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“Working." There was a moment's hesitation. “And dreaming," he added.

you

have been ill ?"
« Not I.”
“You have not been ill? Then you are ill. What makes you so

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pale ?"

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He laughed. “Am I pale ?"
And
you

look tired."
“ My work is wearisome sometimes."

“More so than it was ?" she questioned, anxiously. “You used not
to look so tired."
“Don't

you think that a wearisome thing must grow more wearisome
merely by going on ?

“But is that all? Isn't there anything else the matter ? "

Perhaps there is,” he llowed. “ There are little worries, of course,
but shall I tell you what is the great thing that is the matter with me!"

If you will."
“I miss you, Judith.”

The colour spread over her face like a rosy dawn. Her eyes were
fixed on the pavement, and yet they looked as if they caught a glimpse of
Eden. But Percival could not see that. “ You miss me!" she said.

“ Yes." He had forgotten his hesitation and despair. He had outstripped them, had left thein far behind, and his words sprang to his lips with a glad sense of victory and freedom. “ Must I miss you always ?” he said. “Will you not come back to me, Judith? My work could never be wearisome then, when I should feel that I was working for you. There would be long to wait, no doubt, and then a hard life-a poor home—what have I to offer you ? But will you come !"

She looked up at him. “Do you really want me~or is it that you are sorry for me, and want to help me ? Are you sure it isn't that? We Lisles have done you harm enough. I won't do you a worse wrong still."

“ You will do me the worst wrong of all if you let such fears and
fancies stand between you and me," said Percival. “Do you not know
that I love you? You must decide as your own heart tells you. But
don't doubt me.'

She laid her hand lightly on his arm. “Forgive me, Percival !"
And so those two passed together into the Eden which she had seen.

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CHAPTER XLIX.
How THE SUN ROSE IN GLADNESS, AND SET IN THE VALLEY OF THE

SHADOW OF DEATH.
THE Wednesday which was so white a day for Judith and Percival,
had dawned brightly at Fordborough. Sissy, opening her eyes on the

radiant beauty of the morning, sprang up with an exclamation of delight. The day before had been grey and uncertain, but this was golden and cloudless. A light breeze tossed the acacia boughs, and showed flashes of blue between the quivering sprays. The dew was still hanging on the clustered white roses which climbed to her open window, and the birds were singing among the leaves, as if they were running races in a headlong rapture of delight. Sissy did not sing, but she said to herself, “Oh, how glad the Latimers must be !"

She was right, for at a still earlier hour the Latimer girls had been flying in and out of their respective rooms, in a perfectly aimless, joyous, childishly happy fashion, like a flock of white pigeons. And the sum of their conversation was simply this, “Oh, what a day! What a glorious day !" Yet it sufficed for a Babel of bird-like voices. At last one, more energetic than the rest, in her white dressing-gown, and with her hair hanging loose, flew down the long oak-panelled corridor, and knocked with might and main at her brother's door. “Walter! Walter ! Wake up, do! You said it would rain, and it doesn't rain! It is a lovely morn. ing! O Walter!”

Walter responded briefly, to the effect that he had been awake since half after three, and was aware of the fact.

Henry Hardwicke, who had been to the river for an early swim, stopped to discuss the weather with a labourer who was plodding across the fields. The old man looked at the blue sky with an air of unutterable wisdom, made some profound remarks about the quarter in which the wind was, added a local saying or two bearing on the case, and summed up to the effect that it was a fine day.

Captain Fothergill had no particular view from his window, but he inquired at an early hour what the weather was like.

Ashendale Priory was a fine old ruin, belonging to the Latimers, and about six miles from Latimer's Court. Sissy Langton had said one day that she often passed it in her rides, but had never been into it. Walter Latimer was astonished, horrified, and delighted, all at once, and vowed that she must see it, and should see it, without delay. This Wednesday had been fixed for an excursion there, but the project was nearly given up on account of the weather. As late as the previous afternoon the question was seriously debated at the Court, by a council composed of Walter and three of his sisters. One of the members was sent to look at the barometer. She reported that it had gone up in the most extraordinary manner since luncheon.

