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to see what had been the effect his arms as she released them, and of his words.
standing ashamed and penitent Hilda's answer was given by the before her: “I feel that I am in expression of her face. She did a false position in pleading before not look at him, or speak, she only you here. I wish I could have shook her head sadly.
spoken anywhere else, in some place “ Hilda, I implore you," he cried where we might be as equals. passionately, “ don't refuse to listen Equals! We can never be equals ! to me; anything but that. I have You will always be my superior. frightened you, perhaps; I have You are as good and wise as you been too quick; but I don't want are beautiful. But
you cannot surto hurry you. I am too much in pass me in the power of loving. earnest to care that you should What can I say more to make you decide all at once. Take time over hearken to me?” it. Only don't say 'no' at once. Just then the sound of the hallBy heavens, Hilda!” he cried, as door opening made them both turn she made a gesture of dissent, “you and look that way. It was one of shall not refuse me. The happiness the servants coming in. The door of both of us requires that you was shut again, and she could be should listen to my prayer. The heard passing into the kitchen. sacrifice is all on your side, I know; “ There is no time to say more but still, my great love must count now, Hilda,” continued Clifford, for something. By heavens, Hilda! after a pause, “but I won't také you must and shall yield to it," and your denial in this way, there is too he rushed forward to seize her in much involved in it. You shall his arms.
not commit yourself by saying any. But Hilda retreated a step back- thing now.” wards, and stopped him with out- But Hilda gave him a sorrowful stretched hands. “No, Robert, look, and opening the door, passed dear,” she said tenderly, and with swiftly out and sought her own out expressing the fear she felt, room. Clifford remained stand“ do not be unjust to yourself. ing where she had left him for a Remember that I am in your house, short time only, and then rushed and under your protection. Do out of the house to find in exernot be unlike yourself.”
cise an outlet for his pent-up “You are right, Hilda, as you feelings. When he returned, Hilda always are," he answered, dropping had gone.
Hilda bad time to regain her still less to take in the full import composure before she set out home- of the change which had suddenly wards. And the prosaic scene of been wrought iu her life. But the railway station served as an feeling instinctively that there effectual antidote to the emotion she would be plenty of time before her had just gone through. Indeed, as to think over the past as well as she sat, one of several passengers in the future, she strove, and to the railway carriage, in the after- certain extent effectually, to put noon train down to Rainham, she the present aside, and to keep her found it difficult to realise the thoughts closed to it. Of one scene she had just gone through, thing she was very conscious : she
had always felt that the strange and that her father had of late been situation in which she had found less of a companion than ever, his herself was too unreal and artificial presence would have given her a to last. But now that the bubble sense of protection of which in the had burst, she would at least live present state of her nerves she felt on for a few hours with senses the need greatly. She would not, dulled before indulging in the lux- however, delay the serving of the ury of grief, or applying herself simple evening meal, knowing that to the practical business of facing her father usually had plenty of the future.
refreshment when making excurShe found no one at home but sions with his new friend. But Martha the maid. And now as although she sent Martha to bed at she sat down to rest awhile after the usual hour, after the house had her walk from the station, there been locked up for the night, she was nothing to occupy her atten- sat up herself till after the last train tion, or prevent her mind from from town had come in without reverting to the events of the morn- bringing him. ing. But no! If her thoughts Sound is the sleep of youth and turned to Clifford, there would be health, even when sorrow and care the danger of dwelling on the sit on the pillow, ready to obsacrifice which he had made for her trude themselves when the sleeper sake. She must never allow her- awakes. But it was not immediateself to admit the possibility of ly on waking that the events of the even considering his proposition. previous day came back to Hilda's She must strive for the present recollection, and that she rememto maintain her condition of men- bered, too, that her father had not tal stupor, and rising, she went come home. Then there returned down-stairs to help Martha to get to her the dull feeling that a great ready the evening meal. And calamity had to be faced, that the suffering Martha's tongue to run life which had of late been so on as the two worked together in sweet was now ended, and the the little kitchen—an opportunity future all drear and uncertain. which the honest maid" took full But for a little longer, at any rate, advantage of—she was able to keep would she put off facing the ineviher own attention from dwelling on table problem.
table problem. It was Sunday; herself.
