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Chap. III.

| danced to the only music of her own rich sing-
ing. Tuneful as that of a bird it was, and al-

most as wild; for though Florentia's delicate ear

" Be tended by saved her from the possibility of a discord, she My blessing ! should my shadow cross thy thoughts was wilful in her ways, and finding she could Too sadly for their peace, so put it back

play—to please herself-on any instrument Por calmer hours in memory's darkest hold. If unforgotten ! should it cross thy dreams,

which came before her, and sing after the same So might it come like one that looks content,

fashion to the same easily contented auditor, she With quiet eyes unfaithful to the truth.”

positively resisted all study when she reached Tennyson.

the point that would chain her to application. Yet her snatches of song, and perfect modula

tion, made up a charming music nevertheless. Was it summer or autumn? Even the calen- And so she danced, her full white dress floatdar would scarcely have helped you to decide ? ing in the soft breeze, now showing, now kiding It was the time when English scenery wears a her lithe and graceful figure. A scarlet cachgorgeous, and yet sober bue; when, in the still mere scarf, with richly embroidered ends, had atmosphere, the dark-robed trees stand motion- fallen from one shoulder, but passing by her less, as if too proud to sway in the breeze, as waist, was gathered lightly in her hand. The they might when decked in palest green, or scarf was Geraldine's, but it was one of Florenlaughing behind a mask of blossoms; and when tia's wilful way's to appropriate for the moment the garden-flowers are no longer those richly- anything of her “sister's” to which she took a scented children of the soil, that came like fancy. heralds—the heralds of the present statelier race. Geraldine Harmer might also have been seen

As we have hinted, Time had done much in in th beech-tree avenue, but walking slowly, his own quiet way during the last few years, and and some lookers-on might have thought most among other things a certain avenue of beeches, calmly; for the shadows were too heavy to show mere saplings when Geraldine first came to her the fitful gleam of her eye, or the quiver of her cottage, bad grown to be the admiration of every | lip, whenever the sound of wheels broke on her visitor. Their boughs just met overhead, in ear, or the listening sense was strained to fansome cases kissing and parting at the bidding of tasy, and mocked her with its cheat. In her the faintest breeze, at others interlacing their band she grasped a letter, she knew not why, fibres and refusing a divorce. Beneath these for every syllable of its brief contents seemed retrees ran a hard and polished gravel path, peated before her wherever she gazed ;-on the though at their very roots was spread that soft sombre trees, or the calm cold sky. At last, at and mossy, dark green turf, which tells of care last Lionel Weymouth bad returned-even now and cultivation.

| was speeding to greet her, and had announced It was the evening of a warm bright day; the his coming in words more full of tender meansun had already sunk far below the horizon, ing than any he had ever addressed to her beand the golden harvest-moon decked the garden fore. She felt that his heart had been through landscape in that olden beauty, of which we the long years of absence as true as her own; never weary, and to which, familiar as it is, we and her frame trembled and reeled under the still find paid the meed and word of admiration. excess of her happiness. Along the gravel path, beneath the sheltering It was before the days of universal railroads, trees, a young girl danced, enticing after her a and trusting to the uncertainties and delays of favourite greyhound, whose airy movements | posting, there is no wonder tha: Lionel Weyseemed typical of her own-danced from the mouth was an hour or two later than he had exmere exuberance of happiness and mirth- pected to be. But why should his coming at

all bring such joy to Florentia? Simply be- , happiness, and Life's sole reality-dream on: cause she understool, though vaguely, that the hours are brief, and years must fling ther Geraldine's dearest friend, of whose goodness shadows, ere that dream, but in serener shape, and cleverness she had so often talked- shall descend to thee from heaven again! Geraldine would scarcely hare believed how! Three weeks have passed: the scene is in often- was coming at last; and being herself Lond: n now. Geraldine Harmer has accented always quite happy-happy to the very filling of the invitation of an old friend, and with Floher heart, this new delight brimmed over the rentia has journeyed thither. Some indefinable, cup to that free burst of j yancy.

