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´╗┐Title: Daisy Burns (Volume 1)
Author: Kavanagh, Julia
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 "Daisy Burns (Volume 1)" ***

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Julia Kavanagh (1824-1877), _Daisy Burns_ (1853), volume 1, Tauchnitz 
edition


COLLECTION

OF

BRITISH AUTHORS.
 

VOL. CCLXIII.
 


DAISY BURNS BY JULIA KAVANAGH.
 

IN TWO VOLUMES.
 

VOL. I.
 

TAUCHNITZ EDITION
 


By the same Author,
 

NATHALIE 2 vols.

GRACE LEE 2 vols.

RACHEL GRAY 1 vol.

ADELE 2 vols.

A SUMMER AND WINTER IN THE TWO SICILES 2 vols.

SEVEN YEARS AND OTHER TALES 2 vols.

FRENCH WOMEN OF LETTERS 1 vol.

ENGLISH WOMEN OF LETTERS 1 vol.

QUEEN MAB 2 vols.

BEATRICE 2 vols.

SYBIL'S SECOND LOVE 

DORA 2 vols.

SILVIA 2 vols.

BESSIE 2 vols.

JOHN DORRIEN 2 vols.
 

DAISY BURNS;
 

A TALE
 

BY
 

JULIA KAVANAGH,
 

AUTHOR OF "NATHALIE."

 

_COPYRIGHT EDITION_.

 

IN TWO VOLUMES.
 

VOL. I.
 

LEIPZIG

BERNHARDT TAUCHNITZ

1853.

 

JULIA KAVANAGH


DAISY BURNS.



CHAPTER I.



As I sat alone this evening beneath the porch, the autumn wind rose and 
passed amongst the garden trees, then died away in the distance with a 
low murmuring. A strange thrill ran through me; the present with its 
aspects vanished; I saw no more the narrow though dearly loved limits 
which bound my home; the little garden, so calm and grey in the dewy 
twilight, was a wide and heaving sea; the low rustling of the leaves 
seemed the sound of the receding tide; the dim horizon became a circular 
line of light dividing wastes of waters from the solemn depths of vast 
skies, and I, no longer a woman sitting in my home within reach of a 
great city, but an idle, dreaming child, lay in the grassy nook at the 
end of our garden, whence I watched the ships on their distant path, or 
sent a wandering glance along the winding beach of sand and rock below.

A moment effaced years, and my childhood, with its home, its joys, and 
its sorrows, passed before me like a thing of yesterday.

Rock Cottage, as my father had called it, rose on a lonely cliff that 
looked forth to the sea. It was but a plain abode, with whitewashed 
walls, green shutters, and low roof, standing in the centre of a wild and 
neglected garden, overlooked by no other dwelling, and apparently far 
removed from every habitation. In front, a road, coming down from the low 
hills of Ryde, wound away to Leigh; behind, at the foot of a cliff, 
stretched the sea. The people of Leigh wondered "how Doctor Burns could 
live in a place so bleak and so lonely," and they knew not that to him 
its charms lay in that very solitude with its boundless horizon; in the 
murmurs of the wind that ever swept around his dwelling; in the aspect of 
that sublime sea which daily spread beneath his view, serene or terrible, 
but ever beautiful.

This was not however the sole recommendation of Rock Cottage; it stood 
conveniently between the two villages of Ryde and Leigh, of which my 
father was the only physician. There was indeed a surgeon at Ryde, but he 
never passed the threshold of the aristocratic mansions to which Doctor 
Burns was frequently summoned, and whence he derived the larger portion 
of his income. That income, never very considerable, proved however 
sufficient to the few wants of the lonely home where my father, a 
widower, lived with me, his only child.

Of my mother I had no remembrance; my father seldom mentioned her name; 
but there was a small miniature of her over our parlour mantle-piece, and 
often in the evening, sitting by our quiet fireside, he would look long 
and earnestly on the mild and somewhat mournful face before him, then 
give me a silent caress, as I sat on my stool at his knee, watching him 
with the ever-attentive look of childhood.

I was sickly and delicate, and he indulged me to excess. "Study," he 
said, "would only injure me, for I was a great deal too clever and 
precocious for a child;" so he taught me himself the little I knew, and 
put off from month to month his long contemplated and still cherished 
project of sending me to some first-rate school. I believe that in his 
heart he felt loath to part from me, and was secretly glad to find some 
excuse that should keep me at home. He never left me in the morning 
without a caress, and often, when he returned late from visiting some 
distant patient, his first impulse, as well as his first act, was to 
enter my room and kiss me softly as I slept. I loved him passionately and 
exclusively, and years have not effaced either his memory or his aspect 
from my heart. I remember him still, a man of thirty-five or so, tall, 
pale, and gentlemanly, with wavy hair of a deep golden brown, and dark 
grey eyes of singular light and beauty. How he seemed to others I know 
not: to me he was all that was good and great.

I felt happy to live thus alone with him; I never wished for the 
companionship of other children; I asked not to move beyond the limits of 
our home. Silence, repose, and solitude, things so antipathetic to 
childhood, were the chief pleasures of mine; partly on account of my bad 
health, and partly, too, because I had inherited from my father a jealous 
sort of exclusiveness and reserve, by no means held to be the general 
characteristic of his countrymen.

My happiest moments were those spent in that grassy nook at the end of 
our garden, to which I have already alluded. A group of dark pine-trees, 
growing on the very edge of the cliff, sheltered it from the strength of 
the breeze; close by began a steep path, winding away to the shore, and 
to which a wooden gate, never locked, gave access. But more blest than 
ever was Eve in her garden,--for in mine grew no forbidden fruit,--I 
could spend there an entire day, and forget that only this easy barrier 
stood between me and liberty. My father, seeing how much I liked this 
spot, had caused a low wooden bench to be placed for me beneath the pine-
trees. In the fine weather my delight was to lie there, and to read and 
dream away whole hours, or to gaze on the clear prospect of the beach 
below, and, beyond it, on that solemn vastness of sea and sky which, in 
its sublimity and infinitude, so far surpasses the sights of earth.

It was thus, I remember, that I spent one mild and hazy autumn afternoon, 
reading, for the twentieth time, the touching story of Pracovia 
Loupouloff--not the Elizabeth of Madame Cottin, but the real and far more 
pathetic heroine,--and for the twentieth time, too, thinking with a sort 
of jealousy and regret, that I was sure I could do quite as much for my 
father if he were only an exile, when he came and sat down by me. He was 
going out, and, as usual, would not leave home without giving me a kiss. 
As he took me on his knee, he saw the book lying open on the bench; he 
looked at me wistfully, and said with a sigh--

"I wish you would not read so much, my darling. You are always at the 
books. I have just found my History of Medicine open: what could you want 
with that?"

"I was reading about the circulation of the blood."

"Well, who discovered it?"

"William Harvey--I wish he had not."

"Why so?" asked my father, looking surprised.

"Because _you_ would," I replied, passing my arms around his neck, and 
laying my cheek close to his.

He smiled, kissed my forehead, rose to go, took a few steps, came back, 
and, stooping over me as I lay on the bench, he pressed his lips to mine 
with lingering tenderness, then left me. I saw him enter the house. I 
heard him depart, and I even caught a glimpse of him and his grey marc as 
he rode up the steep path leading to Ryde. I looked and listened long 
after he had vanished and the tramp of the horse had ceased. Then turning 
once more towards the sea, I idly watched a fisherman's boat slowly 
fading away in the grey horizon, and thought all the time what a great 
man my father might hare been, if William Harvey had not unfortunately 
discovered the circulation of the blood two hundred years before. I lay 
there, dreaming the whole noon away, until Sarah came down the garden 
path in quest of me, and, in her mournful voice, observed--

"Miss Margaret, _will_ you come in to tea?"

"No," I said coolly, "I won't yet."

Sarah turned up her eyes. I certainly was a spoiled child, and I dare say 
not over-civil; but I did not quite make a martyr of her, as she chose to 
imagine and liked to say.

"God forgive you and change your heart!" she said piously.

I did not answer. Most children are aristocratic, and I had a certain 
intuitive scorn of servants; besides, Sarah had only been a few days with 
us. 

"Will you come in to tea?" she again asked. I took up my book, as if she 
had not spoken. "Miss," she said solemnly, "there'll be a judgment on you 
yet."

With this warning she left me. I went in when it pleased me to do so. On 
entering the parlour, I perceived two cups on the tea-tray. "Is Papa come 
back?" I asked, without looking at Sarah.

"Miss," she said indignantly, "servants aint dogs, nor cats either. I am 
ashamed of you, Miss."

"Is Papa come back?" I asked again, with all the insolence of conscious 
security.

If Sarah had dared, I should then have got a sound slap or box on the 
ear, but I knew well enough she would not dare: her predecessor had been 
dismissed for presuming to threaten me with personal chastisement, so she 
swallowed down her resentment to reply, rather sharply, "No, Miss, the 
Doctor is not come back, Miss."

I looked at the two tea-cups, and said haughtily, "I'll have my tea 
alone."

Sarah became as crimson as the ribbons in her cap, gave me a spiteful 
look, laughed shortly, and vindictively replied. "No, Miss, you'll not 
have tea alone, Miss. Mr. O'Reilly is come, and as he is not an 
unfort'nate servant, perhaps you won't mind taking tea with him, Miss."

I sulked on hearing the news.

Cornelius O'Reilly was the friend and countryman of my father, who had 
known him from his boyhood, and helped to rear and educate him. He came 
down every autumn to spend ten days or a fortnight at Rock Cottage. He 
never failed to bring me a present; but this did not render his visits 
more welcome to me. Whilst he was in the house, I was less petted, less 
indulged, and, above all, less noticed by my father. It was this I could 
not forgive the young man.

On noticing the unamiable look with which I heard the news of his 
arrival, Sarah indignantly exclaimed, "You ought to blush, Miss, you 
ought, for being so jealous of your poor Pa! Do you think he is to look 
at nobody but you? Suppose he were to marry again?"

"He won't, you know he won't," I interrupted, almost passionately; "and 
you know he said you were not to say it."

This was true; for Sarah, once feeling more than usually "aggravated" 
with me, had chosen to inform me "that if my Pa went every day to see 
Miss Murray, it was not all because she was poorly, but because he was 
going to marry that lady; and that I and her nephew William were to be 
got rid of by being sent to school as soon as the wedding was over."

She spoke positively. I believed her, and took the matter so much to 
heart that my father perceived it, learned the cause, and, after 
relieving me with the assurance that he was quite determined never to 
marry a second time, and that I was to be his only pet and darling, 
called in Sarah, and in my presence administered to her a short and 
severe reprimand, which she resentfully remembered as one of my many 
offences. Being now beaten on this point, she sharply observed, "Well, 
Miss, is it a reason, because our Pa won't marry again, that we are to be 
rude to our Pa's friend?"

I did not answer.

"I am sure he is kind," she continued, "it's in his face."

No reply.

"I never saw a better-tempered looking gentleman."

I was obstinately silent.

"Nor a handsomer one," persisted Sarah, on whom the young Irishman's 
appearance seemed to have produced a strong impression; "there is not one 
like him from Ryde to Leigh."

She spoke pointedly. I felt myself redden.

"He is not half so handsome as Papa," I replied indignantly.

"Right, Margaret," observed a good-humoured voice behind us; and 
Cornelius O'Reilly, who had overheard the latter part of our discourse, 
entered the parlour as he spoke.

Sarah uttered a little scream, then hung down her head in maidenly 
distress; to recover from her confusion, and perhaps to linger in the 
room, she began to shift and rattle the tea-things, whilst Cornelius, 
sitting down by the table, signed me to approach. I did do so,--not very 
graciously, I am afraid. He took both my hands in one of his, and resting 
the other on my head, looked down at me with a smile. I had often seen 
him before, yet when I look back into the past, I find that from this 
autumn noon, as I stood before him with my hands in his, dates my first 
clear and distinct recollection of Cornelius O'Reilly.

He was then about twenty, tall, decided in manner and bearing, and 
strikingly handsome, with heavy masses of dark wavy hair, which he often 
shook back by a hasty and impatient motion. His face was characteristic, 
frank, and proud, with a broad brow, ardent hazel eyes, full and 
brilliant as those of the hawk, and arched features, which, though 
neither Greek nor Roman, impressed themselves on the memory as vividly as 
any ancient type. His look was both kind and keen; his smile pleasant and 
perplexing. Every one liked it, but few understood it rightly: it was so 
ready for raillery, so indulgent, and withal so provokingly careless. 
Like the face, it expressed a mobile temper, ingenuous in its very 
changes; a mind that yielded to every impression, and was mastered by 
none.

Such was then Cornelius O'Reilly; not that he seemed so to me, but the 
gaze of childhood is as observant as it is unreflecting, and I 
unconsciously noted signs of which I knew not how to read the meaning.

"Well, Margaret, how are you?" asked Cornelius, after a sufficiently long 
silence.

"Very well, thank you," I replied in a low tone, and making a useless 
effort to disengage my hands from his grasp. Without seeming to notice 
this, he continued, nodding at a brown-paper parcel on the table--

"There is a cake, which my sister Kate sends you, with her very kind 
love."

I saw Sarah turning up her eyes in admiration, and this induced me to 
make a reply which I am ashamed to record, it was so ungracious:

"I never eat cake," I said.

"Miss!" began Sarah.

"And I have brought you this," interrupted the young man, drawing forth a 
book from his pocket. He held it before my eyes; it had a bright cover, 
with a gilt title; the temptation was strong, but not stronger than my 
stubborn pride.

"Papa gives me books," I replied.

"Oh! very well," smilingly answered Cornelius; "I shall give him this to 
give to you."

His good-humoured forbearance began to make me feel penitent, when again 
Sarah interfered with an unlucky "For shame, Miss!"

"She is only shy," kindly said Cornelius.

"Oh! Sir, it is sly we are," replied Sarah with a prim smile; "if we 
durst, we'd scamper away through that open door; ay, that we would!" she 
added, emphatically nodding her head at me. "We are very unkind, Sir."

"Not at all," observed Cornelius, taking my part; "Margaret is very fond 
of me, only she does not like to say so. Are you not, my dear?" he added 
with provoking confidence.

"No," was my reply, more frank than civil.

"Indeed you are, and the proof of it is that of your own accord you are 
going to give me a kiss."

I was astounded at the audacious idea. I never kissed any one but my 
father. Alas! I fear I thought myself and my childish caresses very 
precious things indeed. Cornelius laughed, and stooped; but as he gently 
released my hands at the same time, I eluded the caress, and darted 
through the open door up the dark staircase. Sarah wanted to rush after 
me. Cornelius interfered, and again said I was shy.

"Shy, Sir! shy!" echoed Sarah with a short, indignant laugh, "bless you, 
Sir, it is pride: she is as proud as Lucifer, and as obstinate, too. I 
could beat that child to death, Sir, and not make her kiss me. No one 
knows how she has tried my feelings. I am naturally fond of children, and 
I have been in families where young ladies used to doat on me, and 
scarcely care for their Mas, much less for their Pas; but with Miss 
Margaret it is just the reverse. You may wait on her, scold, praise, 
coax; it is all one: she cares for no one but for her Pa--of whom she is 
as jealous as can be, Sir; and if she doesn't like you, Sir, why she 
won't like you, and there's an end of it."

He laughed, as she paused, out of breath at the volubility with which she 
had spoken. I waited not to hear more, but softly stole up to my room. I 
feared neither darkness nor solitude; besides the moon had risen, and her 
pale, mild light fell on the floor. So I sat down by my bed, laid my head 
on the pillow, and, as I thus faced the window, I looked at the open sky 
beyond it, and watched a whole flock of soft white clouds slowly 
journeying towards the west. I thought to remain thus until I should hear 
the well-known tramp of my father's horse coming down the stony road, but 
unconsciously my eyes closed and I fell fast asleep.

How long I slept I cannot tell. I know that I had a fearful dream, which 
I have never been able to remember, and that I woke with the cold dews on 
my brow and an awful dread at my heart. I looked up trembling with 
terror; a large dark cloud was passing over the moon; in my room there 
was the gloom of midnight, but not its silence. Unusual tumult filled our 
quiet home; I listened and heard the voices of strange men, and above 
them that of Sarah, rising loud in lamentation, and exclaiming, "Oh! my 
poor master!"

My next remembrance is, that standing on the steps of the staircase, I 
looked down at something passing below; that a sharp current of cold air 
came from the open front door, beyond which I caught sight of a starry 
sky; that on the threshold of the parlour stood, with their backs to me, 
three men in coarse jackets; and that, looking beyond them in the room, I 
saw Sarah weeping bitterly, and holding a flickering light, whilst 
Cornelius O'Reilly bent over my father, who sat in his chair motionless 
and deadly pale. He said something; Cornelius looked at Sarah; she laid 
down the light, came out, shut the door, and all vanished like a vision 
lost in sudden obscurity. And a vision I might have thought it, but for 
the subdued speech that followed. Sarah was sobbing in the dark passage.

"Come, girl, don't take on so," said a man's voice, speaking low, 
"where's the use? Any one can see it is all over with the poor doctor."

"Oh! don't," incoherently exclaimed Sarah, "don't."

"He said so himself, and he ought to know. 'It is all over with me, 
Dick,' says he, when we picked him up from where that cursed horse had 
thrown him; 'take me home to die,' says he, 'take me home to die.'"

Sarah moaned; the other two men said nothing; had they but uttered a 
word, I should have remembered it, for I still seem to hear distinctly, 
as if but just fallen from the lips of the speaker, not merely the words, 
but the very intonations of that voice to which, standing on the dark 
staircase, I then listened in all the stupor of grief. Scarcely had it 
ceased, when the parlour door opened; Cornelius, looking very sad and 
pale, appeared on the threshold, and, raising his voice, called out, 
"Margaret!"

I sprang down at once; in a second I was by my father, with my arms round 
his neck, my cheek to his. He bore no sign of external injury; but his 
brow was ashy pale; his look was dim; his lips were white. He recognized 
me, for he looked from me to Cornelius, with a glance that lit suddenly. 
The young man laid his hand on my shoulder; tears ran down his face, and 
his lips trembled as he said, "May God forsake me when I forsake your 
child!"

My father made an effort; he raised himself on one elbow.

"Tell Kate--" he began; but the words that should have followed died away 
in a mere incoherent murmur: he sank back; there was a sound of heavy 
breathing; then followed a deep stillness. I felt the hand of Cornelius 
leaning more heavily upon my shoulder. "Sarah!" he said, looking towards 
the door, and speaking in a whisper.

She came forward, took my hand, and led me away. She wept bitterly; I 
looked at her, and shed not one tear. I know not what I felt then; it was 
dread, it was agony, stupor, and grief.

Alas! I learned in that hour how bitter a chalice even a poor little 
child may be called upon to drink; how early all may learn to feel the 
weight of that hand which, heavy as it seems, chastens not in its wrath, 
but in its tenderness.  

 

CHAPTER II.

 

My father was dead. He who had kissed me a few hours before,--whose 
return--God help me, unhappy child!--I had expected, but whose caresses 
had ceased for ever, for whose coming I might listen in vain,--my father, 
who loved me so very dearly, was dead.

Of what had befallen me, of the change in my destinies, this was all I 
clearly understood, and this, alas! I understood but too well. When 
Cornelius came to me, as I sat alone in the back parlour, where Sarah had 
taken and left me, when he said, "Margaret, you must go with Sarah!" I 
neither refused nor resisted. I asked not even why or where I was going. 
I had been a proud and obstinate child, I was now humble and submissive. 
I felt, in a manner I cannot define, it was so acute and deep, that my 
power was over. He who knew not how to deny aught to my entreaties or 
tears was lying in the next room, cold and inanimate: nor voice, nor 
embrace of his child would move him now.

Sarah took me to the imaginary step-mother with whom she had once 
terrified me. Miss Murray was a pale, fair-haired, invalid lady of 
thirty, who resided in a neat hive-looking little place, called 
Honeysuckle Cottage; there she dwelt like a solitary bee, sitting in her 
chair and working the whole day long, with slow industry, or conning over 
her ailments in a faint, murmuring voice, that reminded one of the hum of 
a distant hive. She disliked sound, motion, and light; and kept her 
floors soft, and her windows shrouded and dim. Pets were her horror,--
they made a noise and moved about; flowers she tolerated,--they were 
quiet and silent. She neither went out nor received visits, but lived in 
a hushed, dreamy, twilight way, suited to her health, mind, and temper. 
We found Miss Murray already apprised of my father's death. She sat in 
her parlour, with a soft cambric handkerchief to her eyes; near her stood 
her servant Abby, suggesting consolation. A lamp with a dark green shade, 
burned dimly on the table.

"I cannot survive it, Abby, I cannot," faintly sighed Miss Murray; "a 
friend--"

"The best friends must part, Ma'am."

"A friend, Abby, who understood my constitution so well. Abby, who is 
that?"

"Please, Ma'am," said Sarah, leading me in, "Mr. O'Reilly will take it so 
kind if you--"

"You need not mention it, Sarah, I understand; the subject is a painful 
one. You may leave the dear child to me. I am sure she will forbear to 
distress me, in my weak state, by unavailing regrets. No one can have 
more cause than I have, to regret the invaluable friend to whom I owe 
years of existence."

"She doesn't cry!" said Abby, looking at me.

"She never cries," emphatically observed Sarah; "that child is dreadful 
proud, Ma'am."

"She is quite right," gravely remarked Miss Murray; "tears are most 
injurious to the system. Come here, my dear, and sit by me."

She pointed to a low stool near her chair. I did not move. Sarah had to 
lead me to it; as I sat down apathetically, she made a mysterious sign to 
the lady.

"Not insane, surely?" exclaimed Miss Murray, wheeling off her chair with 
sudden alarm and velocity.

"Oh dear no, Ma'am! rather idiotic; always thought so from her dreadful 
stubbornness."

"Sad," sighed Miss Murray, "but quiet at least. Good evening, Sarah. 
Abby, pray keep a look-out for that dreadful boy: my nerves are unusually 
weak."

The two servants left on tiptoe, and softly closed the door. I remained 
alone with Miss Murray.

"My dear," she began, "I hope you are not going to fret; it would be so 
unchristian. I have lost a kind father, an invaluable mother, an 
affectionate aunt, the dearest of brothers--" The list was interrupted by 
the door which opened very gently, to admit a lad of eleven or twelve, 
tall, strong, fair-headed, rather handsome, but looking as rough and rude 
as a young bear. This was her nephew William. His father had died some 
six months before bequeathing him to the guardianship of his aunt, who 
immediately committed him to school for bad behaviour, and to whom his 
periodical visits, during the holidays, were a source of acute distress. 
On seeing him enter, Miss Murray turned up her eyes like one prepared for 
anything, and faintly observed, "William, have you seen Abby?"

"Yes," was his sulky reply.

"Then let me beseech you," she pathetically rejoined, "to respect my 
feelings and those of this dear child."

He looked at me, but never answered. She continued, "Don't behave like a 
young savage,--if you can help it," she kindly added.

William scowled at his aunt, and thrust his hands into his pockets by way 
of reply.

"You have passed through the same trial," pursued Miss Murray, "and, 
though I cannot say that your language has always been sufficiently 
respectful towards the memory of my lamented brother--"

"Why did he leave me to petticoat government?" angrily interrupted 
William; "you don't think I am going to be trodden down by a lot of 
women. I come in singing, not knowing anything, and Abby calls me a 
laughing hyena; and I am scarcely in the room before you set me down as a 
savage! I won't--there!"

This must have meant something, for Miss Murray bewailed her unhappy 
fate, whilst William doggedly sat down by the table, across which he 
darted surly glances at me.

"I do not mean to reproach the memory of my dearest brother," feelingly 
began Miss Murray, "but really if he had had any consideration for me, 
and my weak state, he ought to have taken more care of himself, and tried 
to live longer. William, what do you mean by those atrocious grimaces?"

"I wish she wouldn't;" said William, whose features worked in a very 
extraordinary manner; "I wish she wouldn't."

Miss Murray followed the direction of his glance, and looked round to 
where I sat a little behind her.

"I declare the unfortunate child is crying," she exclaimed, in a tone of 
distress,--"sobbing too! William, ring the bell,--call Abby. My dear, how 
can you? Oh! Abby, Abby," she added, as the door opened, and Abby 
entered, "look--is there no way of stopping that?"

"Doesn't she cry though?" observed Abby, astonished.

I had bowed my head on my knees, and I wept and sobbed passionately. Miss 
Murray, after vainly asking for the means "of stopping that," declared I 
should go to bed. I made no resistance; Abby took my hand to lead me 
away; when William, exclaiming, "It's a burning shame, that's what it 
is," flew at her and attempted a rescue. A scuffle followed, short but 
decisive. William was ignominiously conquered; he retreated behind the 
table, his hair in great disorder, his face crimson with shame.

"Oh! the young tiger!" cried Abby, still out of breath with her victory; 
"that boy will end badly, Ma'am!"

William gave her a look of scorn. Miss Murray, who had wheeled back her 
chair, from the commencement of the conflict, observed, with feeling 
reproach, "William, you shall go back to school to-morrow. Abby, put that 
child to bed; allow me to suggest the passage for your next battle."

Abby slammed the door indignantly, and muttering she would not fight in a 
passage for any one, she took me to her room, undressed me, and put me to 
bed. My weeping had not ceased.

"Come, Miss," she said, a little roughly, "crying is no use, you know."

She stooped to give me a kiss; I turned away with passionate sorrow. What 
was to me the caress of a stranger on the night that had deprived me for 
ever of my father's embrace?

"Proud little hussy!" she exclaimed, half angrily.

With this she left me. Ere long she returned, and lay down by my side; 
she was soon breathing hard and loud. I silently cried myself to sleep.

I awoke the next morning, subdued by grief into a mute apathy that 
delighted Miss Murray when I went down to breakfast, and made her hold me 
up as a model to her nephew.

He replied with great disgust, "He was not going to make a girl of 
himself, to please her and Abby."

"But you could respect the child's feelings by remaining silent," 
remonstrated his aunt, gently sipping her tea.

"Why don't you eat?" asked William, addressing me.

"I am not hungry."

"All children are not voracious, like you, William," said Miss Murray.

"Have you got an aunt?" he inquired, ignoring her remark.

"No!" I answered laconically, for his questions wearied me.

"Lucky!" he replied, with a look and sigh of envy.

"Dreadful!" murmured Miss Murray, putting down her cup,--"not twelve yet; 
dreadful!"

"Who is to take care of you?" continued William.

Miss Murray was one of the many good-natured persons who dislike 
uncomfortable facts and questions. She nervously exclaimed, "Do not mind 
him, my dear!"

"Don't you like them?" pursued William.

I gave him no reply.

"Quite right," approvingly observed Miss Murray; "take example of that 
child, William."

"She is a sulky little monkey!" he indignantly exclaimed, and, until his 
departure, which took place in the course of the day, he spoke no more to 
me.

A week passed; the only incident it produced was that I was clad in 
mourning from head to foot. I continued to charm Miss Murray by a 
listless apathy, which increased every day. I either sat in the parlour 
looking at her sewing, or in a little back garden, on a low wooden bench 
near the door. Once there, I moved no more until called in by Abby. Thus 
she and Sarah found me late one afternoon, at the close of the week. I 
took no notice of their approach. They looked at me, and sagaciously 
nodded their heads at one another. A mysterious dialogue followed.

"Eh?" inquiringly said Sarah.

"Yes!" emphatically replied Abby.

"Never!" exclaimed Sarah.

"Oh dear, no!" was the decisive answer.

Sarah sighed, sat down by me, asked me how I was; if I knew her; and 
other questions of the sort. I neither looked at her nor replied. She 
rose, held herself up as a warning to Abby "not to place her affections 
on Master William;" to which Abby indignantly replied "there was no 
fear;" then solemnly forgave me my ingratitude.

As they re-entered the house, I thought I heard the voice of Cornelius 
O'Reilly in the passage. My apathy vanished as if by magic. I was roused 
and rebellious. Cornelius O'Reilly had not come near me since my father's 
death: at once I guessed his errand was to take me away with him. I 
looked around me: a back door afforded means of escape; I opened it, 
slipped out unperceived, then glided along a lonely lane. In a few 
minutes I had reached Rock Cottage, unseen and unmissed.

The home is an instinct of the heart, and as the wounded bird flies to 
its nest, I fled for refuge to the dwelling which had sheltered me so 
long.

The garden-gate stood open, but the front door and windows were shut. I 
went round to the back of the house; my heart sank to find that there too 
all was closed and silent. I sat down on the last of the stone steps, 
vaguely hoping that some one would open and let me in. I listened for the 
coming of a foot, for the tones of a voice; but sounds of life there were 
none. Above me bent a lowering sky, sullen and dark; the wind had risen; 
the pine-trees at the end of the garden bent before the blast, then rose 
again, seeming to send forth a low and wild lament; the tide was coming 
in, and the broken dash of the waves against the base of the cliff was 
followed by their receding murmur, full and deep.

An unutterable sense of woe, of my desolate condition, of all that had 
been mine and never could be mine again, came over me; my heart, bursting 
with a grief that had remained silent, could bear no more. I gave one 
dreary look around me, then clasping my arms above my head, and lying 
across the stone steps, I wept passionately on the threshold of my lost 
home. At length a kind voice roused me.

"Margaret, what are you doing here?" asked Cornelius.

I neither moved nor replied. He sat down by me and raised me gently. I 
gazed at him vacantly. His handsome face saddened.

"Poor little thing!" he said, "poor little thing!" He took my cold hands 
in his, and drew me closer to him. Subdued by grief, I yielded. I had 
refused his presents, shunned his caresses, been jealous, proud, and 
insolent, hated the very thought of his presence in my father's house, 
and now he came to seek me on the threshold of that house, to take me--a 
miserable outcast child--in his embrace.

The thrill of a strange and rapid emotion ran through me. I disengaged my 
hands from those of Cornelius, and, with a sudden impulse, threw my arms 
around his neck. My cheek lay near his; his lips touched mine; I mutely 
returned the caress. I was conquered.

I was a child, how could I but feel with a child's feelings, entirely? I 
kept back nothing; I knew not how or why, but I gave him my whole heart 
from that hour.

 

CHAPTER III.

 

Cornelius O'Reilly had too much tact not to perceive at once the 
ascendency he had obtained over the proud and shy child, who, after 
rejecting his kindness for years, had yielded herself up in a moment. He 
looked down at me with a thoughtful, amused smile, which I understood, 
but which did not make me even change my attitude. I felt so happy thus, 
from the very sense of a submission which implied on my part dependence--
that blessed trust of the child; on his, protection--that truest pleasure 
of strength; on both, affection, without which dependence becomes slavish 
and protection a burden.

The temper of Cornelius was open and direct; he claimed his authority at 
once, and found me more docile than I had ever been rebellious: it was no 
more in my nature to yield half obedience than to give divided love.

"We must go, Margaret," he said, in a tone which, though kind, did not 
admit of objection.

I rose and took his hand without a murmur.

We returned to Honeysuckle Cottage, where we found Miss Murray calmly 
wondering to Abby "what could have become of the dear child."

Cornelius inquired at what hour the stage-coach passed through Ryde.

"Half-past nine, Sir," replied Abby.

"Margaret, get ready," said Cornelius, looking at his watch, a present of 
my father's.

I went upstairs with Abby, who dressed and brought me down again in 
stately silence.

"It shall be attended to, Mr. O'Reilly," gravely observed Miss Murray to 
Cornelius, as we entered the parlour.

He heard me, and, without turning round, said quietly, "Margaret, go and 
bid Miss Murray good-bye, and thank her for all her kindness."

"Will you not also give me a kiss?" gently asked Miss Murray, as, going 
up to her, I did as I was bid, and no more.

I looked at Cornelius; the meaning of his glance was plain. I kissed Miss 
Murray. She drew out her handkerchief, wished for a niece instead of a 
nephew, then shook hands with Cornelius, and, sinking back after a faint 
effort to rise, she rang the bell.

Abby let us out. Cornelius quietly slipped something in her hand, then 
looked at me expressively.

"Good-bye, Abby," I said; and I kissed her as I had kissed her mistress.

"Well, to be sure!" she exclaimed; but Cornelius only smiled, took my 
hand, and led me away.

For a while we followed the road that led to Ryde, and passed by Rock 
Cottage; but suddenly leaving to our right my old home and the sea, we 
turned down a lonely lane on our left. Dusk had set in, and our way lay 
through solitary fields, fenced in by hedges and dark spectral trees, 
behind which shone the full moon, looking large and red in the thick haze 
of evening mists. We met no one; and of cottage, farm, or homestead, 
howsoever lonely, token there seemed none. A sombre indefinite line, like 
the summit of some ancient forest, rose against the dark sky, and bounded 
the horizon before us. I looked in vain for the hills of Ryde. I turned 
to Cornelius to question him; but he seemed so abstracted that I did not 
dare to speak. We walked on silently.

A quarter of an hour brought us to the end of the lane, which terminated 
in a high brick wall, overshadowed by tall trees for a considerable 
distance. Through a massive iron gate, guarded by a dilapidated-looking 
lodge, we caught a glimpse of a long avenue, at the end of which burned a 
solitary light. Cornelius rang a bell; a surly-looking porter came out of 
the lodge, opened the gate, locked it when we were within, pointed to the 
right, then re-entered the lodge,--the whole without uttering a word.

The avenue which we now followed, extended through a dreary-looking park, 
and ended with two old iron lamp-posts, one extinguished, broken, and 
lying on the ground half hidden by rank weeds, the other still standing 
and bearing its lantern of tarnished glass, in which the flame burned 
dimly. The two had once formed an entrance to a square court, with a 
ruined stone fountain in the centre, and beyond it an old brick 
Elizabethan mansion, on which the pale moonlight now fell. Heavy, brown 
with age, dark with ivy, it rested with a wearied air on a low and 
massive arcade. It faced the avenue, and was sheltered behind by a grove 
of yews and cypresses that rose solemn and motionless, giving it an 
aspect both sombre and funereal. No light came from the closed windows; 
the whole place looked as dark and silent as any ruin. We crossed the 
court, and Cornelius knocked at the front door, which projected slightly 
from both house and arcade.

"Do you live here?" I asked.

"No, child; surely you know I live in London with my sister Kate!"

As he spoke, a small slipshod servant-girl unbarred and partly opened the 
door. She held a tallow-candle in one hand; the other kept the door ajar. 
Through the opening she showed us the half of a round and astonished 
face. 

"Mr. Thornton--" began Cornelius. 

"He won't see you," she interrupted, and attempted to shut the door, but 
this Cornelius prevented by interposing his hand.

"I am come on business," he said.

"Where's the letter?" asked the little servant, stretching out her hand 
to receive it.

"Letter! I have no letter, but here is my card." 

She shook her head, would not take the card, and, in a tone of deep 
conviction, declared, "it was not a bit of use."

"I tell you I am come on business!" impatiently observed Cornelius.

"Well, then, where's the letter?"

There was so evident a connection in her mind between business and a 
letter, that, annoyed as he was, Cornelius could not help laughing.

"I wish I had a letter, since your heart is set upon one," he replied, 
good-humouredly; "however, I come not to deliver a letter, but to speak 
to Mr. Thornton on very important business."

"Can't you give the letter, then?" she urged, in a tone of indignant 
remonstrance at his obstinacy.

Cornelius searched in his pockets; no letter came forth. "On my word," he 
gravely observed, "I have not got one; no, not even an old envelope."

"You can't come in, then!" she said, looking at him from behind the door, 
as sharp and as snappish as a young pup learning to keep watch.

"I beg your pardon, I will go in," replied Cornelius with cool civility.

"If you don't take that there hand of yours away," cried the girl with 
startling shrillness, "I shall set the light at it."

"Indeed! I am not going to have my poor fingers singed!" said Cornelius, 
very decisively; so saying, he stooped and suddenly blew out the light.

She screamed, dropped the candlestick, and let go the door: we entered; 
the girl ran away along the passage lit with a faint glimmering light 
proceeding from the staircase above.

"Do you take me for a housebreaker?" asked Cornelius; "I tell you I want 
to speak to Mr. Thornton on business."

She stopped short, looked at him with sullen suspicion, and doggedly 
replied, "Master won't see you; he won't see none but the gentleman from 
London."

"I am from London," quietly said Cornelius.

She stared for awhile like one bewildered, then opened a side-door whence 
issued a stream of ruddy light, and muttering something in which the word 
"London" was alone distinguishable, she showed us in and closed the door 
upon us.

We found ourselves in a large room, scant of chairs and tables, but so 
amply stocked with books, globes, maps, stuffed animals, cases of 
insects, geological specimens, and odd-looking machines and instruments, 
that we could scarcely find room to stand. A bright fire burned on the 
wide hearth, yet the whole place had a mouldy air and odour, and looked 
like a magician's chamber. A lamp suspended from the ceiling, and burning 
rather dimly, gave a spectral effect. Its circle of light was shed over a 
square table covered with papers, and by which sat a singular-looking 
man--one of the numberless magicians of modern times, clad, it is true, 
in every-day attire, but whose characteristic features, swarthy 
complexion, and white hair and beard, needed not the flowing robe or 
mystic belt to seem impressive. He was too intent on examining some 
important beetle through a magnifying glass to notice our insignificant 
approach, more than by a certain waving motion of the hand, implying the 
absolute necessity of silence on our part, and on his the utter 
impossibility of attending to us. At length he looked up, and fastening a 
pair of piercing black eyes on Cornelius, he addressed him with the 
abrupt observation: "Sir, I am intensely busy, but you are welcome; pray 
be seated." 


Cornelius looked round: there was but one chair free, he gave it to me, 
remained standing himself, and, turning to Mr. Thornton, observed, "I am 
come, Sir, on the matter I mentioned in my letter of Wednesday last, and 
which you have not, I dare say, had leisure to answer."

Mr. Thornton did not reply; he sat back in his chair looking at Cornelius 
from head to foot.

"Sir!" he said, in a tone of incredulous surprise, "you are young--very. 
I don't know you."

Cornelius reddened, and stiffly handed his card, which Mr. Thornton 
negligently dropped.

"I cannot say I have ever heard of Cornelius O'Reilly," he remarked; "but 
I have been years away. You may be famous for all I know; but, I repeat 
it, you are very young, Sir."

He spoke with an air of strong and settled conviction.

"I claim no celebrity," drily replied Cornelius, "and my age has nothing 
to do with my errand. I am come to--" here he stopped short, on 
perceiving that Mr. Thornton, after casting several longing looks at his 
beetle, had gradually, like a needle attracted by a potent magnet, been 
raising the magnifying glass to the level of his right eye, which it no 
sooner reached, than he made a sudden dart down at the table; but, when 
the voice of Cornelius ceased, he started, looked up, and said, with a 
sigh of regret, "You came to have some difficult point settled? Well, 
Sir, though I have only been three days in England, I do not complain; 
but you see this fascinating specimen; I beseech you to be brief." He 
laid down the magnifying glass, and wheeled away his chair from the reach 
of temptation.

"I am come to give, not to seek, information," quietly answered 
Cornelius.

"You bring me a specimen," interrupted Mr. Thornton, his small black eyes 
kindling. "A Melolo--!"

"A specimen of humanity," interrupted Cornelius,--"a child."

"A child!" echoed Mr. Thornton, whose look for the first time fell on me; 
"and a little girl, too!" he added, throwing himself back in his chair 
with mingled disgust and wonder.

"She is ten,--an orphan; and I have brought her to you as to her natural 
protector," composedly observed Cornelius.

Mr. Thornton looked unconvinced.

"She may be ten,--an orphan; but I don't see why you bring her to me."

"You do not know?"

"No, Sir; I am said to be a learned man, but in this point I confess my 
ignorance."

Without heeding his impatience, Cornelius calmly replied, "I have brought 
her to you, Sir, because she is your grand-daughter."

Mr. Thornton gave a jump that nearly upset the table; but promptly 
recovering, and feeling irritated, perhaps, in proportion to his 
momentary emotion, he observed, in an irascible tone, "I am amazed at 
you, Sir! Not satisfied with introducing yourself to me as a scientific 
man from London,--a fact directly contradicted by your juvenile 
appearance,--you want to palm off your little girls upon me! My grand-
daughter!--Sir, I have no grand-daughter."

The look of Cornelius kindled; but he controlled his temper, to say, 
quietly, "If you had taken, Sir, the trouble to read a letter which I 
regret to see lying on your table with the seal unbroken, you would have 
learned that this is the child of Mr. Thornton's daughter, who has been 
dead some years, and of Dr. Edward Burns, who died the other day, killed 
by a fall from his horse."

Mr. Thornton did not answer; he took a letter lying on a pile of books, 
broke the seal, read it through; then laid it down, and looked 
thoughtful.

"Well, Sir!" he observed, after a pause; and speaking now in the tone of 
a man of the world, "I acknowledge my mistake, and beg your pardon. But I 
never read business letters, for one of which I took yours."

He spoke very civilly, but said not a word concerning the subject of the 
letter; of which, quite as civilly, Cornelius reminded him.

"The statements made in that letter require some proof," he observed, 
"and--"

"Your word suffices," interrupted Mr. Thornton, very politely. "I am 
satisfied."

Cornelius bowed, but persisted.

"I have not the honour of being personally known to you, Sir; I would 
rather--"

"Sir, one gentleman is quick to recognize another gentleman," again 
interrupted Mr. Thornton; "I am quite satisfied."

He bowed a little ironically; and again Cornelius bent his head in 
acknowledgment, observing, with a smile beneath which lurked not 
ungraceful raillery,--

"I am delighted to think you are satisfied, Sir, as there remains for me 
but to ask a plain question;--there is nothing like plain, direct dealing 
between gentlemen. I am on my way to town, and somewhat pressed for time. 
I have called to know whether George Thornton, of Thornton House, will or 
will not receive his little grand-daughter."

There was no evading a question so distinctly stated. Mr. Thornton looked 
at me with a darkening brow. "Sir," he morosely replied, "George Thornton 
had once a daughter of his own, whom he liked after his own way. He took 
a liking, too, to a young Irish physician, who settled in these parts, 
and who, I can't help saying it was a very clever fellow, and had, for 
his years, a wonderful knowledge of chemistry. 'I'll give Margaret to 
that man,' thought George Thornton; and, whilst he was thinking about it, 
the Irish physician quietly stole his daughter one evening. George 
Thornton made no outcry; he simply said he would never forgive either one 
or the other, and he never did."

"Your daughter's child is innocent," pleaded Cornelius.

"She is her father's child,--and his image, too; but no matter! I believe 
you are on your way to town, Sir?"

"Yes, Sir, I am."

"And you called--?"

"To leave the child: such was my errand."

"Your errand is fulfilled, Sir; you may leave the child; I shall provide 
for her."

"The late Doctor Burns has left some property--"

"I will have nothing to do with the property of the late Doctor Burns."

Mr. Thornton was anything but gracious, now; but, without heeding this. 
Cornelius turned to me; he laid his hand on my head: 

"Good bye! child," he said in a moved tone, "God bless you!"

He turned away; but I clung to him. "Take me with you!" I exclaimed; 
"take me with you!"

"I cannot, Margaret," gently replied Cornelius, striving to disengage his 
hand from mine.

"I won't stay here," I cried indignantly.

"You must," he quietly answered.

I dropped his hand, and burst into tears. He looked pained; but his 
resolve did not alter.

"It cannot be helped," he said. "Good bye! I shall come and see you."

He held out his hand to me; but I felt forsaken and betrayed, and turned 
away resentfully. He bent over me.

"Will you not bid me good-bye?" he asked.

I flung my arms round his neck; and, sobbing bitterly, I exclaimed, "Oh! 
why then won't you take me with you?" He did not answer, gave me a quiet 
kiss, untwined my arms from around his neck, exchanged a formal adieu 
with my grandfather, and left me as unconcernedly as if, little more than 
an hour before, he had not taken me in his arms, and cherished me in that 
lonely garden, where I, so foolishly mistaking pity for fondness, had 
given him an affection he evidently did not prize, and which, as I now 
began to feel, had no home save the grave of the dead. 

 

CHAPTER IV.

 

When I heard the door close on Cornelius, my tears ceased; they had not 
moved him; they were useless; it was all over; my fate was fixed. I sat 
on a chair, drearily looking across the table, at my brown-faced, white-
bearded grandfather, who raised his voice and called out impatiently, 
"Polly, Molly. Mary, Thing--where are you?" The little servant-girl 
answered this indiscriminate appeal by showing her full round face at the 
door. Mr. Thornton, resting both his hands on the table, slightly bent 
forward to say impressively, "That young man is never to be let in 
again,--do you understand?" She assented by nodding her head several 
times in rapid succession, then closed the door.

"But I will see Mr. O'Reilly," I exclaimed indignantly; for though he had 
forsaken me, I still looked up to him as to my protector and friend.

Mr. Thornton raised his eyebrows, and gave an ironical grunt. At the same 
moment the door again opened, and a lady, young, elegantly attired, and 
beautiful as the princess of a fairy tale, entered the room.

"Uncle," she began, but, on seeing me, she stopped short; then with 
evident wonder asked briefly. "Who is it?"

"Her name is Burns," was the short reply. The young lady looked at me, 
and nodded significantly. Mr. Thornton resumed, "I shall provide for her; 
in the meanwhile tell Mrs. Marks to take care of her, and keep her out of 
my way, until I have settled how she is to be disposed of." I felt very 
like a bale of useless goods.

"Then you will have the charity not to keep her here," observed the young 
lady with impatient bitterness.

"I shall have the charity not to let her become a fine lady like you, 
Edith," he sarcastically answered.

"Do you mean to make a governess of your grand-daughter, as you would of 
your niece if you could?"

"My dear, you forget my niece could not be a governess; and neither 
governess nor fine lady shall be this child, whom you are pleased to call 
my grand-daughter. A common-place education, some decent occupation,--
such is to be her destiny. And now be so good as to leave me."

"To your beetles!" she indignantly replied; "you don't care for anything 
but your beetles. I am sick of my life. I wish I were dead--I wish I had 
never seen this dreadful old hole."

"Pity you flirted with the intended of your cousin, my dear, and got 
packed off. Suppose you try and get married; I intend leaving England 
again, and it will be rather dull for you to stay here alone with Mrs. 
Marks." 

"I'll run away sooner."

"That's just what I mean. Elope, my dear, elope!" 

"I won't eat any more!" she exclaimed, crimson with vexation and shame; 
"I know you don't believe it, but I won't."

"Then you'll die; I'll embalm you, and you'll make a lovely young mummy." 
His little black eyes sparkled as if he rather relished the idea; but it 
was more than the beautiful Edith could stand, for she burst into tears, 
and calling her uncle "a barbarous tyrant," was flying out of the room in 
a rage, when he coolly summoned her back to say, "Edith, take it with 
you!"

By "it" he meant me. She took my hand and obeyed; her beautiful blue eyes 
flashing resentfully, her bosom still heaving with indignant grief. But 
Mr. Thornton, heedless of her anger and sorrow, had resumed his 
magnifying glass, and was again intent on the beetle. When we both stood 
on the threshold of the door, Edith turned round to confront him, and 
said vindictively, "I wish there may never be another beetle,--there!" 
With this she slammed the door, dropped my hand, turned to her left, and 
went up an old oak staircase, dimly lit by an iron lamp riveted to the 
wall. She once looked back to see that I followed her, but took no other 
notice of me. As she reached a wide landing, she met, coming down, a tall 
and thin old lady in black.

"Mrs. Marks," she said briefly, "you are to attend to this child."

Without another word or look she continued her ascent. Mrs. Marks looked 
down at me from the landing, as I stood on the staircase a few steps 
below her; then up at the light figure of Edith ascending the next 
flight, and indignantly muttering "that she had never"--the rest did not 
reach me--she majestically signed me to approach. I obeyed. She eyed me 
from head to foot, but did not seem much enlightened by the survey. "That 
is the way up," she said at length, pointing with a long fore-finger to 
the staircase. The explanation seemed to me a very needless one, but I 
followed her upstairs silently. We went up until I thought we should 
never stop, though the ceiling becoming lower with every flight we 
ascended, indicated that we were approaching the highest regions of the 
house. I felt tired, but Mrs. Marks went on steadily, as if the tower of 
Babel would not have daunted her. At length she came to a pause. We had 
reached a low irregular corridor, that seemed to run round the whole 
house, and was garnished with numerous doors. Before one of these Mrs. 
Marks made a dead stop. She unlocked it, held it open by main force, as 
far as its rusty hinges would allow, then looking round at me, said, 
emphatically--

"That is the way in."

I hesitated, then slid in; Mrs. Marks slid in after me, then let go the 
door, which of its own accord closed with a snap, locking us in a small, 
snug room, with thick curtains, closely drawn, a warm carpet on the 
floor, a bright fire burning in the grate, a kettle singing on the hob, a 
cat purring on the hearth rug, a chair of inviting depth awaiting its 
tenant by the fireside, and near it a small table with tray and tea-
things.

"Sit down," said Mrs. Marks, pointing to a chair.

I obeyed. She went to the fireplace, and planting herself on the rug, 
with her hands gathering her skirts in front, and her back to the fire, 
she thence surveyed me with an attentive stare. Passed from Miss Murray 
to Cornelius,--from him to Mr. Thornton,--from Mr. Thornton to his 
niece,--and from her to Mrs. Marks, I felt more apathetic than ever; but 
Mrs. Marks stood exactly opposite me; I could not help seeing her. She 
was a gaunt, tall woman, with a pale face and fixed eyes, that made her 
look like her own portrait. They were eclipsed by a pair of bright black 
pins, which projected from her cap on either side, and held some 
mysterious connection with her front. She wore a robe of rusty black, 
that fitted tight to the figure, and was not over-ample in the skirt. 
After a long contemplation, she uttered a solemn "I shall see," then left 
the room. The door snapped after her; I remained alone with the cat, 
which, like every creature in that house, seemed to care nothing for me, 
but went on purring with half-shut eyes.

Its mistress soon returned, settled herself in her arm-chair, and thence 
seemed inclined to survey me again; but the contemplation was disturbed 
by a tap at the door.

"Come in, Mrs. Digby; don't be afraid of the door," encouragingly said 
Mrs. Marks.

Mrs. Digby was probably nervous, for she made several feeble attempts to 
introduce her person,--as suddenly darting back again,--before she 
gathered sufficient courage to accomplish the delicate operation.

"Gracious! I never saw such a door!" she then observed; "I wonder you can 
keep such a creature, Mrs. Marks."

"It has its good points," philosophically replied Mrs. Marks; "it is 
safer than a lock, and, like a dog, won't bite unless you are afraid of 
it. But if you dally with it, Mrs. Digby, why it may give you a snap!"

"Gracious!" exclaimed Mrs. Digby, looking horrified; "how can you live up 
here, Mrs. Marks?"

"The rooms below are gloomy, and have no prospect; whereas here I sit by 
the window, look over the whole grounds, and, if I see anything wrong, I 
just touch this string,--then a bell rings,--and Richard at the lodge is 
warned."

"Well," dismally observed Mrs. Digby, "I dare say that is very pleasant; 
but I have enough of old castles, Mrs. Marks."

"This is not a castle."

"They read like such dear horrid old places, that I was quite delighted 
when Miss Grainger said to me the other day, 'Digby, we are going to 
uncle Thornton's!' I did not know they smelt more mouldy than any cheese, 
and that there was no sleeping with the rats."

"Yes, the little things will trot about, spite of the cat; but then one 
must live and let live, Mrs. Digby."

"Don't say one must let rats live, Mrs. Marks, don't! they are almost as 
bad as Mr. Thornton's horrid things,--only they are stuffed."

"Mr. Thornton is a learned man," sententiously replied Mrs. Marks; "but I 
do think he gives so much attention to natural history and entomology. 
Mr. Marks thought nothing of entomology, he was all for chemistry; that's 
the science, Mrs. Digby!"

"Didn't it blow him up?"

"Blow him up! Was Mr. Marks a gunpowder-mill, Mrs. Digby? He perished in 
making a scientific experiment; you will, I trust, soon learn the 
difference. A man of Mr. Thornton's immense mind cannot but sicken of 
entomology, and return to chemistry. You will not see much, but you will 
hear reports--"

"Gracious!" interrupted Mrs. Digby, with an alarmed air, "I wish I were 
out of the place."

"Then help your handsome young lady to get a husband," sneered Mrs. Marks 
from the depths of her arm-chair.

"If Miss Grainger had my spirit," loftily replied Mrs. Digby, "she would 
now be a countess of the realm, Mrs. Marks; and if she had been guided by 
me, she would at least be the wife of the handsomest gentleman I ever 
saw."

"Edward Thornton! the heir-at-law! Pooh! Mrs. Digby! he has not a penny, 
and Mr. Thornton won't die just yet."

"He is very handsome," spiritedly returned Mrs. Digby; "but, as I said, 
if Miss Grainger will put herself in the hands of Mrs. Brand, why she 
must bear with the consequences, Mrs. Marks."

So saying, Mrs. Digby for the first time turned towards me. She was a 
thin, fair, faded woman, attired in a light blue dress, which, like its 
wearer, was rather _pass?e_. She sat by the table, with the tip of her 
elbow resting on the edge; drooping in a graceful willow-like attitude, 
she raised a tortoise-shell eye-glass to her eyes, examined me through 
it, then dropping it with lady-like grace, sighed forth--

"How do you feel, darling?"

I was proud, more proud than shy; I resented being left to the 
subordinates of my grandfather's household, and did not choose to answer. 
Mrs. Marks spared me the trouble.

"You might as well talk to the cat, Mrs. Digby. Children," she added, 
giving me an impressive look of her dull eyes, "are, up to a certain age, 
little animal creatures: they have speech, sensation, but neither thought 
nor feeling. Mr. Marks and I would never have anything to do with them." 

"Oh! Mrs. Marks! a baby?" 

"Have you ever had one?"

Mrs. Digby reddened, and asked for an explanation. Mrs. Marks asked to 
know if there had not been a Mr. Digby? No. But there might have been a 
Mr. Wilkinson, two Messrs. Jones--Mr. Thompson was coming on, and Mr. 
John Smith was looming in the distance, when Mrs. Marks interrupted the 
series by pouring out the tea. I sat between the two ladies, but I ate 
nothing.

"That child won't live," observed Mrs. Marks at the close of her own 
hearty meal; "she is a puny thing for her age; besides it is not natural 
in such an essentially physical creature as a child not to eat; why don't 
you eat, Anna?"

I looked at her and spoke for the first time: "My name is not Anna."

"What is your name, then?--your Christian name, by which I am to call 
you?" 

I did not relish the prospect of being called by my Christian name, for, 
as I have already said, I was a proud child, so I did not reply.

"Unable to answer a plain question!" observed Mrs. Marks, bespeaking the 
attention of Mrs. Digby with her raised forefinger; "does not know its 
own name!" 

"My name is Miss Burns," I said indignantly. 

"Does not know the difference between a surname and a Christian name!" 
continued Mrs. Marks, commenting on my obtuseness. "Come," she charitably 
added, to aid the efforts of my infant mind, "are we to call you Jane, 
Louisa, Mary Lucy, Alice?"

I remained silent.

"This looks like obstinacy," remarked Mrs. Marks, in a tone of discovery. 
"Let us reason like rational beings," she added, forgetting I was only a 
little animal: "if I don't know your Christian name, how am I to call 
you?"

"Sarah never called me by my Christian name," I bluntly replied.

"Miss Burns," solemnly inquired Mrs. Marks, "do you mean to establish a 
parallel? May I know who and what you take me for?"

"You are the housekeeper," I answered. 

Alas! why has the plain truth the power of offending so many people 
besides Mrs. Marks, and who, like her, too, scorn to attribute their 
wrath to its true cause?

"You have been asked for your Christian name," she said, irefully; "with 
unparalleled obstinacy you have refused to tell it; you shall be called 
Burns, and go to bed at once."

The sentence was immediately carried into effect; I was taken to the next 
room, undressed, and hoisted up into the tall four-posted bedstead which 
nightly received Mrs Marks, and left there to darkness and my 
reflections. But no punishment from those I did not love ever had 
affected me. I was soon fast asleep.

Memory is a succession of vivid pictures and sudden blanks. I remember my 
first evening at Thornton House more distinctly than the incidents of 
last week, but the days that followed it are wrapt in a dim mist. But 
much that then seemed mysterious on account of my ignorance, I have since 
learned to understand.

My grandfather was a country gentleman of good family, but of eccentric 
character. He had from a youth devoted himself to science, and renounced 
the world. I believe he knew and studied everything, but his learning led 
to no result, save that of diminishing a fortune which had never been 
very ample, and of burdening still more heavily his encumbered estate. I 
have often thought what a dull life my poor mother must have led with him 
in that gloomy old house, and I can scarcely wonder that, when a man, 
young, amiable, and rather good-looking than plain, was imprudently 
thrown in her way, she knew not how to resist the temptation of love and 
liberty. 

Mr. Thornton never forgave them. Soon after the elopement of his daughter 
he went abroad on some scientific errand, leaving his property to the 
care of lawyers, and his house to Mrs. Marks, the widow of a scientific 
man, whom he had taken for his housekeeper. He returned to Leigh about 
the time of my father's death, unaltered in temper or feelings. Wrapt in 
his books and studies, he went nowhere and saw no one. Fate having chosen 
to burden him with two feminine guests--his niece and myself--he did his 
best to elude the penalty, by keeping away from us both.

Miss Grainger's sojourn at Thornton House was caused by an indiscretion, 
in which beautiful young ladies will sometimes indulge. She had chosen to 
divert from the plain daughter of an aunt, with whom she resided, the 
affections of her betrothed; who was also my grandfather's heir. Edward 
Thornton lost his intended and her ten thousand pounds, and the beautiful 
Edith exchanged a luxurious abode and fashionable life for Thornton House 
and the society of her uncle. A rose and an owl would have been as well 
matched. Mr. Thornton shunned his niece with all his might; and, not 
being able to forgive her the sin of her birth, he saw still less of his 
grand-daughter.

A room near that of Mrs. Marks was fitted up for me. There I spent my 
days, occasionally enlivened by the sound of her alarum-bell; my old 
books and playthings my only company. Even childish errors win their 
retribution. I had been an exclusive, unsociable child, caring but for 
one being, and contemning every other affection and companionship; no one 
now cared for me. Miss Murray sent me my things, and troubled herself 
about nothing else; my grandfather I never saw; his niece came not near 
me; Mrs. Digby imitated her mistress. I was left to Mrs. Marks; she might 
have been negligent and tyrannical with utter impunity; but though she 
still considered me in the light of a little animal, and persisted in 
calling me "Burns," she did her duty by me.

