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“And am I then to suffer for the faults of my forefathers ?” he said at length, in a voice which shook with intense and almost passionate feeling, subdued and kept down indeed by the force of a strong will, yet still such as Helen could scarcely believe possible in one of his usually even and sunny temperament. Little she knew what that spirit had once been, or of the struggle which it had cost him before he had succeeded in obtaining the mastery over his naturally impetuous nature. “Am I to be punished for errors which I never committed, and which I condemn? Oh, Helen, I did not think you would have allowed the shadow of a dead past to come between us.”

He paused a moment, and when he spoke again his voice was gentle, almost to mournfulness. “And have you no more to say to me? Will you not take time to consider, and try to think less harshly of me? Indeed I have not deserved it."

Helen did not answer, but began nervously picking her bouquet to pieces, till her white dress was covered with a perfect shower of scarlet petals,-a new thrust for poor Alec, for he had really been at some trouble and expense to procure the geraniums. It pained him to see them thus wantonly destroyed. “Ah, little she cares for my poor flowers,” he thought, “no more than she does for me." Yet Helen was not heartless,- her prejudice was now only against the bare name. Alec's last words had touched her deeply, and she longed to tell him that he was mistaken, and how far she was from feeling the bitterness he had supposed towards him and his. But a choking sensation in her throat prevented her from speaking, and she could only shake her head, and motion imploringly to him to leave her.

Alec saw the gesture, and moved slowly away with a look of such keen mental suffering on his face, as it went to Helen's heart to see. He did not go back to the gay ball-room, he could not, but left the library by the further door, passed through the picture gallery, and found himself, he hardly knew how, in the little chapel. Here he could be alone-alone to wrestle with his grief. Mechanically he threw himself on his knees before the altar, bent his arms on the rail, and let his head sink down upon them. For nearly an hour he remained there in the same position, without once looking up,- alone before God with the first great sorrow of his young life. For some time he could think of nothing but his own suffering. The beautiful dream of womanly perfection on which he had dwelt for so long had been rudely broken. He had found that she, whom he had thought all goodness and gentleness, was not faultless. It was bitter to have been mistaken, and he loved her so! In the first shock of that sharp anguish, his soul seemed to have been torn from all her anchors, and to be drifting away on a dark sea, which led-he knew not where. But this did not last long,-it could not last, where such a foundation had been laid as there was in his heart. The great sheet anchor still held firm, though the cable had been strained, and He Who “ has been tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin,” was near to succour His servant in that dark hour. It passed, and Alec looked up at length, pale with the struggle he had gone through, yet a conqueror through Him Who had given him the victory.

The moon was streaming through the beautiful east window, flooding the little chapel with her solemn holy beams. Around were the still white monuments of those who had done with the sorrows of this world, and had entered into their rest. Very, very still was the little sanctuary, far removed it seemed from all earthly turmoil, and its holy calm was very soothing to poor Alec's wounded spirit. Presently bis eyes were caught by some words carved on the altar-rail against which he was leaning, they were deeply cut in the hard wood, and each letter was gilded, so that with the bright moonlight shining full upon them, he had not much difficulty in making out the following Latin inscription :INVOCA . ME . IN. DIE . TRIBULATIONIS : ERUAM . TE . ET

HONORIFICABIS. ME. He felt it was comfort sent straight from heaven, and the words were like balm to his aching heart,—“Call upon Me in the time of trouble : so will I hear thee, and thou shalt praise Me,” he murmured. And in the strength of that beautiful promise he took the bitter cup of sorrow from his FATHER's hand and drank it bravely, for he knew that One had drunk of it before him, and in that thought there was comfort.

And Helen? During the rest of that evening she was, to all outward

appearance, the gayest of the gay ; but when, after all was over, she went up to her room and began taking the drooping geraniums from her hair, she felt that something, she knew not what, had gone out of her life, like the freshness from those faded flowers; and in the reaction of over-excited feeling, she cried herself to sleep.

CHAPTER XIV.

A LAMB TO THE FOLD.
“ Loving Shepherd, kind and true,

Wilt Thou not in pity come
To Thy lamb? As shepherds do,

Bear me in Thy bosom home;
Take me hence from earth's annoy
To Thy home of endless joy.”