for this day at least would she The evening wore on, and still keep herself from thinking how she her father did not come home. He was to get food and clothing for had gone up by the next train after herself and her father, and what Hilda's, Martha said ; he told her must be done for little Arthur. that he had an important appoint. The sun was high in the heavens ment to keep in town. He was when she awoke, and the morning looking quite smart, with a hand- bright and warm, the fine summer bag, and a beautiful bouquet of weather still holding on; and as flowers which the young man from Hilda looked at herself in the glass, the flower-shop brought just as he she was fain to admit that care was starting. The young man had not yet dimmed her eyes, or carried the bag for him to the robbed her cheek of its bloom.“ Is station. Just now Hilda missed it true," she thought, “ that I am him more than she might otherwise really as pretty as he says I am ? have done; although she was sen- But no! that thought must be put sible of the comfort of being alone, away altogether. He has made it impossible for me to allow myself such advantages in the way of eduto think about him."
cation; but she has an affectionate She was still at her toilet when and sympathising disposition, and Martha came up, bringing a letter is most favourably disposed towhich she said she thought was in wards you. I will just add that master's handwriting. It was; and our speedy nuptials having renHilda with a natural feeling of dered regular marriage settlements anxiety, and divining by instinct impossible, I have not attempted to that it contained some important control my Mary Ann's own disannouncement, sat down on the position of her quarterly jointure; edge of the bed to read it. but I am sure you will feel with
me that there would be an obvious “MY DEAR HILDA,” it began, indelicacy in suggesting an imme" although extremely busy, I write diate application to her purse, as a hurried line to announce to you it has already had a heavy call for my marriage this morning to the the special licence. I am obliged, lady who, you are aware, has lately therefore, to leave my little account been engaging a large share of my with you undischarged, but this I attention. I have been sensible for am in hopes will not cause inconsome time that my children did not venience. After all, it is merely a value their father's society; they very remunerative investment of a can hardly be surprised that he little capital. Should you be in should seek for sympathy from the any temporary difficulty, I am sure gentle and appreciative disposition your generous employer would make of one who values him for his own you an advance of salary.—In great sake. Reasons which I will not haste, ever your affectionate father, now go into rendered it expedient
“ WILLIAM REID. to make the marriage a private one, “ P.S.-I think of letting the and to carry it out as speedily as cottage, as the extreme quiet of possible, to relieve Mrs. Baker—as Rainham would never suit my my dear Mary Ann was called till dear Mary Ann, who is fond of this morning—from the embarras- excitement and cheerful society. sing situation in which she found But of course you need not be in herself, and from the insidious ad- any hurry about turning out.” dresses of designing persons, which could be effectually repelled only Although the announcement surby a husband's protection. We prised her, coming so soon and so start this afternoon for Boulogne, suddenly, Hilda had not been able as Mary Ann has always had a to avoid the suspicion that her great desire - hitherto ungratified father was meditating something —to see foreign countries. And of the kind; and it would be only our stay abroad will be a little un- in accordance with his weak discertain; but I need not say that I position that he should commit shall look forward to the earliest himself privately in this way. Nor opportunity of introducing my re- was she blind to other points in his maining children to their new character ; but the mingled feeblemamma, and I am sure they will ness and heartlessness of the letter give her a fitting welcome, as much came to lacerate anew a heart still on my account as on her own. sore and craving for sympathy. Your step-mother is no longer True, her father would have been young, and would not perhaps ap- a burden and not a support, and pear clever to you who have had would have added to the difficulty of her penniless position; still it goodness of Providence; she could would have been real comfort in not fall back on any higher feeling her present forlorn condition to than a sense of duty. Just now she have some one who knew her at felt unfit for any mental process : hand; not to be so thoroughly she sat in the little drawing-room alone in the world as she now looking out idly into the garden. seemned to be. Then unbidden The day wore on, and, first time would come up the thought that for many days, became overcast. she need not be alone if she chose. The dull overshadowed afternoon But no! that thought must be seemed to reflect her own condisternly put aside. She must not tion, deserted as she was by all at any cost admit the possibility of her family. Harry would now be consenting to the proposal her lover nearly out of the Channel. Even had made. Crushed and weary, Arthur had left her, and for the Hilda descended to the little par- moment the thought of the child's lour to her solitary breakfast. She happiness, contrasted with her own had not the heart, in reply to desolation, struck her with a sense Martha's inquiries what was the of bitterness. But a healthier feelnews from master, to tell her the ing soon succeeded. Poor little whole truth ; she merely said that Arthur, his good fortune would be he had gone to France for a few but short-lived ! let him at least be days, and it was not quite certain happy for a time. For him, too, when he would be back. But the like herself, a change of life was maid could see from Hilda's manner impending. Then, her thoughts that something was amiss.
having turned to her little brother, Now came the long day, and she began to feel a longing to see Hilda afterwards remembered but him again. The sight of his loving dimly how she got through it. The face would be some consolation in bells were ringing for church, but her desolate condition.