My wants were attended to; but that was all; I was left to myself, to 
solitude and liberty. I was again sickly and languid. To go up and down 
stairs, to play in the court, wander in the grounds, or walk in the wild 
and neglected garden behind the house, were exertions beyond my strength. 
I remained in my room, a voluntary captive, satisfied with looking out of 
the window. It commanded the grounds below, a green and wild desert, with 
a bright stream gliding through, and looked beyond them over a soft and 
fertile tract of country bounded by a waving line of low hills, which 
opened to afford, as in a vision, a sudden view of some glorious world,--
a glimpse of blending sea and heaven, limited, yet giving that sense of 
the infinite, for which the mind ever longs and which the eye ever seeks.

I sat at that window for hours daily, and grew not wearied of gazing. The 
sea, glittering as glass in sunshine, of the deepest blue in shadow, dark 
and sullen, or white with foam in tempest; the mellow and pastoral look 
of the distant country; the varied beauty of the park, with its ancient 
trees, woodland aspect, and bounding deer; the high grass below, suddenly 
swept down by the strong wind, and ever rising again; the slow and 
stately clouds that passed on in the blue air above me, with a sense, 
motion, and in a region of their own, were not, however, the objects that 
attracted me so irresistibly.

The avenue stretching beneath my gaze, with its dark and stately trees, 
under which cool shadows ever lingered, and the grass-grown path lit up 
by gliding sunbeams, had my first and last look. Untaught by 
disappointment, I kept watching for Cornelius O'Reilly. My plans were 
laid, and I one day tested their practicability. Deceived by a strong 
resemblance in height and figure, I slipped down, unlocked a side-door 
which nobody minded, and thus admitted into Thornton House a handsome 
fashionable-looking man, who seemed surprised, and asked for Miss 
Grainger. I stole away without answering. The same evening Mrs. Marks 
called me to her presence. She sat down, and made me stand before her. 
"Burns," she said, "was it you who let in young Mr. Thornton by the side-
door?"

"Yes," I replied, unhesitatingly.

"Who told you to do so?"

"No one; I did it out of my own head."

"You did it on purpose?"

"Yes, I saw him coming, and went down."

Mrs. Marks looked astounded.

"Burns! what could be your motive?"

I remained mute, though the question was put under every variety of 
shape.

"Unfortunate little creature!" observed Mrs. Marks, whose dull eyes 
beamed compassion on me, "it does not know the nature of its own blind 
impulses."

Thanks to this charitable conclusion, I escaped punishment; but on the 
following day I found the side-door secured by a high bolt beyond my 
reach. I did not, however, give up the point. A wicket-gate opened from 
the garden on the grounds, and commanded a side view of the avenue; 
there, every fine day, I took my post, still vainly hoping for the coming 
of Cornelius.

It was thus I sometimes saw my cousin Edith. Her great loveliness and 
rich attire impressed me strongly. Her room was below mine. I daily heard 
her, like a fair lady in her bower, playing on her lute, or warbling 
sweet songs; she was the beauty and enchanted princess of all my fairy 
tales; yet, when we met, the only notice she took of me was a cold and 
gentle "How are you, dear?" the reply to which she never stopped to hear. 
She generally walked with Mrs. Digby, who, drawing her attention to my 
evident admiration, never failed to observe as they passed by me, "The 
child can't take her eyes off you, Ma'am." "Hush! Digby," invariably 
replied the fair Edith, in a tone implying that she disapproved of the 
liberty, although the sweetness of her disposition induced her to forgive 
it. Mrs. Digby, however, persisted in repeating her offence, even when I 
was not looking, and was always checked with the same gentleness.

One day, when I came down, I found Miss Grainger no longer in the company 
of Mrs. Digby, but sitting in an arbour with a fair and fashionable lady 
of thirty, or so, whom she called Bertha, and who, after eyeing me 
through her gold eye-glass, impressively observed, as, without noticing 
them, I took my usual place: "Edith, such are the consequences of love-
matches! Mr. Langton--"

"But he is so old, Bertha," interrupted Edith, pouting.

"So I thought of Mr. Brand, when I married him; but it is not generous to 
be always thinking of age. Ah! love is very selfish, Edith."

Miss Grainger raised her handkerchief to her eyes.

"My dearest girl," said the lady, "be generous; be unselfish. Mr. Langton 
will be so kind--he has the means, you know,--and poor Edward--poor in 
every sense--can only--Edward, what brought you here?"

She addressed the same young man whom I had admitted, and who had now 
suddenly stepped from behind the arbour where the two ladies sat. He gave 
the speaker an angry look, and taking the hand of my cousin, he hastily 
led her away down one of the garden paths, talking earnestly. The lady 
bit her lip, followed them with a provoked glance, and stood waiting 
their return. She had to wait some time. At length young Mr. Thornton 
appeared; he looked pale, desperate, strode past the lady, opened the 
gate by which I stood, entered the grounds, leaped over a fence, and 
vanished. Edith came up more slowly. She was crying, and looked 
frightened. The lady went up to her.

"Well!" she said, eagerly.

"Edward says he'll kill himself!" sobbed Edith.

"My dear," sighed her friend, "Arthur said so too when we parted. He is 
alive still. I am Edward's sister, and yet, you see, I am quite easy. Do 
not fret, dear. You must come with me to the Mitfords this evening."

"I can't, Bertha."

"My dearest girl, you must. It is extremely selfish to brood over 
sorrow."

With this she kissed her, and they entered the house together.

"Burns, come in to dinner," said the voice of Mrs. Marks, addressing me 
from the arched doorway.

I obeyed, and, for some unexplained reason, was consigned to my room 
during the rest of the day, which I spent by the window, still watching 
for my friend with a patient persistent hope that would not be conquered. 
I was so absorbed that I never heard Mrs. Marks enter, until she said, 
close behind me, "Burns, what are you always looking out of that window 
for?"

Before I could reply, a sharp voice inquired from the corridor:

"Mrs. Marks, who is it I have twice this day heard you addressing by the 
extraordinary name of Burns?"

We both looked round. Mrs. Marks had left my door open; exactly opposite 
it stood a ladder leading to a trap-door in the roof of the house, 
through which Mr. Thornton, who had gone to survey the progress of an 
observatory he was causing to be erected there, now appeared descending.

"That child won't tell her other name, Sir," replied Mrs. Marks, 
reddening.

"Do you know it?"

"She won't tell it, Sir."

My grandfather fastened his keen black eyes full on me, and signed me to 
approach. He stood on the last step of the ladder. I went up to him; he 
gave my head a quick survey, then suddenly fixed the tip of his 
forefinger somewhere towards the summit, and exclaimed, in a tone that 
showed he had settled the bump and the question: "Firmness large; 
secretiveness too; but good moral and intellectual development. What is 
your name?"

"Margaret," I replied, unhesitatingly.

Margaret had been my mother's name. Mr. Thornton turned away at once.

"Margaret, go back to your room," shortly said Mrs. Marks.

Mr. Thornton was descending the staircase. He stopped to turn round, and 
observed, with great emphasis, "Miss Margaret, will you please to go back 
to your room?"

He went down without uttering another word.

Mrs. Marks became scarlet; and, declaring that she was not going to Miss 
Margaret any one, she retired to her own apartment in high dudgeon. I 
thought to spend this autumn evening, as usual, in the companionship of 
lamp, fire, books, and toys; but scarcely had Mrs. Marks brought me my 
light, and retired again, when Miss Grainger entered.

Was it tardy pity? Had my grandfather spoken to her? or had she come, 
like the fairy godmother of poor forlorn Cinderella, to visit me in all 
her splendour, and fill my room with a fleeting vision of elegance and 
beauty? Her tears had ceased, her sorrow was over; she was evidently 
going out for the evening: and she looked triumphant, like a long-captive 
princess emerging from her enchanted tower. Her dark ringlets fell on 
shoulders of ivory; her bright blue eyes sparkled with joy; the sweetest 
of smiles played on her enchanting face. A robe of rose-coloured silk 
fell to her feet in rustling folds; strings of pearls were wreathed in 
her hair, encircled her neck, and clasped her white arms. I gazed on her, 
mute with wonder and admiration. She looked gracious; but I ventured to 
touch her! She drew back with extreme alarm, glanced at her robe, and 
gently extending her hands before her person, to keep me at a safe 
distance, she smiled sweetly at me, with--"Yes, I know; good night, 
dear."

With this she vanished.

Why did she leave me far more chill and lonely than she had found me? Why 
did I remember the tender caresses of my dead father, and the embrace of 
Cornelius in the garden, and feel very dreary and desolate? Providence 
often answers our feelings and our thoughts in a manner that is both 
touching and strange. Ere long the door again opened; I looked up, and 
saw--Cornelius O'Reilly.

 

CHAPTER V.

 

What between surprise and joy, I could neither move nor speak. When the 
young man closed the door, came up to me, sat down by me, and, with a 
kiss, asked cheerfully, "Well, Margaret, how are you?" I hid my face on 
his shoulder, and began to cry. But he made me look up, and said with 
concern, "How pale and thin you are, child!--are you ill?"

"No," I answered, astonished.

Cornelius looked around him, at the fire with the guard, at the table 
with my books and playthings, at me; then observed, "Why are you alone?"

"I am always alone."

"Does no one come near you?"

"No one."

"Does your grandfather never send for you?"

"Oh no!"

"Who takes care of you?"

"Mrs. Marks, the housekeeper."

"Do you never leave this room?"

"I can go down if I like; but it tires me."

"Poor little thing! how do you spend your time?"

"In the daytime I look out of the window; in the evening I play by 
myself."

"Have you no children to play with?"

"No, none."

"And what do you learn?"

"Nothing."

"Nothing!" he echoed.

"Yes, nothing."

"Have you no lessons?"

"No; Mrs. Marks says, that, as I can read well, and write a little, it is 
enough."

"Enough!" indignantly exclaimed Cornelius; but he checked himself to 
observe, "Mrs. Marks knows nothing about it; a good education is the 
least Mr. Thornton can give his grand-daughter."

He was not questioning me; but I looked at him, and said, bluntly, "I am 
to get a common-place education; I am not to be a lady."

"Who says so?" indignantly asked Cornelius.

"Mr. Thornton."

"How do you know?"

"He said it, before me, to Miss Grainger. He said I was to be neither a 
governess nor a lady; and that a common-place education, and some decent 
occupation, were to be my destiny." The words had stung me to the quick 
at the time, and had never been forgotten. As I repeated them, the blood 
rushed up to the face of Cornelius O'Reilly; his look lit; his lip 
trembled with all the quickness of emotion of his race.

"But you shall be a lady," he exclaimed, with rapid warmth. "Your father, 
who was an Irish gentleman born and bred, gave me the education of a 
gentleman; and I will give you the education of a lady,--so help me God!"

He drew and pressed me to him. I looked up at him, and said, "I should 
not take up much room." He seemed surprised at the observation.

I continued--"And Mrs. Marks says I eat so little." Cornelius looked 
perplexed.

"Will you take me with you?" I asked earnestly.

Cornelius drew in a long breath.

"You are an odd child!" he said.

I passed my arms around his neck, and asked again, "Will you take me with 
you?"

"Why do you want me to take you?"

I hung down my head, and did not answer. The strange unconquerable 
shyness of childhood was on me, and rendered me tongue-tied. Cornelius 
gently raised my face, so that it met his look, and smiled at seeing it 
grow hot and flushed beneath his gaze.

"Do you really want me to take you?" he asked, after a pause.

I looked up quickly; I said nothing; but if childhood has no words to 
render its feelings, it has eloquent looks easily read. Cornelius was at 
no loss to understand the meaning of mine.

"Indeed, then, if I can I will," he replied earnestly.

"Oh! we can get out by the back-door," I said, quickly.

"My dear," answered Cornelius, gravely, "never leave a house by the back-
door, unless in case of fire; besides, it would look like an elopement. 
We must speak to Mr. Thornton."

I could not see the necessity of this; but I submitted to his decision, 
and, taking his hand, I accompanied him downstairs. No stray domestic was 
visible, not even the little servant appeared. Cornelius looked around 
him, then resolutely knocked at the door of my grandfather's study. A 
sharp "Come in!" authorized us to enter. This time Mr. Thornton had 
exchanged the magnifying glass and the beetle for a pair of compasses and 
an immense map which covered the whole table. He looked up; and, on 
perceiving Cornelius, exclaimed, with a ludicrous expression of dismay, 
"Sir, have you brought me another little girl?"

"No, Sir," replied Cornelius smiling; "this is the same."

"Oh! the same, is it?"

"No; not quite the same," resumed Cornelius; "the child, whom I left here 
a month ago, is strangely altered; question her yourself, Sir, and 
ascertain the manner in which, without your wish or knowledge, I feel 
assured, your grand-daughter has been treated in your house."

My grandfather gave the young man a sharp look, and his brown face 
darkened in meaning if not in hue.

"Come here," he said, addressing me; "and remember, that, though you have 
large secretiveness, I must have the truth."

I looked at Cornelius; he nodded; I went up to Mr. Thornton, who looked 
keenly at my face, and, as if something there suggested the question, 
abruptly asked, "Do you get enough to eat?"

"Yes, Sir."

"Why don't you eat, then?"

"But I do eat."

"Why does Mrs. Marks strike you?"

"She never strikes me," I replied indignantly.

"But why does she ill-use you?"

"She does not ill-use me; she dare not."

Mr. Thornton looked at Cornelius with ironical triumph. The young man 
seemed disgusted, and said warmly, "I never meant, sir, that Margaret 
Burns was a starved, ill-used child. Heaven forbid! But I meant to say 
that she is left to solitude, idleness, and disgraceful ignorance."

"Upon my word, Mr. O'Reilly," observed Mr. Thornton, pushing away his 
map, as if to survey Cornelius better,--"upon my word, you meddle in my 
family arrangements with praiseworthy coolness."

"Mr. Thornton," replied Cornelius, not a whit disconcerted, and looking 
at him very calmly, "I brought the child to you; this gives me a right to 
interfere, which you have yourself acknowledged by not checking me at 
once."

Mr. Thornton gave him an odd look, then grunted a sort of assent, looked 
at his map, and said impatiently--

"Granted; but not that the child is not treated as she ought to be. 
Still, within reasonable bounds, she shall be judge in her own case. Do 
you hear?" he added, turning towards me, "if you want for anything, say 
so, and you shall get it." 

"I want to go away," I said at once.

"Very well; I shall send you to school."

"But I want to go with Mr. O'Reilly."

"Mr. O'Reilly is welcome to you," sarcastically replied my grandfather; 
"he may take you, drop you on the way, do what he likes with you--if he 
chooses to have you!" I ran to Cornelius.

"Shall I get ready?" I asked eagerly.

"My dear," he gently replied, "Mr. Thornton means to send you to school, 
where you will learn many things."

"She will not be troubled with much learning," drily observed Mr. 
Thornton.

"Surely, Sir," remonstrated Cornelius, "the poor child is to be 
educated?"

"Sir, she is not to be a fine lady."

"Allow me to observe--"

"Sir, I will allow you to take her away and do what you like with her; 
but not to observe."

"I take you at your word," warmly replied Cornelius, on whom Mr. Thornton 
bestowed an astonished look; "take her I will, and educate her too. It 
would be strange if I could not do for her father's child what that 
father did for me! I thank you, Sir, for that which brought me here, but 
which I scarcely knew how to ask for."

My grandfather looked at me, and made an odd grimace, as if not 
considering me a particularly valuable present. Still, and though taken 
at his word, he seemed scarcely pleased.

"Well," he said at length, "be it so. I certainly do not care much about 
the child myself, not being able to forget where that face of hers came 
from--you do; you want to make a penniless lady of her; she wants to go 
with you: have both your wish. If she should prove troublesome or in the 
way, send her back to me, or, in my absence, to Mrs. Marks. You 
distinctly understand that I am willing to provide for her; though, I 
suppose," he added, looking at Cornelius, "I must not propose--"

"No, Sir," gravely interrupted the young man.

"Very well; provide for her too, since such is your fancy. Take her; you 
are welcome to her."

And thus it was decided; and in less than a quarter of an hour we had not 
only left Thornton House, but the surly porter at the lodge had closed 
his iron gates upon us, and we were on our way to Ryde, whence Cornelius 
wished to proceed to London, straight on, that same evening.

After walking on for awhile in utter silence, Cornelius said to me--

"Are you tired. Margaret?"

"Oh no!" I answered eagerly.

Indeed the question seemed to take away my sense of fatigue. For some 
time, the fear of being left behind lent me fictitious strength; but at 
length my sore and weary feet could carry me no further; in the wildest 
and most desolate part of the road I was obliged to stop short.

"What is the matter?" asked Cornelius.

"I can't go on," I replied, despondingly.

"Can't you, indeed?"

"No," I said, sitting down on a milestone, and feeling ready to cry, "I 
can't at all."

"Well, then, if you can't at all," coolly observed Cornelius, "I must 
carry you."

"I am very heavy!" I objected, astonished at the suggestion.

He laughed, and attempted to lift me up, but I resisted.

"Oh! it will fatigue you so!" I said.

"No, nature has given me such extraordinary strength that I can bear 
without fatigue burdens--like you, for instance--beneath which other men 
would sink."

He raised me with an ease that justified his assertion. I clasped my arms 
around his neck, rested my head on his shoulder, and feeling how firm and 
secure was his hold, I yielded with a pleasurable sensation to a mode of 
conveyance which I found both novel and luxurious. I could not however 
help asking once, with lingering uneasiness, "If he did not feel tired?"

"No; strange to say, and heavy as you are, I do not: but why do you 
shiver? Are you cold?"

"No, thank you," I replied, but my teeth chattered as I spoke.

"I hope it is nothing worse than cold," uneasily observed Cornelius, 
stopping short; "undo the clasp of my cloak, and bring it around you."

I obeyed; he helped to wrap me up in the warm and ample folds, and we 
resumed our journey, a moment interrupted. He walked fast; we soon 
reached Ryde; but he would not let me come to light until we were safely 
housed. I heard a staid voice observing--

"Your carpet-bag. I presume, Sir. It will be quite safe here."

"It is not a carpet-bag," replied Cornelius, unwrapping me, and 
depositing me in a small ill-lit back parlour, with a grim landlady 
looking on.

"Your carpet-bag will be quite safe here," she resumed.

"I have none." She looked aghast. A little girl, and no carpet-bag!

"Yours, Sir, I presume?" she steadily observed.

"Mine!" echoed Cornelius, reddening, "no."

"Your sister, I presume, Sir?" persisted the landlady.

"She is no relative," he shortly answered; then, without heeding her, he 
felt my forehead, took my hand, said both were burning; looked at his 
watch, pondered, and finally startled the landlady--who had remained in 
the room taciturn and suspicious--with the abrupt query--

"Is there a medical man about here, Ma'am?"

"There is Mr. Wood."

"Be so kind as to send for him; I fear this child is ill."

She looked mistrustful, but complied with the request, and in about ten 
minutes returned with a sleek little man in black, who bowed himself into 
the room, peeped at my tongue, held my wrist delicately suspended between 
his thumb and forefinger, then for the space of a minute looked intently 
at the ceiling, with his right eye firmly shut, and his tongue shrewdly 
screwed in the left corner of his mouth. At length he dropped my hand, 
opened his eye, put in his tongue, and gravely said:

"The young lady is only a little feverish."

"You are quite sure it is nothing worse?" observed Cornelius, seeming 
much relieved.

"Quite sure," decisively replied Mr. Wood; "but concerning the young 
lady--not your daughter, Sir?"

"No!" was the indignant answer.

"Concerning this young lady," placidly resumed Mr. Wood, "I wish to 
observe that she is of an excitable temperament, requiring--Not your 
sister?" he added, again breaking off into an inquiry.

"No, Sir," impatiently replied Cornelius.

"Of an excitable temperament, requiring gentle exercise, indulgence, 
little study, and none of those violent emotions," (here he held up his 
forefinger in solemn warning,) "none of those violent emotions which sap 
the springs of life in the youthful being. Not your ward?" he observed, 
with another negative inquiry.

"No!--Yes!" hesitatingly said Cornelius.

"In the youthful being--" again began Mr. Wood.

"Excuse me, Sir," impatiently interrupted Cornelius, "but the coach will 
soon pass by; is there anything that can be done for the child?"

"Yes, Sir," drily answered Mr. Wood, "there are several things to be done 
for the young lady; the first is to put her to bed directly."

"To bed?" uneasily said Cornelius.

"Directly. The second, to administer a sedative draught, that will make 
her spend the night in a state of deep repose."

"Then we must actually sleep here?"

"Of deep repose. The third is not to attempt moving her for the next 
twelve hours."

"Remember, Sir, you said it was only feverishness."

"It is nothing more _now_," replied the inexorable Mr. Wood, in a tone 
threatening anything from scarlatina to typhus if his directions were 
disregarded. Cornelius sighed, submitted, asked for the sedative draught, 
and consigned me to the care of the grim landlady.

I allowed her to undress me and put me to bed in a dull little room 
upstairs; but when she attempted to make me take the sedative, duly sent 
round by Mr. Wood, I buried my face in the pillow. Though she said 
"Miss!" in a most threatening accent, she could not conquer my mute 
obstinacy. She departed in great indignation.

Soon after she had left, the door opened, and Cornelius entered. He 
looked grave. I prepared for a lecture, but he only sat down by me and 
said very gently, "Margaret, why will you not drink the sedative?"

I did not answer. He tasted the beverage, then said earnestly, "It is not 
unpleasant; try."

He wanted to approach the cup to my lips, but I turned away, and said 
with some emotion, "I don't want to sleep."

"Why so, child?"

"Because I shall not wake up in time; you will go away and leave me."

"Margaret, why should I leave you?"

"Because you don't like me as Papa did; you do not care about me," I 
replied, a little excitedly; for I was now quite conscious that the 
affection was all on my side.

He looked surprised at the reproach and all it implied, and to my 
mortification he also looked amused. I turned my face to the wall; he 
bent over me and saw that my eyes were full of tears.

"Crying!" he said chidingly.

"You laugh at me," I replied indignantly.

"Which is a shame," he answered, vainly striving to repress a smile; "but 
whether or not, Margaret, you must oblige me by drinking this."

He spoke authoritatively. I yielded, and took the cup from him; but in so 
doing I gave him a look which must have been rather appealing, for he 
said with some warmth, "On my word, child, I shall not leave you behind. 
Why, I would as soon give up a pet lamb to the butcher as let you go back 
to Thornton House,--or turn out a poor unfledged bird from the nest as 
forsake a helpless little creature like you."

I drank at once. To reward my obedience, Cornelius said he would stay 
with me until I had fallen asleep. I tried to delay the moment as long as 
I could, but, conquered by a power mightier than my will, I was gradually 
compelled to yield. I remember the amused smile of the young man at my 
unavailing efforts to keep my eyes open and fixed on his face; then 
follows a sudden blank and darkness, into which even he has vanished.

I awoke the next morning cool, well, and free from fever. The landlady 
dressed me in surly silence, then led me down to the little parlour, 
where I found Cornelius reading the newspaper by the breakfast table. He 
seemed much pleased to find that the fever had left me, and observed with 
a smile, "Well, Margaret, did I run away?"

I hung down my head ashamed.

"Why, my poor child," he added, drawing me towards him, "I should be a 
perfect savage to dream of such a thing; besides, how ungallant to go and 
desert a lady in distress! Never more could Cornelius O'Reilly--a 
disgrace to his name and country--show his face after so dark a deed."

He was laughing at me again; I did not mind it now; but as the grim 
landlady, who had lingered by, looked mystified, Cornelius amused himself 
by treating me with the most attentive and fastidious politeness during 
the whole of breakfast-time. To complete her satisfaction, and to make up 
for the missing carpet-bag, she was edified by the arrival of Miss 
Burns's luggage from Thornton House.

We left early. We rode outside the stage-coach. It was a fine autumn day, 
and the journey was pleasant until evening came on; Cornelius then drew 
me closer to him, and shared with me the folds of his ample cloak. The 
unusual warmth and motion soon sent me to sleep. Once or twice I woke to 
the momentary consciousness of a starlight night, and trees and houses 
rapidly passing before me; but after this all was darkness; the cloak had 
shrouded me completely. I merely opened my eyes to close them again and 
fall asleep, with my head resting against Cornelius, and his arm passed 
around me to save me from falling.

I have a vague remembrance of reaching a large and noisy city, of leaving 
the stage-coach to enter a cab, where I again fell fast to sleep, and at 
length of awaking with a start, as Cornelius said, "Margaret, we are at 
home."

The cab had stopped; Cornelius had got out; he lifted me down even as he 
spoke, and the cab rolled away along the lonely lane in which we stood.

 

CHAPTER VI.

 

I felt a little bewildered. The night and the spot were both dark; all I 
could see was a low garden-wall, half lost in the shadow of a few tall 
trees, and a narrow wooden door. The gleam of light that appeared through 
the chinks, and the sound of a quick step on the gravel within, spared 
Cornelius the trouble of ringing. The door opened of its own accord, and 
on the threshold appeared a lady in black, holding a low lamp in her 
right hand. We entered; she closed the door upon us, and, almost 
immediately, flung the arm that was free around the neck of Cornelius.

"God bless you!" she exclaimed eagerly, and speaking in a warm ardent 
tone, that sounded like a gentle echo of his; "God bless you! I have been 
so wretched!"

"Did you not get my letter?"

"Yes, but I had such a dream!"

"A dream! Oh Kate!" he spoke with jesting reproach, but pausing in the 
path, he stooped and kissed his sister several times, each time more 
tenderly.

"How is the child? Where is she?" asked Miss O'Reilly.

"She is here, and well. By the bye, I have left her little property 
outside."

"Deborah shall fetch it. Take her in."

We were entering the house, which stood at the end of the garden.

"This way, Margaret," said Cornelius, leading me into a small, but 
comfortable and elegant-looking parlour, which took my fancy at once. The 
furniture, though simple, was both good and handsome; the walls were 
adorned with a few pictures and engravings in gilt frames; a well-filled 
book-case faced the rosewood piano; a large table, covered with books, 
occupied the centre of the room, and a stand of splendid flowers stood in 
the deep bow-window.

"Well!" carelessly said Miss O'Reilly, who had followed us in almost 
immediately, "where is that little Sassenach girl?"

"Here she is, Kate," replied Cornelius, leading me to his sister; he 
stood behind me, his hand lightly resting on my shoulder, and looking at 
her, I felt sure, for, in the stoic sadness of her gaze, there was 
something of a glance returned. She lowered the light, gave me a cursory 
look, put by the lamp, and sat down on a low chair by the fire, on which 
she kept her eyes intently fixed.

Miss O'Reilly was very like her brother, and almost as good-looking, 
though at least ten or twelve years older. She was fresh as a rose, and 
had the dark hair, finely arched eyebrows, clear hazel eyes, and handsome 
features of Cornelius; but the expression of countenance was different. 
It was as decided, but more calm; as kind, but scarcely as good-humoured. 
She was very simply attired in black; her glossy and luxuriant hair was 
braided, and fastened at the back of her head with jet pins; jet 
bracelets clasped her wrists. As she sat leaning back in her chair, her 
hands clasped on her knees, even that simple attire and careless attitude 
could not disguise the elegant symmetry of her figure; her hands were 
small and perfect.

"Well!" said Cornelius in a low tone.

"Well!" replied his sister, smiling at the fire with sorrowful triumph in 
her clear eyes; "she is like her father; she has his eyes; pity she has 
not his hair, instead of those pale and sickly flaxen locks. Come here, 
little thing," she added, looking up at me, and holding out her hand.

I hesitated.

"She is very shy, Kate," said Cornelius.

"I shall cure her of her shyness. Come here, Midge."

I obeyed, and took her extended hand. She had the open, direct manner of 
which children are quick to feel the power; her likeness to her brother 
made me more communicative than I usually was with strangers.

"My name is not Midge," I said to her.

"Then it ought to have been, you mite of a thing!"

"My name is Margaret; it was Mamma's name."

Miss O'Reilly dropped my hand, and rose somewhat abruptly. Then she took 
my hand again and said calmly--

"Come, child, you look dusty and tired, after your journey."

She led me upstairs to a cheerful-looking bed-room, where she unpacked my 
wardrobe, and changed my whole attire, with a prompt dexterity that 
seemed natural to her. When we returned to the parlour we found Cornelius 
lying at full length on a sofa drawn before the hearth; a dark cushion 
pillowed his handsome head; the flickering fire-light played on his face. 
His sister went up to him at once; she passed her white hand in his dark 
hair, and bending over him, said tenderly, as if speaking to a child--

"Poor boy! you are tired."

He shook his head, and laughed up in her face.

"Not a bit, Kate. Where is she?"

He half raised his head to look for me; signed me to approach, and made 
room for me on the sofa. I sat down and looked at him and his sister, who 
stood lingering there, smiling silently over him, and still passing her 
slender fingers in his luxuriant hair. The light fell on their two faces, 
almost equally handsome, and to which their striking resemblance gave a 
charm beyond that of mere contrast. To trace in both the same symmetrical 
outlines of form and feature, was to recognize the loveliness of nature's 
gifts, received and perpetuated for generations in the same race; and to 
look at them thus in their familiar tenderness, was to feel the beauty 
and holiness of kindred blood. Child as I was, I was moved with the 
tender sweetness of Miss O'Reilly's smile; it preceded however a question 
more kind than romantic. 

"What will you have with your tea? Ham?" 

"Nothing, Kate; we dined on the road." 

"Will she?" 

"You mean--"

"Yes," she interrupted impatiently.

He looked at his sister, who went up to the table, then put the question 
to me. I wished for nothing; so Miss O'Reilly simply rang the bell; a 
demure-looking servant brought in the tray. When the tea was made and 
poured out, Miss O'Reilly said to me, in her short way--

"Child, Thing, give that cup to Cornelius." 

"But my name is Margaret," I objected, a little nettled at being called 
"Thing."

"I know it is," she replied in a low tone. 

"Margaret," musingly repeated Cornelius, taking the cup I was handing to 
him, "diminutives, Meg, Peg, and by way of variety Peggy; which do you 
prefer, child?" 

"I don't like any of them," I frankly replied. 

"Mar-ga-ret! three syllables! I could not afford the time; Katherine has 
come down to Kate.--you must be Meg." 

I sat at the table taking my tea. I laid down the cup with dismay.

"I don't like Meg," I said. 

"Well then, Peg." 

"I don't like Peg, either." 

"Well then, Peggy." 

"I hate Peggy!" I indignantly exclaimed. 

"Let the child alone!" said Miss O'Reilly. 

"Meg, my dear, a little more milk, if you please," calmly observed 
Cornelius. Though ready to cry with mortification, I acknowledged the 
name by complying with his request.

"Thank you, Meg," he said, returning the milk-jug. 

"Let the child alone," again put in his sister. 

"She is my property, and I shall call her as I choose," quietly replied 
Cornelius. "I don't like the name of Mar-ga-ret."

"Papa said there was not a prettier name," I objected.

"That is a matter of taste," almost sharply replied Cornelius; "I think 
Katherine is a much prettier name."

He reddened as he spoke, whilst his sister pushed back her untasted tea.

"He said Margaret was the name of a flower," I persisted,--"of the China-
aster."

"Which you do not resemble a bit," inexorably replied Cornelius; "the 
garden has shorter and prettier names; Rose, Lily, Violet, etc."

"I like my own name best."

"Meg! No; well then Peg. What!--not Peg! which then?"

"I don't care which," I replied despondingly. 

He saw that my eyes were full of tears, and yet that I submitted.

"Poor little thing!" he observed with a touch of pity. "I must think of 
something else.--Let me see.--Eureka! Kate, what do you say to Daisy, the 
botanical diminutive of Margaret?"

"Anything you like, Cornelius," she replied sadly, "but don't teaze the 
poor child."

"She shall decide."

He called me to him, and left the matter to me. I was glad to escape from 
Meg and Peg; and Daisy I was called from that hour.

"You already have it quite your own way with that child," observed Miss 
O'Reilly, looking at her brother; "and yet she looks a little wilful!"

"That is just what makes it pleasant having one's way with her," he 
replied, smiling down at me, as if amused at his triumph over my 
obstinacy, and gently pulling my hair by way of caress. "News from the 
city?" he added after a while.

"There came a message yesterday and two to-day."

Cornelius shook his head impatiently, in a manner habitual to him, and 
which was ever displaying the heavy masses of his dark hair, but, 
catching the eye of his sister, he smoothed his brow, and said, smiling--

"I am glad I am so precious."

"It was Mr. Trim who came this evening."

"Very kind of him to call on my handsome sister when I am out of the 
way."

"He says it is a pity you do not give more of your mind to business."

"I give ninety pounds' worth a year," disdainfully replied Cornelius, 
"the exact amount of my salary."

"He has got his long-promised government office, with a salary of five 
hundred a year," continued Miss O'Reilly.

Cornelius half started up on one elbow, to exclaim gaily--

"Kate! has he made you an offer?"

"Nonsense," she replied impatiently, "who is to take the place Trim is 
leaving vacant?"

"And to do his work," answered Cornelius, indolently sinking back into 
his previous attitude; "Faith! I don't know, Kate."

"Trim leaves next month," said Miss O'Reilly, looking at her brother.

"Let him, Kate."

"Will you allow that Briggs to step in?"

"Why not, poor fellow?"

Miss O'Reilly's brown eyes sparkled. She gave the fire a vigorous and 
indignant poke.

"Will you let that Briggs walk upon you?" she asked vehemently.

"Yes," answered Cornelius, yawning slightly, "I will, Kate."

"You have no spirit!"

"None."

He spoke with irritating carelessness. From reproach she changed to 
argument.

"It would make a great difference in the salary, Cornelius!"

"And in the work, Kate. I shudder to think of the dull letters that 
unfortunate Briggs will have to write. The tedious additions, 
subtractions, and divisions he must go through, make my head ache for 
him."

"Do you fear work, Cornelius?"

"I hate it, Kate."

Again she poked the fire; then looked up at her brother, and said 
decisively--

"I don't believe it."

He laughed.

"You idle? Nonsense! I don't believe it."

"Then you ought; nothing but the direct necessity daily hunts me to the 
city."

"I hate the city!"

"Why so, poor thing? It is only a little smoky, dingy, noisy, and foggy, 
after all."

"I wish," hotly observed Miss O'Reilly, "that instead of pulling that 
unfortunate child's hair as if it were the ear of a spaniel, you would 
talk sense. Come here, Primrose," she added, impatiently, addressing me.

Instead of going I looked at Cornelius. I sat by him on the edge of the 
sofa, and he was in the act of mechanically unrolling a stray lock of my 
hair.

"Well!" said Miss O'Reilly

He smiled; but his look said I was to obey his sister; I went up to her a 
little reluctantly. She made me sit down on a low cushion at her feet, 
then resumed--

"Cornelius, will you talk sense?"

"Kate, I will."

"Do you, or do you not, like the life you have chosen?"

He did not answer.

"I always thought a stool in an office unworthy of your talents and 
education. If you do not like it, leave it; if you do like it, seek at 
least to rise."

"Viz.: Get up on a higher stool, do more work, earn more money, and end 
the year as I began it--a poor devil of a clerk."

"Why be a clerk at all?"

"Because, though I am idle, I must work to live. Ask me no more, Kate; I 
have no more to tell you."

He threw himself back on the sofa in a manner that implied a sufficient 
degree of obstinacy.

"Will you have any supper?" asked his sister, as composedly as if nothing 
had passed between them.

"Yes, Kate, my dear," he answered pleasantly. She rose and left the room. 
As the door closed on her, Cornelius half rose and bent forward; from 
careless his face became serious; from indifferent, thoughtful and 
attentive, like that of one engaged in close argument; then he looked up 
and shook his head with a triumphant smile; but chancing to catch my eye, 
as I sat facing him on the low stool where Miss O'Reilly had left me, he 
started slightly, and exclaimed, with a touch of impatience--

"Don't look so like a fairy, child! take a book." And bending forward he 
took from the table a volume of engravings, which he handed to me, 
informing me I should find it more entertaining than his face. I never 
looked up from the volume until Deborah brought in the supper.

When the frugal meal was over, Miss O'Reilly took my hand, and led me to 
her brother. He was standing on the hearth; he looked down at me, laid 
his hand on my head, and quietly bade me good-night. His sister offered 
him her cheek.

"Are you not coming down again?" he asked.

"No. I feel sleepy."

He looked deep into her eyes.

"Nonsense!" she said impatiently, "no such a thing."

He passed his arm around her and smiled.

"How handsome you are, Kate!" he observed, with jesting flattery; "woe to 
my peace of mind when I meet--"

"Not a bit!" she interrupted with a blush and a sigh; "no dark-haired 
woman will ever endanger your peace. Give me a kiss and let me go."

He embraced her with a lingering tenderness that seemed to have a 
meaning, for she looked another way, and appeared moved. But at length he 
released her; she took my hand, led me up to her room, and undressed me 
in silence. She then looked at me, and said pointedly--

"Well!"

I thought she meant I was to kiss her. I offered to do so, but she put me 
away, and observed more emphatically than before--

"Well!"

I looked at her thoroughly puzzled.

"Bless me!" she said, in her warm way, "is the child a heathen! Midge, 
Daisy, whatever your name may be, don't you know that you must say your 
prayers before going to bed!"

"I always said my prayers to Papa," I replied, rather offended.

"Then kneel down and say them to me."

She sat on the edge of the bed; I knelt at her feet; she took my hands in 
hers, and fastening on me her clear brown eyes, she heard me to the end. 
Then she put me to bed, closed the curtains, and told me to sleep. I 
obeyed. I know not how long I had slept, when low moans awoke me. The 
light was still burning; I sat up softly, and looked through the opening 
of the curtains. The handsome sister of Cornelius was kneeling before a 
small table, on which stood a low lamp; its white circle of light fell on 
an open volume, but she was not reading; thrown back somewhat in the 
attitude of the penitent Magdalene, with her hands clasped, and her head 
sunk in her bosom, she was weeping bitterly. She whom I had seen but a 
few hours before fresh as a flower, cheerful, gay, was now pale as death, 
and seemed bowed down with grief. Tears ran down her check like rain, but 
the only words that passed her lips were those uttered by Christ in his 
agony on the Mount--"Thy will, not mine, be done!" And this she repeated 
over and over, as if vainly thirsting for the resignation she thus 
expressed.

I looked at her with wonder. At length she rose; I softly sank back into 
my place; scarcely had I done so, when Miss O'Reilly came up to the bed 
and opened the curtains. I closed my eyes almost without knowing why. She 
bent over me, I felt her breath soft and warm on my face; then a light 
though lingering kiss was pressed on my cheek. I did not dare to stir 
until I felt her lying down by my side; when I then looked, I found the 
room quite dark. Miss O'Reilly remained very still; for awhile I staid 
awake, wondering at what I had seen, but at length I fell fast asleep.

 

CHAPTER VII.

 

I awoke late on the following morning, dazzled by the sunshine which 
filled the room. I was alone, but on the staircase outside I heard Miss 
O'Reilly's voice, exclaiming--

"Deborah, will you never clean those door-steps?"

With this, she opened the door and came in. I looked at her; her cheek 
was fresh, her eyes were bright and clear. With a smile, she asked how I 
felt, said I did not look amiss, and helped me to rise and dress, 
chatting cheerfully all the time. A lonely breakfast awaited me in the 
back parlour; I looked in vain for Cornelius.

"He is gone to the City, and will not be back till five," said Miss 
O'Reilly. "What, already done! Why, child, how little you eat!" she added 
with concern; "go into the garden, and run about for awhile."

She opened a glass door, through which came a green and sunny glimpse of 
a pleasant-looking garden beyond. Without being small, it had the look of 
a bower, and a very charming bower it was, fragrant and wild. In the 
centre of a grass-plat rose an old sun-dial of grey stone, with many a 
green mossy tint. Around wound a circular path, between which and the 
wall extended a broad space filled with lilac-trees, laburnums, thickets 
of gorse and broom, and where, though half wild and neglected, also grew, 
according to their season, cool blue hyacinths, yellow crocuses with 
their glowing hearts, gay daffodils, pale primroses, snowdrops, shy hare-
bells, fair lilies of the valley, tall foxgloves of many a rich dark hue, 
summer roses laden with perfume, stately holly-hocks, bright China-
asters, and bending chrysanthemums--"a wilderness of sweets." The wall 
itself, when it could be seen, was not without some charm and verdure. It 
was old and crumbling, but bristling with bright snap-dragons, yellow 
with stonecrop above, and green below with dark ivy that trailed and 
crept along the ground. From a few rusty nails hung, torn and wild, 
banners of tangled honeysuckle and jasmine, haunted by the bees of a 
neighbouring hive. Two tall and noble poplars, growing on either side the 
wooden door by which Cornelius and I had entered, cast their narrow line 
of waving shadow over the whole place, which they filled with a low 
rustling murmur. The lane behind was silent; beyond it, and everywhere 
around, extended gardens, wide or small, where quiet dwellings rose in 
the shade and shelter of embowering trees; still further on, spread a 
rising horizon, bounded by lines of low hills, where grey clouds lay 
lazily sleeping all the day long.

On this autumn morning, Miss O'Reilly's garden was little more than warm, 
green, and sunny. The poplars had strewn it with sere and yellow leaves, 
and of the flowers none remained save a few late roses, China-asters, and 
chrysanthemums. I walked around it, then sat down on the flag at the foot 
of the sun-dial, and amused myself with looking at the house.

It was one of those low-roofed, red-tiled, and antiquated abodes, which 
can still be seen on the outskirts of London, daily removed, it is true, 
to make room for the modern cottage and villa. It stood between a quiet 
street and a lonely lane, a plain brick building, with many-paned 
windows, half hid by clustering ivy, which shadowed its projecting porch, 
and gave it a gloom both soft and deep. A screen of ivy sloping down to 
the garden-wall partly separated it from a larger house, to which, in 
point of fact, it belonged; both had originally formed one abode, but, 
for the purpose of letting, had thus been subdivided by Miss O'Reilly, 
whose property they had recently become. On either side, the double 
building was sheltered by young trees. It looked secluded, lone, and 
ancient: an abode where generations had lived and loved.

From contemplating it, I turned to watching a spider's web, one of my 
favourite occupations in our garden at Rock Cottage.

"Well!" said the frank voice of Miss O'Reilly.

I looked up; the sun fell full on the house, and on the three worn stone 
steps that led down to the garden, but she stood above them, beneath the 
ivied porch, where she looked fresh and cool, like a bright flower in the 
shade. She gazed at me with her head a little pensively inclined towards 
her right shoulder; then said gently--

"Why do you sit, instead of running about?"

"It tires me so."

"Poor little thing! but you must move. Come in; go about the house; walk 
up and down stairs; open the cupboards, look, do something."

"Yes, Ma'am," I replied, astonished however at her singular behests.

"You must call me Kate; say Kate."

I did so; for, like her brother, it was not easy to say her nay. With a 
kind smile, she sent me on my voyage of discovery. The only apartment 
that interested me was a room lying at the top of the house, and which I 
considered to be the lumber-room. It was filled with plaster casts and 
old dusty pictures without frames; the greater part were turned to the 
wall; a few that were exposed looked dull in the warm sun-light pouring 
in on them through the open window; before it stood a deal table, on 
which, after examining the pictures. I got up.

"Daisy, what are you doing there?" exclaimed Miss O'Reilly, entering the 
room; "come down."

I obeyed, but said in a tone of chagrin--

"I cannot see the sea!"

"I should think not. Why did you turn those pictures?"

"I found them so, Kate."

She frowned slightly; turned them back, every one, then said gravely--

"You must not come here any more; it is the study of Cornelius. He reads 
and writes here."

"Did he paint them?" I asked, with sudden interest.

"No," was the short answer; "they are by my father, who has been dead 
some years."

"Why does he not paint pictures too?"

"Bless the child!" exclaimed Miss O'Reilly, turning on me a flushed and 
annoyed face; but she checked herself to observe, "He is at a bank, and 
has neither time nor inclination for painting."

With this we left the room, and went down to the front parlour, where she 
worked, and I amused myself with a book until the clock struck five. I 
then looked up at Miss O'Reilly.

"Yes," she said, smiling, "he will soon be here." But there was a delay 
of ten or fifteen minutes: she saw me restless with expectation, and 
good-naturedly told me I might go and look out for him at the back-door. 
I jumped up with an eagerness that again made her smile, and having 
promised not to pass the threshold of the garden, I ran out to watch for 
Cornelius, as I had formerly so often watched for my father. The lane was 
green, silent, and lonely, with high hawthorn hedges, a few overshadowing 
trees, and a narrow path ever encroached on by grass, weeds, and low 
trailing plants. Ere long I saw Cornelius appear in the distance; he 
walked with his eyes on the ground, and never saw me until he had reached 
the door. He entered, and in passing by me carelessly stroked my hair by 
way of greeting. To his sister, who stood waiting for him on the last 
step of the house, he gave the embrace without which they never met or 
parted.

The tea was made and waiting. Miss O'Reilly poured it out, and called me 
from where I sat apart, feeling shy and unnoticed, to hand his cup to her 
brother, who was again lying on the sofa. He asked how I had behaved.

"Too well; she is too quiet."

"Shall we send her to school!" said Cornelius.

I turned round from the table, to give him an entreating look, which he 
did not heed.

"She is too weak; we must teach her ourselves," replied his sister.

I heard the decision with great relief. A school was my horror. When the 
meal was over, I made my way to Cornelius, and half whispered--

"Will _you_ teach me?"

"Perhaps so; well, don't look disappointed--I will."

"What do you know?"

"Grammar, history, geography--"

"I can vouch for the geography," interrupted Miss O'Reilly.

"We shall see."

He examined me; I did my best to answer well, and waited for his verdict 
with a beating heart.

"What do you think of her?" asked his sister, who now re-entered the 
room, which she had left for awhile.

"She won't fit in it!" replied Cornelius, giving me a perplexed look.

"What?"

"Ah! I forgot to tell you. I bought her a cot, or crib--what do you call 
it?--I fear she won't fit in it! Can't we shorten her?"

"You have bought her a bed!" exclaimed Miss O'Reilly, looking confounded, 
and laying down her work.

"Yes; come here, Daisy."

He measured me with his eye, then added triumphantly, "She will fit in 
it; it is just her size, Kate! see if it is not, when it arrives! just 
her size."

"Just her size! bless the boy! does he not mean the poor child to grow?"

"Faith!" exclaimed Cornelius, looking astonished, "I never thought of 
that, never!--and yet," he added thoughtfully, "I think I can remember 
her shorter than she is now."

"You are the most foolish lad in all Ireland!" hotly observed Miss 
O'Reilly, with whom, though she had left it many years, her native 
country was ever present.

She gave him a scolding, which he bore with perfect good-humour. A little 
mollified by this, she changed the subject by asking--

"Well, how did the child answer?"

"Oh,--hem! Oh, very well, of course."

He had already forgotten all about it, as I felt, with some 
mortification. Quite unconscious of this, he rose, opened the piano, and 
turning to his sister, said--

"What shall I sing you, Kate?"

"Anything you like,--one of the Melodies."

She sat back to listen, with her hand across her eyes, whilst, in a rich 
harmonious voice, her brother sang one of those wild and beautiful Irish 
melodies,--plaintive as the songs of their own land which the captives of 
Sion sang by the rivers of Babylon. I listened, entranced, until he 
closed the piano, and read aloud to his sister from a book of travels, 
which sent me fast asleep.

Happy are the bereaved children whom Providence leads to the harbour of 
such a home as I had found! Cornelius and his sister lived in a retired 
way; their tastes were simple; their means moderate; but their home, 
though quiet, was pleasant like a shady bower, where the waving trees let 
in ever-new glimpses of the blue sky, with gliding sun beams and many a 
wandering breeze. There was a genial light and vivacity about them; an 
endless variety of moods, never degenerating into ill-temper; a pleasant 
union of shrewdness, simplicity, and originality, which lent a great 
charm to their daily intercourse. To be with them was to breathe an 
atmosphere of cheerful, living peace, far removed from the fatal and 
enervating calmness which makes a pain of repose.

I knew them at the least troubled period of their lives. They were the 
children, by different mothers, of an ambitious and disappointed artist, 
who had left Ireland ardent with hope, and after vainly struggling 
against obscurity for a few years, had died in London, poor, miserable, 
and broken-hearted.

For some years his daughter supported herself and her young brother by 
teaching; then my father, who had long known them, came to her aid, and 
insisted on defraying the expenses of the education of Cornelius. She 
struggled on alone, until, about a year before I saw her, an old 
relative, who had never assisted her in her poverty, died, leaving her a 
moderate income, and the house in which we now resided. Towards the same 
time Cornelius, who had completed his studies, instead of entering one of 
the learned professions, as his sister urged him to do, accepted of a 
situation in the City. This was one of the few subjects on which they 
differed; but it was seldom alluded to, and never allowed to disturb the 
harmony of their home. On most points they agreed; on none more entirely 
than in taking every care of their adopted child.

Cornelius had a memory tenacious of benefits and injuries. He thought 
himself bound to watch over the orphan daughter of his benefactor and 
friend. He took me, indeed, to my grandfather--my natural protector; but, 
on learning from Miss Murray the footing on which I was said to be 
treated in Mr. Thornton's house, he at once set off to obtain possession 
of me, "if possible," not being quite prepared for the ease with which 
his object was accomplished.

I rejoiced in the change, as might a plant removed from deadly shade to 
living sunshine. My health improved; I became more cheerful. Every day I 
walked out with Kate in the neighbourhood. It was then one of the 
prettiest suburbs about London. We lived in a street called the "Grove," 
and which deserved its name, for it was planted with old trees, and 
passed like a broad walk through the gardens on either side, where, like 
brown nests in a green hedge, appeared a few ancient houses irregularly 
built, and still more irregularly scattered. But its lanes were the great 
attraction of this vicinity. 

If we opened the garden door we entered a verdant wilderness of paths 
crossing one another; and each was (and there lay the charm) in itself a 
solitude. Country lanes may break the grand lines of a landscape; but, in 
the neighbourhood of a great and crowded city, every glimpse of nature is 
pleasant and lovely. I remember the sense of serene happiness I felt in 
walking out with Kate in the early morning, along a quiet path; now, 
alas! crowded with villas, but then called "Nightingale lane," and 
sheltered on one side by a cheerful orchard, with its white and fragrant 
blossoms in Spring, or its bending fruit in Autumn, glittering in the 
rising sun; and, on the other, screened by a row of elms, whose ancient 
roots grasped earth in the tenacious hold of ages, and whose broad base 
young green shoots veiled with a tender grace. The horizon on our left 
was bounded by an old park, a stately, motionless grove of beech-trees, 
above which, bending to every breeze, rose a few tall and graceful 
poplars; to our right, hidden in its garden, lay our humble home. Kate, 
reading her favourite Thomas ? Kempis, walked on, her eyes bent on the 
page; I followed more slowly, reading, child though I was, from the 
Divine book man cannot improve, and vainly tries to mar.

Between the path and the hedge which enclosed the orchard, lay a broad 
ditch. There grew green grasses, that bent to the breeze like forests, 
and beneath which flowed a faint thread of water, the river of that small 
world, peopled with nations of insects, and which to me possessed both 
attraction and beauty. For there the ground-ivy trailed along the earth, 
its delicate blue flowers hidden by fresh leaves; there rose the purple 
bugle, the stately dead-nettle, with its broad leaves and white whorls, 
and grew the cheerful celandine, bright buttercups, the sunny dandelion, 
the diminutive shepherd's purse, the starry blossoms of the chickweed, 
the dark bitter-sweet with its poisonous red berries, the frail and 
transparent flowers of the bindweed, sheltered in the prickly hedge like 
shy or captive beauties, with every other common weed and plant which man 
despises, and God disdained not to fashion.

My communion with nature, though restricted, was very sweet. I was 
debarred from her wildness and grandeur, but I became all the more 
familiar with those aspects which she takes around human homes. And is 
there not a great charm in the very way in which man and nature meet? The 
narrow garden, its flowers and shrubs so tenderly protected and cared 
for, the ivy that clings around the porch, the grass that half disputes 
the little beaten path, have a half wild, half domestic grace, I have 
often felt as deeply, as the romantic beauty of ancient glens, where 
mountain torrents make a way through pathless solitudes. My world might 
seem narrow, but I never found it so whilst the deep skies, with all 
their changes, spread above to tell of infinity, and the sweet and 
mysterious song of free birds, under distant cover, allured thought away 
to many a green and shady bower.

Not less pleasant to me were the autumn evenings. They still stand forth 
on the background of memory, as vivid and minutely distinct as the home 
scenes, by light of lamp or fire-flame, which the old masters like to 
paint. Cornelius loved music and poetry, those two glorious gifts of God 
to man. He played and sang with taste, and read well. When the piano was 
closed, he took down some favourite volume from the bookcase, and gave us 
a few scenes from Shakspeare, a grand passage from Milton, a calm 
meditative page from Wordsworth. Sometimes he opened AEschylus, 
Sophocles, or Euripides, and, translating freely, transported us into a 
world gone by, but beautiful and human in its passions and sorrows. Miss 
O'Reilly listened attentively; then, after hearing some fine fragment 
from the Bound Prometheus, some stirring description from the Seven 
against Thebes, she would look up from her work and say, with mingled 
wonder and admiration--

"That is grand, Cornelius!"

"Is it not?" he would reply, with kindling glance, for they both had the 
same strong admiration for the heroic and great.

I should have been very happy, but for one drawback. It was natural, 
perhaps, that having been reared by my father, and never having known my 
mother, I should attach myself to Cornelius in preference to his sister. 
But in vain I strove to win his attention and favour; in vain I ran, not 
merely on his bidding, but on a word and on a look; gave him his hat and 
gloves in the morning; watched for him every fine evening at the garden 
gate; followed him about the house like his shadow, sat when he sat, 
happy if I could but catch his eye; in vain I showed him how devotedly 
fond I was of him; he treated me with the most tantalizing mixture of 
kindness, carelessness, and indifference. Half the time, he did not seem 
to see me about the house; when he became conscious that I existed, he 
gave me a careless nod and smile. If I did anything for him he thanked 
me, and stroked my hair; yet if I looked unwell, he was quick to notice 
it. He occasionally made me small presents of books and toys, and every 
evening he devoted several hours to the task of teaching me. I worked 
hard to give him satisfaction, but he only took this as a matter of 
course; called me a good child, and, as I was quiet and silent, generally 
allowed me to sit somewhere near him for the rest of the evening, and 
this was all: he seldom caressed, he never kissed me.

With his sister Cornelius was very different, and I felt the contrast 
keenly. He loved her tenderly; he was proud of her beauty; he liked to 
call her his handsome Kate, to talk and jest with her, and often, too, to 
sit by her and caress her with a fondness more filial than brotherly; 
whilst I looked on, not merely unheeded, but wholly forgotten.

Of course I was still less thought of, when, as happened occasionally, 
evening visitors dropped in. I remember a dark-eyed Miss Hart, who kept 
up a gay quarrel with Cornelius, and of whom I was miserably jealous, 
until, to my great satisfaction, she got married and went into the 
country; also a bald and learned Mr. Mountford, whom I disliked heartily 
for keeping Cornelius to himself, but who, in a lucky hour, having made 
an offer to Kate and being rejected, came no more; likewise Mr. Leopold 
Trim, whom I detested on the score of his own merits.

As I entered the front parlour on a mild autumn afternoon which I had 
spent in the garden, I found Miss O'Reilly entertaining him and another 
gentleman. Mr. Trim sat by the fire in his usual attitude: that is to 
say, with his hands benevolently resting on his knees, his little eyes 
peering about the room, and his capacious mouth good-naturedly open.

"Eh! little Daisy!" he said, in his warm husky voice, "and how are you, 
little Daisy, eh?"

He stretched out an arm--long, for so short a man--and attempted to seize 
on me for the kind purpose of bestowing a kiss; but I eluded his grasp, 
and took refuge behind Miss O'Reilly's chair, whence I looked at him 
rather ungraciously. Mr. Trim took this as an excellent joke, threw 
himself back in his chair, shut his little eyes, opened his mouth wider, 
and gave utterance to a boisterous "Ha! ha!" that ended all at once in a 
strange sort of squeak. Miss O'Reilly frowned; she never heard that laugh 
with patience.

"Daisy," she said, "go and shake hands with Mr. Smalley, an old friend of 
Cornelius."

I was shy, but that name had a spell; I obeyed it at once. Morton Smalley 
was a pale, slender, and good-looking young clergyman, with a stoop, and 
a long neck; he seemed amiable, and might be said to look meekly into the 
world through a pair of gold spectacles and over an immaculate white 
neckcloth. He sat on the edge of his chair, nervously holding his hat; 
yet when I went up to him, he held out his hand with a smile so kind, and 
looked at me so benignantly through his glasses, that my shyness vanished 
at once.

"That Smalley always was a lucky fellow with the ladies," ejaculated Mr. 
Trim, once more peering round the room with his hands on his knees.

Mr. Smalley blushed rosy red at the imputation.

"A very wild fellow he used to be, I assure you, Ma'am,--ha! ha!"

"My dear Trim," nervously began Mr. Smalley.

"Now, don't Smalley," deprecatingly interrupted Leopold Trim,--"don't be 
severe; you always are so confoundedly severe."

"Not in an unchristian manner, I hope," observed Mr. Smalley, looking 
uncomfortable.

"As if _I_ meant any harm!" continued Mr. Trim, looking low-spirited; "as 
if any one minded the jokes of a good-natured fellow like _me!_"

Mr. Smalley looked remorseful.

"Don't be afraid of me, my dear," he said to me, "I am very fond of 
little girls."

"Oh! I am not afraid," I replied, confidently; for he did not look as if 
he could hurt a fly.

Mr. Smalley brightened, and began questioning me; I answered readily. He 
looked surprised and said--

"You are really very well informed, my dear."

"It is Cornelius who teaches me," I replied proudly.

"Then my wonder ceases. We were all proud of your brother, Ma'am," 
observed Mr. Smalley, addressing Kate, "and grateful--"

"For fighting all your battles--eh, Smalley?" kindly interrupted Mr. 
Trim.

Mr. Smalley coloured, but subdued the carnal man, to answer meekly--

"I objected on principle to the unchristian encounters which take place 
amongst boys, and I certainly owed much to the superior physical strength 
of our valued friend."

