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CHAPTER I.

THE COMMENCEMENT OF STRIFE.

“We often see against some storm
A silence in the heavens, the rack stand still,
The bold wind speechless, and the orb below
Is hushed as death."

SHAKSPEARE.

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ELLA, darling, I may never again have an opportunity of speaking to you alone; try and remember what I say.”

Percy Seymour was on the eve of departure with his company for Bermuda, and was spending a few days with one of his father's friends at Strange Hall.

This friend was guardian to Ella Sinclair, who at the age of fourteen was an orphan. Ella had been baptised and brought up in the religion of the church of Rome, and had a child's ardent love for its gorgeous ritual with which Sunday

B

after Sunday, and Saint-day after Saint-day, had made her familiar.

Ella, I am in earnest”—said Seymour, as she looked at him with an arch twinkle in her eyes, “I want to speak to

you

about- but hearing the approach of her guardian, Mr. Stanley, he changed the topic by asking Ella to play to him. It may

be as well to introduce her at once. A bright fair English child-yes, one that Raphael would have selected for a Madonna ; her violet eyes, generally dancing with open or suppressed gladness ; her cheeks ever radient with the flush of glowing health ; in figure about the medium height, and gifted with a smile that could never be forgotten. Well might the thought flash through Seymour's mind that he could now imagine a woman before whom a proud man might bow, one for whom the young could hate each other with the most bitter of all hatreds, and one who would mould into a most faithful helpmate to him who was fortunate enough to gain her love. Vain would be the attempt more vividly to depict Ella's appearance; but of her

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