The tea was on the table, and Norris after saying "if you want anything
Miss, please ring for Susan," left the room. Isabel was very glad to
have some refreshment after her cold drive, and when she rang to have
the things removed, the bell was answered by a neat, pleasant looking
girl, who had such a sunny face that it did one good to look at her, and
presently a sweet little girl of about seven years old came running into
the room, and going up to Isabel, said "you are our new governess are
you not. I think I shall like you very much, but I can't stay now, for
Eliza is waiting to put me to bed, but I did so want to see you
to-night. Good night!" and throwing her arms round Isabel's neck, she
gave her a hearty kiss, and disappeared as quickly as she came. When
Isabel returned to her room she had no cause to complain of the fire
which was piled to the top of the grate.

When she awoke next morning it seemed very strange to be where she had
not the least idea what any of the family were like. After dressing and
arranging some of her things, she sat down to contemplate her situation,
which she found anything but pleasant, so she determined to descend to
the school-room.

The door was open, and as she approached she overheard little Amy saying
"she is the prettiest lady I ever saw, only she looks so pale and sad."
Isabel found three little girls in the room, of whom Amy was the
youngest. Amy greeted her in the same cordial manner she had done on
the preceding evening, the other two rose saying "good morning Miss
Leicester," but when she stooped to kiss them, Alice sulkily put up her
face, and Rose laughed. "Fancy, Miss Manning kissing us" she whispered
to her sister. "Hush!" returned Alice, "she will hear."

Isabel spoke kindly to them, but Alice only returned unwilling, and Rose
pert answers, so the breakfast was a dull unpleasant affair, and Isabel
perceived they regarded the governess in the light of an enemy; even
little Amy became shy and uneasy.

After breakfast Rose informed her that they always had half an hour
before school for a run out of doors. As they were departing little Amy
ran back, and coming close up to Isabel whispered "don't cry Miss
Leicester, I love you, indeed I do," for Amy had noticed the tears that
would come in spite of her efforts to repress them. Isabel drew the
child to her, and kissing her pretty upturned face, told her to go with
the others.

Amy had scarcely gone, when Mrs. Arlington entered. She was tall and
stately, rather cold and haughty, and very dignified and patronizing in
her manner. She hoped Miss Leicester had been made comfortable, and was
sure that she would like the children. She then informed her that the
school hours were from nine until four, with an hour for dinner, then
she would have to take them for a walk, after that her time was her own.
She would take her meals with the children, but she would be happy to
have her come into the drawing-room occasionally in the evening. She
said that her own time was so much occupied with her elder daughters,
that she was forced to leave the children entirely to the governess,
but, that as Mrs. Arnold had so strongly recommended her she felt sure
she should be satisfied, then bidding Miss Leicester a polite good
morning, she swept majestically from the room.

Poor Isabel, she had not expected quite so much dignity, and was
excessively annoyed. "Take the children for walks," that was a thing she
had not thought of, and she did not relish the idea and as to going into
the drawing-room, she could very well dispense with that. She was not
aware that Mrs. Arlington intended her accomplished young governess to
help to amuse her guests. Excessively annoyed, Isabel repaired to her
own room to calm her ruffled feelings.

At nine o'clock she went to the school-room and found her pupils there
already, also a very pretty girl of about seventeen, whom they were
coaxing to tell them about the ball. As Isabel entered the room, Amy
exclaimed, "Miss Leicester this is Emily!" Then Emily laughed merrily,
and held out her hand saying, "I hope we shall be good friends Miss
Leicester, I'm sorry we were out last night."

"Oh! Emily, I'm sure you wanted very much to go to the ball, and you
just now said that you enjoyed yourself exceedingly," said Alice
gravely.

"I didn't mean that you silly child, returned Emily, but I am intruding
upon school hours I fear, so if you will allow me Miss Leicester I will
come for a chat before dinner."

Isabel bowed assent and Emily retired, rather annoyed that her advances
had not met with a warmer reception. Shortly after Emily's departure,
a tall and very elegant looking girl of about twenty entered the room,
and bowing condescendingly to Isabel, said, "have the goodness to try
these songs Miss Leicester, I wish to know if there are any pretty ones
among them, I would not trouble you only I am so excessively tired" she
added, taking the most comfortable seat the room afforded; this was done
in the most easy manner possible, precluding of course the idea that it
was by design. Miss Arlington upon entering any room, immediately
perceived the nicest place, and having seen, at once took possession
with an easy indifference, as if totally unconscious that she was
monopolizing the best place. Isabel complied with her request, tho' not
best pleased with the interruption.

"You sing very nicely Miss Leicester," Miss Arlington said
patronizingly.

Isabel's lip curled contemptuously, she presumed so when the crowded
room had been hushed to perfect silence whenever she approached the
piano, and when she ceased singing, the murmured praise and applause on
all sides had sent the hot blood to her cheeks, and this not once or
twice, but scores of times--she needed not to be told that she sang
nicely.

"She sings much better than you do Grace," said Rose pertly.

"Don't be rude, Rose," replied Grace, haughtily, "Miss Leicester will
have some trouble with you I imagine," then thanking Isabel, she left
the room excessively annoyed with Rose.

The lessons proceeded, and Isabel thought that Alice and Rose must alter
their manners greatly before she could take any interest in teaching
them. It was evident that they had not been treated kindly by their last
governess. Alice sulked so much, and Rose was so pert, that Isabel found
it difficult to keep her temper, and when tea was over, her head ached
so severely, and she felt so tired and miserable, that she retired to
her room, and locking herself in gave way to irrepressible emotion,
while she thought that she should indeed be unhappy in her new position.

Presently some one knocked at the door, but vexed at the interruption,
and not wishing to be seen giving way to her feelings, Isabel took no
notice. As the knocking continued unanswered, a soft voice pleaded for
admittance. On opening the door, she found it was Emily, and not Amy,
as she expected.

"I hope you will excuse me," she said, "but not finding you in the
school-room I came after you, as I knew that I should not have any other
opportunity this evening."

Isabel was very much confused, but Emily sat down by her side, telling
her how very much she felt for her, and how she hoped she would consider
her a friend. "Mrs. Arnold wrote and told me all about you" she said,
"and dear Isabel I will do all in my power to make you happy."

But Isabel only sobbed, "I can never be happy again--never."

"You must not say that, you must not think so," exclaimed Emily. "You
must come into the drawing-room with us, and that will cheer you up a
bit. I know you will like papa. Elm Grove looks dreary now, but in
summer it is delightful. Then, I always get up early and go for a ramble
before breakfast, if I can only get any one to go with me, and I feel
sure you will go with me next summer. I think I shall breakfast with
you, I can't wait for mama's late breakfast, but I would sooner have
gone without altogether, than have taken it with Miss Manning. I only
left school you know a few weeks ago, and I like a little fun. I know I
make the children very outrageous sometimes, but then, you know I could
not behave at all like a fashionable young lady in the evening, if I did
not get rid of some of my wild spirits before hand. By-the-bye," she
cried, laughing, "I believe you will have to teach me manners, Miss
Massie pronounced me quite incorrigible, my sister is a perfect model
according to her idea, but I could never be like Grace, I think mamma
has given up all thought of it."

"I don't know about teaching you manners, but I must try what I can do
with Alice and Rose, they are sadly deficient even in politeness."

"Ah, you have found that out already have you," cried Emily laughing.

Isabel colored, and murmured something about forgetting who she was
speaking to. "O you needn't mind, I like people who say what they think"
said Emily, "besides that is just what papa says about them, but you
must own that Amy is a nice little thing, I don't think she could be
rude or unkind."

"Yes Amy is a sweet child."

"It will not be quite so dull here next week, for Everard is coming
home. I do wish so much for you to see him, he is my idea of perfection
as far as attainable in human nature. Oh! he's so handsome, and such a
dear nice fellow, I'm sure you will like him."

"Perhaps you are not an impartial judge, I may not be able to see his
perfections so clearly."

"You can't help seeing them, they are as clear as daylight," returned
Emily, warmly. "What do you think he asked me in his last letter--to
tell him what sort of a gorgon the new governess was, so as I wrote
to-day, I said she was beyond all description, and not to be compared
with Miss Manning, so if he does not imagine something awful its very
strange, (Isabel did not look well pleased) I hope you wont mind; it was
such a nice opportunity for a trick, but it is time I dressed for
dinner, dear me how tiresome, and away she bounded. What a funny girl,
thought Isabel, I wonder if I shall like her, at all events she means to
be kind.



CHAPTER III.


Isabel was not happy in her new home, it was no easy task to teach such
unruly girls as Alice and Rose, whose chief object was to get as much
fun as possible at the expense of their governess, but she trusted in
time to be able to bring them to better order by the exercise of
firmness and kindness combined. With Amy, however it was quite
different, she seemed never so happy as when with Isabel.

It was Sunday afternoon, the children did not seem to know how to employ
themselves, but sat sullenly each with a book, tho' it was very evident
that they were not reading. Indeed, Isabel had seen by their manners all
day, that they had not been accustomed to have Sunday made pleasant.

"Come here Amy dear," said Isabel, "would you like me to read to you."

"Yes please, for it makes my head ache to read all the afternoon."

So Isabel read a portion of scripture and several nice little hymns.
Very soon as she had expected, Alice and Rose, drew near. Then she read
them part of the 'chief's daughter,' and after that she played several
sacred pieces and sang a hymn to the tune tranquility. The children all
gathered round her asking her to teach them to sing it. She promised to
do so if they would learn the words, which they immediately commenced to
do.

After tea they had a most unexpected and very welcome visitor. "Oh!
Everard, when did you come home," they all exclaimed.

"While you were at church," he returned.

"What a shame you didn't come to see us before," said Alice
reproachfully.

"O then, I suppose it was you who shut the door when we were singing
this afternoon," interposed Rose, "why didn't you come in."

"I did not wish to disturb you" he answered, "but why don't some of you
have the politeness to introduce me to your new governess."

Isabel colored deeply as he used the distasteful appellation, and bent
lower over her book, and when Rose said, Mr. Everard Arlington, Miss
Leicester," her bow was more haughty and dignified than she was aware
of. He seated himself at the window with Amy on his knee, while the
others stood one on either side. Isabel heard a great deal being said
about Miss Leicester in an under tone, and was about to leave the room,
when Everard interposed, saying "I shall go, unless you stay Miss
Leicester, I'm not going to turn you out of the room."

"Indeed I would rather go," said Isabel.

"Indeed I would rather you stayed." returned Everard.

"I do not wish to be any restraint on the children, it would be better
for me to go."

"Well," said Everard putting his hand on the door, "I may as well have
it out with you at once, as I did with Miss Manning, I am very fond of
my little sisters, and often come to see them here."

"I have no objection, only let me go."

"But that is just what I don't want you to do, and I always have my own
way at Elm Grove. You must not run away whenever I come, or I shall
think you consider me an intruder."

"Never mind what I think," said Isabel looking up, about to insist upon
going, for she was very indignant at his behaviour, but the face she
beheld quite disarmed her wrath. Such a calm, kind, earnest expression
in the mild blue eyes, such a winning smile played round the handsome
mouth, a more prepossessing countenance Isabel had never seen, there was
something about it irresistibly attractive. "What is it you wish me to
do," she asked as her eyes met his.

"Stay where you are, and do just the same as if I was not here he said,
and not run off as if I was going to eat you."

"Then don't talk about me," she returned stiffly.

"I'm sure. I never said a word about you."

"But the children did," she replied coloring deeply as she returned to
her seat.

"Please Everard wont you read to us?" asked Amy.

When he had finished, Amy asked Isabel if she would play the hymn she
promised.

"Not to-night dear," replied Isabel.

"Oh please, Miss Leicester," coaxed Rose.

"If I am the cause of their disappointment I will go, but indeed I
should like to join," said Everard.

"As you please" said Isabel, ashamed of being so much out of temper.

"You know you promised, Miss Leicester," interposed Alice, gravely.

"So I did, dear," returned Isabel, going to the piano: and she was quite
repaid, as they all sang very sweetly, and quite correctly.

"Good night," said Everard, when the hymn was ended.

"Forgive me, Miss Leicester if I seemed rude, I did not intend to be."

Isabel was distressed to find how much the children had been neglected;
true they were tolerably proficient in their studies, but in all
religious instruction they were miserably deficient.

Left entirely to the care of Miss Manning, who was a very frivolous,
worldly minded woman, they were led, (tho' perhaps unintentionally) to
regard all religious subjects as dry and tedious, and to be avoided as
much as possible. Isabel determined to try and remedy this evil by the
exercise of patient gentleness, and by striving to make religious
instruction a pleasure and a privilege. No easy task did this appear
considering the dispositions she had to deal with, nor was it without a
struggle that she put aside her own wishes and devoted her Sunday
afternoons to this purpose. She certainly did not meet with much
encouragement at first; again and again did the question recur to her
mind, what good am I doing, why should I deprive myself of so many
pleasant hours for the benefit of these thankless children; but the
selfish thought was conquered, and she persevered. On week days also,
she had morning prayer and read a portion of scripture, then they sung a
hymn, always taking for the week the one they learnt on the Sunday
afternoon. Nor was her perseverance unavailing, for the children became
interested, and requested her to have evening service as they termed it,
which of course Isabel was only too glad to do. After a while their
morning numbers were increased, as Emily and her papa joined them, and
so on until at last without any special arrangement they all assembled
in the school-room every morning as a matter of course.

Isabel was very different from what Mrs. Arlington had expected, so
refined in her manners and tastes, so totally unfitted to combat with
all the mortifications of a governess's career. True, she had expected a
rather superior person, when Mrs. Arnold wrote that Miss Leicester was
the indulged daughter of a wealthy merchant, who on account of her
father's losses and subsequent death, was forced to gain her living by
teaching. Still, she was not prepared to find her new governess such a
lovely and sweet tempered girl, and Isabel had not been long at Elm
Grove, before Mrs. Arlington found that she was becoming quite attached
to her. And as Mr. Arlington found that her father was the same Mr.
Leicester from whom he had formerly experienced great kindness, they
decided Isabel should teach the children, and receive her salary, but
that in all other respects she should be as one of the family, and
Isabel was very glad of the change.



CHAPTER IV.


The winter was past, and it was now June--bright, sunny June--and Elm
Grove was decked in its richest hues. Down from the house sloped a
beautiful lawn, studded with shrubs, and adorned with flower-beds of
different sizes and shapes; while in the centre there was a pond and
fountain, with a weeping willow shading the sunny side, which gave an
appearance of coolness quite refreshing. Beyond was the shrubbery and
fruit garden; and to the left the meadow, bounded by a coppice.

The house was of the gothic order: on the right side of it was a
beautiful conservatory, filled with the choicest plants; on the left a
colonnade and terrace, shaded by a group of acacia trees. In front a
piazza and large portico, around which honeysuckle, clematis and roses,
shed their sweet perfume. The grounds were tastefully laid out, with due
regard to shade; and a grove of elm trees completely hid the house from
the avenue: so that in approaching it from the main road, the house
seemed still in the distance--even out of sight--until, on taking a half
turn round a thick clump of elms, one would unexpectedly come out right
in front of the house, almost at the door. It was, as Emily had said,
a delightful place.

The children had greatly improved under Isabel's care. Emily was quite
like a sister, and even Miss Arlington treated her as an equal. Isabel
knew that governesses were not usually so fortunate as to meet with such
nice people, and appreciated their kindness accordingly. The walks, too,
that she had so much dreaded, had become a pleasure,--not a disagreeable
duty. Emily usually joined them, and not unfrequently Everard also. He
performed almost impossibilities to get Isabel wild-flowers, of which,
Rose had informed him, she was exceedingly fond. These, to his great
annoyance, were always carefully deposited in a glass on the
dining-room table; for Isabel had remarked in his manner toward her
more than mere politeness, and endeavored as much as possible to check
his growing attentions. But all his acts of kindness were done with so
much tact and consideration, as to leave her no alternative, and oblige
her to receive them. Neither was there anything in his behaviour or
conversation that she could complain of, or that others would remark.
All this made it very difficult for her to know how to act, as she did
not wish to hurt his feelings by unnecessary particularity, or by the
assumption of unusual formality lead him to suspect the true cause; and
thus perhaps lay herself open to the possibility of being supposed to
have imagined him to be in love with her, without due cause. Isabel knew
that she was not deceived; she knew also that she must be very careful
to conceal that she was so well aware of the state of his feelings
towards her.

"The Morningtons are coming to stay at Ashton Park: are you not glad,
Emmy?" said Everard, as he joined Isabel, Emily, and the children, in
their ramble, one bright day in the midsummer holidays. "Glad, I should
think so!" returned Emily; "but when do they come?"

"Very soon, I believe; and I expect we shall have jolly times. Harry's
so full of life, and that merry little Lucy is the spirit of fun. May
will be here shortly. And the Harringtons have friends with them, so we
shall be able to get up some nice picnics."

"But is not Ada coming?" asked Emily.

"Why, of course she is," returned Everard; "but if you have not heard
the 'latest,' I shall not enlighten you sister mine."

"O Everard! I'm all curiosity," cried Emily, opening her blue eyes very
wide.

"You mean that Ada is engaged to Mr. Ashton," said Isabel.

"Yes; but how on earth did you know it?" he returned.

"Do you know the Morningtons?" asked Emily. "Have you known them long?"

"Longer than you have, I fancy," replied Isabel. "I have known them as
long as I can remember. Ada and I had the same room at school. She is my
dearest and most intimate friend."

"I suppose you know Harry and the rest very well?"

"O yes, we were quite like brothers and sisters,"

"When are they expected?" asked Emily.

"They may be there already, for all I know. It was last Sunday Sir John
told papa they were coming."

At this moment Charles Ashton, with Ada and Lucy Mornington, emerged
from a bridle path through the woods that separated Elm Grove from
Ashton Park. Greetings were warmly exchanged, and then amid a cross-fire
of questions and small talk, they proceeded to the house, where they
found Mrs. Mornington and Lady Ashton. The latter insisted upon the
young ladies and Everard returning with them to spend a few days at the
Park.

Isabel declined to accompany them. At which, Lucy fairly shed tears, and
every one seemed so much annoyed, that she finally consented.

Her position of friend and governess combined, when alone, was pleasant
enough; but with strangers, of course, she was still only Mrs.
Arlington's governess, and was treated accordingly. That is, when it was
known; as people at first did not usually suppose that the beautiful and
attractive Miss Leicester was only the governess. And Isabel was
sometimes amused, as well as annoyed, to find people who had been very
friendly, cool off perceptibly. This she attributed to the circumstance
that she was 'only the governess.' Lady Ashton, especially, had been
very anxious to be introduced to that "charming Miss Leicester;" and
Isabel had afterwards heard her saying to a friend: "Well! you surprise
me! So she is 'only the governess,' and yet has the air of a princess.
I'm sure I thought she was 'somebody.' But then, you know, there are
persons who don't seem to know their proper place." All this had made
Isabel cold and reserved in company; for her high spirit could ill brook
the slights and patronising airs of those who in other days would have
been glad of her acquaintance.

Thus Isabel was deemed haughty and cold; few, if any, perceiving that
this cold reserve was assumed to hide how deeply these things wounded
her too sensitive feelings. So it was with more pain than pleasure that
she made one of the party to Ashton Park, having a presentiment that
vexation and annoyance would be the result; as she was quite sure that
it was only to please Ada, that Lady Ashton had included her in the
invitation.

Nor did it tend to disperse these gloomy apprehensions, when Isabel
found that the room assigned her was at the extreme end of the corridor,
scantily, even meanly furnished, and had apparently been long
unoccupied, as, although it was now June, there was something damp,
chilly, and uncomfortable about it. During the whole of this visit, she
was destined to suffer from annoyances of one kind or another. If there
was a spooney, or country cousin, among the guests, Lady Ashton would be
sure to bring him to Miss Leicester, and whisper her to amuse him if
possible, and she would greatly oblige. So that Isabel scarcely ever
enjoyed herself. Or just as some expedition was being arranged, Lady
Ashton would, by employing Isabel about her flowers, or some other
trivial thing, contrive to keep her from making one of the party.
Isabel, though intensely disgusted, was too proud to remonstrate. And
even when Charles, once or twice, interfered to prevent her being kept
at home, she felt almost inclined to refuse, so annoyed and angry did
Lady Ashton appear.

True, she might have had some enjoyment from the society of Harry and
Everard. But so surely as Lady Ashton observed either of them in
conversation with her, she invariably wanted to introduce them to some
'charming young ladies.' And she took good care that Isabel should not
join any of the riding parties. Once Arthur Barrington had particularly
requested her to do so, and even offered his own horse (as Lady Ashton
had assured them that every horse that could carry a lady had already
been appropriated), but his aunt interposed: "O my dear Arthur, if you
would only be so good as to lend it to poor little Mary Cleavers! Of
course I would not have ventured to suggest your giving up your horse;
but as you are willing to do so, I must put in a claim for poor little
Mary, who is almost breaking her heart at the idea of staying at home.
And Miss Leicester is so good-natured, that I am sure she will not
object."

"Excuse me, aunt, but"--began Arthur.

"Here! Mary, dear," cried Lady Ashton; and before Arthur could finish
the sentence, his aunt had informed Mary that he had kindly promised his
horse. Mary turned, and overwhelmed the astonished Arthur with her
profuse thanks.

"Confound it," muttered Arthur (who was too much a gentleman to
contradict his aunt and make a scene); then bowing politely to Miss
Cleaver, he turned to Isabel, saying, "Will you come for a row on the
lake, Miss Leicester, as our riding to-day is now out of the question,
as my aunt has monopolized 'Archer' so unceremoniously. I feel assured
that Miss Lucy will join us, as she is not one of the riding party."

Isabel assented, and Arthur went in search of Lucy.

Lady Ashton followed him, and remonstrated: "You know you were to be one
of the riding party, Arthur."

"Impossible, my dear aunt. After what has passed, I can't do less than
devote my time this morning to the service of Miss Leicester."

"Nonsense; she is 'only a governess.'"

"So much the more would she feel any slight."

"You talk absurdly," she returned with a sneer. "You can't take her
alone, Arthur. I will not allow it."

"My dear aunt, I am much too prudent for that. Lucy Mornington goes with
us."

"But who will ride with Mary?"

"Oh, you must get her a cavalier, as you did a horse, I suppose," he
returned carelessly. At all events, I am not at her service, even though
no other be found;" and he passed on toward Lucy, regardless of his
aunt's displeasure. And he carried the day in spite of her, for she put
in practice several little schemes to prevent Isabel going. But Lady
Ashton was defeated; and Isabel remembered this morning as the only
really pleasant time during her stay at the Park.

Lady Ashton was greatly perplexed as to how to procure a beau for Mary,
and, as a last resource, pressed Sir John into service; but as he was a
very quiet, stately old gentleman, the ride, to poor Mary's great
chagrin, was a very formal affair.

On the last evening of her stay at Ashton Park, Isabel was admiring the
beautiful sunset from her window, and as she stood lost in reverie,
someone entered hastily and fastened the door. Turning to see who the
intruder might be, she beheld a very beautiful girl, apparently about
fourteen years of age, her large eyes flashing with anger, while her
short, quick breathing, told of excitement and disquietude. "I have had
such a dance to get here without observation," she panted forth. "Please
let me stay a little while." And before Isabel could recover from her
momentary surprise, Louisa had thrown herself into her arms, exclaiming,
"I knew that you were kind and good, or I would not have come, and I
felt sure that you would pity me." All anger was now gone from the
eager, earnest face, raised imploringly, and Isabel's sympathy was
aroused by the weary, sad expression of her countenance.

"Who are you; what makes you unhappy; and why do you seek my sympathy?"
asked Isabel.

"I am Lady Ashton's grand-daughter, Louisa Aubray," she replied. "You
don't know what a life I lead, boxed up with old Grumps, and strictly
forbidden all other parts of the house. I have been here two years, and
during all that time I have not had any pleasure or liberty, except once
or twice when I took French leave, when I was sure of not being found
out. Ah, you don't know how miserable I am! no one cares for poor
Louisa;" and burying her face in her hands, she cried bitterly.
"I sometimes watch the company going to dinner, and that was how I came
to see you; and I liked you the best of them all, and I wished so much
to speak to you. So I managed to find out which was your room; but it
was only to-day that I could get here, unknown to Miss Crosse. Won't you
please tell me which of those young ladies Uncle Charles is going to
marry. I want so much to know; because Uncle Charles is nice, and I like
him. He is the only one here that ever was the least bit kind to me. As
for grandpapa and grandmamma, I know they hate me; and Eliza says, that
the reason grandpapa can't bear the sight of me, is because I am like
papa. Oh, I know that dear mamma would not have been so glad when they
promised to take care of me, if she had known how unkind they would be."

"But how can I help you, dear?" inquired Isabel.

"Why, I thought if I told you, you would be sorry for me, and persuade
grandmamma to send me to school; for then, at least, I should have
someone to speak to. I don't mind study,--only old Miss Crosse is so
unkind. I think perhaps she might, if you were to coax her very much--do
please," said Louisa, warmly.

Isabel smiled at the idea that she should be thought to have any
influence with Lady Ashton. "You err greatly, dear child, in thinking
that I have any power to help you. I can only advise you to try and bear
your present trials, and wait patiently for better times," she said.

"Ah, it's all very well for you to tell me this. You have all you can
wish, and everything nice, so it is easy to give advice; but you
wouldn't like it, I can tell you."

"I don't expect you to like it, Louisa. I only want you to make the best
of what can't be helped."

"Oh, but it might be helped, if you would only try," urged Louisa.

"It is getting late," returned Isabel, "and I must now dress for dinner;
but if you like you may remain here while I do so, and I will tell you
about a young lady that I know, and then perhaps you will not be so
annoyed with me for giving you the advice I have."

"Thanks," returned Louisa, "I should like it very much."

"This young lady's parents were very rich, and indulged her in every
way. Her mother died when she was only eight years old. Her father had
her taught every accomplishment, and instructed in almost every branch
of learning. And she lived in a beautiful house, surrounded by every
luxury, until the age of nineteen, when her father died; and as he lost
all his property shortly before, she was forced to gain her living as a
governess. Think what she must have suffered, who never in her life had
had a harsh or unkind word, and scarcely ever had a wish ungratified;
but had been spoilt and petted at home, and courted and flattered
abroad. Think what it must have been to go alone and friendless among
strangers; to earn, by the irksome task of teaching, no more a year than
she had been accustomed to receive in a birthday present or Xmas gift.
She was fortunate enough to meet with very kind people, who made her as
comfortable as it was possible for her to be under the circumstances.
But still she found her position a very trying one, and was often placed
in very unpleasant circumstances, and sometimes met with great
mortifications. And that young lady, Louisa,--is myself."

"Oh! I'm sorry, so sorry," exclaimed Louisa. "And I thought you so
happy, and so much to be envied. And I'm sorry also for what I said
about it being so easy to give advice. But why don't you marry some rich
gentleman? and then, you know, you needn't be a governess any more.
I would."

"I didn't say that I was unhappy, Louisa, and I try not to let these
things trouble me so much, for I know it is wrong to care so much about
them, but I can't help it. I have not told you this to excite your pity;
but that you may know that others have their daily trials as well as
yourself. Do not think, dear child, that I do not compassionate your sad
lot; only try to remember the comforts which you do enjoy,
notwithstanding the ills you are called upon to endure. Think how much
worse your fate might have been, if your grandparents had refused to
provide for you; and be sure if you have patience, and do what is right,
in due time you will have your reward."

Louisa was now weeping violently. "Ah, you don't, you can't know, what
it is to live as I do. And I felt so sure that--you--could help me; but
you can't, I know now, for grandmamma wouldn't listen to 'a governess.'
She is so bitter against anyone that teaches, because of papa. But I
can't, and won't, stand this miserable life much longer--I will not!"
she continued passionately, as with compressed lips and clenched hands
she started to her feet, while the angry flashing eyes and determined
countenance told of strong will and firm resolution. "If I was a boy,"
she said, "I would run away and go to sea; but I am only a girl, and
there is so little that a girl can do. But I will find some way to
escape before long, if things continue like this--that I will!" and she
stamped her foot impatiently upon the ground. Isabel could scarcely
believe that the passionate girl before her was indeed the same child
who had sat at her side so meekly not a moment before. She no longer
paid any attention to Louisa's complaints. Her thoughts were far away
with the only one in whom she had ever seen this sudden transition from
persuasive gentleness to stormy anger; for the proud, passionate girl
brought him vividly to her mind, though the wide ocean rolled between
them. She saw again the proud curling lip, and the dark expressive eyes,
which one moment would beam on her in love, and the next flash with
angry light and stern displeasure; the haughty mien and proud defiance,
blended with a strange fascinating gentleness, that had won her heart.
The time was present to her imagination, when with passionate entreaty
he had urged upon her the necessity for a secret marriage, and in
fondest accents implored her not to refuse, as he was positive that her
father would never consent to their union; and his fearful burst of
passion when she most entirely, though tearfully, refused to accede to
his request. Even now she trembled as she recalled the angry terms in
which he reproached her, and the indignant manner in which he had
expressed his conviction that she did not love him; and that all
henceforth was at an end between them. How he left her in great wrath;
but soon after returned, and in the most humble manner deplored his
cruelty and hateful temper, and in gentlest strains implored her
forgiveness. But her musings were rather abruptly terminated by Louisa
exclaiming: "Oh! tell me what is the matter. Your hand is quite cold,
and you are trembling all over. What have I done? what shall I do?" she
continued, wringing her hands in despair.

"I cannot talk to you any more now, Louisa dear," replied Isabel, "but I
will tell Ada about you, and perhaps she may be able to help you; but
you really must not get into such dreadful passions. I can't have you
stay any longer, as I wish to be alone."

"But why do you tremble and look so pale?" asked Louisa, mournfully. "Is
it so dreadful to be a governess?"

"I was not thinking of that dear," answered Isabel, kissing her
"good-night. Mind you try to be a good girl."

So Louisa was dismissed, fully persuaded in her own mind that she had
nearly frightened Isabel to death by her passionate behaviour.

After waiting a moderate time to recover herself, Isabel joined the
others in the drawing-room. Fortunately, they went to dinner almost
immediately, as she felt anything but inclined to make herself
agreeable; and as Lady Ashton, as usual, was kind enough to furnish her
with a companion who appeared to be a quiet, inoffensive individual, she
treated him with polite indifference. She was deceived, however, in her
opinion regarding Mr. Lascelles. The man was an 'ass,' and a 'magpie,'
and appeared to like nothing better than to hear his own voice. However,
this suited Isabel tolerably on this occasion, as an 'indeed,' or
'really,' was all that was needed by way of reply; and he was forced
sometimes to stop to enable him to eat, and this kept him from being
oppressive. But as he found her so good a listener, there was no getting
rid of him; for when the gentlemen joined the ladies in the
drawing-room, he devoted himself entirely to Miss Leicester--to Lucy's
intense amusement. At last Ada grew compassionate, and got Charles to
ask Isabel to sing, and to introduce Mr. Lascelles to Miss Cleaver. It
was a tedious evening, and Isabel was heartily glad that they were to
return to Elm Grove. Life there was at all events endurable, which the
life she had spent for the last week was certainly not. She was sick and
tired of hearing the oft-repeated question and answer, "Who is that
young lady?"--"Oh, the governess at Elm Grove;" and most emphatically
determined that she would never stay at the Park again, let who might be
offended.

Neither could she help drawing comparisons between this and her former
life, nor deny that she felt it severely. But the warm welcome she
received from the children on her return to the Grove, went far towards
dispersing these gloomy thoughts.



CHAPTER V.


A pic-nic was decided upon for Emily's birthday--the fourth of August.
It was a lovely day, and every thing seemed propitious. And a merrier
party seldom started on a pleasure excursion, than the one which now was
assembled under the trees at Elm Grove. The guests were Sir John and
Lady Ashton, Charles, and the Morningtons, Lilly and Peter Rosecrain,
May Arlington (a cousin), the Harringtons and the Hon. Arthur
Barrington, the latter had not arrived, but had promised to meet them at
their destination. Emily was in ecstasy, and the children quite wild
with delight. All Isabel's endeavors to keep them in order were useless,
and Lucy announced, that every one must be allowed to do just as he or
she pleased, or there would be no fun. Lucy volunteered to go with the
children if they could procure a driver. "Any one would do, excepting
Mr. Everard Arlington, as of course the children would be too much in
awe of him, as he could be awefully grave."

Peter immediately offered his services, unless he was too stern and
sedate. This caused a laugh, as Peter was renowned for fun.

The place chosen for the pic-nic was a delightful spot, (quite romantic
Emily declared) situated at the bottom of a beautiful ravine, within a
short distance of a splendid water fall yclept the "old roar," the
dashing spray of its gurgling waters making quite refreshing music.

"Now Emily, you are queen to-day, and all that you say is law," cried
the laughing Lucy, when they arrived at their destination. "Now master
Bob, be on your P's and Q's, and find a nice place to spread the royal
feast."

"I think that you are making yourself queen on this occasion and no
mistake," returned the saucy Bob.

"Well, I am prime minister you know, so make haste and obey my
commands."

"Self constituted I fancy," returned Bob with a shrug.

"May I ask what important office is to be assigned me on this festive
occasion," asked Peter.

"That of queen's jester, of course," replied Lucy gravely.

"You do me too much honor Miss Lucy," he said, bowing with mock
humility.

"I'm quite aware of that," answered Lucy demurely.

A desirable place was soon found in a shady nook, and the repast was
spread, to which it is almost needless to add they all did ample
justice.

Just as they sat down, Arthur made his appearance, bringing Louisa
Aubray with him. If a look could have done it Lady Ashton would have
annihilated him, so fearfully angry was she at his daring to bring her
grand daughter in this manner, upon his own responsibility.

"I found Louisa very disconsolate and unhappy, and I thought a little
recreation would be good for her, Aunty. I feel sure that Mrs. Arlington
will excuse the liberty I have taken," he added with a smile and bow.

"Pray don't mention it, replied Mrs. Arlington thus appealed to, I am
only too happy to have Miss Aubray join us. Alice my dear, make room for
Miss Aubray."

Louisa sat with her large mournful eyes cast down, tho' occasionally she
threw furtive glances at her grandmother's darkened countenance, and
seemed to be doing anything but enjoying herself. And no wonder poor
child, for she was sure of a terrible scolding sooner or later. Arthur
paid attention to the ladies generally, with whom he was a great
favorite.

Louisa ate her dinner almost in silence, tho' Alice did her best to draw
her out. But poor girl, she was calculating the chances of being left
alone with her angry grandmother when they dispersed after dinner, and
almost wished she had not yielded to Arthur's persuasions, as he had
apparently deserted her. But he was much too considerate and kind
hearted for that, he had brought her there to enjoy herself, and it
would not be his fault if she didn't. They began dispersing by twos and
threes to explore the beauties of the place, and Louisa's heart sank
within her, as she saw their numbers diminishing fast, and that Arthur
too had disappeared.

The children asked Isabel to come and see Rose's bower, and after a
short consultation, Alice invited Louisa to join them, but Lady Ashton
interposed.