"Lord, Smalley! how touchy you are!" exclaimed Mr. Trim, with mournful 
surprise.

"Not in this case, surely," Mr. Smalley anxiously replied; "how could I 
take your remarks unkindly, when you know it was actually with you our 
dear friend had that first little affair--"

"It is very well for you, who looked on, to call it a little affair," 
rather sharply interrupted Mr. Trim, "but I never got such a drubbing."

Kate laughed gaily. Mr. Smalley, finding he had unconsciously been 
sarcastic, looked confounded, and tried to get out of it by suddenly 
finding out that when Miss O'Reilly laughed she was very like her 
brother. But Mr. Trim was on him directly. He, as every one knew, was as 
blind as a bat; but how did it happen that Smalley, who wore glasses, and 
pretended to have weak eyes, could yet see well enough to discover 
likenesses? He put the question with an air of injured candour. Mr. 
Smalley protested that his eyes were weak; but Mr. Trim proved to him so 
clearly that he was physically and mentally as sharp-eyed as a lynx, that 
his friend gave in, a convicted impostor, and took refuge in the 
Dorsetshire curacy to which he was proceeding, and of which he gave an 
account that might have answered for a bishopric. But thither too, Mr. 
Trim pursued him, and broadly hinted at the selfishness of some people, 
who could think of nothing but that which concerned them. Upon which Mr. 
Smalley, looking at Kate, declared in self-defence that it was not 
through indifference, but from a sense of discretion, he had not inquired 
in what branch of literature, science, or art, her brother was now 
distinguishing himself. Miss O'Reilly reddened, and looked indignantly at 
Mr. Trim, who, with his eyes shut and his hands on his knees, had 
suddenly dropped into a doze by the fire-side. Then she drew up her 
slender figure, and said stiffly--

"My brother is a clerk, Sir."

Mr. Smalley looked at her with mute and incredulous surprise.

"Don't you remember I told you?" observed Mr. Trim, wakening up: "we were 
turning the corner of Oxford-street."

Mr. Smalley remembered turning the corner of Oxford-street, but no more.

"Yes, yes," confidently resumed Mr. Trim, "we were turning the corner of 
Oxford-street, when I said to you, 'Is it not a shame a scholar, a genius 
like O'Reilly, should be perched up on a high stool in a dirty hole of an 
office--'"

"It was his own choice," interrupted Kate, and she began speaking of the 
weather.

Five struck; I stole out of the room, went to the garden, and opening the 
door, stood on the threshold to watch for Cornelius. I soon saw him, and 
ran out to meet him.

"Mr. Trim is come," I said.

"Is he?" was the careless reply.

"And Mr. Smalley, too."

Cornelius uttered a joyful exclamation, and hastened in, leaving me the 
door to close. The greeting of the two friends was not over when I 
entered the parlour. They stood in a proximity that rendered more 
apparent Mr. Smalley's feminine slenderness as contrasted with the erect 
and decided bearing of Cornelius, who, although much younger, had, as if 
by the intuitive remembrance of their old relation of protector and 
protected, laid his hand on the shoulder of his former school-fellow, 
looking down at him with a pleased smile.

"Don't you think he's grown?" asked Mr. Trim.

"More than you," was the short reply.

"How much _you_ are altered!" said Mr. Smalley, surveying his friend with 
evident admiration.

"And so are you," replied Cornelius, glancing at his clerical attire: "I 
congratulate you."

The Reverend Morton Smalley coloured a little, and, with a proud and 
happy smile, replied, gently squeezing the hand of Cornelius--

"Thank you, my dear friend; I have indeed obtained the privilege of 
entering our beloved Church--"

"Yes, yes," interrupted Mr. Trim, peering around, "Smalley always liked 
the ladies,--ha! ha!"

Mr. Smalley reddened and looked hurt, like a lover who hears his mistress 
slighted. Cornelius, who still stood with his hand on the shoulder of his 
friend, slowly turned towards Mr. Trim, to say, in a tone of ice--

"Did you speak, Trim?"

Mr. Trim opened his eyes with an alarmed start, as if he rather expected 
a sort of sequel to "the little affair" of their early days.

"Why, it is only a joke," he hastily replied; "I like a joke, you know; 
but who minds _me?_"

Before Cornelius could answer, Miss O'Reilly closed the discussion by 
ringing for tea. Mr. Trim, who now seemed gathered up into himself, like 
a snail in his shell, drank six cups in profound silence, then went back 
to the fireside, where, shutting his eyes, he indulged in a nap. Miss 
O'Reilly was as silent as a hostess could well be. I sat near her, 
unnoticed, but attentive.

Both during and after the meal the conversation was left to Cornelius and 
his friend. They spoke of Mr. Smalley's prospects; of the Dorsetshire 
curacy, on which he again dwelt _con amore;_ they talked of old times, 
laughed over old jokes, and exchanged information concerning old 
companions and school-fellows, now scattered far and wide.

"What has become of Smith?" asked Cornelius.

"He is in the army."

"And Griffiths in the navy. You know that Blake is a physician, at 
Manchester?"

"Yes, and Reed has turned gentleman-farmer--is going to marry--"

"And lead a pastoral life. I am glad they are all doing well."

"Smalley!" observed Mr. Trim, wakening up, "tell O'Reilly you think it a 
shame for a fine fellow like him to poke in an office."

"_Et tu Brute!_" exclaimed Cornelius, turning round to Mr. Smalley, who 
replied, a little embarrassed--

"I confess I was surprised--"

"What did you expect from me?"

"Well, remembering your argumentative powers and flow of speech--"

"The law! Smalley, do you, a clergyman, advise me to set unfortunate 
people by the ears?"

Mr. Smalley looked startled, and took refuge in the healing art.

"The medical profession affords opportunities of benevolence--"

"And of being called up at two in the morning, to the relief of 
apoplectic gentlemen and ladies in distress."

"Shall I then suggest the army?"

"Would you advise me to make fighting a profession?"

"I fear the navy is open to the same objection," gently observed Mr. 
Smalley; but he suddenly brightened, laid one hand on the arm of 
Cornelius, and, raising the forefinger of the other, to impress on him 
the importance of the discovery, he said earnestly, "My dear friend, how 
odd it is that you should have forgotten the wide world of science, 
literature, and art, for which you are so wonderfully gifted!"

"Am I?" carelessly replied Cornelius. He sat on the hearth, facing the 
fire; he stooped, took up the poker, and began to drive in the coals, 
much in his sister's way.

"Why, you are a first-rate scholar."

"Learning is worthless now. Besides, cannot I enjoy my old authors 
without driving bargains out of them?"

"But science?"

"I have no patience for it; then it is hard work, and I am indolent."

"And literature?"

"Bid me become one of the builders of the Tower of Babel," hastily 
interrupted Cornelius. "No, Smalley, the office, with its paltry salary, 
moderate labour, and, heaven be praised for it, its absence from care, is 
the thing for me." He laid down the poker, and reclined back in his chair 
with careless indolence. Mr. Smalley slowly rubbed his forehead with his 
forefinger, and looked at Cornelius through his glasses and over his 
neckcloth, with a gently puzzled air. Then he turned to Miss O'Reilly, 
and said simply--

"Your brother's philosophy puts me to shame, Ma'am: yet I used to think 
him ambitious, and I remember that once--I mean no reflection--one of the 
older boys having doubted his ability to--to do something or other--our 
dear friend being somewhat hasty, pushed him so that he fell."

"Say I knocked him down," replied Cornelius, reddening and trying to 
laugh. "Well, those days are gone, and with them the knocking-down 
propensity, as well as the ambition: I have become as meek and lowly as a 
lamb."

He threw back his head with the clear keen look of a hawk, and a curl of 
the lip implying no great degree of meekness.

"Yes," quietly said Kate from her corner, "the child is not always father 
of the man."

Cornelius bit his lip; Mr. Trim, who was again napping, woke up with a 
Ha! ha! Then, standing up to look at the clock on the mantelpiece, asked 
Mr. Smalley "if he called this Christian conduct."

"You know," he added with feeling reproach, "that we have that 
appointment at seven with Jameson, that I am half blind, the most 
unfortunate fellow for dozing and forgetting, whilst you always have your 
wits about you, and are quite a telescope for seeing. Oh! Smalley!" He 
shook his head at him, peering around the room with eyes that looked 
smaller than ever. Mr. Smalley attempted a justification on the score of 
not remembering that the appointment had been made; but Leopold Trim 
hinted that it was too much to expect him to believe that; though, having 
been always more or less victimized and imposed upon by Smalley, he was 
getting used to it. Mr. Smalley expressed his penitence by rising at 
once, and this brought their visit to an abrupt close. The door was 
scarcely shut on them, when Miss O'Reilly, poking the fire with great 
vigour and vivacity, looked up at Cornelius and said--

"I don't believe in Trim; I don't believe in his voice; in his bark and 
whistle laugh: in his eyes or in his dozing: I don't believe in him at 
all."

"But Smalley?"

"He is a good young man," she replied impressively.

"Cornelius is a great deal better," I put in, quickly; "he fought for Mr. 
Smalley, who never fought for him."

"Did you ever hear such a conclusion!" exclaimed Miss O'Reilly, laying 
down the poker; "fighting made the test of excellence! You naughty girl! 
don't you see Mr. Smalley was a Christian lad, and Cornelius a young 
heathen?"

"I like the heathens," was my reply, more prompt than orthodox: "they 
were always brave; Achilles was, and so was Hector," I added, with a shy 
look at Cornelius, whom I had secretly identified with the Trojan hero.

Hector laughed, and told me to bring the books for the lessons. I 
remember that I answered him particularly well,--so well, that his sister 
asked if I was not progressing.

"Very much," he carelessly replied. "Kate, what has become of that 'Go 
where Glory waits thee'?"

"I really don't know. Child, what are you about?" I was on my knees, 
hunting through the music, ardent and eager to find the piece he wanted. 
He allowed me to search, and sat down by his sister.

"Cornelius, here it is," I said, standing before him with the piece of 
music in my hand.

"Thank you, put it there. Kate, Smalley is smitten with you!" 

"Nonsense, boy, go and sing your song."

He laughed; rose and kissed her blooming cheek. He had never so much as 
looked at me. Whilst he sang, I sat at the end of the piano as usual; 
when he closed the instrument and went to the sofa, I followed him and 
drew my stool at the foot of the couch. There he indolently lay for 
awhile; then suddenly started up, and walked, or rather lounged about the 
room, looking at the books on the table, at the flowers in the stand, and 
talking to his sister. I rose, and, unperceived as I thought, I followed 
him quietly; walking when he walked, stopping when he stopped, and 
waiting for the favourable moment to catch a look and obtain, perhaps, a 
negligent caress.

"It is most extraordinary," exclaimed Miss O'Reilly, who had been 
watching me.

"What is extraordinary, Kate?"

"How that child persists in sneaking after you, as if she were a little 
spaniel and you were her master!"

"Is she not gone to bed yet?" asked Cornelius, turning round to give me a 
surprised look.

"She is going," replied Miss O'Reilly, rising and taking my hand: "early 
to bed and early to rise. By the bye, Cornelius, do try and get up 
earlier. It is too bad to keep breakfast as you do until near nine every 
morning, with the tea not worth drinking, and the ham getting cold with 
waiting."

She spoke with some solemnity. He laughed, and promised to amend, 
throwing the whole fault on "that dreadful indolence of his."

But he did not amend; for though the next morning was bright and sunny as 
an autumn morning can be, eight struck, and yet Cornelius did not come 
down, to the infinite detriment of tea and ham. This was but the 
repetition of a long-standing offence, until then patiently endured; but 
Miss O'Reilly now put by patience; she looked at the clock, gave the fire 
a good poke, and, knitting her smooth brow, exclaimed--

"I should like to know why it is that Cornelius will persist in getting 
up late!"

She was not addressing me; it was rather one of her peculiarities--and 
she had many--to soliloquize, and I was accustomed to it; but I now 
raised my eyes from the grammar I was studying, and, looking at her, I 
listened. She detected this.

"Did you ever see anything like it?" she emphatically observed, 
questioning that unknown individual with whom she often held a sort of 
interrogative discourse; "why, if that child were fast asleep, and you 
only whispered my brother's name, she would wake up directly. Oh! Midge, 
Midge!" She shook her head as though scarcely approving a feeling so 
exclusive, and gave the fire a slow meditative thrust. The clock, by 
striking half-past eight, roused her from her abstraction.

"Daisy," she said very seriously, "go and knock at the door of Cornelius, 
and tell him the hour." I obeyed; that is to say, I went upstairs; but I 
found the door standing wide open, and the room vacant, so I proceeded to 
the little study, thinking Cornelius might perhaps be there. I knocked at 
the door and received no answer; I knocked again with the same result. 
Then I perceived that the door was not quite shut, but stood ajar; I 
gently pushed it open and looked in. The little table was not in its 
usual place; it stood so as to receive the most favourable degree of 
light; before it sat Cornelius in a bending attitude, and, as I saw at a 
glance, drawing from one of the plaster casts.

 

CHAPTER VIII

 

So intent was Cornelius on his occupation that he never heard or saw me, 
until I observed, somewhat timidly, "Cornelius, Kate sent me up to tell 
you that it is half-past eight o'clock."

He looked up with a sudden start that nearly upset the table, and sharply 
exclaimed, "Why did you come in without knocking?"

"I knocked twice, Cornelius, but you did not answer."

"If you had knocked ten times, you had no right to open that door and 
enter this room."

"Cornelius, the door was open," I said very earnestly, for he looked 
quite vexed, with his face flushed, and his brow knit.

"Oh, was it?" he replied, smoothing down. He looked hastily at the 
drawing on the table, then gave me a quick glance, read in my face that I 
had seen it, and, taking a sudden resolve, he said, "Come in, and shut 
the door."

I obeyed. When I stood by his side, Cornelius laid his hand on my head, 
and gazing very earnestly in my eyes, he said, "You look as if you could 
keep a secret. Do you know what a secret is?"

"Yes, Cornelius, I do."

"Then keep mine for me. You see I am drawing. I rise every morning with 
dawn, to draw; but I do not want Kate to know it just yet,--not until I 
have done something worth showing. This is the secret you will have to 
keep; do you understand?"

"Oh yes," I confidently answered. 

"How will you manage?"

"I shall not tell her," was my prompt reply. 

"Why, of course," he said, smiling; "but not to tell is only the first 
step in keeping a secret. The next, and far more difficult, is not to let 
it appear that there is a secret. This shall be the test of your 
discretion."

He removed every trace of his late occupation, and accompanied me 
downstairs. Miss O'Reilly was not in the parlour; but when she came in 
she gave her brother a good scolding, which he bore patiently. When he 
rose to go I handed him his hat as usual; as he took it from my hand, he 
stooped, and whispered, "Remember!"

He was no sooner gone than Kate, turning to me, said, with a puzzled 
smile, "Daisy! what was it Cornelius whispered so mysteriously?"

I hung down my head. 

"Did you hear me?"

"Yes, Kate."

"Then answer, child." Again I was mute. Kate laid down her work and 
beckoned me to her. 

"Is it a secret?" she asked, gravely. 

"I don't say it is, Kate," I replied eagerly. 

"Then answer." I was obstinately silent. 

"Will you tell me?" she asked, much incensed. 

"No," I resolutely replied.

She rose in great wrath, and consigned me to the back-parlour for the 
rest of the day. Never did punishment sit so lightly on me. Towards dusk 
Miss O'Reilly opened the door, that I might not feel quite alone. 
Cornelius came home much later than usual; I sat in the dark, but I could 
see him; he had thrown himself down on the sofa; the light of the lamp 
fell full on his face; his look wandered around the room in search of me.

"She has been naughty," gravely said his sister; and she proceeded to 
relate my offence.

"She would not tell you?" he observed.

"No, indeed! I tried her again in the afternoon; but she stood before me, 
white with stubbornness, her lips quite closed, hanging down her head, 
and as mute as a stone."

"She is a peculiar child," quietly said Cornelius, and I could see his 
gaze seeking to pierce the gloom in which I had lingered.

"Peculiar! you had better call it originality."

Cornelius laughed; and half raising himself up on one elbow, summoned me 
in with a "Come here, Daisy!" that quickly brought me to his side. He 
pushed back the hair from my forehead, looked into my face, and said, 
gravely, "She looks stubborn; I see it in her eyes, and yet what 
wonderfully fine eyes they are, Kate!"

"Eyes, indeed!" was her indignant rejoinder. "Daisy, go back to your 
room."

I turned away to obey, but Cornelius called me back.

"Let me try my power," he said to his sister; then to me, "Daisy, tell 
Kate what I whispered to you."

"Remember!" was my ready reply.

"How can you call her stubborn?" asked Cornelius.

"Remember--what?" inquired Kate; "there, do you see how she won't 
answer?"

"You obstinate child!" said Cornelius, smiling, "don't you see I mean you 
to speak? Say all; tell Kate why I bade you remember."

"I was not to tell you that I had found him drawing," I said, turning to 
Miss O'Reilly.

Her work dropped on her knees; she turned very pale; her look, keen and 
troubled, at once sought the calm face of her brother, who had again sunk 
into his indolent attitude, with his hand carelessly smoothing my hair. 
Miss O'Reilly tried to look composed, and observed, in a voice which all 
her efforts could not prevent from being tremulous and low, "Oh! you were 
drawing, Cornelius, were you?"

"Yes," he carelessly replied, "it amuses me in the morning."

"Oh, it amuses you very much, Cornelius?"

"Why, yes."

She took up her work; laid it down, rose, went up to her brother, and 
standing before him said, resolutely, "Cornelius, tell me the truth."

He sat up, and making her sit down by him, he calmly observed, "Why do 
you look so frightened, Kate?"

"The truth!" she exclaimed, almost passionately, "the truth!"

"You have had it."

"What does that morning drawing mean?"

"You know it."

"You mean to become an artist?"

"I am an artist," he replied, drawing himself up slightly.

She rocked herself to and fro, looking at her brother drearily. He laid 
his hand on her shoulder, and said, with earnest tone and look--

"Kate, I know all you dread; there are obstacles; I see them, and I will 
conquer them. Obstacles! why if there were none, would anything in this 
world be worth the winning?"

He had begun calmly; he ended with strange warmth and vehemence, throwing 
back his head with the presumptuous but not ungraceful confidence of 
youth. His look was daring, his smile full of trust; to both his sister 
responded by a mournful glance dimmed with tears.

"You had promised--" she began.

"Not to give it up for ever, Kate," he interrupted; "I have kept my 
promise, I have tried not to draw; I might as well try not to breathe."

"I know now why you took that paltry situation; you did not mean to stop 
there."

"No, indeed, Kate."

"I always knew you were ambitious."

"So I am."

"A nice mistress Fame will make you, my poor brother! Oh yes, very!"

"I won't make a mistress of her, Kate; she is too much used to that; she 
shall be my hand-maiden."

"First catch her!" shortly replied his sister. 

He laughed good-humouredly; she gave a deep, impatient sigh.

"I know I must seem harsh," she said, "but our father's death--of a 
broken heart--is always before me. You are very like him in person and 
temper; for God's sake be not like him in destiny! I know painting; once 
it has taken hold of a man's mind, soul and being, he must either win or 
perish. Love is nothing to it. I would rather see you in love with ten 
girls."

"At a time?" interrupted Cornelius, looking shocked. "Am I a Turk?"

"You foolish boy, is a Turk ever in love? I mean I would rather see you 
wasting, in successive follies, the best years of your youth, than see 
you a painter. There comes a time, when, of his own accord, a man gives 
up passion; but when does the unlucky wight who has once begun to write 
poetry or paint pictures give them up?"

"Never, unless he never loved them," replied Cornelius, with a triumphant 
smile; "poetry or painting, which I hold to be far higher, becomes part 
of a man's being, and follows him to the grave. But it is a desecration 
to speak of it as a human passion. I am not hard-hearted; but if Venus in 
all her charms, or, to use a stronger figure of speech, if one of 
Raffaelle's divine women were to become flesh and blood for my sake, and 
implore me to return her passion--"

"Why you would of course; don't make yourself out more flinty than you 
are; it would not take one of Raffaelle's women to do that either."

"Hear me out: if to win this lovely creature I should give up painting, 
not for ever, not for ten years, nor yet five, but just for one year,--
Kate, she might walk back to her canvas."

"Conceited fellow!" indignantly said Kate, divided between vexation at 
his predilection for Art, and the slight thrown on her sex.

"It is not conceit, Kate; it is the superior attraction of Art over 
passion. How is it you do not see there is and can be nothing like 
painting pictures?" Kate groaned. "It beats all else hollow,--poetry, 
music, ambition, war, and love, which is held master of all. Alexander, 
unhappy man! wept because he had no more worlds to win. Did Apelles ever 
weep for having no more pictures to paint? Paris carried off Helen to 
Troy, which was taken after a ten years' siege. Imagine Paris an artist; 
he paints Helen under a variety of attitudes: Menelaus benevolently 
looking on; little Hermione plays near her mamma; Troy stands in the 
distance, with Priam on the walls; everything peace and harmony.--Moral: 
if fine gentlemen would take the portraits, and not the persons of fair 
ladies, we should not hear so much of invaded hearths and affairs of 
honour."

"Will you talk seriously?" impatiently said Kate.

"As seriously as you can wish," he replied gravely. "What do you fear for 
me? It is late to begin, but I have been working hard these two years. 
What about our poor father? many a great painter has been the son of a 
disappointed artist. What even about the difficulty of winning fame? I am 
ambitious, not so much to be famous, as to do great things. There is the 
aim of a life; there is the glorious victory to win."

His handsome face had never looked half so handsome: it expressed daring, 
power, hope, ardour, all that subdues the future to a man's will.

"I tell you," he resumed, with a short triumphant laugh, "that I shall 
succeed. I feel the power within me; I shall give fame to the name of 
O'Reilly, stuff your pockets with money, charm your eyes with fair forms; 
in short I shall conquer Art."

He passed his arm around his sister's neck, and gave her a warm kiss. She 
half smiled.

"That always was the way," she said, with a sigh: "I argued; you talked 
me out of my better knowledge, and then you would put your arm around my 
neck, and--"

"There was no resisting that, Kate; but then I looked up, and now I look 
down."

"Yes, you are a man now," she replied, looking at him with an admiring 
smile, "and the O'Reillys have always been fine men."

"And the women lovely, gifted, admired--"

"And minded as much as the whistling of the wind. Don't look vexed, my 
poor boy. I know I am not fair to you; that many a son is not so good and 
dutiful to his mother as you are to me; but, you see, it is as if you had 
been marrying a girl I hated; I can't get over it, even though I feel you 
have a right to please yourself. The best course will be not to talk of 
it: we should not agree; and where's the use of disagreeing?"

"If wives were as sensible as you are--"

"Nonsense!" she interrupted, smiling; "no woman of spirit would give in 
to her husband; but to her boy! oh, that's very different. Please 
yourself; paint your pictures, my darling, only--only--if the public 
don't like them, don't break your heart." 

She now stood by him, with her hand resting lightly on his fine dark 
hair, and her eyes seeking his with wistful fondness. He laughed at her 
last words, laughed and knit his brow as he said--

"The public may break its heart about me, Kate--not that I wish it such a 
fate, poor thing!--but against the reverse I protest. And now have mercy 
on your brother, who has heard something about Daisy, and a good deal 
about painting, but nothing about tea."

"Are you hungry?"

"Starving."

"Poor fellow! I had no idea of it,--I shall see to it myself."

She left the room. Her brother remained sitting in the same attitude, a 
little bent forward, abstractedly gazing at the fire. Then all at once he 
saw and noticed me, as I sat apart quiet and silent. He beckoned; I 
approached.

"What shall I give you?"

"Nothing," was my laconic reply.

"But I want to give you something."

I hated the idea of my being paid for my secrecy and my punishment. I 
felt myself reddening as I answered--

"But I don't want anything, Cornelius."

"Don't you?" he replied, smiling, and before I knew what he was about, I 
found myself on the knee and in the arms of Cornelius, who was kissing me 
merrily. He had never done half as much since I was with him and his 
sister. My face burned with surprise and delight; he laughed, kissed me 
again, and said, with the secure smile of conscious power, "Well, what am 
I to give you?"

I was completely subdued; I replied, submissively, "Anything you like, 
Cornelius."

"No, it must be anything you like, and in my power to give. A book, a 
plaything, a doll, etc."

"Anything! may I really ask for anything?" I exclaimed, with sudden 
animation.

"Yes, you may."

"Do you really mean it?"

"I always mean what I say. Why, child, what can it be? Your eyes sparkle 
and your cheeks flush. What is it? Speak out."

"Let me be with you in the morning when you are drawing."

"Is that it?" he said, looking annoyed and surprised.

"Yes, Cornelius."

"You will have to stay very quiet."

"I don't mind that, Cornelius."

"You must not speak."

"I don't mind that either."

"Have something else: a book with pictures."

I did not answer.

"And I will let you come in now and then."

I remained mute. Cornelius saw that what I had asked for, and nothing 
else, I would have. Again he warned me.

"Daisy, you will find it very dull to sit without speaking or moving. I 
pity you, my poor child."

I was shrewd enough to see through his pity. I looked up into his face, 
and said demurely--

"I shall not mind it, Cornelius."

"You will mind nothing to have your way--obstinate little thing!--but I 
warn you: you must come in without knocking, without saying good morning; 
you must not move, speak, or go in and out; if you break the agreement 
once, you lose the privilege for ever."

"I shall not break the agreement, Cornelius."

"Of course you won't," he said, looking both provoked and amused, "catch 
me again passing my word to you, Miss Bums."

I half feared he was vexed, but he was not, for when Deborah brought in 
the tea-tray, with the addition of fried ham and eggs, Cornelius, instead 
of putting me away, kept me on his knee.

"The O'Reillys always had good appetites," observed Miss O'Reilly, who 
stood looking on, enjoying the vigour with which her brother attacked her 
good-cheer. "Daisy, what are you perched up there for? Come down 
directly."

"Stay, Daisy," said Cornelius, "you are not in my way." And indeed, from 
the fashion in which everything vanished before him, I do not think I 
was. But Miss O'Reilly was of a different opinion, for she resumed 
impatiently--

"Now, Cornelius, you need not feed that child from your plate; she left 
half her own tea, and she drinks yours, because it is yours."

Cornelius was holding his cup to my lips. He smiled, and kissed me.

"Yes, pet her now," said Kate, "after getting her unjustly punished."

"It was thoughtless of me--I beg her pardon."

"I don't want you to beg my pardon," I replied, looking a little 
indignantly at his sister.

"I think if he were to beat you, you would enjoy it," was her short 
answer.

His meal was over; he had removed from the table to the sofa; but he had 
not put me away. Miss O'Reilly looked at us from her place, and evidently 
could not make it out.

"Are there to be no lessons?" she asked at length.

"No, this is a holiday."

"Shall there be no singing?"

"I am tired."

He was not too tired to talk to me, and make me talk, to an extent that 
induced Miss O'Reilly to exclaim--

"I thought the child was a mouse, and she turns out to be a magpie."

She spoke shortly, but he kept me still.

"Decidedly," said Kate, after vainly waiting for me to be put away, 
"decidedly, if one were to meet you in China or Japan, that little pale 
face would be somewhere about you."

He said it was a little pale face, but that it had fine eyes, and he 
caressed her who owned it, very kindly.

"Nonsense!" observed his sister, frowning.

"She is so shy," he pleaded.

"Pretty shyness, indeed!" replied Kate, as she saw me, with the sudden 
familiarity of childhood, pass my arm around the neck of her brother, and 
rest my head on his shoulder. "Daisy, it is bed-time."

She rose, but I could not bear to leave Cornelius on the first evening of 
his kindness. I clasped my two hands around his neck, and looked 
beseechingly in his face.

"Another quarter of an hour, Kate," he said.

"Not another minute," she replied, taking my hand, for I lingered in his 
embrace like our mother Eve in Eden. "If you are good." she added, to 
comfort me, "you shall stay up half an hour longer as the days increase."

"But they are shortening now," I said, mournfully.

"Let her stay up for this one evening," entreated Cornelius, "to make up 
for her dull day in the back-parlour."

Miss O'Reilly allowed herself to be mollified; but as she returned to her 
place and sat down, she said emphatically, looking at the fire--

"He will spoil that child, you'll see he will." 

Cornelius only smiled; he did not attempt to contradict the prophecy by 
putting me away; as long as I liked, he allowed me to remain thus--once 
more an indulged and very happy child.

From that evening Cornelius liked me. By making him all to me, I had 
succeeded in becoming something to him; for there is this mysterious 
beauty in love, that it wins love; unlike other prodigals, it is in the 
very excess of its bounty that it finds a return.

 

CHAPTER IX.

 

Early the next morning I stole up to the study. I did not knock; I 
entered on tiptoe; I closed the door softly; I did not bid Cornelius good 
morning; but I brought forward a high stool, placed it so that it 
commanded a good view of him and of his drawing, and, with some trouble, 
I clambered up to its summit: once there, I moved no more, but watched 
him with intense interest.

He neither moved nor looked up; his task absorbed every faculty of his 
being; he looked breathless; every feature expressed the concentration of 
his mind and senses towards one point. For an hour he never stirred; at 
length he pushed away his drawing, threw himself back in his chair, and, 
having been up since dawn, indulged in a very unromantic yawn. I sat 
rather behind him; it was some time before he remembered me; he then 
suddenly turned round, and looked at me in profound silence. I was too 
much on my guard to infringe the agreement by either moving or opening my 
lips.

"You have a good eye for a position," he said.

I did not answer.

"Are you comfortable, perched up there?" he continued.

"I don't mind it, Cornelius."

"You can come down now."

I obeyed with great alacrity.

"May I speak now?" I asked with a questioning look.

"You may ease yourself a little," was his charitable reply.

"Cornelius, is not that Juno?"

"The wife of Jupiter and the mamma of Vulcan--precisely."

I was standing by him. There were other drawings on the table; I raised 
the corner of one and glanced at Cornelius; he smiled assent. I drew it 
forth; it represented an Italian boy sitting on sunlit stone steps.

"That is the boy to whom Kate gave the piece of bread the other morning," 
I exclaimed eagerly, "is it not, Cornelius?"

I looked up into his face; he seemed charmed: first praise is like early 
dew, very fresh and very sweet. He drew forth another drawing, and asked 
whose face it was. Breathless with astonishment, I recognized myself; 
then Kate, Deborah, Miss Hart, and even Mr. Trim, passed before me in 
graphic sketches. I felt excited; I now knew the power of Cornelius: he 
had actually, if not created, yet drawn from obscurity, those forms and 
faces by the mere force of his will.

"Why, how flushed and animated you look!" said Cornelius, with an amused 
smile, as he put away the drawings.

"Cornelius," I said eagerly.

"Daisy."

"Don't you think that if you like--" I paused: he was not attending to 
me.

"I hear you," he observed, stooping to pick up a stray drawing,--"don't I 
think that if I like--"

"Don't you think that if you like you may become as great a painter as 
Raffaelle or Michael Angelo?"

I spoke seriously and waited for his reply, as if it were to decide the 
question. Cornelius looked at me with his drawing in his hand; he tried 
to laugh, but only reddened violently.

"You ambitious little thing!" he said, "what has put Raffaelle or Michael 
Angelo into your head?"

"Papa told me they were the two greatest painters, but I don't see why 
you should not be as great as either of them."

"One can be great and yet be unlike them;--ay, and be famous too!"

"Will you be famous?"

"Who was it never bade me good morning?" asked Cornelius, kissing me.

But in the very midst of the caress, as his lips touched my cheek, I 
repeated my question, with the unconquerable persistency of children:

"Will you be famous?"

"Would you like it?" he asked, smiling.

"Oh! so much!" I exclaimed, with my whole heart.

"Then, on my word, my dear, I shall do my best to please you; and now let 
us go down to breakfast."

He was unusually late, but his sister did not complain. She received him 
with pleasant cheerfulness; yet several times, in the course of that day, 
I overheard her sighing to herself very sadly.

I have since then wondered at the secretiveness of Cornelius; but though 
he was religious, he never spoke of religion; he rarely alluded to his 
country, for which he could do nothing, whose wrongs he resented too 
proudly to lament, and yet which he carried in his heart; and, perhaps 
because he loved it so ardently, he had never made painting the subject 
of daily speech. When it became the avowed occupation of his life--a task 
instead of a feeling--this reserve lessened; something of it remained 
with his sister; little, I might almost say nothing, with me.

I was a child, but I gave him sympathy, a food which the strongest hearts 
have needed. I loved him, I admired him, I believed in him; he soon liked 
to have me in his study, or studio, as by a convenient change of the 
vowels it was now called. He could talk to me, amuse himself with my 
criticisms, then with a look consign me to silence. Perhaps it was thus 
he became so fond of me,--too fond, his sister said; all I know is, he 
was very kind and the winter a very happy time.

The spring that followed it was lovely. One day I remember especially for 
its joyous brightness. The garden was green and blooming; Kate sat sewing 
on the bench by the house; I stood at the door looking down the lane. The 
hawthorn hedge that faced the west was ready to break out in blossom; the 
sun was warm; the air clear; the south-western wind was gently blowing; 
the newly leaved trees seemed rejoicing in a second birth; afar, through 
the stillness of this quiet place, the cuckoo's voice was faintly heard. 
I know not why I record these things, save that there is a portion of our 
hearts to which the aspects of this lovely world ever cling, and that, as 
I stood there looking, Cornelius came up the lane. He had gathered the 
ripest hawthorn bough; he gave it to me smiling; entered and sat down on 
the bench by his sister: I sat on a step at their feet. For awhile they 
talked of indifferent things, then he said--

"Kate, will you sit to me?"

"What for?" she asked, looking rather startled.

"A little oil painting: subject, Mother and child. You we to be the 
mamma, Daisy the child."

"Where will you send it?"

"To the Academy, of course. Can you give me early sittings?"

"I can; but can Daisy?"

I saw his face express keen disappointment, and I said eagerly--

"I shall get up early, Cornelius; with dawn; I shall not mind a bit."

"Nonsense, you shall get up at your usual hour--and there's an end of 
it."

"Cornelius, may I speak to you?"

"No:" he started up, walked across the garden, came back and threw 
himself down, exclaiming--

"It will never be finished, never!"

"Cornelius," I said again, "let me speak to you _now_."

"Speak, and have done with it," he said, impatiently.

"If I go to bed early, may I not get up early? Early to bed and early to 
rise, you know."

He bent on me a face that lit with sudden gladness.

"And will you really do that for me?" he asked eagerly. "Will you, who 
hate going to bed early, do that for my sake?"

"Oh yes, Cornelius, and be so glad to help you a little!"

"God bless you, my good little girl!" cried Cornelius, as he caught me up 
in his arms, and accompanied the benediction with a warm kiss, "I shall 
never forget that, never!"

He looked touched and delighted. He who had heaped so many kindnesses on 
me, was as quick to feel this little proof of my grateful affection, as 
though he had done nothing to call it forth.

"Now, is not that good of her?" he said to Kate, "to offer to go to bed 
early just as she is beginning to stay up that half-hour later? Is it not 
good of her?"

"She shall be put to the test this very evening," replied Kate, smiling.

I stood the test with a heroism only to be equalled by my patience as a 
sitter on the following morning. I was as submissive as Kate was 
rebellious.

"Kate," once remonstrated her brother, "will you do nothing for Art,--not 
even to sit quietly?"

"Nonsense!" she impatiently replied.

"Nonsense!" he mournfully echoed, "she calls Art nonsense! Art, that is 
to win her brother so much honour, ay; and with this very picture!"

Kate sighed deeply.

"How very odd," said Cornelius, pausing in his work to look at her--"how 
very odd you do not see what is so clear to me, that I must succeed! I am 
surprised you do not see it, Kate."

There was not the shadow of a doubt on his clear brow; not a sign of fear 
in his secure and ardent look.

"Our poor father used to say just the same, Cornelius, only if one 
doubted, he would fly out."

"Then I do not; there is the difference."

"He was not bad-tempered; but disappointment--"

"Kate, your manner of supporting Daisy is getting less and less maternal; 
pray do not forget that you are very miserable about your darling. Daisy, 
my pet, your doll was put there to show you are too ill to enjoy it, not 
to look at."

The sitting was long; our attitudes were rather fatiguing: Kate lost 
patience.

"You will be late," she said, "and Daisy is tired."

"I am not tired," I observed.

"Don't you know, Kate," said her brother, smiling, "that if I were to ask 
her to jump out of that window, she would?"

"Nonsense!" shortly replied Miss O'Reilly.

"There," she added, as I reddened indignantly at what I considered an 
imputation on my devotedness,--"there, did you see the look the little 
minx gave me?"

"I see that, as my attitudes are spoiled, I [must] release you. Ah, Daisy 
is the best sitter of the two," he added, as his sister jumped up with 
great alacrity; and he thanked me with a caress so kind, that Kate said, 
in a displeased tone--

"You may make that child too fond of you, Cornelius."

"And if I do, Kate, have I not the antidote? Am I not getting very fond 
of her myself?"

He was, and I knew it; and daily rejoiced in the blessed consciousness.

Spring yielded to summer; summer passed; the picture progressed; 
Cornelius devoted to it his brief holiday in the autumn.

"You look pale and ill," said Kate; "you want rest."

"I feel in perfect health; work is my holiday," was his invariable reply.

And to work he fell--harder than ever.

"Yes, yes," she sadly said, "the fever is on you."

The fever was indeed on him; that strange, engrossing fever to which 
passion is nothing; which to the strong is life, but death to the weak. 
He revelled in it as in a new, free, delightful existence. Pale and thin 
he was, but his brow had never been more serene, his glance more hopeful, 
his whole bearing more living and energetic. But as autumn waned, as days 
grew short, as leisure to work lessened, the serenity of Cornelius 
vanished. He rose long before dawn and paced his little studio up and 
down, impatiently watching the east: with the first streak of daylight he 
was at work, and day after day it became more difficult to tear him from 
his task. When he came home at dusk, his first act was to run up to his 
picture. I often followed him unnoticed, and found him standing before 
it, fastening on his unfinished labour a concentrated look that seemed as 
if it would struggle against fate and annihilate the laws of time. When 
he turned away, it was with an impatient sigh unmixed with the least atom 
of resignation.

We were sitting dull enough in the parlour, one evening just before 
Christmas, when Kate said to him, in her sudden way--

"The days will get long in January."

"And I shall then be a free man," he replied, with a smile.

"You have been discharged!" she exclaimed, dismayed.

"I have discharged myself. Now, Kate, don't look so startled! The picture 
shall be finished in time."

"I dare say it will, Cornelius," she replied, ruefully.

"Well, then, what do you fear?"

"Suppose," she hesitatingly suggested, "that it cannot get exhibited!"

"I do not see how that can be," composedly replied Cornelius.

"Bless the boy! do they never reject pictures?"

I sat by Cornelius, whose hand played idly with my hair; he stopped short 
to give his sister an astonished glance, then he shook his handsome head, 
and laughed gaily.

"Reject _that_ picture, Kate!"

"He is his father all over," she sighed.

He smiled at her blindness, and turning to me, said--

"What do you say, Daisy?"

"They shan't reject it; they dare not," was my ready reply.

"It is too absurd to suppose such a thing, is it not?" he added, to teaze 
his sister, who disappointed him by unexpectedly veering round.

"Cornelius," she said, decisively, "your energy and decision in this 
matter give me more hope than your enthusiasm. I like a man to act for 
himself; but you must go on as you have begun, and give yourself up 
entirely. Will you be a student at the Royal Academy? Will you study 
under some great master? Will you travel? Speak, I have money."

"Thank you, Kate; I am glad you think I have acted rightly; but I have 
begun alone, and alone I must go on, with experience for my sole teacher. 
I must keep my originality."

Kate remonstrated, but Cornelius, once in the fortification of his 
originality, was not to be ejected thence.

"Just like his poor father!" sighed Kate; "he was always for his 
originality." 

Cornelius also resembled his poor father in the possession of a will of 
his own. Kate knew it, and wisely gave up the point.

In a few days more Cornelius was free. His tread about the house had 
another sound; his eyes overflowed with gladness and burned with the hope 
of coming triumphs. He exulted in the endless sittings we gave him, and 
amused himself like a child with day-dreams and air-castles. His 
favourite one--the fame and fortune were both settled--was a skylight.

"Yes, Kate," he once said, looking up at the ceiling, "to keep your 
brother under your roof, you must knock it down and give him a skylight. 
Some artists prefer studios in town; but I, domestic man, stick to the 
household gods: with a skylight you may keep me for ever."

"Conceited fellow!"

"Conceited! now is not this a nice bit of painting?" he drew her to his 
side and made her face the easel.

"Indeed it is," she replied admiringly: "where will you send it?"

"To the Academy, Kate, the first place or none."

"Oh!" she hastened to answer, "I only fear they may not hang it as well 
as it deserves. Jealousy, you know, or even want of room."

"There is always room for the really good pictures," replied Cornelius.

This was in February, but his sister evidently felt some uneasiness on 
the subject, for she recurred to it several times, and when nothing led 
to the remark, observed to Cornelius with a wistful look--

"I hope it may be well hung, Cornelius."

"I hope so," he quietly replied.

At length came the day on which this interesting fact was to be 
ascertained. A bright May day it was; Cornelius wished to go alone, 
"there always was such a crowd on the first day," and had his wish. We 
stayed at home trying to seem very careless, very indifferent, but Miss 
O'Reilly could not work and I could not study. We began sudden 
conversations on common-place themes, that broke off as they had 
commenced, at once and without cause. Of the real subject that occupied 
our thoughts we never spoke. I went up and down the house with unusual 
restlessness, ever coming back to the window that overlooked the Grove.

"I should like to know what you mean by it?" suddenly asked Miss 
O'Reilly. "Why do you look out of that window?"

"Cornelius told me he would come by the Grove."

"And why do you fidget about his coming back on this particular day? Just 
get out of my light, if you please."

I obeyed; but the next thing Kate did herself was to open the window and 
look down the Grove. The day was waning; Cornelius did not return; she 
could not keep in, but said anxiously--

"I am afraid it is not well hung, after all."

"I am afraid it is not," I replied, for I too began to feel very 
uncomfortable.

"No, decidedly it is not well hung," she continued, "but I don't see why 
that should prevent him from coming back;" and no longer caring to hide 
her impatience, she took her seat at the window, which she left no more.

"There is Cornelius!" I said, with a start, as a ring was heard at the 
garden-door.

"Hold your tongue!" indignantly exclaimed Kate. "Why should he slink in 
by the back way? Daisy, I forbid you to open; it is a run-away ring: 
Cornelius indeed!"

I obeyed reluctantly; I was sure it was Cornelius, and as I had not been 
forbidden to look, I went to the back-parlour window. I reached it as 
Deborah opened the door. It was Cornelius, with his hat pulled down over 
his brow, and what could be seen of his face, of a dull leaden white. He 
passed by the girl without uttering a word, entered the house, and went 
upstairs at once. I heard him locking himself up in his room, then all 
was still.

I returned to the front parlour. Miss O'Reilly was pacing it up and down 
in great agitation, wringing her hands and uttering many broken 
ejaculations of mingled grief and anger.

"My poor boy! my poor boy!" she exclaimed, with a strange mixture of 
pathos and tenderness in her voice, like a mother lamenting over her 
child; then stopping short, she added, her brown eyes kindling with 
sudden and rapid wrath--"What a bad set they are! a bad envious set! They 
thought they would not let him get up and eclipse them all. Oh no!--not 
they--they knew better than that--crush him at once--don't give him 
time--crush him at once!"

She laughed sarcastically, then resumed, in a tone of indignant and 
dignified wonder, "I am astonished at Cornelius. What else could he 
expect? Has he not genius, and is he not an Irishman? Why did he not put 
Samuel Smith or John Jenkins or Leopold Trim at the bottom of his 
picture?--it would have got in at once; but with such a name as Cornelius 
O'Reilly, it was ludicrous to expect it."

"Don't they take in the pictures of Irish artists?" I asked.

"Hold your tongue!" was the short reply I got.

"Please, Ma'am," said Deborah, opening the door, "don't you want the 
tea?"

"And why should we not want the tea?" asked Miss O'Reilly, giving her a 
suspicious look,--"can you tell me why, Deborah? Can you give me any 
reason?--I should like to know why?"

Deborah opened her mouth in mute wonder.

"Bring up the tea-tray," continued her mistress, "and henceforth don't be 
uppish and make remarks, for you see it won't go down with me."

Deborah endured the reproof with a perplexed air, retired, and returned 
with the tray. Miss O'Reilly made the tea with a deep sigh. We had eaten 
little at dinner; but had Cornelius dined at all? He gave us no sign of 
existence, and Kate did not seem inclined to go near him. When the tea 
was poured out, she turned to me and said, in a low tone--

"Go and tell Cornelius tea is ready."

I obeyed in silence.

 

CHAPTER X.

 

I knocked at the door of Cornelius; he opened it; the landing was dark, I 
could not see him distinctly. I delivered my message; he did not reply, 
but quietly followed me downstairs. As he entered the parlour, the look 
of Kate became riveted on his face; it was pale but perfectly collected. 
He sat down and drank his tea in total silence. No sooner was the tray 
removed, than Miss O'Reilly entered abruptly on the subject, by saying--

"What mean jealousy there is, Cornelius!"

"Yes, Kate, very mean jealousy."

"In this case especially."

"It was not jealousy," he replied, looking annoyed.

"The name then! I said so: a Smith, a Jones, a Jenkins would have got in, 
but an O'Reilly--"

"Kate," interrupted her brother, reddening,  "it was not the name."

"What then?" she asked, with a wistful look.

His lip trembled, but he made an effort, and replied firmly--

"The picture."

"The picture!" echoed Kate, looking disheartened.

"Yes, the picture," resumed Cornelius, inexorable to himself, to his 
youthful ambition, to his long-cherished dreams; "it is not its being 
rejected that troubles me, but its having deserved the rejection. Kate, I 
have committed a bitter mistake, and I found it out, not to-day, but 
weeks ago. So long as Art was unattempted, faith was in me as a living 
stream; it has ebbed away, and left the bed where it once flowed, barren 
and dry."

He sat by the table, his brow resting on his hand, the light of the lamp 
falling on his pale face, where will vainly sought to control the keen 
disappointment of a life-long aim. There was a pause, then his sister 
said--

"What will you do?"

"Seek for some other situation; anything will do."

"The City again! Why not try for work as an artist?"

"And do as a drudge the work I so long hoped to do as a master," replied 
Cornelius, colouring to the very temples. "No, Kate, that indeed would be 
degradation!"

"Then you give up painting?"

"Utterly."

She started from her seat, went up to him, laid her hand on his arm, and 
said warmly--

"Leave the City to drudges, and painting to enthusiasts. You have youth, 
talent, energy; choose the career of a gentleman, work, and make your way 
as you can, if you will--I shall find the means."

"I cannot," replied Cornelius, after a pause.

"Then you mean to return to painting," vehemently exclaimed his sister.

"If I cannot paint good pictures, Kate, I will not paint bad ones."

"What will you do?"

"The City--"

"The City! the dirty, smoky City for an Irish gentleman, of pure Milesian 
blood, without Scotch or Saxon stain, and who calls himself O'Reilly too! 
Cornelius, return to painting rather."

"Kate," he replied, with an expression of pain and weariness, "this is 
not a matter of will; I cannot paint now; my faith is dead. You may lock 
up the studio; the easel may stand against the wall; pencil or palette 
your brother will never handle again."

"Nor shall my brother be a clerk," she said resolutely.

Cornelius knit his brow and looked obstinate.

"But why?" she exclaimed, impatiently; "will you just tell me why?"

"You ask!" he replied, tossing on the couch, where he had again thrown 
himself with listless indolence.

"Ay, and I want to know, too, Cornelius," she said, quietly returning to 
her chair.

"Kate, when James could not marry his cousin, a plain, silly girl, why 
did he go to London Bridge and jump over?"

Miss O'Reilly jumped on her chair.

"Nonsense!" she cried, reddening, "you are not going to take that leap 
because you cannot paint pictures!"

"No, but I'll do like James. I cannot have the girl I like--I'll have no 
other. I cannot marry painting, a maid as fair as May, as rosy as June, 
fresh as an eternal spring: and you think, Kate," he added, quite 
indignantly, "you actually think I would wed surly law, ill-favoured 
medicine, or any of those old ladies whom men woo for their money--no, 
'faith!"

He spoke resolutely, and sank back in his old attitude with great 
decision.

"James was a fool!" hastily said Kate.

"He was; and though there is no girl can compare with painting; though 
the love about which so much has been sung is cold and tame compared to 
the passion which fills a true painter's heart, I am not going to drown 
myself because the glorious gift has been denied me, and I cannot be that 
man."

He laughed rather drearily as he said it.

"Yes, but you will do nothing else," replied Kate.

"I can put my heart to nothing else. Daisy, why do you not bring the 
books as usual?"

I obeyed, but I could not give my attention to the lessons.

"Child," impatiently said Cornelius, "what can you be thinking of?"

I was thinking that he was not to be an artist; that he had given up 
painting, fame, and fortune; and, as he put the question, I burst into 
tears.

"I understand," quietly said Cornelius: "you do not know your lessons."

He closed the book, went to the piano, and sang as usual.

It was plain Cornelius rejected sympathy. He showed no pity to himself, 
and would accept none from others. If he suffered, the jealous pride of 
youth would not let him confess it, yet we could see that he was not 
happy. He set about looking for another situation, with the dogged sort 
of satisfaction a man may find in choosing the rope with which he is to 
hang himself. His pleasant face contracted a bitter expression; his good-
humoured smile became ironical and sarcastic; he had fits of the most 
dreary merriment; of pity he was so resentfully suspicious that we 
scarcely dared to look at him. Three weeks had thus elapsed, when, as I 
sat with Kate and Cornelius in the garden, I ventured, thinking him in a 
better mood than usual, to say, in my most insinuating accents--

"Cornelius, what will be the subject of your next picture?"

He turned round and gave me a look so stern that I drew back half 
frightened.

"How dare you be so presuming?" said Kate, indignantly.

I did not reply, but after a while I left them. I re-entered the house, 
and stole up to the studio, there to brood in peace over what it was now 
an offence to remember. The easel stood against the wall; the papers and 
portfolios were covered with dust; a sketch of a group of trees--the last 
thing on which I had seen Cornelius engaged--lay on the table unfinished, 
but soiled with lying about. I opened one of the portfolios: it contained 
the drawings he most valued. I took them out, and, kneeling on the floor, 
spread them around me. Absorbed in looking at them, I never heard 
Cornelius enter, until his voice said close to me--

"What are you doing here?"

"I was looking at these," I replied in some confusion.

"Then you were taking a great liberty."

I silently began to restore the drawings to the portfolio; he said 
shortly--

"They will do on the floor." And he walked across them to the window.

"Cornelius," I observed, timidly, "you are standing on the head of the 
poor Italian boy, and you are going to tread on the flower-girl."

"They are only fit to burn," was his misanthropic reply.

"Let me take them away," I urged.

He seemed disposed to answer angrily, but he restrained himself and 
stepped aside. I removed the drawings, carefully replaced them in the 
portfolio, gently slipped in a few more, then stole up a glance at 
Cornelius: he was looking down at me with a displeased face.

"Lay down that portfolio," he said.

"Pray don't burn them!" I exclaimed, tearfully.

"Leave the room," he said, impatiently.

I obeyed, but as I reached the door I saw Cornelius go to the fire-place 
and take down the match-box. It might be to light a cigar, or make a 
bonfire of the drawings.

"Don't, pray don't," I entreated.

"Don't what?" he asked, lighting the match.

"Don't burn your beautiful drawings, Cornelius, pray don't."

"Daisy! did I or did I not tell you to leave the room?"

I stood near the door: I opened and closed it again, but unable to resist 
the temptation of ascertaining to what fate the drawings were reserved, I 
was stooping to look through the keyhole, when the door suddenly opened, 
and Cornelius appeared on the threshold.

"Go down at once," he said, angrily.

I obeyed, and, crying with vexation and grief. I entered the parlour 
where Kate sat sewing.

"Oh, Kate!" I exclaimed through my tears, "Cornelius is burning his 
drawings!"

"Is he?" was her calm reply.

"He turned me out, pray go and prevent him."

"Is there a great quantity of them?" she asked.

"Three large portfolios and a little one."

"That must make quite a heap."

"You might save a few by going now, Kate."

"He will be some time about it," she musingly observed; "better delay the 
tea a little."

"Kate, they will be all burned if you don't go."

"I hope he will be careful," said Miss O'Reilly, a little uneasy; "I hope 
he will not set the chimney on fire."

It was plain she would not take a step to save the drawings. I sat down 
in the darkest corner of the room and grieved silently over this 
miserable end to so many bright day-dreams. It was a long time before 
Cornelius came down; he apologized for having delayed the tea.

"Never mind!" said Kate, sighing. "Daisy, where are you? That child does 
nothing but mope and fret of late."

"I am here, Kate," I replied, rising.

"Hand Cornelius his cup."

"What is the matter with her?" he asked.

"She is a foolish child," replied Miss O'Reilly.

As I handed his cup to Cornelius, I saw his sister give him a look of 
gentle pity. He smiled cheerfully; she sighed; he kindly asked what was 
the matter.

"There are hard things to be gone through," was her ambiguous reply.

"Why, yes, Kate, there are."

"They require a brave spirit," she continued.

He looked puzzled.

"But it is quite right to cut the matter short."

"Kate, what has happened?"

"Well, it is not an event; but I admire your courage."

"My courage! in what?"

"Why, in burning your drawings, of course."

He bit his lip, reddened, and said gravely--

"I have not been burning them, Kate."

"Not burning them!" she exclaimed, with a sharp look at me.

"Daisy is not to blame," quickly observed Cornelius.

"Not burning them!" resumed Miss O'Reilly; "and I who kept tea waiting 
until it was spoiled in order not to disturb you!"

"Thank you all the same, Kate."

"Not burning them!" she said, giving him a very suspicious look, "and 
what were you doing up there. Cornelius?"

"Finishing a little thing which I will show you to-morrow."

"He's going to flirt with painting again!" desperately said Miss 
O'Reilly, rocking herself to and fro.

"I hope to go beyond flirtation, Kate."

"My poor boy, don't trust her,--she is a heartless coquette."

"No, Kate, she is merely coy,--a charming feminine defect that only makes 
her more irresistibly alluring."

"You have tried her once."

"And failed; I must try again: faint heart never won fair lady."

He spoke so gaily, he looked once more so happy, so confident, that the 
cloud left his sister's handsome face. She checked a sigh, to say with a 
smile--

"I was a fool to trust to the vows of a man in love; that is all."

"Yes," he said, resolutely, "I know I vowed to give her up a few weeks 
ago; but now, Kate, I vow I cannot--I cannot; no man can divide himself 
from his nature."

"What will you do?" she asked.

"Anything, Kate," he replied, his eyes kindling with hope and ardour; "no 
drudgery will seem drudgery, no work too hard."

I could keep in no longer. At the imminent risk of upsetting his cup, I 
threw my arms around the neck of Cornelius, and, crying for joy, I 
exclaimed--

"Oh! I am so glad that you are to be a great artist after all--and that 
you did not burn the Italian boy nor the poor flower-girl!"

"Am I an inquisitor?" asked Cornelius, smiling.

"She is as mad as he is," said Kate, shaking her head; "indeed I rather 
think she is worse."

He laughed, and, drawing me on his knee, petted me even to my craving 
heart's content. I had not been well of late; the joyous excitement with 
which I had learned his return to Art once over, I became listless and 
languid. Cornelius had to remind me of the lessons; I know not how I 
answered him, but in the very middle of them he pushed away the books, 
said that would do, and made me sit by him on the sofa. Kate looked at me 
a little uneasily. Cornelius was always kind, but I had never known him 
so kind as on this evening. He read to me, sang and played, then returned 
to the couch on which I lay, and, with a tender fondness I shall ever 
remember, he pressed me to tell him if there was anything I should like.

"Nothing, thank you," I replied, languidly.

"A book?" he persisted; "no! well then a rosewood workbox--a desk? I have 
some money, child; look."

He drew out his purse and showed it to me, but I thanked him and refused.

"Is there nothing you would like?" he asked.

"I should like to know the subject of your next picture."

"As if I should paint but one," he replied, gaily; and he proceeded to 
describe to me, in a few graphic words, a magnificent collection of Holy 
Families, grand historical battles, tragic stories, dewy landscapes, 
exquisite domestic scenes, until, charmed by their variety, but rather 
startled by their number, I exclaimed--

"Cornelius, it will take a gallery to hold them all."

"Let us build one then," he replied, striving to repress a smile, "and 
whenever you feel dull, as you did this evening, we will take a walk in 
it. Look at her, Kate," he added, addressing his sister, "don't you think 
she seems better?"

"I think," answered Kate, rather astonished, "that I never saw you lay 
yourself out for a girl or woman, as you did this evening for that little 
pale face. My opinion is, that the foolish way in which she goes on about 
your pictures has won your heart."

"Since you have found it out, Kate, it is useless to deny it. I am 
waiting for Daisy. Am I not?" he added, turning to me with a smile.

"No," I replied, half indignantly.

"She won't have me," he said, feigning deep dejection; "ungrateful girl! 
is it for this I have so often brought you home apples, gingerbread and 
nuts, not harder than your heart?"

Unmoved by this pathetic appeal, I persisted in rejecting Cornelius, 
whom, even in jest, I could not consider otherwise than as my dear 
adopted father. Miss O'Reilly settled the point by saying it was quite 
ridiculous for little girls not yet twelve to be sitting up so late. As 
she rose and took me by the hand, I bade Cornelius good-night. He kissed 
me, not once, but two or three times, and so much more tenderly than 
usual, that Kate said, smiling--

"Cornelius, you are very fond of that child."

"Yes, Kate, I am. Next to you, there is nothing I like half so well in 
this world, and, somehow or other, I do not think I have ever felt fonder 
of her than this evening."

My cheek lay close to his, his heavy hair brushed my face, his eyes 
looked into mine with something sad in their fondness. I felt how much, 
how truly, how purely the good young man loved the child he had adopted, 
and returning his tender embrace, I was happy even to a sense of pain.

