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breathless interest to the details of Philip's dying testament and latest wishes. The reader knows already what testament t contained, and what those latest wishes incongruous and extraordinary: nevertheless, as she rose to leave the room where the lengthened dialogue had been carried on, she held out her hand to Helen. :
"We shall meet again," she said "for whatever may be the course of conduct decided on by my sister, when she learns this strange history, we at least shall, I trust, be friends. I regret that you have not with you
the volume, in which was written a document so important; but you have shown me letters, and have told me enough to prove that you have deserved better
hands than to be answered coldly and by letter. Pray say that you will not leave this place without informing me of your intention; pray promise me that we shall meet again.”
"It were better not," said Helen, sadly; "believe mé, 'it were better not. But you have yet to learn how women such as I are spoken of, and how, just and heavy is the condemnation with which they are visited; and should the world know of our meeting here, even you, blameless as you are, would not escape calumny."
“But this is not the world,” said Alice; "in this quiet place, if anywhere, our sayings and our doings may pass
unheeded." “True," responded Helen; "and as I have entrusted the secret of my hurried journey to no living soul, I may perhaps venture, for another day, to remain in your neighbourhood, and, without injury to you, may see you once again.'
часове describe to me, in" a answer me
This being settled, and an early hour on the following morning having been fixed on for their parting interview, Alice mounted her pony, and returned to Kelhouet. ject that met her eyes was Gertrude, pacing rapidly along the gravel walk before the door. "Alice," she exclaimed, "before you tell me any
, have been visiting."
"A few words!” said Alice, faintly. That would be small measure in which to pourtray a beauty and a charm that I have rarely seen equalled."
"But tell me, is she dark or fair, and is her form slight, or of large proportions? I saw a miniature once, hidden among poor Philip's most cherished possessions, and asked him of whom it was the likeness; but he refused to satisfy my curiosity. The face was a very beautiful one, the hair dark, and the eyes longshaped and sleepy. But the smile! Oh! Alice, it was such a smile, the sweetest and the brightest I ever saw
“There was no smile on the face I saw to-day," said her sister, gravely. "Strange, indeed, if there had been. From your description, however, I have little doubt that Mrs. Vaughan is the original of the portrait, guarded so carefully by our poor Philip. But what of this, dear Gertrude? and why are you so anxious to identify
"Surely," interposed her sister, eagerly, “surely you must be as desirous as I am to be convinced that
this woman is at least no impostor no inventor of lies to deceive
She spoke with vehemence, but Alice replied with even more than her wonted gentleness,
“Forgive me for my dulness, dear sister, but had you seen Mrs. Vaughan as I have seen her, and had you watched her words and countenance as I have done to-day, you would hardly be surprised that all memory of your doubts should have escaped me. And now that I have answered your questions, you must listen to me, and after hearing the statement that has been made to me, you must decide on the course of conduct you will pursue."
: The summer sun had already passed its meridian, when the sisters, seated under a spreading lime-tree, held their colloquy. Lady Thornleigh listened in silence while Alice revealed to her the almost incredible details concerning Sir Philip's last testament, and his ultimate instructions to Helen concerning it.
"And now," she added, when all was told, "now, Gertrude, surely the time has come when you will remember the interests of your children, and will, if it be within your power, redeem their name, and
your own, from suspicion and disgrace."
The appeal was urgent, but it was made in vain.
“You urge me on a matter about which you are not qualified to judge," said Gertrude, coldly. “But you might at least give me credit for disinterestedness, and believe that I would scarcely do that for worldly gain, which I had refused to your entreaties, and to the commands of my husband. The same obstacles are in my way now that stood, during that time of trial and wretchedness, between me and my justifica
tion Till those obstacles shall be removed, disgrace, suspicion, and poverty, must be my portion. But I will see this person I will stand before this appointed judge of my conduct, and I do homage to this arbitress of my fate. A fitting one truly is she! Think of it, Alice. Sir Philip's mistress sitting in judgment on Philip Thornleigh's wife! It is, indeed, a sight to make men smile.??. And she laughed a bitter and scornful laugh, as though she mocked herself and all the world."
**1“Oh! Gertrude. it. Do not speak so angrily and cruelly. Is it this poor woman's fault that fortune has been thrust upon her? Gladly would she make restitution; were it in her power to do so; and right thankful would she be could she restore this wealth to you and to its rightful heir.";.!!
1.5"I thank her, but neither I, nor mine," will consent to receive alms from Sir Philip Thornleigh's friend!" said Gertrude, with proud determination. And Alice, seeing that her present mood was one that rendered reasoning with her useless, was prudently silent.
Truly, when those we love disappoint us, the hit on our heart is a hard one! Alice felt this as she leant her head upon her hand and recalled (moodily and almost resentfully) her sister's words. -Doubts were creeping in, and beliefs vanishing away; while testimonies which she had driven forth before as unworthy of credit, came rushing back -- a perfect crowd of witnesses to prove that Gertrude was what her sister feared to name. »
It was, perhaps, strange that the fortress of faith, which had stood firm against so many rough assaults, should be crumbling away at last, reduced by the arrow
of a sharply uttered word! But the case is not a novel one; nor is Alice the only woman who has deemed an act or thought of meanness to be the worst of faults, and of all others the most hard to be forgiven.
And was it a true bill that the deliberating jury in her heart had found against her unhappy sister? And can you, O reader (magnanimous and disinterested as you doubtless are), suspend your judgment for a while, and forbear to condemn this Gertrude, faulty though she be? Can you abstain from stigmatising her as one who could command her feelings and her temper well enough, till she found that it was not love and confidence alone, but lands and money, that Mrs. Vaughan had obtained from Philip Thornleigh? Can you, in short, do what Alice did not, namely, think of her charitably, and with hope?
Lady Thornleigh left the garden abruptly, after her last angry speech; and soon after Alice was startled by the sound of carriage wheels. Looking round her, she saw their little char-à-banc at the door, and a minute later Gertrude entered it, and was driven away at the measured trot of the broad-backed mare who drew the old-world-looking vehicle.
On that evening, Helen sat alone in the little inn's best room at A It was a large and lofty chamber: two narrow beds; placed side by side under an alcove, occupied one end of it; and at the other were three windows, having view upon the market-place. In the centre stood a white marble table; and round the walls were heavy chairs, cushioned with time-worn Utrecht velvet. Who has not seen hundreds of such rooms? Who has not said, on entering them, that they were of all rooms the most cheerless and unhomelike?