yet right feeling, pointed out this ster. Lionel Hark! now surely that is the sound of wheels! | Weymouth desires her daily society; yet they Yes, yes - nearer : ah, there is the clatter of the are not to the world's eye betrothed. He does horses' hoofs upon the piece of shing'y road. A not urge the declaration of their engagement, carriage turns the corner, and now the and she instinctively shrinks from it. Kind, postilions, directed by some villager, sweep up affectionate he is, and yet-and yet she is resito the gate. The servants are ready, but a ger- less and unsatisfied! But they are very gastleman has sprung out before the steps could be as gay, at least, as London's dullest seast vil lowered. Florentia no longer sings, and fira permit; and theatres are visit: d, and a fer para minute is motionless. And Geraldine Harmer-- ties are gathered together to do honour to Listel she who at this moment for the first time fuily Weymouth. realizes the depth and truth and intensity of a ' It might be called Florentia's first introdoclove which has been for ten years a portion of tion into society ; but she han none of that her being, is she also awed to silent stillness? | girlish, bashful awkwardness, which much oftAlmost-and yet she glides as if impelled by ener arises from anxious vanity and excessite some magnetic force into the deepes: shadow of self-consciousness than from the opposite cause. the trees, her dress of darkest velvet does not She was far too natural and impulsive a being betray her, and she leans against a friendly for anything of the sort : she had sprung, it is trunk to save herself from falling. The hour is true, as if at one bound, from the child to the come, and yet her heart cries out, “Not yet, woman; but the simple, yet warm sincerity and not yet; it is too much!"

| naire vivacity of her manners had a charm But the stranger sees, by the full moonlight, about them as captivating as it was indescribe the graceful figure, standing like a white-robed able. And her l'eauty-of that there could not statue in the beech-t'ee avenue ; recognizes, too, be two opinions. Strangers raved of it, and of the scarf, his gift, and bounding thither, clasps seeing her again, only grew more and more esFlorentia in his arms before she is aware, kisses travagant in their expressions of admiration, her cheek with a trer blir glip, and murmurs Lovers were already entering the lists, ang the one word “Geraldine !” before a laughing “looking daggers" at one another; but axel voire has time to say, “ I am not Geraldine!” | by some mysterious halo that seemed to et:

He starts-discovers his mistake at a glance circle their idol, they had not dared to avow iber - makes a confused apology, and seeing Geral- homage. dine at last, wreathes his arın round her ; but As if to make amends for his one familiaris, he is annoyed at his own blundering precipita- | however unintended, Lionei Weymouth treatre tion, and neither kiss nor embrace is so warm | Florentia with a marked respect, that bordereil as those which were in truth the free outbreak on deference, and had something singular in of his feelings!

character, when the difference of age between thein was remembered. At first it could not hare

been quite easy for him to maintain, since spe “Is she not beautiful ?" exclaimed Geraldine, treated him as an old and familiar friend; an hour or two afterwards, when a late dinner by quick degrees her manner changed, an or early supper being concluded, Florentia had while to three-fourths of her acquaintance ste ieft the room for a few minutes. “Is she not as was still the childish girl, to bim she was era beautiful as I told you she was?”.

the dignified woman. His respect was even “ Beautiful!" replied Lionel Weymouth, a distant kind; for he always left to other “she is the loveliest creature I ever beheld !” surround her with those petits soins and name

Yet, while he spoke, he held Geraldine's hand less attentions so many were eager and rea in his, and had already found fit opportunity of pay. Yet once, when a fop whom she laugh breathing in her ear the hopes and aspirations at and despised was forcing some knightly, it of his life. It was late that night ere he left for vice upon her somewhat against her willthe hotel where he had engaged accommoda- ing and arranging a shawl for her shoulders, tion.

think - Lionel Weymouth was quick to the to And now, Geraldine Harmer, indulge for the cue. But why did his cheek flush, an brief interval you may the ecstasy of pure, un- hands tremble? and why, when she th clouded happiness-the dream of perfect love. him with a look, and passed her arm uni Thou bearest the signet of thine own devotion, through his, did the flush change to palet in the humility which wonders how thou and the common-place words he strove to canst be so well beloved, commningled with that die upon his tongue ? unsbaken faith wluch cannot doubt his word. Geraldine saw the look, the flush, the st Dream on, poor woman heart, of earth's choice pallor; but she only drew her opera-box