I believe in the presentiments of the heart, and I believe that on this 
evening, and at that moment, Cornelius and I unconsciously had each ours, 
and each, though different from the other, was destined to be fulfilled. 
The next day Cornelius knew why he had felt so fond of me: I was 
dangerously ill, and for days and weeks my life was despaired of.

 

CHAPTER XI.

 

That time is still to me a blank, on the vague back-ground of which stand 
forth two vivid and distinct images. One is that of Cornelius, sitting by 
me and holding my hand in his: the other, that of a tall, pale, and fair-
haired lady, who stood at the foot of my bed, clad in white, calm and 
beautiful as a vision. I had never seen her before, and I remember still 
how vainly I tormented my poor feverish brain to make out who she was. I 
have a vague recollection that I one day framed the question, "Who are 
you?"

"Miriam," she replied, in a voice as sweet and as cold as a silver bell, 
and she laid her fingers on her lips, to enjoin silence. The name told me 
nothing, but my wandering mind was too much confused to follow out any 
train of thought. I accustomed myself to her presence, without striving 
to know more. Another day, I remember her better still. She was standing 
at the foot of the bed, half hidden by the white curtain. A little 
further on, Cornelius talked to a grave-looking man, in tones which, 
though low, awoke me from my dreamy unconsciousness.

"I can give you no hope," said the physician, for such even then I knew 
him to be: "it will end in a decline."

"Oh! doctor," entreated Cornelius, "she is so young, scarcely twelve."

"My dear Sir, we do not work miracles, and those excitable children--"

"But my poor little Daisy is so quiet," interrupted Cornelius; "you never 
knew such a quiet child; she will sit still for hours whilst I am drawing 
or painting. Indeed, Sir," he added, giving the doctor an appealing look, 
"she is the quietest little creature breathing."

"Well, Sir," replied the physician, "I will not say that she cannot 
outlive this, but she is too slight, too delicate for me to hold out much 
hope for the future."

He left. When he was gone Cornelius bent over me. "My poor little Daisy," 
he said, in a low, sad tone,--"my poor little Daisy, I did not think you 
would wither so very early."

Two hot tears fell on my face.

"Mr. O'Reilly," said a sweet voice behind him, "the child will live, you 
love her too much, she cannot die."

I looked languidly through my half-closed eyes. Miriam stood by 
Cornelius; she had placed her hand on his shoulder; he sat half turned 
round gazing at her with astonishment. She smiled and continued--

"My child was given up three times; but I loved her; I would not let her 
go; she stayed with me; your child too shall stay."

"May God bless you at least for the prediction!" he replied in a low 
tone, and, stooping, he laid his lips on her band; she coloured, and I 
saw Kate, then in the act of coming in, stand still with wonder on the 
threshold of the open door.

The same day a favourable crisis took place, and when the physician 
called again, he pronounced me out of danger. Only Kate and Cornelius 
were present, and I shall never forget their joy; I do not think that if 
I had been their own child they could have felt a purer and deeper 
gladness. The happy face of Cornelius, as he bent over me and gave me a 
kiss, was alone something to remember. I recovered rapidly; one of my 
first requests was to be carried up to the studio, and, every precaution 
being taken that I should not get cold, it was complied with on a 
pleasant July morning. I looked at the picture Cornelius had begun during 
my illness, then I asked him to place me near the open window. It 
overlooked our garden and that of our tenant, Miss Russell, an old maiden 
lady, of whom I had never caught more than a few distant glimpses. I was 
accustomed to see her garden as quiet and lonely as ours, which it 
resembled; to my surprise I now perceived a strange group. In the 
honeysuckle bower sat two ladies; one read aloud to an old blind woman, 
who after a while said--

"That'll do for to-day, my blessed young lady."

"Would you like to go in, nurse?" asked the lady very sweetly.

"I think I should. You need not mind, Miss Ducky," she said, addressing 
the other lady, "my dear young lady will do it."

The lady who had read now helped the old woman to rise, and led her in 
with great care. She soon returned alone, resumed her place, and read to 
herself from a smaller volume. She was attired in white, and with her 
head slightly bent, and her book on her lap, she looked as calm and still 
as a garden statue. The other lady was very young, a mere girl, short, 
pretty, fresh as a rose, and with glossy dark ringlets. She had been very 
restless during the reading, and had indulged in two or three little 
yawns. She now seemed joyous and happy at the release, and hovered around 
the bower light and merry as a bee. There was an airy grace about her 
little person that rendered motion as becoming to her as was repose to 
the other lady. She skipped and started about with restless vivacity; now 
she plucked a flower; now she stripped a shrub of its leaves; then 
suddenly turning round, she addressed her companion in the tones of a 
spoiled child:

"Miriam, leave off reading! you won't?--take that!"

She gathered a rose and threw it at her.

Miriam raised her beautiful face, calm as the surface of unstirred 
waters, and said, in a voice that rose sweetly on the air--

"Child, what is it?"

"Don't read."

Miriam closed her book.

"And come here."

Miriam rose and went up to her.

"How can you read so to stupid old nurse?" resumed the young girl; "I 
don't like Baxter."

"She likes it, my darling, and she is blind, and cannot read for 
herself."

"But if I were as jealous of you as you are of me," continued she whom 
the old woman had called Ducky, "_I_ should not like it."

She laid her curled head on the shoulder of the beautiful Miriam, who 
stooped and gave her a long embrace. Then they walked up and down the 
garden, arm in arm, talking in lower tones. I turned to ask Cornelius who 
were the ladies, and I found that he stood behind me, looking down 
intently.

"Cornelius," I said, "did not the lady they call Miriam, come and see me 
when I was ill?"

"Yes, child," he replied, without looking at me, and returning to his 
easel as he spoke.

"Who is she?"

"Miss Russell, the niece of our tenant."

"Who is the other one?"

"Her sister."

"Have they been here long, Cornelius?" 


"They came the week you were taken ill."

"Did Miss Russell come and see me often?"

"Every day; one night she sat up with you."

"She has not come of late, Cornelius?"

"No," he replied, still without looking at me; "she came one day 
unsought, and left off coming as soon as you were out of danger."

"How good she seems to her nurse!"

"She is all goodness."

"And how fond of her sister!"

"She is wrapt up in her."

"And yet she is much more beautiful, is she not, Cornelius?" I added, 
again looking down into the garden, where the sisters now sat in the 
bower. Cornelius left his easel to come and look too.

"Nonsense, child!" he replied, smiling, "the little one is much the 
prettier of the two. Ask Kate," he added, as the door opened, and his 
sister entered.

"Humph," said Miss O'Reilly, on being appealed to, "your eyes are better 
than mine, Cornelius, to see the difference at this distance; but I think 
Miss Ducky a pretty little roly-poly thing, and her sister a fine woman, 
though rather icy."

"Roly-poly!" indignantly echoed Cornelius, "why, Kate, she is exquisitely 
pretty!"

"Don't you fear the child may take cold?" said Miss O'Reilly, coming up 
to the window, which she closed with a mistrustful look, that seemed to 
say to it--"I wish _you_ were not there."

I spent about an hour more with Cornelius, who did his best to entertain 
me, by talking of the gallery, then took me back to my room, where Kate 
kept me company. I questioned her concerning Miss Russell, but learned 
little. She supposed it was very kind of her to come, though to be sure I 
did not want her; and cool people were often peculiar; and other things 
which I did not understand. I asked if any one else had come.

"Mr. Smalley, who has been disappointed of the Dorsetshire curacy after 
all, and Mr. Trim came several times."

"I hope Mr. Trim did not kiss me," I said, uneasily, for this amiable 
individual still persisted in being affectionate to me.

"Nonsense, child, I promise you they were more taken up in looking at 
Miss Russell, than in thinking of you. Sleep, for they are to come this 
evening, and I know Cornelius would like to take you down for an hour."

I did my best to gratify her, and soon succeeded, and the same evening I 
was dressed and wrapped up, or rather swathed like a mummy, said 
Cornelius, as he carried me down in his arms. He had scarcely laid me on 
the couch in the parlour, when Deborah announced "Miss Russell."

A pretty head, with drooping ringlets, peeped in, and as suddenly 
vanished.

"Pray come in, Miss Russell," said Kate, rising.

"You are engaged," lisped a soft voice behind the door.

"Not at all, pray come in."

"You--you are at tea, then."

"We shall not have tea for an hour, pray come in."

"I would rather come some other time," said the little voice, still 
speaking from the door, but rather more faintly.

"Surely my brother does not frighten you?"

"Oh no," faltered the timid speaker, in a tone that said, "Oh dear yes, 
precisely."

Kate rose and walked to the door. We heard a giggle, a little suppressed 
denial, and finally saw Miss O'Reilly re-enter the parlour and lead in 
the bashful creature. Miss Ducky was in a state of bewitching confusion 
and under-her-breath modesty. "She came to know how the little girl was--
so glad she was well again. Sit down! Oh no, she would rather be 
excused."

She spoke with girlish fluency of easy speech, with many a gentle toss of 
the glossy curls, and glancing of the bright dark eyes that looked 
everywhere save in the direction of Cornelius. Kate was vainly pressing 
her to sit down, when the fair creature was further alarmed by the 
entrance of Mr. Smalley and Mr. Trim. In her confusion she flew to the 
bow window instead of the door--"was astonished at the mistake--so 
absurd--quite stupid, you know," and stood there blushing most 
charmingly, when Kate at length persuaded her to sit down. By this time I 
had received the congratulations of Mr. Smalley and Mr. Trim, both of 
whom looked with some interest and curiosity at Miss Ducky.

There never was such a little flirt. The introduction was scarcely over 
when she attacked Mr. Trim with a look, Mr. Smalley with a smile, and 
Cornelius with look, smile, and speech, and having thus hooked them, she 
went on with the three to her own evident enjoyment and delight. Mr. 
Trim, whom the ladies had not accustomed to such favours, seemed 
exulting, and indulged in the most unbounded admiration. After warning 
Miss Ducky that she need not mind him, he edged his chair nearer to hers, 
and peering in her face, asked to know the number of hearts she had 
broken.

"I broke a cornelian heart the other day," she replied, demurely; "I was 
so sorry."

"Could it not be mended?" innocently asked Mr. Smalley.

"I don't know," she answered, childishly, "I did not try; I used to wear 
it round my neck--it is in a drawer now."

"Poor heart!" compassionately said Cornelius.

She laughed, and gaily shook her curls, but suddenly became as mute as a 
mouse, and, with the frightened glance of a child taken at fault, she 
looked at the door, on the threshold of which her sister now stood 
unannounced.

Miriam entered quietly, passing by Cornelius and me without giving either 
a look, and apologized to Kate for her intrusion; but Miss Ducky had, it 
seemed, been suddenly missed, to the great alarm of her relatives, whom 
the sound of her voice next door had alone relieved from their painful 
apprehensions. Miss Ducky heard all this with downcast eyes and a 
penitent face, and stood ready to follow her sister, who had 
pertinaciously refused to take a seat. Mr. Trim seemed rather anxious to 
detain them, and, bending forward with his hands on his knees to catch a 
look of Miriam's beautiful face, he said--

"Your sister, Ma'am, was telling us of the hearts--"

"I only spoke of the cornelian," interrupted Ducky, looking alarmed.

Miriam looked through Mr. Trim with her calm blue eyes, bade Miss 
O'Reilly good evening, smiled at Mr. Smalley, who coloured, then leading 
away her sister, she again passed by Cornelius and me with a chilling 
bend of the head.

"Pretty girl!" said Mr. Trim, shutting his eyes as the door closed upon 
them.

"Has she not very classical features?" observed Mr. Smalley, seeming 
surprised.

"Oh, you mean the fair one," sneered Mr. Trim. "It is very well for you, 
Smalley, a clergyman, to admire a girl who is as proud as Lucifer, just 
because she has a Greek nose--"

"I admire Miss Russell," interrupted Mr Smalley, reddening, "because the 
first time I saw her she was fulfilling that precept of our Divine Lord, 
which enjoins that the sick shall be visited and the afflicted 
comforted."

"Every man to his taste," replied Mr. Trim. "I like that pretty little 
thing best, and so would Cornelius, if he were not such a confirmed 
woman-hater. Ha! ha!"

"I hope not," said Mr. Smalley, looking with mild surprise at Cornelius, 
who did not repel the accusation, but seemed absorbed in my request of 
being taken upstairs again. I was still weak, and the talking made my 
head ache. I bade our two visitors good-night, and again had to resist 
Mr. Trim's attempt to embrace me. I believe he knew how much I disliked 
his ugly face, and would have found a malicious pleasure--I now acquit 
him of caring for the kiss--in compelling mine to endure its proximity. 
As I saw it bend towards me, grinning, I screamed, and took refuge in the 
arms of Cornelius, who said, a little impatiently--

"Do let that child alone, Trim."

Mr. Trim went back to his chair, saying, mournfully, "he never had luck 
with the ladies, whereas Cornelius, being a handsome, dashing young 
fellow, and Smalley rather wild--a thing women always liked--"

I lost the rest, for Cornelius, who was carrying me out of the room, shut 
the door, muttering something in which "Trim" and "insolence" were all I 
could hear distinctly.

Two days after this, I was well enough to be carried down to the garden 
in the arms of Cornelius, who sacrificed an hour of daylight to sitting 
by me on the bench. It was a warm and pleasant noon, and I was enjoying 
the delightful sense of existence which recovery from illness yields, 
when Miriam Russell suddenly appeared before us. She always had a 
noiseless step and had come down the steps from the porch so quietly that 
we had never heard her. I saw the blood rush to the brow of Cornelius, 
and felt the hand which mine clasped, tremble slightly. Miss Russell 
looked very calm; she asked me how I was; I replied. "Very well," and 
thanked her, in a low tone. Her statue-like beauty repelled the very idea 
of familiarity; her white chiselled features had the purity and coldness 
of sculptured marble; her face was faultless in outline, but it was too 
colourless, and her eyes, though fine and clear, were of a blue too pale. 
She gave me a careless look, then said to Cornelius, after refusing to be 
seated--

"You have kept your child."

"She is still very weak."

"Never mind, she will grow like my child yet."

Cornelius liked me too well not to be partial.

"Yes, she would be pretty if she were not so pale," he replied.

"You spoil her, do you not?" asked Miriam.

"Kate says so. Do I spoil you, Daisy?"

I said "Yes," and half hid my face on his shoulder, whence I looked at 
Miriam, who smiled, as if the fondness of Cornelius for me, and mine for 
him, gave her pleasure to see.

"She spoils me, but she won't let me have my way," said a soft lisping 
voice from the porch. We looked, and saw Miss Ducky's pretty curled head 
bending forward and looking at us. Her sister's whole face underwent a 
change on seeing her.

"But then she's so jealous," continued Ducky, pouting, "I hope you are 
not jealous of Daisy."

"Foolish child!" said Miriam, striving to smile.

"But then she's very fond of me," resumed Ducky, smiling; "when Doctor 
Johnson, stupid man, said I could not live, she was nearly distracted. 
Silly of her, was it not, Mr. O'Reilly?"

Her look so pertinaciously sought his that he could scarcely have avoided 
looking at her. She was very pretty thus in the gloom of the porch, and 
he smiled at her fresh young beauty. I saw Miriam glance uneasily from 
one to the other, then a cloud gathered on her brow. She bade us a sudden 
adieu, went up to her sister, and led her away, spite of her evident 
reluctance. Cornelius continued to look like one entranced on the spot 
where Miriam had lately stood; I was but a child, yet I knew he was now 
listening to the sweet and delusive voice of passion, unheeded during the 
earlier years of his youth, and enchanting him at last. I was watching 
his face attentively: he looked down, met my glance, and said quietly--

"Confess Miss Ducky is much prettier than her sister."

If he wanted me to contradict, he was disappointed.

"Yes, Cornelius," I replied, "she is."

"I thought you admired Miriam most," he said a little shortly.

"I did not know then she had green eyes."

This was true: the hue of Miriam's eyes, of a blue verging on green, was 
the fault of her face; I had been quick to detect it; Cornelius reddened 
and never broached the subject again.

Miriam came no more near us, and kept such good watch on her young 
sister, that we never had the opportunity of again comparing them 
together. Strange and sad to say, as autumn opened, the young girl 
sickened and in a few weeks died in the arms of her sister, childish and 
unconscious to the last. Miss O'Reilly and I watched the funeral leaving 
the house; as I saw it pass by, I felt as if Death, baulked of one prey 
and unwilling to leave our dwelling unsated, had seized on her, and I 
startled Kate by observing--

"Kate, don't you think poor Miss Ducky died instead of me?"

"Bless the child!" exclaimed Kate, turning pale; "never say that again."

But the fancy had taken hold of me, and, unless I am much deceived, of 
another too. Weeks elapsed before we saw anything of the bereaved sister. 
We heard that, wrapt in her grief, she remained for days locked in her 
room, and there brooded over her loss, rejecting consolation with scorn, 
and indulging in passionate mourning. Kate blamed this excessive sorrow; 
her brother never uttered one word of praise or blame.

Though my health was much improved, I was still delicate and subject to 
attacks of languor. One evening, Kate, seeing me scarcely able to sit up, 
wanted me to go to bed; but Cornelius had been out all day, I wished to 
await his return, so I went to the back-parlour, reclined on a couch, and 
there fell asleep.

I was partly awakened by the sound of voices talking earnestly in the 
next room, of which the door stood half open. I listened, still half 
asleep: one of the voices was that of Cornelius, passionately entreating; 
the other that of Miriam, coldly denying and accusing him of infidelity 
to the dead, whilst with ardent warmth he protested that she alone had 
been mistress of his thoughts. I sat up on the couch amazed and 
confounded. My room was dark, they could not see me, but I could see 
them. Miriam sat by the table, clad in deep mourning; Cornelius by her, 
with his face averted from me; he held her hand in his, still entreating; 
she said nothing, but she no longer denied. He raised her hand to his 
lips unreproved; whilst a bright rosy hue, that seemed too ardent for a 
blush, passed over her face, late so pale with grief.

I sank back on my couch, frightened at having heard and seen what had 
never been meant for my ear or sight; but I could not help it; I could 
not leave the room where I was, without breaking in upon them; twice I 
rose to do so, but each time my courage failed me. So I kept quiet, and 
stopping my ears with my fingers, did my best not to hear. I could not 
however help catching words now and then, and once I heard Miriam 
saying--

"Do you know why I, who never thought of you before this last hour, now 
wish to love you?--Because you are so unlike me."

What Cornelius replied I know not. Soon after this Miss Russell left. 
Cornelius had followed her to the door. He returned to the parlour, and 
throwing himself on the sofa, he there fell into a smiling reverie.

I softly left my couch, entered the parlour, and quietly sat down on a 
cushion at his feet. Cornelius looked as if he could not believe his 
eyes, then slowly sat up, and bent on me a face that darkened as he 
looked.

 

CHAPTER XII.

 

"Where do you come from?" he asked. 

"From the next room." 

"Have you been there long?" 

"The whole evening." 

"I thought you were upstairs sleeping?" 

"No, Cornelius, I was lying on the couch." 

"And you have just awakened, I suppose?" he carelessly observed, but with 
his look bent keenly on my face. I answered in a faltering tone--

"I have been awake some time."

"Before Miss Russell left?"

"Yes, Cornelius."

The blood rushed up to his brow.

"You listened?" he exclaimed, with a wrathful glance.

"I heard, Cornelius," I replied, unwilling to lose the distinction, "and 
heard as little as I could."

"Heard!" he indignantly echoed. "Upon my word! and why did you hear? Why 
did you not leave the room?"

"Twice I rose to do so; I made a noise on purpose; but you did not hear 
me, and I did not dare to disturb you."

Cornelius did not say which of the two evils--being disturbed or 
overheard by me--he would have preferred. I sat at his feet, wistfully 
looking up into his face. It was always expressive, and now told very 
plainly his annoyance and vexation. It would scarcely have been in the 
nature of mortal man, not to resent the presence of a witness on so 
interesting and delicate an occasion.

"I never heard anything like it," he exclaimed, indignantly. "I am fond 
of you, Daisy, but you do not imagine I ever contemplated taking you--a 
little girl too--into my confidence, as twice I have been compelled to 
do. What do you mean by it?" he added, with a perplexed and provoked air, 
that to a looker-on might have been amusing.

"I mean nothing, Cornelius."

"Foolish child," he continued, impatiently, "not to stay on your couch, 
and let me fancy you had slept through it!"

"But that would have been a great shame," I replied very earnestly; "I 
came out on purpose that you might know."

"Thank you!" he said drily.

"I shall not tell," I observed, in a low tone.

"It is to be no secret," he shortly answered.

I had no more to say. Cornelius rose impatiently, walked about the room, 
came back to his place, and still looked unable to get over the 
irritating consciousness of having been overheard.

I rose to go; he suddenly detained me.

"Stay," he said, with a profound sigh, "it is most provoking--the more 
especially as there is no dipping you into Lethe--but '_Hon[n]i soit qui 
mal y pense_.' I did not say one word of which I need be ashamed, and as 
to its being a little ridiculous--why, it is very odd if a man cannot 
afford to be ridiculous now and then--eh, Daisy?"

He gave me an odd look, half shy, half amused. He could not help enjoying 
a joke, even though it might be at his own expense.

"Then you are not vexed with me, Cornelius?" I asked, looking up.

"Not a bit," he replied, smiling with perfect good-humour; "I acquit you 
of wilful indiscretion, my poor child; I should have shut the door--but 
one cannot think of everything."

He had laid his hand on my shoulder. I turned round and pressed my lips 
to it, for the first time, scarce knowing why I gave him the token of 
love and homage he had yielded to Miriam. It is thus in life; we are 
perpetually bestowing on those who give back again, but rarely to us. 
Every trace of vexation passed away from the face of Cornelius; he made 
room for me by his side, and as I sat there in my familiar attitude, he 
shook back his hair, and observed, with philosophic coolness--

"After all, she would have known it to-morrow; only," he added, a little 
uneasily, "I think there is no necessity to let Miriam suspect anything 
of all this: you understand, Daisy?"

"Yes, Cornelius," I replied submissively.

He smiled.

"What a docile tone! Do you know, my pet, it is almost a pity there is 
not some romantic mystery in this matter; how discreet you would be! how 
you would carry letters or convey messages! but your good offices will 
never be needed."

He spoke gaily; I tried to smile, but he little knew how my heart was 
aching.

"I suppose, Cornelius, you will marry Miss Russell," I observed after 
awhile.

He smiled again.

"Soon, Cornelius?" He sighed and shook his head.

"Will you still live in this house?"

"Provided Miriam does not think it too small," he replied with a 
perplexed air, "but by uniting it to the next-door house, it would be 
quite large enough. Then I could have the upper part of both houses with 
a sky-light,--much better than a place in town; besides, I shall want her 
to sit to me--eh, Daisy?"

He turned to me; my face was partly averted from his gaze, or he must 
have read there the sharp and jealous torment every word he uttered 
awakened within me. Who was this stranger, that had stepped in between 
Cornelius and me, whose thought absorbed all his thoughts, whose image 
effaced every other image, who already made her supposed wishes his law, 
already snatched from me my most delightful and exclusive privileges? He 
seemed waiting for a reply; I compelled myself to answer--

"Yes, Cornelius."

"For our gallery, you know," he continued.

I did not reply; I felt sick and faint. He stooped and looked into my 
face with utter unconsciousness in his.

"How pale you look, my little girl!" he said, with concern; "and you are 
feverish too. Go up to your room."

He bade me good-night, and kissed me two or three times with unusual 
warmth and tenderness. Jealousy is all quickness of spirit and of sense. 
I reluctantly endured caresses which I knew not to be mine; if I dared, I 
would have repelled those overflowings of a heart in whose joy and 
delight I had not the faintest part. Sweeter, dearer to me was the quiet, 
careless kiss I was accustomed to get, than all this tenderness springing 
from love to another. I was glad when Cornelius released me from his 
embrace; glad to leave him; glad to go upstairs and be wretched in 
liberty.

Never since Sarah had told me that my father was going to marry Miss 
Murray, had I felt as I now felt. The grief I had passed through after 
his death was more mighty, but it did not, like this, attack the 
existence of love and sting it in its very heart. Cornelius married to 
Miriam Russell, parted from us in the sweet communion of daily life, 
living with her in another home, painting his pictures for her and with 
her sitting to him or looking on,--alas! where should I be then?--was a 
thought so bitter, so tormenting, that it worked me into a fever, which 
fed eagerly on the jealousy that had given it birth.

Gone was the time when I stood next to Kate in his heart, and my loss was 
the gain of her whom I had heard him making the aim of his future, the 
hope and joy of his life. His love for her might not exclude calmer 
affections, but it cast them beneath at an immeasurable distance. I could 
not bear this. I was jealous by temper and by long habit. My father had 
accustomed me to the dangerous sweetness of being loved ardently and 
without a rival; and though I had not expected so much from Cornelius, 
yet slowly, patiently, by loving him to an excess, I had made him love me 
too; and now it was all labour lost: she had reached at once the heart 
towards which I had toiled so long, and won without effort the exclusive 
affection it was hard not to win, but utter misery to see bestowed on 
another.

The manner of Kate on the following morning showed me she knew nothing; 
breakfast was scarcely over when she rather solemnly said to her 
brother--

"Cornelius, what did you do to that child whilst I was out yesterday?"

He stood by the fire-place, looking down at the glowing embers and 
smiling at his own thoughts; he woke from his reverie, shook his head, 
opened his eyes, and looked up astonished.

"I have done nothing to her, Kate," he replied, simply.

"She has been crying herself to sleep, though!"

I had, and I heard her with dismay; he gave me a keen look.

"Her nerves are weak," he suggested.

"Nonsense! did you ever know a fair-haired, dark-eyebrowed man or woman 
to have weak nerves?"

"I know dark eyebrows are a rare charm for a blonde."

"Nonsense! charm!--I tell you it is an indication of character--of energy 
and wilfulness. It is all very well for the fair, meek hair to say, 'Oh! 
I'm so quiet;' I say the dark, passionate brow tells me another story, 
and as Daisy never cries without a reason, I should like to know what she 
has been crying about."

"Her health affects her spirits, that is all," hastily replied Cornelius; 
"come up with me, Daisy, it will cheer you."

I obeyed reluctantly. It was some time however before Cornelius took any 
notice of me. He stood looking at a study for a larger picture begun 
during my illness. It represented poor children playing on a common, and 
was to be called "The Happy Time."

"And don't they look happy?" observed Cornelius, turning to me with a 
smile.

He was perhaps struck with the fact that the child he addressed did not 
look a very happy one, for, with the abruptness of a thing suddenly 
remembered, he said--

"By the bye, what did you cry for, Daisy?"

I hung down my head and did not reply.

"Did you hear me?"

"Yes, Cornelius."

"Then answer, child."

I did not; he looked astonished.

"Answer," he said again.

I felt myself turning red and pale, but to tell him I was jealous of 
Miriam Russell! no, I could not; the confession was too bitter, too 
humiliating.

"Daisy," he said, "I shall get angry."

I stood by him obstinately mute. I looked up at him with a dreary, 
sorrowful gaze; he frowned and bit his lip. I summoned all my courage to 
bear his coming wrath; to my dismay he chucked my chin, and said with 
careless good humour--

"As if I should not be fond of you all the same, you jealous little 
thing!"

And with the smile which he no longer repressed he turned away whistling 
"Love's young dream." Vexed and mortified to the quick, I burst into 
tears; Cornelius turned round and showed me an astonished face.

"Nonsense!" he exclaimed, laughing incredulously, "you never can be 
crying, Daisy!"

The laugh, the gay, careless tone exasperated me. I turned to the door to 
fly somewhere out of his sight; he caught me back and lifted me up. In 
vain I resisted; with scarcely an effort he mastered me and laughed again 
at my unavailing efforts to escape. Breathless with my recent resistance, 
irritated by my subjection, I lay in his arms mute and sullen. He bent 
his amused face over mine.

"You are an odd little girl," he said, with the most provoking good-
humour, looking with his merry brown eyes into mine, that were still 
heavy with tears, and speaking gaily, as if my jealousy, anger, and 
weeping were but a jest; "I suppose you object to my marrying--well, 
that's a pity--but it is all your fault! You know I wanted to wait for 
you, only you would not hear of it, so I naturally got desperate and 
looked out elsewhere."

With this, and as if to humble and mortify me to the last, he stooped to 
embrace me. In vain, burning and indignant, I averted my face; he only 
laughed and kissed me two or three times more. To be thus gently 
ridiculed, laughed at, and kissed, was more than I could bear. I 
submitted, but with a bursting heart, that betrayed itself by ill-
repressed sobs and tears. Cornelius saw this was more than childish 
pettishness: "Daisy!" he exclaimed, with concern, and he put me down at 
once.

There was a little couch close by; I threw myself upon it, and hid in the 
pillow my shame and my grief. He said and did all he could to pacify me; 
but when I looked up a little soothed, it stung me to read in his eyes 
the smile his lips repressed. The folly of a child of my age in presuming 
to be jealous of his beautiful Miriam, was evidently irresistibly 
amusing. My tears and my sobs ceased at once. I locked in the poignant 
feelings which could win no sympathy even from him who caused them. I 
listened with downcast eyes to his consolations, and apathetically 
submitted to his caresses. But Cornelius, satisfied that it was all 
right, chid me gently for having made him lose "ten precious minutes," 
gave me a last kiss, and returned to his easel. At once I rose and said--

"May I go downstairs?"

"Of course," he replied; but he looked surprised at the unusual request.

I remained below all day. When after tea I brought out my books as usual, 
Cornelius very coolly said--

"My dear, Kate will hear you this evening."

He took his hat and left us. As the door closed upon him, Miss O'Reilly 
shook her head and poked the fire pensively. I saw she knew all. Once or 
twice she sighed rather deeply, but subduing this she observed with 
forced cheerfulness--

"Well. Daisy, let us go through those lessons."

We did go through them, but with strange inattentiveness on either side.

"Nonsense, child!" impatiently exclaimed Kate; "why do you keep stopping 
and listening so, it is only Cornelius singing next door; what about it?"

What about it? nothing, of course; and yet you too, Kate, stopped often 
in your questioning to catch the tones of your brother's gay and 
harmonious voice; you, too, guessed that the time when he could feel 
happy to stay at home and sing to you was for ever gone by; you, too, 
when the lessons were over, sadly looked at his vacant place, and felt 
how far now was he whose song and whose laughter resounded from the next 
house. Oh, Love! invader of the heart, pitiless destroyer of its sweetest 
ties, for two hearts whom thou makest blest in delightful union, how many 
dost thou wound and divide asunder!

We had thought to spend the evening alone, but a strange chance, not 
without sad significance, brought us an unexpected visitor; the Reverend 
Morton Smalley called, for once unaccompanied by Mr. Trim. He was more 
gentle and charming than ever. He expressed himself very sorry not to see 
Cornelius, whom he evidently thought absent on some laborious errand, for 
looking at Kate in his benignant way over his spotless neckcloth and 
through his bright gold spectacles, he earnestly begged "she would not 
allow her brother to work so very hard."

She shook her head and smiled a little sadly.

"I fear Art absorbs him completely," gravely said Mr. Smalley.

"Oh dear no!" sighed Kate.

"We were never intended to lead a purely intellectual life," continued 
our guest, bending slightly forward, and raising his fore-finger with 
mild conviction, "and I fear your brother, Ma'am, is too much given to 
what I may venture to term the abstract portion of life: life has very 
lovely and tender realities."

Kate poked the fire impatiently.

"And then he works too hard," pensively continued Mr. Smalley, returning 
to his old idea that Cornelius was engaged on some arduous task: "why not 
give himself one evening's relaxation?"

I sat apart on a low stool, unheeded and silent; I know not what impulse 
made me look up in the face of our guest and say earnestly--

"Cornelius is gone to see Miss Miriam."

Mr. Smalley started like a man who has received an electric shock. He 
looked at me, at Kate; her face gave sorrowful confirmation of all he 
could suspect and dread. He said not a word, but turned very pale.

"Mr. Smalley," said Kate, "have a glass of wine."

He did not answer, he had not heard her; like one in a troubled dream, he 
passed his handkerchief across his moist brow and trembling lips. He made 
an effort to look more composed, as Kate handed him the glass of wine 
which she had poured out. He took it from her, smiled a faint ghastly 
smile, and said--

"I wish our friend every happiness."

But he could not drink his own pledge. He raised the glass to his lips, 
laid it down as if it were poison, rose, pressed the hand of Miss 
O'Reilly, and left us abruptly.

"Daisy," severely said Kate, "go up to your room." I obeyed, to spend 
another wretched night, not sleepless, but feverish dreams and sudden 
wakenings.

I did not go near Cornelius on the following day. Of this he took no 
notice, and again went out in the evening. I saw him depart with a sharp 
jealous pang. Ere long we heard him laughing next door.

"Just listen to him!" said Kate, smiling, "is he not enjoying himself! 
God bless him! that boy always had a gay laugh. Ah! many's the time, 
when, though I scarcely knew how to provide for the morrow, that laugh 
has made my heart light and hopeful--God bless him!"

On the next evening Miriam called. She entered the room quietly, sat down 
on the sofa, took a book from the table, looked listlessly over it, and 
spoke calmly as if nothing had occurred. Both she and Kate were more 
civil than cordial. Cornelius sat by Miss Russell. There was still a 
place vacant by him; it had always been mine; I took it and gently laid 
my head on his shoulder. As I did so, I met the glance of Miriam. She had 
not seen me until then: she started, turned pale, and, as if she resented 
that I, the weak sickly child, should still live, whilst her fair young 
sister lay cold in the grave, she said--

"How unwell that child looks!--but perhaps it is only because she is so 
sallow."

Childhood is fatally quick in catching the spirit of contest. I reddened, 
looked at her, and suddenly pressed my lips to the cheek of Cornelius, 
conscious this was more than she dare do.

"Be quiet, child!" he said a little impatiently.

I gave him a look of keen reproach; he did not heed it; his eyes were 
again bent on Miriam; he was again absorbed in her. The child whom he had 
petted and caressed evening after evening, for two years, was now 
forgotten as if she had never existed.

"Daisy," said Kate, "come and help me to wind this skein."

She saw my misery, and did this to give me a pretence to leave them; but 
I would not yield. As soon as the skein was wound, I returned to my place 
by Cornelius; for two hours I persisted in staying there, vainly striving 
to win a caress, a word, a look. Alas! he did not even know I was by him. 
He was talking to Miriam of a new piece of music, and said--

"I shall tell Daisy to look it out for you to-morrow."

"Daisy is here," replied Miss Russell, "by you."

He turned round astonished, and exclaimed--

"Why, so she is!"

To be so near him and yet so far apart, was too great a torment. My heart 
swelled as if it would burst. Stung at his cruel indifference, I rose, 
and without looking back I went up to Kate, sat down on the lowly cushion 
at her feet, and thus silently relinquished the place which had been mine 
so long.

Miriam Russell was now acknowledged as the betrothed of Cornelius. She 
was twenty-six, and independent both in her means and in her actions. Her 
aunt declared "that she had made a very bad match, and that she was 
throwing herself away on a handsome, penniless Irishman, whose artful 
sister was at the bottom of it all."

This speech was repeated to Miss O'Reilly, and brought on a great 
coolness between her and her tenant. Kate resented especially the 
reflection on her brother. Without letting him know what suggested the 
remark, she observed to him in my presence--and it was the only comment 
on his engagement I ever heard her make--

"Cornelius, Miss Russell has some property, but I trust you will not 
think of marriage before you have won a position."

"No, indeed," he replied, reddening, and throwing back his head half 
indignantly.

I now never went near Cornelius unless when sent by Kate. At first I had 
hoped he would miss me, but sufficient companionship to him was the 
charmed presence which haunts the lover's solitude; he asked not why I 
staid away, and pride forbade me to return. 



Passion had seized on him, and she absorbed all his faculties save one: 
he remained faithful to Art. He was a most enamoured lover, but not even 
for his mistress did he leave his easel, or lose an hour of daylight. She 
did not put him to a test, of which it was plain that, of his own accord, 
he would never dream. Every moment he could spare he gave to her; evening 
after evening he handed over my lessons to Kate, and left us to go next-
door: he was still kind, but somehow or other the charm had departed from 
his kindness.

Several weeks had thus elapsed, when Miriam was suddenly summoned to the 
sick bed of an aged relative, who dwelt in a retired village twenty miles 
away. Cornelius seemed to feel this first separation very much. He sighed 
deeply when the hour struck that usually led him to his beloved, opened 
his cigar-case, and smoked what, if he had used a pipe, might have been 
termed the calumet of sorrow. But he was not one of those inveterate 
smokers who, from the clouds they raise around them, can look down on the 
tribulations of this world with Olympic serenity. When his cigar was out, 
he brought forth no other, and half sat on the sofa with a most _ennuy?_ 
aspect. Kate had gone up to her room, complaining of a bad headache. I 
sat reading by her vacant chair, in that place which had become the type 
of my altered destiny.

"Daisy!" all at once said Cornelius.

I looked up.

"Come here," he continued.

I rose and obeyed, and, standing before him, waited to hear what he had 
to say to me. He said nothing, but stretched out his arm and drew me on 
his knee, smiling as he met my startled look, and felt my heart beating 
against the arm that encircled me.

"Are you afraid?" he asked.

"Oh no, Cornelius," I replied, but I felt astonished and happy at this 
unexpected return of kindness; so happy that, ashamed of it, I hid my 
face on his shoulder. He laughed because I would not look up, kissed my 
averted cheek, and finally compelled my burning face and overflowing eyes 
to meet his gaze.

"How perverse you have been!" he said, chidingly; "I don't know what 
tempted me to take any notice of you again; I am too fond of you, you 
jealous, sulky little creature."

His old affection seemed to have returned in all its warmth; his look had 
the old meaning, his voice the old familiar accent, his manner more than 
the old tenderness. When I saw myself again so near him, again petted, 
caressed, loved, how could I but forget Miriam, the past and the future, 
to yield to the irresistible charm of the moment? Oh! why was he so 
imprudently kind? Why, when I was growing almost accustomed to his 
indifference, almost resigned, did he unconsciously destroy the slow 
labour of weeks, and sow for us both the seed of future torment? But I 
thought not of that then, nor did he. If I was glad to be once more near 
him, I saw in his face--and it was that undid me--that he was glad to 
have back again the child of whom he had for more than two years been so 
fond. He caressed me as after a long separation, and smoothing my hair, 
asked the question he had often put to me during my lingering illness--

"What shall we talk about?"

"The Gallery," was my prompt reply.

"Will you never tire of it, my darling?"

"Never, Cornelius."

"Well, I have been making an addition to it lately: a Gipsy couple in a 
green lane--the husband lying idly on the grass--his dark-eyed wife 
cooking."

"And the child?"

"There is none; for I speak of a real Gipsy couple who are to come to sit 
to me to-morrow, but who have no child."

"Could not I do, Cornelius?"

"Do you, with your fair hair, look like a little Gipsy?"

"I might be a stolen child, Cornelius."

"So you might!" cried Cornelius, his whole face lighting up at the idea; 
"why, it is an excellent, an admirable subject! What a tender and 
pathetic contrast!--they the type of rude animal enjoyment and power, 
you, like divine Una among the Satyrs, a meek and intellectual captive. A 
sketch! I shall make a picture of it--a fine picture--a great picture, 
please God."

He rose, and walked about the room quite excited; his eyes had kindled 
and burned with inward light; his face glowed with triumph. Once he 
paused, and with his fore-finger rapidly traced on the air lines which 
had already struck his fancy for the arrangement of the group; then he 
came back to me and gravely said--

"I see it, Daisy; it is painted, finished, and hung in the great room; in 
the meanwhile let us discuss the particulars."

We discussed them, or rather Cornelius spoke, and I approved 
unconditionally every word he uttered, until, to our common astonishment, 
the clock struck eleven. As he bade me good-night, Cornelius laid his 
hand on my head, and said, admiringly--

"You clever little thing to have thought of it! no wonder I am fond of 
you; but do you know you will have to dress in rags, like a poor little 
drudge?"

"As if I minded it, Cornelius!" I quickly replied.

He smiled and kissed me very kindly. I went up to my room, to be as 
restless and wakeful with joy as I had not so long ago been with bitter 
grief.

Early the next morning I stole up to the studio. Cornelius was already at 
work; he never looked round as I entered, but observed, with a smile--

"So you have at length found your way up here?"

I did not answer.

"What kept you away so long?" he continued.

"I thought you did not want me."

"Did I ever want you?"

"No, that is true."

"Then why do you come now?"

"Shall I go away, Cornelius?"

He turned round smiling.

"Look at them," he said, nodding towards an open portfolio, "you have not 
seen them yet."

He alluded to several sketches of a child in various attitudes, intended 
for the "Happy Time."

"I have seen them, Cornelius," I replied.

"And when, if you please?"

"I came up the other day when you were out. Pray do not be vexed, but I 
could not bear any longer not to see what you were doing."

Vexed! oh, he did not look vexed at all with this proof of my constant 
admiration. Flattery is so sweet, so subtle, so intoxicating. All he said 
was--

"Well, which do you prefer?"

I luckily hit on the very sketch he himself approved.

"That child has a great deal of judgment," he observed, with thoughtful 
satisfaction: "I could trust to her opinion as to my own: it is the best, 
of course it is. There, put them all away; you have always kept my things 
in order for me until lately; see the mess in which they now are."

So they were, in a most artistic confusion, which I remedied with great 
alacrity. When we went down to breakfast, Kate, who had seen with 
pleasure that I had not of late been so much with her brother, asked, 
with some asperity, "if I was again going to settle myself upstairs."

"Precisely," replied Cornelius, and with great ardour and enthusiasm he 
told her of his intended picture. "Such an admirable subject,--not at all 
so commonplace as the 'Happy Time.'"

Miss O'Reilly was horrified at the prospect of Gipsy sitters, and 
prophesied the utter ruin of her household. Cornelius laughed at her 
fears, and promised to keep such strict watch that no disaster could 
possibly occur. The Gipsy couple came the same day--a wild, restless-
looking pair, who tried to the utmost the patience of Cornelius, and gave 
me many an odd, shy look as they saw me take my attitude, in the costume, 
more picturesque than attractive, of an old brown skirt, torn and made 
ragged for the purpose; a shabby bodice; my hair loose and tangled, and 
my neck, arms, and feet bare. They were very wilful, too, and had on the 
subject of attitudes ideas which differed materially from those of 
Cornelius. At length the group was formed, and in this first sitting he 
could take a rapid sketch of it, "just to fix the idea of it in his 
mind," he observed to Kate at tea-time; "they were a little restless for 
the first time, but I have no doubt we shall get on very well, though you 
looked rather afraid of that swarthy fellow, Daisy."

"I did not like his eyes--nor those of his wife either, Cornelius."

"Why, there is a tea-spoon missing," hastily observed Kate, who had been 
holding a conference at the door with Deborah; "you had not one in the 
studio, had you, Cornelius?"

He rose precipitately, left the room, and in a few minutes, came down 
with a melancholy face.

"There was one and there is not one," he said, sadly,--"the perfidious 
wretches!"

"I shall send the police after them," warmly cried Kate.

"Will the police make them sit to me again?" impatiently asked Cornelius.

"Indeed I hope not," indignantly replied his sister.

"To leave me in such a predicament for the sake of a miserable tea-
spoon!" he observed, feelingly.

"A miserable tea-spoon! one of the dozen that has been fifty years in the 
family, with our crest, a hawk's head, upon it too! I am astonished at 
you, Cornelius; a miserable tea-spoon! you speak as if you had been born 
with a silver spoon in your mouth!"

Cornelius sighed profoundly by way of reply; but even so tender a 
disappointment could not weigh long on his cheerful temper.

"After all," he philosophically observed, "they left me my idea."

"I wish the tea-spoon had been an idea," shortly said Kate.

"Well, I wish it had," placidly replied her brother; "but I have at least 
the consolation of having hit on the very characters I wanted--arrant 
thieves."

"Indeed you did, Cornelius."

"I remember their features quite well, and shall without scruple consider 
and paint them too as the real abductors of Daisy; for it stands to 
reason that she would not be here now if they had only found some decent 
opportunity of abstracting her."

"Or if she had only been a tea-spoon!" sighed Kate.

"This incident will be of the greatest use to me," gravely continued 
Cornelius; "it will enable me to enter thoroughly into the spirit of the 
picture story."

This was rather too much for Kate. But Cornelius bore her reproaches with 
great serenity, and found another motive of consolation in the fact that 
I, the principal figure, being always under his hand, it really was not 
so bad after all.

Happy were the three weeks that followed. Cornelius had acquired great 
facility and worked hard; I sat to him nearly all the day long; we rested 
together, and he then put by his own fatigue to cheer and amuse me. It 
was to me as if Miriam had never existed. Cornelius by no means forgot 
her, but even a man in love may think of other things besides his 
mistress, and a new picture on the easel was the most dangerous rival 
Miriam could dread in the heart of her betrothed. They wrote to one 
another daily; every morning Cornelius consecrated a quarter of an hour 
to love, then devoted himself heart and soul to his task; and I--as 
sharing in that task--occupied, I believe, a greater share of his 
thoughts and feelings than even his beautiful mistress.

One morning indeed, when the postman did not bring him his usual letter, 
he looked quite mournful, and began his labour with the declaration "that 
it was no use--he could not work," but after a quarter of an hour his 
brow had cleared and he was wholly absorbed in his task. He worked until 
we were both tired, he with painting, I with sitting; he then threw 
himself on the low couch, and wanted me to sit by him and talk as usual, 
but I said he looked drowsy.

"So I am, you little witch."

"Then pray sleep awhile."

"No, I should sleep too long."

"Shall I awaken you?"

"You could not."

"Indeed I could, Cornelius."

"Promise not to mind my entreaties."

"I shall not mind them, Cornelius."

"Then take my watch, your poor father's present, Daisy, and wake me in a 
quarter of an hour."

He closed his eyes, and, having the happy faculty of sleeping when he 
liked, he was soon in deep slumber. I sat by him, the watch in one hand, 
the other resting on the cushion which pillowed his head; I neither moved 
nor spoke until the quarter of an hour was over, then, without a second's 
grace, I called him up.

"Five minutes more," he drowsily entreated.

"Not five seconds. I wish you would wake up, Cornelius, or I shall have 
to pinch you or pull your hair."

"Pull and pinch, so you only let me sleep."

Of course I did not pinch; but I pulled one of his raven locks with 
sufficient force.

"Little barbarian!" he exclaimed, "what do you mean by such usage?"

"I mean to waken you, Cornelius."

"And why so?" he asked, to obtain that second's delay which is so 
delightful to the sleeper.

"Oh, Cornelius! how can you ask? Must you not work to become a great 
artist, paint fine pictures, and become famous?"

"Very true!" he exclaimed, starting up; "thank you, Daisy, you are a 
faithful friend." And in rising, he passed his arm around my neck and 
kissed me. But even as he did so, I saw his glance light suddenly; I 
turned round, Miriam was standing on the threshold of the open door 
looking at us. I sighed: my three weeks' happiness was over.

 

CHAPTER XIII.

 

Cornelius received Miriam with a flushed brow and eager look that 
betrayed the joy of his heart. And yet with what indolent calmness she 
let him clasp her hand in his, and stood in the centre of the room, 
looking at him with an abstracted smile! In answer to his eager inquiries 
she composedly answered--

"Yes, my aunt is better and I am quite well. Just arrived? no--I came 
back this morning."

"And I never knew it!"

"And never guessed it from not receiving the letter! I am come up to 
scold you. Your sister says you take no rest."

"I had been sleeping when you came in."

"I saw you were being awakened very gently."

"Gently! she used me as Minerva Achilles, but I do not complain; I wanted 
to work: look!" He took her arm within his and led her to his easel.

"Have you done all that since I left?" she asked.

"Indeed I have, Miriam."

"That accounts for your letters being so short." He reddened; she calmly 
resumed--

"Why are those two figures mere outlines?"

"Thereby hangs a tale, or rather a tea-spoon. They are to be Gipsies: the 
child is stolen."

"And a miserable little creature it looks."

"I see I have not caught the likeness," said Cornelius, looking 
mortified: "it is Daisy." 

"Why, so it is!" exclaimed Miss Russell, seeming astonished; "how could I 
recognize the child in such unbecoming attire?"

"Unbecoming! Do you know, Miriam, I rather admire Daisy in her rags: her 
attitudes are so graceful and picturesque; and is she not wonderfully 
fair?" he added, taking up one of my arms and seeming to call on Miss 
Russell for confirmation.

"You have made quite a drudge of her," she said, looking at the picture.

"Not a degraded one, I hope," rather quickly replied Cornelius: "Marie 
Antoinette looked a queen, even when she swept the floor of her prison; 
if I have not made Daisy look superior and intellectual in her rags, the 
fault is mine, Miriam."

He looked at her, she did not reply; he continued--"I am taking great 
pains with that stolen child; as a contrast to the coarse enjoyment of 
the two Gipsies, and a type of unworthy degradation borne patiently and 
with unconscious dignity. I mean it to be the principal figure of the 
group: you understand?"

"I should not have guessed it," was her discouraging reply. He looked 
mortified; she smiled, and added, "I know nothing of Art. I have nearer 
seen an artist at work. Let me look at you and learn."

Cornelius looked delighted, and giving her a somewhat proud smile, set to 
work at once. She stood by the easel in an attitude of simple and 
attentive grace; she had taken off her black beaver bonnet, and the 
wintry light by which the artist painted, fell with a pale subdued ray on 
her fair head, and defined her perfect profile on the sombre background 
of the room. But his picture and his sitter absorbed Cornelius; his 
glance never wandered once to the spot where his beautiful mistress stood 
in such dangerous proximity. I saw her look at him with wonder, almost 
with pity, then with something like displeasure.

Cornelius was more than usually intent. From his face I knew he was 
obstinately striving against some difficulty. He frowned; he bit his lip; 
his very manner of holding palette and pencil was annoyed and irritated. 
At length he threw both down with an impetuous and indignant
exclamation--

"I cannot--do what I will--I cannot!" I was accustomed to such little 
outbreaks, but Miriam drew back, and said in a tone of ice--

"Mr. O'Reilly, you will break your palette."

"I beg your pardon," replied Cornelius, with a start that showed he had 
forgotten her presence, "but Daisy and the palette are used to it, and 
there are things would provoke Saint Luke himself, saint and painter 
though he was. Would you believe it? I cannot render the thoughtful look 
of that child's eyes otherwise than by a stare!"

He spoke quite mournfully: Miriam laughed; her lover looked astonished.

"What about it?" she said.

"Why, that I am painting a bad picture."

"What matter?"

"And the disappointment! the shame!"

"Be more philosophic," she coolly replied: "success is but a chance."

"Begging your pardon, Miriam, it is a chance that falls to the good 
pictures, consequently it is worth any toil, any sacrifice."

"Yes," she replied, with reproach in the very carelessness of her tone, 
"you are, like all men, absorbed in your ambition."

"Would you have me sit down in idleness?"

"I would have you not set your heart on a picture and on fame."

"I must work, Miriam, and the workman cannot separate himself from his 
work, nor be careless of his wages."

He spoke very warmly; she coldly smiled.

"I can do so," she replied; "I can tell you: paint good or bad pictures--
what matter? you are still the same man."

"Ay, but there is a bit of difference between a good and bad painter," 
answered Cornelius, looking half vexed, "and Cornelius O'Reilly hopes to 
paint good pictures before he dies! But for one or two things this would 
not be amiss. Daisy, come and look at it."

"You appeal to her?"

"She sometimes hits the right nail on the head. Are the eyes better, 
Daisy?"

"No, Cornelius," I frankly replied.

"No!" he echoed, giving my neck a provoked pinch, "and why so, pray?"

"I don't like them much; they look in."

"You silly child, that is just what I want," he replied, smiling and 
chucking my chin: "I don't know what I should do without that little 
girl," he added, turning to Miriam, "she is a wonderful sitter, not a bad 
critic--"

"Are you not afraid she will take cold?" interrupted Miriam; "that dress 
looks thin."

"I trust not," answered Cornelius; "the room is kept warm; she says she 
is quite warm, but she is so anxious to be of use to me that I can 
scarcely trust her. Oh, Daisy! I hope you have not been deceiving me."

He made me lie down on the couch, drew it by the fire, threw over me a 
shawl that was kept in the studio for that purpose, and wrapped me in its 
folds. I smiled at his anxiety; Miriam looked on with surprise, as if she 
had forgotten that Cornelius was fond of me.

"I am so thankful to you for mentioning it," he said, turning towards 
her, "I am forgetful of these things; but if anything were to happen to 
Daisy, even for the sake of the best picture man ever painted, I should 
never forgive myself. How do you think she looks?"

"Sallow, as usual," she replied, in passing by me to leave us.

"You are not going yet," he said, going up to her, "you know I want to 
convert you to Art."

"Not to-day," she replied coldly, and, disengaging her hand from his, she 
left the studio.

Cornelius came back to the fireplace and looked pensive. I attempted to 
rise.

"No," he said quickly, "you must not sit any more to-day."

"Oh! Cornelius," I entreated, "pray let me; I do so want to see the 
picture finished."

Cornelius sighed; he looked down at me rather wistfully, and said, 
involuntarily perhaps--

"Yes, _you_ like both the workman and his work."

I had felt, after the death of her young sister, that Miriam never would 
like me; from the very day she came back to the Grove, I felt she 
disliked me. Her return, without making Cornelius less kind, brought its 
own torment. She now daily came up to the studio, and from the moment her 
calm and beautiful face appeared in the half-open door, I felt as if a 
baleful shadow suddenly filled the room. She did not banish me from the 
only spot she had left me, but she followed me to it and mercilessly 
embittered all my happiness. Never once did she leave without having 
stung me by slights and covert sneers which Cornelius was too frank and 
good to perceive; which I dared not resent openly, but over which I 
silently brooded, until jealousy became a rooted aversion.

She had been back about ten days when I again fell ill. Cornelius thought 
at first I had taken cold in sitting to him, and was miserable about it; 
but the doctor on being called in declared I had the small-pox, and 
though Cornelius averred he had gone through this dangerous disease, Miss 
O'Reilly was morally convinced of the contrary, and banished him from my 
room.

Nothing could exceed her own devotedness to me during this short though 
severe illness, and my slow recovery. She seldom left me, and never for 
more than a few minutes. One evening however, as I woke from a light 
sleep, I missed Kate from her usual place, and to my dismay I saw, by the 
light of a low lamp burning on the table, her brother, who stood at the 
foot of my bed, looking at me rather sadly.

"Oh! Cornelius, go, pray go," I exclaimed, in great alarm.

"There is no danger for me, child," he replied gently; "how are you?"

"Almost well, Cornelius, but pray go; pray do."

Without answering he hastily drew back and stepped within the shadow of 
the bed-curtain as the door opened, and admitted, not Kate, but Miriam. 
She did not see Cornelius, for the room was almost dark; she probably 
thought I slept; she at least approached my bed very softly, moving 
across the carpeted floor as dark and noiseless as a shadow. When she 
reached the head of my bed she stood still a moment, then taking the lamp 
lowered it so that its dim light fell on my face. Our eyes met; I looked 
at her with a wonder she did not seem to heed; I had never seen her calm 
look so eager. With a smile she laid down the lamp.

"Oh, Miriam, Miriam!" exclaimed the reproachful voice of Cornelius, who 
came forward as he spoke, "you have broken your word to me."

She started slightly.

"What brought you here?" she asked.

"I wanted to see my poor child."

He took her hand to lead her to the door; but she did not move, and said 
in a peculiar tone--

"Have you seen her?"

"Not well."

"Look at her then."

She handed the lamp to him; he took it reluctantly, just allowed its ray 
to fall upon me, then laid it down with a sigh.

"Poor little thing!" he observed, sadly.

"But it might have been much worse," said Miriam, gently.

"Much worse," he echoed.

I could not imagine what they were talking of.

"I am almost well again, Cornelius," I said.

"I am glad of it," he replied, cheerfully; then turning to Miriam, he 
again entreated her to go.

"With you," was her brief reply.

He complied: as they went out together, I heard him chiding her for her 
imprudent kindness. She did not answer, but smiled silently as the door 
closed upon them.

On learning the visit Cornelius had paid me, Kate was very angry. To our 
mutual relief he did not suffer from it, and even repeated it in a few 
days, in order to take me down to the parlour, where I had begged hard to 
take tea with him and Kate. As he lifted me up in the heavy shawl which 
wrapped me, Cornelius sighed.

"My poor little Daisy," he said, "how light, how very light you are 
getting!"

"Oh! but," I replied, a little nettled, "I am to improve so much, you 
know--at least Miss Russell said so--you remember?"

He gave me a rueful look, and, without replying, took me downstairs. Miss 
Russell sat by the table looking over a volume of prints; she just raised 
her eyes to say quietly--

"I am glad you are well again, Daisy," but took no other notice of me.

Cornelius laid me down on the couch, and sitting on the edge, asked me 
how I felt.

"Very well, Cornelius," I replied, and half rising, I passed my arms 
around his neck and kissed him. He returned the caress, and at the same 
time gently tried to make me lie down again. I detected the uneasy look 
he cast at the mirror over the mantle-piece which we both faced; I wanted 
to look too; he held me down tenderly, but firmly.

"Not yet, my pet," he said with some emotion, "you must promise not to 
look at yourself until I tell you."

The truth flashed on me: I was disfigured; I know not how it had never 
occurred to me before. I burst into tears, and hid my face in the pillow 
of the sofa. Cornelius vainly tried to comfort me: I would not even look 
up at him; to be told by him, and before her, of my disgrace, was too 
bitter, too galling. 

"Shall we love you less?" asked Cornelius.

"Besides, what is beauty?" inquired Kate.

Miriam said nothing.

I did not regret beauty, which had never been mine to lose, but I 
lamented the woful change from plainness to downright ugliness. "I know I 
am like Mr. Trim," I despairingly exclaimed,--"without eyebrows or 
eyelashes."

"Indeed," replied Cornelius, "your eyelashes are as long, and, like your 
eyebrows, as beautifully dark as ever. Let that comfort you."

I thought it poor comfort--there are so many things in a face besides 
eyebrows and eyelashes; but drawing the shawl over mine, I checked my 
tears, and asked Cornelius to take me back to my room. He complied 
silently, and, as he laid me down on my bed, said gently--

"Have I your word that you will not look at yourself?"

"Yes, Cornelius," I replied, scarcely able to speak. "Oh! Kate," I added, 
as the door closed on him, "am I so very ugly?"

