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swain, stand by and clear the gangway! By your leave, gentlemen -by your leave, ladies; all for shore must go at once.'

At that moment a tatterdemalion wild-looking Irishwoman-a poor -a poor creature who had evidently travelled far afoot-perhaps all nighttoo late to bid her son adieu, came rushing along the jetty just as the boatswain spoke. She uttered a shrill shriek as she was rather roughly thrust back from the gangway, while a handsome young soldier, with streaming eyes, waved his cap to her.

Then, oblivious of all around, she cast herself on her knees, with her gray hair dishevelled, and throwing her eyes and bare arms upward, cried in a piercing voice,

'May God and His blessed mother preserve you, Pat, from danger and evil! And they will too,' she added, if ye never forget the prayers I've taught you.'

I'll look after him, mother,' cried Kyrle Desborough cheerily. 'By Jove, Vere,' he added, 'poor Paddy forgets many things, but his religion never!"

The gangway was run on shore, a hawser forward thrown off, falling with a splash into the water; while a few revolutions of the screw and a turn of the wheel, grasped by a strong burly fellow, canted the ship's head to seaward.

Cast off that hawser astern !' cries a voice from the bridge.

'Ay, ay, sir,' is the ready response. It is uncoiled from the timber head, and as it too falls splash into the water, all feel and know instinctively that the last tie with the shorethe last link with old England-is broken, and that they are fairly off.

'Good-bye, Mary darling!' cries a soldier.

'The Lord in heaven bless you, Pat!' feebly responds a voice from the receding shore, where the figures

of the weepers are diminishing fast, for already the middle of the basin has been reached.

Conspicuous on the poop in his scarlet tunic was the tall figure of Kyrle Desborough, waving his cap, not to the crowd of on-lookers, but to those women of the Eighth who were left behind, and among whom, ere he stepped on board, he had emptied the contents of his purse, always an ample one; for with all his pretended cynicism, there was no warmer heart than Kyrle's in the service.

Objects on the shore blended fast; already the tall and slender octagonal tower of St. Michael's church-that famous landmark for ships-began to sink; and to the eyes of those who watched her, the mists of the morning gradually shrouded and seemed to swallow up the Bannockburn, as with all her living freight she glided down Southampton Water with her head towards Calshot Castle.

The general bustle of the scene on board, the rousing of the foreand-aft canvas out of its nettings, and setting the topsails when the wind served, the necessity for seeing to the comforts and arrangements of the soldiers below, had the usual mechanical effect on the mind of Vere, and stifled many of those tender thoughts in which he might have indulged amid solitude. But ere long perfect quietness stole over the great ship; every rope was coiled away in its place, and every man ere midday was past seemed to have settled down into his place; and when the drums beat at sunset, it seemed an illusive dream that Vere was so far from Aldershot, from Ringwood Hall, and all that had so lately filled his thoughts; and that but four-andtwenty hours had elapsed since he had last looked into the dark-blue eyes of the girl he loved so dearly and so hopelessly.

CHAPTER XII.

JANUARY AND MAY.

A ROMANTIC interest is stirred in every breast when witnessing the departure of troops for foreign service at any time, but more than all in a season of strife; and how much must love and affection for one of the departing deepen the interest, especially in the heart of an enthusiastic girl! Every one travels nowadays, the appliances for which are so cheap and swift; but every one is not a soldier, and every one is not going far away, to face cannon-balls and rifle-shot!

The statesman, says Major Rankin in his Sketches, devotes his time, talent, and health, his days and nights, to his country. 'Who can appreciate his labours and anxieties, his noble abnegation of self, the magnitude of his sacrifices and his services? But,' adds this gallant fellow, the last man killed in the Crimea,-' but the women of Britain-the wives, the mothers, the sisters of soldiers-what do they contribute to the war? One gives the father of her children; another her dear son, the pride of her old age; a third a brother; a fourth, perhaps one who stood in a dearer relation still, whose loss would crush her young heart, make life a blank to her, and leave her the sorrow, too deep for utterance, of unwedded widowhood.'

If Kyrle Desborough fell, this was what Rosamund would feel herself in her heart to be-an unwedded widow-so fully had the passion for him filled her soul; yet it was on the very day he quitted Aldershot, for ever, as it proved to many, and when Rosamund saw Kyrle's handsome dark face and heard his pleasant voice for the last time, that her bête noire, Sir Ayling Aldwinkle, made his proposal in due form, and nearly as

coolly as if he had been rising to address the House.