"I had much rather you remained with me my dear," she said curtly. And
Louisa reseated herself with a great sigh as the others started on their
ramble. For the children had much too great an awe of Lady Ashton, to
attempt to intercede on Louisa's behalf, and if the truth must be told,
they didn't much care for her company. So Louisa was left alone with the
elders, who were not in such haste to move after their repast as the
young people.

"Come Louisa, let us follow the example of the rest," said Arthur
reappearing.

"I have ordered Louisa to remain here, interposed Lady Ashton sternly."

"Oh! Aunt," remonstrated Arthur.

"I don't approve of her coming at all, but as she is here she--"

"May as well enjoy herself," put in Arthur.

"Arthur," ejaculated Lady Ashton, in her most freezing tone.

"But Aunt," you see that she is the only young lady left, and you
wouldn't be so cruel as to condemn me to wander alone through these
picturesque ravines."

"You can stay here, and amuse us old people," returned Lady Ashton
grimly.

Arthur shrugged his shoulders and elevated his eye-brows, by way of
reply.

"Oh! that is too much to expect," interposed Mrs. Arlington kindly,
"I think you should relent Josephine."

"But you know that I refused to let her go with Miss Leicester and the
children."

"Oh! did you," interrupted Arthur, "that was too bad."

"Come Louisa, we will try and find them," and off he marched her from
under Lady Ashton's very nose, as Louisa felt bold with Arthur to back
her, and she knew that she could not increase the weight of censure
already incured--she also longed to get out of her grandmother's
presence on any terms.

Rose's bower (so called from Rose having been the first to discover it)
was some distance up the winding path. It was a nice little nook,
thickly shaded on all sides, having a small aperture in the west, and
was completely covered with wild flowers of every description. The
ascent was very difficult, for they had quite to force their way through
the underwood. They arrived at last, tired and breathless, but the wild
secluded beauty of the spot quite repaid them for their trouble. Isabel
was in raptures, and expressed her admiration in no measured terms to
the delighted children.

"Oh! Everard, how did you find us," exclaimed Alice, as that gentleman
made his appearance, "I thought no one knew of this place but
ourselves."

"Oh I followed just to see to what unheard of spot you were taking Miss
Leicester," replied Everard good-naturedly.

"Then you might have joined us, and not have crept after us in that mean
way." said Rose angrily.

"Rose, my dear Rose, you must not speak in that way." interposed Isabel
authoritatively.

"Oh Rose, don't you like Everard to come," asked Amy reproachfully.

"I don't like him to come in that way." returned Rose.

"Wouldn't you like to gather some of those black berries," asked
Everard, after they had rested a while.

"O yes," they all exclaimed, "what beauties," and off they scampered.
Isabel was about to follow, but Everard interposed, "Stay, Miss
Leicester, I have long sought an opportunity to address you, and can no
longer delay--I must speak--"

Isabel would have made her escape, but that Everard stood between her
and the only available opening. She knew that he was about to propose,
and would gladly have prevented it if possible, but as it was, there was
no reprieve--he would do it.

How signally had she failed, notwithstanding all her efforts, for she
could not but feel, that she had not succeeded in making clear to him,
her own ideas on the subject, or this would not have been. How sorry she
was now, that she had allowed the fear of being unnecessarily cool to
influence her conduct,--yet at the same time, she could not accuse
herself of having given him any encouragement. Yet, how far was he from
anticipating a refusal, and how unprepared to receive it. She saw it,
there was no doubt manifested in the eager expressive eyes, in the warm
impulsive manner blended with a gentle earnestness that might have won
the heart of a girl whose affections were disengaged. He looked so
handsome, so loveable, that Isabel felt she might indeed have been
content to take him, had not her affections been given to another, and
she grieved to think of the pain she must inflict.

It might have been easier if he had not looked so bright and hopeful
about it, or if she could have told him of her engagement, but that was
out of the question, he seemed so certain of success, so utterly
unconscious of the fate that awaited him, that she could have wept, but
resolutely repressing her tears, she waited with heightening color to
hear the words that were to be so kindly, yet so vainly spoken.

"Dearest Isabel," he said in accents soft and winning. "I have loved you
ever since I first saw you on that Sunday afternoon, and all that I have
seen of you since, has only increased my esteem. But of late you have
been more retiring than formerly, and I have even thought that you
avoided me sometimes, thinking I fear, that my attentions (to use a
common phrase) meant nothing, but that is not the case, I am not one of
those, who merely to gratify their own vanity, would endeavor to win
affection, which they do not,--cannot return. No dearest, I love you
truly, unalterably,--will you then accept my love, and give me the right
and the inexpressibly pleasure to share all your joys and sorrows. Tell
me dear Isabel, will you be my wife."

She was trembling--almost gasping, and he would have aided her with his
supporting arm, but she sank away from him sobbing "It can never, never
be."

"Why do you say that Isabel," he asked reproachfully, while the
expression of his countenance became that of unmitigated sorrow.

"Even could I return your affection," she answered more calmly, "It
would not be right to accept you under the circumstances. Your parents
would consider, that as their governess, I ought to know my duty
better."

"What difference could your being the governess make," he asked.

"Every difference in their opinion."

"But as I am the only son, of course they would raise no objection."

"That makes it the more certain that they would do so," she replied.

"Oh! Isabel" he exclaimed passionately, "do not reason in this cool way,
when my whole life will be happy or miserable as you make it. I am not
changeable, I shall not cease to love you while I live."

"Oh! do not say that I have so much influence upon your happiness Mr.
Arlington," returned Isabel much affected. "You must not think of me
otherwise than as a friend, a kind friend--a dear friend if you will,
but I can never be anything more."

"Oh! Isabel, dear Isabel, do not refuse me thus, you do not know, indeed
you do not, how true a heart you are crushing, what fervent love you are
rejecting. Only let me hope that time may change your feelings."

"Do not think that I undervalue the love you offer, but it is
impossible--quite impossible that we can ever be more to each other than
at present. I would not raise false hopes or allow you to indulge them.
I do not, cannot return your affections, I can never be your wife, it is
utterly impossible."

"You love another Isabel, else why impossible. Perhaps, even now you are
the promised bride of another, tell me if this is the case," he said
tho' his voice faltered.

"You are presuming Mr. Arlington, you have no right to ask this
question," she replied with glowing cheeks.

"Pardon me if I have offended," he said.

"I think that this interview has lasted long enough--too long in fact.
I will now join the children if you please."

"One moment more, say that we do not part in anger."

"In anger, no, we are good friends I trust," she answered, smiling very
sweetly.

"My dream of happiness is over," he said sadly, almost tearfully as he
took her offered hand.

Isabel had some difficulty in finding the children on such a wild place.
When she did so, she found Arthur and Louisa with them. Louisa was
looking bright and animated, very different to what she had done during
dinner, and was laughing and joining in the general conversation.

"We are taking Mr. Barrington and Louisa to the bower," cried Rose as
they drew near.

"I'm afraid we shall be rather late," answered Isabel.

"But you surely wouldn't have us return without seeing this wonderful
bower, after undergoing all this fatigue," inquired Arthur.

"Certainly not, but I would rather be excused climbing up there again
to-day. I will wait here until you come back." returned Isabel.

"Where is Everard." asked Alice.

"I left him at the bower,"

"I think I will wait with Miss Leicester," said Amy, "I'm so very
tired."

"Yes do," cried Rose, "for then we shall not be half so long gone."

Isabel sat down on the lovely green sward, and the tired child reclined
beside her. Amy was so thoroughly worn out that she lay perfectly quiet,
and Isabel was left to her own reflections, and these were by no means
pleasant. Her conversation with Everard had cast a gloom over her
spirits, she no longer took pleasure in the ramble or in the beautiful
scenery around her, all the brightness of the day was gone, and why, he
was not the first rejected suitor, but she had never felt like this with
regard to the others. But then she had been the rich Miss Leicester, and
it was so easy to imagine that she was courted for her wealth, but in
the present instance it was different. Nothing but true disinterested
love could have prompted him, and she felt hurt and grieved to think
that she was the object of such warm affection to one who she esteemed
so highly, when her affections were already engaged. She had seen how
deeply her answer pained him, yet had not dared to answer his question.
Could she tell him what she had not dared to reveal to her dying father?
No; tho' could she have done so, it might have made it easier for
Everard to forget her. When they reached the place of rendezvous, they
found the rest of the party including Everard, already assembled, and
Peter was declaring that it was utterly impossible to return without
having some refreshments, after the immense fatigue they had all
undergone in exploring the beauties of the surrounding country. Most of
the party were of the same opinion, so forthwith he and Bob Mornington
proceeded to ransack the hampers, and distributed the contents in the
most primitive manner imaginable, to the amusement of the company
generally, and to the extreme disgust of Grace Arlington in particular.
And then there was a general move to the carriages. After they arrived
at Elm Grove, Lady Ashton insisted upon Louisa returning to the park at
once. Several voices were raised in her behalf, but in vain, Lady Ashton
was inexorable, and telling Louisa to say good bye to Mrs. Arlington,
she hurried her away, and desired Sunmers the coachman to drive Miss
Aubray home and return for her at twelve.

Arthur followed and remonstrated.

"Arthur, say no more," returned Lady Ashton decisively. "I consider you
took a great liberty in bringing her, and I will not allow her to
remain."

"Since you are quite sure that it is best for her to go, I will drive
her home, she need not go alone in the great carriage, like a naughty
child sent home in disgrace," he answered laughing.

"Nonsense, Arthur, don't be so absurd," said Lady Ashton tartly.

"Indeed my dear Aunt, as I persuaded her to come I positively could not
have her treated so unceremoniously," he replied. "Here Thomson," he
called to the man who was about to take Archer to the stable, and the
next moment he had handed the mistified Louisa into the chaise, leaving
the astonished Lady Ashton crimson with rage.

"Adieu Aunty" he cried, gathering up the ribbons, "I must trust to you
to make my apologies to Mrs. Arlington, and off he drove. Lady Ashton
re-entered the house, inwardly vowing vengeance against the unlucky
Louisa, tho' she met Mrs. Arlington with a smile, saying, "that Arthur
had begged her to apologize, as he had thought it incumbent upon him to
drive his cousin home, as it was entirely his fault that she had come,
and you know," she added with a little laugh, "how scrupulously polite
he is to every one--."

To Lady Ashton's great chagrin, this was the last that was seen of
Arthur at Elm Grove that night, and she would have been still more
annoyed had she known how thoroughly he and Louisa were enjoying
themselves over their game of chess, notwithstanding Miss Crosse's
exemplary vigilance.

The evening was spent in various amusements, and the company dispersed
at a late hour, all highly satisfied, and voting the pic-nic a complete
success.

After the guests had departed, Isabel had occasion to go into the
school-room for a book, and as the beautiful harvest moon was shining so
brightly, she stood a moment at the open window to enjoy the lovely
prospect. Hearing some one enter the room, she turned and encountered
Everard. She would have retreated, but Everard gently detained her,
"promise me Miss Leicester," he said, "that what passed between us this
afternoon shall make no difference to your arrangements, you will not
think of leaving, for I should never forgive myself for having deprived
my sisters of the benefit of your society if you do."

"I could scarcely do so if I wished," she replied with a sigh.

"Only say that you do not wish it," returned Everard earnestly.

"I do not, you have all been so kind, so very kind to me, that I should
be very sorry to leave, nor could I do so very easily as I have no
home."

"Dear Isabel, why not accept the home I offer you?"

"Stay Mr. Arlington, say no more. You must promise not to recur to that
subject again, or however unpleasant it may be to do so, I shall have no
alternative, but must seek another situation."

"I will make it a forbidden subject while you remain at Elm Grove if you
wish it," he said doubtfully.

"It must be so Mr. Arlington; good night."

When Isabel entered her own room she found Emily there.

"Dear Isabel," she said, after seating herself on a low stool at
Isabel's feet, "what a delightful day this has been, O I'm so happy,"
and she hid her face in Isabel's lap. "I cannot go to Grace, so I come
to you," she continued, "You are more sympathetic and seem to understand
me better. Not but what Grace has always been kind enough, but I always
am rather in awe of her, and you have just been the friend I always
wanted. Oh! Isabel, you don't know how much good you have done me. You
have taught me to think more of right and wrong, and to consider duty as
well as pleasure, and to think of others as well as myself. I know now,
that Miss Massie was right when she said that I was wilful and selfish,
and had no consideration for others, tho' at the time she said it I
thought her severe and unjust. Before you came here, I made up my mind
to be kind to you, and to try to like you, (tho' I own that I thought it
very improbable that I should do so in reality) but you know, my
Godmother Mrs. Arnold had written me, that I must be kind to you and
love you, under pain of her displeasure, but when I saw how pretty you
were, I thought it would not be a difficult task. Now I have learned to
love you for yourself, because you are good as well as beautiful."

"Oh! stop, you little flatterer, you will make me vain," said Isabel
kissing her. "If I have done you any good, I am very glad indeed," she
added in a more serious tone, "I have endeavored to do my duty, but I am
afraid that I have not succeeded very well."

"O yes, indeed you have, but what do you think that I came here to tell
you dear."

Isabel confessed that it was useless to attempt to guess as the day had
been such an eventful one, and offered so large a scope for the
imagination.

"Well if you won't guess I must tell you deary, I'm engaged to Harry
Mornington."

"May you be very, very happy dear Emily," said Isabel returning her
embrace. Then, unable any longer to sustain the composure she had forced
herself to assume, she laid her head upon Emily's shoulder and wept
passionately.

"What can make this affect you thus," asked the amazed and astonished
Emily, greatly distressed, "Oh! Isabel is it possible that you love him,
how unfortunate that I should have chosen you for my confidant, but I
didn't know, I never thought, or believe me I would not have pained you
thus. You said that he had always been like a brother to you, how could
I know that you ever thought he would be anything more. Indeed, she
added as if to vindicate Harry, "I never saw anything in his manner to
lead you to suppose so."

"You are quite mistaken dear Emily," interposed Isabel, as soon as she
could control her sobs sufficiently to give utterance to the words "I
never thought or wished that Harry should ever be more to me than the
dear friend he has ever been. But I have many sources of trouble that
you are not aware of dear Emily, and to-day, while others laughed,
I could have wept, and would gladly have exchanged that gay scene, for
the quiet of my own room. But this could not be, and I was forced to
assume a serenity of feeling I was far from experiencing. Had you not
been here, I should have given vent to my grief in solitude, and none
would have been the wiser. As it is I must entreat that you will forgive
me for (tho' unintentionally) making you suppose I do not sympathize in
your happiness, but I do indeed, for I know that Harry is all that is
good, and is worthy of your best affections."

"Dear Isabel, will you not tell me your troubles," inquired Emily, "for
ills lose half their weight by being shared with another."

"I cannot tell you dear, but for the present I will forget my uneasiness
in sharing your happiness."

Then after a long and pleasant conversation they parted, both amazed at
the late, or rather early hour which at that moment struck.

"By-the-bye," said Emily, coming back after a few minutes "papa gave me
this letter for you two days ago, but I quite forgot it until I saw it
just now."

"O you naughty, naughty girl," cried Isabel, looking very bright as she
beheld the familiar epistle.

"No more tears to-night I fancy, eh Isabel," said Emily saucily. "Don't
sit up to read it to-night, it is so very late," she added wickedly, her
eyes sparkling with mischief.

All else was soon forgotten as Isabel eagerly perused the welcome letter
from her own Louis, whose silence had been one source of her
disquietude. But Louis accounted for his silence to her entire
satisfaction, and promised to send an extra one at an early date.



CHAPTER VI.


Isabel was to spend this Xmas with the Morningtons, who with with the
exception of Harry, were to return to Europe in February. It was very
rough weather, and Isabel had much such a journey as that to Elm Grove,
and was in a very similar condition to what she had been on that
occasion. On her arrival at Eastwood, Ada embracing her exclaimed "Oh!
here you are at last my own darling Isabel, I have been watching for you
all day, papa was sadly afraid of accidents this stormy weather, and Bob
kept bringing such dreadful accounts of trains being snowed up, that he
nearly frightened me to death. Papa has been to the depot three times,
and Harry twice, and missed you after all. But do come and warm yourself
dearest, for you seem half frozen," she continued as she hurried Isabel
into the cosy little breakfast-room, where the bright fire was indeed a
pleasant sight on such a bitterly cold day.

"We met with several disagreeable stoppages, but nothing worse" replied
Isabel, her teeth chattering with cold. "I am sadly chilled with this
piercing wind, Oh! this is nice" she added going to the fire, "and it is
so very pleasant to be at 'Eastwood' once more."

"Why here is Isabel I declare," cried the impulsive Lucy, as she bounded
into the room, "how delightful, you will help me to arrange the
gim-cracks on the Xmas tree, won't you my pet," said the merry girl as
she threw her arms round her friend, and hugged her unmercifully.

"To be sure I will, when I recover the use of my fingers," returned
Isabel laughing.

"Well, I don't want you to come now, for if I am a little madcap as papa
says, I'm not quite so unreasonable as that," Lucy answered, seating
herself upon an ottoman. "Here I am your humble servant to command what
orders for your slave, most noble Isabel of Leicester. You have but to
speak and I obey."

"Do be sensible Lucy and let mamma know that Isabel has come," said Ada
reprovingly.

"I go," answered Lucy with mock gravity, "to usher my illustrious mother
to the presence of the noble Isabel of Leicester."

"Oh! Lucy, just the same nonsensical," laughed Isabel.

"Alas, I fear that it will be the same to the end of the chapter,"
sighed the incorrigible Lucy as she left the room. She soon returned
bringing the other members of the family with her, and Isabel received a
very warm welcome. She could not help shedding tears of happiness and
gratitude, when Mrs. Mornington embracing her said, "ever look upon this
as your home dear child, whenever you like to come you will always find
us glad to see you," and Mr. Mornington added in his kindly tone "yes,
yes, always remember Isabel my dear, that while I have a roof over my
head, you have still a home, and kind friends to welcome you."

On being conducted to her room, she found the best was given her as of
old; it was evident that her altered circumstances made no difference at
Eastwood.

Happy days were these which Isabel spent with her dearest friends. Bob's
party went off with great _eclat_, and the perfect success of the Xmas
trees was owing to Isabel's tasteful arrangement.

The Ashtons arrived on New Year's Eve, for Ada was to be married on
twelfth day. Lady Ashton was very much surprised to find how very
partial the Morningtons were to Isabel, they consulted her on all
occasions, and her advice was almost invariably taken. This annoyed Lady
Ashton extremely, and she often succeeded in vexing her, and making her
feel very uncomfortable. But Lady Ashton's disagreeable behaviour did
not annoy Isabel so much as at Ashton Park. Here among her best friends,
she could even think of herself as a governess without experiencing the
same degree of mortification as formerly, but she was still very
sensitive upon that point.

Lady Ashton had noticed that her nephew, The Honorable Arthur Barrington
was very attentive to Miss Leicester, this raised her ire, and she was
determined to prevent it--she resolved to put a stop to it, so seeing
him seated next Isabel at dinner, she asked her across the table how her
little pupils were when she left them, and if Mrs. Arlington had granted
extra holidays, as she could scarcely get back by the end of the usual
Xmas vacation."

Isabel grew scarlet as she replied "that they were quite well when she
left them, and that she did not return until the first of February."

Lady Ashton was gratified to see that she was successful so far. Isabel
was no longer the same attentive listener to all Arthur's stories of
marvellous adventures, (for she was both hurt and angry, as the question
was evidently intended to annoy--for as Emily had come to Eastwood with
the Ashtons, Lady Ashton had later intelligence from Elm Grove than she
could possibly give) and Arthur finding her pre-occupied, transferred
his attention to Mabel Ainsley, so that Isabel was left to the mercy of
a queer old gentleman who sat next her on the other side, who was
exceedingly deaf, and stuttered dreadfully. Nor did Lady Ashton's
evident satisfaction tend to make her feel more at ease, so that she was
heartily glad when this to her most tedious dinner was over. But she had
a worse attack to endure, for when the ladies reached the drawing-room,
Lady Ashton said in the most annoying tone, "I should not have mentioned
your pupils if I had had any idea that you would have been so painfully
affected by my doing so, at the same time rest assured my dear Miss
Leicester----."

"Pray don't mention it Lady Ashton," replied Isabel coldly, "any apology
is quite unnecessary."

"You mistake my meaning Miss Leicester," replied Lady Ashton stiffly,
"I am not aware of having anything to apologize for," she added with a
contemptuous little laugh, "I was about to say" she continued, "that the
sooner you overcome this feeling the better. You ought not to be ashamed
of earning an honest living----."

"Nor am I ashamed of it," replied Isabel with dignity, "at least I hope
not."

"I am glad that you qualify your denial, as your crimson cheeks both now
and during dinner are ample proof that I am right. But (as I was about
to say, when you interrupted me so rudely) from my observations,
I thought it high time that Mr. Barrington should be reminded of your
position, as I know that his father would never allow him to marry a
governess, of course it is no disgrace to be a governess, still, it is
not from that class of persons that Arthur should choose a wife."

"I'm afraid that you have taken unnecessary trouble, Lady Ashton,"
returned Isabel, "I am convinced that my position is of no consequence
to Mr. Barrington, any more than his is to me. I assure you that you
have made a great mistake."

"It is nonsense for a girl in your circumstances to pretend such
indifference, I am not deceived, I know that you would be only too glad
to make such a match, and he is just foolish enough to take a fancy to a
pretty face. But I warn you not to encourage him, as it will only end in
misery to you both, as Lord Barrington would never consent."

"Really, Lady Ashton, I do not know what right you have to insult me in
this manner, I cannot permit it," said Isabel, and then with dignified
composure she crossed the room to Ada, who was scarcely less annoyed
than herself, at Lady Ashton's unprovoked attack.

This little scene had afforded no little amusement to the party
generally, tho' all agreed that it was too bad of Lady Ashton, and very
ill-natured.

Lady Ashton, however, had miscalculated the effect of the course she had
pursued, for Arthur Barrington was annoyed at her interference, and
being really good-natured he was even more than ever attentive to
Isabel, and endeavored as much as possible to atone for his aunt's
disagreeable behaviour, while Isabel (being convinced that Lady Ashton
had nothing to warrant her conjecture, but her own surmises,) made no
alteration in her manners. She found him a very agreeable companion, and
imagined that he too found her society pleasant, as indeed he did,
beautiful, accomplished, and good-natured, how could she be otherwise
than attractive. But Lady Ashton's chagrin knew no bounds, and she told
Isabel that she should certainly let Mrs. Arlington know how very unfit
a person she was to have the care of her daughters. She had always been
surprised at her having such a very young person, but she had heard that
it was out of charity, but there was such a thing as carrying that much
abused virtue too far.

Stooping lower over her tatting, Isabel only smiled at the harmless
threat, for whatever her failings might be, Mrs. Arlington was not over
ready to believe evil of any one, and seldom did so without due cause.
Moreover, she was not easily influenced by others, and her decisions
were usually just. But the hot blood suffused her cheeks as Lady Ashton
concluded. Fortunately Lucy entered the room, and then her ladyship was
or appeared to be deeply engaged with her book, as having before been
worsted in a combat of sharp speeches with that young lady, she by no
means wished for a renewal of hostilities.

Isabel was invariably made low spirited by one of Lady Ashton's
ill-natured attacks, especially so to-day, as the insults she had
received were particularly painful, being both unfeeling and uncalled
for. However, upon retiring to her own room at night, she found upon the
dressing table a letter, the contents of which soon dispersed all gloomy
thoughts, and Lady Ashton's rudeness was quite forgotten.

Louis, her own dear Louis, wrote that he would return in the early
spring. My uncle he said, has or is about to purchase for me a practice
in H----, so that I trust dearest, the period of your teaching will not
be of long duration, as there will then be no cause to delay our union.
I already in perspective, seem to see you my own dearest, presiding over
my bright fireside in H----, the joy of my heart, and the good angel of
my home.

I trust that you have made no arrangement with Mrs. Arlington but such
as can easily terminate upon a short notice. I would not advise your
taking any steps at present, as my uncle does not say positively that
the purchase is absolutely made. But at all events you may depend upon
seeing me in the early spring, as I have his orders to return.

The darkest hour is just before dawn. She had been so truly wretched an
hour ago, and now how radiantly happy she was. Ah, with what sweet
visions of a bright unclouded future did she fall asleep, to dream of
her loved one far away, soon to be distant no longer.

When Isabel descended to the breakfast-room next morning, she looked so
bright and happy, that Lady Ashton could account for it in no other way
than that Arthur had proposed, and that she had accepted him, so she
taxed him with it accordingly. Arthur was excessively amused, and so
archly evaded giving a direct answer, that she became the more convinced
of the truth of her own surmises, and grew so wrathy that Arthur fearing
that in her anger she might annoy Miss Leicester, at length assured her
that she need be under no apprehension, as nothing was farther from his
thoughts.



CHAPTER VII.


"Oh, Isabel, mama says I may stay until the first, and then we can
return together, won't that be charming," said Emily, as she came into
Isabel's room on the following day, holding an open letter in her hand.
"You can't think how glad I am to escape the escort of that tiresome
Lady Ashton."

"I certainly should not imagine that she would make a very pleasant
travelling companion," returned Isabel, laughing. "Don't mention it
pray," exclaimed Emily, "you have no idea what I endured coming down.
Poor Charles, he must have been almost worried to death, she is such a
horrid tease, and the old gentleman too, is an awful fidget. I think
Arthur Barrington knew what he was about, when he refused to be of our
party, and went on by express. Talking of Lady Ashton, how abominably
she behaves to you. I was saying so to Harry the other day, and he
really seemed quite hurt about it. He said that he saw what she was at
the other day at dinner, and was very much annoyed. Then I told him that
was nothing to what took place afterwards, and related what she said to
you in the drawing room."

"Oh, Emily, how could you," exclaimed Isabel.

"Ah now don't be cross with me, Isabel, darling. I really couldn't
resist, it was so supremely absurd. Do you know, that that little goose,
Ada, cried her eyes out about it that night, and then in again next
morning." "I know that Ada was very much hurt at Lady Ashton's
rudeness," replied Isabel.

"I'm sure that I was as angry and annoyed as any of them, but for the
life of me I can't help laughing whenever I think of it. But confess
now, Isabel, are you not desperately in love with Arthur
Barrington--come tell the truth."

"Well, the truth is, no, most decidedly not," Isabel answered, laughing.

"Ah, now, I'm quite disappointed, for I had made up my mind to that
match, if only to aggravate Lady Ashton. She has no influence in that
quarter, as anyone may see; and he is so decidedly 'smitten."'

"What nonsense you talk, Emily."

"It is not nonsense. I assure you that I mean what I say. Ah, my dear,
you had better consider the matter. Second thoughts, you know, are
sometimes best. He is a very nice fellow, and his father is immensely
rich. You can have him if you choose: I am sharp enough to see that."

"But then you see I don't choose," returned Isabel, much amused.
"Besides, I think that you are quite mistaken."

"Oh, you silly Isabel, how can you be so provokingly stupid? By the bye,
what a little namby-pamby thing that Mabel Ainsley is. What Lucy can see
in her to like, passes my comprehension."

"I presume it must be because Lucy is so different, and then Mabel is so
pliant, which no doubt suits, as Lucy is fond of taking the lead."

"They say that likes go by contraries; but as far as my observations go,
it is seldom the case," observed Emily.

"A similarity of tastes and ideas is usually more attractive; but then,
'novelty's charming,' you know," responded Isabel.

"I do wish that we could get up a fancy ball--a private masquerade, you
know. I was speaking to Ada and Lucy about it last night. I said that I
would be night, and Lucy thought you ought to be morning."

"I hope they will give up the idea, as I really could not take part in
it," interrupted Isabel.

"Why not--what harm could there be? What makes you so fastidious,
Isabel?"

"It is not that, dear Emily;" but I have very painful associations
connected with a private masquerade, the only one that I ever went to.
That night poor papa received the sad news of his failure; and in the
midst of that gay scene, I received a summons to return, as my papa was
alarmingly ill, and scarcely expected to live through the night. He
never recovered, though he lingered for some weeks afterwards. Can you
wonder then, dear Emily, that even the idea of such a thing is painful
in the extreme?"

"I'm very sorry that I proposed it," returned Emily, much concerned.
"I will tell Ada what you say, and we will get up some other amusement:
so don't think any more about it, dear;" and giving Isabel a hasty kiss,
she left her.

The sixth was a bright, cloudless day--the dazzling whiteness of the
frozen snow, and the deep blue of the sky, forming a beautiful contrast.
The weather was cold, not intensely so, and the trees looked splendid,
as their ice-covered boughs glistened and sparkled in the sunlight; and
the merry jingle of the sleigh-bells was quite enlivening. The wedding
was quite a grand affair, and passed off with great _eclat_.

Charles and Ada were to travel for three weeks, and then join the
Ashtons and Morningtons at Boston, and proceed to the old country
together.

The Ashtons left Eastwood shortly after the wedding, to prepare for a
long absence from the Park; and from the time of Lady Ashton's
departure, Isabel's visit was one of uninterrupted enjoyment. She became
so cheerful and animated, that Emily declared they positively wouldn't
know her again at Elm Grove.

Harry was to remain at W----, to read up for the examination. He had
tried very hard to prevail upon his father to let him enter Mr.
Arlington's office, as in that way he could get on much better, he said,
as he would see a great deal of law business, and he could easily read
up in the evenings.

But his father only laughed. "Love-making would play the dickens with
the studies. You would be poring over your book, without knowing that it
was upside down. No, no. After you have 'passed,' you shall travel for a
year; and then I believe that I shall be able to get you a partnership
in H---- with my old school-fellow, Harding, who is a very clever
lawyer, and stands very high in his profession."

"But will you allow me sufficient to enable me to marry and take my wife
with me?" asked Harry.

"Upon my word! that is a modest request," replied his father.

Harry laughed.

"When I was young, young men expected to make their way in the world a
little before they talked of marrying," continued Mr. Mornington; but
you ask me as coolly as possible to give you enough to enable you and
your wife to travel, before you go into business at all, which I think
is pretty brassy. I wonder what my father would have thought if I had
made such a request. I honestly believe he would have thrashed me. But
as I said, things are different now-a-days." Harry grew very red during
this harangue, but wisely kept silent.

"Now, I'll tell you what my father did. He called me into his study one
morning. 'How old are you?' he asked. 'Fifteen, sir,' I replied proudly.
'Old enough to be better,' he retorted. 'Well, sir, as you are fifteen,
I consider that you are old enough to earn your own living. I have
procured you a situation in a wholesale grocery, where you will get a
hundred dollars a year. Now, as you will be away from home (for the firm
is in Washington), I will pay your board for the first year. After that,
you will get a rise in your salary; and from that time, you will have to
depend upon your own exertions, as I shall not help you any more. If you
are honest and steady, you get on. But if you will get into scrapes,
don't expect me to help you out." "Yes, sir," resumed Mr. Mornington,
"that was the way I began the world; and by the time I was twenty-three
(your age, Harry), I had acquired a good position in the firm, and a
promise of a future partnership. What do you think of that?"

"I think that if you had started me in the same manner, when I was
fifteen, that I should have done the same," replied Harry, with spirit.

"Then you think that you can't be blamed justly?"

"No, sir," returned Harry, respectfully.

"Well, I suppose that it has been all my own doing," resumed Mr.
Mornington. "But seriously, Harry, do you wish to give up law and become
one of the firm? Speak out, boy, there is no good in taking up a thing
if you have no heart for it."

"You mistake me altogether," interposed Harry, hastily. "I have not the
least wish to give up the law."

"So let it be then. And I agree to your request--provided that you
'pass' within a year."

"All right--thanks," returned Harry, thinking that he had made a capital
arrangement.

"I suppose," added his father, "that you will have to take the girls to
Elm Grove."

"Unless it interferes with the bargain," Harry began--

"Ha, ha!" laughed Mr. Mornington. "You will make a good lawyer yet,
I believe."

"I hope so," responded Harry, lighting his cigar.

On the first of February, they all set out for Boston, according to the
previous arrangement. On their arrival in that city, they found that
Charles and Ada had been there some days. Charles had received a
telegram, saying that the elder Ashtons would only get there an hour or
so before the steamer left.

The girls were delighted at this intelligence, as now there was nothing
to mar the happiness of the party during the few days that they would
spend together. Ada and Isabel were inseparable, and it was astonishing
how much Lucy and Emily had to say. Charles and Harry discussed their
future plans. Mr. Mornington had a great many people to see, and a great
deal of business to attend to, so that he was closely occupied, and had
scarcely a word for any one during meals, which was the only time he was
with them. And Mrs. Mornington's happiness seemed to consist in seeing
the young people enjoy themselves.

After the arrival of Sir John and Lady Ashton, with Miss Crosse and
Louisa, they all went on board the steamer; and when they had seen them
comfortably settled, Emily, Harry and Isabel, returned to the hotel, and
the next morning continued their journey to Elm Grove, where Mr.
Mornington had stipulated that Harry should stay no more than three
weeks--or it would interfere with the bargain.



CHAPTER VIII.


The Arlingtons had a grand ball in honor of Miss Arlington's
twenty-first birthday, which Rose said wasn't fair, as Everard didn't
have one on his. Mrs. Arlington, always celebrated for the taste and
elegance displayed at her parties, has almost surpassed all former
occasions in the magnificent arrangement of everything.

Isabel wore a plain white dress, and jet ornaments. A single flower
adorned her hair; and the usual, rather sad expression of her
countenance, was exchanged for one of greater animation. The excitement
of the occasion had given an unwonted glow to her cheeks. She did,
indeed, look lovely, as she stood engaged in lively conversation with
Emily, while they were waiting in the drawing-room to receive the
guests; and so Everard thought, who stood talking with his father, while
his eyes rested admiringly upon Isabel's sweet face.

After the greater part of the guests had arrived, and the dancing fairly
commenced, Isabel, who had been waltzing, returned to the drawing-room.
She was scarcely seated, when, to her utter amazement, she saw Louis
Taschereau enter. Oh, how her heart throbbed at the unexpected meeting!
Here was Louis, her own Louis, actually in the room. It was annoying,
that after being parted so long, they should first meet in a crowded
ball-room.--Never mind; she was only too glad to have him there. He
looked so well, so bright and happy, as he made his way through the
crowd, with the proud bearing and haughty mien in which she delighted.
How long would it be before he reached her?--Oh, that the room were
smaller, or that she had been nearer the door. It seemed an age while he
was shaking hands with Mrs. Arlington. But who is that pretty girl on
his arm? Could it be his cousin Marie? He has taken her to a seat, and
is moving down the room. The hot blood rushed to her cheeks. Someone
asked her to dance. "Oh, not yet," she replied, scarcely heeding who it
was that asked her. Louis sees her, and is coming towards her. How her
heart bounded, her joy and happiness was so great. She hid her glowing
face behind her fan, to conceal her confusion. Another moment and he was
by her side, greeting her cordially. "Oh, Louis," and she smiled upon
him, O so sweetly. "You did not expect to see me to-night," he said,
looking very contented and triumphant. But there was something in the
expression of his face which she did not like--something that seemed to
freeze up all the warmth of her feelings in an instant. Was it that he
thought she was too ready to show what she felt, with so many present
who might observe any unusual degree of pleasure on her part. Oh, surely
not, for she had been so careful--as careful as it was in human nature
to be.