"Never mind, child," she answered cheerfully, "bear it bravely."

I bore it bravely enough in appearance, but in my heart I repined 
bitterly. Kate and Cornelius were both deceived, and praised me for my 
seeming fortitude. I did not leave my room for some time, and had no 
difficulty in keeping my promise; I never felt tempted to break it; I 
sickened at the thought of meeting in a glass my own scarred and 
disfigured face. My only comfort was, that as Miriam came not near me, I 
was spared the look I should have found it most hard to bear in my 
humiliation. But I could not delay this moment for ever. One evening, 
when I knew Miss Russell to be below, Kate, in spite of my entreaties and 
my tears, insisted on making me go down.

I entered the room like a criminal, and without once looking up or around 
me. I was going straight to the stool by Kate's chair, when Cornelius, 
who sat on the sofa with Miriam, said, making room for me--

"Daisy, come here."

I felt my unhappy face burn with mortification and shame, as I obeyed and 
sat down by him. He kissed and caressed me very kindly, but though Miriam 
never turned towards me her face so pale and calm, nor inflicted the look 
I dreaded, the thought of her secret triumph rendered me dull and 
joyless.

"You don't seem very merry," said Cornelius, stooping to look into my 
face.

"The silly thing is afraid of the looking-glass," pitilessly observed 
Kate.

"Have you really not yet looked at yourself?" asked Cornelius, in a tone 
of surprise.

"No, Cornelius," I replied, in a low voice, "I had promised, you know."

"So you had, and you kept your word like a good little girl. Well, I 
release you--you may look now."

I felt in no hurry to avail myself of the permission.

"Why don't you look?" he asked, very coolly.

"I would rather not," I faltered.

"But you must look at yourself some day; better have it over," was his 
philosophic advice.

"Indeed I would much rather not."

"Pshaw!" he said, impatiently, "I thought you had more sense."

"So did I," observed Kate.

I thought it was very easy for them, who were both handsome, to talk of 
sense to a poor plain girl.

"Is it possible," composedly continued Cornelius, "that you mind it? Now, 
if you find your nose a little damaged, for instance, will it affect 
you?"

"Indeed. Cornelius, I should not like it," was my dismayed reply.

"Would you not?"

"No, indeed; is there anything the matter with my nose?"

"Just give one good, courageous look, and see." 

He took my hand, made me rise, and led me to the glass. In vain I turned 
away--he compelled me to look, and I saw my face--the same as ever; not 
handsomer, certainly, but not in the least disfigured. I turned to 
Cornelius, flushed and breathless with pleasure: he seemed to be enjoying 
my surprise.

"Ah! how uselessly we have frightened you!" he said, smiling, "but your 
face looked bad at first, and that wise doctor said it would remain thus. 
Kate and I have watched the change with great interest, but seeing how 
well you bore it, we resolved not to speak until you were once more 
metamorphosed into your former self. Confess the pleasure was worth the 
fright."

I glanced at the mirror, then at Cornelius, who stood with me on the 
hearth-rug, and with an odd, fluttering feeling, I observed--

"I don't think I am disfigured, Cornelius." 

"Not a bit," he replied, gaily: "oh! you will grow up into a beauty yet."

He was holding my head in both his hands, and looking down at me very 
kindly. I earnestly gazed in his face, and said--

"Did I look very bad on that evening when you brought me down, Cornelius? 
Was I quite a fright?"

"Almost," he replied, frankly. "Well, what is it?" he added, as he saw my 
eyes filling with tears: "you do not mind that now, do you, child?"

"No. Cornelius, but I remember you kissed me." 

He smiled, without answering, and went back to Miriam. I quietly resumed 
by him the place to which he had summoned me, and which I had so 
reluctantly taken. He paid me no attention, and pertinaciously looked at 
his betrothed; yet when my hand silently sought his, its pressure 
returned told me that he was not unconscious of my presence. I felt too 
happy to be jealous, and for once sitting thus by Cornelius, unnoticed, 
but with his hand in mine, I could be satisfied with that humble degree 
of affection which a plain, homely child may receive in the presence of a 
beautiful and beloved woman. Kate, pleased to see me recovered and happy, 
was smiling at me from her low chair, when she suddenly frowned and 
started, as a low, timid knock was heard at the street-door.

"That's Trim!" she exclaimed astonished, for, like Mr. Smalley, he had 
not come near us since the engagement of Cornelius and Miriam; "I know 
him by his slinking knock, which always seems to say, 'Don't mind me--
nobody minds me, you know.'"

Miriam smiled scornfully; the parlour door opened, and Mr. Trim's head 
appeared nodding benevolently at us all. He entered with his usual 
slouch, shuffled his way to Kate, and holding her hand in both his, 
kindly hoped, "she was quite well."

"Quite," was her prompt reply. Mr. Trim was so happy to hear it that he 
forgot to release her hand, until that of Cornelius, laid on his 
shoulder, made him turn round. Mr. Trim's eyes seemed to overflow with 
emotion. "God bless you, my dear fellow, God bless you!" he said, shaking 
both the hands of his friend up and down several times with great 
fervour, "it does me good to see you; I wanted Smalley to come, and 
thought it would do him good too, but he declined. He returns your Byron 
with thanks and his love, and hopes Byron was a Christian, but he would 
not come. Ah! my dear fellow, clergymen are men."

"What else did you think they were?" shortly asked Kate--"birds?"

Mr. Trim's fancy was much tickled at the idea. He shut his little eyes 
and laughed immoderately. When he recovered, he went up to Miriam, who 
sat indifferent and calm, like one taking no share in what was passing. 
Mr. Trim hoped she was quite well; she replied quite, with the most 
scornful civility. He hoped she had been quite well since he last saw 
her. She had been quite well. He hoped she would continue to be quite 
well. She hoped so too, and took up a book. Undeterred by this, Mr. Trim 
drew a chair near the angle of the sofa in which she sat, and spite of 
her astonished look, there he remained. 

Cornelius had resumed his place between Miriam and me, and I had the 
honour of next attracting Mr. Trim's attention.

"I am quite well now," I replied, in answer to his inquiries, "but I have 
had the small-pox."

"Had the small-pox, eh? Let me see; I am half blind, you know."

He raised the lamp, surveyed me through his half-shut eyes, then said 
admiringly--

"A very fair escape. Don't you think the little thing's complexion is 
improved, Ma'am?"

He addressed Miriam, who acquiesced by a silent bend of her queen-like 
head.

"Altogether," continued Mr. Trim, "she looks better. Now do you know, 
Ma'am, that at sixteen Daisy will be quite a pretty girl."

Miriam smiled ironically. Cornelius looked at me, and complacently 
observed--

"Three years may make a great difference."

"Is Daisy thirteen?" suddenly asked Miriam.

"Not yet; her birthday is in May."

"You told Dr. Mixton she was ten."

"Twelve, Miriam; she was ten when I brought her home."

She did not reply.

"How goes on the Happy Time?" asked Mr. Trim, bending forward with his 
hands on his knees.

"It is finished, and I am engaged on another picture."

Mr. Trim shut his eyes and nodded to Miriam, as much as to say, "I know 
all about it;" then asked how she liked sitting.

"I do not sit to Mr. O'Reilly," she replied in a tone of ice.

"Now, Ma'am, I call that cruel, to deprive our friend--"

"Mr. O'Reilly has never asked me to sit to him."

"But you know I mean to do so when I have finished my Stolen Child," said 
Cornelius, whose look vainly sought hers.

"Allow me to suggest a subject," rather eagerly said Mr. Trim: "if it 
won't do, you need not mind, you know. Did you ever read 'The Corsair,' 
Ma'am?"

"Yes," impatiently replied Miss Russell.

"Then what do you say to Medora?"

"Medora, my favourite heroine!" exclaimed Cornelius; "that is not a bad 
idea, Trim."

He looked at his betrothed; she was looking at Mr. Trim, who, as usual, 
was in a state of blindness.

"Medora in her bower," he resumed, "or parting from Conrad, or watching 
for his return--do you object, Ma'am?"

"Not if you will sit for Conrad," she replied, her eyes beaming scorn on 
his ungainly person.

"But Mr Trim is not like the print of Conrad," I put in pertly, "and 
Cornelius is, is he not, Kate?"

Mr. Trim laughed; Kate gave me a severe look and rang for tea. Our guest 
rose; Miss O'Reilly civilly asked him to stay; but he declined, he had an 
engagement, he said. Scarcely had the street door closed upon him, when 
he knocked again. Deborah opened, and his head soon appeared at the 
parlour door.

"Dreadful memory!" he said, chuckling, "quite forgot Byron; Smalley was 
rather shocked at some passages, and says you are to read his notes on 
Manfred."

"Daisy, go and take that book from Mr. Trim," said Kate.

I rose, went up to him, and held out my hand for the volume. He stretched 
out his arm, caught me, lifted me up, and attempted to kiss me. As I saw 
his face bending towards mine, I slapped it with all my might, and cried 
out, "Cornelius!"

"Put that child down," said his somewhat stern voice behind us.

Mr. Trim put me down as if he had been shot. I ran to Cornelius, who 
looked dark and displeased, and clung to him for protection.

"Like him best--eh, Daisy?" said Mr. Trim, trying to laugh it off, "he is 
Conrad, eh? but I have no Medora. You foolish thing! why it is only a 
joke--who minds me?"

"Do not be alarmed, Daisy," observed Cornelius, addressing me, but giving 
Mr. Trim an expressive look; "Mr. Trim will never do it again."

"Catch me at it!" rather sulkily answered our visitor, rubbing his cheek 
as he spoke, "I have enough of such valiant damsels. Well, well," he 
added, relapsing into his usual manner, "no malice; good night, I am glad 
to see you so happy and comfortable. God bless you all!" He cast a sullen 
look around the room, and vanished.

Cornelius said nothing; but there was a frown on his brow, and he bit his 
nether lip like one who chafed inwardly. He led me back to my place on 
the sofa, and, sitting down by me, did his best to soothe me.

"Why, Daisy," merrily said Kate, "I did not know you had half so much 
spirit."

I hid my burning face on the shoulder of her brother.

"Never mind, child." she resumed, "he won't begin again."

"I should like to see him." observed Cornelius.

I looked up to say aloud--

"Cornelius won't let him, will you, Cornelius?"

He smoothed my ruffled hair and vowed no Trim ever should kiss me against 
my will.

"Come, come," put in Kate, "she is only a child."

"Child or not, he shan't kiss her," muttered Cornelius.

"Nonsense!"

"Nonsense! I tell you, Kate, that the child does not like it, nor I 
either." He spoke sharply.

"You do not look as if you did," said the chilling voice of Miriam.

She had beheld all that had passed with her usual indifference, and now 
sat leaning back in the angle of the sofa, looking at us with calm 
attention. Cornelius turned round and replied quietly--

"You are quite right. Miriam, I do not like it."

The entrance of Deborah interrupted the conversation. After tea Cornelius 
played and sang. Miriam left early.

 

CHAPTER XIV.

 

On the following morning, Kate sent me up my breakfast as usual, and 
accompanied it with a message that I was not to think of rising before 
twelve. But I felt strong again; besides I was eager to surprise 
Cornelius; I hastily donned the ragged attire of the Stolen Child and ran 
up to the studio. I entered abruptly, then stood still.

In the centre of the room stood Miriam, clad in strange attire. A white 
robe fell to her feet; a blue cashmere scarf was wrapped around her fine 
person; her fair hair was braided back from her face; her arms, as 
beautiful as those of an antique statue, were as bare. Cornelius stood 
looking at her with eager delight, and never noticed my entrance.

"I am not sure," he said, "that the costume is correct, but I know I 
never saw even you look so beautiful!"

She smiled, and sank down on the low couch, with negligent grace. One arm 
fell loosely by her side, the other supported her cheek.

"Do not stir," eagerly cried Cornelius: "that is the very attitude! Oh! 
Miriam, what a glorious picture it will make!" and walking round her, he 
surveyed her keenly.

"You think of nothing but your pictures," she said, impatiently.

"Why do you tempt me? Just allow me to move your left arm."

With chilling indifference, she passively allowed him to move her 
beautiful arms at his pleasure.

"There!" he said, drawing back, "it is perfect now."

"Outstretched! theatrical!" she replied ironically.

"Can you mend it?" asked Cornelius, looking piqued.

She did not answer, but by just drawing in a little, and bending more 
forward, she threw into her face, into her look, attitude, and bearing, a 
strange intensity of eager watchfulness, that made her fixed gaze seem as 
if piercing the depths of an invisible horizon. Cornelius looked at her 
with wonder and admiration.

"That is indeed Medora," he frankly said at length: "Oh! Miriam, never 
tell me, after this, you do not care for Art! and now be merciful, let me 
sketch you thus."

"And the stolen child, who is waiting?" she said, glancing at me.

"What, Daisy!" he exclaimed, seeing me for the first time.

Miriam attempted to rise; he eagerly turned back to her, and entreated 
her so ardently to remain thus, that she yielded. When he had prevailed, 
he turned to me.

"Daisy," he said gaily, "you are a good little girl, but you may take off 
your picturesque attire."

Alas! so I might: the sorceress had conquered me in my last stronghold!

At first Miss Russell would not hear of sitting for anything more 
finished and elaborate than a sketch in crayons, but from the sketch to a 
water-colour drawing, and from this again to an oil painting, the 
progression was rapid: at length the Stolen Child was wholly set aside 
and replaced on the easel by Medora. I had before lost Cornelius in the 
evening, in his moments of leisure and liberty, I now lost him at his 
labour; the intruder stepped in between him and me on the very spot where 
I thought myself most secure, and I had to look on and see it, for Miriam 
objected, it seems, to sitting to Cornelius alone; Kate had something 
else to do than to keep them company: the task was left to me.

That Miriam should sit to Cornelius instead of me, was the least part of 
my grief; I had never expected that he would always paint little girls: 
the sitting in itself was nothing, but it led to much that it was acute 
misery for a jealous child like me to witness.

I was not accustomed to be much noticed by Cornelius in the studio, but 
if he had a look to spare from his picture, a word to utter in a pause of 
his work, he gave both look and word to the child who sat to him, or 
silently watched him painting, and now this was taken from me! I was to 
my face robbed and impoverished, that another might be enriched with all 
I lost. For two years I had reigned in that studio, of which not even 
Kate shared the empire; for two years Cornelius had there spoken to me of 
his art, of his future, of everything that was linked with this proud aim 
and darling ambition of his life; and now another listened to his 
aspirations; another heard every passing thought and feeling which, 
though a child, it had once been mine to hear, and I had to look on and 
see it all.

But it was not all.

I did not merely see Miriam enjoying whatever I had once enjoyed; I saw 
her loved as I had never been loved, possessed of a thousand things which 
had never been mine to lose. Miriam was a woman, an intellectual, 
educated woman; she could do more than listen to Cornelius, she could 
converse with him; she did do so, and constantly she showed me the 
immense superiority which her knowledge and her years gave her over a 
mere child like me. She had also become converted to Art, and if not so 
fervent a disciple as I had been, she was certainly a far more 
discriminating critic. Her sense of the beautiful was keen and peculiar. 
She seldom admired it under its daily external aspects, but she could 
detect it where it seemed invisible to others, and was by them unsought 
for. She never agreed with Cornelius about what he considered the merits 
of his pictures; but then, by showing him other real merits of which he 
had remained unconscious, she charmed more than she ever provoked him. 
With his fair mistress to sit to him, to look at and talk to--what could 
Cornelius want with me? It was natural that involuntary and unconscious 
carelessness should creep into his kindest words and caresses; that, 
exclusively absorbed in Miriam, he should often forget my presence; that 
his look, perpetually fastened on her, should seldom fall on me; that 
every word he uttered should be directed to her: it was natural; but to 
see, feel, know this, not once in a time, but daily, not for an hour in 
the day, but all day long, was a torment that acted on me as a slow 
fever.

But it was not all.

Though Cornelius had been, was still, very fond of me, he had never of 
course been in love with me. He was in love with Miriam, and if he had 
enough self-control and self-respect not to show more of the feeling than 
it was becoming for a child like me to see, he loved too ardently not to 
be for ever betraying himself to jealous and watchful eyes like mine. His 
look rested on her with a tenderness and a passion, his voice addressed 
her in lingering accents, of which he was himself unconscious. His very 
tones changed in uttering her name, just as the meaning of his face 
became different when he looked at her. If I had known the frail and 
fleeting nature of human feelings, I might not have trusted these first 
signs of a first passion; but all I knew of love was what the fairy tales 
had told me, and in them I had never read but of loves that had no 
ending, and were not less ardent than enduring. That Cornelius might one 
day be less absorbed in Miriam, less oblivious of me, was a thought I 
never knew nor cherished. The future, when I could forget the present 
enough to think of the future, had but one image--Cornelius eternally 
loving Miriam, eternally forgetting me.

But even this was not all.

Miriam was in all the beauty of womanhood; Cornelius in all the fervour 
of man's young love. She was with him almost all the day long, not alone, 
but with the check of a constant presence that irritated the fever 
liberty and untroubled solitude might have soothed to satiety; and this, 
or I am much deceived, she knew well. He had to repress himself 
perpetually, in a way which must have been wearying and painfully 
irksome. His temper was too generous to wreak itself upon me, but I 
became conscious of a most galling and yet most inevitable truth: in that 
studio where I had won my place by so much perseverance; where I had 
shown to Cornelius a faith so entire and unshaken; where I, a child, and 
restless as all children are more or less, had been the patient slave of 
his art; where Cornelius had always welcomed me with a greeting so 
sincere and so cordial in its very homeliness; yes, there, even there, I 
was no longer welcome. Daily, hourly, I read in his face, in his eyes, in 
his voice, that my presence was burdensome, my absence a release. I knew 
it, and I had to endure it; I had to be ever drinking this last sickening 
drop of a cup that was never drained. I was jealous: and the word sums up 
all my miseries. I was also what is called a precocious child, and 
perhaps I felt more acutely than many; I say _perhaps_, for jealousy is  
an instinct,--is not the dog jealous of its master?--assuredly it is not  
a feeling that waits for years or knowledge. It is the very shadow of  
love; and who yet watched the birth of love in a human heart?

I loved Cornelius as an ardent and jealous daughter loves her father, and 
I was miserable because he bestowed on another that which I neither could 
wish for, nor even imagine the wish to claim. As was my love, so was my 
jealousy, filial and childlike: a jealousy of the heart, in which not the 
faintest trace of any other feeling blended. It was sinful, but it was 
pure. I did not suffer because Cornelius was in love with Miriam, but 
because he loved her. If, at twelve, I could have understood and 
separated feelings that blend so strangely in the heart, I know that I 
would not have envied Miriam one spark of the passion, but I know that I 
would still, as I did bitterly, have grudged her every atom of the 
tenderness. If I did not feel jealousy in that mysterious intensity which 
has stung so many hearts to madness. I felt it in its calmer bitterness 
and more patient sorrow. The peculiar agony of this tormenting passion 
seems to me to lie in the blending of two most opposite feelings: love, 
from which it springs, and hatred, which it engenders; it has thus the 
warmth of one and the fierceness of the other, and there also lies the 
evil and the danger. I loved Cornelius, I detested Miriam. My only 
salvation from what might have been the utter ruin of my soul, heart, 
mind, and whole nature, was that I loved him infinitely more than I hated 
her; woe to me had it been otherwise!

But even as it was, I suffered--and justly--from my sin as well as from 
my sorrow; and most unhappily I brooded over both unsuspected. Cornelius 
had detected my jealousy, treated it as a jest, and forgotten it; Kate 
had, I believe, vaguely conjectured its existence, but I was little with 
her and on my guard; the only one who really knew what I suffered and why 
I suffered, was the one who had first inflicted and who now daily 
embittered the wound. Yes, Miriam knew it: I saw it in her look, in her 
speech, in her manner; and, if anything could render me more unhappy, it 
was the consciousness that my miserable weakness lay bare for her to 
triumph over.

Thus, and more than thus, I felt. Our true life lies in our heart; from 
within it, according as we feel with force or weakness, we rule the 
outward world in which we are cast. Strange and dramatic incidents make 
not the eventful life: it borrows its charm or tragic power from the ebb 
and flow of feelings. There never was a child who led a more sheltered 
existence in a more sheltered home; whose life was less varied by 
adventure beyond the routine of daily joys and sorrows; and yet to all 
that I felt then I may trace the whole of my future destiny. When I look 
back on the past, I feel that but for that which preceded, the plain 
incidents that are to follow would seem, even to me, tame and trifling; 
but the stakes make the game, and when happiness has to be lost or won 
the heart will leap at each throw of the dice, and beat fast or slowly 
with the faintest alternations of hope and despair.

I remember well one day at the close of winter. They both felt tired, and 
sat on the low couch where I had so often sat by him or watched him 
sleeping; he now exerted himself to amuse her as he had once done for me; 
I sat at a table by the window; a book lay open before me, but I could 
not read; I seemed all eyes, all ears, all sense for them.

"You must sit to me some day for a Mary Magdalene," said Cornelius.

"You spoke of a Juliet the other day," she replied, with a careless 
smile; "what am I not to be?"

"Say, what should I not be if Cornelius O'Reilly had the power?"

"And why should not Cornelius O'Reilly have the power?"

Her tone was scarcely above indifference, and yet hard to witness and to 
know; Cornelius had never looked half so delighted when I boldly assigned 
him a rank among the princes and masters of his art, as he now seemed 
with these few ambiguous words of his mistress. He started up to work 
like one who has received a fresh stimulus to exertion.

"I am still tired," coldly said Miriam.

"I do not want you yet."

"Why work then?"

"Oh! Miriam, must not my beautiful Medora progress?"

"Your beautiful Medora!" she echoed, with something like scorn passing 
across her face, and as if she thought that Medora interfered with the 
rights of Miriam.

Cornelius was standing before the easel; I saw him smile at the image it 
bore.

"She is beautiful," he said in a low tone, "though I say it that should 
not, and though I know you will never grant me that she is."

She smiled a little ironically as he turned round to her.

"I will grant you anything," she replied; "Medora is not my portrait, but 
an ideal woman for whom you have borrowed my form and face."

"What will not an artist attempt to idealize?" asked Cornelius with a 
touch of embarrassment.

"Oh!" she observed very sweetly, "I do not mean to imply it was not 
required. Only if this were a portrait, I should object to having Daisy's 
eyes and brow given to me."

Cornelius became crimson, and felt that the artist had made the lover 
commit a blunder. He tried to pass it off carelessly.

"Ah!" he said, "you think that because I gave too dark a tint to the 
eyebrows, and in attempting to make the eyes look deep, rendered them 
rather grey--"

She smiled and rose.

"You are not going?" he asked with surprise.

"Why not, since you do not want me."

"No, do not; pray do not!" he entreated; he looked quite uneasy, and in 
his earnestness took both her hands in his. She withdrew them with an 
astonished and displeased air, and a look that fell on me.

"Daisy," impatiently said Cornelius, "have you nothing to do below? no 
lessons to learn?"

He could not have said "You are in the way" more plainly; I did not 
answer, but rose and left them.

"What brings you down here?" asked Kate, as I entered the parlour, where 
she sat alone sewing.

"Cornelius said I was to learn my lessons."

"Then take your books upstairs."

I objected to this; but Miss O'Reilly was peremptory.

"I am sure Cornelius wanted to get me out of the way," I said at length, 
to explain a refusal that naturally surprised her.

"Oh, he did!" indignantly exclaimed Kate.

"Indeed he did, Kate."

"I don't care a pin about that," was her decisive rejoinder, "but I am 
determined that he shall not lose his days as he loses his evenings: go 
up directly."

I obeyed with deep reluctance; even when I reached the door of the 
studio, I paused ere I opened it, then stood still and looked.

They had not heard me; how could they?

Miriam, no longer intent on going, had resumed her place; Cornelius sat 
at her feet, one elbow resting on the edge of the couch, his eyes 
intently fixed on her face. She bent over him; her cheeks were flushed, 
her lips slightly parted; one of her hands was buried in her own fair 
hair which fell loosened on her neck, the other slowly unravelled the 
dark locks of Cornelius.

"It is not at me, but at Medora, you are looking," she said impatiently.

"Are you jealous of her?"

"Jealous! when I begin it shall be with Daisy."

"Jealous of Daisy! as if you could be!"

And he smiled. I entered; Miriam looked up, saw me, and smiled too; 
Cornelius turned round and, reddening like a girl--she had not blushed--
he rose hastily. I came forward, closed the door, and, as if I had seen, 
had heard nothing, I sat down and opened my books; but the words of 
Cornelius, "Jealous of Daisy!" seemed printed on every page; the smile, 
with which he had uttered and she had heard them, was ever before me. He 
cared so little for me that I could not be, it seems, an object of 
jealousy. Miriam staid for about two hours more, then left; scarcely had 
the door closed on her, when I rose to go: but as I passed by Cornelius, 
he laid his hand on my shoulder, and arrested me with a reproachful--

"Are you, too, deserting me?"

I stood before him with my books in my hand; I looked up into his face; 
there were no tears either in my eyes or on my cheek, but he must have 
seen something there, for, looking surprised--

"Why, child," he asked, "what is the matter?"

He did not even know it!

"Does your head ache?" he continued, with the most irritating 
unconsciousness.

"No, Cornelius," I replied in a low tone.

"Are you feverish, then?" and he felt my pulse.

This time I did not answer.

"Lie down for awhile," he said kindly. He made me sit down on the couch; 
placed a pillow under my head; told me to sleep, and returned to his 
easel.

Alas! it was not the sleep of the body that I wanted, but the calm peace 
which is to the mind what slumber is to the senses. His kindness 
irritated more than it soothed me. I watched him painting; I saw that the 
eyes of Medora were going to change their hue, and I remembered the time 
when Cornelius would not have given a stroke of the pencil, more or less, 
to please mortal creature. I tossed about restlessly; he heard me, and 
thinking me unwell, he came to me.

"Poor little thing!" he said compassionately, and stooping, he left a 
kiss on my forehead; but this pledge of old affection had lost its charm; 
I felt betrayed, and involuntarily turned away. Cornelius smiled with 
astonishment.

"Why, what have I done?" he asked, gaily.

His unfeigned ignorance humbled me to the heart. Without answering, I 
started up, and ran away to my room, where I could at least cry in 
liberty.

If Cornelius guessed by this what was the matter with me, he certainly 
did not show it. He treated me exactly as usual; he did not appear to 
notice that I now never returned his morning or evening caress, nor even 
that, as soon as he was obliged to put by Medora for the more profitable, 
though less interesting occupation of copying bad drawings, I scarcely 
went to the studio. This was perhaps good-humoured forbearance, but I 
took it as a proof of carelessness and indifference, which strengthened 
me in my jealous resentment, more felt, however, than expressed. This had 
lasted about a week, when Cornelius, one evening, came down to tea, 
looking so pale and ill that his sister asked at once what ailed him. He 
sat by the table, his brow resting on the palm of his hand; he replied 
that his head ached.

"Do you go out this evening?" inquired Kate after awhile.

"No," he answered, without moving.

Kate looked surprised, but made no comment. I sat by her, as usual, but, 
being lower down, I could see his face better than she did; it was rigid, 
and ashy pale; he neither moved nor spoke. I rose, went to the table, and 
tried to catch his eye; but his glance fell on me, and saw me not. I 
asked if the lamp annoyed him; he made a sign of denial. I stood before 
him, and looked at him silently.

"Sit down, child," impatiently said Kate.

I obeyed by pushing my stool near Cornelius, and sitting down at his 
feet; then seeing that this did not appear to displease him. I softly 
laid my head on his knee.

"You obstinate little thing," observed Kate, "why do you annoy 
Cornelius?"

"She does not annoy me," he said, and his hand mechanically sought my 
head, and rested there, in memory of an old habit, of late, like many 
another, laid aside and forgotten.

After awhile Kate sent me up to her room for a book; whilst looking for 
it, I heard the door of Cornelius open and close again; his headache had 
compelled him to retire several hours earlier than usual. It was worse on 
the following day, for he did not come down; once I fancied I heard him 
stirring, and I said so to Kate.

"Not he, child; he will remain in bed all day, so you need not start and 
listen every second."

But her back was no sooner turned than I slipped upstairs. I had not been 
mistaken; Cornelius was up, and in his studio, but not at work; he stood 
before his easel, gazing on Medora, and looking so pale and ill that I 
felt quite dismayed.

"What do you want?" he asked, coldly but not unkindly.

"Nothing, Cornelius; am I in the way?"

"You may stay."

I sat down by the table; he began to pace the narrow room up and down; 
once he stopped short to say--

"There is no fire; the room must be cold; you had better go down."

"I am not cold; pray let me stay."

He did not insist; resumed his promenade, then threw himself down on the 
couch, with an impatient sigh and a moody face. I rose, stepped across 
the room, and sat down by him. Encouraged by his silence, I passed my arm 
around his neck. I had meant to say something, to tell him I was grieved 
for his pain or trouble, whichever it might be, but when it came to the 
point, all I could do was to kiss his cheek. Cornelius made a motion to 
put me away impatiently; but when his eyes, looking into mine, saw them 
filled with tears, he checked the movement.

"Poor little thing!" he said, with a sad smile; "you put by your childish 
anger the moment you think me in pain."

"Oh! Cornelius," I exclaimed, with much emotion, "though you should like 
another ever so much, and me ever so little, I shall never be so naughty 
again. Ah! if you knew how miserable I felt last night when I saw you 
looking so ill!"

"And came and laid your head on my knee like a faithful spaniel--yes, 
child, I know _you_ like me."

He said it with some bitterness. I replied warmly--

"Indeed I do, Cornelius, and always shall, even though you should not 
care for me at all."

"Would you?" he answered, his thoughts evidently elsewhere.

"Why, how could I help it?" I asked, astonished at the question.

He started like one whose secret thought has received some sudden sting.

"Ay," he said, "one cannot help it; to wish to leave off, and wish in 
vain; there is the torment, there is the misery."

"But I don't wish to leave off," I exclaimed, almost indignantly, and 
clinging to him, I added, a little passionately perhaps, "I could not if 
I would, and if I could I would not, Cornelius."

There was a pause; as I looked at him, something like a question debated 
and solved seemed to pass across his face. Then he pressed me to his 
heart with some emotion, as he said, rather feverishly--

"Daisy, you are wiser than those who sit down and write books or preach 
sermons on self-subjection, as if it were not the very hardest thing in 
this world. Let them!" he added, a little defiantly, "the very children 
rebuke them and know better."

If children reflect little and imperfectly, their faculty for observation 
is marvellous. It suddenly occurred to me that I had been unconsciously 
pleading for one whom I had little cause to love; the thought was both 
sweet and bitter. I looked at Medora, then at Cornelius, and said in a 
low tone--

"Why did she vex you, Cornelius?"

He gave mc a distrustful look, and putting me away--

"The room is cold," he observed, "go down, child."

I would rather have stayed and learned more; but his tone, though kind, 
exacted obedience.

When Cornelius came down to tea, his sister asked how his head felt; he 
said first, "Much worse," then immediately added, "Much better." His 
movements, like his words, were irresolute; he rose, he sat down; he 
stood by the table; he went to the hearth; suddenly he went to the door.

"And your headache!" observed Kate, seeing he was going out.

"Never mind the headache, Kate!" he replied impetuously: he was gone, 
slamming the door behind him.

Kate laid down her work with an astonished air.

He came in as I was going up to bed. I stood on the first steps of the 
staircase and turned round to look at him: his face was flushed; his eyes 
sparkled; he looked excited--more excited, I thought, than joyous or 
happy. In passing by me he took me so suddenly in his arms that he nearly 
made me fall, then begged my pardon, and finally kissed me two or three 
times so tenderly that Kate, who saw us from the parlour, looked quite 
jealous, and uttered an emphatic "Nonsense!"

"Can't a man kiss his own child?" asked Cornelius, putting me down with a 
gay short laugh.

"Cornelius," said Kate, "your headache was a quarrel with Miriam--confess 
it."

He reddened and looked disconcerted.

"I knew it," she observed triumphantly.

"No, Kate," he replied quietly, "you did not know it; you mistook; I can 
give you my word that I have never had the slightest difference with 
Miriam; by the bye, she sends her love to you."

With this he entered the parlour and closed the door. I thought it odd, 
and yet I knew not how to disbelieve Cornelius. At the end of the same 
week Miriam again came to sit for Medora. If there was a change in his 
manner to her, it was that he seemed to be more enamoured than ever.

Cornelius had not attached sufficient importance to our tacit quarrel to 
alter in the least after our tacit reconciliation. A young man of twenty-
two, passionately in love with a beautiful woman of twenty-six, was not 
likely to care much whether a little girl of twelve sulked and would not 
kiss him. I liked to think the contrary--that he had been angry with me, 
and that I should show my penitence. This proved a most unfortunate 
mistake. Since she had wholly superseded me, Miriam had allowed me to 
remain in peace; but when I endeavoured to render myself useful or 
agreeable to Cornelius, she resented it as an insolent attempt to divert 
even a fragment of his attention from herself. She was sitting to him as 
usual one afternoon, when he suddenly exclaimed--

"How provoking! I cannot find it; I can scarcely get on without it."

"It will give you time to rest," quietly said Miriam.

A little reluctantly he sat down by her, but said he must return to his 
work at three.

It was a sketch, which he wanted for the foreground of Medora, that 
Cornelius could not find. We had vainly looked for it the whole morning. 
I thought I would have another search. A deep shelf, well stored with 
art-rubbish, ran round the room. Unperceived by Cornelius, I got up on 
the table, reached down an old portfolio, opened it, and found at once 
the missing sketch. Overjoyed at my success, I stepped down too hastily; 
my foot slipped, I fell; in no time Cornelius had picked me up.

"Are you hurt?" he cried, in great alarm.

I was too much stunned to reply at first; when I could speak, my first 
words were--

"Here it is, Cornelius!"

I picked up the sketch from where it had fallen, showed it to him, and 
enjoyed his surprise.

"Oh! you naughty child!" he said, with kind reproof. He sat down again on 
the couch, made me sit by him, and tenderly pressed his lips on my brow.

"I should suggest brown paper and vinegar for a bruise," observed the 
chilling voice of Miriam.

"Are you bruised, my darling?" anxiously asked Cornelius.

I laughed, and kissed him. He turned towards Miriam, smiled, and with the 
generous and imprudent candour of his character, he said--

"I am very fond of that little girl, Miriam."

And lest she should doubt it, again he caressed me. She sat at the other 
angle of the couch with drooping eyelids; I know not if she looked at us, 
but as the church clock struck three, she said, sweetly--

"Yes, I consider your affection for that child a touching trait in your 
character, Cornelius."

She had never in my presence called him by his name; as she ottered it, I 
saw his hand seeking hers, which she drew not away.

"Cornelius," I said quietly, "it is three o'clock."

"I had forgotten all about it," he cried, starting up, and relinquishing 
the hand of Miriam, who darted at me a covert irritated glance of her 
green eyes.

He went back to his easel; I returned to my books.

"Daisy," he said,  "you must not study after such a fall."

"Let me finish my lessons," I replied eagerly; "you know you have half 
promised to examine me this evening."

"Poor little thing!" kindly said Miriam, "I dare say it is too much study 
has lately made her look so much more sallow than usual."

I felt my face glow. I was sallow; but was I to be ever reminded of it?

"Or perhaps it is biliousness," she continued: "her face and hair are 
almost of the same hue; true that is light, nearly straw-coloured. Be 
careful, Mr. O'Reilly, do not let her work so much."

"Daisy, put by your books," anxiously said Cornelius.

"Not to-day," I replied imploringly.

"She is so industrious," he said admiringly.

"Like all children who cannot rely on the quickness of their 
perceptions."

"Oh! Daisy is very quick," he answered rather hastily; "she has answers 
that often surprise me."

"I should like to be surprised. Do you mind answering a few questions of 
mine, Daisy?"

I did mind. I mistrusted her; I did not want to acknowledge her as an 
authority, still less to be exposed by her to Cornelius.

"Thank you," I replied, "Cornelius is to examine me this evening."

"I like to judge for myself," she answered smilingly.

I did not reply.

"Daisy, did you hear?" said Cornelius.

"Yes, Cornelius."

"Then why not answer? Do you object to being examined now?"

"Not by you."

"But, my dear, it is Miss Russell who wishes to question you."

I remained mute; he gave me a severe look. No more was said on the 
subject. With waning daylight Miriam left us. I expected a lecture or a 
scolding, but Cornelius never opened his lips to me. I had a presentiment 
that this silence boded me no good, and indeed it did not. After tea, I 
brought out my books for examination; Cornelius looked at me coldly.

"I am astonished at your confidence," he said. He rose, took his hat, and 
walked out.

For a week I had looked up to this evening, worked hard for it, and 
thought with pride of the progress of which I could not but be conscious, 
and which Cornelius could not but perceive. As the door closed on him, I 
burst into tears.

"What is all that about?" asked Kate, astonished.

I threw my arms around her neck and told her, weeping all the time. She 
reproved and yet comforted me.

"It was wrong," she said, "wrong and foolish to be rude to Miss Russell; 
but do not fret, child, though Cornelius may be vexed, he is fond of you 
in his heart."

"Not as much as he once was, Kate."

She did not contradict the bitter truth.

"It will never be the same thing again," I continued.

"As if I did not know it!" she exclaimed, involuntarily perhaps.

I looked up into her face. She too had seen and felt that Cornelius was 
not to us what he once had been. She smiled sorrowfully as our looks met, 
pressed me to her heart and kissed me. Woman-grown though she was, and 
child though I might be, there was between us the bond of the same secret 
pain and sorrow.

 

CHAPTER XV.

 

Thus began the short and bitter contest between Miriam and me. I 
apologized to her, humbly enough, on the following day; but in domestic 
life, reconciliations seem only to lead to fresh quarrels; to make it up 
is nothing; whilst the spirit remains unchanged, strife cannot cease. I 
continued to be jealous of Miriam; she continued to resent every poor 
attempt I made to secure the love and attention of him whose every 
thought and feeling she wished to engross. I loved him too ardently, and 
I was too rash and proud, to bear this passively. My persistency cost me 
dear: I was daily wounded in the most tender and sensitive point--the 
affection and the regard of Cornelius. I had faults, no doubt, but 
Cornelius never seemed to have perceived them as he now perceived them: 
how could he? before, they slumbered in peace, lulled by the love I felt 
for him and that which he felt for me, whereas now they were--not pointed 
out to him, she had too much tact for that--but awakened and drawn forth 
under his gaze, daily, nay hourly. I felt this; I resolved to be good if 
it were only to provoke my enemy, but I never could keep to the 
determination. She knew so well how to make me defiant as I had never 
been, or silent and sullen as Cornelius never had known me; above all, 
how to rouse me to a pitch of obstinacy which not even he could subdue.

He saw the change with wonder and regret. He felt, rather late, that the 
jealousy of a child was not a matter to be slighted; he tried to reason 
me out of it; he was kind, severe, and indulgent by turns--uselessly. The 
mischief was, I could not help loving him more than ever, and, loving him 
thus, it was impossible I should not be jealous. Once this excessive 
affection had pleased him, and he had encouraged it injudiciously; it now 
wearied him--and no wonder; it had become the source of a daily 
annoyance, paltry yet most irritating.

I remember well one morning. Oh! how those childish incidents have burned 
themselves into my brain! She had as usual been provoking me by allusions 
to my pale and sickly aspect, and then by questions so insidiously framed 
to make me break forth into impertinence or ill-temper, that I would 
answer her no more. This availed me little.

"Pray let her alone, Miriam," said Cornelius, greatly disgusted, "she is 
a sulky little thing, unworthy of your notice."

"The poor child would not be so if she were not so unhealthy," kindly 
observed Miriam.

This was one of the speeches with which she used to sting me; she knew, 
and I knew too, how much Cornelius admired health, with its fresh aspect 
and its joyous feelings, in both of which I failed so lamentably.

"You are too good to be always framing excuses for her," replied 
Cornelius, with a severe look at me.

"Excuses!" I thought; "yes, it was easy to frame such excuses." But I 
never replied; I never looked up from my books. I sat at the table by the 
window, as if I had heard nothing; for this took place in the studio, 
where Miriam still daily sat for Medora. Towards noon she rose to go.

"Give a look at our little garden first," said Cornelius; then turning to 
me, he added--"Put on your bonnet and cape--the sun is warm, and the air 
will do you good."

It was one of the mildest days of early spring. Our garden boasted but 
few flowers. Cornelius gathered the freshest and fairest for his 
mistress; but some snowdrops which she admired especially, he did not 
gather.

"These I cannot give you," he said, "they are Daisy's; the others are 
Kate's, and consequently mine."

She took the flowers he was handing her, with a smile of thanks, and sat 
down on the wooden bench by the house. He was soon by her side--soon 
wholly wrapped in her. The sun shone bright and warm in the blue sky; the 
breeze was very pleasant; the old house had many a brown, rich tint; the 
ivy on the porch was green and glossy; the garden had begun to wear the 
first fresh blossoms and light verdure of spring; a bird had perched on 
the highest bough of the tallest poplar, and thence broke forth into many 
a snatch of gay song. It was a morn for happy lovers to sit thus side by 
side, looking out on heaven and earth, but still lingering within the 
shelter of a warm home.

I looked at them, and I keenly felt the words of Cornelius. Those 
snowdrops were mine. I had set them myself, and daily watched them 
growing up and unfolding their shy beauty; but I had never attached to 
them an idea of selfish enjoyment. To place them some morning in the 
studio of Cornelius, enjoy his surprise, his pleasure, and his thanks, 
was all I had dreamed of; but if it pleased him better to bestow them on 
her in whom he now most delighted, what mattered it to me? I felt 
bitterly that she had taken from me his affection, his thoughts, his 
looks, his kindness, his very caresses, and that she might as well have 
the flowers with the rest. I gathered them, and silently placed them on 
her lap. Miriam looked at me and coloured slightly. Cornelius seemed 
charmed, and passed his arm around my neck with a sudden return of 
kindness.

"Ah!" said Miriam to him, "those flowers are given to you, and not to me, 
and it is you must give the thanks."

By the "thanks" she evidently meant a kiss, but Cornelius had perhaps a 
fancy for caressing me when he chose, for he did not take the hint. 
Miriam placed the snowdrops amongst the other flowers, and inhaled their 
mingled fragrance with a dreamy look and smile. Cornelius looked at her 
and exclaimed--

"Ah! you are Moore's Namouna now,--the eastern enchantress who lives on 
the perfume of flowers."

"How can you be so cruel?" she replied, glancing up, and her green eyes 
sparkling in the sun with perfidious light.

"Cruel?"

"Yes, that poor child is still waiting for her kiss."

Those were her very words. They made my blood boil then, and as I write, 
I still feel within me something of that old resentment over which years 
have passed in vain. Who, what was she, that she should speak thus? I had 
been kissed and caressed by Cornelius, I had lain in his arms and slept 
on his bosom, before he had ever seen her fair and fatal face,--whilst he 
was still unconscious of her very existence. He might love her more than 
he loved me, but he had loved me first: even how, changed as he was, I 
knew I was still dear to him. She had taken much from me; did she mean to 
take all? Was he to caress me but at her bidding and pleasure? Were his 
lips to touch my cheek but when she permitted it? Was she to mete out to 
me even that paltry drop which she had left in my cup, once so full?

I felt this, not in these words, but far more intensely, for it passed 
through me during the brief seconds which Cornelius took to smile at her 
words, and then turn to me to comply with her behest. I abruptly averted 
my face from his: if he would embrace me but on such conditions, never 
more might he do so!

Cornelius looked surprised, then indignant. As I walked away from them, I 
heard the sweet voice of Miriam saying, sadly--

"How unfortunate I am to make mischief when I meant a kindness!"

"Do not mention it," replied Cornelius, in a tone of sincere distress, 
"it is inexpressibly bitter to me to trace such feelings in Daisy."

I stood by the sun-dial, with my back turned to them, and still trembling 
from head to foot with the intensity of those feelings which Cornelius 
deplored, but which--I felt he might have known that--sprang from the 
sincerity of my love for him. But it was destined that she should ever be 
in the right, and I in the wrong. I attempted no useless justification, 
and heard them going in, without so much as looking round. 

Domestic quarrels are an endless progeny: each has a distinct existence; 
but as it dies it gives birth to a successor, and so on for ever. Even 
for this day, this was not enough. When Miriam returned in the afternoon, 
she had scarcely sat an hour to Cornelius before she said to me--

"Daisy, I never thanked you for your beautiful snowdrops; you must 
forgive me the omission."

"Forgive!" echoed Cornelius, who was now sitting by her for a few 
minutes, and who probably thought this much too condescending.

"Why not? It is the very least I can do to thank the poor child for her 
flowers; I also want to give her something: what would please you, my 
dear?"

She was again addressing me, and she spoke very sweetly: she always did 
speak so to me. There was the misery and the snare: she knew well enough 
I could never speak so to her; that, though I dare not say much on 
account of Cornelius, my very voice changed when I had to address or 
answer her. I now felt what a mockery it was for her, who had robbed me 
of everything I cared for, to talk of making me a present, yet I 
compelled myself to reply--

"Anything you like, thank you."

"Anything means nothing, my dear," she said, very gently.

I did not answer; she resumed--

"Would you like a book? you are fond of reading."

"Yes. I like books, thank you."

"Or a new frock; you do not dislike dress?"

"Oh no, I do not dislike it, thank you."

"But I want to know what you prefer," she insisted.

"I prefer nothing, thank you."

Cornelius knit his brow.

"Daisy," he said sharply, "tell Miss Russell directly what you would 
like."

Tell her what I should like! be indebted to her for a pleasure! no, not 
even his authority could make me do that. Cornelius insisted, I remained 
obstinate; he became angry, I did not yield; I was getting hardened; all 
I would say was that I preferred nothing; and so far as her gifts were 
concerned this was true, they all seemed equally hateful.

"Disobedient, obstinate girl!" began Cornelius, in great wrath.

"Daisy shall not be scolded on my account," interrupted Miriam, laying 
her beautiful fingers on his lips, "and she shall have her present too; 
we must subdue her by kindness," she added in a whisper that reached me.

Cornelius looked at her with mingled love and admiration, and then at me 
with sorrowful reproach.

I had my present, too, the very next morning; it came in with Miss 
Russell's kind love: a beautiful green silk frock, that made me look as 
yellow as saffron. It exasperated me to try it on, but Cornelius, who 
admired it greatly, insisted that I should do so. I was obliged to 
comply. I just looked at the glass and saw that the benevolent intention 
of the donor was fulfilled.

"How kind of Miriam!" said Cornelius, as I stood before him. "It is very 
pretty. Kate, is it not?"

"An odd colour for Daisy," she replied, drily.

"Saint Patrick's Day was last week," he answered, smiling.

"And Daisy's dress is green in honour of Saint Patrick, of course," 
rather ironically said Kate; "well, it is a great deal too 'fine for 
everyday wear, so just come up-stairs and take it off, child."

"Oh, Kate!" I began, as soon as we were alone.

"No," she interrupted, "that is quite an idea of yours, Daisy."

She seemed so positive that what I had not said must be "quite an idea of 
mine," that I abstained from saying it. She helped me to take off the 
dress, then looked at it a little scornfully, said it was pretty, but 
that she fancied me a great deal better with my old everyday merino, 
which did not make me look quite so much like a bunch of primroses in its 
leaves. I made no such picturesque comment, but I resolved that though I 
had not been able to refuse this dress, nothing save force should make me 
wear it. But my troubles with regard to this unlucky present were not 
over. When Miriam came in, Cornelius thanked her very warmly; was 
grateful for her kindness, and praised her taste. I sat by the table 
apparently absorbed in my books, and secretly hoping it might pass off 
thus; but it did not.

"Daisy," said Cornelius.

I looked up; there was no mistaking his gentle, admonishing glance, but 
as I did not seem to have understood it, he added--

"You have not thanked Miss Russell."

If the dress had been a becoming one, if I could have fancied that there 
was anything like kindness in the gift, I might have subdued my pride so 
far as to comply. But to thank Miriam for that which I had refused and 
which she had forced upon me; to thank her for that which I believed 
destined to make me look plainer than nature had made me, in the sight of 
Cornelius, and which, as I knew but too well, accomplished the desired 
object, was more than I could do.

"You have not thanked Miss Russell," again said Cornelius.

I did not answer; I hung down my head and locked myself up in mute 
obstinacy. Several times Cornelius said to me, in a voice that boded 
rising anger--

"Daisy, will you thank Miss Russell?"

I did not say I would not, but then I did not do it; and yet I felt sick 
and faint at the thought of his coming wrath and indignation. Well I 
might! Cornelius had the fiery blood of his race; but his temper was so 
easy and pleasant, that you could spend weeks with him and never 
suspect--save perhaps for too sudden a light in his eyes--that he could   
be roused to violent passion. Provoked beyond endurance by my obstinacy,  
he now turned pale with anger; he left by his work to stride up to me; I 
quailed before his look and shrank back. Miriam rose, swiftly stepped in  
between us, and placed me behind her, as if for protection.

"Mr. O'Reilly!" she exclaimed, "command yourself."

She spoke with a look of reproof and authority. Cornelius gazed at her 
with wonder, then coloured to the very temples.

"Oh! Miriam," he said, drawing back from her with a glance of the keenest 
reproach, "how could you imagine such a thing?"

He looked as if he could not even name it; then perceiving me as I still 
stood behind Miriam, he took me by the hand, and, sitting down on the 
sofa, he held me from him, looking me intently in the face as he slowly 
said--

"And did you too think I meant, I will not say to hurt, but so much as 
touch you?"

I looked at him; I thought of all his past kindness,--my heart swelled, 
the tears which had not flowed at his anger, gushed forth with the 
question; I threw my arms around his neck.

"Oh no, no!" I cried, "I never did think that, Cornelius, and I never 
could."

"Never?" he echoed; "are you sure, Daisy?"

"Never," I replied almost passionately, "never, Cornelius; if I angered 
you ever so much; if I saw your very hand raised against me, I should not 
fear one moment--for I know it never would come down."

His lips trembled slightly, the only sign of emotion he betrayed. He 
looked at me; our eyes met, and I felt that there was in his something 
which answered to all the love and faith of my heart.

"You have been very perverse," he said, at length; "you have provoked me, 
so that I have lost all my self-control; but for the sake of those words, 
it shall not only be all forgiven to you, but if ever we quarrel again, 
remember that, whatever you may have done, you need only remind me of 
this day, for peace to be once more between us."

He pressed me to his heart and kissed me repeatedly, then put me away, 
rose and went up to Miriam. She stood where he had left her, pale and 
almost defiant-looking, as if she already repelled the expected 
reproaches of Cornelius.

"I beg your pardon," he said very gravely.

"My pardon?" she replied, looking up at him with a cold doubt in her 
eyes.

"Your pardon," he repeated precisely in the same tone. "When I stepped up 
to Daisy, it was to take her by the hand and lead her out of the room, a 
little indignity which I thought her obstinacy merited; but how utterly I 
must have lost my temper, how much I must have forgotten myself, for you 
to misunderstand me so cruelly?"

She did not appear to perceive the reproach that lingered in this 
apology.

"You looked provoked enough for anything," she quietly answered, "but it 
was that unhappy child who made you lose all patience."

"I have enough power over myself to promise you that, no matter what 
Daisy may do, I shall never again allow it to betray me into passion," 
said Cornelius very calmly; "I shall try the effect of forbearance; with 
regard to what passed this morning, I forgive her freely; may I trust 
that you also forgive her."

"Indeed I do, poor thing!" sighed Miriam, as if she pitied my evil nature 
too much to resent any of its peculiar workings.

No more was said on the subject; but Cornelius was as much pleased with 
my trust in him, as he was secretly hurt with the suspicion of Miriam. If 
in his manner to her I could see no difference, there was no mistaking 
the sudden increase of tenderness and affection with which he treated me. 
Had I only been wise, I might have availed myself of this opportunity to 
regain almost all I had lost; but who is wise in this world? I was 
foolish enough to fall into the first snare Miriam placed before me; 
again I showed myself an obstinate, sullen, jealous child.

Cornelius however kept to his word; he bit his lip, curbed down his 
anger, and did not allow his voice to rise above the tones of a calm 
remonstrance.

But better, far better for me that Cornelius should have given way to 
hasty speech, punished me, and the next hour forgiven me, than that he 
should have thus checked himself every time I transgressed. The 
resentment he daily repressed rankled in his mind; I irritated him 
constantly, and yet I compelled him to incessant self-control: I became a 
secret thorn in his side, the source of an unacknowledged pain, a warning 
that met him at every turn: if Miriam had designed it all in order to 
render my presence insupportable to him, she could scarcely have 
succeeded better.

How changed was our once happy and peaceful home! a spirit of strife, of 
unquiet jealousy had entered it and poisoned all its joys; a sense of 
trouble and unhappiness hung over it like the sword over the head of 
Damocles, and robbed everything of its pleasure and its charm. Kate was 
grave, Cornelius irritable; I was wretched; she alone who had caused it 
all remained unalterably serene.

Such a state of things could not last: we all vaguely felt it. The close 
of April brought the change. Breakfast, which had passed off as usual, 
was over when Cornelius told me to go up with him to his little studio. I 
obeyed with pleased alacrity; Medora was again lying by, and Miriam was 
not therefore to come; he had not shown of late much inclination for my 
society; I hailed this as a symptom of returning favour. As I found 
myself once more alone with him in the little room I knew so well, I 
exclaimed joyfully--

"How kind it is of you, Cornelius, to have asked me to come up!"

"Is it?" he replied, without looking at me.

"Yes, I did so want to come up yesterday; but Kate would not let me. May 
I come to-morrow?"

"To-morrow? no."

"After to-morrow then?" I said persistingly.

"Be quiet, child, and let me work."

I obeyed and looked at him, as he continued the task on which he had for 
the last week been engaged--copying a little Dutch painting for a 
picture-dealer. After awhile I said--

"When you are a great artist you won't copy pictures, will you, 
Cornelius?"

"Did I not tell you to let me work?"

"I shall speak no more."

But to make up for speaking, I got up on the table and attempted to take 
down some of the portfolios from the shelf. He heard me, turned round, 
and uttered an imperative--

"Come down!"

As I obeyed with regret, I exclaimed--

"Oh! if you only would, Cornelius!"

"Would what?"

"Let me have the portfolios, look at the drawings, and arrange them,--I 
am sure they are in a great mess. By beginning to-day I might have them 
all sorted before the end of the week. May I have one to begin with?"

"No; must I for a third time tell you to let me work?"

I promised to interrupt him no more, and taking a chair, I sat for awhile 
both quiet and silent: but the spirit of speech must have possessed me, 
for I forgot my promise and spoke again.

"Cornelius," I said suddenly, "do you think your Happy Time will be 
accepted?" for Cornelius had sent in his picture to the Academy; but 
though Kate and I felt some anxiety on the subject, he professed total 
indifference.

"I neither know nor care," he replied negligently; "I set no value on it, 
and shall not think the better of it for its being accepted."

"It makes my heart beat to think of it. I am sure it is a beautiful 
picture."

"How can you tell?"

"Surely, Cornelius," I replied, "I know?"

"I know," he interrupted, "that I never knew you in such a chattering 
humour. What possesses you, child, on this morning above all others?"

He had sat down to rest, and, leaning back in his chair, he looked round 
at me; I stood behind him; passing my arm around his neck, I replied, "It 
is that I am glad to be again up here."

"Have you never been here before?"

"Not much of late,--I mean when you are alone; not this whole week; I 
thought you were vexed with me, and when you said 'Come up' this morning, 
just in the old way, I felt so glad that, if Kate had not been looking, I 
should have jumped up and kissed you."


But Kate was not there now to restrain me--for the most innocent 
affection is shy and shuns the eye of a gazer--so I kissed her brother as 
I loved him--with my whole heart.

"That will never do," exclaimed Cornelius, looking very uncomfortable; 
"listen to me, child, I have something to say to you."

"I am listening, Cornelius," I replied, without changing my attitude.

"I cannot speak in that sideways fashion."

I walked round and sat down on his knee.

"I shall be quite opposite you so," I said.

Cornelius looked disconcerted, and observed gravely, "My dear, you are 
getting too old for all this; you must be near thirteen."

"My birthday is in two months' time; yours in five."

"True. Well, as I was observing, there are things natural in the child 
which might seem foolish in the young girl."

I rose submissively.

"I shall not do it again, Cornelius," I said, as I stood before him; "are 
there other things I do, and which you think foolish?"

"I did not say so."

"Because if there are," I continued, earnestly, "and I should do them in 
company, for instance, you will only have to say, 'Daisy!' in that way, I 
shall be sure to understand."

"Nonsense!" he interrupted, reddening.

"Indeed, Cornelius, it is no nonsense: I could understand even a look; I 
am so accustomed to your face. Have I not been with you nearly three 
years?"

"That will never do, never!" exclaimed Cornelius, seeming more and more 
uncomfortable, and stroking his chin with half puzzled, half sorrowful 
air; "but there is no help for it," he added more firmly; "come here, 
child."

He drew me on his knee as he spoke.

"But you said it was foolish!" I said, surprised.

"As a habit; not for once."

I yielded; he passed both his arms around me, looked down into my face 
and said abruptly--

"You know, Daisy, I am fond of you. I think I have shown it; I hope you 
believe it."

I said I did; but I could scarcely speak, my heart beat so. Why did he 
tell me of his affection?

"You have not been happy of late," he continued; "at times I have 
noticed, with pain, an expression of perfect misery on your face: I do 
not mean that it was justified, but it was there, and, even whilst I 
blamed you, it grieved me to think you should be unhappy in our home."

"Do not mind it, I don't," I exclaimed eagerly; "I do not mind being 
unhappy now and then--I would much rather be miserable here with you and 
Kate, than ever so happy elsewhere."

"Perhaps you would," he replied, "for if you have great faults, no one 
can say that want of affection is amongst them. You can love, too much 
perhaps; but that is not the question; on your own confession you are not 
happy, and to that there is but one remedy. I see in your face that you 
have guessed it--separation."

Yes, I had guessed it, but not the less acutely did I feel the blow; I 
did not answer; he continued--

"We must part. You do not know, perhaps you could not understand, how 
much it pains me to say so; and yet it must be. You are not happy 
yourself, and there is in the house a sense of unquietness, of strife, 
that cannot last any longer. But my chief reason for taking this 
determination concerns you wholly. You are not aware, my poor child, that 
the feeling you have been indulging is fast spoiling your originally good 
and generous nature. You are morally ill. I have done what I could to 
eradicate the disease, but it passed my power. There is but one cure--
absence. And now one last remark: you cannot change my resolve; spare me 
the pain of refusing that which I cannot and must not grant."

