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anything outside the doors of her sick-room. Perhaps she thought her son had been over-hasty, and that in time Belinda might change her mind. To people lying on their last sick-beds, the terrors, anxieties, longings of life seem very curious and strange. They seem to forget that they were once anxious, hopeful, eager themselves, as they lie gazing at the awful veil which will so soon be withdrawn from before their fading eyes.
A sort of constraint came between Guy and Belinda at first, but it wore away by degrees. He often alluded to his proposal, but in 50 hopeless and gentle a way that she could not be angry, still she 735 disquieted and unhappy. She felt that it was a false and awkward posi tion. She could not bear to see him looking ill and sad, as he did at times, with great black rings under his dark eyes. It was worse still when she saw him brighten up with happiness at some chance word she let fall now and then-speaking inadvertently of home, as he did, or of the roses next year. He must not mistake her. She could not bear to pain him by hard words, and yet sometimes she felt it was her duty to speak them. One day she met him in the street, on her way back to the house. The roll of the passing carriage-wheels gave Guy confidence, and, walking by her side, he began to say, "Now I never know what delightful surprise may not be waiting for me at every street corner. Ab, Miss Belle, my whole life might be one long dream of wonder and happiness, if .... “ Don't speak like this ever again ; I shall go away,” said Belle, interrupting, and crossing the road, in her agitation, under the very noses of two omnibus horses. “I wish I could like you enough to marry you. I shall always love you enough to be your friend; please don't talk of anything else.” Belle said this in a bright brisk imploring decided way, and hoped to have put an end to the matter. That day she came to me and told her little story. There were almost as many reasons for her staying as for her leaving, the poor child thought. I could not advise her to go, for the assistance that she was able to send home was very valuable. (Guy laughed, and utterly refused to accept à sixpence of her salary.) Mrs. Griffiths evidently wanted her; Guy, poor fellow, would have given all ho had to keep her, as we all knew too well.
Circumstance orders events sometimes, when people themselves, with all their powers and knowledge of good and of evil, are but passive instruments in the hands of fate. News came that Mr. Barly was ill, and little Belinda, with an anxious face, and a note in her trembling hand, came into Mrs. Griffiths' room one day to say she must go to him directly. "Your father is ill," wrote Anna. “ Circumstances demand your immediate return to him." Guy happened to be present, and when Belle left the room he followed her out into the passage.
“You are going ?” he said.
, and wants me," said Belinda, almost crying.
“And I want you,” said Guy ; “but that don't matter of course. Go-go, since you wish it.”'
After all, perhaps it was well she was going, thought Belle, as she went to pack up her boxes. Poor Guy's sad face haunted her. She seemed to carry it away in her box with her other possessions.
It would be difficult to describe what he felt, poor fellow, when he came upon the luggage standing ready corded in the hall, and he found that Belle had taken him at his word. He was so silent a man, so self-contained, so diffident of his own strength to win her love in time, so unused to the ways of the world and of women, that he could be judged by no ordinary rule. His utter despair and bewilderment would have been laughable almost, if they had not been so genuine. He paced about the garden with hasty uncertain footsteps, muttering to himself as he went along, and angrily cutting at the rose-hedges. “Of course she must go, since she wished it ;-of course she must-of course, of course. What would the house be like when she was gone ?” For an instant a vision of a great dull vault without warmth, or light or colour, or possible comfort any, where, rose before him. He tried to imagine what his life would be if she never came back into it; but as he stood still trying to seize the picture, it seemed to him that it was a thing not to be imagined or thought of. Wherever he looked he saw her, everywhere and in everything. He had imagined himself unhappy; now he discovered that for the last few weeks, since little Belinda had come, he had basked in the summer she had brought, and found new life in the sunshine of her pre
Of an evening he had come home eagerly from his daily toil looking to find her. When he left early in the morning he would look up with kind eyes at her windows as he drove away. Once, early one morning, he had passed her near the lodge-gate, standing in the shadow of the great aspen-tree, and making way for the horses to go by. Belle was holding back the clean stiff folds of her pink muslin dress ; she looked up with that peculiar blink of her grey eyes, smiled and nodded her bright head, and shrunk away from the horses. Every morning Guy used to look under the tree after that to see if she were there by chance, even if he had parted from her but a minute before. Good stupid old fellow! he used to smile to himself at his own foolishness. One of his fancies about her was that Belinda was a bird who would fly away some day, and perch up in the branches of one of the great trees, far, far beyond his reach. And now was this fancy coming true ? was she going-leaving him-flying away where he could not follow her ? He gave an inarticulate sound of mingled anger and sorrow and tenderness which relieved his heart, but which puzzled Belle herself, who was coming down the garden walk to meet him.