"Was that your cousin," she asked, "that you brought with you?"

"No! that--is--my wife--" he said, with a look of triumph.

"Your wife! Why, what do you mean?" she inquired, thinking he was
jesting.

"Just what I say," he replied. Then, with insufferable insolence, he
hissed in her ear, "Louis Taschereau never forgives."

"Indeed," she answered, assuming an air of indifference that surprised
even herself; for she had felt the hot, indignant blood, coursing
through her veins.

"Really," he said, with cool effrontery, "that assumption of
indifference is sublime. But I am not deceived," he continued, with a
scornful laugh; "my revenge is most complete, my plans have been
entirely successful," and making her a low bow, he retired. And Isabel
was left to her own thoughts. But this would not do; she must not--dare
not--think; she must have excitement until she could be quite alone.
Fortunately, Harry now claimed her as his partner. "Oh, Harry," she
said, "I am so tired of sitting here."

"Why, I asked you for the last dance, and you wouldn't come," answered
Harry, laughing.

"I didn't think it would have lasted so long," she returned.

"Do you know that Louis is here?" he inquired.

"Yes."

"Don't you think his wife pretty?"

"Very."

Harry knew that Louis had always been a favorite with Isabel, but the
remotest idea of the real state of the case never for a moment occured
to him.

When the dance was over, they went out on the glass extension room.
Presently Harry said abruptly:

"Isabel, I really thought that you would have been Mrs. Taschereau."

"Harry!"

"I did, indeed."

"Harry, don't," she said imploringly.

Just then Everard and Emily came in, and at the next dance they
exchanged partners. As they passed under the hall lamp, Everard remarked
the extreme palor of her countenance. "You are ill, Miss Leicester," he
said. You should not have remained so long in that cold place. Let me
get you a glass of wine."

"Oh no, thanks. I shall soon get warm with dancing."

"I don't think that you should attempt this galop. You look too ill;
indeed you do."

"I intend to dance it, Mr. Arlington; but if you do not wish too, I can
have another partner." Everard looked so sad and reproachful as she said
this, that she felt sorry for the hasty words. She knew they had been
harsh, and he had said nothing but what was kind--nothing to deserve
anything so severe. But then she dare not sit during a single dance; she
could not, would not, rest a moment. She was making a great effort to
'keep up,' and it was only by a continual struggle that she could
succeed. However, Everard had no more cause for uneasiness on account of
her looking ill, as they had scarcely entered the ball-room before her
brilliant color had returned. Isabel was decidedly the belle of the
evening; and for this, Grace Arlington never forgave her. Everard saw
that Isabel's gaiety was assumed, and he would have given much to know
the cause. Harry was not so keen an observer, and only thought how much
she was enjoying herself, and how much he had been mistaken in thinking
that she cared anything about Louis.

Oh the weary, weary length of that dreadful evening. Isabel thought that
it would never end. But she kept up splendidly. Once she unexpectedly
found Louis her _vis a vis_--then came the master-piece of the evening.
She looked superb, as with graceful dignity she glided through the
quadrille. She avoided touching his hand, except when it was inevitable;
but she did it so naturally, that to others it did not appear
premeditated. He spoke to her, but she passed on as though she did not
hear. Once again, before the dance was ended, he ventured to address
her; but she replied with grave dignity, "We must meet as strangers:
henceforth I shall not know you, Dr. Taschereau."

Louis foamed with rage at the cool contempt conveyed in these words.
He ground his teeth, and swore to be revenged. At last the guests all
departed, and Harry too had taken leave (for as this was his last day at
Elm Grove, he was going by the three o'clock train to keep his promise,
for Harry was very strict, and would not have remained another day on
any pretext). Then Isabel had to listen to the praises bestowed on her
by all the Arlington family, who complimented her upon the sensation
she had made, and to force herself to join in an animated conversation
regarding the events of the evening; so that she was truly glad when Mr.
Arlington dismissed the 'conclave,' saying that they could discuss the
party next day.

When Isabel gained her own room, and sat down to think of her trouble,
she began to realize the full extent of her misery. She had scarcely
known 'till now, how much his love had supported her through all her
trials; or how the thought of one day being his, had softened the ills
she had been called upon to endure since her father's death. Now she
must think of him no more--he was hers no longer. But worse than this,
was the pain and grief of knowing that he was unworthy of the love and
admiration that she had bestowed upon him. She knew that he was proud,
passionate and exacting, yet she loved him; for these very
characteristics, mingled as they were with more endearing qualities, had
a peculiar charm for her. How happy she had been to feel that he loved
her; and oh! the pain, the agony, of knowing that he did so no longer.
Why, why had he written that letter? Oh it was cruel, cruel. And then
to think that it had all been planned, premeditated, with the express
design of making her suffer more acutely, was bitter in the extreme. To
lose his love was misery; but to know that he was deceitful, cruel and
revengeful, was agony beyond endurance. She did not weep: her grief was
too stony for tears. "Oh, Louis, Louis," she moaned in her agony, "what
have I done, to deserve such cruel treatment?" She leaned her head upon
her arm, and pressed her hand upon her throbbing temples, for the tumult
of her thoughts became intolerable. She pictured to herself Louis, as
she loved to see him; old scenes recurred to her mind, and the days when
she had been so happy in his love--nor had a wish beyond. Even this very
night, how inexpressibly happy had it made her to see him in the room.
And oh, to have all her dreams of happiness crushed in a moment. Again
she thought how different it might have been had he been faithful and
true; but he was false--he did not love her, and what had she to live
for now? A sense of oppression, which almost amounted to suffocation,
distressed her, until at length a fearful sensation of choking forced
her to rise to get some water; but ere she could do so, a crimson stream
flowed from her mouth, down her white dress, and she fell upon the
floor.



CHAPTER IX.


The daylight was streaming in at the window when Emily awoke, and lay
thinking of the party, and rejoicing in her kind little heart that
Isabel had been so happy, and had enjoyed herself so much. Then she
sighed as she thought Harry was gone, but smiled again at the bright
prospect she had in view, for Harry had imparted to her the nice
arrangement that he had made with his father, and she did so love the
idea of travelling for a year. Then again she heaved a little sigh, and
hoped he would not overwork himself; but there was no cause for
uneasiness on that score, for Harry was too much accustomed to take
things easy, and too wise to work himself to death: and Emmy was content
to believe this.

But she was that sociable disposition, that she could not half enjoy
anything unless she could get some one to sympathise with her. She did
so long to tell her news. Late as was the hour when the party broke up,
she wanted to tell Isabel; but Isabel had refused their accustomed chat,
saying that it was too late, and that Mrs. Arlington would be vexed.

Then she wondered if Isabel was awake, she did so long to tell her about
the year's travelling. She thought she would go and see. So she got up
very quietly, partially dressed, and then threw on her dressing gown,
and ran up to Isabel's room; but finding the door locked, she rattled
the handle slightly, and called through the key-hole, "Isabel! Isabel!
are you awake? open the door." Then as she drew back, something
attracted her sight, and impelled her to apply her eye to the said
key-hole. She did so; and horrified beyond description at what she
beheld, she shrieked aloud with terror. Her frantic cries brought her
father, mother, Everard, and several of the servants, to the rescue.

"Open the door! oh, open the door!" was all that she could say, wringing
her hands in anguish, and pointing to it.

"Speak, child," said her father, "what is the matter?"

But she only cried more wildly, "open the door! open the door!" without
attempting to explain. But Everard, with his firm, quiet manner, and
reassuring tone, calmed her almost instantly.

Mrs. Arlington did as Emily had done before her. "There is something
wrong," she exclaimed, "we must get the door open."

The united efforts of Everard and his father forced the door, and a more
distressing sight can scarcely be imagined than that they beheld.
Stretched on the floor lay Isabel, in her ball dress, the blood pouring
from her mouth in a crimson stream. As soon as Everard saw this, he
waited for no more, but hastened to the stable, and was soon on the
road, dashing at a reckless pace, towards Dr. Heathfield's. Mrs.
Arlington quietly desired Norris to remove the children, who, alarmed by
Emily's cries, had crowded into the room, along with the servants. Emily
also was dismissed; and ordering two of the servants to remain, she told
the rest to retire, and to send Norris back again. She then turned her
attention to the suffering girl, whose face wore an expression of
ineffable agony; but she was at a loss how to proceed, not knowing what
ought to be done, and fearing that she might do harm by injudicious
treatment. In less time than could have been imagined, Everard returned
with the doctor, who had great difficulty in stopping the bleeding. She
had broken a blood vessel, he said, and was in a very dangerous state.
He ordered perfect quiet, as the least excitement would cause a return
of the bleeding, and then nothing could save her. He questioned very
sharply as to what had happened, and gave as his opinion that it had
been caused by some great shock, and violent emotion struggled with and
suppressed, by undue excitement.

Mrs. Arlington repudiated the notion, and protested against such an
assumption, saying "that Miss Leicester appeared quite well when she
retired to rest."

"These things do not happen without cause, madam," returned the doctor;
"therefore in all probability something has occurred of which you know
nothing."

"I am convinced that you are mistaken, Dr. Heathfield; but I will take
care that your orders are strictly attended to. No one but myself and
Norris shall be allowed in the room. You have no doubt of her ultimate
recovery, I trust," she added.

"I couldn't pretend to give an opinion at present; I can only tell you
that she is in a most precarious state," he replied gravely. "Everything
depends upon the prevention of the hemorrhage, a return of which would
be certain death. At the same time, that is not all that we have to
fear."

For a long time Isabel hovered between life and death, scarcely
conscious of what was passing around her. Day after day the children
would linger on the stairs, whenever the doctor came, to hear his
account of Miss Leicester. But he only shook his head, and said "he
could not have them there. Their governess was very ill, and they must
be very good children." Then they would return to the school-room, and
spend, as best they might, these joyless holidays.

At last the longed for answer came--"She was certainly better," and they
were delighted beyond measure; but their joy was considerably damped,
when he told them that they could not be permitted to see her for some
time yet.

Isabel's recovery was very slow, though every care and attention was
bestowed upon her, and each vied with the other in showing kindness to
the orphan girl. Still Isabel felt her lonely, dependent condition,
acutely. Life seemed a dreary, cheerless existence; and she experienced
a shrinking from the future which seemed to be before her, which was at
times almost insupportable. She longed to be at rest. The prostration
and langour, both mental and bodily, that accompanied this depression,
was so great as to seriously retard her recovery, and almost baffled the
doctor's skill. She would lie for hours without speaking or moving,
apparently asleep, but only in a sort of waking dream. She took no
interest in anything, and appeared quite incapable of making any effort
to overcome this apathy. Emily tried her best to amuse her; but after
taking pains to relate everything that she thought of interest that had
occurred, Isabel would smile and thank her, in a way that proved she had
not been listening. Thus week after week of her convalescence passed,
while, to the doctor's surprise and disappointment, she made no further
progress. After visiting his patient one afternoon, he requested a few
moments' conversation with Mrs. Arlington. "My dear madam," he said,
when that lady had led the way into the morning-room, "has Miss
Leicester no friends, with whom she could spend a few weeks? for if she
is allowed to remain in this lethargic state, she will inevitably sink.
An entire change of air and scene is absolutely necessary. She requires
something to rouse her in a gentle way, without excitement."

"She has friends, I believe; but really, I know so little about them,
that any arrangement of that sort is out of the question. All those I do
know, are at present in Europe," returned Mrs. Arlington. "But we are
anxious to do everything in our power to promote her recovery. If you
can suggest anything, I shall be most happy to carry out your plans.
I proposed her going to the sea-side, but she wouldn't hear of it, and
said that she hoped she should not trouble us much longer.
I remonstrated, but to no purpose--she persisted that it was utterly
impossible."

"That was the very thing I was going to suggest," returned the doctor;
"but I trusted that the proposal would have met with a better reception.
But if you will allow me, I think I might persuade her to accompany the
children, as if on their account. Have I your permission to do so?"

"Full permission to make any arrangements that you think beneficial,
doctor," replied Mrs. Arlington.

Doctor Heathfield went back to his patient. He found her alone. "What do
you think of making a start to the sea-side? I think it would do you
good."

"Oh, indeed I could not," returned Isabel languidly. "Mrs. Arlington is
very kind, but it is quite impossible."

"Don't decide so hastily," replied Dr. Heathfield, taking a seat by her
side.

"A thing which is impossible, requires no consideration."

"But I am convinced that it is not impossible," he urged, "and by
obliging others, you will also benefit yourself; it is such a very small
thing that is required of you, just to accompany the children to D----
for a few weeks. Indeed I think that you can scarcely refuse after all
the kindness that you have received during your long illness."

"I am extremely sorry to have caused so much trouble, but I assure you
that I am not ungrateful."

"It don't seem like it when you won't do what little you might to
please," returned the doctor.

"Don't say will not," Dr. Heathfield.

"Ay but I must say will not, and excuse me when I add, that you greatly
mistake your duty to give way to this apathy, and thus retard your
recovery," he said kindly. "I do not seek to fathom your trouble, but I
do know that it was excessive mental anguish that caused you to break a
blood-vessel, and I would remind you that this is not the right way to
brood over and nurse your grief, refusing to make any effort to do your
duty.

"I know it is wrong faltered Isabel with quivering lips, but I cannot
take an interest in anything or find comfort, save in the thought of
early death."

"But that is from the morbid state of mind induced by weakness."

Isabel shook her head.

"And will pass off as you get stronger," he continued.

"I shall never be strong again," she said.

"Pooh, nonsense, I can't have you talk in that way, if you only make an
effort and go with the children to D----, I think you will soon alter
your opinion."

"Please don't say any more, my head aches dreadfully," pleaded Isabel.

"One moment and I have done," he said, "I fear that you forget your
position here, the family have behaved to you with the greatest
generosity, but still you must be aware that they would not continue to
keep an invalid governess, and as I understand that you are entirely
dependant upon your own exertions, you must see the necessity of trying
the benefit of sea air, when you have the opportunity, do not take it
unkindly that I have used such freedom in pressing this matter, think
over it quietly, and to-morrow let me know what answer I am to give Mrs.
Arlington." Then he took his leave, and his kind heart smote him, for he
heard the smothered sobs of his fair patient.



CHAPTER X.


Mrs. Arlington never for a moment suspected the way in which Dr.
Heathfield would induce Isabel to accede to his plans. In justice to her
it must be said, that had she known it, she would if possible have
prevented it. But in the end perhaps it was better for Isabel that she
did not, though the reflections to which his remarks gave rise, were
extremely painful. It needed not these cruel hints to remind her of that
which had scarcely ever been absent from her thoughts since her father's
death, and she shed very bitter tears, even after she retired to rest
she could but weep over her unhappy lot far into the night, until at
length the bright moonlight streaming in at the window, reminded her of
one above, who doeth all things well, and she resolved to try and do her
duty according to His appointment, however trying she might find it,
trusting that as her need was, so would strength be given.

She saw now why she had not been allowed to die according to her wish,
even because her work was not yet accomplished. How willingly and with
what pleasure had the children received what she had taught them
regarding religion; how eagerly had they listened when she had explained
the scriptures; with what different feelings did they now regard the
sabbath as a day of holy rest, and prayer, and praise, instead of a day
of weariness, dreaded and hated. Did she not remember how shocked she
had been, when Amy said, that she liked all the days except sundays, and
the others had expressed the same. And oh, how glad and thankful she
felt when Amy not long since, one sunday afternoon had clasped her arms
round her neck, and exclaimed that she liked Miss Leicester's sundays
very much. All this she had been able to do through divine blessing upon
her endeavors to benefit the children, and would she leave them when her
work had only just begun? No, no, how wrong and selfish had she been, if
all joy and happiness had fled, she still had her work before her--her
duty to perform. With such thoughts as these, her tears became less
bitter. Soft tear of quiet resignation followed the bitter rebellious
ones she had shed so abundantly, and she resolved by steady abnegation
of self, to forget the past (as much as might be) in the business and
duties of the present. Then with a prayer for strength to keep this
resolution, and patience to wait, and work until such time as rest
should be vouchsafed her, she fell asleep.

With a severe headache, and extremely weak from the trying night she had
past, Isabel waited for the doctor next day, though she had determined
to give him a favorable answer, she wondered much how she could go, when
she felt almost unable to raise her hand to her head. She was feverish
and restless, very anxious for his arrival, yet dreading it, for it
seemed as though she were about by her own act, to put an end to these
quiet days of rest, and dreamy reverie, which she fain would prolong.

However, when Dr. Heathfield came, she managed to return his greeting
with some degree of cheerfulness.

"I trust you feel better to-day," he said.

"No, rather worse, the dose you administered was anti-narcotic I assure
you, but I have decided to accede to Mrs. Arlington's wishes. I will do
my utmost for the children, but I fear that will be very little," and
she smiled faintly from her pillow.

"Pooh, nonsense, you are not to teach at present, we all know you can't
do that," returned the doctor cheerfully, "what good would the poor
children get if they were cooped up in a school-room all day, time
enough for that when they come home again." Dr. Heathfield began to fear
that the dose had been too strong, when he felt the feverish pulse. "You
must be very quiet to-day, promise me that you will not worry yourself,"
he said, "I shall tell Mrs. Arlington not to let the girls tease you."

"They never tease me." replied Isabel hastily.

"Oh they don't, well that is fortunate," he answered, preparing some
mysterious compound that he had taken from his pocket, "now if you take
this" he continued, presenting the mixture, "and then take a nice little
sleep, you will feel much better by the afternoon, and then if Miss
Emily would read to you, it would be better than talking."

"I'm afraid your patient is not so well to-day doctor," said Mrs.
Arlington coming in, "she seems feverish this morning."

"Oh, she has been tormenting herself, thinking that she had to teach
while at D----, but I think if you keep her quiet, this feverishness
will soon subside, and she is going with the children to D---- like a
good sensible girl," replied the doctor.

"I am very glad that you have come to that decision Isabel, as I should
not think of sending the children without you," (no more she would) said
Mrs. Arlington, keeping up the farce that she was the obliged party.
"Emily and Norris go with you, so that you have no cause for anxiety,
dear," she added, laying her cool hand upon Isabel's hot forehead.

"Is your head very bad," inquired the doctor, pulling down the blind.
Then as Isabel assented, he went on, "if you were to send the quiet one,
(Alice I think you call her) to bathe her temples with a little lotion
it would be as well."

"I think it should be Norris, I don't like to trust the children," Mrs.
Arlington began.

"You may trust Alice," interrupted Isabel.

"Very well," returned Mrs. Arlington smiling, "then Alice it shall be."

Within a week, everything was arranged for their departure, Everard was
to escort them to D---- and see them comfortably settled, and then
proceed to H---- College. The morning they were to start, Isabel joined
them at the early school-room breakfast. This was the first time that
Everard had seen her since her illness, and he was inexpressibly shocked
at her appearance, and remonstrated with his mother, saying, that Miss
Leicester was not in a fit state to travel.

"My dear Everard, I am acting entirely under the the doctor's orders."

"Nevertheless it is cruel," he replied gravely.

"My dear son what can I do, Dr. Heathfield says that it is absolutely
necessary."

"It will kill her, that is my opinion of the matter." he answered "why
she can scarcely stand, I had no idea she was so awfully weak."

"But what can I do," persisted Mrs. Arlington.

"Wait until she gets a little stronger," urged Everard.

"But the doctor assures me, that she will inevitable sink, if allowed to
remain in the same low spirited state."

"Why did you not have her among the rest, and then probably she might
not have got so low. It is dreadful to see any one so fearfully weak,"
he added in a tone of grave commiseration.

"I don't wonder at your being shocked at her altered appearance, but
you should not blame those who have had the care of her, without due
consideration. I assure you that she has had every attention," said Mrs.
Arlington reproachfully.

"I don't wish to blame any one," returned Everard coloring, "surely not
you dear mother."

"I am glad to hear it," she answered, in a somewhat injured tone. "I was
sure that it only required a moment's thought to convince you, that
however painful a state Miss Leicester may be in, it has been brought
about by circumstances over which we have no control."

Everard looked perseveringly out of the window. And his mother continued
"it was at her own request that she remained so secluded. But it must
not be, we have listened to her entreaties too long already, now others
must act for her in the way they think best."

"Then it is not her wish to go," observed Everard.

"Certainly not, but the doctor almost insists upon it."

"Kill or cure as I take it," he returned.

"I fear that is too near the truth, unfortunately," replied his mother."

"Everard remained silent, and Mrs. Arlington saying that the carriage
would be round shortly, quitted the room. Then he returned to the
school-room, to find Isabel fainting upon the sofa and Emily bending
over her in helpless despair, Amy crying, and Alice emptying the
contents of a scent bottle over Isabel, and Rose spilling the smelling
salts almost into her mouth, in her anxiety to cram it to her nose. This
quaint mode of treatment had the desired effect, for Isabel with a great
sigh opened her eyes, and asked what was the matter. Dr. Heathfield
arrived soon after this, and ordered Miss Leicester back to her room for
a few hours rest, so that they were forced to wait for the next train.

"She ought not to have come down to breakfast," he said, "let her have
lunch in her own room, and remain there until everything is quite ready,
then let her go straight to the carriage after the rest are seated, it
must be managed quietly or it cannot be done." Then he called Everard
aside, and cautioned him, "it is a hazardous thing to move her at all,
and requires very nice management," he said.

"It should not be attempted," returned Everard coldly, "she is only fit
to be in bed."

"The doctor smiled incredulously, keep her there and you would soon
finish her, and she would be only too content to do it."

"You are severe Dr. Heathfield," said Everard stiffly.

"Come, Come, Everard don't get angry, you think me a brute no doubt. But
if she remains here she will die, if she goes away she may recover. Now
you have my honest opinion."

"It seems to me little short of murder, to start her off in this state,"
returned Everard."

"Upon my word, who is severe now Mr. Everard," retorted the doctor.
I don't attempt to deny that moving her may be fatal, if not judiciously
managed But if carefully and properly done, I am very sanguine as to the
result.

"That is a nice way of getting out of a scrape, I must say," "Oh a very
nice way indeed," said Dr. Heathfield laughing. "I will come in again
about one," he added addressing Mrs. Arlington, "and if I have time,
I will go down to the station and see them off."

"Oh, if you could doctor, it would be such a satisfaction to know that
you were with them," Mrs. Arlington answered.

Everard could not bring himself to see it in the same light as the
doctor, but as her going seemed inevitable, he was glad that he was to
have the charge of her. A little before one the doctor returned, but
only to see that all was right. "He was so very busy," he said, "but had
no doubt that Mr. Everard would manage very well. He could not possibly
go down to the station, he had to set a man's leg two miles off in quite
another direction. Everard's face was a picture, as the doctor so kindly
expressed the belief that he would manage very well. Emily was so
convulsed with laughter at the sight, that she was forced to stuff her
handkerchief into her mouth to conceal her mirth. Everard managed
everything so nicely during the journey, that Isabel never knew that he
made special alteration on her account, and he assisted her on all
occasions in a nice kindly matter of course manner, quite like an elder
brother, that prevented any embarrassment on her part. He was also very
successful in concealing the anxiety he felt on her behalf. Isabel
appeared quite worn out the night they arrived at D----, Norris insisted
upon perfect rest and quiet next day, saying that she should join them
at tea if she seemed sufficiently rested, but Everard rebelled, and made
Emily amuse her during the morning. Norris submitted without much fuss,
as he was a great favorite.

"I know as well as you Master Everard, that she needs to be kept more
cheerful than she has been, but after all the worry and fatigue of the
journey, a little quietness is good for her," said Norris, endeavoring
to justify herself.

"I don't deny that Norris, I only object to her being quite alone."

"And you know sir, that you always get your own way," replied Norris
laughing.

"Usually," returned Everard, "but Norris, understand that I wish her
kept quiet."

"As if anyone could be quiet where Miss Emily is," said Norris
reproachfully.

"I'll trust Emmy," he answered laughing.

"That is more nor I would Mr. Everard," she returned with the
familiarity that old domestics who have been a long time in a family
often acquire. For Norris had been with Mrs. Arlington ever since she
was married, now some twenty-six years.

After dinner, Everard, Emily and the children, went out for a ramble.
On their return, Everard left them near the town, as he had to make some
inquiries as to the time the train left, as he was to leave next
morning, for they had been so much longer on the way than had been
anticipated, consequently his stay at D---- had to be curtailed.

When he returned to the cottage, he found Isabel in the old arm chair in
the sitting-room, the others had not yet arrived. Isabel was looking
wretchedly ill, but pronounced herself much rested. Everard gave her an
animated account of their ramble, and an excellent description of the
place, but she appeared to take little interest in either.

"Perhaps you would rather I didn't talk, he said, as she leaned her head
wearily upon her hand.

"O, I don't mind," she replied in a tone of such utter indifference that
Everard took a book. He did not read however, but sat shading his face
with his hand, so as to enable him to contemplate the poor worn face and
fragile form of her whom he loved better than life. He pictured her, as
she appeared when waiting the arrival of the guests on Grace's birthday,
and the contrast was painful in the extreme, neither could he account
for the utter hopelessness depicted on her countenance.

"Are you aware that I leave in the morning," he said, after some time
had elapsed.

"So soon," she inquired in surprise.

"Yes, by the early train," he replied.

Then I must not miss this opportunity of thanking you, for all the
trouble you have taken, and for all the kindness you have shown me.
Indeed I am very much obliged to you."

"I am only too glad to have been of any service to you," he returned
with something of the old manner. "Will you not write when you are able,
if only a line, just a line, I shall be so anxious to hear."

"Emily will write," she answered quietly.

Everard bit his lip, he was silenced but not satisfied,--an awkward
pause ensued, then the others came in full of glee to find Isabel down.

The tea was a very cheerful one, and Isabel strove to appear interested,
and to join in the general conversation, but the effort was too much for
her, for when she rose to retire for the night, she all but fainted and
alarmed them very much.

When Everard came into the sitting-room next morning, he found a
cheerful fire burning (for the morning was raw and misty) and breakfast
on the table, although it was only half-past five o'clock, and shortly
after Emily came in.

"Why Emmy, this is better luck than I expected," exclaimed Everard in
surprise.

"You didn't think that I would let you breakfast alone did you,"
returned Emily proceeding to pour out the tea, "but oh, Everard, I'm so
sorry that you are going away so soon, I really am quite afraid to be
left alone with Isabel so weak, whatever shall I do if she gets worse."

"As to being alone, why Norris is a host in herself. Besides, you must
take it for granted that she will soon get all right. If there really
should be cause you must not hesitate to call in the doctor, but
remember Dr. Heathfield said you were not to do so, if it could be
avoided, and Emmy, if there should be anything serious, mind you
telegraph mamma, and if you get very much alarmed, you know that I could
get here in a few hours, and I shall not mind the trouble, so make
yourself easy. But at all events, I intend to run down in two or three
weeks, just to see how you all get on--mind you write often Emmy." This
Emmy promised to do, and bid him good bye with a bright face.

D---- was a pretty little town on the sea-coast, which was much
frequented in summer, but during the winter it was almost deserted. It
was very quiet just now as it was so very early in the season. The house
in which our party had taken up their abode, was beautifully situated
upon some rising ground, about half a mile from the beach. On the right,
as far as eye could reach, stretched the broad expanse of deep blue sea,
with its ever varying succession of white sails and gay steamers. To the
left lay verdant meadows, picturesque villas, and sloping hills,
stretching far into the distance until bounded by a belt of forest,
beyond which the ground rose again, capped by a rugged crag. Belonging
to the house, were pretty grounds tastefully laid out, and a nice
shrubbery, also a maze in which the children delighted to lose
themselves.

After the first few days, Isabel mended rapidly, and before long was
able to join the children and Emily in their rambles, and even got down
to the beach after the second week, so that Emily sent charming accounts
of Isabel's progress to her mother and Everard.



CHAPTER XI.


"Look Louis, what a nice packet has come by express, I wonder what it
can be. Oh, open it now dear Louis," she added, laying her hand
coaxingly upon his shoulder, as he was about to pocket the wonderful
packet. "I am dying with curiosity, to see what it contains."

"It is only a business affair, nothing to interest you, little
curiosity," he answered playfully.

But she was not so easily satisfied, for the start of recognition as he
glanced at the writing, had not escaped his wife's quick eyes.

"But I do so want to know what is in it, I felt something hard like a
little box, and it is such pretty writing," she said.

"Perhaps the drugs I wrote for," he returned carelessly.

"Drugs from a lady, Louis," she said archly.

"Oh I forgot, no it can't be the drugs, but it will keep," he replied,
thrusting it into his pocket. "I must teach you not to be so curious
Natalie.

Then laughing, she endeavored to withdraw it from his pocket, but he
took the little hand in an iron grasp, saying "don't be silly Natalie."

"Oh Louis, you hurt me," she pouted.

"I didn't intend to do so," he returned, loosening his hold, but there
was a stern, determined look in his face as he did so, which prevented
her making any further attempts to satisfy her curiosity, and the large
tears welled up into her eyes as he hastily left the room.

That night, after Natalie had retired to rest, Louis stood leaning
against the chimney-piece, gazing thoughtfully into the fire. Upon the
table lay the packet, he knew well enough the moment he saw it what it
contained, the letters and presents that Isabel had received from
himself. Yes there they were, and he would not for worlds have Natalie
see them. There they were, the letters, the trinkets, but he had
expected something more--an angry note, upbraiding him for his mean
conduct and requesting the return of her letters. Over this he would
have rejoiced, but no, here were the letters and trinkets without note
or comment, just enclosed in a blank cover, and this cool contempt
annoyed him more than the bitterest expressions of angry reproach would
have done. She had returned all that he had ever given her, well, what
else had he expected, did he think she would have kept them? No, of
course not, but then he had not thought about it, he knew now that his
revenge had had a very different effect to what he had intended, she
would cast off all further regard for him, perhaps she hated him, while
he, trusting to her sweet disposition and deep affection for himself,
had expected that she, unable to overcome her wondrous love, would pine
and grieve over her great, her irreparable loss. Ah Louis, if this was
your object you did not manage the affair skilfully. You also forgot
that by marrying another, you were taking perhaps, the only step that
could effectually prevent the object you had in view, (for this,
together with the offensive manner in which it was done, supplied her
with a motive which aided essentially to enable her to carry out her
determination to stifle all feelings of love towards him, in fact to
forget him.) He now saw the folly of the course he had adopted, she
would soon forget him altogether, perhaps find another more patient and
gentle, who could make her happier than he would have done, such
thoughts as these were madness--perhaps she might marry another, no,
he clinched his fist and vowed she should not. How had his so called
revenge recoiled upon himself, he had not been aware how madly he loved
her, until she was lost to him forever, and he almost cursed the filthy
lucre that had lured him on until it had been his ruin. For what had he
gained--he new what he had lost, the only woman that he had ever loved
or could love, but what had he gained, not the satisfaction which he had
expected, only a few thousand dollars and a pretty childish little wife
of whom he already tired.

With an angry exclamation he threw the whole packet into the fire, and
then leaning his face upon his hand, before an open book, sat still and
pale through the long long night, until in the gray dawn, a soft little
hand upon his shoulder, and a warm kiss upon his cheek, aroused him from
his reverie.



CHAPTER XII.


There was a large rock, about a mile to the left of the town of D----,
which was surrounded by numerous small ones. This place was called the
wrecker's reef, and was covered at high water, but when the tide was
low, Isabel and the others often went there to get shells. They had to
be careful to watch the rise of the tide, as, long before the rock was
covered the retreat was cut off by the water surrounding the largest
rock, like an island, this island gradually diminished, until, when the
tide was in it was several feet under water, this part of the coast was
very little frequented. One afternoon when they had been at D---- about
three weeks or a month, having obtained the shells they wished for, they
sat down on the rocks to rest, Isabel began relating a tale she had
lately read, and they were all so much interested, that they had not
observed that the tide was fast coming in, nor was it until the rock was
quite surrounded that they did so. The terrified children clung around
Isabel entreating her to save them, while Emily scarcely less alarmed,
screamed aloud for help, but it was not very likely that her cries for
assistance would be heard in that lonely place, and their danger became
more imminent, as a stiff breeze had sprung up, and the surge round the
reef was becoming very heavy, and even should they be observed, the
passage from the beach to the reef was so dangerous, that only a skilful
and experienced hand could possibly succeed in rescuing them from their
perilous situation, so that although there was a small boat moored on
the beach it did not afford them much consolation. They were constantly
drenched with spray, and were quite aware that the reef would be covered
with water ere long.

"Oh dearest Isabel, what shall we do," asked Emily, looking ghastly
white, and shaking like an aspen.

"The water will wash us all away, and then we shall all be drowned,"
cried little Amy.

"And we shall never see papa and mamma any more,' added Rose. Alice
stood perfectly quiet, (after the first moment of their surprise when
she had clung to Isabel with the rest) her large eyes fixed upon Isabel
with an expression that spoke volumes.

"I fear there is no escape," said Isabel, in as calm a tone as she could
command, "we can only commend ourselves to the care of our heavenly
Father, and patiently await his will. This they did, and then Isabel
endeavored to calm litttle Amy, who was crying most piteously, but a
shout of joy from Rose, drew her attention once more to the shore. "Here
is Everard, oh here is Everard," cried Rose, clapping her hands and
dancing with joy, and sure enough, there was Everard scrambling down the
cliff. This was Saturday afternoon, and he had come to spend Sunday with
them, but finding they were out he came in search of them, Norris,
fortunately being able to tell him where they had gone.

As the reef was such a short distance from land, and as a boat was
moored on the beach, the children naturally concluded that they were now
safe. It was not so however with Isabel, she knew the dangerous nature
of this shallow water, with innumerable rocks only just beneath the
surface, but still sufficiently covered to hide them from view, which
made it very difficult to take a boat safely through them, even when the
water was smooth, but how much more so, now that a rough swell was
foaming over them. Indeed it was only by taking a zig-zag course, that
any boat could be guided in safety through the labyrinth of rocks. As
Everard was quite unacquainted with the perilous nature of the reef, it
was well that Isabel had taken particular notice of the only passage and
its curious windings, so that they were enabled to direct him how to
steer, or the boat would assuredly have been knocked to pieces, and they
all would inevitably have perished. But fortunately Everard was the
crack oar of the college club, and the owner of the champion medal, and
in spite of all difficulties managed to make his way to the reef.

Isabel had watched the progress of the boat with intense anxiety, her
heart beat fast, for she expected every moment that it would come to
grief, and she experienced an indescribable sensation of apprehension
when it grated on the rock on which they stood.

"Oh, this boat won't hold us all," exclaimed Emily in dismay.

"Don't leave me," entreated little Amy, "please don't."

"No darling, you shall not be left," said Isabel kissing her and then
lifting her into the boat. Quickly as this was done, Rose was already
in; Isabel insisted upon both Emily and Alice going, though the boat was
by this means very heavily laden--Alice would have remained with her,
but Isabel would not allow it, as there was every prospect of the reef
being entirely covered before the boat could possibly return.