Seated alone in the recess of one of the many oriels of Ringwood Hall, with her cheek resting on her hand, she was gazing out on the sunny level landscape, lost in thought, and still seeming to hear in her ears the hurrahs of the departing soldiers, and the cadence of the band with its farewell airs, when Lady Templeton stood beside her, and, though all unused to tenderness or to the melting mood, even when having her own selfish ends to serve, put one arm caressingly around her.

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You know for what purpose, my darling child, Sir Ayling Aldwinkle is here?' said the dowager.

'I cannot, I do not dare to think, mamma.'

'Impossible; guess!' (with a grim attempt at being arch.)

'I care not even to guess,' replied Rosamund wearily; and her little pale face fell, and she seemed ready to weep, but controlled herself by a disdainful effort.

'He wrote to you, under cover to me.'

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for your hand to-day. You must have expected this?'

'Yes, mamma,' said the girl, shivering; but oh, dearest mamma, he is so old?'

'All the better; he will be a quiet, easy-going, respectable husband, whose wild oats were sown long ago.'

'Yes, very long ago!' thought Rosamund contemptuously.

'Your position, even as the daughter of Lord Templeton, will be vastly improved, for his settlements are magnificent. But here he comes, and-I shall leave you.'

And quietly, as if she had been acting a part in 'genteel comedy,' exit Lady Templeton, leaving her daughter very miserable and with many conflicting thoughts.

Sir Ayling approached the girl with a little would-be juvenile skip, and a bright simper rippling over the puckers of his colourless old face; while Rosamund, in rapid succession, became pale, then red, then pale again; then flurried and trembling, cold and weary, and finally defiant; for, as if by very contrast, there came vividly before her the handsome face and figure of the soldier she had seen that morning, with his delightful voice, gallant bearing, and high animal spirits the man whom she believed in her heart loved her, yet feared, for her mother, to avow it. Thus, for a time, stronger grew the spirit of defiance in the heart of the girl, but it was a spirit fated not to last.

'You-you got my letter, Miss Rosamund?' said Sir Ayling, drawing near her a chair, and jauntily seating himself thereon.

'Yes, under cover to mamma.' 'Precisely so, under cover to mamma; and what have you thought of it?' he asked insinuatingly.

That it was droll.'

'Droll?' his heart beat, but not with pleasure; 'droll?' he added.

Come now, my dear Miss Rosamund-'

'Yes, Sir Ayling,' replied Rosamund, beating the carpet with a pretty foot, and with difficulty restraining her tears, as he took one of her plump little hands between his very white but thin and shrivelled fingers.

'Was it not clear in its purport?' 'Quite.'

'Rosamund, dearest Rosamund -but may I call you so?' 'Do.'

"Thanks, darling.'

'Papa always called me so.'

Though quite apposite, this remark of Rosamund's was unpleasant, and a shade of annoyance crossed the aristocratic old face of the lord of Winklestoke.

'But what were you about to add to your letter ?' asked Rosamund, facing him fully, as if brought to bay.

The same noonday sun that streamed in broad beams through the oriel, lighting up the golden hair of the young girl, who was not yet in the noon of life, and was naturally buoyant in spirit, bright and beautiful as the Aurora of Guido, also lighted up, but as if with silver frost, the thin white hair and withered cheek of 'the lean and slippered pantaloon' who addressed her; though he did not wear slippers then, but glazed boots, the daintiest that Regent Street could produce.

'What more have you to say to me than the letter contained?' repeated Rosamund, as he had paused irresolutely.

That all my future happiness depends upon your reply to it.'

How much more he had now of the past than of the future, that glorious inheritance of the young!

'I know,' he urged, my own unworthiness of your hand and of your heart, though happily it can have formed no other attachment;

but every endeavour of my future life shall be to love, to serve, and watch over you.'

She raised her humid eyes from the vacant task of tracing the carpet pattern, and saw that those of the old man were regarding her earnestly, even ardently.

'You may deem that there is some disparity in our years,' continued Sir Ayling, feeling doubtless that it was piteous to have to pay his court in this fashion; yet I do not think it impossible for a marriage to be perfectly and serenely happy, without all that rapture that -that-aw-you know all I mean, described by poets and novelists: those glows of passion which never last, and are often followed by the weariness and disappointment of years. Thus, dearest Rosamund, with your good mamma's permission-'

'O Sir Ayling, why torment me with mamma's permission? What do you-what can you see in me? I have no heart. I am not good enough for you. In town there are hundreds more suitable for you than I.'

'No, no, my dearest girl; I am surely old enough to know my own mind.'

'Quite; but not old enough to know mine. I must own,' she added, willing to conciliate, 'to having much esteem and great friendship for you, with gratitude for the honour you do me.'