“I was looking for you, Mr. Griffiths," said Belle. “Your mother wants to speak to you. I too wanted to ask you something," the girl went on, blushing. “She is kind enough to wish me to come back. . . . But
Belle stopped short, blushed up, and began pulling at the leaves sprouting on either side of the narrow alley. When she looked up after a minute, with one of her quick short-sighted glances, she found that Guy's two little brown eyes were fixed upon her steadily,
into her eyes.
“ Don't be afraid that I shall trouble you," he said, reddening. “If you knew—if you had the smallest conception what your presence is to me, you would come back. I think you would.”
Miss Barly didn't answer, but blushed up again and walked on in silence, hanging her head to conceal the two bright tears which had come
She was so sorry, so very sorry. But what could she do ? Guy had walked on to the end of the rose-garden, and Belle had followed. Now, instead of turning towards the house, he had come out into the brightlooking kitchen-garden, with its red brick walls hung with their various draperies of lichen and mosses, and garlands of clambering fruit. Four little paths led up to the turf carpet which had been laid down in the centre of the garden : here a fountain plashed with a tranquil fall of waters upon water ; all sorts of sweet kitchen-herbs, mint and thyme and parsler, were growing along the straight-cut beds. Birds were pecking at the nets along the walls ; one little sparrow that had been drinking at the fountain flew away as they approached. The few bright-coloured straggling flowers canght the sunlight and reflected it in sparks like the water.
The master of this pleasant place put out his great clumsy hand, and took hold of Belle's soft reluctant fingers. “ Ah, Belle," he said, " is there no hope for me? Will there never be any chance ? "
“I wish with all my heart there was a chance," said poor Belle, pulling away her hand impatiently. • Why do you wound and pain me by speaking again and again of what is far best forgotten? Dear Mr. Griffiths, I will marry you to-morrow, if you desire it,” said the girl, with a sudden impulse turning pale and remembering all that she owed to his forbearance and gentleness ; " but please, please don't ask it.” She looked so frightened and desperate that poor Guy felt that this was worse than anything, and sadly shook his head.
“Don't be afraid," he said. “I don't want to marry you against your will, or keep you here. Yes, you shall go home, and I will stop here alone, and cut my throat if I find I cannot bear the place without you. I am only joking. I daresay I shall do very well," said Griffiths with a sigh; and he turned away and began stamping off in his clumsy way. Then he suddenly stopped and looked back. Belle was standing in the sunshine with her face hidden in her hands. She was so puzzled, and sorry, and hopeless, and mournful. The only thing she could do was to cry, poor child, -and by some instinct Griffiths guessed that she was crying; he knew it,—his heart melted with pity. The poor fellow came back trembling. “My dearest,” he said, don't cry. What a brute I am to make you cry. Tell me anything in the whole world I can do to make you happy."
“If I could only do anything for you,” said Belle, “ that would make me happier.”
“ Then come back, my dear,” said Guy, "and don't fly away yet for ever, as you threatened just now. Come back and cheer up my mother, and make tea and a little sunshine for me, until—until some confounded fellow comes and carries you off," said poor Griffiths.
"Oh, that will never be. Yes; I'll come," said Belle, earnestly. • I'll home for a week and come back; indeed I will."
“Only let me know," said Mr. Griffiths, “and my mother will send the carriage for you. Shall we say a week ?” he added, anxious to drive a hard bargain.
“ Yes,” said Belinda, smiling ; “I'll write and tell you the day.”
Nothing would induce Griffiths to order the carriage until after dinner, and it was quite late at night when Belle got home.