"But it seems so mean to leave you here alone." urged Alice.

"It will not mend matters, if two are washed off instead of one,"
whispered Isabel, "go dear Alice while you can."

"But it seems so mean," she repeated.

"Come Alice," said Everard in a tone that settled the question at once,
"every minute is of the greatest importance." It was agony to him to
leave Isabel, but there was no help for it, the boat was now loaded down
to the water's edge. He would gladly have let Alice remain, had there
appeared any chance of returning in time, for he would have gained
several minutes by so doing, for if the boat had been lighter he could
have made better time. As it was he did not dare to risk it, for it
seemed like dooming Alice to destruction needlessly. But oh, the horror
of leaving Isabel when perhaps she would be washed away by the fast
rising tide before he could return. This thought had also decided him to
take Alice, for should Isabel be washed off he might be able to save
her, but how could he hope to save two in such untoward circumstances.

"Courage Miss Leicester," and the boat seemed to fly through the water
with each vigorous stroke; his face wore an expression of intense
anxiety as he bent to his oars. No words passed his firmly compressed
lips after they left the reef, but his contracted brow and heavy
breathing revealed how deeply he was suffering. In an incredibly short
time they reached the beach, and Everard landed them in a very
unceremonies manner, and then started once more for the rock.
Notwithstanding all the exertion he had undergone, his face was as pale
as death, and the cold damp stood upon his brow. There was an air of
determination about him as he sprang back into the boat, that convinced
Emily that he would save Isabel or perish in the attempt, and from that
day she was master of his secret, but like a dear good sister as she
was, she kept it in her kind little heart, though she sometimes built
castles in the air.

Knowing now the proper course to take, Everard propelled the boat with
marvellous rapidity, it skimmed over the water like an ocean bird, at
least so Rose said; yet when he reached the reef, every part on which it
was possible to stand was covered with water, and it was with the
greatest difficulty that Isabel contrived to cling to a pointed piece of
rock which still remained above water, nor could she have done so much
longer, as her strength was fast failing. It seemed to Isabel wondrous
strange, that she should feel so anxious to be rescued from her perilous
situation, when not so long ago she had been so desirous of death, but
so it was.

It was no easy matter to get the boat to this point, and had it required
any more water to float it, it would have been impossible. As soon as
Isabel was in the boat a joyful shout was raised by the party on shore.
The return to land was slow, as the great exertion he had been forced to
use was beginning to tell upon Everard. Of course Isabel was soaking
wet, but fortunately a large plaid that Norris had made them take with
them had been left on the beach; this they wrapt round her, and then
went home as quickly as might be.

"Mercy on us," exclaimed Norris, as they made their appearance, "what in
the name of wonder have you been doing."

"Why getting a soaking don't you see," returned Isabel, much amused at
Norris's manner.

"Then you will just get to bed right away Miss Leicester, for I would
like to know how I am to answer to my Misses and Dr. Heathfield, if you
get the consumption through your nonsense, dear me, and you were looking
so well."

"But Norris, if I change these wet things surely that will do."

"You just get to bed, I say, for you are in my charge."

Everard laughed.

"Now Mr. Everard don't you be a interfering."

"Oh, certainly not."

"Now come along at once Miss Leicester, and I will get you some hot
gruel." Isabel did as she was bid, not wishing to vex Norris who had
been very kind, but she protested against the gruel, but in vain, Norris
made her swallow a large basin full, which to Isabel's intense disgust
had a plentiful supply of brandy in it. After this Norris consented to
hear the history of their adventures, which was told by the whole five
at once.

"The air of D---- seems to have done wonders," said Everard when Isabel
made her appearance at breakfast next morning looking quite her former
self.

"Yes indeed," returned Isabel with a pleasant smile, "how very stupid
you must have thought us yesterday, I can't imagine how we could have
been so foolish."

"I suppose that you were not aware that the reef would be covered as the
tide rose."

"Oh yes, we knew quite well."

"Well then, you were all awfully stupid, if you will excuse my saying
so," returned Everard, "I gave you credit Miss Leicester for more
prudence."

"You may well be surprised," Isabel answered coloring, "I am afraid when
Mrs. Arlington hears of it she will be of Lady Ashton's opinion, that I
am not fit to have charge of her daughters."

Emily laughed.

"Did she say that," said Everard, "it was very impertinent of her."

"She thinks herself a privileged person, you would be astonished I can
tell you if you heard all that she said."

"Do be quiet Emily," interrupted Isabel.

But Emily kept giving provoking little hints all breakfast time, and
even as they walked to church she let out little bits, until Isabel grew
almost angry. Everard admired the church exceedingly, "that is just such
a church as I would like," he said as they went home.

"Oh Everard," exclaimed Emily, "a little bit of a church like that."

"It is not so small," he returned.

"Oh well, I thought you were more ambitious, if I were a clergyman I
should wish to preach to a crowded assembly in a very large city church,
and make a sensation."

"Emily!"

"Oh don't look so grave."

"A man that would care about making a sensation, would not be fit to be
a clergyman."

"Oh Everard, I am sure it is only good clergymen that do make a
sensation."

"What do you call making a sensation?" he inquired.

"Why, to have every body saying what a splendid preacher, and praising
you up to the skies."

"Of course every clergyman should aim to be a good preacher, but his
sermon should be composed with the object of doing as much good as
possible, the idea of getting praise by it should never enter his head."

"Of course I know I never should have done for a parson, if I had been a
man I should have been a----."

"Lawyer," the children all shouted in a breath.

"Or a midshipman," said Emily.

"I wonder what Miss Leicester would have been," observed Rose.

"A doctor," said Emily, "I know she would have been a doctor, wouldn't
you Isabel."

Isabel became scarlet, this was only a random suggestion, but it seemed
so like the answer the children had given Emily, that it made her color
painfully.

"Oh what is the use of talking such nonsense," she replied, but her
vivid color had given Emily a new idea; Isabel she whispered "do those
pet letters come from a doctor," a shade passed over Isabel's face like
a cloud over the sun, as the thought occured that she should get no more
pet letters, as Emily chose to call them, for though she had so firmly
resolved not to allow her thoughts to dwell upon the past, there were
still times when she was painfully reminded of the happy days that would
never return, not that she grieved for the loss of Louis, as he now
stood revealed in his true character. She knew that it had been her own
ideal Louis that she had loved, she had clothed him with virtue that he
did not possess, and ascribed to him a nobleness of nature to which he
was a stranger, and her bitter sorrow was that he should have proved so
different to what she had believed him. She had already begun to think
that, as he was what he was, it was all for the best, and even now she
felt more of contempt than love regarding him, though nothing short of
the offensive and aggravated circumstances that had taken place, could
have served to quench such love as her's.

Isabel avoided giving an answer to Emily's question, by drawing
attention to a beautiful yacht that was now making the harbor, this did
for the time, but Emily had made enough by her venture to plague Isabel
sufficiently about the doctor, so much so, that Everard took occasion
when they two were walking in the shrubbery to remonstrate with his
sister, "Emily," he said, "can't you see that Miss Leicester is really
annoyed at your nonsense, and I think that it amounts to rudeness in
such a case."

"Oh she don't care about it."

"You are mistaken Emily."

"Oh, but it is such fun, I do so like to make her color up, she looks so
pretty."

"But when you see that it really annoys----."

"When I get into the spirit of the thing, I can't stop." interrupted
Emily.

"I know it," replied Everard gently, "and that is the reason that I
mention it, otherwise the matter is too trivial to comment upon."

The tears stood in Emily's eyes, "I did not mean any harm," she said
softly, for Everard had great influence, and the secret of this
influence which he had acquired over all the family was, that he was
gentle yet very firm.

"I did not say that there was any harm, only you should learn to stop
when you see that it annoys, and surely you might abstain from such
nonsense on a Sunday, it is setting the children a bad example to say
the least of it."



CHAPTER XIII.


Isabel and the children remained the greater part of the summer at
D----, but Emily returned home to join her mamma and sister, who had
consented to join an expedition that had been got up among a few select
friends. Upon the last afternoon of their stay at D---- they went for a
ramble into a pretty little copse wood, the children were looking for
berries, and Isabel sat upon a mossy bank reading.

"Come Isabel, let us at least be friends," said a voice close beside
her.

Surprised and startled, Isabel beheld Louis Taschereau.

"Let us be friends," he repeated taking a seat on the bank.

"Impossible, Dr. Taschereau," said Isabel rising, "had you broken off
your engagement in a straightforward manner, it might have been
different, as your feelings had undergone a change, I should have been
quite content to release you, but to have corresponded with me up to the
very day of your marriage, and allow me by a chance meeting at an
evening party to become aware of the fact for the first time, together
with the effrontery with which you behaved on that occasion, are insults
which I should be wanting in self respect not to resent."

"My feelings have undergone no change, they cannot change, it is you
alone that I have ever loved or shall love, my wife I never did, never
can. Oh pity me Isabel for I am most miserably unhappy."

"From my heart I pity her who is so unfortunate as to have Dr.
Taschereau for a husband," she replied, "I cannot pity you, for if
anything could make your conduct more contemptible, it is the fact that
you have just acknowledged, that you do not love the girl that you have
made your wife, though having seen the way in which you treat those you
profess to love it is no great loss, and your happiness must ever be a
matter of indifference to me."

"Oh cruel girl, I am not so heartless, what grieves me more than even my
own misery is the thought of your suffering."

"Then pray do not distress yourself on my account Dr. Taschereau,
whatever I may have felt it is past, for when Isabel Leicester could no
longer esteem, she must cease to love."

"I will not believe that you find it so easy to forget me, for that you
did love me you dare not deny, it was no passing fancy, you must feel
more than you are willing to own," he said angrily.

"I do not wish to deny it," returned Isabel firmly, "but you out to have
known me better than to think that I should continue to do so. After you
were married it became my duty to forget that I had ever loved you, and
to banish every thought of you. You have made your choice and now
regrets are useless, even wrong, whatever she may be, she is your wife,
and it is your duty and should be your pleasure to make her happy, and
as you value happiness, never give her cause to doubt your love."

"As you say, regrets are useless, but that thought only adds to my
torture, I can only compare my present wretchedness with the happy lot
which might have been mine, but for my own folly," he said sadly, "but
you must help me."

"How can I help you," exclaimed Isabel.

"It is you alone who can, for you are the only person who ever had any
influence over me, you must help to keep me right. Will you not forgive
me Isabel, and let me be a friend--a brother."

"Thank heaven I have no such brother," exclaimed Isabel fervently, "for
I should feel very much inclined to disown him if I had. Friends we can
never be Dr. Taschereau, as I told you before, whenever and wherever we
meet, it must be as strangers."

"As you will," he said bitterly, "but since you will not have me for
your friend, you shall have me for a foe."

"Think not to intimidate me with idle threats," she answered haughtily,
"you have no power to harm me, and I feel assured that as your love is
worthless, so in the end your hatred will prove harmless."

"That is as it may be, but still I had much rather that we were
friends."

"If an enemy, I defy you, my friend you can never be."

"As you will," he returned fiercely, "but remember if I go to the bad,
with you will rest the blame," and then he disappeared through the wood.

"And what is his wife about during this conversation, writing to her
cousin. Let us take a peep at the letter.

    DEAREST MARIE.--I am happy--very happy, how could I be otherwise
    with my noble Louis, he is so kind, so thoughtful and considerate,
    he would not let me accompany him to-day, because I was so tired
    with the journey yesterday, so I take the opportunity thus
    afforded me to write to you. Oh Marie, how could you ever suppose
    that he married me for my money, how could you form so mean an
    opinion of my generous, noble, high minded Louis, you wrong him
    Marie, indeed you do. True, he is more reserved than is pleasant,
    but I presume that is because I am so childish as papa used to
    say. Would you believe I had a jealous fit about a packet that he
    received from a lady, which he refused to open when I asked him.
    Well he sat up very very late that night, and I took it into my
    stupid little head that his sitting up had something to do with
    the packet, and the thought so possessed me, that I got up and
    went softly into the library, and there he was in a brown study
    over some medical work. Oh Marie I felt so ashamed of my foolish
    fancies.



CHAPTER XIV.


Upon the morning after their return to Elm Grove, Isabel requested a few
moments conversation with Mrs. Arlington. Desiring Isabel to follow,
Mrs. Arlington led the way into the morning-room, and after expressing
her great satisfaction at the beneficial results of the sea air, she
said "that she hoped Miss Leicester's health was sufficiently restored
to enable the children to resume their studies upon the following
Monday." Isabel replied "that she was quite well, and was as anxious as
Mrs. Arlington could be, that they should lose no more time." Indeed for
some weeks past she had been teaching during the morning, but it was not
of them that I was about to speak," she continued, "it was of myself,
and I trust that you will not blame me for not doing so before I went
away, as indeed it was impossible. Dr. Heathelfid was right in thinking
that my illness was caused by mental suffering, it was indeed a severe
shock," she added, covering her face with her hands, for it was a trial
to Isabel, and it cost her a great deal this self imposed task.

"Defer this communication if it distresses you," said Mrs. Arlington
kindly.

"Oh no, I would rather tell you," but it was not without some difficulty
that Isabel continued, "sometime before my father's death, I was though,
unknown to him, engaged to a medical student, I always regretted
concealing our engagement from him in the first instance. I knew it was
very wrong, but Louis made me promise not to tell my father, or breathe
a word about our engagement to any living soul. I asked him why, but he
would give no reason except that he wished it. I promised, but had I
known that it was for more than a short period, I think that I should
not have done so. About six months afterwards, when his uncle was about
to send him to France to a relation who was a celebrated physician, he
wanted me to be married privately, this I positively refused, I said
that whilst my father lived I would never marry without his consent,
and urged him to let me acquaint my father of our engagement. This he
refused, I told him that I was sure my father would not object, but he
would not listen to me, it was absurd he said, to suppose that he would
let us marry if he knew of it, for he was entirely dependent upon his
uncle, and had positively nothing of his own as yet, but hoped soon to
rise in his profession; if we were once married he argued, my father
would storm a little at first, but would soon give in, and make some
arrangement that would prevent his going away, in vain I entreated to be
allowed to plead our cause with my father. Louis was inexorable upon
that point, he dare not he said, and used every argument to induce me to
accede to his wishes and agree to his propositions; but when I resisted
all entreaties he was mortally offended, and got into a terrible
passion, it seems he never forgave me for thwarting him, but I was not
aware of it, for after his anger had cooled down our parting was most
kind. During my father's illness, my secret became an intolerable
burden, oh, how bitterly I suffered for deceiving so indulgent a parent,
and yet my conscience would not allow me to break my promise. I wrote to
Louis imploring him to give the desired permission, and received a very
kind letter, assuring me that my altered circumstances would make no
difference to him, that in fact the only barrier between us was now
removed, but the longed for permission was withheld, Louis did not
notice that part of my letter in anyway. Shortly after this, my poor
father died--died without ever having heard of our engagement, his
greatest pain in parting from his darling child, being the grief he felt
at leaving her so unprotected, Imagine if you can my grief and misery,"
said Isabel shedding bitter tears of agony and remorse at the
remembrance of that dreadful time, and what it must have been to witness
his anguish, as over and over again he would say "oh my child, could I
but have left you to the tender care of a beloved husband, or even could
I know that you were the promised wife of one who truly loved you,
I could die in peace, even though he were not rich in this world's
goods, but to leave you thus my darling child, to make your own way in
this wicked world is almost more than I can bear." "What good" continued
Isabel "could I expect after such a return for all dear papa's fond
indulgence and unvaried kindness. After my father's death, I received a
letter from Louis full of love and sympathy, and approving of my plans,
as it would be some time before he would be in a position to marry. We
continued to correspond until the night of the ball, at which Dr. and
Mrs. Taschereau were among the guests, then I learned for the first time
that he was faithless and unworthy. You do not know what I suffered, nor
his cruel triumph, or you would not wonder that it should end as it did.
I have told you all this Mrs. Arlington because I thought it my duty,
and also, that should Dr. Taschereau again be your guest, you might
kindly spare me the pain of meeting him."

"Poor child you have suffered greatly," said Mrs. Arlington kindly. She
had listened very patiently and very attentively to all Isabel had to
say, but she had not said how that she already knew something of this
from her own delirious talk during her illness, but she thought that it
would make Isabel uncomfortable, therefore she remained silent upon that
point. "You may depend that I shall not abuse your confidence" she
continued, "I do not promise secrecy, but you may trust to my discretion
without fear. Whenever you need advice, do not scruple to come to me, as
I shall always be glad to give it," no doubt, but Isabel was the last
person to ask advice, though she had the highest opinion of Mrs.
Arlington.

"I think you would do well Isabel, to re-consider the offer I made you
to visit with my daughters."

"You are very kind; but, indeed, I would rather not."

"As you please, Miss Leicester; but I think you are wrong to refuse. You
may be sure that the offer is disinterested on my part." (Disinterested
it certainly was, as neither of the Arlington girls could compare
favorably with Isabel as to beauty or accomplishments.)

"I fully appreciate your kindness, Mrs. Arlington, but indeed it would
be extremely unpleasant to do so," returned Isabel.

"I cannot let this opportunity pass without expressing my gratitude for
your great kindness during my illness, for I can never, never repay you.
But I will use my best endeavors to make your children all that you can
wish."

"And that will quite repay me," replied Mrs. Arlington, kindly.



CHAPTER XV.


Upon a beautiful moonlight night, under the trees in the garden of
Madame Bourges' boarding-school, near Versailles, quite secure from
observation stood Arthur Barrington and Louisa Aubray, engaged in
earnest conversation.

"Are you happy here, dearest Louisa?" he inquired, in accents of deepest
tenderness.

"Happy! Ah, no, Louisa is never happy," she answered, "but lonely and
unhappy--so unhappy and miserable!"

"But you are not lonely now that I am here, dear Louisa."

"No; but, when you are gone, it is so dreary--oh, so dreary!"

"You used to think that you would be so happy at school."

"Ah, yes! but I'm not. Madame is harsh, the teachers cruel, and the
girls so strange: they do not love me," she cried, in a burst of
passionate weeping; "nobody loves Louisa!"

"Oh, Louisa, dearest Louisa, do not say so!" he exclaimed passionately;
"do not say that nobody loves you, when I have come so far expressly to
see if you are happy. I love you, Louisa, with all the warmth of my
ardent nature, with undying affection. I want you to be mine--MINE! that
I may guard you from every ill but such as I can share."

"Oh! can you--will you--do this, Arthur? Will you, indeed, share all my
troubles and sorrows, nor deem them, when the first full joy of love is
past, unworthy of your attention--your cares, too great to admit of such
trifles, claiming your consideration? If you will, and also let me share
all your joys and griefs in perfect sympathy and love, then--then my
dream of happiness will be fulfilled; but if, in years to come," she
continued, with suppressed emotion, "you should change, and a harshness
or indifference take the place of sympathy and love, Oh I would wish to
die before that day!"

"Dearest Louisa, can you doubt me?"

"I will trust you, Arthur, but I have seen that which makes me almost
doubt the existence of love and happiness. I can picture to myself the
home of love and peace that I would have. Is it an impossibility; is it
but an ideal dream?"

"May it be a blessed reality, my darling Louisa!" he exclaimed, with
ardor, as he clasped her passionately in his arms. She made no
resistance, but, with her head resting upon his breast, she said, in a
tone of deep earnestness:

"If you loved me always, and were always kind, oh Arthur, I I could do
anything--suffer anything--for your sake, and care for naught beyond our
home. But, my nature is not one" she continued impetuously, "that can be
slighted, crushed, and treated with unkindness or indifference, and
endure it patiently. No!" she added, with suppressed passion, "a fierce
flame of resentment, bitterness, perchance even hatred, would spring up
and sweep all kindly feelings far away!"

"Oh, Louisa, Louisa!" interrupted Arthur in a tone of tender
remonstrance, "why do you speak in this dreadful manner--why do you
doubt my love and constancy?"

The impetuous mood was gone, and a trusting confidence succeeded it.
She fixed her eyes upon his face with an expression of unutterable
tenderness, as she answered, in a sweet, soft voice, "I love you,
Arthur; I cannot doubt you; you are all the world to me."

"Then you will leave here as soon as I can make arrangements for our
marriage."

"How gladly, how joyfully, I cannot tell!" she replied, smiling sweetly
through her tears. "Tell me again that you love me; I do so want some
one to love me! Is it true that you do, indeed, or is it only a
beautiful dream? I have lived so desolate and alone that I can scarcely
believe my happiness."

"You may believe it, Louisa, it is no dream; my love for you is no
passing fancy--it is true and sincere, and will last till life shall
end," he said, kissing her tenderly.

"Ha, ha!" laughed Lucy Mornington, as she came full upon the lovers,
"Now I have found you out, Miss Aubray; I wondered what was up. Oh,
if Madame could only see you, what a scene there would be!" she cried,
dancing about and laughing immoderately."

"How dare you come here?" exclaimed Louisa, her large eyes flashing
angrily, while her whole frame trembled with passion. "How dare you
follow and watch me, how dare you?" she repeated.

"Hush, Louisa!" said Arthur, soothingly, "Lucy is never ill-natured. You
have nothing to fear, for I am sure she would not be unkind; and we must
not mind her laughing, as I'm afraid that either of us would have done
the same if placed in the same unexpected position."

Louisa now clung to Lucy, weeping violently, and imploring her in the
most winning manner not to betray them to Madame.

"Don't be afraid, Louisa; Lucy and I were always good friends, and, now
I come to think of it, she will be a most valuable assistant. I am sure
we may trust her," and he looked inquiringly at Lucy.

"That, you may," answered Lucy; "but there is no earthly use in trying
to keep a secret from me, as that is utterly impossible; but whatever
you may have to say, you must defer to a more auspicious moment, for
Mademoiselle Mondelet has missed Louisa, and she is hunting everywhere
for her. So make yourself scarce, Mr. Arthur; we will enter the chapel
by a secret door that I discovered in some of my marauding expeditions,
and they will never imagine that we came from the garden. Come along,
Louisa."

"Adieu! Lucy, and many thanks for your warning, for I certainly don't
want Mademoiselle to find me here. Farewell, dearest Louisa; I will be
here at this time to-morrow evening," said Arthur, and then he quickly
disappeared.

Lucy and Louisa went into the chapel, and the former commenced playing
the organ, which she often did. So that when Mademoiselle came into the
chapel, by-and-bye, fuming about Louisa, Lucy replied, with the greatest
coolness, "Oh, we have been here ever so long."

Shortly after this, Isabel received the following epistle from Lucy:

    DEAREST ISABEL,--I am at school again, instead of being in London
    enjoying myself as I expected. I am cooped up in this abominable
    place. I suppose Mamma thinks me too wild. Heigho! But, never
    mind; Ada and Charles are going to remain three years in London,
    so you see I still have a chance. Ah, me! I think I should die of
    _ennui_ in this dismal place (which was once an abbey, or a
    convent, or something of the sort, I believe,) but, fortunately
    for me, an event has occurred which has just put new life in my
    drooping spirits. We have // who in the name of wonder do you think
    the parties were? Arthur Barrington and Louisa Aubray. Oh, what a
    rage Lady Ashton will be in! Don't be shocked, my pet, when I tell
    you that I went into the affair with all my heart and soul, and
    was bridesmaid at the interesting ceremony. Oh, Isabel, Arthur is
    so thoroughly nice that I almost envied Louisa her husband. We
    managed everything so beautifully that they were married and off
    upon their travels before Madame found out that there was anything
    in the wind. And the best of the fun was that Arthur brought a
    clergyman friend with him, and they were married in the school
    chapel at four o'clock in the morning. Of course this sweet little
    piece of fun is not known, and is never likely to be. I enjoyed
    the whole thing immensely. Of course they don't know that I had
    anything to do with the affair. Woe betide me if they did! If
    Louisa had had a father and mother, I would not have had anything
    to do with it; but, under present circumstances, I thought it was
    the best thing she could do. So I helped them all I could--in fact
    I contrived it all for them--when I once found out what they were
    up to.

      Yours, at present, in the most exuberant spirits,
      LUCY MORNINGTON.

    P.S.--The happy pair have gone to Switzerland or Italy.

"Here, Emily," said Isabel, when Emily came in, "I think this will amuse
you."

"I think Arthur and Louisa did very wrong," she resumed, when Emily had
finished reading.

"Ah, well, I have not much fancy for secret marriages, but in this case
it was unavoidable, if they were to marry at all," said Emily, laughing.

"But I thought that second cousins couldn't marry."

"They can't, I believe; but then Arthur and Louisa are no relation--for
though he always calls Lady Ashton 'Aunt,' she is not his aunt in
reality. Don't you know Lord Barrington's first wife was Lady Ashton's
sister, and Arthur's mother was the second wife; so you see they are no
relations," replied Emily. "Oh, what a rage Lady Ashton will be in!" she
resumed. Don't you know that Louisa's father was Arthur's tutor. There
was a dreadful quarrel between the two families about that marriage;
they wouldn't speak for years, and the old folks are barely civil to
each other when they meet even now. But she likes Arthur. What a good
thing it is that she is going to stay away so long. But I'm sorry about
Lucy; we shall miss her at Christmas."

"So we shall, but May and Peter will be here, and they are a host in
themselves."

"But May can't be compared to Lucy; I will have her come; I will tell
Harry so. She can come out with her papa and mamma, and go back in the
spring. And now, my dear, guess what I came to tell you."

"Rose told me your brother was to come to-day."

"What a sieve Rose is," exclaimed Emily. "But I have more than that to
tell. I have a letter from Harry; he is coming soon, and has passed his
examination already. What do you think of that?" and she looked so
triumphant and delighted.

"Why, Emily, how ever could you read my letter, and discuss the news it
contained, when you came on purpose to tell me? I declare, wonders never
will cease."

"The fact is that I was so astonished to hear about the elopement, that
I almost forgot about my own letter for the time."

"I suppose Harry will make a long stay now? that will be very nice."

"No, he says he can only stay a week, or perhaps a fortnight. He has
promised a friend to go to the Blue Mountains," pouted Emily; "I wish
his friend was at Jericho."

Isabel laughed. "Suppose in that case Harry had gone with him."

"Don't be provoking, Isabel. But, to turn the table, how is it you never
get any of those 'nice letters' now-a-days."

"Don't be provoking, Emily!" said Isabel, growing very hot.

"Ah, you see I always get the best of it," returned Emily, laughing.
"I must go and dress, for I have to make some calls with Mamma and
Grace."



CHAPTER XVI.


"I do not know what on earth they will do," cried Emily, tossing her hat
and gloves on the sofa. "Everard is in a terrible stew about the anthem;
Mary Cleaver is laid up with a bad cold and sore throat, so that there
is no chance of her being able to sing to-morrow, and there is not
another in the choir that could make anything of the solo--at least not
anything worth listening to. Is it not provoking?--just at the last
minute. Grace, now won't you take Miss Cleaver's place just for once?
Do, please."

"Thanks! But the idea is too absurd. Fancy my singing at a 'missionary
meeting.'"

"Perhaps Isabel would," interposed Rose.

"The idea is too absurd," returned Emily, affectedly.

"Don't be impertinent, Emily," said Grace, haughtily. "It is useless to
talk of Isabel, she added, addressing Rose, "she refused before, and
Everard would not be so absurd as to ask her again; he was quite
pressing enough--far too much so for my taste."

"I'm not so sure he won't; he will not easily give up his 'pet anthem,'"
replied Emily.

"Well, Isabel will not do it, you will see," answered Grace.

"I'm not so sure of that, either; he usually gets his own way somehow or
other."

"Then how was it he did not succeed at first?" said Grace, tartly.

"Oh, because Isabel made him believe that it would not be fair to Miss
Cleaver."

"Oh, Emily, that was not why Isabel would not, and she never said it
was," exclaimed Alice; "she told Everard she had several reasons for not
singing, and, she added, it would not be fair to Miss Cleaver after
being in the choir so long."

"And pray what might these weighty reasons be?" asked Grace.

"I don't know," returned Alice.

"Nor Isabel, either, I imagine," Grace answered.

"What are you so perturbed about, Emily?" asked Isabel, who now joined
them."

"The choir are in trouble about the anthem."

"How is that?" inquired Isabel.

"Mary Cleaver is sick," returned Emily, "and Everard is awfully put out
about it."

Everard entered with a roll of music in his hand.

"Where is Miss Leicester?" he asked.

"She is here," Grace answered, languidly.

"You will not now refuse to take the soprano in the anthem to-morrow, he
said, when I tell you that it is utterly impossible for Miss Cleaver to
do so, and that the anthem must be omitted unless you will sing."

"I am sorry that the anthem should be a failure, but I really cannot,"
replied Isabel, evidently annoyed.

"Oh, yes you can--just this once," he pleaded.

But Isabel only shook her head.

"Do you mean, Miss Leicester, that you positively will not?" he asked.

"Seriously, Mr. Arlington, I do not intend to sing in the choir
to-morrow."

"That is your final decision?"

"Yes."

He sat beating his foot impatiently on the ground.

"Is there no one else? Everard" asked Rose.

"No one!" he answered, in a very decided tone.

He tossed the music idly in his hand, though his brow contracted, and
the veins in his forehead swelled like cords. They were very quiet;
no one spoke. Emily enjoyed this little scene immensely, but Grace was
highly disgusted that her brother should deign to urge a request which
had already been denied, and that, too, by the governess; while Isabel
sat, thinking how very kind Everard had always been, and how ill-natured
it seemed to refuse--how much she wished to oblige--but the thing was so
distasteful that she felt very averse to comply. She remembered, too,
the beautiful flowers with which Alice had kept her vases constantly
supplied when she was recovering from her illness; she knew full well to
whom she was indebted for them, as but one person in the house dare cull
the choicest flowers with such a lavish hand,

"What are you waiting for, Everard?" Emily inquired, at length.

"For Isabel to relent," said Grace, contemptuously.

Everard rose, and stood for a moment irresolute; then, going to the
piano, set up the music, and, turning to Isabel, said in a tone of deep
earnestness: "Will you oblige me by just trying this, Miss Leicester?"

Grace's lip curled scornfully, and Isabel reluctantly seated herself at
the piano. Having once commenced, she thought of nothing but the beauty
of the anthem, and sung with her whole soul--her full, rich voice
filling the room with melody. Never had Isabel sung like this since she
had left her happy home. When she ceased they all crowded round her,
entreating her to take Miss Cleaver's place just this once.

"She will--she must!" exclaimed Everard, eagerly. "You will--will you
not, Isa-- Miss Leicester?" he asked persuasively.

Isabel was silent.

"A nice example of obliging manners you are setting your pupils," said
Emily, mischievously, at the same time hugging her affectionately. "What
makes my pet so naughty to-day?"

"I suppose I must," said Isabel, in a tone of annoyance; "I see that I
shall have no peace if I don't."

"Thanks, Miss Leicester," said Everard, warmly; "I can't tell you how
much--how very much--obliged I am."

"I should not imagine that such a very ungracious compliance called for
such excessive thanks," said Grace, sarcastically.

"Don't be ill-natured, Gracie," returned her brother, laughing; "you
don't know how glad I am."

"But it is so very absurd, Everard, the way you rave about Isabel's
singing, any one would suppose that you had never heard good singing."

"Nor have I, before, ever heard such singing as Miss Leicester's," he
returned.

"Oh, indeed, how very complimentary we are to-day!" retorted Grace.

"Such singing as Miss Leicester's!" echoed Isabel, with a gesture of
contempt which set Emily laughing excessively, while Everard beat a
hasty retreat.

In the evening Emily and Isabel had their things on, and were chatting
and laughing with the children in the school-room, before going down to
the church for the practising, when Mrs. Arlington came in, saying,
"I am afraid that you will all be disappointed, but Dr. Heathfield
strictly prohibits Miss Leicester taking any part in the singing
to-morrow."

"Oh, Mamma!" exclaimed Emily.

"He says that it would be highly dangerous, and that she must not
attempt it."

"But, Mamma, we cannot have the anthem without her."

"I am very sorry, my dear, but it cannot be helped," replied her mother,
and having given them the unpleasant tidings to digest as best they
might, Mrs. Arlington returned to the drawing-room.

"Now is not that too bad? Who in the world told Dr. Heathfield anything
about it, I should like to know?" cried Emily, indignantly. "What
possessed him to come here to-night, I wonder--tiresome old fellow?"

"But if it would really do Isabel harm, I think it was very fortunate he
came," said Alice, gravely.

"Oh be quiet, Alice! you only provoke me," returned Emily.

"Are you young ladies ready?" asked Everard.

"Oh, Miss Leicester is not going to sing," cried Rose, saucily. "What
will you do now?"

"What do you mean?" he asked, looking inquiringly from one to another.

"Why," said Emily, "Dr. Heathfield has forbidden anything of the kind,
and was quite peppery about it."

"Confound Dr. Heathfield!" he exclaimed angrily. "Is this true?" he
asked, turning to Isabel.

"Yes."

"It is all nonsense! I shall speak to Heathfield about it."

"That will do no good, Everard," interposed Emily; "He told mamma that
Isabel ought not to think of doing so at present."

"You did not think it would hurt you Miss Leicester," he asked.

"Never for a moment."

"I dare say he thinks you are going to join the choir altogether,
I shall tell him that it is only the anthem to-morrow, that you intend
taking part in, surely he cannot object to that." What passed between
them did not transpire, but when Everard returned he said to Isabel in a
tone of deep earnestness, "I should not have asked you to sing, had I
known the harm it might possibly do you, indeed I would not, and though
annoyed beyond measure at having to give up the anthem, I am very glad
that Dr. Heathfield's opportune visit prevented you running such a risk,
for had any serious consequences ensued, I alone should have been to
blame."

"No one would have been to blame, all being unaware of any danger,"
returned Isabel warmly, "but I am convinced that Dr. Heathfield is
considering possibilities, though not probabilities" she added coloring,
not well satisfied to be thought so badly of."

"Tell us what he said, Everard," petitioned Emily.

"He spoke very strongly and warned me not to urge her," Everard replied
evidently unwilling to say more.

"I don't believe that it could harm me," said Isabel thoughtfully, "but
of course--."

"You are jolly glad to get off," chimed in Rose saucily, and received a
reproof from Everard.

"We cannot disregard what he says," continued Isabel finishing the
sentence.

"Certainly not," returned Everard, and so the anthem was omitted.



CHAPTER XVII.


