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“Dear Fleda,” said he, stooping down and speaking with equal gravity and kindliness of manner, -"you were not
able to go."
Fleda's shake of the head gave a meek acquiescence. But her face was covered, and the gay talkers around her were silenced and sobered by the heaving of her little frame with sobs that she could not keep back. Mr. Carleton secured the permanence of their silence for that evening. He dismissed them the room again and would have nobody there but himself and his mother.
Instead of being better the next day Fleda was not able to get up; she was somewhat feverish and exceedingly weak. She lay like a baby, Mrs. Carleton said, and gave as little trouble. Gentle and patient always, she made no complaint, and even uttered no wish, and whatever they did made no objection. Though many a tear that day and the following paid its faithful tribute to the memory of what she had lost, no one knew it; she was never seen to weep; and the very grave composure of her face and her passive unconcern as to what was done or doing around her
ve her friends reason to suspect that the mind was not as quiet as the body. Mr. Carleton was the only one who saw deeper; the only one that guessed why the little hand often covered the eyes so carefully, and read the very, very grave lines of the mouth that it could not hide.
As soon as she could bear it he had her brought out to the dressing-room again, and laid on the sofa; and it was several days before she could be got any further. But there he could be more with her and devote himself more to her pleasure; and it was not long before he had made himself necessary to the poor child's comfort in a way beyond what he was aware of.
He was not the only one who shewed her kindness. Unwearied care and most affectionate attention were lavished upon her by his mother and both her friends; they all thought they could not do enough to mark their feeling and regard for her. Mrs. Carleton and Mrs. Evelyn nursed her by night and by day. Mrs. Evelyn read to her. Mrs. Thorn would come often to look and smile at her and say a few words of heart-felt pity and sympathy. Yet Fleda could not feel quite at home with any one of them. They did not see it. Her manner was affectionate and grateful, to the utmost of their wish; her simple natural politeness, her nice sense of propriety, were at every call; she seemed after a few days. to be as cheerful and to enter as much into what was going on about her as they had any reason to expect she could; and they were satisfied. But while moving thus smoothly among her new companions, in secret her spirit stood aloof; there was not one of them that could touch her, that could understand her, that could meet the want of her nature. Mrs. Carleton was incapacitated for it by education; Mrs. Evelyn by character; Mrs. Thorn by natural constitution. Of them all, though by far the least winning and agreeable in personal qualifications, Fleda would soonest have relied on Mrs. Thorn, could soonest have loved her. Her homely sympathy and kindness made their way to the child's heart; Fleda felt them and trusted them. But there were too few points of con
Fleda thanked her, and did not wish to see her again. With Mrs. Carleton Fleda had almost nothing at all in common. And that notwithstanding all this lady's politeness, intelligence, cultivation, and real kindness towards herself. Fleda would readily have given her credit for them all; and yet, the nautilus may as soon compare notes with the navigator, the canary might as well study Maelzel's Metronome, as a child of nature and a woman of the world comprehend and suit each other. The nature of the one must change or the two must remain the world wide apart. Fleda felt it, she did not know why. Mrs. Carleton was very kind, and perfectly polite; but Fleda had no pleasure in her kindness, no trust in her politeness; or if that be saying too much, at least she felt that for some inexplicable reason both were unsatisfactory. Even the tact which each possessed in an exquisite degree was not the same in each; in one it was the self-graduating power of a clever machine--in the other, the delicateness of the sensitive-plant. Mrs. Carleton herself was not without some sense of this distinction; she confessed, secretly, that there was something in Fleda out of the reach of her discernment, and consequently beyond the walk of her skill; and felt, rather uneasily, that more delicate_hands were needed to guide so delicate a nature. Mrs. Evelyn came He only,
nearer the point. She was very pleasant, and she knew how to do things in a charming way; and there were times, frequently, when Fleda thought she was everything lovely. But yet, now and then a mere word, or look, would contradict this fair promise, a something of hardness which Fleda could not reconcile with the soft gentleness of other times; and on the whole Mrs. Evelyn was unsure ground to her; she could not adventure her confidence there.