Poor little Myrtle Cottage looked very small and shabby as she drove up in the darkness to the door. A brilliant illumination streamed from all the windows. Martha rubbed her elbows at the sight of the gorgeous equipage. Fanny came to the door surprised, laughing, giggling, mysterious. Everything looked much as usual, except that a large and pompouslooking gentleman was sitting on the drawing-room sofa, and beside him Anna, with a huge ring on her fourth finger, attempting to blush as Belle came into the room. Belle saw that she was not wanted, and ran upstairs to her father, who was better, and sitting in the arm-chair by his bedside. The poor old man nearly cried with delight and surprise, held out both his shaking hands to her, and clung tenderly to the bright young daughter. Belle sat beside him, holding his hand, asking him a hundred questions, kissing his wrinkled face and cheeks, and telling him all that had happened. Mr. Barly, too, had news to give. The fat gentleman downstairs, he told Belle, was no other than Anna's old admirer, the doctor, of whom mention has been made. He had re-proposed the day before, and was now sitting
. on the sofa on probation. Fanny's prospects, too, seemed satisfactory. “She assures me,” said Mr. Barly, “that young Ogden is on the point of coming forward. An old man like me, my dear, is naturally anxious to see his children settled in life and comfortably provided for. I don't know who would be good enough for my Belinda. Not that awkward lout of a Griffiths. No, no ; we must look out better than that.”
“Oh, papa, if you knew how good and how kind he is !” said Belle, with a sudden revulsion of feeling; but she broke off abruptly, and spoke of something else.
The other maid, who had already gone to bed the night before when Belle arrived at the cottage, gave a loud shriek when she went into the room next morning and found some one asleep in the bed. Belle awoke, laughed and explained, and asked her to bring up her things.
“Bring 'em hup ?” said the girl. “What, all them 'ampers that's come by the cart ? No, miss, that's more than me and Martha have the strength for. I should crick my back if I were to attempt for to do such a thing."
“ Hampers,—what hampers ?" Belle asked; but when she went down she found the little passage piled with cases, flowers and game and preserves, and some fine old port for Mr. Barly, and some roses for Belle. As Belinda came downstairs, in her fresh morning dress, Anna, who had been pokirg about and examining the various packages, looked up with otlended dignity.
"I think, considering that I am mistress here," said she, “these bampers should have been directed to me, instead of to you, Belinda. Mr. Griffiths strangely forgets. Indeed, I fear that you too are wanting in any great sense of ladylike propriety."
“ Prunes, prism, propriety,” said Belle, gaily. “Never mind, dear Anna; he's sent the things for all of us. Mr. Griffiths certainly never meant me to drink two dozen bottles of port wine in a week.”
"You are evading the question," said Anna. "I have been wishing to talk to you for some time past,-come into the dining-room, if you please."
It seems almost impossible to beliere, and yet I cannot help fearing that out of sheer spite and envy Anna Barly had even then determined that if she could prevent it, Belinda should never go back to Castle Gardens again, but remain in the cottage. The sight of the pretty things which had been given her there, all the evidences which told of the esteem and love in which she was held, maddened the foolish woman. I can give no other reason for the way in which she opposed Belinda's return to Mrs. Griffiths. “ Her duty is at home," said Anna. “I myself shall be greatly engaged with Thomas,"-50 she had already learnt to call Dr. Robinson. "Fanny also is preoccupied ; Belinda mast remain."
When Belle demurred and said that for the next few weeks she would like to return as she had promised, and stay until Mrs. Griffiths was suited with another companion, Anna's indignation rose and overpowered ber dignity. Was it her sister who was so oblivious of the laws of society, propriety, modesty. Anna feared that Belinda had not reflected upon the strange appearance her conduct must have to others, to the Ogdens, to them all. What was the secret attraction which took her back ? Anna said she had rather not inquire, and went on with her oration. “Unmaidenly,—not to be thought of,—the advice of those whose experience might be trusted ”-does one not know the rigmarole by heart? When even the father, who had been previously talked to, sided with his eldest daughter, when Thomas, who was also called into the family conclave, nodded his head in an ominous manner, poor little Belinda, frightened, shaken, undecided, almost promised that she would do as they desired; and as she promised, the thought of poor Guy's grief and wistful haggard face came before her, and her poor little heart ached and sank at the thought. But not even Belinda, with all her courage, could resist the decision of so much experience, or Anna's hints and innuendoes, or, more insurmountable than all the rest, a sudden shyness and consciousness which had come over the poor little maiden, who turned crimson with shame and annoyance,