Alone in tears sits Natalie, alas she has awakened from her dream of
bliss, to the sad reality that she is an unloved neglected wife, and
bitter very bitter is this dreadful truth to the poor little bird far
far from all who love her, for the wide ocean rolls between them, poor
little humming bird formed for sunshine and happiness, how cans't thou
bear this sad awakening. Ah cherished little one, with what bright hopes
of love and happiness dids't thou leave a sunny home, and are they gone
for ever, oh what depth of love in thy crushed and bleeding heart,
striving ever to hide beneath a sunny face thy aching heart, lest it
should grieve or vex the husband thou lovest so fondly, while he
heedlessly repelling the loving one whose happiness depends upon his
kindness, or impatiently receiving the fond caress, discerns not the
breaking heart nor the secret anguish this same indifference causes;
Ah Louis, Louis, should not one so bright and gentle, receive something
better than impatient gestures and harsh words, which send the stream of
love back with a thrilling pain to the heart, to consume it with silent
agony, and her hope has proved vain, her babe, her darling babe has not
accomplished what she fondly imagined, brought back her Louis's love,
if indeed she ever possessed it, and it is this thought which wrings her
gentle heart and causes those sobs of anguish, that make her fragile
form to quiver like an aspen, as the storm of grief will have its
course. If indeed he ever loved her, that he does not now is clear
enough; but did he ever, why should she doubt it, she has accidentally
heard the following remarks, and seen Louis pointed out as the object of
them:

He was engaged to a beautiful girl, but she was poor, so meeting with an
heiress, he was dazzled by the prospect of wealth and married her; but
the marriage had proved an unhappy one, that Mr. T---- had soon tired of
his gay little wife, and now treated her with the greatest indifference
and neglect, and that having married her solely for her money, he was as
much as ever attached to Miss ---- and bitterly repented his folly.
It may be true she sighed, for she knew in her heart that the part
regarding his treatment of herself was but alas too true; but could he
indeed love another, no, she would not believe it, she would dismiss the
thought, but still the words rung in her ears, having married her solely
for her money. Could Marie be right, but no, no, she would not, could
not believe it, O Louis, Louis, how have I loved you, how I love you
still, and is my love entirely unrequited? And now a new feeling springs
up in her heart, bitter hatred towards her unknown rival, with beating
heart and trembling lips she calls to mind the packet and Louis's
embarrassment, the beautiful miniature she had seen by accident, and his
evasive answers when questioned about the original, could she be the
Isabel he had named her darling after, in spite of all she could urge as
to her great dislike of the name. Oh that she could confide all her
troubles to him and tell him all her fears, and if possible have her
mind set at rest, but she dare not, for though she loved him so
devotedly, she feared him too, his fierce bursts of passion frightened
her. Oh I will win his love in spite of this hateful girl, I will be so
gentle, so careful to please him, so mindful of his comfort (as if poor
thing she had not always been so) that he shall forget her, and love his
own little wife, and wearied with conflicting emotions, she laid her
head upon the table and sobbed herself to sleep, and thus Louis found
her at two o'clock in the morning, when he returned from attending a
patient. "Good gracious! Natalie, what are you doing here," said he
raising her from her uncomfortable position, "why you are quite
chilled," he continued as a convulsive shudder shook her whole frame,
"what ever possessed you to sit up, and the fire out, how could you be
so foolish." She raised her large dark eyes to his with an expression
intensely sad and entreating, and whispered "O Louis, tell me do you
love me!" he could not bear the searching eagerness of that wistful
gaze, and turning from her answered "can you doubt it you silly little
thing, come, take the lamp and go to bed, while I get you something to
stop this shivering--he turned to go.

"Do not leave me, oh Louis, stay," she cried, and fell senseless on the
floor.

Through that night and for many long days and nights, Natalie lay in a
burning fever, and in the delirium caused by it she would beseech him to
love her, and again and again in the most pathetic manner entreat him
not to leave her, and say, it was very wicked of him not to love her,
why was it, what had she done to displease him, then murmur incoherent
words about a hateful girl, beautiful but poor that he loved, but not
his poor little Natalie, and then starting up with outstretched arms she
would implore him to be kind to her and love her.

Whether Louis felt any remorse at dooming a being so bright and fair to
such a miserable existence, or whether there was not more anger than
sorrow in that impenetrable calm none could tell; he was very attentive,
and tried to sooth with gentle words, but woe to any of the attendants
who dared to make any remark upon her in his hearing; all she said was
treated indifferently as the natural result of the disease, and the
nurse was commanded to be silent, when she presumed to say poor dear;
whatever passed amongst themselves, in his presence they maintained a
discreet silence. When Natalie recovered she was sweet and gentle as
ever, but a passive lasting melancholy took the place of her former
charming vivacity, henceforth life had lost its charm; with patient love
she bore with Louis's variable temper, and was never known to speak a
harsh word to little Isabel.



CHAPTER XVIII.


Swiftly passed the happy days in the beautiful villa home to which
Arthur Barrington had taken his bride. But at length remorseful thoughts
of his father's loneliness would intrude themselves upon Arthur's
happiest hours, until he could bear it no longer; so he told Louisa the
unkind way in which he had left his father, and how unhappy he was on
that account, proposing that they should proceed to Barrington Park
without delay. To this she readily agreed, but unfortunately their route
lay through a district where a malignant fever was very prevalent, and
while traversing a lone and dreary portion of this district, Arthur was
attacked with this terrible disease. He strove bravely against it, and
endeavored to push on to the nearest town, but that was yet forty miles
distant, when Arthur became so alarmingly ill that they were forced to
stop at a little hamlet and put up with the best accommodation its
miserable inn afforded, which was poor indeed. There was no doctor to be
had nearer than Z----, but the driver promised to procure one from there
if possible. With this they were obliged to be content; but day after
day passed and none came, while Arthur hourly became worse, and Louisa
grew half wild with grief and fear.

"If we could only get a doctor, I believe he would soon be well; but,
ah! it is so dreadful to see him die for want of proper advice,"
murmured Louisa, glancing toward the bed where Arthur lay tossing in the
terrible malaria fever, so fatal to temperaments such as his; "but he
will not die, O no I cannot believe that my happiness will be of such
short duration that I shall again be left in such icy desolation. Oh!
Arthur, Arthur, do not leave me she sobbed, covering her face with her
hands, but Arthur does not heed her, racked with burning fever he cannot
even recognize her, as with patient gentleness she endeavors to
alleviate his sufferings with cooling drinks, or bathes his burning
brow. In vain were all the remedies that the simple people of the inn
could suggest, or that Louisa's love could devise. Day by day his life
ebbed away consumed by the disease, the prostration and langour
following the fever being too much for his strength, thus Louisa saw
that he who alone in the wide world loved or cared for her, was fast
passing away; still though she could not but see it was so, she would
not believe the terrible truth, but clung to the hope that a doctor
might yet arrive before it was too late, and so her great bereavement
came upon her with overwhelming force, when after a day of more than
usual langour, during her midnight vigil, he ceased to breathe. Louisa
had not known why he had clasped her hand so tightly all that night as
she sat beside his couch, he was dead, and with a cry of anguish Louisa
fell insensible beside the lifeless body of her husband.

The moonbeams fell alike upon the inanimate forms of the living and the
dead, and the morning sun rose brightly and she still lay there, none
heard the midnight cry of anguish, or if heard it was unheeded, and the
noisy lamentations of the girl who brought in the morning meal, greeted
her as consciousness returned. The master of the inn said the funeral
must take place at sunset, and Louisa shed bitter tears in the little
room which was given her, while the corpse was being prepared for
interment, for these precipitate funeral arrangements added greatly to
Louisa's grief. Composed but deadly pale she followed Arthur's remains
to the grave--his only mourner; there was no minister to be had, but
Louisa could not see him buried thus, so read herself a portion of the
beautiful burial service of the Episcopal Church, then amid tears and
sobs she watched them pile and smooth the earth above him, and when they
had finished, with a wail of agony she threw herself in a burst of
passionate grief upon the damp earth, and there she lay until darkness
enveloped all around, heedless of danger, of time, of everything but her
deep deep grief, her misery, and her irreparable loss. And there she
would have remained but for Francesca, the girl who had waited on them;
Francesca had some pity for the poor lady, and with a great effort
stifled her superstitious fears, and went down to the grave and led her
away, whispering you will get the fever here. So Louisa returned
desolate indeed to the miserable inn, not for a moment because of the
fear of fever, only dreamily, scarcely knowing where she was going.

Those long hours with the dead had but too surely done their work,
Louisa was attacked with the same fever of which her husband died, but
carelessly tended and neglected as she was, she did not die.

When she was able to go out again, she would sit pensively for hours by
Arthur's grave, or in passionate grief throw herself upon it and wish
that she too might die. It was after one of these paroxysms of despair
that Louisa remembered her promise to Arthur, that she would take his
letter to his father at Barrington Park. Faithful to her word she
reluctantly prepared to depart, when to her dismay she found that a
cheque for a large amount had been abstracted from Arthur's desk, and
further search discovered that nearly every article of value had been
perloined during her illness. Their charges were so exorbitant, that it
took nearly all the money she had to satisfy their demands, and when she
mentioned the cheque, &c., they held up their hands in horror at the
idea, that after all their kindness she should suspect them of such
villiany.

Weary and broken-hearted, Louisa set out on her lonely journey, and at
length arrived sad and dejected at Barrington Park, having had to part
with nearly all she possessed in order to prosecute her journey. After
some difficulty she succeeded in gaining Lord Barrington's presence.

"Well, what is it you want?" asked his lordship impatiently, but Louisa
could not speak, she could only hold out Arthur's letter with a mute
gesture of entreaty.

"I don't want to read any of that nonsense; just tell me what you want,
and be quick, as I am busy."

Tell him what she wanted!--tell him that she wanted him to love and
receive her as a daughter--tell him that the love he bore his son was
henceforth to be transferred to the unhappy being before him--how could
she tell him this? how could she tell him what she wanted?

"Speak, girl, I say!" he cried, angrily.

"Read this," she faltered, "it will tell you all."

"I will not," he answered; "tell me, or begone!"

Falling on her knees before him, she held out the letter, crying: "I am
Arthur's wife. He is dead, and this is his letter, and I am here
according to his wish--to his dying injuction. Take it--read it--it will
tell you all."

"Good gracious, the girl is mad!" he exclaimed, "mad as a March hare.
Come, come! get up and go about your business, or I shall have you put
in the asylum."

Louisa felt choking, she could not speak; she could only stretch out her
arms imploringly, still holding the letter.

"There is some great mistake; my son is not dead, nor is he married, so
do not think to impose upon me."

"There is no mistake; Arthur is dead, and you see his widow before you,"
she managed to articulate.

"No, no, Arthur is not dead, poor crazy girl; get up and go away," and
he threw her half a sovereign, saying, as he did so, "now go away
quickly, or I shall have you turned out; and mind, don't go about with
your tale about being my son's wife, or I shall send the police after
you. Now go."

Crushed and humbled as she was by sorrow and suffering, this was more
than Louisa's fiery nature could endure passively. Springing to her
feet, her lips quivering with anger, while her large eyes flashed with
passion, she cried, as she threw the proffered alms upon the table, in
proud defiance, "Keep your alms for the first beggar you see, but do not
insult me. I ask but what is right--that, as your son's wife, I should
receive a home and the necessaries of life from you, his father, as he
promised me. This you refuse me; but, were I to starve, I would not take
your alms, thrown to me as a crazy beggar--never, never!"

"Go, go!" he cried, she by her burst of passionate indignation still
more confirming the idea that she was mad.

"I will go," she answered, "and will never again trouble you; but know
that I am no impostor--no insane person."

John, who answered his master's summons, stood wonderingly at the door,
and, as Louisa passed out, he opened the hall door, looking terribly
mystified. "Take this," she said to him, "and if you loved your young
master, give this to his father when he will receive it." Then with a
full heart Louisa hastened from the park.

A short distance from the gate was a small copse wood, which Louisa
entered, and, throwing herself down on the grassy bank beside a stream,
gave way to a storm of passionate grief. "Oh, Arthur, Arthur!" she
sobbed, "how desolate is Louisa in this cold, cruel world." The storm of
grief would have its way, nor did she strive to check it, but continued
sobbing convulsively, and shivered with cold, though it was a balmy
autumn day; the icy chill at her heart seemed to affect her body also.
When at length she became more calm, she began to consider what course
she should next pursue. She turned out her scanty store of
money--fifteen and sixpence was the whole amount. She determined to
return to the inn, where she had left the small bag (the sole remnant of
the numerous trunks, etc., with which they had left ----), and remain
there that night, and start next day for Brierley, the present abode of
her grandfather, and try her luck in that quarter, but with small hope
of success. Not for herself would she have done this, for she trembled
at the thought of meeting him, but circumstances made it imperative.



CHAPTER XIX.


"Please maam, is baby to go for her walk this morning," asked the nurse
as Louis and Natalie sat at breakfast, "Oh no Sarah," returned Natalie.

"Why not, I should like to know," interposed Louis, "it is a beautiful
day and will do her good, I can't see how it is that you always set your
face against her going out."

"Oh but Louis, you know she has a bad cold."

"Well it will do her cold good, I can't think where you got the idea,
that going out is bad for a cold. Take her out Sarah."

"But Louis I'm afraid it will rain."

"Rain, nonsense, what are you dreaming of this bright morning, take her
out by all means Sarah, it will do her good."

Natalie gazed uneasily at the dark storm cloud in the horizon and was
anything but satisfied.

"Why Natie you look as sober as a judge" said Louis as he rose to go on
his morning calls, "looking out for rain eh, don't be alarmed baby is
not sugar nor salt."

The careless gaiety of his tone jarred unpleasantly with her anxious
fears for her darling, and she sighed as she looked pensively out upon
the bright landscape, with another sigh she left the window and went
about her various duties, about an hour after this, Natalie was startled
by a vivid flash of lightning, and deafening peal of thunder; down came
the rain in torrents, oh where is baby? how anxiously she watched,
peering down the street from the front door, but no sign of Izzie, and
how cold the air has turned. She orders a fire to be made in the
nursery, and waits impatiently for baby's return. She comes at last, "oh
my baby!" Natalie exclaims as she takes in her arms the dripping child,
wet to the skin, and white as a sheet, every bit of clothing soaked,
saturated. Natalie can not restrain her tears as she removes them, and
warms the child before the bright fire, "oh my baby, my baby, my poor
little Izzie," she murmured passionately, as she soothed and caressed
her pet. Baby was happy now in her fresh clothes, and nestled cosily to
her mother. After the thunder shower the weather cleared and all seemed
bright and joyous without, but Natalie's heart was heavy, she was still
very uneasy about the child, Louis was detained from home the entire
day. At night baby became so oppressed in her breathing that Natalie was
quite alarmed, oh how anxiously did she listen for Louis return, as she
knelt by the child's cot in agony watching her intently.

"Oh if he would but come, why, why, did he send her out. Oh the agony,
waiting, watching, yes that is his step at last, she sends message after
message, but he comes not, he will come when he has had his dinner she
is told. It wrings her heart to leave her darling, even for a moment,
but it must be done. Softly she glides to where he sits, and laying her
trembling hand upon his arm, says in a husky voice "Louis come now, do
not wait a moment longer--baby has the croup" in an instant he was at
baby's side.

Natalie's ashy face and the word croup, acted like a talisman.

It was croup, and a very bad attack too, he speedily did what was
needful, but not without almost breaking his poor little wife's heart,
by his cruel remarks, "you should be more careful of her," he said
angrily "ten minutes more, and I could have done nothing for her."

"Oh Louis," (he had been home now nearly a quarter of an hour.)

"There must have been some gross mismanagement and fearful neglect, to
bring on such an attack as this, to a child that has never been subject
to croup, how she ever got into this state passes my understanding, you
have been trying some of you foolish schemes I suppose."

"Oh Louis, you know she was out in all that rain to-day" interposed
Natalie meekly.

"What was that for, I should like to know," he asked indignantly "are
you tired of her already that you don't take better care of her than
that?--Oh Natalie!" Natalie's pale cheek flushed at his injustice, but
she made no answer, she only watched little Izzie in fear and trembling,
and oh how glad and thankful she was when baby presently was sleeping
quietly. But how often afterwards did she dwell upon these cruel words,
and shed many bitter tears beside her sleeping darling's cot, oh baby,
she would murmur, what more care could I take of you than I always do.



CHAPTER XX.


In his superbly furnished library sat Lord Barrington. He had just
finished reading a letter that he had taken from his desk. "Strange," he
murmured, "very strange, that Arthur has not come yet, nor any letter
from him; I can't understand it," and he replaced the letter with a
heavy sigh. He then turned to the letters on the table, which he had
before cast aside, finding the wished-for one was not among them. "Ha,
one from George; perhaps he may have seen him." He reads for a while,
then starting from his seat exclaimed "Good Heavens! what is this?" Then
reads again:

    Judge my amazement when I came across a rude apology for a
    tombstone, in a little out-of-the-way grave yard: "To the memory
    of Arthur, only son of Lord Barrington of Barrington, who died
    August 8th, 1864." As I had not the remotest idea that he was
    dead, but was almost daily expecting to find him. I most heartily
    sympathize with you----

"What can he mean?" he said, putting down the letter. "But what is
this?" he cried, as his eye caught one he had overlooked before. 'Tis
Arthur's hand!" With trembling hands he broke the seal (taking no note,
in his agitation, of the fact that it had not been through the post),
and read the almost unintelligible scrawl:

    DEAR FATHER:--I have charged Louisa to bring this and give it into
    your own hand. She will not believe that I am dying, and still
    clings to the hope that I will recover. But it can not be;
    I feel--I know--that I shall die. Oh, how I wish that I could see
    you again once more and ask your forgiveness, but it may not be!
    With my dying breath I beseech you to forgive your erring boy; it
    was the first, it is the last deception I ever practiced toward
    you. To you I ever confided my hopes and plans, and you always
    strove to gratify every wish. I feel now how much I wronged your
    generous nature, when I feared to tell you of my intended
    marriage. The tune seems ever before me when you asked me, even
    with tears, why I wished to leave you again, after I returned from
    America, and I answered, evasively, that I wanted to see the
    world. And when, in the fullness of your love, you replied "Then I
    will go with you," I answered angrily, "In that case I do not care
    to go," and pleaded for just one year. And you granted my request,
    and sent me forth with blessings. Oh, why did I not tell you all?
    I feel sure that you would have replied, "Bring your wife home,
    Arthur, and I will love her as a daughter, only do not leave me."
    Oh, father, forgive your boy! Thoughts of your loneliness would
    intrude at all times and mar my happiness, until I determined to
    return and bring my wife, trusting to your love, and was on my way
    home when I was attacked with this dreadful fever. Oh, how I
    repent that I did not mention my wife in my last letter to you! It
    is but a few short months since I left you, but O how long those
    lonely months must have been to you! Then let your sad hours be
    cheered by Louisa, since the sight of your boy may never gladden
    your heart in this world. Bestow upon her the same love and
    kindness you have ever shown to me. Nothing can alleviate my pain
    in leaving her, but the certainty I feel that you will love and
    cherish her for my sake. Oh make not her coming alone harder by
    one word or action. But as you love me, so deal with my wife.
    Farewell, dear father!--a last farewell! Before you receive this,
    I shall be sleeping in my distant grave. And oh when my poor
    Louisa presents it, treat her not harshly, as you hope that we
    shall meet again.

      Your affectionate and repentant son,
      ARTHUR.

As the old man ceased reading, his head fell upon the table, and bitter
tears coursed down his cheeks. "Oh, Arthur! Arthur! my boy! my only
child! why, why did you leave me? How gladly would I have received your
wife! But now how harshly have I treated her--how cruelly sent her forth
into this heartless world, friendless and alone! But I will find her and
bring her home--yes, yes, I will love her for his sake. Oh if I had only
taken this when she brought it! But I will lose no time now. Oh, Arthur!
Arthur!" he murmured, and he rang the bell violently. "John! John!" he
said to the faithful old man who answered his summons, "stay, John, till
I can speak," he cried, gasping for breath and trembling from head to
foot. "My boy, my Arthur is dead!" he wailed, at length, and that
person--that lady--was his widow, John. It was all true that she said,
and I treated her so badly, too."

"Yes," old John replied, meekly, "I thought it wor true; she didn't look
like an himpostor, she didn't," and he shook his head gravely.

"You must find her, John, and bring her back. Go, you have your orders;
you must find her. Arthur is dead, and he has sent his wife to me, and I
must take care of her--that is all I can do for him now."

"Ah, that's the way with them secret marriages," soliloquized old John.
"What in the world made Mr. Arthur act so, I wonder, and his governor so
indulgent?"

"Yes we will find her, and she shall have the green room, not
Arthur's--no, not Arthur's. Love her for his sake, he says; aye that I
will," murmured his lordship, as he paced the room. "Too late, old man,
too late, too late."



CHAPTER XXI.


"I declare it's a shame," cried Emily throwing a letter on the table.
"I can't think what Everard means, it's positively unkind, I shall write
and tell him so," she continued endeavoring in vain to repress the tears
of vexation that would not be restrained. "I would not have believed it
of him, indeed I would not--what will Harry think, I should like to
know."

"What is the matter," asked Grace and Isabel at the same time.

"Read this and you will see," she replied--Grace read--

    DEAR EMILY,--You will, I know, be sorry to hear that I cannot be
    home for the Xmas. festivities, nor for the wedding; I am as sorry
    as you can possibly be, dear Emmy, but circumstances, over which I
    have no control, make it imperitive that I should remain away,
    therefore, pray forgive my absence, nor think it unkind.

"It is outrageous" said Grace folding the letter carefully. "Mamma will
not allow it I am certain, and I cannot imagine any reason that could
prevent him coming if he chose. You had better get mamma or papa to
write, people will think it so strange."

"I don't care what people think, it's Harry and ourselves" replied Emily
hotly, "I will write and tell him that I won't be married this Xmas. if
he don't come--'there.'

"How absurd" returned Grace contemptuously.

"Do you mean it" inquired Isabel gravely.

"Oh that is another thing" replied Emily coloring, but I shall say so,
and try the effect."

"It cannot be his wish to stay away" said Isabel thoughtfully.

"It is the strangest thing I ever knew," replied Grace.

"Isabel felt very uncomfortable, for somehow she could not help thinking
that she might be the cause, (as, once, Everard had been very near the
forbidden subject, saying that it was quite a punishment to be under the
same roof, unless there was some change in their position, toward each
other.

"She was sorry that he had not said so before Isabel had replied, and
that very day, told Mrs. Arlington that she wished to leave, as soon as
she could meet with another governess. Mrs. Arlington asked her reasons.
But Miss Leicester would give none. Then Mrs. Arlington requested that
Miss Leicester would reconsider the matter, but Miss Leicester refused
to do so. Then Mrs. Arlington insisted, saying that she would except her
resignation, if at the end of the week she still wished it, though they
would all be sorry to part with her.

Everard of course heard what had taken place, and immediately made it
his business to alter that young lady's determination, protesting that
he had said nothing to make her pursue such a course. He forced her to
admit that it was solely on his account that she was leaving, and then
talked her into consenting to withdraw her resignation at the end of the
week, promising to be more careful not to offend in future.) She wished
very much that she could spend this Xmas. with Mrs. Arnold, but this was
impossible, as she had promised Emily to be bridesmaid.

"Then you don't think it would do to say that," Emily said inquiringly.

"It would seem childish" returned Isabel.

"And have no effect," added Grace.

"Coaxing would be better you think."

"Decidedly," said Isabel laughing.

"The begging and praying style, might answer" returned Grace scornfully,
"he always likes to be made a fuss with, and all that nonsense, if the
children do but kiss him, and call him a dear kind brother and such like
rubbish, he will do almost anything."

Now Grace don't say the children, when you mean me, interposed Emily,
I will not hear a word against Evvie, so don't be cross. I know you
always were a little jealous of his partiality for me."

"I am not cross, nor did I say anything against Everard," retorted Grace
haughtily "and as for partiality, where is the favouritism now."

"Oh well, I shall write such a letter that he can't but come."

"I wish you success with all my heart," returned Grace more good
naturedly, while Isabel gazed silently out of the window.

   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

"No answer to my letter yet, is it not strange said Emily as she joined
Isabel in her favourite retreat, the conservatory, "what do you think
about it, it makes me positively unhappy."

"Shall I tell you what I think" asked Isabel passing her arm round Emily
and continuing her walk.

"Do please, for you can't think how disagreeable it is, when Harry asks,
when Everard is coming, to have to give the same stupid answer, I expect
to hear every day."

"I don't think you will."

"Oh Isabel."

"No, I do not think he will write, but just quietly walk in one of these
days!"

"Do you really think so," asked Emily, her face radiant.

Isabel gave an affirmative nod.

"What makes you think so, Isabel?"

"I don't know, but I feel sure he will," she replied, turning away her
face.

"Isabel."

"Well, dear," said Isabel, with heightening color, still keeping her
face turned away, "tell me, was it because of you that Everard would not
come home."

"I don't know."

"Then you think, perhaps, it may be."

"It is very foolish to think so."

"Then you do think so," said Emily, archly.

"Oh, miss, I have found you out at last. What a sly one you are. I have
been watching you a long time, and thought you all unconscious how it
was with a certain party who shall be nameless. Oh I'm so glad."

"Glad that your brother is so unhappy?" Oh, Emily!

"No; glad that he need be so no longer."

"How do you mean?"

"How do I mean! Why how obtuse you are, Isabel."

"You run on too fast."

"Oh, not much. I found out how it was on his part long ago, and I shall
not be long before I tell him the result of my observations elsewhere."

"Tell him what?" asked Isabel, aghast,

"To go in and win," replied Emily, saucily.

"Emily, Emily! what are you saying--what do you mean?"

"Mean?" replied Emily, with a saucy nod, "to help on my pet scheme a
little, that's all."

"You never mean to say that you intend to--"

"Oh, but I do, though."

"Emily, if you dare!" cried Isabel, indignantly.

"Ah, but I shall."

"You shall not," said Isabel, grasping her arm, "you do not know what
you are about."

"Yes I do, perfectly well, and you will both thank me hereafter."

"Stop a moment; what is it you intend to tell him?"

"Only what I have found out--that all is as he wishes, so he need not be
afraid."

"You have not found out any such thing."

"Oh, have I not though?"

"Decidedly not. All you have discovered is, that I had some foolish idea
that it might possibly be on my account that he was not coming home.
That is all you could honestly tell him, and you will do more harm than
good if you do; depend upon it, you will only make matters worse by
interfering."

"Well, if it is to do no good, I would rather that he did not know I had
found out his secret, but keep it as I have done."

"Since when?" asked Isabel.

"Last spring, when we had to leave you on the rock, but of course I did
not let him see it."

"Then do not enlighten him now, you will only make him uncomfortable."

"You are right, but come tell me since when did you know."

"I have known a long time."

"But does he think you know."

Isabel was silent.

"Come, miss, how did you find out?"

"Don't, Emily," said Isabel, entreatingly.

"How did you know--did he tell you?"

"Is this generous?" asked Isabel, with burning cheeks."

"You don't mean to say that you refused him?" said Emily, turning her
blue eyes full upon Isabel, "that would be too cruel."

"Be quiet, Emily," implored Isabel.

"I see how it is now. Oh, Isabel, how could you?"

"Remember, Emily, I have told you nothing; you have found out my secret;
keep it better than you did your brother's."

"Oh, Isabel, I am sure I kept that well enough."

"Not so well as you must keep this. I am very, very sorry, for I feel
that I have not been sufficiently watchful, or you would I not have
suspected it. And he would be justly angry if he knew."

"Well, under the circumstances it would make no difference to you if he
was."

Isabel bit her lip and was silent, then said, "Emily, dear Emily,
promise me that you will try to forget this conversation, and never
mention it to any one."

"But Isabel when was it."

"I will answer no questions on that subject" more than enough has been
said already.

"What a rage Grace would be in, if she knew, well, well, I have my own
ideas."

"Have you indeed, and pray what would Grace be in a rage about if she
knew," asked a well known voice close to them.

Both young ladies started and crimsoned. "You see Emmy I could not
resist that letter, so here I am for a few days."

"Isabel was right" cried Emily triumphantly, "she said you would come
quietly in, one of these days."

"What made you think so," he asked.

"I felt sure of it, I cannot tell why, but I had a presentiment that you
would."

"May I hope that the wish was the origin of the thought," he said in a
low tone, as Emily turned to caress his dog, Hector.

"Certainly" she answered laughing. "I would not have Emily disappointed
on any account."

"Such a true prophet ought to be rewarded, don't you think so Emily,"
said Everard presenting Isabel with the first and only flower of a rare
foreign plant.

"I cannot accept it," replied Isabel, "the reward is more than the
prediction was worth."

"Oh no, it is not, I am sure you earned it," cried Emily clapping her
hands, and running off with Hector for a romp.

"Surely you will not refuse a flower" said Everard.

"But why that flower."

"Because it is the best."

"For that very reason, I cannot accept it."

"You are over scrupulous Miss Leicester."

"No, only prudent."

He looked hurt, "you will not refuse" he urged.

"I dare not accept it."

"Why."

"What would they think."

"If the truth,----, that the flower I valued most, I gave to the one I
loved best."

"Are you not venturing on forbidden grounds" asked Isabel with glowing
cheeks.

"Isabel you are cruel."

"I do not wish to pain you."

"Then accept my flower."

"No, were I to do so, I could only take it to your mother saying that
you wished it preserved."

"Would you do so Isabel," he exclaimed reproachfully.

"I should be obliged to do so, if I took it."

"Is it only this one you refuse."

"Or any other equally valuable and scarce."

Gathering a choice little bouquet he said "you will not refuse this
Isabel."

"Miss Leicester if you please sir," she replied as she took the flowers,
and hastened to the schoolroom. While Everard stood for a moment lost in
thought, then went to pay his respects to his mother, and present the
rejected flower, to the bride elect.

This was the last evening they would be alone, to-morrow the guests were
to arrive. Isabel did not always join them at dinner, and this evening
she intended to spend in the schoolroom to finish the reports, which Mr.
Arlington always liked to have when the holidays began, giving the
children leave to go in the drawing-room. But the best plans cannot
always be carried out. Isabel received a message from Mrs. Arlington
requesting her to join them at dinner, accompanied by a threat from
Harry, that if she did not they would all adjourn to the schoolroom,
of course she had to comply. However the evening passed off very
pleasantly, Everard was so much occupied with his mother and sisters,
that with the exception of making her sing all his favourite songs, he
paid even less than usual attention to Isabel.



CHAPTER XXII.


The children are on tiptoe of expectation, anxiously waiting the arrival
of the Mornington's, and numerous other guest's. Now the wished for
moment has come, what a delightful stir and confusion it has occasioned.
Rose is in ecstasy, and Amy wild with glee, even the quiet Alice seemed
to have caught the infection. It was to be a regular old fashioned Xmas.
Eve. All sorts of games and odd things, snap dragon, charades (for which
Harry and Lucy were famous) magic music, dancing, and even blindmans
buff was proposed but was over-ruled by the quieter members of the
party. 'Santa Claus' sent a bountiful supply of presents down the
chimney that night, which caused great merriment next day. For ladies
got smoking caps, and cigar-cases; while gentlemen received workboxes,
thimbles, and tatting-needles. Peter got a jester's cap and bells, which
he vowed was a dunce's cap intended for Rose, to that young lady's great
indignation. Tom had a primer, and a present for a good boy, and May
received a plain gold ring at which they all laughed very much, to May's
excessive annoyance. After breakfast they all went to church, and then
all who chose went to see the school children, who were enjoying
themselves immensely over their Xmas. fare. Then the sleighs were had
out for a glorious drive over the frozen snow, but Isabel refused to
join the party, preferring to stay quietly at home. To practise anthem's
with Everard, Grace said. Isabel had no such idea, but for all that they
did sing some anthems with the children, as Everard, who had taken a
very active part in the arrangements for the Sunday School feast, was
not of course one of the sleighing party, and returned some time before
them. The children sang very nicely, doing great credit to Isabel's
teaching, for which she was highly complimented by Everard.

"They ought to be much obliged to you, as they bid fair to surpass both
Grace and Emily," he said.

"Pray don't let Miss Arlington hear you say so, or she will never
forgive me."

"Oh never fear, she would not believe it, but I will be careful, as she
is already dreadfully jealous of you."

"Of me, how can she be, why should she."

"She has cause enough," he replied warmly, "but she should be more
magnanimous."

"I don't think it possible, I cannot imagine she could be so silly."

"It is plain enough to me, that she is."

"I don't see it, I confess."

"'Where ignorance is bliss,' he replied, with one of his usual
penetrating glances. "Yours must be a very happily constituted mind to
be so unconscious of all things disagreeable."

"Not quite so unconscious as you imagine, but I advise you not to fish
into troubled waters."

"Still waters run deep, you mean," he replied.

"Unfathomable," she said, and followed the children to the dining-room,
for they had gone there to see if the decorations were completed.
A right merry party sat down to dinner, sixty in number, all relations
or old friends. Here is Tom's description of the wedding nest day, which
he sent his friend:

    DEAR DICK,--We are having jolly times here--rare fun on
    Christmas-eve, I assure you. But the best of all was my brother's
    wedding; eight bridesmaids, all as beautiful as sunshine. (I was a
    best-man, of course.) The bride looked magnificent--(between you
    and I, Dick, he has made a very good choice)--the rain and
    sunshine style. I can't say I understand that kind of thing, but
    on such occasions it tells immensely. (I admire one of the
    bridesmaids amazingly, but mum's the word, mind.) But to speak of
    the wedding. Governor Arlington is a liberal old fellow. Champagne
    like water, and everything to match.

      Your's truly, T. M.

Elm Grove was scarcely the same place to Isabel when Emily was gone. She
toiled on diligently with the children, but she found teaching anything
but pleasant. Often after a tedious day, when tired and weary, she would
gladly have laid down to rest her aching head and throbbing temples.
Mrs. Arlington would request that she would join them in the
drawing-room. Isabel did not consider herself at liberty to refuse,
besides she did not wish to encounter Mrs. Arlington's frowns next day;
and even when they were out, and she congratulated herself upon being
left in peace, Mr. Arlington (who seldom accompanied hem) would ask her
to sing some songs, or play a game of chess, and of course she had to
comply. This kind of life was very irksome to Isabel--so different to
what she had been accustomed to. She strove bravely with her fate, but
in spite of all her endeavors she often cried herself to sleep she felt
so desolate and alone. She had no home: there was no hearth where she
was missed, or her coming anxiously looked for. Then she would grieve
bitterly over the bright home she had lost, and the happy days gone, it
seemed, for ever; and then in the morning be angry with herself for her
ingratitude, remembering the blessings she still enjoyed, and how much
worse off she might be, and strive to be contented. A fresh cause for
disquietude arose, Grace evidently was jealous of her. Grace was
handsome, but she was aware that Isabel was more attractive. Grace sang
well, but she also knew that Isabel sang better, her voice was richer,
fuller, more melodious. She said that Isabel always wanted to show off,
and would look very incredulous and neutral when Isabel's performances
were praised. One gentleman in particular was very enthusiastic in his
praises. "But professional people are different you know," returned
Grace.

"Oh indeed, I was not aware that Miss Leicester was a professional
singer," he replied.

"Not a professional singer, she teaches singing," said Grace thinking
she was going a little too far.

"Indeed, where did you make her acquaintance, may I ask, you seldom hear
such a splendid voice."

"Oh she is our governess," replied Grace.

Turning to Isabel he said "you have a very fine voice Miss Leicester, if
you were to make your debut at one of our best operas, you would make
your fortune."

"I have no such idea," said Isabel, the indignant tears starting to her
eyes, "that is the last thing I should thing of doing, she added with a
reproachful look at Grace," but Grace seemed to be enjoying the whole
thing amazingly.