100d a

little more over her face, and took the arm of, and-groping for a moment in the gloom-her the discarded stripling.

reason took time to recover its balance. But It was the next day : Geraldine Harmer, who bravely it wrestled, and beautifully her soul bad not hitherto in her whole life consented to triumphed. a subterfuge, for once planned and manæuvred. “Youth has departed,” continued Geraldine, She contrived that Florentia and her hostess at length, "and I should have known that the should be away Eor some hours, and this during few gracesthe time that Lionel Weyouth was sure to “No-no," interrupted Lionel, seizing her call. He was shown into the drawing-room, hand, and pressing it between his own; “I will and awaited her coming, but only for a few not listen to such words. Take me, for I am minutes. She entered, and a friendly greeting yours-take me, and save me from myself! ensued; but as Geraldine passed the nearest | Take me, directly-to-morrow; forgive me this window, she drew down the blind. It was a wandering of the will, and I will learn to look cloudy day, and yet the light seemed garish, as upon it as a madness! Take me, Geraldine!” it always does to the mentally oppressed-blind- “ To scorn myself-and blight the happiness ing to her eyes and torturing to her brain. of the two beings I love best in the world? Lionel Weymouth was seated in an easy chair, Never! You do not know ine, Lionel Weyand presently Geraldine found herself leaning | mouth.” over the back of it. She felt that she must speak “Oh, do not draw your hand away, and without being seen; she knew that she could speak so sternly. Even now, in my humiliation not control her countenance.

and deep misery, it is your sympathy I want. “ Lionel," she exclaimed, in a low, yet calm And yet, Geraldine, it is well for you to be cold.” voice," you are not happy!”

“ Cold!” It was but the one word she could "Not happy! oh yes; why not?”.

utter, and as it caine forth it seemed to freeze her “Be frank," she returned : “ do not deceive lips and keep thein parted-cold! when at that yourself or me. I repeat, you are not-we are moment she would have fung herself at his feet Dot--happy!”

to be trampled in the mire, if that could have “Geraldine!” It was the only word to given him peace; cold! when the large silent which it seemed he could give utterance-there tears of agony were falling from her eyes, unre. was a forced intention to take ber hand; but a garded by him, though they splashed like rainstronger and truer impulse restrained hiin. drops on his shoulder; cold! when, for one

"And yet," she continued, "the first wish of word or look of genuine love from the idol of my heart-the purpose of my life-is to make her worship she would have thought life itself you happy."

but a fit sacrifice! Yet gentle, though heroic, "Best Geraldine!” But now he stooped his as was her nature- the word had stung her, head, and buried his face in his hands.

and spurred from its lair that fiery steed, a "Even”-and she touched his arm as she womn's pride. spoke —"even if your happiness must take a “ Take me,” repeated Lionel, “ and forgive different shape fro:n that foolish dream of early this madness." life. Moreover I blame you not-I see your “ It was the past which was madness," said sufferings, and from my soul I pity them.” Geraldine, firmly; and her tears seemed now

"Oh, that you would despise and rebuke me absorbed by the long lashes-at least they fell instead-your scorn, so well deserved, would be no longer. “ You will marry Florentia!” more endurable than such compassion."

“ Yes,” she continued, after a brief silence "You are ungenerous now. Would you rob for he was speechless, and had buried his face me of my own self-respect? While I honour in his handkerchief – “and by-and-bye we shall and esteem you, I shall not be ashamed of”- smile at the old maid's love passage,' and wonand her voice perceptibly trembled—“ of the der how she could have been so foolish.” love I have borne you."