And why Hilda knew no consolation in that should she not go and see him? direction. When living abroad There would be a train to Richwith her aunt and uncle they had mond in about an hour, and one seldom attended any services, and to bring her back in the evening. at home there was the same neglect. Yes; anything would be better Hilda's family and Hilda herself than sitting here, and she was risdiffered from a great many of her ing from her chair, when a sound own class merely in not making suddenly arrested her movement, any pretence of having any reli- and she sank down helpless. It gion; whereas the religious pro- was the sound of a footstep, heard fession of such people is limited to plainly in the still summer aftergoing to church once a week, with- noon—a step she would have reout even pretending to pray when cognised anywhere. Now it stops there, as if their attendance was at the gate, and as Clifford entering rather a concession to public opin- the garden, walked up the path, ion than of any efficacy in itself. Hilda, so firm yesterday, sits as if Hilda and the rest of the house- paralysed, unable to stir. hold, except Martha, with whom it Clifford saw her as he advanced, was the one holiday and excitement and that she was alone. It was of the week, never went at all. merely a step from the garden into Hilda could not find any consola- the room by the open window. tion in believing that she was Another, and he was standing besingled out for misfortune by the fore her.
She could not refuse the hand of he replied. “I want you to congreeting which he held out, and sider the thing from a business something in his manner reassured point of view, although I should her. He had recovered his com- never forgive myself if I drove you posure, and it was plain that he to lose or give up your situation. was desirous of effacing the im- You are clever enough for anypression created by his conduct of. thing, of course;
you know how the previous day. Clifford, indeed, difficult it is to find suitable emhad come resolved to place a strong ployment, and you have not only control over himself, and strove yourself to consider, there is your hard to efface all appearance of the father.” lover. He hardly touched the “My father is provided for," she fingers which she gave him, and said, sorrowfully; "he was married did not even confront her eyes this morning.” She had the letter with his, as he seated himself in her hand, and held it up as she opposite to her, and striving to spoke by an involuntary movement, appear unembarrassed in manner, of which she at one repented, as asked if her father were at home. well as of her speech, when she saw Hilda replied that he was away, the eager and triumphant expression hardly—she scarcely knew why— of his face. It was momentary, liking to make the avowal." I however. Clifford recovered his am come,” he said presently, “ to composure at once. find out something about which I “This is surely unexpected ?" am uneasy.
I have been a little he asked. “Come, Hilda, tell me anxious lest
you should not return something about it; I can see that to your duties to - morrow, but I the
has been a surprise.” would not wait till to - morrow to And Hilda in a few words made learn your intention. How is it? him acquainted with the facts. She You did .mean that, I see. Well,
Well, could not help this, although she then, it is best to have the matter felt instinctively that she ought not out with you. You know, of course, to make a confidant of him, he was that you are not at liberty to break so full of interest and sympathy; off without due notice, and equally, and her manner of telling the brief of course, that I should not place tale, betrayed the pain caused by the matter on that ground. But I her father's conduct. want you to consider what is right “He has not treated you well, and proper, apart from considera- certainly," Clifford observed; "but tions of my convenience, although, I cannot see that it is a bad thing of course, it would be extremely on the whole ;" — to him, indeed, inconvenient to be without the ser- the
delightful—“ one vices of my secretary."
heavy burden is removed from you ; He said this in something like his but you have still to support yourold playful tone, which reassured self, if you are quite resolved about her still more. “I shall be very leaving your present employment. sorry indeed to put you to in- Have you thought how this is to be convenience,” she replied; “I would done ?” do anything rather than that—that “I suppose I shall go out as a is, anything possible.” Here she governess. I ought not to ve stopped, in confusion. This was much difficulty in finding a situanot at all how she ought to have re- tion.” ceived him.
" True," replied Clifford ; and “Never mind my convenience," his heart sank as he recognised the