"I do not suppose that you have thought of it or you certainly would not
be a governess, with such a career open to you; with very little
training you might command almost any salary." Isabel was excessively
annoyed. "I assure you my dear young lady that it is worth your
consideration he continued.

"You mean well, no doubt, Mr. Bandolf, and I thank you for your kind
intentions; but the matter requires no consideration, I could not
entertain the idea for a moment" returned Isabel, and bowing coldly
opened a book of prints.

"You should not let pride prevent your worldly advancement," he added,
which only made her more angry than ever. For all this I have to thank
Miss Arlington she thought, and her feelings toward that young lady, at
that moment, were not the most charitable.



CHAPTER XXIII.


"No I am sure it never answers at least not in most cases and in ours it
would not I am convinced; but I had a pretty hard battle about it I
assure you Ada."

"I had no idea until now that they wished it" returned Ada. "but I am
very glad you did not agree to it."

(The matter under consideration was, if it were desirable that young
couples should reside with the parents of either; but Charles Ashton
knew his mother's disposition too well, to subject his wife to it,
though he was a very good son and loved his mother. He had no wish, nor
did he consider himself at liberty to place his wife in a position that
he knew might make her very unhappy. Nor did he think that such an
arrangement would promote domestic bliss. He was a particularly quiet
easy going fellow, very averse to exertion of any kind and seldom
troubled himself to oppose any arrangements, usually agreeing to any
proposition for the sake of peace and quietness. But for all that he had
a will of his own, and when he had once made up his mind, nothing on
earth could move him. Before he married he gave the matter careful
considertion, and came to the conclusion that it must never be--never
Ada would be his wife, and no mortal should breathe a word against her
in his hearing--therefore it must never be. Having come to this
conclusion he waited until the subject should be broached by either of
his parents, knowing very well that when that topic should be discussed,
then would come the tug of war, and he was not at all anxious for it. It
soon came however, his father proposed that he should bring his bride
there, saying, "there is plenty of room for all." But Charles was not so
sure of that, and feared that the house might possibly become too hot to
hold them, but merely stated quietly that he had decided otherwise. Then
arose a perfect storm, but he was firm. His mother asked with her
handkerchief to her eyes, if she was to lose her boy altogether. While
Lord Ashton requested to be informed what his plans might be.

"To live in England" he answered.

"What might be his objection to Ashton Park."

He had nothing to say against Ashton Park, but he wished to reside in
England.

Very well, they would go to England, and all live together, that would
be charming Lady Ashton said.

"He should like them to live in England, but as to living together, that
was out of the question," Charles replied.

"Whereupon Lady Ashton was highly offended and very angry. Charles was
quiet, but firm, all they could urge was useless, he would not hear of
it.) "It might answer in Arthur's case" he returned, by the way Ada is
it not strange we have never heard anything of them, poor Louisa,
I suppose boarding school did not answer her expectations, as she left
it so soon."

"Can you wonder at it, situated as she was."

"It was natural no doubt, and Arthur could be so winning, he always was
a favourite with the ladies."

"Oh well, he is a nice fellow you must admit."

"I don't deny it, I always liked him very much, but still I think that
sort of thing, is not right, but he always was impetuous, never
considered anything, but just acted on the spur of the moment, and he is
very soft hearted" he added laughing. "I wonder if the old gentleman
knows it."

"Your mother was always ambitious for him, don't you remember how afraid
she was about Isabel" asked Ada.

"Yes, and the daughter of his tutor does not come up to the mark."

"I should think her own daughter's child might at all events."

"But she never regards her in that light, never will I fear."

"Somebody wishes to see you Sir, very particularly please," said
Thomson.

"Who is it? Thomson."

"Don't know I'm sure Sir, she would not give any name, but is very
anxious to see you, I said you were engaged, but she replied I that she
must see you to-night, it was very important."

"What sort of a person is she?" asked Ada.

"A lady madam, quite a lady I should say, only in trouble, she says she
knew master in America."

"I must see her, I suppose, where is she."

"In the study, sir."

The stranger was standing by the fire-place, as he entered she made an
impatient gesture for him to close the door, then threw herself at his
feet passionately imploring him to help and protect her, and throwing
aside her thick vail, disclosed the features of Louisa, but so altered
that he was perfectly shocked and amazed. He could scarcely believe that
the haggered emaciated being before him, was indeed the pretty,
impulsive, fiery, Louisa, but such was the case, and anger, compassion
and indignation filled his heart, as he listened to the recital of her
misfortunes.

As the reader is already acquainted with a portion of Louisa's story,
we will not repeat it here, but only record such circumstances as have
not appeared in these pages. On arriving at her grandfather's she
encountered a storm of angry abuse, and was driven from the door with a
stern command never to return, as she had forfeited all claims upon him,
and might die in a ditch for all he cared. She managed to get about a
mile from the house, and then overcome with fatigue and misery she sank
down exhausted.

How long she remained there she had no idea, when she recovered she was
among strangers, who were very kind. She had had a brain fever, and was
in the hospital When asked for the address of her friends, she replied
that she had none. But afterward she remembered that her Uncle Charles
had always been kind to her, and had occasionally procured her little
indulgences from her stern, cold-hearted, grand-mother, and that it had
been mainly through his interference that she had been sent to school.
She therefore determined to seek his aid, and accept a small loan from
the doctor, to enable her to do so, long and weary had the journey been,
and she implored Charles not to send her away. She knew she said that it
would not be for long, and entreated him to let her die in peace.

Charles assured her that she should want for nothing, and commended her
for coming to him, and expressed in no measured terms his disapprobation
of his father's cruel conduct, but was abruptly silenced by Louisa
falling senseless on the floor. His violent ringing of the bell, brought
not only the servants, but Ada also, to his assistance; medical aid was
quickly procured. That night her child was born, and when morning
dawned, Louisa lay still and cold in that last long sleep from which no
mortal could awake her. Sleep in thy marble beauty, poor little Louisa,
and perhaps that sad fate may soften the hearts of thy cruel
grandparent. Oh not as it has been fulfilled did the dying Evangeline
understand the promise made with regard to the little Louisa. Oh how
often was the stillness of the night broken by the bitter sobs of the
desolate little orphan whose aching heart sought for love in vain. Then
can we wonder that when this lonely one, did find one to love, that she
should willingly listen to his persuasions in hopes of a happy future,
rather than endure any longer such a cheerless existence.

In the early morning a violent knocking at the hall door brought Thomson
from his gossip with the other servants.

"Is there not a lady--a widow lady, staying here?" inquired an old
gentleman in an agitated voice, while the cab driver beat his arms on
the pavement. "Is not this Mr. Ashton's?" he added, as Thomson
hesitated. Thomson answered in the affirmative, and the old gentleman
continued, "Is the lady here? Can I see your master? answer me quickly
don't be so stupid."

"A lady came last night but, but," stammered Thomson "she,"

"Is she here now, I say," he cried angrily.

"Yes sir, but--

"Say no more, just tell your master I want to see him immediately, stop,
take my card, here, now be quick."

Poor Thomas was quite bewildered by the old gentleman's manner. I'm
blest he murmured if I know what we're coming to next, Lord Barrington,
what does he want I should like to know.

"Why Ada, it is Lord Barrington," exclaimed Charles.

"How very fortunate," returned Ada "of course he will take charge of the
baby, I confess I was in a quandary for I do not relish the idea of
having the care of it, poor little thing."

"Nor I either, but I am not so sure that he will take it, it is much
more likely he has come to row me about the whole affair."

"You! Why, what had you to do with it?"

"No more than you had; but I must see him at once, I suppose."

"Shall I go, too?" asked Ada, timidly.

"Not at present: if there is to be a storm, I do not see why you should
be in it."

"He is such a dreadful old man, is he not?"

"Not usually; he was always very, very kind to Arthur."

"Not to his wife," she replied, vainly endeavoring to repress her tears.

"No, very cruel; but you must not grieve so much about it, dearest Ada."

"I cannot help it, it is so terribly shocking."

"But it is past, now: she is at rest, she is happy; even her lifeless
remains look calm--the weary, weary look exchanged for one of peace."

"True, but it is so dreadful; if we had only known before," she sobbed.

"I wish we had, with all my soul," returned Charles, "but you really
must not distress yourself so, or I shall have to keep the poor old gent
waiting."

"Go to him, Charley; I shall feel better presently."

He found his Lordship impatiently pacing the room. "I am seeking my
daughter-in-law; she is here, I believe," he said, after the first
salutations were over.

"She is here," Charles answered gravely, "at least her remains; she died
last night."

"Dead! dead!" repeated Lord Barrington, putting his hand to his head.
"Then I have nothing left."

"But the child," interposed Charles.

"The child--what child?"

"The babe born last night."

"He did not heed the answer, but seemed overpowered by the news of
Louisa's death. "Let me see Arthur's wife," he said, after a few minutes
had elapsed. Charles conducted him to the darkened apartment, where he
gazed in agony upon the worn, but calm features of poor Louisa. And as
he thought of his harshness, and Arthur's words, "make not her coming
alone harder by one word or look," his grief became so violent and
excessive that Charles was quite nonplussed, and went to consult Ada as
to what should be done. In accordance with their plan, Ada took the
frail little piece of humanity, and, approaching Lord Barrington, as he
bent in sorrow over the corpse, said softly, "You have lost Arthur, and
Arthur's wife, but you still have Arthur's child," and she laid the babe
in his arms.

His tears fell on its tiny face, but the sight of it, and its
helplessness, did him good. "Oh, Arthur! Arthur!" he moaned, why did you
doubt your old father? how would I have welcomed your wife if you had
brought her home at first! aye, as I now welcome this child--Arthur's
child," he added, looking at it fondly.

He had the corpse conveyed to Barrington, and placed in the family
vault, and erected a monument--very beautiful, indeed--beside the one he
had already placed there in memory of his son, inscribed:

  To
  LOUISA,
  the beloved wife of Arthur,
  only son of
  LORD BARRINGTON OF BARRINGTON,
  Aged 16 years.

He also placed another in the little burying-place at Z----:

  In memory of
  ARTHUR,
  only son of LORD BARRINGTON, of Barrington Park, England,
  aged 23 years,
  who was suddenly attacked with a fatal fever,
  in a foreign land,
  when on his way home.

When Lady Ashton arrived, shortly afterwards, and heard what had taken
place, she was in a terrible fume. "Oh! my dear, what a misfortune. How
unlucky for her to come here: why did you let her stay, Charles?"

"Why did I let her stay? Say, rather, why did you send her away?"

"Yes, why did you let her stay?" she repeated, angrily. "Why did you not
let her go to the hospital?"

"Or die in the street," added Charles, scarcely able to keep his temper,
for he was angry and hurt to think how Louisa had been treated.

"Goodness knows what people will say: no doubt all kinds of strange
stories will be circulated. I feel for you, Ada, my dear; I do, indeed."

"Don't be alarmed, my dear mother, as to rumors and strange stories,"
said Charles, handing her a newspaper, and pointing out the following:

    DIED.--At the residence of Charles Ashton, Esq. LOUISA, wife of
    the late Hon. Arthur Barrington, and grand-daughter of Sir Edward
    Ashton of Brierley.

"Charles, how dared you?" cried his mother, reddening with anger, "your
father will be excessively angry."

"I cannot help that: it is the truth, is it not?"

"True? of course you know it is; but, for all that, you need not have
published it in that absurd manner."

"I thought it best."

"And you are simple enough to think that that notice will prevent absurd
stories getting abroad."

"As to who she might be, yes; and, as to the circumstances that brought
her here, I presume you would prefer any, rather than the right ones,
should be assigned."

Lady Ashton was for once abashed, and her eye dropped beneath the
severity of her son's gaze; but, recovering quickly, she answered, "you,
at least, have nothing to do with that."

"I am thankful to say I have not," he returned, "I cannot forget it, it
makes me perfectly wretched; and, but that I know that Ada has her own
home to go to, if anything happened to me I don't know what I should do.
I shall insure my life this very day, that she may be independent. If a
daughter's child could be so treated, why not a son's wife."

For goodness' sake stop, Charles!" cried his mother, "don't talk so
dreadfully."

"I feel it bitterly, mother; indeed I do," he replied, and hastily left
the room. He would not have done so, however, had he known the storm he
had left Ada to be the unhappy recipient of. She was perfectly terrified
at the violence of Lady Ashton's wrath, and Lady Ashton was, too, when
she saw Ada lay back in her chair, pale as marble and panting for
breath. "What is the matter?--speak, child," she cried, shaking her
violently; but this only alarmed her the more, and she called loudly for
Charles, and then remained gazing at Lady Ashton in speechless terror.

"Ada! dearest Ada! what is the matter?" asked Charles, coming to the
rescue; but Ada had fainted.



CHAPTER XXIV.


"Well, old fellow, how are you?" said Louis, as he entered Everard's
room at the college. "I only just heard you were back." After they had
conversed awhile, Louis said, "Pretty girl that governess your sisters
have at Elm Grove; aye, only she is such a confounded flirt."

"I esteem Miss Leicester very highly," returned Everard, coldly.

"Take care, old fellow, for she is, without exception, the greatest
coquette I ever came across. She always had crowds of admirers, many of
whom she contrived to draw on until they came to 'the point,' and then
laughed at them. By Jove she will make a fool of you, Everard, if you
don't mind."

"I assure you, Louis, that you are quite mistaken. Miss Leicester is
quite a different person to what you imagine."

"Ha! ha! so you may think, but I knew her intimately, and I must say
that I was surprised that your mother should trust her young daughters
to her care."

"Be quiet, Louis; I think her as near perfection as possible."

"Well, they say that love is blind--stone blind, in this case, I should
say. She must have played her game well, to deceive you so thoroughly."

"I am not deceived, neither has she played any game," returned Everard,
with warmth. "She gives me no encouragement whatever--very far from it."

"Oh, that is her new dodge, is it? Beware of her; she is a most
accomplished actress."

"You are mistaken," replied Everard, indignantly, "you know some one
else of the same name."

"Not a bit of it, my dear fellow; I saw the young minx at Elm Grove, and
knew her directly. 'Beautiful, but dangerous.' I know her well."

Everard's cheek flushed with anger. "Louis," said he, "I will not hear
any one speak disrespectfully of Miss Leicester. I consider any insult
offered to her as a personal affront; therefore, if we are to remain
friends, you must say no more on that subject now or at any other time."

Louis saw by Everard's countenance that he was in earnest, so answered,
"as you will. I have satisfied my conscience by warning you; of course I
can do no more. Won't you dine with us to-day?"

"No, really, I cannot possibly; I have no time to go anywhere."

"Take care you don't work too hard, and have to give up altogether. You
look as if you were overdoing it. Too much of a good thing is good for
nothing, you know. Come when you can--if not to-day, I shall be always
glad to see you."

"What object can he have in speaking thus of Isabel?" Everard asked
himself when Louis was gone--his beautiful and beloved Isabel, the charm
of his existence, yet the torture of his life--(for was it not torture
to be forever dwelling on her perfections, only to come back to the same
undeniable fact that she had refused him--that she either could not, or
would not, be his)--and now to hear _her_, the personification of his
own ideal, spoken of as an accomplished actress and deceitful coquette,
was almost more than he could endure. Then he asked himself what he had
gained by his constant and excessive study: had it caused him to forget
her? no, he could not forget she seemed ever with him in all her beauty,
gentleness, and truth. He would win her yet, he told himself, and then
owned he was a fool to indulge such thoughts, and determined to study
harder still than ever, to prevent the possibility of his thoughts
recurring so often to Isabel. Nevertheless, he would believe nothing
against her--nothing.



CHAPTER XXV.


"Louis, I wish you would look at baby before you go; I do not think she
is well to-night."

"What is the matter now? You are always thinking she is ill: she seemed
well enough this morning."

"I don't know. She is restless and uneasy; I wish you would come."

"Of course I will, but I am in a great hurry just now; Mrs. Headley has
sent for me, and old Mr. Growl has another attack. I must go to the
people in the office now, but I will come up to baby before I start."

"Had you not better see baby first? Perhaps you might forget, with so
many people to attend to."

"Forget? Not I. Why, Natalie, how do you think I should ever get on if I
had no better memory than that?"

But he did forget, and was gone when Natalie again sought him.
"I thought it would be so," she sighed. Baby became more and more
uneasy, and moaned and fretted in her sleep. Natalie knelt beside the
bed, and tried to soothe her darling, thinking sadly of the long hours
that would elapse before Louis's return, but all her efforts were in
vain. Izzie did not wake or cry, but this only alarmed Natalie the more.
The deadly palor of her countenance was the only sign of the anguish she
suffered; outwardly, she was very calm. If she could only have done
anything for her pet! but to wait, and watch, not knowing what to do,
this was unendurable; and she was just debating in her own mind if she
ought not to send for another doctor, as Louis might be detained all
night, when she heard him come in. She pressed her cold hands upon her
brow, and ordered Sarah to bring him immediately; while she rose from
her knees, and breathlessly waited for his coming.

"What's the matter with popsy?" he asked, cheerfully, as he entered the
room, but his countenance became grave as his eye rested on the sick
child. "What is this?," he inquired, "why was I not told before? Tut,
tut, what have you been thinking about, Natalie," he added, as he felt
the child's pulse.

"I asked you to come and see her before you went out," Natalie answered,
in an almost inaudible voice.

"Yes, but you did not say that there was anything particularly the
matter." He stooped over the child and examined her more carefully. "She
is seriously ill," he said.

And the words sent a thrill of pain to Natalie's aching heart.

"Why do you treat me in this shameful manner?" he continued bitterly.
"Why let the child go on until it is almost past recovery, and then send
for me in the greatest haste?--just the same way when she had the croup.
I am surprised at you Natalie; it is really quite childish." He ordered
the bath to be brought immediately.

Impatiently waving Natalie aside, he took the child in his arms and put
her into the bath; while Natalie stood by, in speechless agony, Louis
refusing to allow her to assist in any way. How cruel! To have done
anything for her darling would have been an unspeakable relief. As it
was, she could only stand by while he murmured, in a tone which greatly
distressed her "poor little popsy," "Did they neglect papa's darling?"
He would suffer no one to touch her but himself, and what assistance he
did accept was from Sarah, it being into her arms he put baby while he
went for the medicine she required. Poor Natalie, how this grieved her;
for though she took the child from Sarah, the slight was the same. "Oh,
baby, baby!" she murmured, as the burning tears fell on little Isabel's
face, "what should I have left if you were taken from me?"

When Louis returned, he took the child, administered the medicine, and
was about to lay her in the bed.

"Let me take her," whispered Natalie, in a tone of tremulous earnestness
and passionate entreaty.

"No, she is better here," he replied.

"Oh, please, Louis!" she pleaded, but he was firm.

She stood, with clasped hands, silently gazing on the babe with a
strange sensation of awe and dread, and a yearning wish to do something
for her.

"You are not required, Natalie," Louis said, "you had better go to bed."
With a gulp she restrained the rising sob, and stooped to kiss her
darling. "You will only disturb her," he said, putting out his arm to
prevent her doing so. Then Natalie could only steal away to her
dressing-room, and there, alone in the darkness, she crept to the sofa
and hid her face in the cushion, to hush the tumultuous sobs, while she
breathed fervent prayers for baby's recovery. But a horrible dread
surrounded her: she could not endure to be absent from her pet, and
noiselessly she stole back to the nursery. She was glad that Louis did
not observe her entrance, and retreated to the dimmest corner of the
room, and there, in the old arm-chair, listened to baby's uneasy
breathing, which caused her an agony of grief and pain. Yet she could do
nothing but sit and suffer--suffer, oh, how deeply! Thus the night wore
away, and Louis was not aware of her presence until, as the day dawned,
he beheld the wan, wretched face of his poor little wife. Going to her
side, he said, "this is wrong, Natalie; go and rest." She shook her
head. "You must, indeed: you know I have to leave her to you the greater
part of the day, and this is no preparation for the watchful care she
will need."

"She cannot need more care than I will gladly give," returned Natalie,
with trembling lip. Her face wore an expression, so sad--so
suffering--that Louis must, indeed, have been adamant if he had not been
softened. Stroking her hair caressingly, he was about to lead her from
the room with gentle force, when, grasping his hand convulsively, she
said, in an almost inaudible voice, "I cannot, cannot go; have pity,
Louis," she added, raising her tearful eyes to his.

"For an hour or two, and then you shall take care of baby."

"If--if--you would let me kiss her, I will lie down here, but I cannot
leave her," she answered, almost choking.

"You may do that," he said, with a disagreeable sense of the fact that
he had been unkind, to use no harsher term. And he lifted a weight from
Natalie's heart, as he placed a shawl over her, saying, "try to sleep,
dear; you know how much depends upon you," in sweet, modulated tones of
thrilling tenderness, such as Louis knew well how to use--none better,
when it suited him to do so.

It mattered not to little Izzie who tended her for many days; not so,
however, when she began to mend, for now she would suffer none but mamma
to touch her. She would scarcely bear to be put out of her arms. If
Natalie attempted to lay her in the cradle, thinking she slept,
instantly the tiny arms would be clasped round mamma's neck, and she
would take her up again. No more could papa usurp mamma's rights; no
coaxing or persuasion would induce her to allow him to take her. Only
from mamma's hand would she take her medicine. On more than one occasion
Natalie had to be aroused from the little sleep she allowed herself, to
administer it. All this annoyed Louis beyond measure, but he did not
again give way to his temper before the child, except on one occasion.
He had, in the strongest terms, urged upon Natalie the importance of
giving the medicine with regularity. The bottle was empty, and Natalie
sent it down to be filled, but by some means it got mixed with the other
medicines to be sent out, and was not returned to her. She suffered
tortures for the want of it during his absence. When he returned, coming
straight to baby as usual, he learned how it was, and found her worse
for want of it, his indignation was extreme, and he heaped upon Natalie
unjust and unmerited reproach, in harsh and bitter terms. His cruel
words cut her to the heart, but her only answer was a gentle request
that he would get it at once. Truly Isabel had not much to regret.



CHAPTER XXVI.


"What do you think?" cried Rose, bursting into the school-room. "Everard
is coming home."

"Oh, is he? I'm so glad," returned Alice.

"Yes; mamma had a letter to-day. He is better, and is coming home for
change of air and mamma's good nursing. It was not Everard who wrote the
letter, but the doctor, who is coming with him as far as Markham, and
papa is to meet them there."

"When?" inquired Alice.

"To-morrow."

"And papa is away."

"Oh, he will be back to-night. Why, there is a carriage; I wonder who it
is," she exclaimed, running to the window.

"How can you be so silly, Rose," interposed Isabel.

"Oh, it is Everard," she shouted, without heeding Isabel's remonstrance,
"and that must be the Doctor. Oh, I'm so glad Everard has come," and she
danced about the room with glee.

"Rose, what a noisy child you are!" exclaimed Isabel, going to the
window with the rest; but when she saw the Doctor, she became deadly
pale, and had to lean against the window frame for support, but she had
ample time to recover herself, as they were all too much occupied to
observe her.

"How terribly ill he looks," said Rose.

"And how dreadfully weak," returned Alice. "I'm sure that gentleman was
at Grace's party, only I forget his name."

"Oh, mamma and Grace are both out; who is to do the honors, won't you,
Miss Leicester?"

"Oh, no."

"Do, there's a good creature," pleaded Rose. But Isabel was firm. "It
will seem so queer," urged Rose.

"Alice, dear, _you_ must go."

Oh no, indeed, I can't; please excuse me, Miss Leicester."

"Oh let _me_ go," pleaded Rose, "I shall manage far better than Alice."

"You!" exclaimed Isabel, "nonsense! Alice has more thought, besides she
has the advantage of two or three inches in height, at all events."

Alice remonstrated.

"Not another word, Alice, you have to go," said Isabel; and Alice
thought she had never seen Miss Leicester so peremptory.

Isabel was not afraid to trust Alice. Once fairly installed as hostess
she would do very well, though shy at first.

"But he seems so very ill, and I shall not know what to do," said Alice.

"You must tell them they were not expected until to-morrow, to explain
your mamma's absence; and I will order up some refreshments, and tell
Norris to have your brother's room ready for him."

Poor Alice looked quite scared at the ordeal that was before her.

"Mind you manage nicely, Allie dear, and make your brother comfortable,"
said Isabel, kissing her. And Alice, with a great sigh, left the room.

Isabel would have been content to have done "the honors," as Rose termed
it, had the Doctor been any other than Louis, but under the
circumstances she was determined not to do so. Though firmly resolved to
abide by this decision, she did not feel very comfortable, as she
thought it not improbable that Everard would send for her. Indeed, he
did tell Alice to bring her, but Alice, with her usual blunt manner,
answered that Miss Leicester had refused to come, and had sent her. As
Isabel had foreseen, Everard soon retired to rest after his journey, and
she would have been nicely in for a long _tete-a-tete_ with Louis, which
she did not choose. As it was, she sent Rose to help her sister to
entertain the Doctor until her mamma came home; and, taking Amy with
her, Isabel retired to her own apartment, to prevent the possibility of
meeting him.

The absentees returned early, and Mrs. Arlington came herself to request
that Miss Leicester would endeavor to make the evening pass pleasantly
to the gentlemen, as she and Grace had an engagement that evening, and
as it was to be the ball of the season Grace did not wish to give it up.

"Pray, excuse me, Mrs. Arlington," Isabel began.

"Stay, Isabel, I know what you would say. The Doctor goes with us.
Everard and his father will be alone, and I think you can find a song,
a book, or something to amuse them."

"I will try," said Isabel, well content now that Louis was not to be of
the party.

"One word more, Miss Leicester," said Mrs. Arlington, dismissing Amy.
"I disapprove very much of the children being sent to entertain
visitors, and I hope it will not occur again."

Isabel felt hurt, but merely replied, "under the circumstances it might
be excused."

"No, Isabel, no; I cannot see any justifiable reason. It is more than
two years since Dr. Taschereau was married, and if you have not got over
that affair you ought to have done so, that is all I can say."

"I have, I have," exclaimed Isabel, warmly, "but still you could not
expect me to meet him."

"I don't see why you should not; it would have been better to have done
so than, by acting as you have, lead him to suppose that you have not
overcome your former attachment."

"It is utterly impossible, for him to think that," returned Isabel
hotly, "I told him differently long ago; no," she added indignantly,
"I have not the slightest shadow of affection for him; but I cannot,
will not, subject myself to his insufferable insolence. You don't know
him, or you would not expect me to do so," and the hot tears welled up
into her eyes.

"I cannot hear my son's friend aspersed, Miss Leicester, especially when
he is my guest," said Mrs. Arlington, stiffly, "at the same time I
don't, of course, mean to justify his former conduct towards you; and
with regard to the children, do not let it occur again. You may make
yourself happy about the doctor, as he returns by the early train in the
morning, for he is anxious about his little girl, who is only now
recovering from a serious illness."

On entering the drawing-room, Isabel found Everard on the sofa looking
very pale and rather sad. "I am sorry to see you so ill," she said,
"I came to give you a little music, but I'm afraid you will not be able
to bear it."

"On the contrary I think it would do me good; but why would you not come
this afternoon?"

"I am here now."

"But why not before? Was it not unkind?"

"It was not so intended."

"Will you not give me the reason?

"You must not ask me; believe that I had sufficient cause." The words
were not such as he would have, but the manner was so winning that he
could not choose but be satisfied. "I am here now, solely on your
account, to amuse you as you like best. You must have been very ill,"
she said, regarding him kindly.

"Yes, I am awfully weak," he returned, "it seems so strange to me,
I have usually been so strong."

"You will soon get strong here," replied Isabel, cheerfully.

"Not if you plague me as you did this afternoon," he said reproachfully.

"Don't be angry," she pleaded.

"Not angry, but hurt," he said.

"I couldn't help it," she answered, almost with a sob.

"It did seem a chilling reception, a strange coming home, so cold, so
utterly without welcome, and I had longed so much to come.

"It was not my fault they were all out."

"Yes, they were all out, and you wouldn't come."

"You are angry," she was crying now, her face down on her hands.

"I am a brute," he said.

"Oh, no; but I am a naughty girl," and seating herself at the piano, she
asked what he would have. She had not thought of the seeming neglect,
she had not thought what he would feel at finding Alice the only one to
receive him. She could not help it she told herself, perhaps so, but she
had been selfish, very selfish; she was sorry, sorry that Everard should
take it so hardly; but even so, did it occur again, she could not act
differently. "What will you have," she asked.

"You know my favorites."

"Ah, that is right; I was just going to send for you," said Mr.
Arlington, who now entered. "I see you know what will please him most;
I don't know what we should do without you," he added warmly. "You don't
know how good she has been to me, Everard, she is a good substitute for
my gay party-going daughter, but for her I don't know what I should do
now Emily is away." She is not good to me, thought Everard, and then a
ray of hope sprung up, as he thought of her very kind manner, but no,
had he not been led into thinking so before, but whenever he had touched
ever so lightly on the old topic, he had been repelled.

Isabel felt sad to-night, and could only sing plaintive melodies, and
then felt annoyed to think that she had failed to accomplish the purpose
for which she came. But she was mistaken, these songs harmonized better
with his present mood than more gay ones would have done.

Everard did not seem to gain strength. Isabel did her best to relieve
the weariness of the long, long days: bringing the children into the
library in the afternoon in order that he might share their amusement as
she read aloud, and in various ways endeavored to lessen the monotony of
the time. She would, perhaps, have acted more wisely had she not done
so, for Isabel's was a very tender nature, and her gentle sympathy was
very pleasant to Everard, but it only served to keep up the conflict
between hope and fear, which was specially hurtful to him just now, when
he needed perfect repose. But she thought Grace and her mother
neglectful, and strove to make up for it. She often sent one of his
young sisters to sit with him, but Rose was not allowed this privilege
as often as the others, though on the whole she was best. Alice was too
quiet, and Amy too apt to dwell on the perfections of her dear Miss
Leicester, while Rose, her wild spirits subdued in the presence of her
sick brother, but only sufficiently so to prevent her being oppressive,
was just the cheerful companion that was good for him, her vigorous,
healthy, happy-in-the-present style had a good effect. She was never at
a loss for a topic for conversation, and her quick perception enabled
her to detect at once when he grew tired, and then she would immediately
employ herself in some quiet manner. She never sat contemplating him
thoughtfully with eyes so like his own, as Alice too often did, as if
she would read his very soul.

There did not appear to be much of "Mamma's good nursing" to which Rose
had alluded. True it was a very gay season, and Mrs. Arlington's duties
were very onerous. "You know, Everard," she said, "that Grace cannot go
out alone, so that my time is so much occupied, that I fear I must
appear very neglectful, but you understand it is not my wish to leave
you so much," and Everard assented. But when he had a relapse, then she
gave up society, and was all the attentive mother.

Louis was very skilful and had got him through a very severe illness,
how severe they had not known till now. Mrs. Arlington sent the children
into the country to be out of the way, and Isabel of course went with
them.



CHAPTER XXVII.


Baby is quite well and happy, in fact all trace of her illness has
passed away; but Natalie is worn and weary with tending her pet and
bearing with Louis's hasty temper; she is pale and wan, but ever sweet
tempered. "Hark, baby, there's papa." Izzie ran to meet him. He raised
her in his arms and caressed her, scarcely noticing his fond little
wife, who would have been made happy by a kiss or kind word. Tired and
weary, but with a heart ache which was harder to bear, Natalie lay on
the sofa, she was nothing to him, that was clear.

"Love papa, baby, love papa," he said. Little Izzie threw her arms round
his neck and kissed him, then struggled to get away, "What's the
matter," he asked. "Love mamma, Izzie want's to love mamma." She ran to
her mother and repeated the action. Natalie caught the child in her
arms, kissing her passionately. "Izzie, my darling Izzie," she murmured,
while large tears fell on the child's face. Taking up her pinefore Izzie
gravely wiped her own face, and then tenderly endeavored to dry her
mother's tears, whispering don't cry mamma, Izzie don't like to see
mamma cry," and she nestled to her mothers side, stroking her hair and
kissing her repeatedly. Nothing would have induced Izzie to leave her
mother then, even had Louis attempted it, but he did not, he stood by
the mantlepiece watching them, with an unpleasant sensation, that baby
had no power to dry those tears. He remained there a long time, his head
resting on his hand, while Natalie and baby fell asleep together. From
time to time a deep, deep sigh would escape from Natalie, which was not
pleasant for Louis to hear. Sarah came for baby, but he desired her to
leave her there. After a while, he thought it was not best that she
should be there, and went softly to the sofa and took her away. As he
did so, he remarked for the first time--aye, for the first time--the
worn unhappy expression of Natalie's sweet face, which did not leave it
even in sleep, and stooping over her gave the kiss and kind words to his
sleeping wife, which he had withheld when she might have been made happy
by them. He carried the child to its nurse, then went to his surgery,
busy among his drugs he could not but think of Natalie. How pale she
looked, how fragile she had become, how languid and listless she seemed
of late, he had noticed that, and with no pleasant feeling did he
remember, that he had done so, only to chide her for being lazy. How
blind he had been, he saw plainly enough that she needed change of air,
she should have it, she should pay his uncle Macdermott a visit, and
take Izzie with her, but what should he do without Izzie, he asked
himself, but with surprising magnanimity, he refused to consider that
question. He had been a little inattentive perhaps lately and owed her
some amends, so Izzie should go with her. He knew very well that Natalie
would never go without her, and, truth to tell, he had his misgivings as
to how Izzie would behave without her mother, so, as he really thought
it needful, it was as much necessity as kindness, that brought him to
this decision.

Natalie submitted passively to all their arrangements, but, on the
evening previous to their departure, when Louis was enjoying a cigar in
the library, after superintending all the preparations for the next
day's start, Natalie came fondly to his side, and laying her hand softly
upon his shoulder, said in a voice that trembled with emotion, "I cannot
go, do not ask me, Louis, I cannot, will not leave you," and her head
sank on her hand, as she again murmured "do not ask me."

"Pooh, Natie, what nonsense," he answered, laughing.

"No Louis, I cant, you promised that you would come for a week, so I
will wait until you can take the week, and then we will go together, but
not now alone, O, not alone," and she sobbed out on his shoulder the
pent up anguish of her heart. He drew her to him with more kindness than
he had shown for a long time.

"You will not send me away," she whispered.

"Now, Nattie dear, be reasonable, you know you are not strong, and I
want you to get your roses back, and a week would be too short a time to
benefit you much, so in four weeks time I will come for two, that will
do, won't it."

She shook her head, "I have a terrible dread of the journey, no Louis,
I will not go, I will wait till you can come with me."

Louis was not one to submit to opposition, his brow grew dark and the
fierce light was kindling in his eye. She should go, once for all he
would not brook this resistance. After he had decided to let Izzie go to
please her, and save all fuss, was this to be the end of it? no. "It is
too late to say that now," he said, "a few weeks will soon pass, and
this idle fear is childish."

"I should have spoken before, only I did so wish to please you if I
could."

"No, Natalie," he said, sternly, "you do not care whether I am pleased
or not, you think of nothing but your own foolish fancies."