“ Florentia may avenge your wrongs, Geral"And I! Oh, Geraldine, if you but knew dine, and refuse to love me.” bow, for long years, I have worshipped your There was something in these words which image-how every aim of existence has circled again unnerved her. Refuse to love him-that round to one dear bope-how, even now, how seemed impossibile! But she spoke calmly, and very dear you are to me "

said, “I have no wrongs to be avenged; dis“And yet," interrupted Geraldine, “you love miss such a thought from your mind. And Florentia!"

and · Florentia admires you, that I know. And There was a pause; one of those pauses in think you that securing her happiness will not which the tongue is chained because emotions bring peace to me? Ah! you cannot tell how crowd and crush together paralysing every dear she is to me-dear as any sister could power, except the keen experience of the have been, dear almost as I could fancy a child heart's unutterable agony. What he felt was but might be.” vaguely shadowed forth; less clearly told by She spoke the truth, and yet her words, as word or gesture than by the rigid lines of truth may often do, conveyed a false impression. suffering to which his visage moulded. With Lionel Weymouth believed at that moment that Geraldine the last ray of hope, which quite un- | Florentia was dearer to her than he had ever consciously to herself, had lingered in her heart been; and that several wishes and feelings and redeemed it from utter darkness, expired, I worked together to proinpt her present conduct.

Her resolution might in some measure have the influence and charm of his wealıb; though been strengthened by her love for the object of 'if visions of future magnificence floated before his passion, yet not in the mar ner or to the de- , her, it is only just to own, there was not one in gree that he imagined. Geraldine Hariner was which her dear “sister” had not place-was not one who acted from her own right impulses, to be endowed with some costly gift, or pleased yoked with, rather than chained by. high prin- with some expensive enjoyment. But if she was ciples; yet she did not analyze her motives nar- proud of being chosen, was not he proud of rowly enough to find how noble they were. being accepted? Yes. She was so young-80 And her generous nature unconsciously masked beautiful; and when her lip answered to his its generosity -- partly from that inwoven pride | kiss, he felt assured he was beloved ! without which no character has dignity, and Pride - adıniration - passion - the common partly from the sensitive delicacy which shrinks eleinents wherewith poor self-deluders think to from making another feel the object of a sacri build up wedded happiness! As much material fice or the recipient of a favour.

as can be expected when there is a score of years' Ah, how seldom the best and wisest of us disparity between the parties ; unless, indeed, can judge truly of another! Faults and weak- the mating be at that later period of life wben nesses rise like straws to the surface; and great character on both sides is formed and developed, virtues, thrown up by the storms of life-like and the difference of a score of years or a score pearls from the deep-- become apparent; but of weeks would be equally unimportant. But the intermediate world, which is the of habitual | Love there was not-there could not be; Lore ernotion and daily existence, which makes the which is Sympathy, and of which the fond carealities of life, and which moulds the indivi- ress or endearing word is but an outward and duality of character, is seldom fathomed. No

earthly type. If we speak to be understoodwonder Lionel Weymouth failed to see the ruin yea, if we only think, for another's thoughts to he had worked ; the beautiful palace which flow in unison with ours, not wearying with Hope bad built and Faith made strong, laid tame monotony, but even as bright rivers prostrate in the dust; and Desolation growing iningle ere they reach the ocean, bringing each to a giant, and broding o'er the fraginents ! to each its separate wealth and separate hue

It was a rapid wooing, that of Florentia Law- enriching, strengthening, beautifying ! this son-(Geraldine bad bestowed on her protegée there was not. her own mother's name). A few weeks and the What Geraldine Harmer endured is written wedding day was named, and no one paused, or only in that book, where surely beyond the had paused to consider if it were a gulf or a skies a record is kept of Woman's trials and haven before the pair. So great the ditference sacrifices. Hours of despair, in which madness of years between them, that in her happy days with all its terrors hovered near, and death, Geraidine had shrunk from making Florentia which seemed more distant, looked like a benigo her confiante, and the artless girl had never | nant angel, yet one forbid to aid ber. She suspected that the most dear friend of whom she made no confidante-she was too proud to do had heard so much could be looked on in any so; and indulged not in demonstrations. Stul other light. Yes, it was Geraldine's praise of it was impossible such struggles could endure hiin she loved that had prepared her to admire without making sign of their work; but the him; and when Lionel came, she saw a man in cluster of acquaintances we call “ the world" the prime and pride of life, with a mind well who never, I believe, by any chance guess rights stored and enriched by travel and observation ; the riddles of life-attributed her looking ill to though perhaps she did not herself know how | the fatigue and excitement she was undergoing much the impression he made on her was deep- | in preparing for the wedding. Everybody conened by his being the first of his sex who treated | gratulated her on the “ brilliant match" ber her otherwise than as a child.