The announcement was greeted with delight, but it was discovered late that evening, that Miss Latimer had had a happy thought. Fearing that the barometer would be utterly ruined by the shaking and tapping which it underwent, she had screwed it up to a height at which her younger brothers and sisters could not wish to disturb it, had gone into the village, and had forgotten all about it. There was general dismay and laughter,

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" It will rain," said Walter; "it will certainly rain. I thought it was very queer. Well, it is too late to do anything now. We must just wait and see what happens.”

And behold the morrow had come, the clouds were gone, and it was a day in a thousand, a very queen of days.

The party started for Ashendale, some riding, some driving, waking the quiet green lanes with a happy tumult of wheels, and horse-hoofs, and laughing voices. Captain Fothergill contrived to be near Miss Langton, and to talk in a fashion which made her look down once or twice, when she had encountered the eagerness of his dark eyes. The words he said might have been published by the town-crier. But that functionary would not have reproduced the tone and manner which rendered them significant, though Sissy hardly knew the precise amount of meaning they were intended to convey. She was glad when the tower of the Priory rose above the trees. So was Walter Latimer, who bad been eyeing the back of Fothergill's head, or the sharply-cut profile which was turned so frequently towards Miss Langton, and who was firmly persuaded that the Captain ought to be shot.

Ashendale Priory was built nearly at the bottom of a hill. Part of it, close by the gateway, was a farm-house, occupied by a tenant of the Latimers. His wife, a pleasant middle-aged woman, came out to meet them as they dismounted, and a rosy daughter of sixteen or seventeen lingered shyly in the little garden, which was full to overflowing of oldfashioned flowers, and humming with multitudes of bees. The hot sweet fragrance of the crowded borders made Sissy say that it was like the very heart of summer-time.

A place to recollect and dream of on a November day," said Fother.

gill.

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“Oh, don't talk of November now. I hate it."
“I don't want November, I assure you," he replied.

Why cannot
this last for ever?”

" The weather ? "

" Much more than the weather. Do you suppose I should only remember that it was a fine day?"

“What, the place too ?” said Sissy. “It is beautiful, but I think
you would soon get tired of Ashendale, Captain Fothergill."

“Do you ?” he said in a low voice, looking at her with the eyes
which seemed to draw hers to meet them. “Try me, and see which will
be tired first.” And, without giving her time to answer, he went on,
“Couldn't you be content with Ashendale ? "

“For always? I don't think I could. Not for all my life."

"Well, then, the perfect place is yet to find," said Fothergill." And how charming it must be !”

“ If one should ever find it!” said Sissy.

* One!" Fothergill looked at her again. "Not one ! Won't you hope we may both find it?"

“ Like the people who hunted for the Earthly Paradise,” said Sissy hurriedly. “Look, they are going to the ruins." And she hastened to join the others.

Latimer noticed that she evidently, and very properly, would not permit Fothergill to monopolise her, but seemed rather to avoid the fellow. To his surprise, however, he found that there was no better fortune for himself. Fothergill had brought a sailor cousin, a boy of nineteen, curly-haired, sunburnt, and merry, with a sailor's delight in flirtation and fun, and Archibald Carroll fixed his violent, though temporary, affections on Sissy, the moment he was introduced to her at the Priory. To Latimer's great disgust Sissy distinctly encouraged him, and the two went off together during the progress round the ruins. There were some old fish-ponds to be seen, with swans, and reeds, and water-lilies, and when they were tired of scrambling about the grey walls, there was a little copse hard by, the perfection of sylvan scenery on a small scale. The party speedily dispersed, rambling whither their fancy led them, and were seen no more till the hour which had been fixed for dinner. Mrs. Latimer, meanwhile, chose a space of level turf, superintended the unpacking of hampers, and when the wanderers came dropping in, by twos and threes, from all points of the compass, professing unbounded readiness to help in the preparations, there was nothing left for them to do. Among the latest were Sissy and her squire, a radiant pair. She was charmed with her saucy sailor boy, who had no serious intentions or hopes, who would most likely be gone on the morrow, and who asked nothing more than to be happy with her through that happy summer day. People and things were apt to grow perplexing and sad, when they came into her everyday life, but here was a holiday companion, arrived as unexpectedly as if he were created for her holiday, with no such thing as an afterthought about the whole affair.