I did spare him that pain. I lay in his arms mute and inanimate with 
grief. The blow had been inflicted by the hand I had trusted, and had 
reached me where I had always sought for refuge and consolation. I had 
been jealous, perverse; I had provoked and tormented him, but I had never 
thought he could have the heart to banish me. I believe Cornelius had 
expected not merely entreaties, but lamentations and tears; seeing me so 
quiet, he wondered.

"Did you understand?" he asked.

"Yes, Cornelius."

"But what have you understood, child?"

"That you will send me away somewhere."

"Where?"

"I don't care where, Cornelius."

"I shall send you to school," he said.

"To Miss Wood's?" I asked, naming a day-school close by.

"To a boarding-school," he replied gravely.

I felt that too, but all I said was--

"Then I shall only come home every Sunday."

"My dear," he answered with evident embarrassment, "Kate and I should 
like it greatly; but would it be accomplishing the object in view?"

So it was to be a complete, a total exile! I looked at him; I did not 
want to move him, to appeal to his compassion, but my glance wanted to 
ask his if this could be true. That silent questioning look appeared to 
trouble him involuntarily.

"Shall Kate come and see me?" I asked after awhile.

"Certainly."

"And may I write to you, Cornelius?"

"No doubt you may. What makes you ask?"

"Because of course _you_ will not come."

"Why not?" asked Cornelius, looking both surprised and hurt; "am I 
sending you away in anger? I am not, Daisy. I mean it as a cure,--painful 
perhaps, but short. I am to marry Miss Russell this summer. We will live 
next-door; you will be here with Kate. I trust that by that time good 
sense will have prevailed over exaggerated feelings; that you will learn 
to love and respect Miriam as my wife and the companion of my existence. 
This is the true reason of what you perhaps consider a very harsh 
measure--that your embittered feelings may have time and opportunity to 
soothe down in peace."

I understood him. This was but the beginning of a life-long separation. 
Cornelius married, was lost to me. I felt it, but resistance was useless; 
I heard him apathetically. Thinking perhaps to rouse and interest me, he 
said--

"You do not ask to what school you are going?"

"I do not care, Cornelius."

"It is not, properly speaking, a school. The Misses Clapperton are 
amiable and accomplished women, who eke out a somewhat narrow income by 
receiving a limited number of pupils. At present they have only two; they 
can therefore devote all their attention to them and to you. It has 
always been my ambition that you should be well educated."

I could not help looking at him. Well educated, and his ambition! Ay, I 
had had a master once, loved, preferred, honoured beyond any other 
teacher, who taught me every evening, often on his knee, with looks of 
kindness and caresses of love. Him I had long lost; but then why tell me 
of others hired to impart the teaching he had grown weary of giving?

"When am I to go?" I asked after awhile.

"To-morrow morning; you can stay longer if you wish."

"No, thank you."

"Is there anything you wish for? Tell me freely."

"I should like to see all your drawings again and to arrange them; they 
want it, I know."

He put me down, rose, brought me the portfolios, and emptied their 
contents for me. I began my task; I had the spirit of order in details 
which most women possess; I had often before been of use to Cornelius in 
such matters, and I found a sorrowful pleasure in being of use to him 
again, in leaving him this last token of my presence. I could not cease 
loving him because he chose to banish me; the less I received and the 
more I gave; it seemed as if what he withdrew, I should make up, that the 
sum of love between us might never grow less.

Whilst I was busy with my task, Cornelius worked. Every now and then I 
ventured to disturb him: either it was a drawing I wanted him to look at, 
or I begged of him to notice the system of my arrangement.

"Because, you know," I once observed, "I shall not be here to tell you."

"Very true," he replied, rather ruefully.

I believe he was not prepared for so entire and resigned a submission. He 
forgot that it was only in the presence of Miriam he could not master me. 
My docility seemed to affect him more than might have done my tears, had 
I shed any. His kind face became quite sorrowful; once he left by his 
work to come and look over my task, and seeing a little drawing in which 
he had represented himself at his easel with me looking on, and which we 
had christened "The Artist's Studio," he told me to leave it out, for 
that he should hang it up.

"Will you indeed?" I said.

I was kneeling on the floor, with the drawings scattered around me; he 
sat half behind me; I turned round and looked up into his face, smiling 
with mingled pleasure and sadness. He took my head in both his hands, and 
looked at me intently; there seemed a charm that kept my eyes on his.

"Ah!" he said at length, "if I dare! but I should only repent it the next 
five minutes--so it must not be."

With this he rose, and came not again near me. My task occupied me for 
the whole of that day; it served to divert me. I did not however grieve 
so very much; there was a sort of incredulousness in my heart which I 
could not conquer. Kate and Cornelius were much sadder than I was; they 
knew that it was to be, and I felt as if it were, though decreed, 
impossible. But when I came down to breakfast on the following morning, 
when I saw the sorrowful face of Kate, and met the troubled glance of 
Cornelius, I suddenly awoke to the dread reality. I sat down to table as 
usual, but I could not eat. Cornelius pressed me, uselessly; even to 
please him I could touch nothing. It was a beautiful Spring morning, and 
I was not to go for another hour.

"Shall I give you a walk in the lanes?" suddenly asked Cornelius, turning 
to me.

"Thank you," I replied, in a low tone, "I prefer the garden."

He took me by the hand and led me out; I liked that little garden, where 
I had spent so many happy hours, and from which I was now going to part. 
I looked at the shrubs, trees, and flowers, at the very grass and earth 
on which I trod, with lingering love and tenderness; but I said nothing. 
Cornelius looked down at me, laid his hand on my shoulder, and said 
abruptly--

"Daisy, will you promise not to be jealous?"

An eager and joyful "Yes" rose to my lips--a most bitter thought checked 
it.

"I cannot," I exclaimed, desperately, "I cannot, Cornelius."

"You will not promise?" he said.

"I cannot."

He looked at me very fixedly, but uttered not a word of praise or blame.

"Daisy," called the sad voice of Kate from the house, "come and get 
ready, child."

I was obeying; Cornelius detained me to observe--

"Ask me for something before we part."

"I have nothing to ask for, Cornelius."

But he insisted--I yielded:

"If when the time comes you will write to tell me whether your picture is 
exhibited or not, I shall like it, Cornelius."

"Have you nothing else to ask for?"

"Nothing else," I replied, looking up at him.

Love is proud: he was banishing me--what could I want with his gifts? He 
said nothing, and allowed me to go in.

At length came the moment of our separation. I was ready and in the 
parlour again; the cab was waiting in the lane. Miss O'Reilly, who was to 
take me, said abruptly--

"Go and bid Cornelius good-bye."

I went up to him trembling from head to foot. He sat by the table reading 
the newspaper: he laid it down, looked at me, then took me in his arms.

All my fortitude forsook me on finding myself once more clasped in the 
embrace from which I should so soon be severed. I wept and sobbed 
passionately on his shoulder. I felt as if I could and would not go--as 
if it were impossible; a thing to be spoken of, never carried into 
effect. Cornelius pressed me to his heart, and tried to hush away my 
grief, but ineffectually. At length he said, very ruefully--

"Oh, Daisy!"

Looking up, I saw that his eyes were dim. I grew silent at once, ashamed 
to have moved him so much.

"Well!" said Kate.

"Yes," replied her brother. He gave me a kiss, put me down; Kate hurried 
me away, and it was over.

We passed through the garden and entered the cab, which rolled down the 
lane. I remembered how tenderly Cornelius had once cared for me during 
the whole of a long journey; how he had carried me when I could not walk, 
and brought me, wrapped up in his cloak and sleeping in his arms, to the 
home whence he now banished me. And remembering these things, I cried as 
if my heart would break.

 

CHAPTER XVI.

 

"Nonsense," said Kate, "I am not going to stand that, you know."

She spoke in the oddest of her many odd ways. I looked up--her bright 
eyes were glittering--she passed her arm around me, made me lay my head 
on her shoulder, and kissed me with unusual tenderness.

"Poor little thing!" she said, gently, "your troubles begin early, and 
yet, take my word for it, they will not last nor seem so severe after a 
time. When those two are married, you and I shall live together and be 
quite happy."

"When are they to marry?" I asked.

"In a month or two. A foolish business, Midge: I thought Cornelius would 
have had more sense; but he is to have plenty of work from a Mr. Redmond, 
and on the strength of such prospects he is going to marry. He is but a 
boy, and he does not know better: but she does, and it is a shame of her 
to take him in."

"I thought Miss Russell had money."

"So she has; but I know Cornelius; he won't live on his wife's money; he 
will do paltry work to support himself, lose all his time in copying bad 
pictures, and ruin his prospects as an artist,--all that because he could 
not wait a year or two. Ah well! I hope he may not repent it; I hope he 
may always love her as much as he does now. Don't fret, child; he never 
deserved such a good little girl as you have been to him."

"Oh, Kate, it is not for that I fret, but is it possible Cornelius can 
think of giving up painting? it cuts me to think of it."

"He does not think of it, foolish fellow! He does not see that he is 
tying himself down; just as he does not see that it is to please her he 
is sending you away. He thinks it is all his idea, whereas I know very 
well that of his own accord Cornelius O'Reilly would never have dreamed 
of parting from the child of Edward Burns. To be sure, I might have 
insisted on keeping you, for the house is mine, but for your own sake I 
would not make an annoyance of you to him. One must always let men have 
their way, and find out their own mistake; he will regret you yet, 
Daisy."

Thus she talked and strove to comfort me, until, after a long drive, we 
stopped at the door of the Misses Clapperton.

They resided in a detached villa, very Moorish-looking, with windows 
small enough to satisfy even the jealousy of a Turk, a flat roof 
admirably calculated for taking cold on, and a turret that threateningly 
overlooked a classic villa opposite, and gave the whole building a 
fortified, chivalric, arabesque air, confirmed by its euphonious name--
Alhambra Lodge. I knew the Alhambra through the medium of Geoffrey 
Crayon, and devoutly hoped it did not resemble this. On the left of the 
Alhambra arose an imitation old English cottage, with tiny gable-ends and 
transversal beams artistically painted on the walls; on the right a Swiss 
chalet told a whole story of pastoral innocence, and made one transform 
into an English _Ranz des Vaches_ the cry of "milk from the cow" coming  
up the street; further on arose a Gothic mansion--but peace be to the 
domestic architecture of England! We were received in a comfortable-
looking parlour--not in the least Moorish--by Miss Mary Clapperton. She 
was short, deformed, grotesquely plain, but had a happy, good-natured 
face, and intelligent black eyes, of bird-like liveliness. She spoke 
volubly, called me "a dear," and laughed and chatted at an amazing rate. 
We had scarcely sat down, when her sister, Ann Clapperton, entered the 
room. She proved to be the very counterpart of Mary. There never was such 
a perfect likeness, even to their voice and their very expressions. As 
they dressed alike they puzzled every one. All the time I was with them, 
I never could know which was which; to this day I remember them as a 
compound individual, answering to the name of Mary-Ann Clapperton.

Everything had been settled beforehand, so Kate only had to bid me good-
bye. It was a quiet parting; she promised to come and see me soon, and, 
in return, made me promise not to fret. So far as tears went, I kept my 
word. I was not much given to weeping, and pride alone would have checked 
outward grief in the presence of strangers. I sat looking at the Misses 
Clapperton, who looked at me very kindly, and conversed about me as much 
as two persons who never had a separate thought could be said to 
converse. The only difference I found between them was that one, I 
believe it was Mary, suggested ideas which the other immediately 
converted into facts, as in the following whispered dialogue--

"Ann, she looks delicate."

"She is delicate, Mary."

"I fancy she is intelligent."

"I am sure she is."

I did not hear the rest of the conference; it was brief, and ended by one 
of the Misses Clapperton---I think it was Mary, but I am not quite sure, 
for in turning about they had, as it were, mingled--asking me if I should 
not like to become acquainted with my future companions; on my replying 
"Yes," she took me by the hand, and led me out into a green garden, all 
lawn and gravel path, where I was formally introduced to, and left alone 
with, the two Misses Brook.

Jane and Fanny Brook were orphan sisters of fourteen and fifteen; fine, 
fresh, romping girls, with crisp black hair, cheeks like roses, and ivory 
teeth. They looked as demure as nuns whilst Miss Clapperton was by, but 
no sooner was her back turned than they began to whisper and giggle. Then 
suddenly addressing me as I stood by them, feeling silent and lonely, 
Jane said--

"Will you run?"

"I never run; I cannot."

"Try," observed Fanny.

They caught me between them and whirled me off, but they were soon 
obliged to pause. I had stopped short, all out of breath.

"I told you I could not run," I said, a little offended at their free 
manner.

"Poor little thing!" compassionately exclaimed Jane.

"Will you race?" asked her sister.

"I don't mind if I do."

A laburnum, at the end of the lawn, was fixed as the goal. They made me 
arbiter. I sat down on a wooden bench to look; they started off at once, 
reached the tree at the same moment, knocked one another down in their 
eagerness--then rose all tumbled and disordered, and ran back to me.

"I was first, was I not?" cried Jane.

"Indeed you were not. It was I, was it not?"

"Indeed," I replied, "I don't know which it was. I think you both reached 
it at once."

This impartial decision displeased them both. They said I was ill-natured 
and sly, got reconciled at my expense, and began a gentle sport of their 
own invention, called "the hunt." It consisted in one of the Misses Brook 
running the other down, which she did most successfully, and then 
submitted to being run down in her turn. My arrival had converted this 
into a holiday; so when the hunt was over, Fanny amused herself with a 
bow and quivers, whilst Jane swung herself to and fro from the laburnum. 
I looked on with wonder, and thought I had never seen such odd girls.

The strangeness of everything made the day seem doubly long. So sudden 
and violent a separation from all I knew and loved was more irritated 
than soothed by the new objects and new faces to which I was compelled to 
give my attention, but which could not absorb my thoughts. I welcomed 
evening with a sense of relief, and a hope that it would bring me silence 
and comparative solitude. I shared a large, cheerful, airy bedroom with 
the two sisters, who slept together. At first they were very quiet, but 
after a while I heard a low rustling sound of paper that seemed to 
proceed from under their bedclothes; then one whispered the other--

"Do you think she is asleep?"

"Try," was the laconic reply.

"What a beautiful moonlight!" observed the voice of Jane aloud.

"Oh, very!" emphatically answered Fanny.

"Do you like the moonlight?" asked Jane, seeming to address me.

"Yes, I like it." I replied; I could scarcely utter the words, my heart 
was so full of the lost home, with its quaint garden, sun-dial, and old 
trees, on which the same moon that chequered the drawn window-blind shone 
at this hour.

On hearing my reply, the two sisters held a whispered consultation, which 
ended in Fanny saying in a subdued tone--

"Will you have some sweetstuff?"

"Thank you," I replied, rather astonished, "I never eat sweets; I do not 
like them."

This answer appeared to produce a very unfavourable impression. The 
sisters seemed to think me a traitor and a spy, and to repent their 
imprudent confidence. Of this, though I could not see them, I was 
intuitively conscious.

"You need not be afraid that I should tell," I observed, somewhat 
indignantly.

They both said in a breath "they were sure I would not," and very kindly 
pressed me to share their dainties.

"Don't be afraid," encouragingly remarked Jane, "there is plenty of it."

"A whole bagful," added Fanny, whose mouth seemed to be as full as her 
bag.

"Oh, Fanny, you greedy thing!" exclaimed Jane, "you promised not to begin 
until I was ready: I am sure you have taken all the candy."

I am afraid that thus it must have proved on examination, for I suddenly 
heard a sound slap, accompanied with a recommendation of "Take that," 
which, if it alluded to the slap, was wholly unnecessary, it being not 
merely received, but returned, with "Take that too," that proved the 
beginning of a regular battle.

I felt greatly disgusted; the idea of fighting in bed was essentially 
repugnant to my sense of decorum; but an end was soon put to the contest, 
by the sound of an approaching step: on hearing it the combatants stopped 
as if by magic.

"Say as we say," hastily whispered Jane.

I felt something alight on my bed; the door opened, and Miss Clapperton--
I think it was Mary--appeared with a light in her hand, and her ugly 
good-humoured face wearing an expression of solemn reproof. "Young 
ladies," she observed, addressing the Misses Brook, "are you not ashamed 
of yourselves?"

"We were only laughing," glibly said Jane, "weren't we, dear?"

"Yes, dear," replied Fanny.

"We could not help it," continued Jane; "she has some sweetstuff in bed 
with her, and she said she would give us some, and I said I would have 
all the candy, and Fanny said _she_ would: didn't you, dear?"

"Yes, dear."

I was amazed at the readiness of their invention, but I could not 
understand why Miss Clapperton looked at me so gravely. At length it came 
out: the perfidious Jane, knowing she would not have time to conceal the 
bag of sweetstuff, had tossed it on my bed, where it lay--a convincing 
proof of my guilt. Miss Clapperton reproved me very gently.

"She did not allow sweets," she informed me, "but of course I did not 
know that, although she must say that eating them thus in the dark did 
not look quite like unconsciousness. Still she would not be severe on the 
first day. The confiscation of what she could assure me was most 
pernicious stuff, should be my only punishment."

With this she retired.

I had not contradicted the story of Jane, but I was none the less 
indignant, and I meant to tell her a bit of my mind, when, to my 
astonishment, she chose to accuse me.

"How could you be such a ninny," she coolly asked, "as to let her carry 
off the bag? It will all go to that odious Polly. You could have coaxed 
her out of it, if you liked; a new pupil always can coax her out of 
anything--she is so soft."

Fanny chimed in with her sister, and both agreed in calling me a "muff," 
a mysterious expression that puzzled and annoyed me extremely, but which 
they refused to explain, saying I knew very well what it meant. At length 
they fell fast asleep, and left me in peace.

School reminiscences do not possess for me the universal charm ascribed 
to them. I was a child in years, but I had outgrown the feelings of a 
child: this was the torment and the happiness of my youth. A few days 
reconciled me however to the rough ways of Jane and Fanny Brook. They 
were, on the whole, kind-hearted, merry, romping girls; but I was years 
beyond them in everything save physical strength; I had feelings and 
ideas of which they entertained not the faintest conception, and, after 
spending nearly three years in the delightful and intellectual 
companionship of Cornelius and Kate, I could not care much for their 
childish amusements and still more childish talk. They pitied me for 
being so weak, and liked me because, though I could not share in their 
boisterous pleasures, I was of some use to them in their studies, and 
because, whenever I could do so, I helped them through the difficulties 
into which their indolence daily brought them. So much for my companions. 
The Misses Clapperton proved, as might have been expected from their 
appearance, kind-hearted, zealous teachers.

I had entered Alhambra Lodge on the Tuesday; Kate had not said that she 
would come on the Sunday, but I fully expected her, and when, at an early 
hour, I was summoned down to see a visitor, my heart beat with more joy 
than surprise. I entered the parlour, and I saw, not Kate, but Cornelius. 
I was so glad, so happy, that I could not speak. As he kissed me, he saw 
that my eyes were full of tears, and he chid me gaily.

My first words were--

"Is it exhibited, Cornelius?"

"What are you talking of?"

"The Happy Time; I know the Academy opened yesterday, I thought of it all 
the day long."

"Of course you did," he replied, smoothing my hair, "I was sure of it."

"Oh, Cornelius, do tell me."

"Can't you guess?"

His smiling face could hear but one interpretation. Overjoyed I threw my 
arms around his neck; he laughed, and said I looked quite wild. I know 
not how I looked, but I know I felt delighted.

"Is it well hung?" was my next question.

"Better than it deserves. Oh, Daisy, I have done nothing yet, but I knew 
you would like to know; so I came this morning to see you and to tell 
you."

"How glad Kate and Miss Russell must have been!" I sighed.

"Yes, but they are not crazy about my pictures like you, you foolish 
child. And now talk of something else. How are you? I find you pale."

"I am quite well, Cornelius."

"How do you like the Misses Clapperton?"

"They are kind; I like them."

"They give you a very good character; but one of them said something 
about sweetstuff which I could not make out."

"I shall tell you all about it, if you will promise not to tell again."

He gave me his word that he would not; and I related to him the whole 
story, by which he seemed very much amused.

"I saw them as I came in," he said, "a pair of tall, strong girls, each 
of whom would make a pair of you; but on the whole, how do you like 
them?"

"Oh! very well."

"You speak quite coolly."

"They are so childish."

"Yet they look older than you."

"So they are; but, would you believe it? they have never heard of Michael 
Angelo or Raffaelle."

"Poor things!" laughed Cornelius, "how do they manage to exist?"

"Indeed I don't know. When I talk to them of painting, Jane says she 
should like to paint fire-screens, and Fanny says she should not care."

"They are both young Vandals," said Cornelius, "so don't waste your high 
ideas of Art upon them; they cannot understand anything of the sort, you 
know. The fact is, there are not many little girls like mine. Oh, Daisy! 
I don't want to reproach, but how is it that you, who are so good in 
everything else, have on one point been so perverse?"

I did not answer: if he did not know that my only sin was loving him too 
much, where was the use to tell him? I asked after Kate; he said she was 
well, and would come in the afternoon: then we spoke for a few minutes of 
other things, and he rose to leave me, promising that on his next visit 
he would give me a long walk.

I thought my heart would fail me at the parting, but his look checked me, 
and I bore this as I was learning to bear so many things--with the silent 
endurance that is not always resignation.

The afternoon brought me Kate's promised visit. Almost her first words 
were--

"So Cornelius has been here! he never told me where he was going off so 
early. Say he does not care for you, Midge!"

"I don't say so, Kate."

"I believe not. He nearly got into disgrace on your account."

"Into disgrace, Kate? how so?"

"Why, he was to take a walk with some one, and he was late; so he had to 
excuse himself I don't know how often, and, like a foolish fellow as he 
is, he threw it all on his visit to you, and never saw that this was the 
very head and front of his offending. The fact is," she added, with a 
profound sigh, "I never knew one who is less apt to suspect a mean, 
ungenerous feeling than my poor brother. He is a child, quite a child, 
Midge."

I heard her with a vague presentiment that this generous confidence of 
Cornelius would be my bane, and so it proved. Spite of his first friendly 
visit, he came no more near me. Miss O'Reilly called every Sunday, no 
matter what the weather might be. She saw that I fretted at the absence 
of her brother, and did her best to comfort me.

"He can scarcely help himself." she once said to me, "he means to come 
oftener, but every Sunday brings something new to prevent him. He is very 
fond of you though, often talks of you, praises you, and has hung up in 
his studio a little drawing of himself and you, which some one uselessly 
tried to make him take down."

"Yes," I replied, sighing, "he likes me, Kate, but he does not come near 
me; and though he promised to take me out walking with him some day, he 
has never done so yet."

"Then it is to come," was her philosophic reply. But, seeing this did not 
comfort me, she added--

"I have a great mind to tell you something; but no, I will not on 
reflection, it would make you conceited."

"Then I know what it is, Kate; he said I was clever, or that I would grow 
up to be good-looking, or something of the kind, which I care very little 
about; whereas I should care a great deal about his coming to see me."

"No," replied Kate, smiling, "it was nothing like that; but the other 
evening, when I certainly did not imagine he was thinking of you, he said 
all of a sudden--'I wish I had that tiresome little girl back again.' I 
replied, carelessly, 'Do you?' just to draw him out. 'Yes,' he answered, 
'I never knew how fond of her I was until she was gone.' So there is 
something for you."

Affection is full of wiles. I followed the precept of drawing out just 
laid down by Miss O'Reilly, and said quietly--

"Is that all, Kate?"

"All!" she replied indignantly; "why, what more would you have? You 
ignorant little thing, don't you know that the human heart is made up of 
separate curious niches, and that in the heart of Cornelius you have 
quite a niche of your own. He loves me more than he loves you; and, alas! 
he loves Miriam more than us two put together; but for all that I am much 
deceived if he does not feel more of what is called friendship for you 
than for either of us; and let me tell you that friendship which is not 
exacted as the love of kindred, not interested like passion, is a very 
lovely thing. It is odd that a little girl like you should now be to him 
what is called a 'friend,' and yet it is so; but whether because of some 
secret sympathy invisible to me, or on account of your liking his 
pictures and painting so well, is more than I can tell."

She spoke positively: memory confirmed all she said; the words of 
Cornelius repeated by her gave additional proof,--for to be missed is one 
of the tokens love most prizes, and on which it relies most securely. The 
blood rushed to my heart; I looked up at Kate with mute gladness.

"Bless the child!" she exclaimed, "Daisy, what is the matter?" And she 
looked confounded.

"Nothing," I replied.

"Then do not look beside yourself. Oh, Midge, Midge! how will it end?"

She pushed back my hair to look into my face with a rueful glance; but my 
heart swam in a joy she could not check. Cornelius missed me, loved me, 
and loved me as his friend!

"Oh! Kate," I said, "how kind of you to tell me all this!"

"Then make much of it, for it is all you shall hear from me. No; it is no 
use kissing me, and looking pitiful. You are quite fond enough of him as 
it is."

More I could not get out of her, either then or subsequently. For some 
time the consciousness that Cornelius had missed me, sufficed me; but the 
heart is craving; mine asked for more, and not obtaining what it asked 
for, grew faint and weary. It sickened for the sight of his face, for the 
sound of his voice, for his greeting in the morning, for his kiss at 
night, for all it had lost and missed daily. It missed home too, the home 
I had loved so much, with its cheerful rooms, its ivied porch, its green 
garden and old trees, its sense, so sweet and pleasant, of happy liberty; 
its studio, where I loved to linger. Another now enjoyed the shelter and 
pleasantness of that home; the garden flowers yielded her their sweetest 
fragrance, the trees their shade; she might sit with him in the studio, 
alone and undisturbed, all the day long. I was ever haunted by these 
thoughts; the cure of absence was but a slow one for me.

Three months passed away; the wedding was put off from week to week and 
day to day, to the great vexation of Kate.

"It is not that I am in a hurry for it," she said to me, when I 
questioned her on the subject, "but I do not like to see my poor brother 
made a fool of. I am sure Miriam plays with him, as a cat with a mouse. 
He can think of nothing else. He was not half so bad in the beginning; 
but she has irritated him into a perfect fever. Ah well! I wish it may 
not cool too much after marriage, that is all."

"I wish they were married," I said, sadly, "for then I might at least be 
with you, and see him now and then."

Kate took both my hands in her own, and looked at me very earnestly.

"Midge," she said, "you are now thirteen; you are old enough to hear 
sense, and to make up your mind as I have made up mine; think that when 
Cornelius is married, he is, in one sense, lost to you as well as to me; 
do not imagine that he will or can be the same again; do not come home 
with an idea that old times can return; one who has proved it can tell 
you, that there is no beginning over again old affections."

I looked at her wistfully, loath to believe in so hard a sentence.

"It is so," she resumed, sighing: "think of Cornelius as of a very dear 
friend; love, respect him as much as you will, but expect nothing from 
him; wean your heart; you must, for his sake, as much as for your own."

"Kate," I replied, "I shall try and not be jealous of his wife."

"My poor child, you do not understand me; indeed it is very difficult; 
but wives do not like their husbands to care for those who cannot be 
included in the circle of home; they want to have them for themselves and 
their children."

"I shall be very fond of his children, if he has any," I answered; 
"indeed I shall, Kate; I shall love them as I love him--with my whole 
heart."

"You foolish girl, that is just the mischief." And she proceeded to 
explain the feeling I was to have for Cornelius: it was so cool, so 
distant, that it chilled me to hear her.

"Kate," I said, "I think I could sooner hate Cornelius--and I am sure I 
never could do that--than like him in that strange way; and I am very 
sure," I added, after a pause, "that is not at all the way in which you 
like him."

She smiled, and kissed me, and told me to like him my own way; that God 
would see to the future, and not let sorrow come out of true affection.

I did not understand her then, nor did she intend I should. Since that 
time, I have divined that she looked with uneasiness to coming years, and 
wished to subdue in time a feeling that might prove far more fatal to my 
own peace than to that of her brother. She meant well, but she had the 
wisdom not to insist; it was not in her power to make me love him less; 
it was in the power of none, not even in his own. If for that purpose he 
had exiled me; if to cool my affection he came so seldom near me, and 
gave me not his long-promised walk, he failed. I felt the banishment, the 
visit ever deferred, the promise never kept; but I still loved him with 
my whole heart.

At length, one morning in the week, and towards the middle of June, I was 
told by Miss Mary Clapperton that Mr. O'Reilly and another gentleman 
wanted to speak to me. I went down wondering if Mr. Smalley or Mr. Trim 
had taken a fancy to pay me a visit. On entering the parlour, I saw 
Cornelius, who stood facing the door; the other gentleman sat with his 
back to it, and his clasped hands resting on the head of his cane. He 
looked up as I came in, and showed me the brown face, white beard, and 
keen black eyes of my grandfather. I went up to Cornelius, who gave me a 
quiet kiss, and standing by him, I looked at Mr. Thornton.

"Come here!" he said.

I obeyed, and went up to him.

"Do you know me?" he growled, knitting his dark brow.

"Yes, Sir."

"Who am I?"

"Mr. Thornton."

"Humph! Do you know why I have come?"

"No, Sir."

"To rid Mr. O'Reilly of you."

I did not reply. I knew I had become a burden and a thing to be got rid 
of.

"I am going abroad," continued Mr. Thornton, "so I just want to settle 
that before I go; you understand?"

"Yes, Sir."

"Well, what have you to say to that?"

"Nothing, Sir."

Mr. Thornton turned to Cornelius, and said impatiently--

"Has the child grown an idiot? Why, there was twice as much spirit in her 
formerly."

I saw Cornelius redden; but he did not reply. My grandfather again turned 
to me, and said--

"Why are you here?"

"To learn, Sir."

"Was that what you were sent here for?"

I hung down my head without replying.

"I thought so," he muttered; "it seems, Mr. O'Reilly," he added, 
addressing Cornelius, "that though you were in such a precious hurry to 
get that child, you could not manage to keep her."

"I thought it for her good to be here, Sir," rather haughtily replied 
Cornelius.

"It was not his fault," I said, eagerly, "indeed it was not."

"Whose then?" sharply asked Mr. Thornton.

"Mine," I replied in a low tone, "I was naughty."

"And were sent to school by way of punishment. Do you like being here?"

"Not much. I am alone now; these are the holidays."

"And whilst the other children are at home, you spend yours here."

I did not reply; Mr. Thornton looked at Cornelius, and still leaning his 
two hands on the head of his cane, he said, with some severity--

"Sir, when nearly three years ago you called to take away that child, you 
chose to express pretty frankly your opinion of the way in which she was 
treated in my house. I shall be every bit as frank with you. I tell you 
plainly, Sir, that I do not approve of your conduct. You had of your own 
accord assumed a duty no one sought to impose upon you; you should either 
have fulfilled or relinquished it. I told you, if the child proved 
troublesome or in the way, to send her back to me. I can afford, Sir, to 
put her in a school and pay for her, without burdening you with her 
support. I do not say you were not justified in getting rid of an 
inconvenience; I simply say you had no right not to get rid of it 
altogether."

Cornelius bit his lip, as if to check the temptation to reply. Mr. 
Thornton, laying his hand on my shoulder, resumed--

"You are old enough to understand all this: Mr. O'Reilly finding you in 
the way--" 

"Sir," began Cornelius. .

"Sir," interrupted Mr. Thornton, "if she is not in the way, why is she 
here? Mr. O'Reilly," he added, turning to me, "finding you in the way, 
placed you in this house, which you don't much like, and where, 
nevertheless, you cost him a good deal of money. Now the question is, 
shall I put you in another place like this? And as I can better afford it 
than Mr. O'Reilly--"

"Sir," interrupted Cornelius.

"Sir," also interrupted Mr. Thornton, "I do not say I am a better man 
than you are; but I say I have more money;" and addressing me, he 
resumed--"Shall I therefore put you in another place like this, here in 
town, and pay for you? Yes or no?"

I knew that Cornelius was poor, that he could ill afford the money he 
spent upon me, and though my heart failed me, I faltered--

"Yes, Sir."

I looked up at Cornelius as I spoke: he seemed hurt to the quick.

"Daisy," he said, giving me a reproachful look, "remember, _I_ did not  
give you up."

He spoke fast, like one who wishes to keep his feelings under; and 
seizing his hat, hurried out of the room without once looking behind. I 
sprang forward to overtake him: a hand of iron held me back--

"You little fool," sarcastically said my grandfather, "don't you see he 
does not care a rush for you! Come, no sniffling; what day will you go?"

"Any day, Sir."

"Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday," he rapidly 
enumerated on his fingers.

"Wednesday, Sir," I replied, flurried at his abrupt manner.

"That is to-day. Stay here whilst I settle with the ladies of the house."

He rose and left me as he spoke.

 

CHAPTER XVII.

 

I remained alone a few minutes, at the end of which Mr. Thornton, whose 
voice I heard in the next room, returned with the two Misses Clapperton. 
They had brought my bonnet and cloak, put them on, bade me good-bye, and 
kissed me kindly; then Mr. Thornton, who looked on with evident 
impatience, took my hand, and hurried me off. A carriage stood waiting at 
the door of Alhambra Lodge; my grandfather lifted me in, and closed the 
door on me. The carriage drove rapidly away. I sat in it alone, mute, and 
still amazed. After passing through roads, streets, and along terraces 
unknown to me, the carriage entered a secluded-looking square, and drew 
up before a plain house. A demure-looking servant answered the coachman's 
knock, and was followed by a middle-aged widow lady, who helped me down 
with a smile, saying cheerfully--

"This way, dear."

I entered with her, and at once looked round for Mr. Thornton. He was 
nowhere to be seen.

"Please, Ma'am," I said, "is Mr. Thornton come?"

"I am so glad," she replied, seeming much relieved, "I felt afraid he was 
not coming. No, my dear, he is not come yet, and to tell you the truth, 
seeing you so suddenly, I could not understand it; but of course he'll 
explain all. This way, dear; upstairs, dear; mind the turning of the 
staircase, dear."

She took my hand and led me up carefully, as if I were a baby. She had a 
very soft hand, and its touch was gentle and timid. When we had reached 
the second-floor landing, she paused, and opened a door that led into a 
front bed-room, large and airy, and overlooking the dull square below.

"Don't you think, dear?" suggested the lady, with hesitating kindness,--
"don't you think you had better let me take off your things?"

"I can take them off, Ma'am, thank you."

"Can you? Very well, dear; is there anything I can do for you?"

"Nothing, Ma'am, thank you."

"Very well. You will not look out of the window, will you? you might fall 
out, you know, and be killed."

I promised not to look out; she called me a dear child, and left me. In a 
few minutes I joined her below. I found her sitting alone in a dull and 
sombre English-looking parlour. She seemed flurried on seeing me, and 
spoke as if she had intended to go and fetch me, for fear, I suppose, of 
any accident on the way; but satisfied that all was right, she subsided 
into what appeared to be her habitual placidity. She had a kind face, 
that had been pretty, and was still pleasant, though it wore a somewhat 
uneasy expression, as if its owner were too much troubled with 
conscientious scruples and misgivings.

"Do you know, Ma'am, if Mr. Thornton will soon come?" I asked, after 
vainly waiting for my grandfather to make his appearance.

"He is gone, my dear," she replied, calmly. "I said you were taking off 
your things, and he said he had nothing to say to you; but you may be 
quite easy; it is all settled."

"Am I to stay with you, Ma'am?"

"Yes, my dear; I am to take care of you and educate you. My name is Mrs. 
Gray. I live in this house. It is very airy; very salubrious. Mr. 
Thornton was particular about that, and I am sure I would not have 
deceived him for anything. Then there is the square, where we have of 
course the privilege of walking when we like. Besides, I have received a 
very good education myself, so that I am fit to teach you. I think we 
shall be very happy together, dear," she added, with a smile, to which 
neither in word nor in look my heavy heart could give response.

Mrs. Gray saw this, and looked discouraged at once. She hoped we should 
be happy together; she trusted we should; she thought she might say it 
should not be her fault if we were not. She was evidently getting very 
uncomfortable, when I diverted her by a question.

"If you please, Ma'am, was it on account of what I said, that Mr. 
Thornton took me away from the Misses Clapperton?"

"Ah, the Misses Clapperton. I really don't know, dear. Who are the Misses 
Clapperton?"

"They receive a few private pupils; they live at Alhambra Lodge."

"Alhambra Lodge, and they receive private pupils, dear me!"

"Do you know, Ma'am, why I was not left there?"

"I dare say, my dear, it was because Mr. Thornton did not approve of 
their method of teaching; there is a great deal in method."

"Do you know, Ma'am, if Miss O'Reilly will call next Sunday?"

"Miss O'Reilly? that is an Irish name, is it not?"

"Yes, Ma'am, she is Irish, and so is her brother. They were born at a 
place called Bally Bunion."

"Bally Birmingham--how odd! One would think Birmingham could have done 
without the Bally. Were you too born at Bally Birmingham, my dear?"

"No, Ma'am, I was born in England."

"Don't you feel much more comfortable to know that?"

"I don't know, Ma'am; but can you tell me if Miss O'Reilly will call next 
Sunday?"

Mrs. Gray looked perplexed.

"Really," she replied, "I don't know, but I am sure if she does call, I 
shall be very happy to see her, and to offer her a cup of tea. I always 
have tea at five exactly."

She spoke earnestly, as if she feared her hospitable feelings might be 
doubted. I saw she knew nothing, and questioned her no more.

Mrs. Gray was one of those quiet Englishwomen who seem to enjoy dullness 
for its own sake. She lived in a dull neighbourhood, in a dull square, in 
a dull house, and, as I soon found, she led as dull a life as she could 
devise. We rose early, breakfasted together in the gloomy parlour, then 
went to the lessons, which lasted until our two o'clock dinner. She was 
an intelligent educated woman, but a nervous, timid teacher; and what 
with her sensitiveness and her fear that she was not doing her duty by 
me, she managed from the first day to render both herself and her pupil 
somewhat uncomfortable. After dinner we took a short walk in the square, 
or in a neighbouring walk planted with dusty elms, and called the Mall. 
We took tea at five exactly; I sat up until bed-time, preparing my 
lessons for the next day, whilst Mrs. Gray worked, or slyly read novels. 
At first she was as secretive about it as if she were still a school-
girl, and I a stern schoolmistress; but when she saw that I was not 
ignorant of the nature of the brown circulating-library volumes that now 
and then peeped out of her work-basket, she gave up the concealment part 
of the business, and informed me that though she did not approve of 
novels generally, she thought herself justified in making exceptions.

Her taste for fiction was shared by Miss Taylor and Mrs. Jones, the only 
friends she saw constantly. Once a week they came to tea with us, and 
twice Mrs. Gray took tea with them. They were very quiet, inoffensive 
women, with the organ of wonder large. I could see that they considered 
me from the first as a sort of living novel, a "Margaret the Orphan," a 
"Child of Mystery," etc. I entered Mrs. Gray's house on a Wednesday; the 
same evening they took tea with her, and I detected both the looks and 
signs they exchanged, and overheard whispered remarks of "How strange!" 
"Most mysterious!" "You don't say so!" and the like.

If Jane and Fanny Brook had overpowered me with their boisterous ways, 
the slow and quiet life I led with Mrs. Gray depressed me even to a sense 
of pain. I felt it much during the first few days, and waited impatiently 
for the Sunday. It came, but brought not Kate. I sat by the window the 
whole day long, eagerly watching for her through the iron railings that 
fenced in our abode, but she came not. As dusk closed around the dull 
square and brooded heavily over its melancholy trees, my last hope 
vanished. At first I thought she was offended with me and would not come, 
then it occurred to me that she might not know where I was.

"My dear," earnestly said Mrs. Gray, "pray leave that window; you will 
take cold. Miss O'Reilly, I dare say, will call to-morrow."

"Had I not better write to her, Mrs. Gray, and tell her I am with you?"

"No, my dear," replied Mrs. Gray, looking fidgety, "you must not do that, 
if you please. I dare say she will call tomorrow; pray leave the window."

I obeyed the gentle injunction, but I had no faith in the hope held 
forth; I did not think Kate would come, and indeed she did not, nor on 
the following Sunday either. I again asked Mrs. Gray if I could not write 
to Miss O'Reilly, who, I felt sure, did not know where I was.

"My dear," nervously said Mrs. Gray, "I fear that if Miss O'Reilly does 
not know it, it must be because Mr. Thornton did not wish her to know it. 
I should be very happy to see her, and I dare say she is a very charming 
person; but I must go by Mr. Thornton's wishes."

All my entreaties could not induce her to alter her resolve. If I could 
have disobeyed her injunction I would, but open means I saw not, and 
hidden ones I had not the wit to devise; so I availed myself of the only 
permission she gave me--that of writing to Mr. Thornton, asking his leave 
to see my friends. Mrs. Gray sent the letter to his solicitors, but 
either it did not reach him, or he did not think it worthy his attention, 
for he never answered it. I saw how foolish I had been to place myself 
under his control, and the thought that I had myself done it, and was 
perhaps severed for ever from Cornelius and Kate, ended by affecting my 
health. In my grief I had said that if I only knew how they were, I 
should not mind so much not seeing them. Mrs. Gray eagerly caught at 
this, and offered to ascertain the matter. I gave her the names of the 
chief tradespeople with whom Miss O'Reilly dealt, and she set off one 
afternoon on her errand. She stayed away two hours, and returned with a 
cheerful face.

"Well," she said, sitting down and smiling at my eager look, "I have 
learned everything. I called in at Parkins the baker, and asked Mrs. 
Parkins if she knew an Irish family of the name of MacMahon (that was not 
a story, you know, dear, because there are Irish MacMahons; indeed I knew 
three myself, though I cannot say they lived in the Grove), to which Mrs. 
Parkins replied, she did not know any MacMahons, and the only Irish 
family who dealt with her were a Mr. and Miss O'Reilly; Mrs. O'Reilly 
that was to be, would, she hoped, also give her her custom in time; I 
asked what sort of a person she was. Fair and handsome, and Mr. O'Reilly 
and his sister dark, but also very handsome. I said I did not think they 
could be the MacMahons, who were all red-haired; and thanking Mrs. 
Parkins, I came back. I hope, my dear, you will not fret after such good 
tidings; for if Mr. O'Reilly is going to get married, he cannot be very 
poorly nor his sister either; and I am sure you are too sensible to care 
about the bride-cake; so it is all right, you see."

Alas! yes, it was all right, and I felt how little I must now be missed 
in the home where I had once been petted and indulged so tenderly. They 
were going to marry; there was nothing to fear or hope now. Mrs. Gray, 
unaware of the jealousy that had been the source of all my misery, 
continued to descant on this agreeable state of things, and altogether 
derived some innocent enjoyment from the part she had acted, and the 
spice of adventure it had thrown in her monotonous life.

It was a sort of comfort to know that Kate and Cornelius were well, but 
it passed with time; and at length my ardent entreaties and solemn 
promises not to betray my presence by word, sign, or look, wrung from 
Mrs. Gray the favour of being taken one evening to the Grove, so that, in 
passing by the house, I might perhaps catch a glimpse of the faces I 
loved. Chance, or rather the kind power that disdains not to indulge our 
human weakness, favoured me.

The evening was grey and mild, as it often is in the English summer. The 
Grove was lonely. Mrs. Gray and I kept in the shadow of the trees, on the 
side of the street facing Kate's house; and walked up and down two or 
three times. The front parlour was not lit; I could see nothing of what 
passed within, but in the stillness of that quiet evening I once or twice 
caught the tones of the voice of Cornelius. I started to hear them.

"My dear," nervously said Mrs. Gray, "had we not better go?"

"Not yet, Ma'am," I entreated; "Deborah will soon bring up the lamp, the 
window will remain open awhile, and then I shall be able to see them, 
whilst they, you know, cannot see me."

All happened as I had said; Deborah brought up the lamp, laid it down on 
the table and left the window open. Now I could see. The lamp burned with 
a clear and steady flame, that illumined the whole room; the pictures 
stood forth on the red paper of the walls, and on that sombre yet clear 
back-ground appeared, vivid and distinct, the figures of Cornelius, Kate, 
and Miriam. She sat reclining back in her chair, and looking up at him as 
he stood behind her, laughing and talking pleasantly. I saw less of Kate, 
who sat a little in the back-ground, bent over her work. They seemed both 
cheerful and happy, for whilst I stood looking at them, half blinded by 
tears, Cornelius suddenly turned away from Miriam, went up to the piano, 
opened it, and sat down to sing the 'Exile of Erin.' What with hearing 
his voice again, and with standing there listening to him, myself an 
exile from his home, and, alas! from his heart, I wept. As the song 
closed with its mournful cadence, Kate rose, shut the window, and drew 
down the blind, thus excluding me from both sight and sound.

"Don't you think, dear, we had better go now?" whispered Mrs. Gray, 
gently leading me away from the spot where I still stood looking and 
listening, though there was no more to see or hear.

I yielded apathetically, and my companion hurried me away, nervously 
looking behind every now and then, and declaring, "She had never gone 
through anything to equal this, never!" Indeed by her two friends it was 
considered quite an adventure, and served to enhance the mystery with 
which it pleased their imagination to surround me.

I had longed passionately for the favour Mrs. Gray had granted, but to 
have obtained it only added to my secret torment. I had now been six 
weeks with the kind lady, but what with the dull monotonous life I led in 
that dull house and the grief of being severed from those I loved so 
dearly, I again became languid, if not ill. Mrs. Gray's instructions were 
to let me want for nothing; she at once called in a physician, who gave 
me plenty of bitter physic to drink, and ordered me to take more 
exercise. We lived within half an hour's walk of Kensington Gardens, and 
every fine day Mrs. Gray conscientiously took me there to spend the 
interval between dinner and tea. She sat down on one of the benches and 
read, whilst I wandered away at will.

Those gardens are very beautiful. They have verdure, water, rare fowl, 
singing birds, flowers wild and cultivated, warm sunshine, deep shade, 
and brooding over all that solemn charm which lingers around ancient 
trees and woodland places. I was then studying botany, and my chief 
pleasure was to look out for wild flowers or linger in some solitary 
spot. I remember one well,--a solemn grove of elms and beeches, sombre 
and quiet as a cloister. I often sought its gloom, led by that instinct 
which makes the stricken deer fly to the shade. When I sat down at the 
moss-covered base of those venerable trees, something of the soothing 
calmness of pure nature seemed to fall on my spirit, with their vast 
shadow. Above me sang the thrush and blackbird, whom I had so often heard 
in the lanes around my old home. They were happy; to me their song 
sounded neither gay nor joyful, but wild, sweet, and mournful as that of 
the enchanted bird heard by bonny Kilmeny in the glen.

One day, in my search for botanical specimens, I wandered further than 
usual. At length I came to a circular hollow enclosed by fine old trees, 
of which one lay extended on the earth, uprooted in a recent storm. Its 
vast boughs were beginning to wither, and its huge roots rose brown and 
bare, for the first time beholding light; but of these signs, though I 
noted them as we will note things even when our very hearts are stirred 
within us. I thought not then; for at once I had seen and recognized 
Cornelius, who sat on the trunk of the tree sketching.

Absorbed in his task he did not see me, and I stood mute within a few 
paces of him, looking at him with my flowers in my hand. Through the 
trees behind me the sun streamed in a few bright rays, that sent my 
lengthened shadow on the grass. Cornelius saw it and looked up; the 
pencil dropped from his hand and he turned very pale. Had he moved, or 
had I? I know not, but the next moment I was locked in his embrace. What 
I said or did, I cannot tell; he kissed me again and again with many an 
endearing epithet. For some time neither spoke.

"Oh, my poor lost lamb!" he said, as I lay clasped in his arms too happy 
for speech, "where have you been all this time?"

"I have been at Mrs. Gray's; how is Kate?"

"She is well, but unhappy about you. Who is Mrs. Gray? Where does she 
live? Is she kind? Why are you so pale?"

"I am not well; I take physic every morning; Mrs. Gray is very kind; she 
lives in Auckland Square, number three."

"I know the place; but why, you naughty child, did you not write to let 
us know where you were?"

"Mrs. Gray would not let me. I wrote to Mr. Thornton, and he never 
answered; but Mrs. Gray was very kind; once she went to Parkins, and 
found out that you and Kate were quite well, and another time she took me 
to the Grove, and I saw you both through the open window; it was in the 
evening; you sang the 'Exile of Erin;' I stood with Mrs. Gray listening 
on the other side of the street."

"And you never even came to the door?"

"Mrs. Gray would not have allowed it; besides--"

"Well, what is it?"

"You know," I replied, shunning his look, "what you said to me before I 
went to Miss Clapperton's."

He did not answer, but when I again looked at him, the glow my words had 
called up had not left his face.

"You are not here alone?" he observed after an embarrassed pause.

"Oh no! Mrs. Gray is sitting on one of the benches there beyond. Do you 
want to speak to her?"

"Of course I do," he replied, chucking my chin in his old way.

He took my hand, picked up his sketch-book and drawing materials, and 
walked with me to where Mrs. Gray sat. She was absorbed in the 
catastrophe of a third volume, which she nearly dropped, as she saw me 
appear before her, holding the hand of Cornelius. At first she was quite 
agitated, but the free and easy manner of the young man soon restored her 
composure. He did his best to render himself agreeable, and carefully 
shunned every allusion that could alarm her. I had seen him give her two 
or three keen looks as if to read her character, before he entered into 
conversation, after which he went on like one master of his subject. He 
talked pleasantly for about half an hour, then left us: as I kissed him, 
my lips opened to ask when we should meet again, but his look checked me. 
I saw him take the direction that led to the Grove, and my eyes followed 
him until he was out of sight.

"A very agreeable young man, very," observed Mrs. Gray, giving me shy 
looks I could not understand; "don't you think so, dear?"

"I don't know, Ma'am. I have known--"

"Yes, yes," she interrupted, "you have known others quite as agreeable; 
why, so have I. Once I remember, as a girl, that my sister and I often 
met in our walks a pleasant old gentleman, whom we called--not knowing 
his name--Dr. Johnson. Suppose we call this young landscape-painter 
Claude Lorraine."

"Oh, Ma'am! his name is--"

"My dear," impatiently interrupted Mrs. Gray, "how should you know his 
name? did you ask it, or did he tell you?"

"Oh no, Ma'am!"

"Very well, then, how can you know it?"

I saw that Mrs. Gray wanted to keep on the safe side of truth, and, of 
course, I was glad enough to indulge her. She perceived that I had at 
length taken the hint, and talked freely of Claude Lorraine, who appeared 
to have produced a very favourable impression.

For the remaining part of the day, and on the whole of the following 
night, I was restless with joy and hope. Something too appeared to be the 
matter with Mrs. Gray; for we dined half an hour earlier than usual, and 
went out the very minute the meal was over.

"Where are we going to-day, Ma'am?" I asked.

"I think we had better go to the Gardens," she replied carelessly.

To the Gardens we at once proceeded. Mrs. Gray sat down on her usual 
bench, drew forth her book, and told me she thought it would do me good 
to walk about. I eagerly availed myself of the permission, and ran at 
once to the fallen tree. Yes, there he sat, and with him, as I had 
expected, was Kate.

She did not say much, but as she took me in her arms and kissed me, I hid 
my face in her kind bosom, feeling too happy for aught save tears.

"Oh, you naughty child!" she said, giving me two or three reproachful 
kisses; "how could you do it?"

"Kate, it was Mrs. Gray--"

"Yes, I know; Cornelius has told me all, but I don't care about Mrs. 
Gray, you are to come with me this very minute."

"But Mrs. Gray--"

"Nonsense! Mrs. Gray won't break her heart about you; and you don't look 
well at all."

"That is she, coming up to us, Kate."

And so it was. Mrs. Gray had got impatient, or perhaps alarmed, and 
fancied that Claude had carried me off. She was thrown into another 
flurry on seeing Miss O'Reilly; but Cornelius undertook to bring her 
round, and succeeded so well that ere long she sat down by Kate, with 
whom she chatted pleasantly, whilst I and Cornelius walked about. It 
seemed to me that but a few minutes had thus passed, when came the 
parting moment, and Mrs. Gray summoned me with a "My dear, is it not time 
to go?" The following day was Sunday, and on that day we never walked in 
the Gardens. With many kisses, caresses, and many a pang of secret 
regret, and many a look behind, I parted from my two friends. They were 
scarcely out of sight when Mrs. Gray exclaimed--

"There are very strange things in life--very. Now I should no more have 
expected to meet in Kensington Gardens an old friend--than--than--really
--than anything!"

"An old friend, Mrs. Gray!"

"Why, of course; the lady to whom I spoke."

"Miss O'Reilly!" I exclaimed; then immediately felt dismayed at my own 
imprudence.

But Mrs. Gray was getting bold, and replied, very calmly--

"Yes, I believe her name is O'Reilly; but I do not see anything wonderful 
in that; as I believe O'Reilly is a very common Irish name."

"And you know her, Mrs. Gray?" I said, eagerly.

"I may safely say I have known her years. For it is now twenty years 
since I met her at an evening party; I had forgotten her name, but not 
her face, and being greatly pleased to see her again, I asked her to come 
and take tea with me to-morrow evening."

"Did you meet her brother at that party, Ma'am?" I asked eagerly.

"Has she got a brother, my dear?" calmly inquired Mrs. Gray.

"Yes, Ma'am, the gentleman who was with her."

"Ah, indeed! the artist we saw yesterday--peculiar! No, my dear, I cannot 
say I met him."

I saw with some disappointment that Cornelius was not included in the 
invitation; but I tried to look to the morrow without ungrateful 
repining; it came, and brought Kate alone, but not the less welcome.

I have often wondered at Mrs. Gray's motives for acting thus; but her 
character was an odd mixture of sincerity and craft, of daring and 
timidity. She was kind-hearted enough to like obliging me and woman 
enough to cherish a feminine pique against Mr. Thornton for not being 
more frank and explicit with her; besides her life was so dull that a 
little gentle excitement and mystery were not things to be rejected 
lightly; and then, as she was in independent circumstances, and had taken 
me more for society than for profit, she was naturally less apt to regard 
the consequences of her conduct.

Kate now came to see me freely, and yet I was not happy. Her brother, who 
had seemed so pleased, so glad when he met me in the Gardens, came not.

"Oh, Kate!" I said, very sadly, "he does not care for me after all."

"Nonsense, child! I tell you he was miserable when he found that Mr. 
Thornton had taken you no one knew where; why, he got thin with hunting 
up and down for you; he had no peace himself and gave none to others. 
Whereas, on the day he met you, he came in looking as gay as a lark, and 
exclaiming the first thing, 'I have got her, Kate!'"

"Yes, but he does not come."

"Men are so. He is fond of you, and he neglects you, that is their way, 
child."

This gave me little comfort, but at length one morning when I least 
expected him, Cornelius suddenly called to see me, and to give me, with 
the consent of Mrs. Gray, my long-promised walk. He kissed me carelessly; 
his face looked worn; his way of speaking was short and dissatisfied. As 
we left Mrs. Gray's house and turned round the square, he asked where I 
wished to go, in a way that implied that, on taking me out for this walk, 
he rather thought to get rid of it than to please either himself or me. I 
replied timidly, that I did not care where we went.

"Are you getting shy with me?" he asked, giving me a keen and surprised 
look.

I answered "No," with a consciousness that I should have said yes. 
Cornelius looked at me again, but did not speak until we had for some 
time walked on in silence. He then observed abruptly--

"How do you like being at Mrs. Gray's?"

"Pretty well."

"Viz. not much."

"I do not complain, Cornelius, she is very kind."

"And she gives you a very good character, and I have assured her she told 
me nothing new."

He had laid his hand on my shoulder, and he looked into my face with all 
the kindness of old times. I replied in a low tone--

"It was very kind of you, Cornelius, to say so."

"I only said what I thought; you need not thank me for it."

He spoke impatiently; I did not reply, and there was another long pause.

"Are you tired?" at length asked Cornelius, who was leading me through 
streets and bye places of which I knew nothing.

"A little."

"And there is not even a shop where I could make you rest; why did not 
you say so sooner?"

"I did not like to delay you."

"The next thing will be, that you will call me Mr. O'Reilly. Well, it is 
your own fault, and you will have to walk further before you rest, for I 
am taking you into the country."

We walked on until the houses grew thinner and began to skirt green 
fields. The sun was hot, and I found it pleasant to enter a cool and 
shady lane. There was a bank on which I could have rested, but Cornelius 
seemed to have forgotten my fatigue; he walked on, looking so abstracted 
that I did not dare to address him. At length we reached the corner of 
the lane, and turned into one so exactly like that leading to our old 
home, that I stopped short.

"Come on," coolly said Cornelius.

I did go on; every step showed me I had not been deceived; I recognized 
the hedges, the trees, with a beating heart. At length we came to the 
door I knew so well. Cornelius opened it with a latch-key, and without 
giving me a look, led me in. We crossed the garden, passed by the sun-
dial, stept in beneath the ivied porch, and entered the front parlour, 
where, by the window, in the cool shade of green Venetian blinds, Kate 
sat sewing.

 

CHAPTER XVIII.

 

I felt like one in a dream. Cornelius had dropped my hand; I stood at the 
door silent, motionless, not knowing whether I was to come forward or 
not, when Kate laid down her work and looked up.

"God bless me!" she exclaimed with a start, and she seemed so much 
astonished that I saw this was as great a matter of surprise to her as to 
me.

"Yes," Cornelius carelessly said, throwing himself down on the sofa, "I 
had long promised Daisy a walk, and not knowing where to take her, I 
brought her here."

By this I had found my way to Kate, who kissed me with her eyes 
glistening. I think she was as much pleased as myself; and yet with what 
an odd mixture of feelings I gazed on my lost home! how strange, how 
familiar seemed everything! As Kate took off my bonnet she said, 
decisively--

"You shall stay the whole day, Daisy."

"Then you must answer for it to Mrs. Gray," observed Cornelius.

"To be sure. Are you hungry, Midge?--No? What do you want, then?--
Nothing?"

"I am tired; I should like to sit down."

"Sit down by all means, child," she replied gaily.

