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which all must, I trust, entertain for a woman who is
sister should confess the secrets of another? - the secrets she has sworn to guard? For I believe my sister, Mr. Herbert
I believe that she is innocent; and that she is so I will, with my feeble voice, proclaim.”
There were no tears now but, instead, a look of calm and quiet determination, that should have enlightened her auditor as to the character with which he had to deal.
"Feeble, indeed," he repeated, waving his hand impatiently. "For you would but make shipwreck of your own faith, should you remain with this unhappy
woman; and in your endeavour to save her, you would be drawn into the vortex from which
had vainly hoped to rescue her! Alice, dearest, listen to me,” he continued, in a gentler tone. "I have come a long and weary way to find you, in the hope, the earnest anxious hope, that you will return with me
return as my wife, to bless the home which I shall endeavour to make happy for you."
“I have told you, and I repeat it now, that while Gertrude is in sorrow I will cling to her, and that where she is there will I be also.”
“But your sister will not be alone.”
“Alone!" echoed Alice, with a bitter laugh, as she glanced round the bare white walls. "Alone and broken-hearted! Truly yours is a comfortable creed, if to leave her thus you deem would be a duty."
The tone of her voice affronted Herbert, who, though he would not have owned the hard impeachment, was growing angry. He had undertaken a tedious journey and, generously overlooking Alice's fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, now brought to light, had been willing to accept of her as his wife. He had expected, therefore, to meet with gratitude for the sacrifice he told himself he was making, and was disappointed.
"Since such is your resolution," he said coldly, “there is, I imagine, nothing to be gained by a lengthened discussion of the subject; ond it would be, perhaps, as well that I should bid you farewell."
Alice could not hear those words unmoved. In a moment her anger was softened by the memory of his many excellent qualities of the old affection she had felt for him, and of his kindness in coming so far to
seek them; besides, they were so very desolate, so utterly friendless; and therefore, with faltering accents, she said:
“You must not leave us in anger, Francis; Gertrude will be so hurt and mortified. I wish she were at home; you could not be hard upon her then. Only wait.”
He saw his advantage, and pursued it rashly and fatally.
"Alice," he said (while he stood before her as if in judgment), “I have loved you dearly — so dearly, that you
have often seemed a stumbling-block in my path of duty. I have striven so against my love, that the striving has become a habit with me; and I have now wrestled with the angry feeling which many a better man might feel at seeing an erring sister preferred before his unchanged affection, and I am able to propose an alternative.”
“Let me hear it,” said Alice, seeing that he hesitated.
“The alternative of sharing your sister's home and, alas! her deep disgrace, or of never sharing that of the man whose love you have trifled with. My wife and the mother of my children must not be pointed at as
"Enough!” interrupted Alice proudly, pale with anger, for now she marvelled that she had ever loved him. , “If this be your charity, it is indeed time that we should part. Mine teaches me not only to hope, but to believe all things; and by the blessing of God, may we be enabled also to endure all things. Farewell! In this life it is not likely that we shall meet again; but in your dealings with your fellow-men, and
in the judgment of your God, may you never need the mercy that you have denied to us!"
Herbert was not one to sue for a reconciliation, and so the tie between them was broken; but when the Rector returned to his duties at Thornleigh, he felt the severing of that tie more severely than he cared to own; and his asceticism, strengthened by self-reproach (although he knew it not), grew from that hour sterner even than of yore.
“La dissimulation la plus innocente n'est jamais sans inconvenient ;
criminel ou non, l'artifice est toujours dangereux, et presqu'inévitablement nuisible; la meilleuré ct la plus sure politique est de ne jamais employer la ruse, les détours ou les petites finesses, et d'être dans toutes les circonstances de la vie également droit et sincère.
And here, in this still retrospective history, we must turn aside a little and revert to Helen, whom we left on the roadside of Life's Highway, wounded and helpless. At first it was the chill alone she felt the sharp cold of the stab, as the weapon entered into her side; but then came the heavy fall as she sank beneath the blow, and for a while all was dark. But she recovered, as many a one has done before, and will again as long as there are men to deal such blows, and to sink under their infliction. Then she arose, but stunned almost and stupified, and staggering to her feet, pursued her way painfully and alone.
Her first resting-place was far removed from the scene of her short-lived happiness; for it was to a small seaport town
a northern county that she betook herself, with her crushed fortunes and ruined hopes, for shelter and for privacy. Very humble was the abode she fixed upon-a small lodging over a little-frequented shop; but in it she found the quiet and the obscurity that she sought for. But Helen, strong-nerved and vigorous both in mind and body, felt (and that before many weeks had passed over her head) that her spirit Recommended 10 Mercy. I.