Latimer sulked, but his rival smiled when the two young people arrived. Forthus argued Raymond Fothergill, with a vanity which was so calm, so clear, so certain, that it sounded like reason itself—it was not possible that Sissy Langton preferred Carroll to himself. Even had it been Latimer, or Hardwicke—but Carroll—no! Therefore she used the one cousin merely to avoid the other. But why did she wish to avoid him? He remembered her blushes, her shyness, the eyes that sank before his own, and he answered promptly that she feared him. He triumphed in the thought. He had contended against a gentle indifference on Sissy's part, till, having heard rumours of a bygone love affair, he had suspected the existence of an unacknowledged constancy. Then what did this fear mean? It was obviously the self-distrust of a heart unwilling to yield, clinging to its old loyalty, yet aware of a new weakness, seeking safety in flight, because unable to resist. Fothergill was conscious of power, and could wait with patience. (It would have been unreasonable to expect him to spend an equal amount of time and talent, in accounting for Miss Langton's equally evident avoidance of

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young Latimer. Besides, that was a simple matter. He bored her, no doubt.)

When the business of eating and drinking was drawing to a close, little Edith Latimer, the youngest of the party, began to arrange a lapful of wild flowers, which she had brought back from her ramble. Hardwicke, who had helped her to collect them, handed them to her, one by

A green tuft which he held up caught Sissy's eye. “Why, Edie, what have you got there ?” she said. “Is that maidenhair spleenwort? Where did you find it?”

“ In a crack in the wall—there's a lot more," the child answered, and at the same moment Hardwicke said, “Shall I get you some?"

“No-I'll get some," exclaimed Archie, who was lying at Sissy's feet. “Miss Langton would rather I got it for her, I know."

Sissy arched her brows.

“ She has 80 much more confidence in me," Archie explained. “Please give me a leaf of that stuff, Miss Latimer; I want to see what it's like."

My confidence is rather misplaced, I'm afraid, if you don't know what you are going to look for."

“Not a bit misplaced. You know very well I shall have a sort of instinct which will take me straight to it."

“ Dear me! It hasn't any smell, you know," said Sissy with perfect gravity.

“Oh, how cruel !” said Carroll.“ Withering up my delicate feelings with thoughtless sarcasm ! Smell—no! My what d'ye call it-sympathy - will tell me which it is. My heart will beat faster as I approach it. But I'll have that leaf all the same, please.”

“ And it might be as well to know where to look for it."

“We found it in the ruins—in the wall of the refectory," said Hardwicke.

Sissy looked doubtful, but Carroll exclaimed, “Oh I know! That's where the old fellows used to dine, isn't it? And had sermons read to them all the time!"

• What a bore !” some one suggested.

“Well, I don't know about that,” said Archie. “ Sermons always are awful bores, ain't they? But I don't think I should mind 'ein so much if I might eat my dinner all the time.” He stopped with a comical look of alarm. "I say-we haven't got any parsons here, have we?"

“No," said Fothergill, smiling. “We've brought the surgeon, case of broken bones, but we've left the chaplain at home. So you may give us the full benefit of your opinions."

“I thought there wasn't one," Archie remarked, looking up at Sissy, “ because nobody said grace. Or don't you ever say grace at a pic-nic.”

“I don't think you do," Sissy replied. “Unless it were a very Low Church pic-nic, perhaps. I don't know, I'm sure."

“ Makes a difference being out of doors, I suppose," said Archie,

*。

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