Lyra Germanica. The sweet sunshine of early spring was lighting up the landscape with a tearful radiance,-tearful, for during all that day it had been doing battle with the rain, and had only succeeded towards evening in obtaining such undisputed possession of the field as to be able to smile a calm sweet farewell to the budding earth. Every little syke and runnel in the furrowed fellsides was sending down its own small foaming tribute to swell the brown torrent of the Carrock Cleugh, which was rushing through the glen, filling the still evening air with the sweet lulling “sound of many waters.” Rows of crystal rain-drops hung from every branch and spray in the castle orchard, trembling and flashing in the sunbeams, and fostering with their warm moisture the sweet suspicion of budding leaves which was beginning to make itself felt among the gnarled boughs of the apple trees. Perched on the topmost branch of an old thorn, already green with bursting foliage, was a bonnie blackbird, jetty plumaged and golden billed, whistling with that rounded mellowness of note which is the peculiar property of blackbirds, and of them alone. From time to time he paused for a moment, with his dainty head on one side, as if listening to the echo of his own “flute-notes” among the fells, and then warbled on again in the full contentment of perfect mastery over perfect melody

The window of Jean's little room was thrown wide open to the evening air, which was stealing softly in, laden with the fragrance of the rain-soaked earth, and the scent from a bed of spring violets which bloomed on the terrace beneath. The sick girl lay on her little white bed, her small transparent hands folded on the coverlet across which the sunbeams were flickering, lighting up her colourless face, and showing each blue vein with sad distinctness; her eyes were closed,

and a calm serene expression, as of perfect peace, had taken the place of the old suffering look. Alec sat by the bedside, one arm under the pillows on which his sister was resting,—for this was how she liked to lie, and indeed she never seemed so still and contented as when his kind arm was there,—his other hand supporting his head. The brother and sister had remained in the same position for the last halfhour without a word being spoken by either, and free from all interruption, for Sir George and Lady Carlaverock were dining out, and Rosamund and Lilias were away on a visit at Lady Winyard's, to whose son the former had become engaged shortly after the New Year's ball.

“Alec," said Jean, suddenly breaking the long silence.

He started at the sound of her voice, as though his thoughts had been far away.

“What is it, darling? Do you want anything ?” “No, nothing; I feel so rested and so happy. Oh, Alec ! it is so sweet to think I am going home so soon. I hope it is not wrong, but I cannot help counting the hours sometimes as I lie here, and thinking how many more there will be before He comes for me,-and I think I shall not have to wait much longer now.'

Alec's eyes filled as he gazed at the little frail figure, and he felt with a sharp pang that her words might indeed be too true. he would not believe that he must lose her so soon. That little sister had become dearer to him than ever now, and he could not bear to think how near might be the parting.

“But, Jean dear, you will not go yet? Ob, my darling little sister, what shall I do without you ?” He bent over her, kissed her pale, marble-like brow, and fondly smoothed her hair.

Jean fixed her soft eyes on her brother's face, and laid her fragile hand on his strong sun-burnt one. “Alec, dear, you will have Helen; I have watched you and her, and I have sometimes thought—" she stopped, an expression of such sharp pain passed over Alec's face, and he shrank as though she had touched an unhealed wound.

“I once thought so too,” he answered in a low voice, for he could hardly bear to speak even to his little dying sister of that sore trouble, which till then he had kept hidden deep in his heart.

“ Yes, I once hoped 80,—but it is all over now.” He buried his face in the counterpane, and Jean thought she heard a low, choking sob.

“Poor Alec, my own darling brother!" she murmured, stroking his hair with her small thin hand. “Ah, I feared something was

And yet wrong when you went away in such a hurry to Uncle Charles' on New Year's Day. And that was why you stayed away so long? I couldn't understand it at the time, and I missed you so. Oh, Alec, I can't think how she could do it,-it was cruel.”

He raised his head then, calm and self-controlled again. "No, Jean, you must not say that. I had no right to expect it. No, it was not God's will, and He knows best what is good for us, though we cannot always see it. When I feel inclined to grieve too much, I think of what De la Motte Fouqué says in his beautiful poem,• Consolation.'

'If all could happen ever,

As thou wouldst have it be,
And God took from thee never,

No burden laid on thee;
How couldst thou then thy dying day

Meet calmly, free from fear?
Thou wouldst be well nigh cast away,

This world were grown so dear.
'In mercy fall asunder

The sweetest ties He gave,
That thou serene mayst wander

To Heaven through the grave.
Thy fears for aye are broken,

Hope bears thy soul aloft;-
This has been often spoken,

Yet none can say't too oft.'

Yes,” said Jean when he had finished, “ that is indeed consolation;' and you will think of those beautiful words when I am gone, Alec, and try not to grieve too much for me?"

“But, Jean dear, you are not going yet. Oh, do not be in such haste to leave me! Remember what it will be for me to part with you, my darling sister, my little comforter !”

“No, Alec, I cannot stay,—He has called me, and I know that He will come for me very soon. Oh, Alec dear, I had such a beautiful dream last night,-I thought that the Good Shepherd stood beside

He looked as He does in that picture you gave me,” (and she pointed to a beautiful engraving by Kehren, which hung on the opposite wall)" only far more radiant and heavenly. His garments were whiter and more glistening than the lily leaves. He bore a crook in His hand, and a bleeding lamb on His shoulders, and about His brows was a crown of thorns,—not dry and dead, like that in the

me.

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