I drew my old stool by her chair, and laid my head on her lap. She smiled 
and smoothed back my hair from my hot face: her other hand lay near it: I 
kissed it with trembling lips. It was kind of Cornelius--if he could no 
longer afford to be kind himself--to bring me back at least to her whose 
kindness, less tender and delightful, but more constant than his, had 
never failed me. Kate, who had put by her work, sat looking at me with a 
cheerful happy face.

"Nonsense!" she exclaimed, and perceiving that my eyes fast filled with 
tears, "you are not crying, Daisy?"

"And if I do cry," I hastily replied, "it is only because I am so happy 
to see you again."

She laughed and said--

"Why, child, this is Tuesday, and I saw you on Sunday."

"Well, I did not see you on Monday, did I?"

"Little flatterer!" she answered, yet she looked pleased, for love is to 
us all the sweetest thing on earth.

We remained thus for awhile; then Kate rose to attend to some domestic 
concerns. I wanted to follow her, but she told me to remain with 
Cornelius. I obeyed reluctantly; to be with him and not feel between us 
the friendly familiarity of old times, was no enjoyment, but a painful 
pleasure. I did not go near him, I did not speak; I sat on the chair Kate 
had left, and looked out of the window. He never addressed me; after 
awhile I heard him rise and leave the room. At once I slipped down to 
Kate, whom I found in the kitchen deep in pastry.

"Now child, what brings you here?" she asked, turning round, and all 
covered with flour.

"I want to be with you, Kate."

"I am making a pie."

"Then let me look at you."

"Why did you leave Cornelius?"

"It was he who left the parlour."

She wanted me to go up to the garden; but I begged so hard to remain with 
her, that she at length consented. I left her but once during the whole 
of that day, and then it was to knock at the door of the studio and tell 
Cornelius dinner was ready. When we sat down to the meal, I drew my chair 
close to hers; my old place was by Cornelius, but unless he told me to 
sit there again, which he did not, I did not feel as if I dare do so. He 
scarcely took any notice of me, and immediately after dinner again went 
up to his labour.

"Go after him," suggested Kate.

"I would rather stay here," I replied, startled at the idea.

"Stay then."

We sat together in the parlour until tea-time. Alas! how swiftly seemed 
to come round the hour that was to close this happy day; for, sitting 
below with Kate, conscious that Cornelius was upstairs working, reminded 
of old times by everything I saw, I did feel very happy.

As we sat at tea, Kate suddenly exclaimed, "Why, it is raining hard!"

"Yes, it is," carelessly replied Cornelius.

"Then the child must spend the night here."

"I suppose so."

I threw my arm around the neck of Kate, and kissed her as I joyfully 
exclaimed, "I shall sleep in my room again!"

"Which is no reason for spilling my tea, you foolish little thing."

After tea I quite expected that Cornelius would go out or Miriam come in; 
but he sat reading, and Miss Russell never appeared; her name was not 
even mentioned. I had taken my place by Kate, and, in the joy of my 
heart, I could not refrain from indulging in a few caresses. She endured 
me for some time, but, though kind, she was not exactly affectionate, and 
she at length said good-humouredly but decisively--

"Daisy, my good child, don't hang about me so. I like you, but I might 
say something sharp; so just take that kiss, and do with it."

She said this so pleasantly, and kissed me so kindly as she said it, that 
there was no taking it amiss, nor was there any disobeying it; so I 
sighed, drew back, and kept in my feelings. To Cornelius I never ventured 
to speak, unless to hid him good-night. 



I woke the next morning with the consciousness that my brief happiness 
was over. The day was bright with sunshine; the blue sky had not a sign 
of coming cloud; there was not the faintest hope of a drop of rain to 
delay my departure. I came down with a somewhat heavy heart. Kate was the 
first to broach the subject; breakfast was over, her brother was rising 
from the table; he sat down again as she said, "Cornelius, who is to take 
the child back?"

He looked at her, at me, hesitated a little, then said, "I know all you 
can object, Kate, all you can say beforehand, yet do not wonder when I 
tell you that I have come to the resolve of keeping Daisy at home."

"Here!" exclaimed Kate.

"Yes, here. I went to fetch her yesterday for that purpose. I have 
written to Mr. Thornton; it is all settled. Daisy is to stay here if she 
wishes."

"Cornelius," gravely said Kate, "have you reflected on what you are 
doing?"

"Very seriously; not that it required much reflection."

"Indeed but it did," interrupted his sister.

"Excuse me, Kate, it did not. When I thought it best for Daisy to leave 
us, it was because I also thought that my marriage would take place this 
summer; it is now postponed for at least a year or two. I never 
contemplated banishing Daisy from home for anything like that length of 
time. When I went for her yesterday, I was confirmed in my resolve by 
learning from Mrs. Gray that her health is still very uncertain. I found 
her myself pale and thin. Strangers cannot be supposed to care for her as 
you and I do, Kate. She is still very weak and delicate; her only place 
is home; for," he added, giving me a look of reproach, "_I_ have never 
ceased to consider this as her home."

Kate gave him no direct answer, but, looking at him fixedly, she said, 
"Does Miss Russell know this?"

"No," he replied, looking pained, "she does not, Kate. I see by the 
question that your old suspicion still survives. On my word Miriam had 
nothing to do with making me send away Daisy; she even raised several 
objections to it; she will be truly pleased to learn that the child is 
come back."

Miss O'Reilly looked incredulous, but, glancing out at the window, she 
said, "Here is your letter, Cornelius."

He started up; the postman gave that knock which has moved to joy or 
sorrow so many hearts; a letter was brought in; Cornelius snatched it 
from Deborah, and eagerly broke the seal; it looked long; he was soon 
absorbed.

Kate repressed a sigh to turn to me, and say in her most cheerful 
accents, "What do you say to all this?"

I was standing by her chair; I laid my cheek to hers as I replied, "The 
week will be made up of Sundays."

"Were the Sundays so pleasant?"

"As pleasant as the Saturdays seemed long."

"Well, they need be neither short nor long now; only, child, don't you 
remember?"

"What, Kate?"

"If you hang about me I shall scold."

"Then let me deserve the scolding," I replied, covering her brow and hair 
with kisses, and half laughing, half crying for joy.

She looked at me wistfully, for once letting me do as I liked, and saying 
"she did not feel as if she could scold me to-day."

"Because you are too good," I answered, in a low, moved tone. "Oh, Kate, 
shall I ever forget how you never forgot me; how constantly you came to 
see me Sunday after Sunday!"

Here I stopped short, for I caught the look of Cornelius, who had laid 
down his letter, and was evidently listening. 

"What else had I to do?" asked Kate, cheerfully.

She rose to go downstairs. I wanted to go with her, but she gaily told me 
she no more fancied being followed than being hung about, so I had to 
remain behind, but with the blessed consciousness, it is true, that there 
was to be no second parting. Joy made me restless. I knew not what to do 
with myself. I went to the window; I looked at the flowers, at the books, 
and finally at Cornelius, who, to read his letter more comfortably, was 
sitting on the sofa. I saw that when he had done he began it over again. 
It was a lady's hand; there was no difficulty in guessing from whom it 
came. When the second perusal was over he looked up; as our eyes met I 
came forward rather hesitatingly, and standing before him, I said--

"May I speak to you, Cornelius?"

"Certainly, but do not be too long about it?" 

"It will not take long. I only want to thank you for having brought me 
home to Kate." 

"You thank me for that?"

"Yes, Cornelius, it has made me so happy." 

"I am glad to hear it, though I did not mean it." 

"Did you not?" I replied, rather mortified. 

"No," he continued, in an indifferent tone, "not at all. It is true there 
was once a little girl who used not to be shy and distant with me"--I 
drew a little nearer--"who would not speak to me standing, but sitting by 
my side"--I sat down by him--"and whom I used to call my child," 
continued Cornelius without looking at me; "and it is also true," he 
added in the same way, "that feeling rather dull, I thought one morning I 
would go and bring her home; but if there was any kindness in this, I 
cannot say I meant it all for her or for Kate."

He turned round, smiling as he spoke. I threw my arms around his neck and 
kissed him eagerly. I felt so happy; he laughed.

"Poor Kate!" he said, gaily, "well may she object to being hung on after 
this fashion; but I am used to it."

"If you had not spoken so, you know I should not," I replied, half 
offended.

"No, you sulky little thing," he said almost indignantly, "I know you 
would not: what between obstinacy and pride, you would never give in. But 
you mistook, Daisy, if you thought you could make me fancy you preferred 
Kate to me."

"As if I was not sure you knew better!" I answered, with the frank 
ingratitude of my years.

"Thank you, Daisy," said the somewhat sorrowful voice of Kate.

I looked up. She was standing behind us; she had evidently overheard our 
last words. I felt myself crimsoning with shame, and hid my face on the 
shoulder of Cornelius.

"Don't hide your face, child," quietly observed Kate, "I do not prefer 
you: why should you prefer me? Besides, loving him more is not loving me 
less, and I was not so foolish as not to know it was thus: so look up."

"Yes, look up," said Cornelius, raising my face. "Kate is not vexed with 
you."

"But Kate is vexed with you, Cornelius," she remarked, very gravely: "do 
you mean to spoil that child, to--"

"Yes," interrupted Cornelius.

"Oh! you may make light of it," she continued very seriously; "I am not 
so blind as not to guess that you brought her home a little for her sake, 
and a good deal for your own."

"'Faith, then, you only guess the truth, Kate," said Cornelius, 
impatiently; "it is odd you never seem to understand what, heaven knows, 
I never seek to hide, nor dream to deny. I am fond of the child, very 
fond of her. I cared little for her when she came first to us, but she 
chose to take a fancy to me, and, though it would puzzle me to say how it 
came to pass, I found out in time that I had taken to her what must have 
been a very real fancy, for since she left I have never felt as if the 
house were the same without her. So after a week's hesitation and delay I 
went off and fetched her yesterday--and I don't repent it, Kate. She has 
provoked and tormented me--she will do so again, I have no doubt, 
perverse little creature! and yet I cannot help being glad at having her 
once more."

He laid his hand on my head and looked me kindly in the face as he said 
it.

"After that," resignedly replied Kate, "meddling of mine is worse than 
useless; but what did Mr. Thornton say?"

"Mr. Thornton has had the impertinence to say that if Margaret Burns is 
such a fool as to wish to stay with me, she is welcome."

Kate smiled, and said, "If I wished to go down with her I might."

"Daisy is not going down, but up," replied Cornelius, taking me by the 
hand and leading me to the studio; as we entered it he said--

"Daisy, you knocked at the door yesterday, and stood on the threshold: I 
won't have that again."

"Very well, Cornelius; shall I arrange the portfolios?"

"If you like."

I looked over them for awhile, then could not help observing--

"Cornelius, they look just as I left them."

"Perhaps they are: one cannot be always looking at those old things."

I put by the portfolio and looked around me. In a corner I perceived 
Medora; I knew enough of painting to see at a glance that it had scarcely 
been touched since I had left home. Cornelius was very apt to begin 
pictures, and leave them by for some other fancy: Medora had thus 
replaced the Stolen Child, but I looked in vain for the successor of 
Medora.

"Where is it, Cornelius?" I asked at length.

"Where is what, child?" he replied, turning round.

"The other picture."

"What other picture?"

"The one for which you put by Medora."

I was looking at him very earnestly: I saw him redden.

"There is no other picture," he answered; "I have been obliged to work 
for money; to do such things as this," he added, pointing with a sigh to 
the painting which he was copying.

"Have you earned much money?" I asked seriously.

"A little," he replied smiling.

"Do you think you will sell the Happy Time?"

"I have hopes of it: why do you ask, child?"

"Because by putting all your money together, you will be able to begin 
it."

"Begin what?"

"The picture."

"But, child, there is no picture," he answered impatiently.

I looked at him with astonishment that seemed to embarrass him. I knew 
from Kate that the Happy Time had been received with perfect indifference 
by the public and critics, and that, under such circumstances, Cornelius 
should neither be painting a picture nor yet contemplating one, seemed 
incredible. What ailed his mind, once so full of projects? What had 
become of our gallery? I could not understand it. For some hours I sat 
watching him at his copy, until at length he put it by, saying--

"Thank heaven, it is finished!"

"Are you going to begin another?" I inquired.

"Not to-day; I hope to get some work to-morrow though."

"You hope? do you like it, Cornelius?"

"You know well enough I hate it," he answered with evident irritation; 
"ah! Daisy, when shall I be a free man?"

He looked depressed, but for a moment only; the next he turned to me 
saying--

"Perhaps you would like to go down to Kate?"

"No, Cornelius, I would rather stay and look on at you painting."

"You are very obstinate. I have told you over and over that I am not 
going to paint. Paint! what could I paint?"

"Medora."

"I want Miss Russell, who is at Hastings with her aunt; even if she were 
here, it is ten to one whether she could give me a sitting, the smell of 
the paint gave her such dreadful headaches, that it is a mercy they did 
not end in neuralgia. And now, child, go downstairs or stay here just as 
you like, but do not disturb me any more; I have a letter to write."

He opened his desk and began writing. Once or twice I ventured to speak, 
but he told me so shortly that he could not attend to me, and it was so 
plain that painting was nothing to letter-writing, that I at length 
remained silent. This lasted until dinner-time. After dinner Cornelius 
went to post his letter--an office he never entrusted to profane hands; I 
remained alone with Kate; I could not help speaking to her.

"Does not Cornelius paint any more pictures?" I asked, looking up at her.

"Ah! you have found it out, have you?" she replied, a little bitterly; 
"why, child, he has been losing his time in the most miserable fashion. 
Not that he did not work, poor fellow; he worked himself to death, all to 
get married to her; but she changed her mind; suddenly discovered he was 
too young, that it must be deferred, and, leaving him to enjoy his 
disappointment, went off to Hastings a fortnight ago. He was quite cut up 
for the first week; but he is coming round now, only I fancy he is 
getting rather sick of slop-work, that leads to nothing, not even to 
marriage. As for her, poor thing, if she is gone with the belief that 
Cornelius is the man to sit down and make a woman the aim of his life, 
she will find herself wofully mistaken, I can tell her."

More than this Miss O'Reilly did not say, but everything confirmed her 
words. When Cornelius came in, he said it was a beautiful afternoon, and 
that, if I liked, he would take me for a stroll in the lanes. I felt 
myself reddening for joy; this was, I knew, a great favour, and showed 
that Cornelius must be quite in the mood for petting and indulging me. He 
liked me, but he was not fond of walking out with me; his walks were 
almost always solitary, and extended for miles into the country. I 
therefore replied with a most eager "Yes," and got ready so promptly, 
that in less than ten minutes Cornelius and I were again wandering in the 
lanes hand in hand. When I felt tired we sat down on a fallen tree. I 
enjoyed the blue sky with its light vapoury clouds; the warm, ardent 
sunshine; the sharply defined, though ever-waving shadow of the tall tree 
under whose shelter we rested; the vivid green of the opposite hedge, 
through whose verdure shone the cool white flowers of the bind-weed; the 
rich luxuriant grass that rose from the ditch all straight and still in 
the burning heat of the day; the breeze that now and then passed over and 
through all this little wilderness; the low hum of insects; the song of 
birds from distant parks and gardens; everything charmed--enchanted me, 
but nothing half so much as sitting thus again near Cornelius.

"Daisy," he exclaimed, suddenly perceiving that which had until then 
escaped his attention, "what on earth are you carrying?"

"Your sketch-book, Cornelius; you had forgotten it."

He looked at me as if he attributed to me some secret motive, of which I 
was certainly innocent. I had never known Cornelius to go out without his 
sketch-book, and I dreamt of nothing beyond my words and their simplest 
meaning.

"Did you not want it?" I asked, surprised at his fixed glance.

"No," was the short reply.

"But there is no harm in having brought it; is there, Cornelius?"

"None, save that you have burdened yourself uselessly: give it to me."

"May I not look at it?" 

"You may, but you will find nothing new." 

This was not strictly correct; I at once detected and pointed out to 
Cornelius several sketches new to me, and, though he at first denied it, 
the dates proved me to be in the right.

"You have a good memory," he said, smiling. 

"As if it were likely I should forget any of your drawings or sketches! 
But why is not that last one of the two boys finished? it looks so 
pretty."

"It would have been a nice little thing," he replied, looking at it with 
regret, "and I had bribed them into sitting so quietly, but Miriam said 
they were tired, and insisted on my releasing them. I had lured them into 
the garden. She opened the door, and they scampered off."

"What a shame!" I exclaimed, with a degree of indignation that amused 
Cornelius; but for all that he shut up the sketch-book, which was no more 
opened that day. Our walk over, we came home; the evening, warm and 
summer-like, was pleasantly spent in the garden.

Early on the following morning Cornelius went out to look for the 
promised work. The first thing he did on coming home was to read the 
letter that lay waiting for him on the breakfast-table; when that was 
done he condescended to sit down and eat. Kate asked if he had succeeded 
in accomplishing his errand.

"No, indeed," he replied, with evident irritation. "Mr. Redmond was not 
even at home. I shall have the pleasure of another journey. Oh! Kate, I 
am sick of it!"

He sighed profoundly, then took up his letter, and went upstairs.

"Yes, yes, go and write," muttered Kate as the door closed upon him, 
"lose your time, waste your days, that is just what she wants. Midge, 
will you never leave off that habit of looking and listening? go 
upstairs, only do not talk to Cornelius whilst he is writing, or he will 
fly out: I warn you."

I obeyed. I went up to the studio, entered softly, and closed the door 
very gently: yet Cornelius heard me, for he looked up at once from his 
writing.

"My dear," he said, "there will be neither painting nor drawing to-day."

"Am I in the way, Cornelius?"

"No, but you will have to stay quiet, and when I have done writing I 
shall go to town again."

I accepted the conditions, and obeyed them so scrupulously that I did not 
once open my lips until Cornelius, turning round and looking at me as I 
lay on the couch, asked if I did not feel tired. I replied, I did not 
mind, and was his letter finished?

"I have only a few lines more to add," he answered.

The few lines must have been pages, they took so long to indite. The 
little studio was burning hot; Cornelius was too much absorbed to be 
conscious of this, but I felt faint and drowsy. I drew myself up on the 
couch, laid my head on the cushion, looked at him as he bent with 
unwearied ardour over his desk, then closed my eyes and fell asleep to 
the sound of his pen still zealously running along the paper.

I know not how long I slept; I was partly awakened by a sound of 
whispering voices.

"The dinner will be ruined," said Kate.

"What is a dinner in comparison with a drawing?"

"I don't know--and don't care; a cook has no feelings."

 "Another hour."

"Do you want to make yourself and the child ill?"

"I never know what hunger is whilst I am at work; and how can Daisy feel 
the fasting whilst she sleeps? As soon as she wakens, I leave off."

"Leave off now and finish to-morrow."

"Oh, Kate! is it possible you do not see how very charming that attitude 
is? I should never have hit on anything half so graceful or so 
picturesque. The least movement on her part might spoil it."

"I fancy I saw her stir."

"I hope not," he replied hastily. I heard him approach; he bent over me, 
for I felt his breath on my face, but I kept my eyes closed, and never 
moved. Cornelius turned away, and whispering to his sister that there 
never had been a deeper slumber, he begged of her to leave him. She 
yielded, and I heard him securing himself against further intrusion by 
locking the door, before he returned to his interrupted task.

It was well for me that I had so long been accustomed to sitting, or I 
could not have borne the hour that followed. Even as it was, I felt as if 
Cornelius would never have done. At length he came up to me, took my 
hand, and called me. I opened my eyes, and saw him standing by the couch, 
and smiling down at me.

"Why," he said gaily, "you are as bad as the sleeping beauty."

I did not reply, but rose--he little guessed with how much pleasure. He 
showed me the sketch he had been taking of me, and asked what I thought 
of it. I could not answer; I felt so giddy and faint.

"You are still half asleep," he observed, impatiently, "or you would see 
at once I have not done anything half so good this long time."

He held it out at arm's length, looked at it admiringly, then laid it by, 
and went downstairs. I followed, but kept somewhat in the rear. I feared 
both the keen eyes and the direct questions of Kate. Her first indignant 
words, as we sat down to dinner, were--

"I am astonished, Cornelius, at your cruelty; the poor child is pale with 
fasting."

"Indeed, Kate, I had to waken her."

"Nonsense!"

"Yes, it is peculiar," he quietly replied; "I hope it is not a bad 
symptom."

"A symptom indeed, as if I could believe in it! Why, she has been 
imposing on you; look at her--guilty little thing!"

Cornelius laid down his knife and fork to give me an astonished look.

"Deceitful girl!" exclaimed Kate, quite sharply; "how dare you do such a 
thing--to go and impose on Cornelius!--for shame!"

She lectured me on the text with some severity.

Cornelius never said to me one word of blame or approbation.

"I hope," gravely observed his sister, when the meal was over, "you will 
not let that pass, Cornelius. She must not be encouraged in deceit."

"Certainly not; and I have already devised a punishment. Come here, 
Daisy."

I rose and obeyed.

"Do you know," he said, as I stood before him, "that you have been guilty 
of a very impertinent action--imposed upon me, as Kate says?"

"Don't be too strict, Cornelius," put in Kate, "she meant well."

"I have nothing to do with that: it was an impertinence; consequently, 
instead of the week's holiday I meant to give her, she shall resume her 
studies this very evening, and, lest you should prove too lenient, Kate, 
I shall take care to examine her myself."

I looked at him eagerly; he was smiling. I understood what the punishment 
meant, and drawing nearer, I stooped to embrace him.

"There never was such a girl!" he said, pretending to avert his face; 
"she knows how vexed I am with her, and yet--you see it--she insists on 
kissing me."

"Foolish fellow, foolish fellow!" muttered Kate.

I liked study, and I loved my dear master. I went and fetched a heap of 
books, which I brought to him, breathlessly asking what I was to learn: 
he had only to speak, I was ready; I was in a mood not to be frightened 
at the severe face of Algebra herself. He replied, that we should first 
see where I had left off with him, and how I had got on since then. The 
examination was tedious, but Cornelius warmly declared that it did me 
great credit, and that few girls of my age knew so well what they did 
know. He appointed my tasks for the next day, then rose to go and smoke a 
cigar in the garden, which, seen through the back-parlour window, looked 
cool and grey in evening dusk.

"Did you post your letter?" suddenly asked Kate.

Cornelius looked startled and dismayed; it was plain he had forgotten all 
about it.

"What will she think?" he exclaimed, reddening: "it was the drawing did 
it. How provoking!"

He took two or three turns around the room, then observed cheerfully--

"She will understand and excuse it when I explain the case--eh, Kate?"

"Humph!" was her doubtful reply.

"Yes she will," he confidently rejoined, and went out to smoke his cigar.

I suppose the letter was duly posted on the following day. Cornelius went 
out early and did not return until evening. He had been disappointed in 
obtaining the work he hoped for; he had lost his day in looking for it, 
and came home in all the heat of his indignation.

"I give it up!" he exclaimed a little passionately, after relating his 
disappointment to Kate; "and Mr. Redmond too, the Laban father of an 
unsightly Leah, without even the prospect of a Rachel after the seven 
years' bondage. Better live on bread and water than on the money which 
costs so dear. There is no sweetness in that labour--I hate it--and 
Miriam may say what she likes, there is no life like an artist's!"

"What does she say?" asked Kate, laying down her work, and looking up at 
him.

"Not much, but I can see she thinks like you. I do not blame her or you. 
What have I done to justify confidence? Only a foolish little thing, like 
Daisy, could take me at my word, and have any faith in me."

"What other profession does she wish you to follow?" inquired Kate.

"None; but she thinks me too enthusiastic."

"A man can't be too enthusiastic about his profession," warmly responded 
Kate.

"Indeed then you never said a truer thing."

"If you think it is your vocation to paint pictures, paint pictures with 
all your might."

"Won't I, that's all?" he replied, throwing back his head, and looking as 
if, in vulgar parlance, he longed to be at it.

"Ay, but the means?" emphatically said Kate.

"Have I not got money?"

"Which was to set up Hymen: well, no matter, it is not much, and cannot 
last for ever. What will you do when it is out?"

"Borrow from you, Kitty," he replied, laying his hand on her shoulder 
with a smile; "won't you lend to me?"

"Not a shilling," she answered, looking him full in the face, "unless you 
give me your word of honour not to go back to Laban and Leah."

"'Faith, she is not such a beauty that I cannot keep the vow of 
inconstancy to her," he said, rather saucily, "you have my word, Kate. 
Well, what do you look so grave about?"

"I am thinking, Cornelius, that I am meddling as I never meant to meddle; 
that I am perhaps aiding to delay your marriage."

Her look was bent attentively on his face.

"Not a bit," he promptly replied; "I consider every picture I paint as a 
step taken to the altar. Besides," he philosophically added, "I was only 
twenty-three the other day. There is no time lost."

"They are all alike," indignantly said Kate: "two weeks ago you were half 
mad because your marriage was delayed, now you talk of there being no 
time lost."

"Since I am to wait," coolly replied Cornelius, "I confess the more or 
less does not make so great a difference. I was rather indignant at 
first, but since then I have thanked Miriam."

"You have?" said Kate.

"Indeed I have. It would have spoiled my prospects, and though she did 
not say so, that I am sure was her reason for disappointing me. She shall 
not again complain of my unreasonable impatience. I am quite resolved not 
to think of Hymen until, love apart, a woman may take some pride in me."

"They are all alike, all alike," again said Kate; "love for a bit, 
ambition for life."

Cornelius laughed.

"Miriam would despise me," he observed, "if I could sit down in idleness. 
Besides, love is a feeling, not a task: it may pervade a lifetime; I defy 
it to fill an entire day without something of weariness creeping in. 
There is nothing like work in this world,--nothing, Kate."

"When do you mean to begin?"

"To-morrow, of course."

"What becomes of your letter?"

"I shall write it this evening. And now, Daisy," he added, turning to me, 
"let us see how you have studied."

I brought my books, and the lessons filled--how pleasantly for me!--the 
greater part of the evening, which Cornelius closed, as he said, by 
writing his letter. I was scarcely dressed on the following morning, when 
his voice summoned me from above. I ran up hastily; he was standing on 
the landing, at the door of the studio, evidently waiting for me, and 
evidently too in one of his impatient fits.

"Loiterer!" was his greeting, "after such a sleep as you had yesterday, 
could you not get up earlier?--two hours of broad daylight actually 
gone!"

"Did I know you wanted me, Cornelius?"

"Did I know it myself? Now come in--look here--give me your opinion, your 
candid opinion."

When Cornelius asked for an opinion it was all very well, but when he 
asked for a candid opinion he would never tolerate any save that which he 
himself favoured. He was now in one of his most positive moods, so I 
prepared for submission--an easy task, for I always thought him in the 
right, and whatever my original opinion might have been, I invariably 
came back to his in the end, as to the only true one. He led me to his 
easel, on which I saw the long neglected Stolen Child.

"I had forgotten all about it," said Cornelius, "but finding this morning 
that I could not get on with Medora in the absence of Miriam, I looked 
amongst the old things, whence I fished out this. Now, admitting that it 
will not do for a picture, I think it will at least make an excellent 
study--eh?"

"Yes, Cornelius, a very good study indeed."

"Why not a picture?" he asked, frowning.

"It is not good enough," I replied, confidently.

"You silly little thing, you must have forgotten all about pictures and 
painting, to say so," rather hotly answered Cornelius. "Why a baby could 
tell you I never began anything that promised better. Oh, Daisy! what am 
I to think of your judgment? At all events," he added, softening down, 
"if you are not yet a first-rate critic, you are a first-rate sitter. So 
get ready. You need not mind about your Gipsy attire; all I want is the 
face and attitude."

I looked at the picture, drew back a few steps, and placed myself in the 
old position.

"The very thing," cried Cornelius, delighted. "Oh, Daisy, you are 
invaluable to me."

He began at once, and worked hard until breakfast, during which he could 
speak of nothing but his Stolen Child.

"A much better subject than Medora," he said, decisively; "there has been 
too much of Byron's heroines."

"Do you mean to throw it of one side?" asked Kate.

"Oh no, I hope to have both pictures ready for next year's Academy; 
pressed for time, I shall work all the harder and the better, Kate." 

"Which will you finish first?"

"The Stolen Child."

"Well," said Kate, very quietly, "I have a fancy that it will be Medora."

"How can it? Miriam is away for two months, you know."

"Yes, but I have a fancy the sea-air will not agree with her," continued 
Kate, in the same quiet way. 

Cornelius looked at his sister with a somewhat perplexed air.

"I don't know anything about that," he said, at length; "but I can go on 
with the Stolen Child, and I hope to go on quickly too, Daisy sits so 
well, you know."

"I know she is as bad as you are; look at her swallowing down her tea as 
fast as she can, to be in time."

"She is a good little thing," he replied, patting my neck, "though I 
cannot say she yet thoroughly knows what constitutes a good picture. 
Don't hurry, Daisy; there is plenty of time."

"But I am quite ready," I replied eagerly.

"So am I; let us see who shall be upstairs first."

"Cornelius, how can you be such a boy?" began Kate; I lost the rest, I 
had started up, and was hastening upstairs all out of breath. Cornelius, 
who could have outstripped me with ease, followed with pretended 
eagerness, and laughed at my triumph.

"I was first," I cried from the landing, and flushed and breathless I 
looked round at him, as he stood on the staircase a few steps below me: 
he gave me a pleased and surprised look.

"Why, that child would be quite pretty if she had a colour," he observed 
to himself; "poor little thing!" he added as he came up and stood by me, 
"I wish I could keep that bloom on your little pale face: but it is 
already going--the more's the pity!"

"Indeed," I replied, "it is no pity at all, for the pale face is much the 
best for the picture."

This disinterested sentiment did not in the least surprise Cornelius, who 
was too much devoted to his painting to think anything too good for it, 
or any sacrifice too great. He confessed the pale face would make the 
picture more pathetic, and was not astonished at my preferring it on that 
account.

We remained in the studio nearly the whole day. Kate, who did not seem 
much pleased at this return to our old habits, significantly inquired in 
the evening how much I had learned.

"Nothing." replied Cornelius; "but to make up for it, I will help her; we 
shall study together, so she will learn her lessons and repeat them at 
the same time." 

"That will be tedious, Cornelius." 

"She gives me her days; I may well give her my evenings." 

"And your letter?" 

"I shall sit up."

"Poor fellow!" compassionately said Kate, "what between painting, 
teaching, and love, your hands are full."

 

CHAPTER XIX.

 

For three months and more, Cornelius had neglected painting; he now 
returned to it with tenfold ardour. I have often, since then, wondered at 
the strange mistake Miriam committed in leaving him, and thinking she had 
weaned him from his art; his passion for it was a part of his nature, and 
not to be taken up or laid down at will.

She was as much deceived with regard to me. Cornelius was too fond of me 
in his heart, to give me up so readily as she had imagined. He liked me, 
but besides this I think he also felt unwilling to lose my deep and 
ardent love for himself. He knew better than any one its force and 
sincerity, and it is dangerously sweet to tenderness, pride, and self-
love, to be master of another creature's heart, as he was of mine. It was 
when I had least chance of winning him back, when I was removed from his 
sight, when he appeared to neglect me, when he might be supposed to have 
forgotten me, and he seemed no longer called upon to trouble himself with 
me, that he humbled his pride before my grandfather, to obtain again the 
child he had slighted. I doubt if anything ever cost him more; I know 
that this proof of faithful affection effaced every past unkindness.

It was thus, when Miriam no doubt thought my day over, that unexpectedly, 
and as the most natural tiling, he fetched and brought me home. His 
temper, though yielding and easy in appearance, was in reality most 
obstinate and pertinacious. He seemed to give in, but he ever came back 
to his old feeling or opinion, and that too with an unconsciousness of 
his offence which must have been most irritating. In spite of the hints 
of Kate, I am sure he had not the faintest suspicion that, in devoting 
himself to painting or in bringing me home, he had done that which could 
annoy Miriam. Her letters, of course, expressed nothing but approbation 
of the changes that had taken place in her absence. In order, I suppose, 
to breed in me a kindly feeling towards his mistress, Cornelius took care 
to read to me every passage in which I was mentioned as "the dear child," 
and all such sentiments as "I am charmed to think dear little Daisy is 
again with you," etc.

In one sense, this was useless; in the other it was unnecessary. It was 
useless, because my feelings towards Miss Russell could not change on 
account of a few kind words in which I had no faith. It was unnecessary, 
because not hatred, but jealousy, was what I felt against her; nothing 
could and did mollify me so much as her absence. So long as she stayed 
away, I did not envy her in the least the acknowledged preference of 
Cornelius. Every evening when he sat down to write, I brought him of my 
own accord pen, ink, and paper, and in the morning I ran unbidden to 
fetch him his letter. I could even, when I saw him read it with evident 
delight, participate in his pleasure, little as I loved her from whom it 
came. My love was very ardent, but it was very pure; from my dawning 
youth it caught perhaps something of passion, but it also kept all the 
innocence of my childhood, scarcely left behind.

Cornelius, I believe, felt this, and as there is nothing more delightful 
than to inspire or feel a pure affection, I can now understand why he 
found a charm which Kate could not feel, in yielding to this. Often in 
our moments of relaxation when I sat by him on the couch, he would turn 
to me with a smile, and, stooping, leave on my brow a kiss as innocent as 
it was light, feeling, perhaps,--what I never felt, for I never thought 
of it--that he was now receiving the purest affection he could ever hope 
to inspire, and feeling the most disinterested tenderness he ever could 
hope to feel for child or maiden not of his blood. I was growing older, 
more able to understand him, more fit to be his companion, and this might 
be the reason that he now became more kind and friendly than ever he had 
been. Nothing could exceed his care of me: absorbed in his picture though 
he might seem, he was quick to detect in me the least sign of weariness, 
and imperative in exacting the rest I was loath to take. For the sate of 
the air he made me go down to the garden and often accompanied me.

I remember well one August afternoon, warm and breezy, when sitting 
together on the bench that stood by the porch, we looked from within the 
cool shadow of the house and through the air quivering with heat, on the 
ardent sunshine that seemed to vivify every object on which it touched. 
The garden flowers around us had that vivid brilliancy of hue of which 
the shade deprives them, to lend them, it is true, a more pensive grace; 
even the old sun-dial wore a gay look, and seemed to mark the hour as if 
it cared not for the passing of time. Every glittering leaf of the two 
poplars lightly trembled and appeared instinct with being; the garden-
door stood open, and gave a bright though narrow glimpse of the lane, 
with its yellow path, its low green hedge, and beyond it a blue line of 
horizon. There was no scenery, no landscape, scarcely even that 
picturesque grace which every-day objects sometimes wear, but with that 
warm sunshine, that dazzling light and air so transparently clear, none 
could look and say that there was not beauty. For if Summer possesses not 
the green hope of Spring, the brown, meditative loveliness of Autumn, it 
has a glow, a fullness, a superabundance of life quite its own. Earth is 
truly living and animate then; she and the sun have it all their way, and 
seem to rejoice--he in his power and strength--she in her life and 
beauty.

"'Faith, this is pleasant!" observed Cornelius, throwing himself back on 
the bench, "a summer's day never can be too hot or too long--eh, Daisy?"

"I suppose not, Cornelius, but I hope it is not for me you are staying 
here, because I am quite rested."

"So you want me to go up and work."

"You know, Cornelius, you often say there is nothing like painting 
pictures."

"No more there is; and you must learn and paint pictures too. Well, you 
do not look transported."

Nor was I. My few attempts at drawing had convinced me that Nature had 
not intended me to shine in Art.

"What do I want to paint pictures for?" I asked. "You do; that is 
enough."

"But to be my pupil?"

"Yes, that would be pleasant."

"To work in the same studio; have an easel--"

"Near yours. Yes, Cornelius, I should like that."

"Yes," said a very sweet, but very cold voice, "the artist is loved 
better than his art."

We both looked up to the back-parlour window above us, whence the voice 
proceeded. Miriam was standing there in the half-shadow of the room; her 
fair head was bare; her cashmere scarf fell back from her graceful 
shoulders; one hand held the light lace bonnet which she had taken off, 
the other, ungloved and as transparently fair as alabaster, rested on the 
dark iron bar of the balcony. She looked down at us, smiling from above, 
calm, like a beautiful image in her frame. Cornelius looked up, gave a 
short joyous laugh, and lightly bounding over the three stone steps, he 
vanished under the ivied porch, and was by her side in a minute.

"Oh!" he exclaimed, and the very sound of his voice betrayed his delight, 
"I did not expect you for weeks yet."

"My aunt is still at Hastings; but I was obliged to leave, the air made 
me so unwell."

"And you never told me."

"Why alarm you?"

I waited to hear no more I had seen Cornelius leading her away from the 
window into the back part of the room, and Miriam with a half-smile 
yielding. I had no wish to be a check upon them, so I rose and slipped 
upstairs to the studio.

I sat down on the couch, trembling with emotion. She was come back, and 
with her, alas! as the evil train of some dark sorceress, came back all 
my old feelings. The very sound of her voice had roused them every one. I 
heard them and listened with terror, for, taught by bitter experience, I 
knew that, evil in themselves, they could work me nothing but evil. I 
remembered with a sickening heart all the bitterness which had been 
raised between Cornelius and me,--his angry looks, his chiding, our 
separation. I remembered also his goodness in bringing me back, his 
generosity in asking me for no promise of amendment, but in trusting to 
my good feeling and good sense, and throwing myself on God, as on Him who 
alone could assist me in this extremity of human weakness, I felt rather 
than uttered a passionate prayer for aid,--a cry for strength to resist 
temptation.

I had not long been in the studio, when the door opened and the lovers 
entered. I believe Cornelius was a little apprehensive as to how I might 
behave to Miriam, for rather hurriedly leading her to the easel, "See how 
hard I have been working," he said: "in the absence of Medora, I took to 
the Gipsy Family."

"You mean to the Stolen Child: where is she?"

"Here I am, Miss Russell." I replied in a low tone.

I was now standing by her, and as I spoke I slipped my hand into hers. 
She started as if some noxious insect had touched her; but as Cornelius 
had seen this action of mine, she smiled and said--

"Do you really give me your hand? The next thing will be a kiss, I 
suppose."

I thought she was asking me to kiss her. I conquered my repugnance, and 
raised my face; she hesitated, then stooped, but her lips never touched 
my cheek.

"Daisy and I are quite friends now, you see," she observed, turning to 
Cornelius.

"Yes, I see," he replied, looking charmed.

"I always told you these childish feelings would pass away," she 
continued, laying her hand on my head.

He smiled in her face, a happy, admiring smile.

"Resume your work," she said, sitting down; "Miss O'Reilly has asked me 
to spend the day."

"But not here, Miriam; think of the smell of the paint."

"I do not feel it yet, so pray go on with that Stolen Child. What 
wonderful sweetness and pathos you have put in her face!"

"Do you think so? I mean, do you really think so?" cried Cornelius quite 
delighted; "well, Daisy has a very sweet face, I mean in expression, and 
to tell you the truth," he added in the simplicity of his heart, "I have 
done my best to improve it; I am glad you noticed that."

"Then resume your work; you know I like to look on."

He said, "Not yet," and as he sat down by her with the evident intention 
of lingering away a few hours, I left them. I was neither detained nor 
recalled.

I behaved with sufficient fortitude. Unbidden, I gave up to Miriam my 
place at table, and in the evening, of my own accord, I went to Kate for 
my lessons, whilst Cornelius and his betrothed walked up and down in the 
garden. I saw him once more engrossed with her, and, whatever I felt, I 
betrayed no sign of pettish jealousy. When she left us, I was the first 
to bid her good-night. Cornelius, without knowing how much these trifles 
cost me, looked pleased and approving. He also looked--but with this I 
had nothing to do--very happy.

Miriam had left us, and previous to going to bed we sat all three in the 
parlour by the open window, through which fell on the floor a soft streak 
of pale moonlight; I had silently resumed my place by Cornelius, who had 
laid his hand caressingly on my head, when Kate suddenly observed--

"You see the sea-air did not agree with Miss Russell."

"True, and yet she looks so well; more beautiful than ever."

"I suppose you will be able to get on with Medora."

"Not if the paint continues to affect Miriam."

"Perhaps it will not," quietly answered Kate; "it did not give her those 
dreadful nervous headaches before Daisy went to Miss Clapperton's; she 
does not seem to have suffered today; ay, ay, Medora will soon be on the 
easel."

"I don't want her to be," rather hastily replied Cornelius, "I want to go 
on with my Stolen Child. I was looking at Medora the other day, and, 
spite of all the labour it cost me, I found something unnatural about 
it."

"Well, I cannot agree with you there," replied Kate; "I think the way in 
which Medora's look seems to pierce the horizon for the faintest sign of 
her lover's ship, is painfully natural."

Cornelius did not answer. There was a change in his face--of what nature 
no one perhaps could have told; but he suddenly turned to me and said--

"Why did you not bring your books to me this evening? Mind, I will not 
have more infidelities of that nature."

He laughed, but the jest was forced; the laugh was not real. He looked 
like one who vainly seeks to brave the sting of some secret pain, and as 
I sat by him he bent on me a dreary, vacant look, that saw me not; but in 
a few minutes, almost a few seconds, he was himself again.

"No," he observed in his usual tone, "the other picture is much the best, 
and with it I must now go on."

In that opinion and decision Miriam fully concurred. Every day she came 
up to the studio for awhile, and she never left without having admired 
the Stolen Child, and, though very gently, depreciated Medora. One day in 
the week that followed her return, as she stood behind Cornelius looking 
at him painting, she was more than usually eloquent.

"There is so much thought, sadness, and poetry about that figure," she 
said,--"it expresses so well civilized intelligence captive amongst those 
half-savage Gipsies, that I never look at it without a new feeling of 
admiration."

I detected the ill-repressed smile of proud pleasure which lit up the 
whole countenance of Cornelius, but he carelessly replied--

"I am glad you think so."

Miriam continued.

"The difference between this and Medora is even to me quite astonishing."

Cornelius reddened; she resumed--

"One is as earnest as the other is indifferent."

"Indifferent!" he interrupted; "well, you know I do not think so highly 
of Medora as of this; yet Kate, who is no partial judge, confesses that 
there is earnestness in the look and attitude of the figure."

"Yes, but rather cold, that is to say, calm," quietly replied Miriam; "do 
you not yourself think so?"

He said, "Yes," and smiled a somewhat forced abstracted smile, continued 
his work for some time without speaking, then suddenly leaving it by, he 
went and fetched Medora.

"Come, where is that great difference?" he asked resolutely.

"I feel it," was her quiet answer.

He looked at her, and, without insisting, put away the painting.

The matter seemed dismissed from his mind, but the next morning, when I 
went up to the studio a little after breakfast, I found Medora on the 
easel and Cornelius looking at it intently. Without turning to me, he 
called me to his side.

"Now Daisy," he said, laying his hand on my shoulder, "tell me frankly, 
candidly, if you think Medora so very inferior to the other one."

"No, indeed, Cornelius," I replied eagerly.

"She is always abusing it." he continued in an annoyed tone; "yesterday 
evening in the garden she hoped I would not think of finishing and 
exhibiting it."

"What a shame!" I exclaimed indignantly.

"No, my dear; Miriam does well to give me her candid opinion; I hope it 
is what you will always do."

"But, Cornelius," I ventured to object, "do you think Miss Russell knows 
much about painting?"

"To tell you the truth," confidently answered Cornelius, "I do not think 
she does. She has natural taste, but no experience. Now you," he added, 
turning to me with a smile, "you, my pet, though such a child, know of 
painting about ten times as much as she does, and, although it would not 
do to say so to her, I could trust to your opinion ten times sooner than 
to hers."

I was foolish enough to be pleased with this. 

"I hope," continued Cornelius, "to be able to improve her taste; in the 
meanwhile, I think, like you, Daisy, that Medora is almost equal to the 
Stolen Child."

I had never said anything of the kind, but Cornelius was evidently 
convinced I had, and I knew not how to set him right.

"Yes," he resumed, looking at the picture, "it improves as you look at 
it. That little bit of rock-work in the foreground is not amiss, is it, 
Daisy?"

"It is just like the rocks at Leigh," I replied.

"Is it though?" exclaimed Cornelius, chucking my chin, a sign of great 
pleasure, "I am glad of it; not that I care about the rocks, not a pin; 
but it is always satisfactory to know that one is true to nature, even in 
minor points. And so there were some like them at Leigh! Well, no matter; 
I gave of course my chief attention to the figure, and that I think is 
pretty well." 

He looked me in the face with the simplicity of a child; listened to my 
enthusiastic praise with evident gratification, and, with great 
_na?vet?_, confessed "that was just his own opinion." We were interrupted 
by the unexpected entrance of Miriam, who came earlier than usual.

"There!" triumphantly exclaimed Cornelius, "the case is decided against 
you; I have appealed to Daisy, and like me she does not see so very great 
a difference between Medora and the Stolen Child."

"Does she not?" carelessly replied Miriam, as she sat down without 
looking at the picture.

"I see what it is," he said in a piqued tone, "you think I have not done 
you justice."

"Nothing of the kind," she answered smiling.

"Ah! if I did not fear to injure your health," reproachfully continued 
Cornelius, "I would soon show you that Medora could be made not quite 
unworthy of Miriam."

"But really," she replied in her indolent way, "I only said it was a 
little calm."

"Cold, Miriam. Ah! if you would only give me as a sitting the hour you 
spend here daily, how soon I could improve that cold Medora."

She flatly refused; she could not think of letting him lay by his Stolen 
Child, that promised so well for so inferior a production as Medora. It 
was only after half an hours hard begging and praying, that Cornelius at 
length obtained her consent. He set to work that very instant,--she sat 
not one hour, but two; I looked on with the vague presentiment that 
Cornelius and I were very simple.

Of course, though not at once, the Stolen Child was again laid aside for 
Medora. Cornelius said it made no difference, since he could finish the 
two pictures with ease for the ensuing year's Exhibition. Kate made no 
comment, but quietly asked if the smell of the paint had ceased to affect 
Miss Russell.

"Oh dear, yes, quite," replied her brother with great candour.

Cornelius was both good and great enough to afford a few unheroic 
weaknesses, such as paternal fondness for his pictures, and too generous 
a trust in the woman he loved, for him to suspect her of seeking to 
influence him by unworthy arts. I believe it was this simple and 
ingenuous disposition that made him be so much loved, and rendered those 
who loved him so lenient to his faults. He had his share of human 
frailties, but he yielded to them so naturally, that he never seemed 
degraded as are the would-be angels in their fall. Even then, and though 
youth is prompt and severe to judge those whom it sees imposed upon, I 
never could respect Cornelius less, for knowing him to be deceived.

My old life now began anew in many of its trials, though not perhaps in 
all its bitterness. Miriam tried to deprive me of the teaching of 
Cornelius, and he, without even suspecting her intention, resisted it 
with the most provoking simplicity and unconsciousness. In vain she came 
in evening after evening as we sat down to the lessons, spoke to him, or 
disturbed me with her fixed look; the studies were not interrupted. One 
evening, as we sat by the open window of the front parlour, engaged as 
usual, Miriam, who had sat listening to us with great patience, observed, 
a little after Kate had left the room--

"How good and kind of you, Cornelius, to teach that child so devotedly! 
Many men would disdain the task, you know."

"Think it foolish, perhaps?" he suggested.

"I fear they would."

"What fools they must be, Miriam!" he replied, smiling in her face.

"You are wise to put yourself above their opinion."

"As if I thought of their opinion!" he answered gaily. "Come, Daisy, 
parse me this: 'A certain great, unknown artist, once had a little girl. 
He was not ashamed to unbend his mighty mind by teaching her every 
evening. On one occasion, it is said, he actually disgraced himself so 
far as to kiss her.'"

I was listening with upraised face. I got the kiss before I knew what he 
meant. But I was not going to be discomposed by such a trifle, and I 
parsed as if nothing had occurred.

"Isn't she cool?" he said, turning to Miriam.

"She improves wonderfully," replied his betrothed.

"Does she not?" exclaimed Cornelius, who took a very innocent vanity in 
my progress; "I am quite proud of my pupil; and I have a system of my 
own--did you notice?"

"Oh yes, in the parsing."

"I don't mean that," he answered, reddening a little; "I mean a general 
system, a method,--the want of all education, you know."

"Yes, very true."

"Well," continued Cornelius, looking at me thoughtfully, and laying his 
hand on my head as he spoke; "I think that, thanks to this method, I 
shall, four or five years hence, be able to boast that I have helped to 
form the mind and character of an intellectual, sensible, and 
accomplished girl."

"Four or five years hence!" sighed Miriam.

Cornelius perhaps remembered the threat of death suspended over my whole 
youth, for he observed uneasily--

"Yes--I trust--I hope--Daisy, you must not learn so much!"

He drew me nearer to him with a look and motion kinder than a caress, 
then said to Miriam--

"She looks pale."

"It is only excitement; she is so anxious to please you. When she is near 
committing a mistake, she is quite agitated, poor child!"

Miriam had struck the right chord at last. There was some truth in what 
she said. My desire to please Cornelius did agitate me a little, and this 
he knew.

"She must go back to Kate," he hastily observed; "I won't have her so 
pale as that; and she must not study so much," he added, with increased 
anxiety, "she can always make up for lost time."

In vain I endeavoured to keep my teacher, he was resolute; it was some 
comfort that the change sprang from no unkindness, and had been effected 
only by working on his affection for me. But even that change, such as it 
was, did not last for more than a week. One evening, after listening to 
Kate and me with evident impatience, Cornelius swept away the books from 
before her, sat down between us, and, informing his sister that her 
method was no good, he announced his intention of taking me once more 
under his own exclusive care.

"My method is as good as any," tartly replied Kate, "but the pupil who 
frets for her first teacher cannot make much progress under the second."

"Have you been fretting, Daisy?" asked Cornelius.

I could not deny it; he smiled and caressed me. 

"If it were any use remonstrating," said Kate, who looked half pleased, 
half dissatisfied, "I should tell you, Cornelius, that you are very 
foolish; not to lose time, I simply say this--you have taken Daisy from 
me a second time, you may keep her."

"I mean it," he answered gaily.

At once he resumed his office. We had scarcely begun when Miriam entered. 
She came almost every evening, for as her aunt was still at Hastings, 
Cornelius never visited her. From the door I saw her look at us, as we 
sat at the table, his arm on the back of my chair, his bent face close to 
mine, with a mute, expressive glance.

"Yes," said Cornelius, smiling, as he smoothed my hair, "I have got my 
pupil back again. The remedy was found worse than the disease."

Miriam smiled too. She gave up the point and attempted no more to deprive 
me of my teacher, but I had to pay dear in the daytime for what I 
received in the evening.

Whilst she sat for Medora, I studied or sewed. She said little to me, but 
every word bore its sting. Cornelius never detected the irony that lurked 
beneath the seeming praise and apparent kindness. She tormented me with 
impunity. There were so many points in which she could irritate my secret 
wound; for I was still intensely jealous of her, and though Cornelius and 
Kate thought me cured, she knew better.

But suffering gives premature wisdom.

I had entered my fourteenth year--I was no longer quite a child. When she 
made me feel, as she did almost daily, that I was plain, sallow, and 
sickly, my vanity smarted, but I reflected that Cornelius liked me in 
spite of these disadvantages, and I bore the insult silently; when 
however she made me see that Cornelius was devoted to her, that my place 
in his heart was as far removed from hers, as she was above me in years, 
beauty, and many gifts, I could scarcely bear it. That it should be so 
was bad enough, but to be taunted with it by the intruder who had come 
between him and me, wakened within me every emotion of anger and jealous 
grief; yet I had sufficient power over myself to control the outward 
manifestations of these feelings. Taught by the past, I mistrusted her. 
Weeks elapsed, and she could not make me fall into my old errors, or 
betray me into any outbreak of temper. But alas! even whilst I governed 
myself externally, I sought not to rule my heart, which daily grew more 
embittered against her. To this, and this only, I recognize it--I owed 
what happened. But before proceeding further, I cannot help recording a 
little incident which surprised me then, and which, when I look back on 
those times, still gives me food for thought.

The blind nurse of Miriam had returned with her from Hastings. I believe 
Miss Russell never moved without this old woman, to whom she was 
devotedly kind: she humoured her as she would have humoured a child, and, 
amongst other things, indulged her in the homely fashion of sitting at 
the front door of the house, in the narrow strip of garden that divided 
it from the Grove. It had been a favourite habit of hers to sit thus 
years back at the door of her cottage home; sightless though she was, she 
liked to sit so still; in the absence of old Miss Russell she did so 
freely. We too had a little front garden, divided from that of our 
neighbours by a low trellis. I was seldom in it, unless to water the few 
flowers it contained. I was thus engaged one calm evening, when the old 
woman sat alone at her door. She was wrinkled and aged; yet she had a 
happy, childish face, as if in feelings as well as in years she had 
gently returned to a second infancy. I noticed that as I moved about she 
bent her head and listened attentively.

"Do you want anything?" I asked, going up to the partition near which she 
sat.

Her face brightened; she stretched out her hand, felt me, and smiled.

"You are the little girl," she said eagerly.

"Yes," I replied, "I am."

"Is my blessed young lady with you?"

"Miss Russell is in our garden with Cornelius."

"I shall never see him," she sighed, "but I like his voice; he is very 
handsome, isn't he?"

"Kate says so, but I don't know anything about it."

"Is he kind to you?"

"He is very good to me and every one."

"That's right;" she said eagerly; "better goodness than gold any day."

"Cornelius will have gold too," I observed, piqued that he should be 
thought poor; "he will earn a great deal of money and will be quite 
rich."

The old woman looked delighted and astonished.

"I always said my blessed young lady would make a grand match," she said; 
"and so he is to be rich! God bless the good young gentleman!"

"He will be quite a great man," I resumed, "a Knight perhaps, or a 
Baronet."

She raised her hands.

"Ah well!" she sighed, after brooding for a few moments over my words, 
"he will have a blessed young lady for his wife, as good as she's 
handsome; and," she added, turning towards me her sightless eyes and 
gently laying her hand on my head, "and happy's the little girl that'll 
be with my dear young lady."

 

CHAPTER XX.

 

Matters had gone on thus for about a month, when Cornelius sold his Happy 
Time. Kate made him promise not to be extravagant; the only act of folly 
of which he rendered himself guilty was not a very expensive one.

One morning, when Miriam came to the studio, to sit as usual, Cornelius 
produced a pair of morocco cases; each contained a silver filagree 
bracelet: he asked her to choose one, and accept it. She was sitting in 
the attire and attitude of Medora; he stood by her, his present in his 
hand.

"Must I really choose?" she said. "What will Miss O'Reilly say?"

"Oh! the other is not for Kate, but for Daisy," he quietly answered.

I saw a scarcely perceptible change on her face, but she abstained from 
comment, gave an indifferent look to the two bracelets, and chose one, 
saying briefly--

"That one."

Cornelius placed the rejected bracelet on the table before me, with a 
careless--

"There, my dear, that is for you."

Then, without heeding my thanks, he devoted all his attention to the 
delightful task of fastening on the beautiful wrist of his mistress the 
bracelet she had accepted. He was a long time about it. The clasp, he 
said, was not good: she allowed him to do and undo it as often as he 
pleased. When he had at length succeeded, she looked down at her arm and 
said, indolently, "How very pretty it is!"

"The hand, or the bracelet?" he asked, smiling.

"The bracelet, of course."

"Do you really think so?" he exclaimed, looking much pleased; "I was 
afraid you did not like it: it is of little value, you know."

"It is very pretty," she said again.

"Do you like jewelry?" he inquired, eagerly.

"In a general way, no."

He looked disappointed.

"Why don't you like diamonds, pearls, and rubies?" he observed, with 
smiling reproach, "that I might have the pleasure of thinking--cannot 
give them to her now, but I shall earn them for her some day."

"Yes, it is a pity," she replied, with gentle irony, "but I have a 
quarrel with you: why have you forgotten your sister?"

"Forgotten Kate! she never wears jewels, Miriam."

She did not reply. He remained by her awhile longer, then set to work.

It was very kind of Cornelius to have made me this present, and yet it 
only irritated the secret jealousy it was meant to soothe. He had given 
the two bracelets so differently. They were of equal value, perhaps of 
equal beauty; but she had had the choice of the two; the rejected one had 
been for me. He had scarcely placed mine before me, and fastened hers on 
himself with lingering tenderness. He had carelessly heard or heeded my 
murmured thanks; she had not thanked him, yet he had looked charmed 
because she negligently approved his gift. In short, in the very thing 
which he had intended to please me, Cornelius had unconsciously betrayed 
the strong and natural preference that was my sole, my only true torment. 
His gift had lost its grace. I put on the bracelet, looked at it on my 
arm, then put it away again in its case, and read whilst she sat and he 
painted.

Towards noon she left us for an hour. Cornelius followed her out on the 
landing; he had left the door ajar, and, involuntarily. I overheard the 
close of their whispered conference. It referred to me. Cornelius was 
asking if I did not look very pale. I had been rather poorly of late, and 
he was kindly anxious about me.

"To me she looks the same as usual," quietly answered Miriam: "she always 
is sallow, and being so plain makes her look ill."

"Why, that is true," replied Cornelius, seemingly comforted by this 
reasoning.

What more they said I heard not; my blood flowed like fire. I was plain, 
I knew it well enough, but was he, of all others, to be told of it daily, 
until at length I heard it, an acknowledged fact falling from his lips? 
Was it something so unusual to be plain? Was I the first plain girl there 
had ever been? Should I leave none of the race after me? I felt the more 
exasperated that the tone of Miriam's voice told me she had not meant to 
be overheard by me. She had not spoken to taunt me: she had simply stated 
a fact that could not, it seemed, be disputed. Such reflections are 
pleasant at no age, but in youth, with its want of independence, of self-
reliance, with its sensitive and fastidious self-love, they are 
insupportable.

Cornelius, unconscious of the storm that was brooding within me, had re-
entered the studio and resumed his work. He seemed in a mood as pleased 
and happy as mine was bitter and discontented. He worked for some time in 
total silence, then suddenly called me to his side. I left the table, 
went up to him and stood by him with my book in my hand, waiting for what 
he had to say. He laid his hand on my shoulder, and, with his eyes 
intently fixed on Medora, "How is it getting on?" he asked.

"It will soon be finished, Cornelius," I replied, and I wanted to go back 
to my place, but he detained me.

"You need not be in such a hurry. Look at that face--is it not 
beautiful?"

He could not have put a more unfortunate question. He looked at the 
picture, but I knew he thought of the woman. I did not answer. He turned 
round, surprised at my silence.