"Don't be cross, Louis, it is because I love you so much that I want to
stay, don't send me away, O Louis, don't."

"Now, Natalie, you are enough to provoke a saint," he said, angrily,
"cross, indeed, no wonder if I am, don't let me hear another word about
it, you go to-morrow."

Natalie saw that any more opposition would inevitably cause one of those
fierce bursts of passion of which she ever stood in mortal dread; she
glanced at his darkened countenance and was silent, but her heart was
heavy.

"Come, we will take a turn on the lawn the moon is so bright," he said.
They walked in the moonlight, those two, husband and wife not three
years, but the happy brightness had faded out of her face, and the girl
not twenty walked by his side with a weary step, as if life were almost
a burden. She resolutely checked her tears, and silently paced the lawn,
while her thoughts wandered back to the beautiful home in the south of
France, where she first met the man who had proved so different a
partner to what, in her love and trust, she had fondly imagined, and
then she wished so fervently that she might even yet be to him all that
she had hoped. But he did not want her with him, he would be glad when
she was away, oh, he did not love her, or he would not thus cruelly
insist upon her going. She had it in her heart even yet to throw herself
into his arms and entreat him to let her stay, but she felt that it
would be useless, besides she dare not offer further resistance to his
will. She looked up into his face and knew she dare not.

His eyes were fixed upon her, "why Natalie," he said, laughing, "anyone
would think I was an ogre to see your countenance." But it was not a
pleasant laugh. Then the hardest thought that she ever had towards him,
came to her mind, and she thought that he was acting very like one.
Louis paused as they were about to enter the house saying, "You will not
worry me any more, if you do it will be useless and only make me harsh,"
his manner was stern, determined and chilling in the extreme. Natalie
shivered, "I will go," she replied in a choking voice, then flew up the
stairs and alone in the dark gave vent to the grief that was breaking
her heart. "Little fool," murmured Louis between his firmly closed
teeth, "what a plague she is."



CHAPTER XXVIII.


"O Isabel, it is nearly time for the train to pass, do let us go and
watch for it," said Rose, and they went accordingly. "Here it comes,
here it comes," she shouted, and the iron horse came on snorting and
panting; nearer, nearer it approaches the bridge. 'Tis on the bridge.
Crash--and in an instant, it is gone; the train with its living freight
is a mass of broken ruins. The screams are appalling; the sight fearful
in the extreme. The children ran back to the house trembling and awed,
and huddled together in a frightened group. Among the first to be taken
from the _debris_ was a lady, and a little girl about two years old.
Isabel offered her own room for the use of the sufferers, and some men
carried them to the cottage, where kind nurse Bruce did all in her power
until the doctor should arrive. Isabel took the beautiful child, who a
few moments before was all life and animation, and laid it upon Bruce's
bed; the poor little thing must have been killed instantly as there was
no sign of suffering upon its face, but a large bruise on its temple.
The doctor feared that the lady had received fatal injuries; all through
the night she continued insensible, and the morning brought no change.
Who she was they could not tell, but as Isabel sat watching her through
the long night, she felt that she had seen her before, but where she
could not recall. Late in the afternoon consciousness returned, and with
a feeble moan she opened her eyes. "Where am I," she asked, "Oh, where
is my little Izzie?" Isabel's only answer was a kiss. "Don't say it,"
she cried, grasping Isabel's hand convulsively, "O, not that, not that!
but I see it is so--I see it in your face without you saying so." "O, my
baby, my baby, my little Izzie!" she moaned, covering her face with her
hands; and then she lay quite still, her lips moving as if in prayer.
The doctor, who came in shortly after, called Isabel from the room.
"Miss Leicester," he said, "she will not live many hours, we had better
find out who she is and summon her friends by telegraph. We can do so by
sending to W----; I tell you candidly that she is past all human aid.
Poor thing, she need not grieve for her child, she will be with her
soon." They returned to the room to gain the desired information. "Send
for Dr. Taschereau, at H----," she replied to the doctor's question. Now
Isabel knew where and when she had seen her. But it grieved her to see
what a change there was in the bright sunny girl who had cast such a
cloud over her path at the ball at Elm Grove.

"Am I dying?" Natalie asked anxiously.

"I dare not give you false hope," the doctor replied.

She covered her face with her hands for a few moments. "Do you think I
can live till Louis comes--Dr. Taschereau you know."

"I hope so," he answered, evasively.

"Make the telegram very strong; O, very strong. Say that I am dying, but
be sure you don't say that baby is--you know--I can't say it," she said
in a choking voice. "He will come, O, surely he will come," she murmured
to herself. The doctor left promising to send immediately. "You are
Isabel Leicester," Natalie said as soon as they were alone. "I am sure
you are, for I have seen your picture."

"That is my name," replied Isabel, smiling, while she wondered how much
Natalie knew about her.

"You loved Louis once?" she asked.

"Yes."

"You love him still?"

"No; that is past."

A smile of satisfaction illumined Natalie's countenance for a moment,
but quickly left it. "I was always sorry for you, Natalie," Isabel said
kindly.

"Sorry for me, why should you be sorry for me?" she asked quickly, then
pausing a moment she added, sadly, "I see you know how it is."

"Ah, I know too well, I hoped, I prayed it might be otherwise."

"He does not mean to be unkind," she said, "but it is a cruel thing to
know that your husband does not love you When I first found out that he
did not, it almost killed me. He insisted on calling our little girl
Isabel, in spite of all I could say as to my dislike to the name; so I
thought it was his mother's name, though he would not say. But when I
found out that it was yours, I was very angry; O, you must forgive me,
for I have had very hard thoughts towards you, and now I know that you
did not deserve them. O, Isabel, you are too good; I could not nurse you
so kindly, had I been in your place. Let me see my little Izzie," she
pleaded. Isabel brought the child to its mother; it looked sweetly calm
in its marble beauty. "Bury us both together in one coffin," she said,
while her tears fell fast upon its icy face. Natalie complained of great
pain, nothing that the doctor could do seemed to give her any relief,
and she lay moaning through the night. About six o'clock in the morning
there was a quick step on the stairs which did not escape the ear of the
sufferer. "Oh, Louis, Louis come to me," she cried. In a moment he was
at her side, and her arms clasped round his neck. "I knew you would
come," she said, fondly, "I could not have died happily unless you had."

He pressed her closely to him, while the hot tears fell upon her face,
for he was now suffering bitterly for all his neglect and unkindness to
his gentle little wife.

"O Louis, I have always loved you so much, so very much!" she said,
clinging more closely to him, and gazing into his face with an intensity
painful to witness, then smiling sweetly, she closed her eyes and all
was over. The others retired from the room, and Louis was left alone
with his dead wife, and had yet to learn the fate of his child.

During the time that elapsed before the funeral, Isabel carefully
avoided meeting him, and hoped that he had not noticed her on the
morning of his arrival. But just as he was about to leave, after that
had taken place, and she was congratulating herself for having managed
so nicely, a message was brought her that Dr. Taschereau wished to see
her before he went. Though annoyed, Isabel did not see how she could
very well refuse, so complied with the best grace she could. She found
him in the sitting room, looking very pale. "I could not leave, Miss
Leicester," he said, "without thanking you for your kindness to my wife.
I had no right to expect it."

"I merely did my duty, and do not require any thanks."

"I would ask one question," he continued, with a strong effort to be
calm. "Was my little girl dead when first taken up?"

"Quite dead," she answered.

"It is a bitter trial," he resumed, "I loved my child unutterably; the
blow seems to have crushed me, I have no longer any interest in
anything, I have nothing left, nothing!"

Isabel was silent, she was thinking of the time when she had nothing
left but him, and he had deserted her. And now it was the child he
grieved for and not his dear little wife. His treatment of her, had
always appeared to Isabel as his greatest fault, and her indignation was
aroused as she saw, or thought she saw, that he did not feel her loss as
he ought to have done. "I cannot but think," she said, "that the blow
was sent in mercy to her, in whose future there could only be pain,
weariness and silent suffering, and had she alone been taken, I can see
that you would soon have got over it."

"You have no idea of the agony and remorse I have endured or you would
not be so severe; you think because you know that I did not love my wife
as I should, that I do not feel her loss, but you are mistaken, her
angel gentleness and patience seem forever to upbraid me for my neglect
and unkindness." And unable any longer to control his feelings, he laid
his head on the table, while heavy sobs convulsed his frame. His
passions were strong, and it was something fearful to witness the
violence of his anguish. Isabel could not see his deep grief unmoved,
yet dared not attempt to comfort him. Oh how she had wronged him; how
keenly he felt his loss. She would not leave him, and yet she did not
wish to stay, and turned away to hide her emotion. When he grew more
composed, he advanced towards her saying, "It is getting late, Miss
Leicester, once more I thank you for all your kindness."

"Do not think any more of my cruel words." said Isabel, the tears
streaming from her eyes.

"Then you do not withhold your sympathy, even from me," he returned,
offering his hand.

"How can I," she replied, taking, though reluctantly, the offered hand.
"I am very sorry for you."

"Good news, Isabel, good news!" cried Alice coming in shortly after with
an open letter in her hand. "Everard is out of danger, and is recovering
rapidly, so we can soon come home, Mamma says."

"That is indeed good news," replied Isabel, who was really anxious to
get the children home, as the late events had cast a gloom over all.
Little Amy had more than once asked if Everard would die like the poor
lady, and all three had cried very bitterly about the pretty little girl
that was killed.

In three weeks more they were back at Elm Grove.

Everard was on the terrace to welcome them. He seemed very glad to see
them again, but his manner towards Isabel was changed, he was cordial
and kind, but still there was a difference. There was something
inexplicable, and shall we say that it pained her. Why did she on
retiring to her own room, shed bitter, bitter tears? She could scarcely
have told, had you asked her, but so it was.

Now that Everard had resolved to turn his thoughts from Isabel more
resolutely than ever, as it was useless any longer to indulge the hope
of one day possessing her, and had determined upon becoming a divinity
student, and as soon as possible be ordained and go as a missionary to
some distant land, and there amid new scenes and duties forget his dream
of happiness. Isabel found that she was not indifferent regarding
Everard, and often drew comparisons between her old love and the
would-be missionary, much to the disparagement of the former, and
thought that he was unnecessarily strict with regard to the forbidden
subject. Confess now, Isabel, do you not fancy since your return, that
he has discovered the alteration in your feelings and is paying you in
your own coin? Believing this, and thinking also, that he has ceased to
care for you, is there not a coolness gradually springing up between
you? Oh, Isabel, why did you on the night before he returned to college,
throw his favorite song into the fire, saying that you were tired of
that old thing, and did not think that you would ever sing it again?
Were you not watching him when he took one step forward as if to save
it, then turned away, the color mounting to his cheek and the veins of
his forehead swelling? Oh, Isabel would you not gladly, gladly have sung
it all the time if he had only asked you in the old way? Ah, it will be
a long, long time before he will ask you again. You did more than you
intended when you burnt that song. When at his father's request you
sang, did he not instantly leave the room? Yes; and confess, Isabel,
that you could with difficulty conceal your vexation. Did you not long
to sing it with all your heart, and bring him back again? Oh, what a
farce to burn that music; and yet, when he did return, did you not show
him more coolness than you had ever done before?



CHAPTER XXIX.


A year has passed since the events recorded in the last chapter; things
have gone on much the same, Everard trying to appear indifferent, while
in reality he was not so, but succeeding so well that Isabel felt almost
ashamed of her preference for him, and was, also, only too successful in
concealing her true feelings. She is now paying Emily a visit, though it
was seldom that she could be persuaded to accept any invitation. But in
justice to her old friends, it must be said that they often endeavored
to do so. Ever since she came to Elm Grove she had always received
abundant invitations for the holidays; but, with the exception of the
Morningtons, Isabel had never been able to overcome her pride
sufficiently to visit, in her present position, those she had known when
in such different circumstances.

Harry and Emily, after travelling about for some time, had settled in
H----, not far from the college, and had insisted upon Everard spending
a great deal of his time with them, as they had fitted up a nice little
study for his especial use.

Emily was very anxious for the ordination, and had announced her
intentions to hear him preach his first sermon, let it be when and where
it might, in spite of his saying that he would go where he was quite
unknown.

"Now, Everard, I'm going to have a party on the fifth," said Emily, "and
I want you to bring some of the students, and I should like very much to
have tall, handsome ones, and none of your little 'ugly mugs.' I want
particularly that nice Mr. Elliott you introduced to me the other day."

"I do not choose my friends merely for their appearance, and Elliott is
not one of the students," returned Everard.

"Never mind who he is, I want him to come."

"I will ask him if he is in town; but I can't come, I am altogether too
busy."

"Nonsense, Everard, you only say that to vex me. I mean you to come,
that's pos'. Isn't he provoking, Isabel?"

"Perhaps his business is as important as it was that Christmas," said
Isabel, quietly.

Everard looked up quickly from his book, but Isabel was fully employed
with her tatting.

"What do you know about my engagements at that time?" he asked.

"Oh, nothing; only, perhaps, you can as easily put aside your work as
you did then."

"How do you know that it was so easy?" he inquired.

"Only from appearances."

"Appearances are often deceitful."

"Very."

Again the rapid glance of inquiry, but he could make nothing of her
placid countenance; and the single word "very," it must have been his
own imagination that gave significance to the very decided manner in
which she had uttered it, or did she, indeed, see through his assumed
indifference?

"You speak as though you had some experience," he said.

Isabel crimsoned, for she felt very guilty.

"Do you try to appear different to what you are in reality?" he
inquired.

"Do you?"

"Why do you ask?" he said.

"Why do you?" she retorted.

"Isabel, Isabel! the carriage will be here in five minutes," interposed
Emily, "make haste and put your things on."

The fifth came in due course, and Mr. Elliott with it. "Let me introduce
to you a partner," said Emily, taking him up to Isabel.

"We have known each other too long to need an introduction, have we not,
Isabel?" he said pleasantly. Then turning to Emily he added, "Thanks,
Mrs. Mornington, for an unexpected pleasure."

Everard, who was near by, heard him call her by her Christian name, and
saw the warm welcome accorded him, and the evident pleasure the meeting
caused Isabel. He was furiously jealous, and walked away intensely
disgusted.

"You are a stranger here, are you not?" asked Emily.

"Oh, quite."

"Then I leave you in Isabel's hands."

"Could not be in better," he said, smiling, and Charley Elliott's smile
was a very pleasant one. Emily was enchanted, and went to sing his
praises to Everard, much to his annoyance.

"Upon my word, Emily, if I were Harry I should be positively jealous."

"Oh, jealousy is not Harry's _forte_; he leaves that to Mr. Everard
Arlington," she said saucily, with a low curtsey and a most provokingly
wise expression.

"Emily!"

"Don't be a goose, Evie."

"Where have you been this long, long time, Isabel?" asked Elliott,
"I have missed you so much."

"Have you, Charley? I'm glad to hear that some one has missed me. The
happy past seems almost like a dream, it seems so far away."

"It was too bright to last; don't you think so, Isabel?"

"Perhaps so."

"Ah, those were days to remember, the excursions I had with you and
Harley. But I, too, have had my troubles," he added, gravely.

"Who is exempt?" she returned. "But what of Harley, foolish Harley?
Whatever possessed him to go to India? But," she added, with a sigh, "it
would not have availed him much to have stayed, as it turned out."

"I don't know; I think he would have done more wisely to have remained."

"Why he went, I never could fathom."

"You never knew?"

"Never. He assured me that he had good and sufficient reason, and that
papa thought so, too."

"I didn't think them good, or sufficient either, but he wouldn't take my
advice. It was our only quarrel, and I believe I have scarcely forgiven
him yet for going. It would, I am convinced, have been better for all if
he had not done so," and the tears stood in the young lieutenant's eyes.
Though brave as a lion, Charley Elliott had a kind and loving heart.
There was a soft, warm light in the deep-blue eyes; no one could know
Charley Elliott without loving him. Everard had no mean rival, if
Charley was one. But he was not. He loved Isabel, it is true, with all
the warmth of his ardent nature, but he loved her as he might a
beautiful sister. He thought her worthy of Harley--his Harley--the pride
of his boyhood, who in his eyes could do no wrong, until one day when he
told him that he was going to India. Charley's grief was excessive, but
his indignation arose when he learned the cause.

Harley Elliott was ten years his brother's senior. He was the favorite
clerk in the firm of Leicester & Co. Had Isabel to be met anywhere,
and her father was unable to go, Harley was invariably sent; he was
constantly at the house for one thing or another. As Isabel grew up he
was frequently called upon to escort her and her young friends to places
of amusement. As might be supposed, he became deeply in love with her,
until at last life was almost a burden, for Harley was sensitive and
high-minded to a degree: as a poor clerk, he was too proud to woo the
rich merchant's daughter. He determined, therefore, to try to amass
wealth in another land, and, if successful, to return and endeavor to
win her; if not, to remain forever away.

But Charley, a boy of sixteen, could not appreciate this course. "Stay
and be brave-hearted, Harley," he said, "she will, she must, love you,
and the Governor will not refuse." But all he could obtain from Harley
was a promise that he would tell Mr. Leicester the true cause of his
going. Charley had great hopes as to the success of this course, but
Harley was not so sanguine, and Harley was right. Mr. Leicester quite
approved of his going, and offered him letters of introduction to
parties at Calcutta. True, he inquired if the attachment was mutual. But
when Harley confessed that he had not sought to know, considering
himself in honor bound not to do so in his present circumstances, he was
well satisfied that it was so. He took care, also, to find out if Isabel
really had a preference for Harley, lest by urging his departure he
might make her unhappy. And it must be admitted that he was glad to see
that she was heart whole as yet, for he wished her to make a more
brilliant match. So he wished Harley success, and did all in his power
to hasten his departure.

Poor Charley had missed his brother sadly. He would have accompanied him
but for his mother, who was not strong, and certainly could not have
borne the climate.

"But your troubles, Charley; you have not told me of them," said Isabel.
"Is not Harley doing well?"

"Yes, now; but it was some time first. I am going to see him soon. But
it was my mother's death to which I alluded just now."

"Oh, have you lost your mother? Poor Charley!"

"Don't talk of her, Isabel, I can't bear it," and Charley brushed away a
tear.

Dance succeeded dance, and Isabel was still Charley's partner. "There
are half-a-dozen gentlemen dying to be introduced to Miss Leicester, and
you give them no chance, Mr. Elliott," said Emily.

"Very well, but remember, Isabel, that we are engaged for the
after-supper galop."

"I'll not forget," she returned.

Now it so chanced that Everard had so often been Isabel's partner for
that dance, that he began to consider it a matter of course, and was
highly offended when, after keeping away all the evening, he approached
her, saying, "This is our dance, is it not, Miss Leicester?" and she
replied, "You are too late, Mr. Arlington," and whirled off with Charley
Elliott.

"Why did you do that?" he asked, when Isabel was again seated.

"Was I to refuse a partner in case Mr. Arlington, after keeping away all
the evening, should condescend to ask me? I think you expect too much."

"You knew I should come."

"How could I know?"

"I always do."

"And do you always keep away all the evening?"

He bit his lip. "Will you dance this?"

"I am engaged."

"The next."

"Impossible, my card is quite filled up."

"Never mind, you can strike out one of the names."

"Why should I do so? You had the best chance; you were here from the
first, but from some whim determined not to put down your name, and
looked glum whenever I passed you, and now you think that I will treat
one of these young men so unhandsomely. No, Mr. Arlington, I will not."

"You chide me for not coming sooner. I thought you so well amused that I
was not needed."

"Needed, no; but still you have not been commonly civil to-night."

"You are very unforgiving."

"No, but I will not encourage your whims; you chose to sulk, it was no
fault of mine."

"As you will."

"I think this dancing awfully stupid," he said to Emily, as Isabel went
off with her partner, "I shall be glad when it is over."

"Of course," she replied, with a most provoking laugh.

"Parsons don't usually care for dancing," added Harry, in a tone equally
irritating.

But for Charley Elliott the evening would have been dull enough to
Isabel. She would far rather have had Everard for a partner than any of
those whose names were on her programme, but she believed that he had
purposely avoided her all the earlier part of the evening: besides,
Everard's manner towards her of late had become quite an enigma--now
cold, almost haughty, then again soft, even tender, then
indifferent--and Isabel resented its variableness. She was the more
annoyed, as she knew that Emily was not quite in the dark.

"I think Mr. Elliott is a very nice young man, don't you, Isabel?" said
Emily at breakfast next morning.

"Very," replied Isabel, coloring warmly as she caught Everard's
penetrating glance.

"A done thing, I see," laughed Harry.

"How can you be so absurd, Harry?"

Are you fond of sea voyages?" he continued.

"I think them delightful."

"Capital. Did you know that he was going to India?"

"Yes."

"You did? Well, really."

"Oh, Harry, be quiet."

"I thought you two seemed awfully good friends. Did you know him before
last night?"

"Certainly."

"I am sure you don't agree with Everard that the party was a dreadfully
slow affair?"

"Oh, no; it was very pleasant."

"I was very sure that Miss Leicester did not find it dull," said Everard
coldly, almost scornfully.

"Goosey, goosey!" said Emily, later in the day, as she came upon Everard
in the music-room.

"Why do you go on in this provoking way, Emily?" he said, angrily.

"Because I have no patience with this stupid jealousy. If you care for
her, why not try to win her in a straightforward manner; if not, why be
vexed that another should?"

"Why do you strive to undo that which has cost me so much? She is
nothing to me; I have determined that she shall be nothing."

"Then why so jealous?"

"I cannot help it; you know that I cannot."

"But why force yourself to give her up?"

"Why, indeed," he echoed, "is it not worse than useless to cherish an
attachment for one who is so perfectly indifferent?"

"I do not believe that she is as indifferent and inaccessible as you
imagine."

"Why do you tempt me, Emily?" he returned, almost fiercely. "Let me be;
the ordination will be very shortly, and I am sure of an appointment
directly after."

"Ah, goosey, goosey! 'Faint heart,' you know," she said, and left
him--more angry with his favorite sister than he had ever been before.



CHAPTER XXX.


"Isabel, you said something about going home this week; now I have
settled that for you. I wrote to mamma, saying that you were going to
stay until after the ordination, and then we would all return together."

"I declare those children will get quite unmanageable with such long
holidays. When will the ordination be?"

"The beginning of next month."

"Dreadful! I do not think that Mrs. Arlington will consent."

"Oh, yes, she will. What a state Everard is getting into about that
ordination!" she continued, "and I am nearly as bad. I suppose we shall
all go to see it."

"I shall not," said Isabel.

"Why not?" asked Emily.

"I had rather not."

"What a strange girl you are! I wouldn't miss it for the world. He will
be so vexed, too."

"Why should he?"

"Of course he will."

Isabel protested that she would not go; but for all that, when the time
came, she could not resist the desire to be present, even at the risk of
being thought changeable. She went, after the rest, and from her corner
saw the whole. From where she sat she had a full view of his
face--grave, earnest, calm, evidently feeling how much was implied in
the ordination vows. As she returned before the others, they were quite
unaware that she had been there, and she, little hypocrite, listened
gravely to all Emily's descriptions.

In the evening Isabel walked on the lawn in the pale moon's silvery
beams, musing of all that had taken place that day, and thinking how
very happy Everard must feel to-night. Suddenly that gentleman accosted
her: "Why did you refuse to be present at the ordination to-day?" he
asked. Isabel was silent. "How is it," he continued, "that while others
were so anxious, you manifested no interest at all? It is, to say the
least, unkind."

"You may be sure that I wish you all prosperity in your new vocation,"
she said. "I would have said so before, had I thought you wished or
expected it."

"I did not expect," he said, almost angrily, "such a calm expression of
a cold regard; I wished and expected kindly sympathy, if nothing more."

"As you think I should say more, accept my sincere wishes for your
happiness; and believe me when I say that the lot which you have chosen
is, in my estimation, the highest to which man can aspire, and may your
labors be blessed with abundant success."

"Your kind wishes, though so reluctantly expressed, are not least
valued," he returned, warmly. "But, Isabel, you say that you wish my
happiness. My happiness, as I told you long ago, rests with you. Here I
can refer to the old subject without breaking my promise, and I cannot
leave for my distant mission without making one more appeal. Listen to
me patiently for a few minutes. You seemed to adhere so strictly to what
you said, that I considered it my duty to give you up; but it was a duty
that, with all my endeavors, I was unable to perform. I sought relief in
study--hard, excessive study--almost night and day. You know how that
ended. My mother left me much to you, and your kindness only made
matters worse. Afterwards, when you were away, I determined on the
course I am now pursuing, and I persuaded myself that my heart was in
the work, and so it is, but it is not yours the less. What I endure is
almost insupportable--it is too hard. Often I have been obliged to
appear cold and variable to conceal my real feelings, and you have
despised me for it. I have seen it, Isabel. To-night I determined to
seek you, and plead my cause once more; and though you have received me
with indifference, even coldly, I still hope that beneath this reserve
there may be some warmer feeling. "Tell me dearest," he continued, "will
you not love me? Oh, Isabel, must I go alone?" She was silent. Then for
an instant her eyes met his, and the love and happiness in that one
glance fully satisfied him, and he clasped her passionately in his arms.
"You loved me all the time, Isabel," he whispered, "only from a mistaken
sense of your duty you refused me when I first spoke of my love."

"Oh, no, I did not love you then; I esteemed you very much, but I was
engaged to another." Then she told what is already known to the reader.

"And his name?" he asked.

"Louis Taschereau."

"Tell me: did the thought that I loved you tend to soften the blow, when
you found how unworthy he was?"

Isabel was very truthful; she could not deceive him, even though those
beautiful eyes were fixed upon her in earnest expectation. As we have
said, she was very truthful, so answered, "I cannot flatter you so much,
Everard; it afforded me no comfort whatever. Indeed I never thought of
it, except when some kind attention on your part reminded me of the
fact, and then the thought only caused me pain."

He looked disappointed. "No," she added, "it was not until long after,
that your worth and uniform kindness won my heart."

They lingered on the lawn until the chill night air warned them not to
remain there any longer. Entering the music-room by the window, they
found Emily waiting for them. "Oh, here you are at last; Harry had to go
out, and I've been all alone this half hour." Then, starting up, she
seized a hand of each, exclaiming "You need not tell me, I see how it
is; I am so glad, so very glad."

"I saw you at the ordination this morning," said Charley Elliott, who
came in during the evening, addressing Isabel, "only you were in such a
fearful hurry to get away that I did not get a chance to speak."

"Then you must have very good eyes, Mr. Elliott, as Isabel was not
there," cried Emily, laughing.

"I beg your pardon," he returned.

"I was there," said Isabel quietly, though she colored hotly.

"You were?" exclaimed Everard, evidently well satisfied.

"I declare you--are--a queer girl," said Emily, opening her blue eyes
very wide, "I'm afraid you have not the bump of firmness."

"I knew you would think me changeable, but after you had all gone I
began to think I should like to see it, so I followed. But I certainly
did not see you, Charley."

"On, no, I was very sure that you saw no one but the candidates,"
returned Charley, laughing. "Indeed you looked so solemn and earnest,
one would almost suppose that you were one of them."

"Is it true," asked Harry, on his return, "that you have agreed to start
for Madagascar next month?"

"Quite true," returned Everard, coolly.

"I protest against it," said Harry. "And so do I," added Emily; while
Charley shrugged his shoulders, and Isabel laughed.

Emily was terribly anxious for Charley to depart, as she longed to tell
Harry the news; which news, when Emily told it, Harry received with
unmistakable satisfaction, saying he couldn't see why Everard should not
settle down comfortably near home, instead of going to such an
out-of-the-way place.

The following week they all started for Elm Grove, and when, on their
arrival Mrs. Arlington took both her hands and kissed her
affectionately, Isabel knew that the news of their engagement had
preceded them. They had a delightful evening, Mrs. Arlington being in a
most gracious humor. Mr. Arlington shook Isabel so heartily by the hand
that it ached for hours afterward. Emily was in the most exuberant
spirits; Everard's happiness, from its very depth, was of a more quiet
nature; while Harry was as merry and joyous as his wife; and Isabel, in
her own sweet way, had a kind look and word for all.

On entering the school-room, next morning, Isabel found little Amy
sitting upon the floor, her head buried in the sofa cushion, sobbing as
if her heart would break, her little form quivering with the violence of
her emotion.

"What is the matter, Amy dear?" asked Isabel, taking the trembling child
in her arms. But Amy could not speak; she only clung to Isabel, and
sobbed more bitterly than before. Isabel sat down with Amy on her knee,
stroking the shining hair until the child should be more composed. After
a time, when the violence of her grief had a little abated, Isabel
kissed her and inquired the cause of her tears.

"Rose says that you are going to Madagascar with Everard, and perhaps I
shall never see you any more," she managed to blurt out amid her sobs.
"You ought not to go, for I am sure I love you more than he does. I told
him so this morning, but he only laughed and said I didn't; but I do,
and I think it is very unkind of him to take you away. We know lots of
young ladies; I'm sure he might marry some one else, and not take my
darling Isabel to nasty Madagascar. Oh, Isabel, you must not go. Oh,
please! please!" she said, coaxingly. "Oh, won't you please tell him
that you have changed your mind, and would rather stay with us?"

"Oh, but you know I promised, Amy."

"But you shan't go; tell him you won't; there's a dear, kind pet," and
she threw her arms round Isabel's neck.

"But don't you think that it is very selfish of little Amy to wish that
her brother should go alone to that far country, when she will have
papa, mamma, and sisters?"

"Oh! I wish you didn't love him one bit, and then you would stay with
us."

"Hush! Amy dear, you mustn't talk so."

"But I can't help wishing it, and I told Everard so, and that I hoped
you would change your mind. Then he said that it was very wicked of me
to wish that; and he put me off his knee so quick, and walked out of the
room looking so angry--no, not angry, exactly, but as if he thought,
perhaps, you might."

"But, Amy, if you loved any one very much, would you like it if that
person didn't love you one bit?"

"No," said Amy, thoughtfully.

"Then is it doing as you would be done by to wish such unkind and
selfish things?"

"I did not think of that," replied Amy, resting her head on Isabel's
shoulder, "but it seems as if you did not love me, to go away to
Madagascar," she added, sadly.

"Oh, Amy dear, I love you very much," said Isabel, the tears gathering
in her eyes, "and it grieves me to part from you."

"And then we shall have another horrid governess, like Miss Manning, and
the days will all be long and miserable, like the long, long, weary day
that Emily used to sing about. And what will become of all our nice
Sundays?"

"Poor little Amy!" said Isabel, parting back the shining curls from the
sorrowful little face, and looking into the violet eyes that were fixed
upon her so earnestly. "You must not think that I would leave you
without first trying to fill my place with one who would love you and
try to make you happy. Now, if you will stop crying, I will tell you
about the young lady who, I hope, will be your governess. She is a very
dear friend of mine, and I trust you will all be very kind to her, and
love her very much. Her name is Gertrude Hartley." Alice and Rose now
entered the school-room, and gave a very warm welcome to Isabel. "Please
go on about Gertrude Hartley," pleaded Amy. Then Isabel told them how
Gertrude had gone as a governess to a family who lived far back in the
country, miles away from any church, and how, by her endeavors, a small
but pretty one had been erected, where service was held once a month.
But Gertrude had grown tired of the country, and was anxious to obtain
another situation. "She will come to see you next week, and I am sure
you will like her. And you know you can often talk about me, for she
knows me very well. I shall write you nice long letters about that
strange country, and I shall often think of my dear little sisters, for
you will be my sisters then, you know."

"I did not think of that," said Amy, smiling.

"Oh, Isabel, I'm so sorry that you are going away. Don't you think you
could persuade Everard to give up being a missionary? I'm certain he
could have Attwood Church if he liked, because Dr. Herbert once asked
him if he would like it. Please do, because it would be so nice."

"What! and leave those heathen people still in ignorance of God? My
little Rose does not think what she is wishing that Everard would give
up. No, I could not wish him to do so, much less persuade him."

"But he might get some one else to go," replied Rose.

"No, Rose, we must each perform our own duties."

"You mean that it would be like putting your hand to the plow and
looking back?"

"Exactly so," replied Isabel.

"I did not think of it in that way, so you must not be angry with me."

"I was not angry, dear, only I wanted to show you that your wish was a
wrong one. What does Alice think about it?"

"I think," replied Alice, "that he ought to go, and I am very glad that
you are going with him, for you are so nice and so good that I am sure
the little heathen children will listen to what you say, because you
have such a nice way of telling things. Of course I am very sorry to
lose you, but I mean to think of the good your going will be for other
people, and how nice it is for Everard, and then I shall not care about
it so much."

"It gives me great pleasure to hear you say this, and I think that Alie
can no longer be called selfish. Believe me, dear children, that the
surest way to forget our own troubles is to find pleasure in the benefit
and happiness of others."

Everard Arlington was about to enter by the window, but paused a moment
to contemplate the group before him. On a large ottoman sat Isabel, with
Amy on her knee, one arm encircling Alice, who was standing thoughtfully
by her side, her head resting on Isabel's shoulder, while behind was
Rose, half smiles, half tears.

"Oh, Everard!" cried Amy, "I won't say again that I hope Isabel will not
go with you. But she says that it is not naughty to be sorry. You are
not angry with me now?" she inquired, looking wistfully into his face.

"No, my little Amy," he replied, smoothing the glossy curls, as he
stooped as if to kiss her, but he didn't kiss Amy.



CHAPTER XXXI.


Mrs. Arlington was not one to do things by halves, so that when she
welcomed Isabel, on her return, it was no longer as "the governess," but
as her future daughter-in-law--as the bride-elect of her darling
son--indeed as one of them, the Arlingtons. She was glad, as he was so
determined upon being a missionary, that he was to marry before he went,
but she would rather--far rather--that he should have chosen any other
than "the governess," though she had nothing against Isabel--nothing.
Still it was a trial to the haughty mother that her only son--the hope
and pride of the family--should marry a governess. She knew that many
would say she had been imprudent in having so young and pretty a
governess, knowing how fond Everard was of the society of his young
sisters. And, indeed, she did feel she had been wrong when she got
Everard's letter announcing the engagement, and it was some little time
before she could be at all satisfied with the matter. Grace was
excessively annoyed, and, by her anger, tended greatly to stimulate her
mother's displeasure, saying that it was quite a disgrace to the family,
and that she would never receive Isabel as a sister. Fortunately her
consent was never likely to be asked, as her easy-going brother, the pet
of the house, had a pretty determined will, and her opinion would
certainly not influence him in the matter. Indeed, now that he had
Isabel's consent, he would have married her even though opposed by any
number of relations; and it was with no thought of obtaining their ideas
on the subject that he had written, but simply to inform them of the
fact, little suspecting the commotion it would cause at Elm Grove.

However, the course he pursued had the effect of reconciling his mother
to the match, and it was well that it was so, or Isabel would have met
with a sorry reception on her arrival.

Very quickly after the letter we have mentioned, came another, such as
only Everard could write--written out of a full heart, telling of his
happiness, and also of his former despair, long probation, and weary
waiting; how his love for Isabel had dated from that Sunday evening when
he first saw her in the school-room with the children; and expressing
the hope that his mother would give Isabel a place in her heart equal to
that of her own children.