With Mr. Carleton alone Fleda felt at home. she knew, completely understood and appreciated her. Yet she saw also that with others he was not the same as with her. Whether grave or gay there was about him an air of cool indifference, very often reserved and not seldom haughty; and the eye which could melt and glow when turned upon her, was sometimes as bright and cold as a winter sky. Fleda felt sure however that she might trust him entirely so far as she herself was concerned; of the rest she stood in doubt. She was quite right in both cases. Whatever else there inight be in that blue eye, there was truth in it when it met hers; she gave that truth her full confidence and was willing to honour every draught made upon her charity for the other parts of his character.
He never seemed to lose sight of her. He was always doing something for which Fleda loved him, but so quietly and happily that she could neither help his taking the trouble nor thank him for it. It might have been matter of surprise that a gay young man of fashion should concern himself like a brother about the wants of a little child; the young gentlemen down stairs who were not of the society in the dressing-room did make themselves very merry upon the subject, and rallied Mr. Carleton with the common amount of wit and wisdom about his little sweetheart; a raillery which met the most flinty indifference. But none of those who saw Fleda ever thought strange of anything that was done for her; and Mrs. Carleton was rejoiced to have her son take up the task she was fain to lay down. So he really, more than any one else, had the management of her; and Fleda invariably greeted his entrance into the room with a faint smile, which even the ladies who saw agreed was well worth working for.
If large possessions, pompous titles, honourable charges, and profitable commissions, could have made this proud man happy, there would have been nothing wanting.-L'ESTRANGE.
no colour, but she had grown a little stronger, and it was thought the party might proceed on their way without any more tarrying; trusting that change and the motion of travelling would do better things for Fleda than could be hoped from any further stay at Montepoole. The matter was talked over in an evening consultation in the dressingroom, and it was decided that they would set off on the second day thereafter.
Fleda was lying quietly on her sofa, with her eyes closed, having had nothing to say during the discussion. They thought she had perhaps not heard it. Mr. Carleton's sharper eyes, however, saw that one or two tears were glimmering just under the eyelash. He bent down over her and whispered,
“I know what you are thinking of Fleda, do I not ?"
“ I was thinking of aunt Miriam,” Fleda said in an answering whisper, without opening her eyes.
66 I will take care of that."
Fleda looked up and smiled most expressively her thanks, and in five minutes was asleep. Mr. Carleton stood watching her, querying how long those clear eyes would have nothing to hide, —how long that bright purity could resist the corrosion of the world's breath; and half thinking that it would be better for the spirit to pass away, with its lustre upon it, than stay till self-interest should sharpen the eye, and the lines of diplomacy write themselves on that fair brow. “Better so; better so."
6 What are you thinking of so gloomily, Guy ?" said his mother.
“ That is a tender little creature to struggle with a rough world.”
“She won't have to struggle with it,” said Mrs. Carle
"She will do very well," said Mrs. Evelyn.
“I don't think she'd find it a rough world, where you were, Mr. Carleton,” said Mrs. Thorn.
" Thank you ma'am," he said smiling. “But unhappily my power reaches very little way.
"Perhaps," said Mrs. Evelyn with a siy smile," that might be arranged differently--Mrs. Rossitur-I have no doubt—would desire nothing better than a smooth world for her little niece-and Mr. Carleton's power might be unlimited in its extent."
There was no answer, and the absolute repose of all the lines of the young gentleman's face bordered too nearly on contempt to encourage the lady to pursue her jest any further.
The next day Fleda was well enough to bear moving. Mr. Carleton had her carefully bundled up, and then carried her down stairs and placed her in the little light wagon which had once before brought her to the Pool. Luckily it was a inild day, for no close carriage was to be had for love or money. The stage-coach in which Fleda had been fetched from her grandfather's was in use, away somewhere. Mr. Carleton drove her down to aunt Miriam's, and leaving her there he went off again ; and whatever he did with himself it was a good two hours before he came back. All too little yet they were for the tears and the sympathy which went to so many things both in the past and in the future. Aunt Miriam had not said half she wished to say, when the wagon was at the gate again, and Mr. Carleton came to take his little charge away.
He found her sitting happily in aunt Miriam's lap. Fleda was very grateful to him for leaving her such a nice long time, and welcomed himn with even a brighter smile than usual. But her head rested wistfully on her aunt's bosom after that; and when he asked her if she was almost ready to go, she hid her face there and put her arms about