'Surely these sentiments will be changed in time for those of greater tenderness? They must yield, dear Rosamund, to the ardour of mine.'

She looked in the faded face, with its thin aristocratic nose and brilliantly-white Parisian teeth, and with difficulty restrained an emotion to laugh or to weep, she scarcely knew which.

'I like you in one way well enough, because you are good, kind, gentle, and-and-'

VOL. XXII.

'What, my darling?'

'You remind me of papa.'

Sir Ayling winced again; but he pressed to his lips the hand he held, on which she drew it away; yet, nothing daunted - he had made love to scores in his time, and could do so by rote-he said,

'You will know your own mind ere long, my dear girl. Already, thanks to your mamma and family, I look upon you as my affianced wife even the petty matter of the settlements has been fully adjusted.'

Rosamund shivered, and muttered,

'Such torment, such tyranny it is-in this age of the world too! O Kyrle, Kyrle, you might have saved me from it, and you would not!'

A strange hardness stole into the expression of her eyes; and Sir Ayling, who watched her attentively, felt himself at a disadvantage-she was so cool, so unimpressed by all his attempted blandishments. Yet he returned to the charge, and, taking her face caressingly between his hands, in a fatherly way, said,

'I will not hurry you, darling: you have to name the day; and ere long I shall teach you to love me, and you will be happier when it is all over.'

'All over! would that I could

die!' thought Rosamund, as he printed a cold kiss on her fair forehead, and jauntily tripped away on tip-toe, humming an air, and rubbing his old withered paws, as much as to say, 'Egad, that's all settled at last!'

In her indignant, defiant, and desperate view of the whole situation, Rosamund had been forgetting all about her promise of obedience to her mother-about the perilous state of their monetary matters, and the threatened shame, ruin, and deprivation of all the

state and luxury to which they had, by use and wont, been accustomed as a second nature-till suddenly the whole gulf seemed to open at the feet of the unhappy girl, and, bowing her face upon her hands, she gave way to a passion of bitter

tears.

Then, desirous of solitude, and to avoid all her family-even the gentle Gertrude, for she had been changed sorely and strange of late, taking odd views of human nature, and bitter ones of men-she hurried forth and sought the cool recesses of the chase, where all the grand old trees were budding now and bursting into leaf with the tender greenery of spring; and long she wandered there, sunk in corroding thoughts-on through the tangled wood, by the windings of a tiny stream that joined the Whitewater; and, seeking to avoid the glare of the sun, she sat down by the root of an old tree, with a hunted expression in her eye, as if some one was pursuing her-sat down in a place surrounded by a literal grove of those bushes from the locality of which the camp obtained its Saxon name-alder holz, or the copse of alders.

She felt that to marry Sir Ayling Aldwinkle was her inevitable doom, unless she knew not what intervened.

Was such a marriage as this her mother had cruelly planned the consummation of that all-engrossing thought which ever fills the bosom of the young, especially the ardent and imaginative, from the monarch on his throne to the peasant at his plough? Could such be the realisation of that soft dream which makes the pulses of the heart to quicken, the nerves to thrill, and ofall that poet, painter, and novelist have striven to depict-of two persons so suited to each other in thought, in heart, and temperament, that their union alone was

required to make one perfect and harmonious whole-the union that, if left to God or Nature, and not to man, might become so indeed?

And then she thought of the cold world, of the tyrannical bugbear called 'society,' and what would be said of such a marriage when announced in the Morning Post, and all were free to canvas its merits and demerits - how the old would pity, the young mock, and both revile, it might be slander, her. Oh, no, no! she would escape if she could-escape; but how? And with this thought she bowed her fair bright head as if the black waves of ruin and misfortune were rolling over it.

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Herresolution was speedily taken -a strange, wild, and desperate one. She would write to Kyrle, she thought, and implore him to save her-write to him ere it might be too late. And in the solitude of her own room, with door locked, as if she was engaged in something nefarious with hot trembling hands, hot throbbing temples, and while her eyes were blinded ever and anon by hot scalding tearsshe began a letter to him. But more than twenty were commenced, abandoned, and destroyed ere she could pen one that was sufficiently clear or coherent: even it fell far, far short of what she wished it should be, and it was necessarily without prefix:

'I trust to Heaven that this letter may reach you ere your ship, the Bannockburn-I have learned its name-leaves Southampton, that you may at least telegraph to me. I care not what people-even mamma-may think, for, Kyrle, I am desperate! I entreat you, by the memory of all that you have said to me, in London and here; by the memory of your love for me (for that you love me in secret I never for a moment doubted); by

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