Tears of sympathy and love fell from the mother's eyes as she read, and
a happy smile played around her mouth as she refolded the letter which
would be read again and again. Henceforth she was won. So, then, when
Lady Ashton, who had now returned from England, came to condole with
dear Mrs. Arlington upon the ill luck that had befallen the family, she
found that lady quite satisfied, to her profound astonishment. However,
she gave a willing ear and ready sympathy to Grace, who was quite
disgusted at her mother's contentment, and returned with Lady Ashton to
the Park, saying, that she was far too angry to meet them at present;
and there she remained for weeks nursing her wrath against her only
brother, who would so shortly leave for a distant land, not heeding the
possibility, nay probability, that he might never return. Who could
foresee the dangers that might be in store for him? Read the dangers and
miseries to which the missionaries sent to foreign and heathen lands are
only too often subjected--dangers on sea and land, and fearful cruelties
at the hands of wild and savage creatures, more ferocious sometimes in
their implacable fury than the beasts of prey. But even overlooking
these more dreadful calamities, there is the climate, so trying to the
natives of cooler countries. Nor was she just to Isabel. She would only
see a beautiful, designing girl, who had succeeded in catching her
brother. She was angry with Isabel, with Everard, with her mother, and,
lastly, with herself, to think that she, too, had been for a short time
deluded like the rest. She felt now that she positively hated Isabel.

Lady Ashton did her best to fan the flame of resentment. What wonder,
then, that under that lady's able management it grew day by day, until
Grace really believed her silly anger to be just indignation at her
brother's blind infatuation. Ah, foolish Grace!

To Emily's great satisfaction, Everard preached his first sermon in
the church they usually attended, and was very calm and self-possessed
considering the eight eager faces in the family pew, his heightened
color being the only evidence that this was the first time he had
addressed a congregation from the pulpit. It happened, strangely enough,
that a collection for the Missionary Society was to be taken up on this
occasion, and the young deacon delivered an exceedingly eloquent
discourse advocating the cause of missions, with a warmth and
earnestness that carried his hearers along with him, and showed that
his heart was in the work. No one who heard him could doubt his future
success in the cause.

Then what a happy group waited for him after service, and what approving
smiles beamed upon him from loved faces when he came!

"Oh, Everard! I should never go to sleep at sermon time if you always
preached," cried little Amy. "It was so nice," added Rose, warmly; while
the proud father wrung his son's hand in silence more eloquent than
words.

Then Everard disappointed a crowd of admiring friends by disappearing
through a side gate and going home across the fields, even waving back
his young sisters, who would have followed him. "I could not stand it,"
he said, on reaching home half an hour after the others, though his way
had been much shorter, he having spent the interim in self-communion
beneath the shade of a friendly oak. Oh! that was a happy Sunday at Elm
Grove; but, like all earthly happiness, it had one cloud--Grace's
strange and unkind conduct.



CHAPTER XXXII.


"Please, Miss Leicester, a gentleman wishes to see you," said Susan,
putting her rosy face in at the school-room door, as Isabel was giving
the children their last lesson.

"To see _me_, Susan?" exclaimed Isabel.

"Yes, Miss, he asked for you, but he would not give his name."

"Very well, Susan. Who can it be?" she asked, turning to Alice.

"I'm sure _I_ don't know," answered Alice, laughing, "you had better go
and see."

On entering the drawing-room, Isabel saw to her astonishment that it was
Louis Taschereau. "This is indeed a surprise," she said, extending her
hand, for in her present happiness she could not be ungracious or
unkind.

Encouraged by her cordial greeting, Louis began: "I thought of writing,
but determined on seeking an interview, as a letter could but
inadequately convey what I wished to say. I have suffered much, as you
are aware, and my troubles have made me a very different man; but a
gleam of light seems once more to shine on my path, and I hope yet to
repair the error of my life. Can you--will you--overlook and forgive the
past, and be again to me all that you once were? I know that I do not
deserve it, but I will try to atone for the past if, dear Isabel, you
will be my wife."

"Stay, Dr. Taschereau!" interposed Isabel, "I am just about to marry a
clergyman who is going abroad."

Had a cannon-ball fallen at his feet, Louis could scarcely have been
more dumbfounded than he was at this intelligence. He became deadly
pale, and she thought he would faint.

"You are ill, Dr. Taschereau. Let me ring for some wine."

"Don't ring, I don't want any. Is this true?" he continued, "are you
really going to marry another?"

"I am, and I do not see why you should be surprised."

"Why do you make me love you so? Why must your image intrude itself into
every plan, and all be done as you would approve, if, after all, you are
to marry another? You would not wonder at the effect of what you have
told me, if you knew how the hope that you would forgive me and yet be
mine, has been my only comfort a long, dreary time."

"You have no right to speak in this way, Dr. Taschereau; it was I who
had cause of complaint, not you. But I am very sorry that you should
feel so; very sorry that you should have suffered yourself to imagine
for a moment that we could ever be again to each other what we once
were. And do not think that my present engagement is the cause of my
saying this; for never, never, under any circumstances, could I have
been your wife after what has passed. I say not this in anger or
ill-will for the past, I do not regret it--I feel it was best."

"Will you not tell me the name of the fortunate clergyman?" he asked.

"Certainly, if you wish it; it is no secret. It is Everard Arlington."

"Everard Arlington!" he exclaimed in unfeigned astonishment. "It was the
knowledge of his hopeless attachment that made me hope--almost make
sure--that you had not entirely ceased to love me, and might yet be
mine; the more despairing he became, the higher my hopes rose."

"How could you, how dared you, indulge such thoughts after what I said
in the woods at D----?" exclaimed Isabel, indignantly. "If Everard had
so long to believe that his attachment was unavailing, it was because
Isabel Leicester would not give her hand unless her heart went with it;
because I respected his affection too much to trifle with it, and not at
all on your account. Believe me, that from the time I first learned that
you were married, every thought of you was rigidly repelled, and it was
arrant presumption in you to suppose anything else," she continued,
proudly, the angry tears suffusing her eyes.

The conference was here ended, to Isabel's great relief, by the entrance
of Everard, who looked inquiringly at each.

"How are you, old fellow?" he said (for Isabel's proud anger fled at his
approach), "what brought you here so unexpectedly?"

"Oh, a little private affair," he replied, looking rather uncomfortable;
but there was that in Louis's eye, as he said this, that made Isabel
distrust him; something that made her determined to put it out of his
power to misrepresent and make mischief. True, he had said how changed
he was, and spoken of the reformation his trials had made. Certainly he
had been more calm under disappointment than had been his wont. But
still she doubted him. She had seen that look before, and knew that it
was the same false Louis, not so changed as he imagined. The dark side
was only lying dormant; she could read his malicious enjoyment in that
cruel smile, and knew its meaning well. Meeting his glance with one of
proud defiance and quiet determination, which said, as plainly as words,
"I will thwart your fine plans, Mr. Louis," she said:

"You are aware that I was formerly engaged to Dr. Taschereau. His
business here to-day was to endeavor to renew that engagement. I need
not say how very strange and absurd this appears, as you are acquainted
with the circumstances under which the former engagement terminated."

"Yes, that was the 'little private affair,' but I find that you have
already won the prize; allow me to congratulate you."

Louis said this in a frank, pleasant manner, appearing to take his own
disappointment with so much good nature, at the same time blending a
certain degree of sadness in his tone as quite to deceive Everard and
win his sympathy. But the thundering black look which he cast at Isabel
fully convinced her that she was right.

"You will dine with us, of course," said Everard, cordially.

"I shall do so with pleasure," returned Louis.

Isabel bit her lip. "Just to see how much he can annoy me," she thought.
But if this was his object he must have been disappointed, so totally
unconscious of his presence did Isabel appear, and when he addressed her
personally her manner was colder than even Everard thought necessary.

The heat of the rooms became very oppressive during the evening, and
Isabel stepped out on the lawn to enjoy the refreshing breeze, but was
soon surprized to find that Louis had followed her.

"Let us at least be friends," he said. "You will remember that it was
not in anger we last parted."

But Isabel was silent.

"You doubt me," he continued. "I do not blame you, but you are harsh,
Miss Leicester."

"Not harsh, but just," returned Isabel. "Friends we can never be;
enemies I trust we never were."

"You draw fine distinctions. May I ask what place in your estimation I
am permitted to occupy?" said Louis, sarcastically.

"No place whatever, Dr. Taschereau; I must ever regard you with
indifference," returned Isabel, coldly.

"Be it so," he replied, angrily. "You have obstinately refused all
offers of reconciliation, and must therefore take the consequences."

"The consequences? You speak strangely, Dr. Taschereau."

I repeat: the consequences. I determined long since that you should
never marry another, and my sentiments on that subject have not changed.
No; I vow you shall not!" he added, with the old vindictive expression.

"How dare you hold such language to me, sir?" cried Isabel, indignantly.

Without answering, he drew a pistol from his pocket and would have shot
her, but, changing his purpose, he turned upon Everard, who was
approaching. With a cry of horror, Isabel threw herself between them,
and prevented Louis from taking as good an aim as he might otherwise
have done; for though the ball, in passing, grazed her shoulder, it
passed Everard harmlessly and lodged in the acacia tree. With parted
lips, but without the power of speech, she clung to Everard in an agony
of terror for a moment, and then lay motionless in his arms. In terrible
apprehension he carried the senseless girl into the house, fearing that
she was seriously hurt, as the blood had saturated a large portion of
her dress, which was of very thin texture. Of course the consternation
into which the family was thrown by the shot, followed by the entrance
of Everard with Isabel in this alarming condition, was tremendous. But
happily Isabel was more terrified than hurt, Dr. Heathfield pronouncing
the wound of no consequence (to Everard's intense disgust), telling her
to take a glass of wine and go to bed, and she would be none the worse
for her fright in the morning--in fact treated the whole thing quite
lightly, and laughed at Isabel for her pale cheeks, saying that such an
alabaster complexion was not at all becoming. He promised to send her
something to prevent the wine making her sleep too soundly, meaning a
composing draught to enable her to sleep, as he saw very little chance
of her doing so without. Everard volunteered to go with him for it. On
their way, Dr. Heathfield remarked that he was afraid Everard thought
him very rude and unfeeling. Everard, who had been very silent, replied
that he did.

"Then do not think so any longer," said the Doctor, laying his hand on
his companion's shoulder. "I saw how scared she was, and treated the
case accordingly. You are both great favorites of mine, so I hope you
will not be offended. Do you know what became of the scoundrel?"

"He made for parts unknown immediately after he fired," replied Everard,
sternly, while the heavy breathing showed how much it cost him to speak
calmly. "It is quite a Providence that one of us is not dead at this
moment, as he is a splendid marksman. I don't know which of the two the
shot was intended for; if for me, she must have thrown herself between
us."

"She is just the girl to do it," cried the Doctor, grasping him warmly
by the hand. "I have always had a very high opinion of her."

"I should think so," said Everard, with a quiet smile of satisfaction.

Fortunately Isabel had no idea that Everard had gone with the Doctor,
or she would have been terribly anxious, for fear Louis should still be
near. But guilt makes cowards of all, so Louis was now in a fearful
state of mind: for he was passionate, hasty, violent and selfish, but
not really bad-hearted, and jealous anger and hatred had so gained the
mastery over him that he had been impelled to do that at which, in
cooler moments, he would have shuddered. So now he was enduring agony,
fearing lest his mad attempt at murder had been successful, yet not
daring to inquire. Ah, Louis! you are now, as ever, your own worst
enemy."



CHAPTER XXXIII.


"What makes you look so sad Everard; Isabel was not much hurt; not hurt
at all I may say."

"I was not thinking of her just now Emmy," he answered smiling, but the
smile passed away, and left his face very sad indeed.

"What is it Evvie," she asked in the old coaxing way, seating herself
beside him on the seat round the old Elm tree.

"I was thinking of Grace," he replied "you can't think how her keeping
away pains me."

"I wouldn't think of it, if I were you, it is very mean and ill-natured
of her, but she will get over her huff after a while."

"That would be all very well, if I were going to remain here, but you
know how soon I go and----"

"Oh Everard," (Emmy could not contemplate this event with composure) "Oh
Everard, I can't bear you to go, and she threw her arms round his neck,
weeping passionately.

His sisters were not much given to tears, this one in particular, the
brightest of them all, so that this genuine bust of grief was the more
perplexing.

He was endeavouring in vain to soothe her, when little Emmy came upon
the scene, and seeing her mamma in trouble, she set up a terrific
howling, and running at Everard, she seized his coat to steady herself
and commenced to kick him with all the force she could muster,
exclaiming "naughty, naughty, to make my mamma cry."

This warlike attack upon her brother set Emily laughing, while he
feigned to be desperately hurt by the tiny feet at which the round blue
eyes grew wonderfully well satisfied. Isabel now joined them alarmed by
the cries of her little playmate. Emmy looking very brave scrambled upon
mamma's knee, from whence she darted very defiant glances at her uncle.

"I think I will go to Ashton Park" said Everard.

"Do you think that it will do any good" asked Emily.

"I hope so, Grace is not bad hearted, only vexed, besides, I should wish
to leave on good terms with the old lady."

"I have no doubt that she pities you immensely." Everard laughed "I will
go now" he said, "and we hope you may be successful" returned both
warmly.

"Good evening Lady Ashton" said Everard when he arrived at the Park;
entering the drawing-room from the lawn.

"Oh is that you, you poor unfortunate boy," returned her ladyship
compassionately.

"Pray spare your pity, for some more deserving individual," answered
Everard laughing, "I think myself the most fortunate of mortals."

"Don't come to me with your nonsense, you are very silly, and have
behaved in a most dishonorable manner towards your family."

"Will you be kind enough to state in what way," replied Everard
colouring, "I confess I can't see it."

"Why, in offering to that governess girl."

"You are severe."

"Oh I haven't patience with you; my sympathy is all with poor Grace, who
feels quite disgraced by it."

"She cannot think so, seriously, or if she does, she ought to be
ashamed.

"Hoighty, toighty, how we are coming the parson to-night."

"Pshaw," exclaimed Everard impatiently.

"I think she is justly angry and aggrieved. Of course in receiving so
young and pretty a girl, as governess for your sisters, (for I allow
that she is pretty.) "Oh you do," said Everard sarcastically. "Your
mother" continued Lady Ashton "relied upon your honorable feelings, and
good sense, but you have abused her confidence in a most cruel manner."

The swelling veins, and heavy breathing showed how annoyed he was, and
he answered warmly, "I deny having done anything wrong or dishonorable,
I presume that I have a perfect right to choose for myself."

"To a certain extent I grant, but you owe something to the feelings of
your family."

"They have no cause of complaint, Isabel is quite their equal if not
superior."

"In your estimation," said Lady Ashton contemptuously.

"I don't care to discuss the subject" returned Everard haughtily.

"Reverse the matter, how would you like it, if Grace was going to marry
a tutor."

"If he was a worthy person, and Grace was satisfied, I certainly should
not object."

"I doubt it," cried Lady Ashton angrily. Then she commenced aspersing
Isabel in every way, and Everard hotly defended her. "Nasty, artful,
designing girl, you will live to repent your folly yet," she said. Then
Everard got in a terrible passion newly ordained though he was. But Lady
Ashton was a woman, and Everard Arlington never forgot when he was in
the presence of ladies, so though they most decidedly quarrelled,
Everard saying some pretty severe things, he managed to keep the cooler
of the two, Lady Ashton being as spiteful as only Lady Ashton could be.
So instead of conciliating Grace he had only made matters worse; as he
supposed; but Lady Ashton really loved her god-son, and in her heart
admired him for his spirit.

Everard's anger once roused was not easily appeased, so that after he
left Ashton Park, he took a ten mile walk in the moonlight before he was
sufficiently calm to venture home. "What is the matter" asked his mother
when he did.

"I have been in a tremendous passion, and am not quite cooled down yet"
he answered, "good night."

The upshot of all this was, that on coming home one afternoon, Everard
found Lady Ashton, and Grace waiting for him. "Let bygones, be bygones,"
said the former taking his hand, while Grace offered hers with a
dignified condescension that was truly amusing, Everard was only too
glad to have a cessation of hostilities, and responded cordially to the
overtures of peace.

Then Lady Ashton insisted upon giving them a farewell party, she would
take no denial, saying that if Everard did not come, that she would not
believe that he forgave her."

Grace and Emily were delighted, saying, it was the very thing, and Alice
was half wild with glee at being included in the invitation, and also
allowed to go.

So Isabel had a new white dress for the occasion, and now that she was
no longer the governess, she arrayed herself with some of the beautiful
and costly jewels, which her fathers creditors had refused to take,
(though they were offered them by Isabel,) which had not seen the light
since she came to Elm Grove.

"Oh Isabel, now you look like yourself" said Lucy, who had arrived just
in time to be of the party.

"How sly of you Isabel, not to let us see them before" cried Emily
examining them "what beauties," and Mrs. Arlington looked very
approvingly at her future daughter-in-law. "I think that you are the
proudest girl I ever saw, Isabel," she said reproachfully.

"Oh mamma, not proud, only sensitive," interposed Alice warmly.

"I think you were wrong my dear" continued Mrs. Arlington without
heeding Alice.

"Please don't', pleaded Isabel the tears gathering in her eyes "I could
not help feeling so, indeed I could not."

"Don't blame her mamma, it does not matter now," put in Emily.

"She was a stupid little goose to care so much about it; and I always
said so," chimed in Lucy.

"Pray who is a stupid little goose," asked Everard joining the group in
the drawing-room.

"Ask no questions----you know the rest" returned Lucy saucily.

"Dear me, how late we shall be" cried Emily "what can make papa and
Harry so long."

"On arriving at the Park, an unexpected pleasure caused a great deal of
excitement. On entering the dressing-room they met Ada. "Oh, when did
you come." I'm so glad." "How delightful." Burst from them
simultaneously, as Ada was hugged in a manner that bid fair to ruin the
effect of her careful toilet.

"Didn't Lucy tell you," asked Ada amazed.

"Not I," cried Lucy triumphantly.

"Oh Lucy."

Then a thundering rap at the door from Harry, who was impatient to see
his sister; made them hasten down, all in high spirits at the unlooked
for meeting.

Lady Ashton hardly seemed herself she was so pleasant, and even Grace
did the agreeable to perfection.

Lucy, lectured Everard, and condemned severely his taking Isabel to be
eaten up by savages; as she persisted would be the case if he carried
out his preposterous intentions. But Everard only laughed. "I cannot see
how you can reconcile it to your conscience, to doom such a girl as
that, to so wretched an existence, look at her, is she fit for such a
hum-drum-knock-about life."

"Everard cast a very admiring glance at his bride elect, but his only
answer was a rather sad smile.

"Oh I see I am right," she cried, "I know you think that she is more
fitted for civilized society, confess now, confess, I used to think you
so considerate, but now I see you are very selfish.

"Perhaps I am," and he walked out on the lawn, leaving Lucy much
astonished and very indignant.

"Be merciful Lucy," said Charles offering his arm.

"Not I," returned Lucy, "I think it awfully cool."

"Then it must be very refreshing this hot evening" said Charles
laughing.

"Don't be provoking." I'm awfully angry."

"Lucy!"

"Charles!"



CHAPTER XXXIV.


"Oh, here you are," said Lucy when shortly after breakfast next morning
she found Everard enjoying a cigar in the piazza. "You needn't think to
escape by going off in that unceremonious manner last night, so you may
as well listen now, for I intend to express my sentiments some time or
other."

"I am all attention Miss Lucy, only I hope you don't object to my
cigar."

"Not at all, it will make you more patient perhaps."

"Shouldn't wonder, as I'm afraid from your preamble it is nothing I care
to hear."

"Everard!" then with a shrug. "Of course you don't."

Everard laughed. "You stupid fellow, won't you be quiet and hear what I
have to say."

"Oh certainly."

"I wish to remind you, that you need not go goodness knows how many
hundred miles to find people to convert, as there are plenty nearer
home."

"No doubt, and also, others near home anxious to convert them."

"And do you think, that no one but yourself would go to that outlandish
place."

"Very few, comparatively; of course there are some."

"Mighty few I expect."

"Then you see an additional reason, why I should."

"I have not seen any yet, so of course cant't see additional ones" she
answered saucily. "I tell you what you had better do, stay and convert
me, and that will take you a precious long time I promise you."

"Lucy!"

"Oh, how grave you are, I wish you could see your face."

"You forget what you are talking about, Lucy, or you would not speak so"
he said gravely, "I cannot believe that you are in earnest."

"Of course I don't mean half I say, I never do, I did not think you
would take it so seriously."

"It is a bad way to get into, Lucy."

"Don't be alarmed" cried Lucy laughing, "I'm not so awfully wicked as
you imagine. I know, that I am very wild, and thoughtless, and that that
school did not do me any good, but for all that, I'm not quite a
heathen."

"Be merry and wise," he said kindly but gravely."

"That is not so easy" returned Lucy with a gulp, "you may think so, you
are so mild tempered; but with one, so impulsive, and high spirited as I
am, it is very hard, almost impossible; that's always the way with you
quiet, easy going people, you have no sympathy with us."

"Oh, Lucy, how apt we are to form wrong opinions, you think me quiet,
easy, gentle, I may be so, but I am also passionate, determined, and you
say selfish; be that as it may, I cannot give up without a very hard
struggle, not even then usually. I am unyielding. Persevering and firm,
Emily would say, self-willed and obstinate, Grace would call me."

"I can't believe you."

"It is true."

"But to resume our discussion; it is really too provoking to take Isabel
off to that outlandish place."

"It is settled, all the talking in the world can't make any difference,"
he said with the quiet smile, and languid manner, that made it so hard
to believe that he was indeed what he had described.

In the evening Susan brought a note to Isabel, as she and Everard were
walking on the terrace. Isabel turned deadly pale on observing the
handwriting, "it is from Dr. Tachereau" she exclaimed.

"Let me open it" said Everard seeing her agitation.

"A poisoned letter perhaps."

"Oh Everard, such things only happen in story books, but if you really
think so, it had better go at the back of the fire."

"The fire is the right place for it no doubt, but I have a curiosity to
see the inside first, some impertinence you may be sure."

"Perhaps to inform us, that he will bring his pistols to the church, if
we dare to venture there, said Isabel breaking the seal. She opened it,
but a sickening faintness overpowered her, and she was unable to read.
He had now succeeded in making her fear him, while his vindictiveness
had been solely against herself, she had defied him, but now, that
another was menaced she trembled for his safety.

"Let me see this madman's effusion" said Everard soothingly, "Why I
declare you are quite ill, take this seat and I will read for our mutual
edification."

Casting an anxious glance towards Isabel occasionally to ascertain if
she was recovering from her agitation, he read a follow's:

    DEAR ISABEL,--(cool muttered Everard). What a fool I was the other
    night, can you, will you, forgive me. Could you know the remorse
    and misery I have suffered since, or the feeling of thankfulness
    with which I heard that I had not seriously injured either of you;
    I think you would. What a reward for your kindness to my poor
    Natalie; what a return for your sympathy in my trouble. When had
    you rejoiced at my misfortune, I could scarcely have been
    surprised. But I loved myself, and my own way, and you thwarted me
    twice; but enough of the past. I dare not contemplate it. Let me
    however say a few words in extenuation of my folly. You can never
    know what I endured that evening, to see the regard once bestowed
    on me, transferred to another, to see that I was nothing,--that I
    was entirely, unmistakeably forgotten,--perhaps detested; for you
    treated me with unnecessary coldness. All this so worked upon my
    unhappy temperament until nearly mad with anger and jealousy,
    I did that, for which I now beseech you to forgive me. I shall
    never see you again, as the thought of your marrying another is so
    hateful to me that I dare not trust myself in your presence after
    the dark glimpse I have had of my evil nature. I did not think I
    could be so wicked. Farewell, I still remain your loving, though
    now unloved--LOUIS.

Everard deliberately tore the note into fragments, with the same
expression that Dr. Heathfield had remarked, while an angry flush
suffused his countenance. But there was more of pity, than of anger, in
Isabel's mind, and she did not notice his displeasure. And as Rose at
this moment came to call them in, to see Mrs. Arnold, of course no
comment was passed on the letter; though Everard's unusual gloominess
that evening, proved that he had not forgotten it.

Mrs. Arnold was very fussy as usual, and told many amusing anecdotes
regarding her journey, and also gave an immense amount of good advice to
both Everard and Isabel, for which of course they were duly grateful.

"Really my dear Mabel" said Mrs. Arnold, "I never was more glad in my
life, than when I heard of this match, I was positively delighted. But
you must not suppose for a moment, that I had any such idea; when I got
her the situation."

Isabel looked annoyed, "naughty girl" said Mrs. Arlington, and then it
came out, how foolishly sensitive, (as Mrs. Arlington termed it,) Isabel
had always been, regarding her position. "Never mind, dear," said Mrs.
Arnold kindly, "It is all over now, but still I should have thought that
you had been a governess long enough to get used to it."

"Please don't pleaded Isabel, resolutely forcing back the tears which
invariably came, at any allusion to the distasteful subject. And
Everard, who until now had been unaware of her extreme dislike of being
a governess admired her the more, that while hating her position so
much, she had so determinately refused him, as long as she felt, that
she did not return his affection.

"How is it my dear" inquired Mrs. Arnold, who seemed destined to-night
to hit upon the wrong topic, "that you have never been to visit any of
your old friends, Mrs. Price, Mrs. Vernon, Miss Carding, and hosts of
others, told me repeatedly, that time after time, they have sent you the
most pressing invitations, all to no purpose."

Isabel reddened painfully, Emily and Lucy laughed.

"That is another of Isabel's 'weaknesses'." Everard looked annoyed.
"Sing some of your comic songs, Harry," he said, wishing to change the
subject. And Harry sung, to the great amusement of the party generally,
and of Mrs. Arnold in particular.

Before they separated, a moonlight excursion to the romantic dell, the
scene of the memorable picnic four years ago, was arranged for the next
evening, and met with universal approbation. All agreeing that the
water-fall could only be seen to perfection by moonlight.



CHAPTER XXXV.


It had been a dull day, this last day, so that all were glad that the
evening was not spent quietly at home, giving time for sad thoughts of
to-morrow's parting. Thanks to Harry and Lucy, the excursion passed off
more cheerfully than might have been expected, all appearing to enjoy
themselves. On their return, Isabel did not join the others in the
drawing-room, but went out and lingered by the fountain, in the
moonlight, musing on all that had happened since she first came there,
now nearly five years ago, and wondering how long it might be, and what
might happen, ere she would again be there--or if, indeed, she would be
there again. Ah! seek not to look into futurity, Isabel. It is well for
you that you know not all that shall be ere you again sit there. Enjoy
your happiness while you may, and leave the future to unfold itself. She
remained there a long time thinking of many things, and was still lost
in meditation when Everard joined her.

"A penny for your thoughts," he said.

"Oh, Everard, I want you to do something," she returned, laying her hand
on his arm.

"What is it, dearest?" he inquired.

"I feel so unhappy about Louis. I wish so much that you would write and
say that we forgive him."

Everard was silent, and his face became very stern.

"If you would, I should be so glad."

"You ask too much," he said.

"Only what is right."

"Right perhaps, but hard--very hard."

"Oh, do," she pleaded, raising her blue eyes to his so earnestly.
"Oh, Everard, it is not the way for us to be happy, to be unforgiving.
I should be so miserable: day by day watching the blue waters, knowing
that I had left any one in anger or ill-feeling. Oh, Everard, you will
forgive him!"

She looked so lovely there in the moonlight, pleading for one who so
little deserved it of her, that Everard found it hard to refuse her.

"I cannot write a lie, Isabel, even to please you," he replied, in a
harsh, unnatural voice.

"Oh, no, not that; but I want you really to forgive him."

"I do not, I cannot," and his voice was hard and cold.

Isabel shuddered. Was this the Everard usually so kind and gentle?

"Oh, Everard, and you a clergyman!"

"Perhaps I am not fit to be one," he answered. "I have thought so
sometimes lately, but I wished so much to be one that, in seeking to
fulfil the wish, I may have overlooked the meetness."

"If you are not, I do not know who is," she said, "but this is not
like yourself; I should be less surprised if I was unforgiving and you
forgave."

"I hope that I do not often feel as I do now towards him. But you forget
how nearly he took you from me; he whom I trusted and regarded with the
warmest friendship."

"It is not for his sake I ask it Everard; forgive as you would be
forgiven."

They walked on in silence until they reached the house. Then Everard
said, "From my heart I wish I could, Isabel," and abruptly left her.
Then, alone in his own room, after all had retired to rest, far into the
night he fought the battle of good and evil. What was he about to
do--preach and teach meekness, self-denial, and forgiveness of injuries,
while he was still angry and unforgiving? What mockery! Ought he not to
practice what he taught? Was theory--mere words--sufficient? No; he
must, by example, give force to his teaching, or how could he hope to
succeed? All this he saw clearly enough, but the difficulty still
remained. He strove hard to conquer, but evil prevailed. "Forgive as you
would be forgiven" rang continually in his ears, but he did not, could
not, forgive. He laid down, but not to sleep, and the pale moon shone
calmly and peacefully in upon him, as if mocking his disquietude. At
length he threw the painful subject from him, and sank into an uneasy
slumber.

He awoke, next morning, with the sun beaming brightly in at the window.
But dark clouds gathered round him; gloomy doubts as to his fitness for
the office he had taken, and sorrow at the impossibility of his
forgiving Louis. "Forgive as you would be forgiven," and again the last
night's struggle was renewed, and even when they started for the church
he had not conquered.

Isabel saw how it was, and this was the bitter drop in her cup of
happiness. Alas! in this world when is it unalloyed?

A burst of music filled the church as the bridal party entered, and very
lovely looked the bride, surrounded by her three little bridesmaids,
while in the background stood a fourth, the merry Lucy. Bob and three
youthful Arlington cousins were groomsmen, and Everard, to use Lucy's
own words, was the very _beau ideal_ of what a bridegroom should be, in
fact "perfect."

The sun shone with almost dazzling splendor on the group, which Emily
pronounced "a good omen," and again the organ pealed forth its joyous
strains as they left the church, and gaily rang the marriage bells.

"Everard," said Isabel, when they were in the library awaiting the
arrival of the others, "write that letter now; I know you can, for you
would not look so happy if you felt as you did last night."

"I can write it truthfully now," he replied, smiling at her earnestness.
And then, with his bride bending over his shoulder, Everard wrote such a
note as only _he_ could write, expressing their entire forgiveness, and
made Isabel take the pen and write "Isabel Arlington" under his
signature.

The others, coming in, insisted upon knowing the subject of their very
important correspondence, but Everard pocketed the letter and refused to
satisfy their curiosity.

The breakfast was but a dull affair, notwithstanding the exuberant
spirits of the young groomsmen. The parents knew that they were parting
with their only son, and that it would be years before they would see
him again; and the son, amid his happiness, remembered that he was
leaving father, mother, sisters, perhaps never to return. Isabel, also,
felt it hard to part so soon with her new sisters, who hung about her
with every demonstration of affection and regret.

Then such a scene in the dressing-room (from which Mrs. Arlington had
mercifully contrived to keep Mrs. Arnold.) Emily, with her head buried
in a sofa cushion, weeping passionately at the thought of parting with
her brother, while the children all clung around Isabel in such a manner
as to make it utterly impossible for her to don her travelling dress;
Lucy trying to comfort Emily, and Grace scolding the children. Ada,
taking pity on Isabel, reminded them that Everard was going as well as
Isabel, suggesting that they should go down to him. To this they readily
agreed.

"I ought to go, too, only I'm afraid Everard will be vexed to see me in
such a state," sobbed Emily.

"I like to have you here, Emily dear," replied Isabel, "but you had
better go down; you will be sorry afterwards if you don't. He feels it
dreadfully, I know, poor fellow."

"He looked fearfully pale during breakfast," added Ada, feelingly.

"I will go," returned Emily, vainly endeavoring to check her emotion.
And Grace went with her, leaving Isabel with Ada and Lucy.

Isabel, who had managed to keep up tolerably well so far, now gave way
to uncontrollable emotion. This second scene with the children had been
quite too much for her.

"Isabel! Isabel! you will never be dressed to-day," cried Ada, in
despair.

"Oh, let her be," returned Lucy; "they will miss the train, and have to
wait for the next steamer. What a glorious stew Everard would be in! for
then, of course, they would be too late for that precious Indian ship.
Oh, I declare, I hope they will!"

"Oh, Lucy!" and Isabel made quick work with her dressing, to Lucy's
intense amusement.

Everard, meanwhile, had been undergoing a terrible ordeal down stairs,
and was truly glad when Isabel made her appearance. She was met now with
a worse storm of grief than any previously encountered; as for Amy, she
flew into the carriage after her.

So they drove off, amid thundering cheers from the young groomsmen. Papa
inquired if Amy intended to go to Madagascar, and on Everard's answering
in the affirmative she was wild to get out, protesting that she would
not. "But you can't get out until we reach the gate," said Everard.
"Promise me, Isabel, dear Isabel, that you will let me out at the gate,"
she cried, in an agony; "pray don't let me go to nasty Madagascar; oh,
please don't." So Everard, seeing that the child was really terrified,
stopped the carriage, and Amy instantly jumped out in the greatest
haste, without waiting for any more leave-taking, getting several thumps
from the old shoes which were sent in a continued shower after the
carriage until it had passed through the gate, when a deafening "tiger"
made the welkin ring.

   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Here we must bid adieu to those whose fortunes we have followed so far,
hoping at some future time to hear more about them. But as we do not
care to inquire particularly after Louis Taschereau, we may as well
mention here that he, some time after, married a fine high-spirited
girl, who was completely his match, the domineering being all on the
wife's side. No tears were shed by her during his absence, and a
scornful smile was the utmost that his anger or ill-temper ever
elicited. So they managed to get on tolerably well, the inquiring look
of the cold grey eye often checking a fit of passion. As Louis's
mercenary propensities have already shown themselves, it is almost
needless to add that she had what he valued more than anything
else--money--which, by the way, she took good care to have settled on
herself. But this he did not object to (albeit she would have done so
all the same if he had), provided there was plenty of it.

       *       *       *       *       *
           *       *       *       *
       *       *       *       *       *

  [Errata Noted by Transcriber:

  Since a full list of errors would be almost as long as the novel
  itself, most are given in tabular form only. Some counts may be
  incomplete. Inquisitive readers may like to look at the source code
  of the html version of the text, where most errors are noted in
   form.

  Missing quotation mark                58
  Extra quotation mark                  23
  Misplaced quotation mark               7
  Single/double quote error              2
    all quotation-mark errors           90

  Missing question mark                 32
  Missing or incorrect period or comma  11
  Missing apostrophe                     8
  Extra apostrophe                       7
  Extra parenthesis                      1
    punctuation errors                  59

  Typographical error or misspelling    36


  Printing Error:

  drooping spirits. We have // who in the name of wonder do you think
    _the marking // represents a mechanical error; the text skips from
    the middle of one line to the middle of the next_ ]





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