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PREFACE.

WHEN, at a much later period of her life than the one referred to in the following manuscript, Constance became my very dear friend, she told me a part of the story contained in it. At my earnest request she showed me the manuscript, and I, with some difficulty, obtained her permission to alter the names and places, and to publish the story very much as she had written it. The manuscript itself, with the real names, and proofs of authenticity, we agreed, after mature deliberation, to destroy-believing this to be the wisest course to pursue.

I shall merely add, as a sort of supplement to my friend's story, that, as was perhaps natural, she has dwelt more on the weakness than on the strength of her character in her early history. The impulsiveness which appears to have caused much of her suffering in early life had in a great measure passed away when I became acquainted with her. Yet she was always

nature.

active and energetic; and, upon the whole, successful in her endeavours to raise the tone of the people amongst whom her life was cast. And there was a depth of tenderness in her manner towards the sorrowful and suffering, which could only have been the result of the effect of suffering and sorrow on a very noble Her sympathies seemed to have been widened and deepened, instead of narrowed, by her own experiences. It may be that the circumstances of her own surroundings had tended to throw her the more heartily into the life around her. At all events, I can testify to the fact that the universal love and respect the people accorded her was true and deep. There was something touching still in a certain wistfulness which remained in the once passionate dark eyes of the lady of But, for the most part, the great charm of her face lay in its reposeful content; in the soft satisfaction it seemed to express at having fought and won the battle against the foes of every uneventful life passed amongst unremarkable people the giant foes of Weariness and Monotony. I think I shall not be passing the bounds of the discreetness due to friendship if I add that she is now happy, loving, and beloved.

AMONG STRANGERS.

CHAPTER I.

"Down in a flowery vale."-Old Glee.

HAVE you ever lived in a valley? In a beautiful, wellwooded valley, surrounded, let us imagine, on two sides by mountains high enough to be seldom without a snowcap, and watered by a shallow bright stream winding its way to the sea-the delicious sea, so tantalizingly near, so hopelessly distant, as it might be to such a valley as I am thinking of? Thick woods, bright water, snowcapped mountains sound very grand, and they look very grand, too. But if But if you have ever lived amongst them in a valley; if you have ever felt enraged at the one everlasting hill which, in a valley, always blocks out the best part of the sunsets; if you have wearied of the one patch of sky which, in a valley, is always above you, and have longed with a thirsty longing for a full draught of the fresh breeze which blows so freely over 114

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