"Don't you think it beautiful?" he asked incredulously.

"No, Cornelius, I do not," I answered, going back to my place as I spoke.

I only spoke as I thought; I had long ceased to think Miss Russell 
handsome. Cornelius became scarlet, and said, rather indignantly, "It 
would be more frank to say you dislike her, Daisy."

"I never said I liked her," I answered, stung at this reproach of 
insincerity, when my great fault was being too sincere.

I said this, though I fully expected it would make him very angry, but he 
only looked down at me with a smile of pity.

"So you are still jealous," he observed quietly; "poor child! if you knew 
how foolish, how ridiculous such jealousy seems to those who see it!"

I would rather Cornelius had struck me than that he had said this; I 
could not bear it, and burying my face in my hands, I burst into tears. 
He composedly resumed his work, and said in his calmest tones--

"If I were you, Daisy, I would not cry in that pettish way, but I would 
give up a foolish feeling, and try and mend. Think of it, my poor child; 
it is an awful thing to hate."

My tears ceased; I looked up, and for once I turned round and retaliated 
the accusation.

"Cornelius," I said, "I do not hate Miss Russell half as much as she 
hates me."

"She hate you!" he exclaimed, with indignant pity, "poor child!"

"And if she does not hate me," I cried, giving free vent to the gathered 
resentment of weeks and months,--"if she does not hate me, Cornelius, why 
was she so glad when she thought me disfigured with the small-pox, that 
she should come up to look at me? Why did she give me a dress in which I 
looked so ill, that you know Kate has never allowed me to wear it? Why 
did she make you send me to school? Why did she come back from Hastings 
and make you leave by the Stolen Child? Why did she want you to 
discontinue teaching me? Why is there never a day but she reminds you 
that I am sickly, plain, and sallow?"

I rose as I enumerated my wrongs; Cornelius looked at me like one utterly 
confounded.

"You say I am jealous of her," I continued, gazing at him through 
gathering tears; "I am, Cornelius, but I am not half so jealous as she 
is, and yet I love you twice as well as she does. For your sake I would 
not vex her, and she does all she can to make mc wretched. I could bear 
your liking her much and me a little; but if she could she would not let 
you like me at all. If you say a kind word to me or kiss me, she looks as 
if it made her sick; she hates me, Cornelius, she hates me with her whole 
heart." Tears choked my utterance. Cornelius sighed profoundly. 

"Poor child," he said, with a look of great pity, "how can you labour 
under such strange delusions?"

I looked at him; he did not seem angry, very far from it. Alas! it was 
but too plain; every word I had uttered had passed for the ravings of an 
insane jealousy. Cornelius sat down and called me to his side.

"Come here," he said kindly, "and let us reason together."

"If you knew." he continued taking both my hands in his, "how thoroughly 
blind you are, you would regret speaking thus. How can you imagine that 
Miriam, who is so good, so kind, should--hate you? Promise me that you 
will dismiss the idea."

"I cannot--I know better--there is not a day but she torments me."

"Poor child! you are your own tormentor. She torment you! look at that 
beautiful face, and ask yourself, is it possible?"

"Beautiful!" I echoed, "I don't think she is beautiful, Cornelius."

"Yes, I know," he composedly replied, "but that is because you don't like 
her."

"No more I do," I exclaimed passionately, "nor anything of or about her: 
no--not even your picture, Cornelius!"

He dropped my hands; rose and looked down at me, flushed and angry.

"You need not tell me that," he said indignantly, "the look of aversion 
and hate you have just cast at that picture, shows sufficiently that 
though the power to do the original some evil and injury may be wanting, 
the will is not."

He turned away from me, then came back.

"But remember this," he said severely, and laying his hand on my shoulder 
as he spoke, "that though you have presumed to reveal to me a feeling of 
which you should blush to acknowledge the existence, I will not allow 
that feeling to betray itself in any manner, however slight. Do you 
hear?"

"Yes, Cornelius," I replied, stung at the unmerited accusation and 
uncalled-for prohibition; "but if I am so wicked, can you prevent me from 
showing it?"

I did not mean that I would show it; but he took my words in their worst 
sense, for his eyes lit as he answered--

"I shall see if I cannot prevent it."

I was too proud and too much hurt to enter on a justification. I left the 
room; at the door I met Miriam, who gave me a covert look as she entered 
the studio. I went to my room and remained there until dinner-time. 
Cornelius took no notice of me; Miriam, who often dined with us, was, on 
the other hand, very kind and attentive. I saw she had got it all out 
from him. Kate behaved like one who knew and suspected nothing; admired 
the bracelets, and seeing that I wanted to linger with her in the parlour 
after the two had left it, she gaily told me to be off, for that she 
wanted none of my company, as she was going out. I obeyed so far as 
leaving the parlour went, but I did not enter the studio. I took refuge 
in my own room, there to lament my sin and imprudence. I knew well enough 
how wrong were the feelings I had expressed to Cornelius, and better 
still how a few passionate words had undone a month's patience and silent 
endurance. I stayed in my room until dusk; as daylight waned, I heard 
Miriam leave and go down. I waited for awhile, then softly stole up to 
the studio. I entered it with a beating heart, thinking to make my peace 
with Cornelius. The room was vacant. I sat down by the table, hoping he 
might return, but he did not. I lingered there, that if he called me down 
to tea, he might thus give me an opportunity of speaking to him. He did 
call me, but from the first floor.

"What are you doing in the studio?" he asked, rather sharply when I went 
down.

"I went up to speak to you, Cornelius."

"And you therefore looked for me in a place where I never am at this 
hour! Say you went up there to indulge in a fit of sulkiness, and do not 
equivocate."

I could not answer, I was too much hurt by his unkind tone and manner. Of 
course I ventured no attempt at reconciliation.

It was Miriam who made the tea.

The meal was silent and soon over. The lovers went out in the garden. I 
remained alone. Ere long Deborah looked in.

"I am going out, Miss," she said, "is there anything wanted?"

I replied that she had better ask her master.

The back-parlour door and window stood open. I heard her question and his 
answer, "Nothing;" then she left, and I saw her go down the Grove.

It was getting quite dark, yet Cornelius and Miriam lingered out 
together. I fancied they were taking a walk in the lanes; but on going to 
the back-parlour window, I saw them both standing by the sun-dial. The 
moon shone full upon them, on her especially; and even I, seeing her 
thus, was bitterly obliged to confess the beauty I had vainly denied in 
the morning. She still wore the white robe of Medora, and, standing by 
the sun-dial with her magnificent bare arm resting upon it, she looked 
like a beautiful statue of repose and silence.

Cornelius stood by her, holding her other hand clasped in his, but silent 
too. "You have lost it again," he said at length.

"Look for it," was her careless reply.

He stooped, picked up something from the grass; she held out her arm to 
him with indolent grace. I suppose it was the bracelet he fastened on. In 
the act, he raised unchecked, that fair arm to his lips.

I had not come there to watch them; besides, my heart was swelling fast 
within me. I turned away and again went to the front parlour. I sat by 
the windows. Ere long I heard some one in the passage; then the front 
door was opened; I saw Miriam pass slowly through the front garden, 
gather a rose, open the gate, and turn to her own door. Now at length I 
could speak to Cornelius. I ran out eagerly to the garden; he was not 
there. I called him; he did not answer. I went up-stairs and knocked at 
his room door; not there either was he; I sought the studio and peeped in 
with the same result. It was plain too he was gone out, and that I was 
alone in the house. I was not afraid, but felt the disappointment, and I 
sat down at the head of the staircase in a dreary, desolate mood. I had 
not been there more than a few minutes, when I heard a step coming up 
which I recognized as that of Cornelius.

"Is that you, Daisy?" he asked, stopping short and speaking sharply.

"Yes, Cornelius."

"What are you doing here?"

"I thought you were here, Cornelius."

"You knew I was out."

"No, Cornelius, I did not."

"It is very odd; Miriam heard you answering me when I asked you from the 
garden if Deborah was come back."

"Miss Russell must have been mistaken, Cornelius. I did not hear you, and 
I did not answer. I came here to look for you; indeed I did."

"Very well," he replied, carelessly, "let me pass; I want to go up."

I rose, but as I did so, I said again, "It was to look for you I came up 
here, Cornelius."

I hoped he would ask me what I wanted with him, but he only replied, very 
coldly, "I never said the contrary," and he passed by me to enter the 
studio, where he began seeking for something.

"What have you done with the matchbox?" he at length asked impatiently.

"I never touched it. Cornelius: but if you want anything, you know I can 
find it for you without a light."

He did not answer, but continued searching up and down. I pressed my 
services.

"Let me look for it, Cornelius, I do not want a light, you know."

"Thank you," he drily replied, "I have what I want now; but I must 
request you no longer to meddle with my books. I have just found on the 
floor the volume I left on the table. It puzzles me to understand what 
you can want in the studio at this hour."

Thus speaking, he shut the door, locked it, and, putting the key in his 
pocket, he went downstairs without addressing another word to me. I felt 
so disconcerted, that every wish for explanation vanished; but even had 
it remained, the opportunity was not mine. When I followed him 
downstairs, I found him in the parlour with Kate, who was wondering 
"where Deborah could be?"

"How is it you said Deborah was in?" asked Cornelius, turning to me.

"I never said so, Cornelius."

"Miss Russell heard you."

"She cannot have heard me," I replied, indignantly; "I don't know why you 
will not believe me as well as her."

Cornelius gave me a severe look.

"You were not accused," he said, "and need not have justified yourself in 
that tone."

Kate gave us a quick glance, and said abruptly--

"I am astonished at Deborah; you might have wanted to go out."

"I did go out," replied Cornelius, "thinking she was in; but I only 
stayed out a few minutes."

"Did Daisy remain alone?"

"I suppose so, for as I went out by the back door, Miriam left by the 
front; but the neighbourhood is safe, and Daisy is surely not so silly as 
to be afraid."

"She looks very pale," observed Kate: "what have you been doing to her?"

"What has she been doing to me?" he coldly answered.

Kate sighed, and laying her hand on my shoulder, she looked down at me 
compassionately.

"Go to bed, child," she said kindly.

I did not ask better. She kissed me, and again said I was very pale; her 
brother never raised his eyes from his book. I thought him unkind and 
myself ill-used. I was proud, even with him; I left the room without 
bidding him good-night, and went to bed without seeking a reconciliation.

I awoke the next morning in a miserable, unhappy mood. Kate noticed my 
downcast looks and sullen replies at breakfast, and said, rather 
sharply--

"I should like to know what is the matter with you, child."

I did not answer, but looked sulkily down at my cup; when I chanced to 
raise my eyes, they met the gaze of Cornelius fastened intently on my 
face. I felt my colour come and go. With a sense of pain I averted my 
look from his. Immediately after breakfast, and without asking me to 
accompany him, he went up to his studio; he had not been there long, and 
I was still listening to the lecture of Kate, who reproved me for being 
so ill-tempered, when we heard the voice of her brother, calling out from 
above in a tone that sounded strange--

"Daisy!"

I obeyed the summons. Cornelius stood on the landing waiting for me. He 
made me enter the studio, then followed me in and closed the door. I 
looked at him and stood still; his brow was pale and contracted; his 
brown eyes, so pleasant and good-humoured, burned with a lurid light; his 
lips were white and thin, and quivered slightly. Never had I seen him so. 
He took me by the hand--he led me to his easel.

"Look!" he said, in a low tone.

But I could not take my eyes from his face. 

"Look!" he said again.

I obeyed mechanically, and started back with dismay. Where the fair, 
intent face of Medora had once looked towards the blue horizon, now 
appeared an unsightly blotch. I looked incredulously at first; at length 
I said--

"How did it happen, Cornelius?"

"You mean, who did it?" he replied.

"Did any one do it, then?" I asked, looking up in his face.

He folded his arms across his breast, and looked down at me.

"You ask if any one did it!" he exclaimed.

"Yes, Cornelius, for who could do it, when you know there was no one in 
the house but ourselves?"

"Very true, no one but ourselves," he answered, with a smile of which I 
did not understand the full meaning. "It could not be Kate, for she was 
out?"

"And so was Deborah," I quickly suggested.

"Ay, and Miss Russell left at the same time with me."

"And I am quite sure no one entered the studio whilst you were out, 
Cornelius, for I was sitting at the head of the staircase."

"And I am quite as sure no one entered it at night, for I had the key in 
my pocket."

"Then you see that no one did it," I replied, looking up at him.

"I see," he said, laying his hand on my shoulder, and bending his look on 
mine,--"I see no such thing, Daisy. I see that only two persons can have 
done the deed--you or I--I'll leave you to guess which it was."

"And did you really do it, Cornelius?" I exclaimed, quite bewildered.

The eyes of Cornelius kindled, his lip trembled, but turning away from me 
as if in scorn of wrath--

"Leave the room," he said almost calmly.

I looked at him--the truth flashed across me--Cornelius accused me of 
having done it. I felt stunned, far more with wonder than with 
indignation.

"Did you hear me?" he asked, with the same dead calmness in his tone. 
"Leave the room!" and his extended hand pointed to the door.

But I did not move.

"Cornelius," I said, "do you mean that I did it?"

"Leave the room," was his only answer, and he turned from me.

"Cornelius," I repeated, following him, "do you mean that I did it?"

"Leave the room," he said, without looking at me.

"Cornelius, did you say I did it?" I asked a third time, and I placed 
myself before him, so as to make him stop short. I was not angry--I was 
scarcely moved--I spoke quietly, but I felt that were he to kill me the 
next minute, I should and would compel a reply, and I did compel one.

"Yes," he answered, with a sort of astonished wrath at my hardihood; 
"yes, I do say you did it."

I drew back a step or two from him, so that my upraised look met his.

"Cornelius," I said, very earnestly, "I did not do it."

"Ah! you did not," he exclaimed.

"Oh no," I replied, and I shook my head and smiled at so strange a 
mistake.

"Ah!" echoed Cornelius in the same tone, "you did not--who did, then?"

"I do not know, Cornelius, how should I?"

"How should you? Was it not proved awhile back only two persons could 
have done it, you or I, and since it so chances that I am not the person, 
does it not follow that you are?"

I looked at him incredulously: it seemed to me that I had but to deny to 
be acquitted. I fancied he had not understood me.

"Cornelius," I objected, "did you not hear me say it was not I?"

"I heard you--what about it?"

"Why that it cannot be me."

"Who else?"

"I do not know."

"Was not the picture safe when I left it here?"

"Yes, Cornelius, for I was here after you left, and I saw it."

"You confess it?"

"Why not, Cornelius?"

"You confess that you were up here after I went down with Miriam, and 
that you remained here until tea-time, when I called you down myself."

"Yes, Cornelius, I was up here."

"Did you not remain alone in the house when every one else was out of the 
way?"

"Yes, Cornelius, I did."

"When I came back did I not find you at the door of this room?"

"Yes, Cornelius; sitting at the head of the staircase."

"Did you not endeavour to prevent me from getting a light?"

"I said, Cornelius, I could find what you were looking for, without one."

"And you said so twice--twice."

"I believe I did, twice, as you say."

"I did, scarce knowing why, an unusual thing--I locked the door, I took 
the key. Do you grant that whatever was done must have been done before 
then?"

"Yes, Cornelius."

I spoke and felt like one in a dream. Each answer fell mechanically from 
my lips; and yet I knew that with every word of assent, the net of 
evidence I could not so much as attempt to disprove, drew closer around 
me.

"Well," said Cornelius, in the voice of a judge sitting over a criminal, 
"what have you to say against facts proved by your own confession?"

"Nothing, save that I did not do it."

I spoke faintly; for my head swam and I felt so giddy that I was obliged 
to take hold of the back of a chair not to fall.

Cornelius saw this; he turned away abruptly--he walked up and down the 
room--he hesitated; at length he stopped before me, took my unresisting 
hand in his, made me sit down on the couch, and sat down by me.

"Come," he said in a much milder tone, "I see what it is, I have 
terrified you--you are afraid to confess--that is it--is it not?"

"No, Cornelius."

"What is it then? dread of punishment?"

I shook my head.

"Shame?" he said in a low tone. "No? what then?"

"It is that I did not do it, Cornelius."

He dropped my hand.

"Take care!" he said in a low voice, menacing spite of its seeming 
gentleness; "take care! I have been patient, but I can be provoked. I may 
forgive an act of passion, of jealousy, of envy even, but I cannot 
forgive a lie."

I loved him, but my blood rose at this.

"Am I a liar?" I asked, looking full in his face; "have I ever been one?"

"Never," he replied, with some emotion, "and I will not consider this an 
act of deception, but as the result of fear, obstinacy, or mistaken 
pride. I will even add that I consider you incapable of deceit, for 
yesterday you betrayed your feelings concerning this picture and the 
original with singular imprudence, and both last night and this morning 
you have carried in your face the consciousness of your guilt. And now 
listen to me. You have defaced the work I prized, the image of her whom I 
loved; you have irritated, tormented, injured me, and yet I forgive you. 
Nay more; neither Kate nor Miriam shall know what has happened. I will 
spare one whom, spite of so many faults, I cannot help loving, this 
humiliation, and all on one condition--an easy one--confess."

"I cannot," I exclaimed passionately, "how can I?"

He interrupted me.

"Take care!" he said again, "do not persist. I speak calmly, but I am 
still very angry, Daisy. Do not presume--do not deny."

Oh yes! he was still very angry. His contracted brow--his restless look, 
that burned with ill-repressed fire--his lip, which he gnawed 
impatiently, told me that his wrath was only sleeping beneath seeming 
calmness. He would not let me deny, I could not confess; a strange sort 
of despair and recklessness seized me. I drew nearer to him. I flung my 
arms around his neck and laid my head on his bosom, feeling that if his 
wrath were to fall on me, it should at least strike me there. He did not 
put me away--very far from it--he drew me closer to him.

"Oh yes!" he said, looking down at me, "I am very fond of you, Daisy. 
Yes, I love you very much--you need not come here to tell me so--I know 
it, and never know it better than when you vex me: if you were to die to-
morrow, I should grieve for days, weeks, and months, but for all that I 
am very angry, and you will do well not to provoke me."

Why did I find so strange a charm in his very wrath, that I could not 
resist the impulse which made me press my lips to his cheek?

"Yes," he observed, quietly, "you may kiss me too; but do not trust to 
that--not even if I kiss you--I am very angry."

"But you love me, Cornelius, you know you do; be as angry as you will, 
you cannot make me fear."

"Yes, I love you--you perverse child!" he replied, with a strange look; 
"but for all that, know what you have to expect. Confess, and I forgive 
you freely. Deny, and you will find me as pitiless in my resentment, as I 
am now free in my forgiveness. I will keep you in my home, it is true, 
but I will banish you from my arms and from my heart. I can, Daisy! Yes, 
as surely as your arms are now around my neck and your cheek now lies to 
mine, as surely as I now give you this kiss, will I abide by what I say."

He kissed me as he spoke, and very kindly too; yet his pale, determined 
face gave me not the faintest hope that I could move him. I looked at 
him, and he smiled, as with the consciousness of an unalterable resolve. 
This, then, was my fate--never more to be loved, cherished, or caressed 
by Cornelius. It rose before me in all its desolateness and gloom. One 
moment I felt tempted to yield, but conscience rose indignant, and pride 
spurned at the thought. I looked at Cornelius through gathering tears. I 
called him cruel, severe, and implacable in my heart, and yet I do not 
think I had ever loved him half so well; perhaps because the conviction 
on which he condemned me was so sincere, and, spite of his belief in my 
guilt, his love still so fervent.

"Well!" he said impatiently; for I was lingering, reluctant to leave that 
embrace which it seemed was to be my last. I drew my arms closer around 
his neck,--I kissed his brow, his cheek, his hand.

"God bless you for all your kindness!" I said, weeping bitterly; "God 
bless you, Cornelius!"

"What do you mean, child?" he asked.

"And God bless Kate, too," I continued, "though I have never loved her so 
well as you."

"Daisy!"

"I have but one thing to ask of you, Cornelius--kiss me once again."

"Not once but ten times when you confess, Daisy."

"Yes, but kiss me now."

"What for?" he inquired mistrustfully.

"Because I ask you."

He yielded to my request; he kissed me several times, mingling the 
caresses with broken speech.

"I am sure you are going to confess," he said, "quite sure: you know how 
hard it would be for me to leave off being fond of you--I am sure you 
will."

I looked at him blinded by tears; then I rose, untwined my arms from 
around his neck, and left him--I had accepted my destiny. Cornelius rose 
too, pale with anger.

"Do you mean to brave me?" he asked indignantly.

I did not answer.

"Daisy," he said again, "I hear a step--I give you another chance--
confess before Kate or Miriam enters--a word will suffice."

But my lips remained closed and mute.

"Just as you like," he exclaimed, turning away angrily.

The door opened and Miriam entered, pale and calm, in her white robes.

"I am come early, you see," she said in her low voice, so sweet and 
clear. "Well, what is the matter?" she added, looking at us both with 
sedate surprise.

"Look and see, Miriam! look and see!" replied Cornelius, with bitterness 
and emotion in his voice.

Miriam slowly came forward. She looked at the picture, then at me.

"Well," she said, "it is a pity certainly, a great pity, but it is only a 
picture after all."

"Only a picture!" echoed Cornelius.

"Yes," she answered, "only a picture. I will sit to you again and you 
will do better."

"Oh, Miriam, Miriam!" he exclaimed, a little passionately, "it is not 
merely the loss of the picture that troubles me."

"What then?" she inquired, looking up at him.

"You ask?" he said, returning her glance; "ay, Miriam, you do not know, 
no one knows what that child has been to me! I have watched at night by 
her sick bed, and felt, that if she died, something would be gone nothing 
could replace for me. Child as she was and is still, I have made her my 
companion and my friend; she, more than any other living creature, has 
known the thoughts, wishes, and aspirations that are within me. I have 
taught her, and found pleasure in the teaching. I have cared for her, 
cherished her for years, and only loved her the more that I was free not 
to love her. She has been dear to me as my own flesh and blood, or rather 
all the dearer because she was not mine; for whilst she was as sacred to 
me as if the closest ties of kindred bound us, I found a pleasure and a 
charm in the thought that she was a stranger. Even now, much as she has 
injured me, guilty as she is, I feel what a bitter struggle it will be 
for me to tear her from my heart."

"Forgive her," gently said Miriam.

"Forgive her! she rejects forgiveness. Proud and obstinate in her guilt, 
she denies it; and I, who, when I called her up here this morning, 
incensed against her as I was, could yet, I thought, have staked my 
honour on her truth--I knew she was jealous, resentful and passionate, 
but not even in thought would I have accused her of a lie."

"Then you did not take her in the act?" thoughtfully asked Miriam.

"No, this was evidently done last night."

"How do you know it was she did it?"

"There was no one else to do it."

"What proof is that? She is not bound to prove her innocence. It is you 
who are bound to prove her guilt. There is a doubt--give her the benefit 
of it."

"A doubt!" he exclaimed almost indignantly,--"a doubt! why, if I could 
feel a doubt, Miriam, I would not in word, deed, look, or thought, so 
much as hint an accusation against her. A doubt! would to God I could 
doubt! But it is impossible: everything condemns her." He briefly 
recapitulated the proofs he had already brought forward against me.

"After this," he added, "what am I to think?"

"That you have some secret enemy," calmly replied Miriam.

"Is he a magician?" asked Cornelius; "could he drop from the skies to 
work my ruin? But absurd as is the supposition that one so unknown could 
have such a foe, it is contradicted by a simple fact--the chair which I 
myself placed against the window is there still. Oh no, Miriam, my enemy 
came not from without; my enemy is one whom I brought home one evening in 
my arms, wrapped in my cloak; who has eaten my bread and often drunk from 
my cup; who has many a time fallen asleep on my heart; whom I have loved, 
cherished, and caressed for three years."

This was more than my bursting heart could bear. I had stood apart, 
listening with bowed head and clasped hands, apathetic and resigned. I 
now came forward; I placed myself before him; I looked up at him; my 
tears fell like rain and blinded me, but through both sobs and tears 
broke forth the passionate cry, "Cornelius, Cornelius, I did not do it." 
And I sank on my knees before him; but to protest my innocence, not to 
implore pardon.

"You hear her," he said to Miriam, and he looked down at me--moved 
indeed, but, alas! his face told it plainly--unconvinced.

For awhile we remained thus. I could not take my eyes from his; words had 
failed, but I felt as if spirit should speak to spirit, heart to heart, 
and breaking the bonds of flesh, should bear the silent truth from my 
soul to his, and stamp it there in all its burning reality.

He stooped and raised me without a word. A chair was near him: he sat 
down, he took me in his arms; he pressed me to his heart, and never had 
his embrace been more warm and tender; he looked down at me, and never 
had his look been more endearing; he spoke--not in words of condemnation 
or menace, but with all the ardour of his feelings and the fervour of his 
heart. I wept for joy; I thought myself acquitted, alas! he soon 
undeceived me, I was only forgiven.

"Yes," he said, "I break my resolve, and here you are again, still loved 
and still caressed; for though _you_ have not reminded me of it, Daisy, 
_I_ remember I once declared there was nothing I would not forgive you, 
for the sake of the faith you one day here expressed in me. And I do 
forgive you; as I am a Christian, as I am a gentleman, on my honour, on 
my truth, I forgive you. Confess or do not confess, it matters not. I 
appeal not to fear of punishment, to gratitude for the past, to dread of 
the future, to conscience, or to love; I forgive you, and leave you free 
for silence or for speech."

I understood him but too well. Cornelius would no longer extort a 
confession; his own soul was great and magnanimous; he understood high 
feelings, and by this unconditional forgiveness he now appealed to me 
through the highest and most noble feeling of a human heart--generosity. 
Hitherto, he had only thought me perverse and obstinate; with a silent 
pang of despair I felt I was now condemned to appear mean and low before 
him. For he looked at me with such generous confidence; with such trust 
and faith in his aspect; with something in his eyes that seemed to say 
with the triumph of a noble heart, "You have wronged me, you have 
deceived me, but I defy you to resist this!" He waited, it was plain, for 
a confession that came not. At length he understood that it would not 
come. He put me away without the least trace of anger, and said, in a 
voice of which the reproachful gentleness pierced my heart--

"You cannot prevent me from forgiving you, Daisy."

With this he turned from me, and removing Medora from the easel, he began 
looking out for another canvas of the same size. Miriam had looked on, 
seated on the couch with motionless composure, her calm, statue-like head 
supported by her hand. She turned round to say--

"What is that for, Cornelius?"

"To begin again, if you do not object. I have already thought of some 
changes in the attitude."

She looked at him keenly, and not without wonder.

"You soon get over it," she said.

"Why not?" he asked quietly; "do not look astonished, Miriam; I can no 
more linger over regret than over anger. For me to feel that a thing is 
utterly lost, is to cease to lament for it. The work of days and months 
is utterly ruined; be it so, I have but to begin anew."

Miriam rose and went up to him as he stood before his easel, somewhat 
pale, but as collected as if nothing had happened.

"Forgive her," she whispered, "for my sake," and she took his hand in her 
own.

"I have forgiven her, Miriam," he replied, giving her a candid and 
surprised glance: "did you not hear me say so?"

"From your heart?"

"From my heart," he answered frankly.

"But with an implied condition of confession, acknowledgment, or 
something of the sort?"

"No, I left her free to speak or be silent. She would not confess--not 
for that shall I retract what I granted unconditionally; but pray do not 
let us speak of it."

Miriam however persisted.

"It is true," she said, "that Daisy did not confess, but then she did not 
deny."

The look of Cornelius lit: it was plain he caught at this eagerly.

"Very true," he replied; "very true, Miriam, she did not deny."

He looked at me as he said it. I stood where he had left me, by his 
vacant chair. I looked at him too, and at Miriam, as she stood by him 
with one hand clasped in his, and the other resting on his shoulder, and 
I never uttered one word. In his longing desire to reinstate me in his 
esteem and efface the stain on my tarnished honour, Cornelius, seeing me 
still silent, could not help saying--

"It is so, Daisy, is it not?--you do not deny it."

I had been quiet until then; quiet and forbearing. I had not protested my 
innocence in loud or vehement speech, but in the very simplest words of 
denial. Accused, judged, sentenced unheard, I had not resented this; I 
had blessed my accuser and kissed the hand of my judge. I had not wearied 
him with tears, entreaties, or protestations. I had no proof to give him 
save my word, and if that was doubted, I felt I had but to be silent. 
Four times indeed I had stood before him and told him--what more could I 
tell him?--that I had not done it. He had not believed me, and I had 
borne with it, borne with that forgiveness which to me could be but a 
bitter insult; but even from him I could bear no more; even to him no 
longer would I protest my innocence. I had laid my pride at his feet, in 
all the lowliness and humility of love; it now rose indignant within me, 
and bade me scorn further justification.

"No, Cornelius," I replied, without so much as looking at him, "I do not 
deny it."

I stood near the door; I opened it, and left the room.

 

CHAPTER XXI.

 

My temples throbbed; my blood flowed with feverish heat; I felt as if 
carried away by a burning stream down to some deep, fiery region, where 
angry voices ever raised a strange clamour, that perpetually drowned my 
unavailing cry--"I did not do it."

I know not how I reached my room; quietly and simply, I suppose; for when 
I recovered from this transport of indignant passion, I was lying on my 
bed and I was alone. I did not weep, I did not moan, I scarcely thought, 
but I drank deep of the cup of grief which had so suddenly risen to my 
lips. In youth we do not love sorrow, but when it comes to us we welcome 
it with strange avidity; there is a luxury, a dreary charm in the first 
excess of woe. True, we quickly sicken of the bitter draught; I had lain 
down with the feeling--"There, I am now as miserable as I can be, and yet 
I care not!" but, alas! how soon I grew faint and weary! how soon from 
the depths of my wrung heart I cried for relief to Him who knew my 
innocence, who had never wronged me, who, were I ever so guilty, would 
have never condemned me unheard!

What was it to me that Cornelius left me his love and his kindness, when 
I knew and felt, with a keener bitterness than words can convey, that I 
had for ever lost his esteem? Did I, could I, care for an affection from 
which the very life had departed? No; child as I was in years, something 
within me revolted from the mere thought of his tenderness and 
endearments. If he believed me guilty, then let him hate and detest me: 
sweeter would be his aversion than such fondness as he could bestow on 
one whom, the more he forgave her, the more he must despise.

This resentful feeling--better to be hated than weakly loved--bore with 
it no consolation. I still groaned under the intolerable load of so much 
misery. Spirit and flesh both revolted against it, and said it was beyond 
endurance; that, anything save that, I would bear cheerfully, but that I 
could not bear; that sickness would be pleasant, and death itself would 
be sweet in comparison. And as I thought thus, I remembered the time when 
I was near dying, when Cornelius wept over me, and I should have carried 
in my grave his regard as well as his tears, and I passionately 
questioned the Providence that rules our fate. I asked why I had been 
spared for this? why I was thought guilty when I was innocent? why 
Cornelius disbelieved me? why there was no hope that I should ever be 
acquitted by him? why the only being for whose good opinion I would have 
given all it was mine to give, had been the very one to condemn me? Had I 
looked into my heart, I might there have found the stern reply--"By his 
idol let the idolater perish." But I did not. I only dwelt on the galling 
fact, that though guiltless, there was no hope for me, and I sank into as 
violent a fit of despair as if this were a new discovery. I wept 
passionately at first, then slowly, unconsciously. My head ached; my 
heavy eyes closed; I did not sleep, but I sank into the apathy of subdued 
grief.

I know not how long I had been thus when the door opened, and Kate--I 
knew her step--entered. She came up to my bed, bent over me, and seeing 
my eyes closed, whispered--

"Are you asleep, Daisy?"

A slight motion of my head implied the denial I could not speak. She took 
my hand, said it felt cold, went into the next room, whence she brought 
some heavy garment, with which she covered me. I felt rather than saw her 
lingering by me; then I heard her leaving the room softly. My heart 
swelled as the door closed on her. Not one word of faith or doubt had she 
uttered, and yet her voice was both compassionate and kind. It was plain 
that she too thought me guilty, pitied, and forgave me.

"Be it so!" I thought, with sullen and bitter grief: "let every one 
accuse me, I acquit myself; let no one believe in me, I keep faith in my 
own truth. I shall learn how to do without their approbation and their 
belief."

I remained in this mood, until, after the lapse of some hours, Kate once 
more came near me. Again she bent over me and asked if I slept. I opened 
my heavy eyes, but, dazzled by the light, I soon closed them again.

"Come down to dinner," she said gently.

"I am not hungry."

There was a pause; I fancied her gone, and looked; she was standing at 
the foot of my bed, gazing at me with a very sorrowful face.

"Daisy," she said, in her most persuasive accents, "have you nothing to 
say to me?"

I looked at her; her glance told me she asked for a confession, not for 
justification, so I replied--

"Nothing, Kate," and again closed my eyes.

She left me, but soon returned, carrying a small tray with a plate, on 
which there was some fowl and a glass of wine. She wanted me to eat. I 
assured her I was not hungry.

"Try," she urged; "I promised Cornelius not to leave you without seeing 
you take something."

To please her I tried, but she saw that the attempt sickened me; she 
pressed me to take the wine.

"Cornelius poured it out in his own glass," she said, "and tasted it 
before sending it up; so you must have some."

Wine seldom appeared on our frugal table; it had been forbidden to me as 
injurious; but Cornelius always left me some in his glass, which he made 
me drink slyly, whilst his sister pretended to look another way. I knew 
why he had now sent me this; it was a token of old affection living 
still, spite of what happened. I would not refuse the pledge: I sat up, 
and taking the glass from Kate, I raised it to my lips; but as I did so, 
the thought of the past thus evoked made my heart swell; a sensation of 
choking came upon me; I felt I could not swallow one drop, and laid down 
the glass untasted. Kate sighed, but she saw it was useless to insist, 
so, hoping I would try again in her absence, she left me.

I did not try: why should I? food sufficient to me were my tears and my 
grief renewed in all its bitterness by this incident. Why had Cornelius 
sent me this token of a communion from which the trust and the faith had 
for ever vanished? Why should I drink from his glass, whilst he thought 
me a liar? I ought not, and I resolved that I would not, until he had 
acknowledged my truth. I pushed away the tray from me; in doing so I saw 
that the covering Kate had thrown over me was an old cloak of her 
brother's. I recognized it at once: it was the very same he wore when he 
came to see me at Mr. Thornton's; the same in the folds of which he had 
wrapped and carried me, a weak and sickly child. I cast it away in a 
transport of despair and grief; he might care for me and cherish me 
again, but never more could he be to me what he once had been.

After awhile I became more calm, or rather I sank into the apathy which 
is not calmness. Lying on my bed I looked through the window which faced 
it, at the grey and cloudy sky. The preceding day had been clear and 
sunshiny; this was dark and overcast, one of those September days that 
bear something so dull, chill, and wintry in their mien. I watched my 
room grow dim, and felt it becoming more cold and comfortless as evening 
drew on; but it seemed not so dreary, and felt not so cold, as my 
desolate heart. 

A well-known step on the stairs partly roused me. I listened; there was 
a. low tap at my door; I gave no answer; it was renewed, and still I was 
silent. Cornelius, for it was he, waited awhile and finally entered. Like 
his sister he came up to my bed and bent over me, but the room had grown 
dark; he drew back the curtain; I shaded my eyes with my hand; he moved 
it away.

"You are not asleep," he said, "look at me, Daisy."

I obeyed; he stood gazing at me with my baud in his; there was sadness on 
his face, and pity still deeper than his sadness. I dare say I looked a 
pitiable object enough. He glanced at the food untouched, at the wine 
untasted.

"You have taken nothing," he said, "not even a drop of the wine I sent 
you; why so?"

"I could not."

"Try again."

He wanted to raise the glass to my lips; but I pushed it away so 
abruptly, that half its contents were spilled. He made no remark; but 
feeling the dead-like dullness of my hand, he attempted to cover me with 
his cloak; I half rose to put it away; Cornelius took no notice of this 
either.

"Come down and have some tea," he said quietly; "this room is cold, but 
below there is a fire."

Mechanically I obeyed. I sat up, put back my loosened hair from my face, 
and slipped down on the floor. I followed him out, and I felt weak and 
giddy; I had to cling to him for support until we entered the parlour. It 
looked as I had so often seen it look on many a happy evening. The fire 
burned brightly; the lamp shed its mild, mellow radiance; the kettle sang 
on the fire; the white china cups and saucers stood on the little table 
ready for use, and Kate sat working as usual; but familiar as everything 
seemed, it was as if I had not entered that room for years. As we came 
in, Kate looked up and sighed, then made the tea in deep silence. 
Cornelius made me sit by the fire, and sat down by me; he handed me my 
cup himself; but I could not drink, still less eat. He pressed me in 
vain. If I could, I would have gratified him, for my abstinence proceeded 
not from either stubbornness or pride; I knew I should eat again, and to 
do it early or late could not humble or exalt me. Cornelius ceased to 
urge the point. The meal, always a short one with us, was over, the room 
was silent; I sat in an angle of the couch, my hand shading my weary 
eyes; perhaps my long fasting contributed to render me partly insensible 
to what passed around me, for Cornelius had to speak twice before he 
could draw my attention. When I at length looked up, I perceived that 
Kate had left the room; we were alone.

"Daisy," said Cornelius, very earnestly, "are you fretting?"

"Yes, Cornelius, I am."

"Do you then think me still angry with you?"

"No," I replied, rather surprised, "I know you are not."

"How do you know?" he asked, bending a keen look on me.

"You have said so, Cornelius, how then can I but believe you?"

I looked up in his face as I spoke, and if my eyes told him but half the 
feelings of my heart, he must have read in their gaze--"Doubt me if you 
like; I keep inviolate and true my faith in you." He looked as if the 
words had smote him dumb. For awhile he did not attempt to answer; then 
he observed rather abruptly--

"Well, what are you fretting about?"

I would not reply at first; he repeated his question. "Because you will 
not believe me," I answered in a low tone.

He gave me a quick, troubled gaze, full of fear and--for the first time--
of doubt. He caught my hands in his; he stooped eagerly as if to read my 
very soul in my eyes: heavy and dim with weeping they might be, but their 
look shrank not from his.

"Daisy," he cried agitatedly, "I put it to you--to your honour--I shall 
take your word now--did you or did you not do it?"

I disengaged my hands from his, and clasped them around his neck, and 
thus, with my face open to his gaze like a book, I looked up at him sadly 
and calmly.

"Cornelius," I replied, "I put it to you: Did Daisy Burns do it?"

He looked down at me with an anxious and tormenting doubt that vanished 
before a sudden and irresistible conviction. Yes, I read it in his face: 
he who had so pertinaciously accused, judged, and condemned me, was now, 
as with a two-edged sword, pierced with the double conviction of my 
innocence and his own injustice. For a moment he looked stunned, then he 
withdrew from my clasp, rose, and walked away without a word, and sat 
down by the table with his back turned to me.

The heart has instincts beyond all the written knowledge of the wise. I 
rose and ran to him; he averted his face and put me away. 

"Cornelius," I entreated, "Cornelius, look at me."

Without answering, he turned his face to me. Never shall I forget its 
mingled remorse and grief. He rose and paced the room up and down, with 
agitated steps. I did not dare to follow or address him; of his own 
accord he stopped short and, confronting me, took my two hands in his and 
looked down at me with a sorrowful face.

"If I had but wronged a man," he said, "one who could give me back insult 
for insult and wrong for wrong, I should regret it, but I could forgive 
myself; but you!" he added, looking at me from head to foot, "a girl, a 
mere child, dependent on me too, helpless and without one to protect or 
defend you against wrong--oh, Daisy! it is more than I can bear to think 
of!"

It did seem too galling for thought, for tears wrung forth by wounded 
pride rose to his eyes and ran down his burning cheek.

"Can you forgive me?" he added, after a short pause.

This was more than I could bear. Forgive him! forgive him to whom I owed 
everything the error of one day! I could not, and I passionately said I 
never would.

But Cornelius was peremptory, and, though burning with shame at so 
strange a reversion of our mutual positions, I yielded. I felt however as 
if I could never again look him in the face. But Cornelius had a faculty 
granted to few: he could feel deeply, ardently, without sentimental 
exaggeration. His mind was manly in its very tenderness. He had expressed 
his grief, his remorse, his shame; he did not brood over them or distress 
me with puerile because unavailing regrets over a past he could not 
recall. As he made me return to my seat and again sat by me, there was 
indeed in his look, in the way in which he drew me nearer to him, in the 
tone with which he said once or twice, "My poor child! my poor little 
Daisy!" something which told me beyond the power of language, how keenly 
he felt his injustice, how deeply he lamented my day of sorrow; but 
otherwise, his conscience acquitting him of intentional wrong, he 
accepted my forgiveness as frankly as he had asked for it.

Thus my troubled heart could at length rest in peace. Languid and wearied 
with so many emotions, I could yield myself up to the strange luxury and 
sweetness of being once more, not merely near him--that was little--but 
of feeling, of knowing, of reading in his face, so kindly turned to mine, 
that he believed in me. As I sat by him, his hand clasped in both mine, 
restored to what I prized even higher than his affection--his esteem, it 
seemed like a dream, too blissful to be true, and of which my eyes ever 
kept seeking in his the reality and the confirmation.

"Oh, Cornelius," I said once, "are you sure you do not think I did it?"

He looked pained at being reminded that he had thought me guilty.

"Have some wine," he observed, hurriedly, "I am sure you can now."

He went to the back parlour and brought out a glassfull. He took some 
himself, and made me drink the rest. It revived me. I felt I could eat, 
and I took some biscuits from the plateful he handed me. He watched me 
with a pleased and attentive smile, and in putting by both glass and 
plate, he sighed like one much relieved.

"When I was a boy." he said, sitting down again by me, "I caught a wild 
bird, and caged it, thinking it would sing; but it would not eat; it hung 
its head and pined away. I was half afraid this evening you were going to 
do like my poor bird."

"I hope I know better than a bird," I replied, rather piqued at the 
comparison, "and that was a very foolish bird not to take to the cage 
where you had put it--so kind of you."

"Very; yet, strange to say, it liked its cage and its captor as little as 
you on the contrary seem to fancy yours."

"Yes, but it is scarcely worth while putting or keeping me in a cage, 
Cornelius; I am very useless; I can't even sing--not a bit."

"Never mind," he replied, smiling, "I could better dispense with all the 
birds of the air than with you, my pet."

I thought it was very kind of Cornelius to say so, and to prefer me to 
nightingales, larks, black-birds, thrushes, and the whole sweet-singing 
race. I felt cheerful, happy, almost merry, and we were talking together 
gaily enough when the door opened, and Kate entered.

She had left me plunged in apathetic despondency; on seeing me chatting 
with her brother in as free and friendly a fashion as if nothing had 
happened, she looked bewildered. She came forward in total silence, and 
behind her came Miriam, who closed the door and looked at us calmly 
through all her evident wonder.

"It's a very wet night," observed Kate, sitting down opposite us and 
looking at me very hard.

"Is it?" said Cornelius, rising to give Miriam a chair, then returning to 
me.

"Very," rejoined his sister, who could not take her eyes from me, as, 
with the secure familiarity of an indulged child, I untwined one of his 
dark locks to its full extent, observing--

"It is too long; let me cut it off with Kate's scissors."

"No, 'faith," he replied, hastily, and shaking back his head with an 
alarmed air, as if he already felt the cold steel, "do not dream of such 
a thing. Cut it off indeed!" and he slowly passed his fingers through his 
raven hair, in the glossy and luxuriant beauty of which he took a certain 
complacency.

"Well!" said Kate, leaning back in her chair, folding her hands on her 
knees, and drawing in a long breath.

"Well, what?" coolly asked Cornelius.

"I never did see such a rainy night--never."

"How kind of you to come!" observed Cornelius, bending forward to look at 
Miriam.

She sat by the table, her arms crossed upon it, her eyes bent on us; she 
smiled without answering.

"You look pale and fatigued," he said, with some concern.

There was indeed on her face a strange expression of languor, weariness, 
and _ennui_.

"Yes," she replied abstractedly, "I am weary."

"I am not going to stand that, you know!" exclaimed Kate, whose attention 
was not diverted from me. "Will you just tell me, Daisy, or rather you, 
Cornelius, what has passed between you and Daisy since I left the room."

Cornelius raised on his sister a sad look, which from her fell on me.

"I have found out a great mistake," he said, reddening as he spoke, "and 
Daisy has been good enough to forgive me."

"I wish you would not speak so," I observed, feeling ready to cry.

"My dear, Kate might blame me."

"No one has any right to blame you," I interrupted. "If I am your child, 
as you say sometimes, can't you do with me as you think fit?"

I looked a little indignantly at Kate, who did not heed me. Her eyes 
sparkled; her cheeks were flushed.

"A mistake!" she exclaimed eagerly, "that's right; I can't say I thought 
it was a mistake, but I always felt as if it were one. I never felt as if 
poor Daisy could be such a little traitor. How did he do it, Cornelius?"

"_He?_ really, Kate, I don't know how _he_ did it, for I don't know who 
_he_ is."

"Some jealous, envious, mean, paltry little fellow of a bad artist," 
hotly answered Kate. "I can tell you exactly what he's like: he squints, 
he limps, he wears his hat over his eyes, and is always looking round to 
see that no one is watching him--I see him--you need not laugh, 
Cornelius, I can tell you sow he did it; he came in by Deborah's window, 
and escaped across the leads. He is an artist decidedly, and he was mixed 
up with the rejection of your Sick Child; can't you trace the 
connection?"

Cornelius did not look as if he could.

"Never mind," continued Kate, "I shall find him out, but you must give me 
the links."

"What links, Kate?"

"Why, how you found it out, of course?"

"Found out what, Kate?"

"Don't be foolish, boy: why, that it was not Daisy."

Cornelius stroked his chin, and looked at his sister with a perplexed 
air, then said--

"I don't think you will find it much of a link, Kate."

"Nonsense! a hint is enough for me, you know."

"Well, but if there is no hint at all?" objected Cornelius, making a 
curious face.

"No hint at all?" echoed his sister, rather bewildered.

"Kate," resolutely said Cornelius, "think me foolish, mad, if you like: 
the truth is, that I have found out the innocence of Daisy, as I ought to 
have found it out at once--by believing her."

"But where are the proofs?" asked Kate.

"I tell you there are no proofs," he replied with impatient warmth; 
"proofs made me condemn Daisy; I am now a wiser man, and acquit her on 
trust."

"No proofs!" said Kate, looking confounded.

"No, Kate, none, and I don't want any either."

"But you had proofs this morning, you said."

"You could not give me a better reason for having none this evening. 
Proofs are cheats, I shall trust no more."

Kate sighed profoundly and said in a rueful tone--

"Heaven knows how much I wish to believe Daisy innocent, but my opinion 
cannot turn about so quickly as yours."

"She did not do it, Kate," exclaimed her brother, a little vehemently, 
"she did not."

"You need not fly out: I never accused her."

"But I did: do not wonder that I defend her all the more warmly."

"But I do wonder," pursued Kate, with a keen look at me; "there is 
something in it; the sly little thing got round you whilst you were alone 
together. Oh, Cornelius, Cornelius! that child has made her way to your 
very heart. You would rather be deceived than think she did wrong."

"I am not deceived," he indignantly replied.

Kate did not answer, but kept looking at me in a way that made me feel 
very uncomfortable.

"Daisy is guiltless," continued her brother; "how I ever thought her 
otherwise is a mystery to me. Who has ever been more devoted to my 
painting than the poor child?"

Kate opened her lips, then closed them again without speaking. Cornelius 
detected this.

"Well," he said quickly, "what have you got to say, Kate?"

"Nothing!" she drily answered, with another look at me so searching and 
so keen that I involuntarily clung closer to Cornelius.

"Kate," he said again, looking from me to her, "what have you to say?"

There was a pause; Kate hesitated, then resolutely replied--

"The truth--which always insists on making itself known, no doubt because 
it is good that it should be known. I think, Cornelius, that you acquit 
Daisy as you condemned her--too hastily; but that is a part of your 
character: you detest to suspect--a generous, imprudent feeling. You make 
too much or too little of proofs. Now it so chances that I have got one 
which escaped you this morning, when you would have held it conclusive; 
which I kept quiet, but never meant to suppress. I shall make no comments 
upon it, but simply lay it before you."

Her looks, her words, the gravity with which they were uttered, alarmed 
me. In the morning I had trusted implicitly to my innocence for 
justification: then I could not understand how facts should condemn me, 
when conscience held me guiltless; but now I knew better. I looked at 
Cornelius; perhaps he was only astonished; I fancied he seemed to doubt. 
All composure, all presence of mind forsook me. I threw myself in his 
arms, as in my only place of hope and refuge.

"Cornelius," I cried in my terror, "don't believe it; I don't know what 
it is, but don't believe it--pray don't."

He looked moved, and said to his sister--

"Not now, Kate, not now."

"Nonsense!" she replied, "it is too late to go back."

"I think it is," assented Cornelius, looking down at me. But I threw my 
arms around his neck, and looking up at his face with all the passionate 
entreaty of my heart--

"You won't believe it, Cornelius, will you?" I asked; "it's against me, I 
am sure; but you won't believe it?"

"No, indeed," he replied, with some emotion, "I will believe nothing 
against you, my poor child."

The assurance somewhat pacified me. Kate, whom my alarm seemed to impress 
very unfavourably, observed drily--

"It is not a matter to make so much of, and I never said you could not 
explain it, Daisy; at all events here it is."

With this she drew forth from her pocket, and laid on the table, the 
filagree bracelet.

"Is that all?" asked Cornelius, seeming much relieved.

"I think it quite enough, considering where it was found," shortly said 
Kate.

"In the studio! What about it: was it not in the studio I gave it to 
her?"

"That is all very well, but I should like to know how it has got stained 
with the very same ochre that was used to daub the face of poor Medora."

"Even that is nothing, Kate; you know well enough that everything Daisy 
wears bears traces of the place where she spends her days."

Miriam had remained indifferent and calm, whilst all this was going on in 
her presence; she had not changed her attitude, scarcely had she raised 
her eyes, or cast a look around her. She now stretched forth her hand, 
took up the bracelet from the table where it lay, looked at it, laid it 
down again, and said very quietly--

"It is mine."

"Yours!" cried Cornelius.

"Yes, I know it by the clasp. I put it on this morning, and dropped it, I 
suppose, in the studio."

"There, Kate," triumphantly exclaimed Cornelius, "so much for 
circumstantial evidence!"

Kate looked utterly confounded.

"Yours," she said to Miriam, "yours? are you quite sure it is really 
yours?"

"Quite sure," was the composed reply.

Miss O'Reilly turned to me, and asked shortly--

"Why did you not say it was not yours?"

"I did not know it was not mine, Kate. I knew I had left mine in the 
studio."

"Then it is really yours!" said Kate, again turning to Miriam, who 
replied with an impatient "Yes," and an ill-suppressed yawn of mingled 
indifference.

"Truth is strong," rather sadly said Kate; "the bracelet which you put on 
this morning, Miss Russell, was picked op by me last night at the door of 
the studio."

Miriam gave a sudden spring on her chair; if a look could have struck 
Kate to the heart, her look would have done it then. But Kate only shook 
her handsome head, and smiled, fearless and disdainful.

"Yes," she said again, "I picked it up there last night, thought it was 
Daisy's, and, to give her a lesson of carefulness, I said nothing about 
it. This morning I suppressed it from another motive. Do you claim it 
still, Miss Russell?"

Everything like emotion had already passed from the face of Miriam. She 
had sunk hack on her seat; her look had again become indifferent and 
abstracted; her countenance again wore the expression of fatigue and 
_ennui_ it had worn the whole evening. As Kate addressed her, she looked 
up, and very calmly said--

"Why not?"

I looked at Cornelius; his brow, his cheek, his lip, had the pallor of 
marble or of death: he did not speak, he did not move; he looked like one 
whose very last stronghold the enemy has reached, and who beholds his own 
ruin with more of silent stupor than of grief. At length he put me away; 
he rose; he went up to the table which divided him from Miriam; he laid 
both his hands upon it, and looking at her across, he bent slightly 
forward, and said, in a voice that seemed to come from the depths of his 
heart--


"Miriam, tell me you did not do it; Miriam!"

She did not reply.

"Tell me you did not do it--I will believe you."

Miriam looked at him; as she saw the doubt and misery painted on his 
face, something like pity passed on hers.

"Would you?" she said, with some surprise. "No, Cornelius, you could not, 
and even if you could, I would not prolong this. I might deny or give 
some explanation at which you would grasp eagerly; but where is the 
use?--I am weary." She passed her hand across her brow, as if to put by  
someheavy sense of fatigue, and looked round at us with an expression of 
dreary languor in her gaze which I have never forgotten. "I am weary," 
she said again; "for days and weeks this sense of fatigue has been 
creeping over me. The struggle to win that I never should have prized 
when won, is ended. I regret it not--still less should you."

"Miriam," passionately said Cornelius, "it is false, and you must, you 
shall deny it."

"I will not," Miriam replied firmly, and not without a certain cool 
dignity which she preserved to the last. "I tell you I am weary, and that 
if this did not part us, something else should."

A chair stood near Cornelius; he sat down, and gave Miriam a long, 
searching glance, that seemed to ask, in its dismay and indignant grief--
"Are you the woman whom I have loved?"

"You never understood me," she said, impatiently. "You might have guessed 
that I had, from youth upwards, lived in the fever of passion inspired or 
felt; you might have known that I should master or be mastered. I warned 
you that though I could promise nothing, I should exact much, and you 
defied me to exact too much. Yet when it came to the test--what did you 
give me? a feeling weak as water, cold as ice! Why, you would not so much 
as have given up what you call Art for my sake!"

"Nor for that of mortal woman," indignantly replied Cornelius. "Give up 
painting! Do you forget I told you I would love you as a man should 
love?"

"That is, I suppose, a little more than Daisy, and something less than 
your pictures. I have been accustomed to other love."

Cornelius reddened.

"An unworthy passion," he said, "stops at nothing to secure its 
gratification; a noble one is bound by honour."

"I leave you to such passions," calmly answered Miriam; "to painting, 
which you love so much; to the domestic affections in which you weakly 
thought to include me. I have tried to make you feel what I call passion, 
I have failed; it is well that we should part; let us do so quietly, and 
without recrimination."

Cornelius looked at her like one confounded. She spoke composedly, as if 
she neither cared for nor felt that, on her own confession, she was 
guilty. Of excuse or justification she evidently thought not.

"You think of Daisy," she continued; "think of my conduct to her what you 
choose. I will only say this, though she, poor child, has hated me, as 
she loved you, with her whole heart, you have been, are still, and will 
remain, her greatest enemy."

"I!" indignantly exclaimed Cornelius.

"Yes: and you must be blind not to see that, by seeking to sever from you 
a child whom a few years will make a woman, I was her best friend; and so 
she will know some day, when you break her heart, and tell her you never 
meant it."

"May God forsake me when I place not her happiness before mine!" replied 
Cornelius, in a low tone, and giving me a troubled look.

"You are generous," answered Miriam, with an ironical, but not unmusical 
laugh, and looking at me over her shoulder with all the scorn of 
conscious beauty; "you think so now; but I know, and have always known, 
better. And yet, spite of that knowledge, and though with foolish 
insolence she ever placed herself in my way, I have felt sorry for her at 
times. Of course you will not believe this: with the exaggeration of your 
character, you will at once set me down as one delighting in evil; 
whereas what you call evil is to me only a different form of good, 
justifiable according to the end in view. If I had succeeded in inspiring 
you with an exclusive, all-engrossing passion--even though the cost had 
been a few pictures less, and the loss of Daisy's heart--know that I 
would have conferred on you the greatest blessing one human being can 
bestow on another."

Her eyes shone with inward fire; her cheeks glowed; her parted lips 
trembled. I do not think we had ever seen her half so beautiful. 
Cornelius looked at her, and smiled bitterly.

"I pity you," she said, with some scorn; "I pity you, to deride a feeling 
you cannot feel: know that I at least speak not without the knowledge."

"Oh, I know it," he exclaimed, involuntarily.

"You know it?"

"Yes," he replied, more slowly, "and I have known it long. One, whose 
pride you had stung, found means to procure letters written by you some 
years ago, and which proved to rue how ardently you had been attached to 
another--now dead, it is true. For a whole day I thought to give you up; 
but I was weak, I burned the letters, and said nothing. I loved you well 
enough to forgive you the tacit deceit; too well to think of humbling you 
by confessing that I knew it, and too jealously perhaps not to be glad to 
annihilate every token of a previous affection."

"Humbling me!" said Miriam, rising; "know that it is my pride. I felt not 
like you, Cornelius; I would have made myself the slave of him whom I 
loved, had he wished it."

She folded her hands on her bosom, like one who gloried in her 
subjection, and continued--

"Proud and wilful as I am, _he_ could bend me to his will. I mistook your 
energy for power, and thought you could do so too. I mistook my own 
heart, and thought I could feel again as I once had felt. Since I 
discovered the twofold mistake, there has been nothing save weariness and 
vexation of spirit to me. I knew it should end--do not wonder I am now 
glad and relieved that it is ended."

She spoke in the tone with which she had said "I am weary;" the lustre 
had left her eyes, the colour her cheek; her mien was again languid and 
careless. She cast an indifferent look around her, drew the silk scarf 
which she wore, closer over her shoulders, turned away, and left the room 
without once looking back.

A deep silence, that seemed as if it never could end, followed her 
departure. Kate sat in her usual place, her look sadly fixed on her 
brother. His face was supported and partly shaded by his hand. He neither 
moved nor spoke. At length his sister rose and went up to him. She laid 
her hand on his shoulder, and stooping, said gently--

"Cornelius!"

He looked up at her wistfully, and said, in a low tone--

"Kate, I thought her little less than an angel; what a poor dupe I have 
been!"

"But you will bear it," she said earnestly, "I know you will."

"Yes," he answered, though his lip trembled a little as he said it; "it 
is hard, but it is not more than a man can bear."

He rose as he spoke.

"Where are you going?" asked Kate, detaining him.

"Out; do not be uneasy about me, Kate."

"But it is pouring fast."

"Never mind."

His lips touched her brow--he left the room--we heard the street-door 
close upon him, and in the silence which followed, the low, rushing sound 
of the rain.

"Poor fellow! poor fellow!" sadly said Kate, and, looking at one another, 
we began to cry.

 

END OF VOL. I. 

 





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