protegée was making, much as they would a Geraldine was the first to hint to Florentia dowager, on the like bestowal of a portionless that Lionel loved her. Partly because her own daughter. And withcut any positive intentions soul once nerved to meet the destiny which was of malice or scandal, they added half-a-dozen before her, she felt there must be no pause or vears at least to her age; as well they might; hesitation in its course; and partly because, for the lingering traces of youth had departed generous to the last, she was willing to prepare suddenly and for ever, and her long, fine hat, his way before him. Startled as the young girl which only a few weeks since was dark, and was at first, surprise soon gave way to an in- , rich, and abundant, now showed lines of white toxication of delight; it was all true, and in a that seemed to thicken day by day. Her belufew, very few, days they were betrothed. Now | tiful hair! of which she had been conscious and came a new trial for Geraldine : with the inno- ' proud-even a little vain--this too must be laia cent frankness of a child, Florentia would sit at upon the altar of her vanished -- wasted Youtb! her feet, and throwing back the rich clustering | Sirappe that those whitening tresses had a spell curls from her face as she looked up, would talk / which Aung a shadow in his path, and saddened of her happiness, and pour out her praises of Lionel Wermouth's spirit e him. The admiration she had first experienced Day! still held its place in her heart; and side by side with it now stood pride-pride at being the object of his choice. Nor was she insensible to !

en on

Chap. IV.

| some a few years ago. Perhaps this was not altogether true: her beauty consisted very much

in the beauty of expression ; and as this depends "If I be sure I am not dreaming now,

on character, and as every development of chaI should not doubt to say it was a dream."

racter with her had been a beautiful one, it is SHELLEY.

very possible that she was better-looking for a

woman of forty than she had been as the girl of Years have passed away; seven years at least. twenty. She inight have inarried within the It is a bright spring day-when spring has last seven years, as the saying is, “over and caught a flower or two from summer that is so over again;" and there is no numbering how close at hand. Birds trill their glad notes from many opportunities she had had of choosing the neighbouring boughs, now in gay chorus, during her tour on the continent (made with now taking up the single strain as if in loving friends who were known at every court in rivalry. The buzz of busy insects fills the air, Europe) among German barons and Italian and every sound and sight of nature is typical counts; but not even a French peer, who was of joy and youth, shuwing once more the old neither old nor disagreeable, could make her and yet the new-born giaces of the Hebe- / appreciate the privilege of embroidering a co. Mother earth!

ronet on her handkerchief. Soon after his marriage, Lionel Weymouth Clinging lovingly by her side was her godhad purchased a beautiful residence, with child and nainesake, Lionel's eldest daughter, a highly-cultivated pleasure-grounds, within an beautiful girl of six years old. She took not easy drive of the metropolis. And here we still after her inuther, for she was grave and thoughtfind him. But those seven years have brought ful bevond her years, and loved better to hold their chances and changes, and life wears to by Geraldine's hand and listen to her words, him now a very different aspect. He is seated than play with her gayer and younger sister, the Dear an open window, and near him is a lady, a little Florentia, who was just now alternately much-loved visitor, arrived within these few chasing a butterfly and trampling down the hours, after an absence of many months on the fower-beds, or gainbolling with Misa the greycontinent. The reader should recognise her at hound, once before mentioned in this history, once, for Geraldine Harmer is very little altered; who was growr by this time an old dog. But or, if altered at all, one might say improved in Lionel Weymouth had much to say to Geraldine, appearance. She did not look any older than unfit for the quick ears of six years old to reon the “ wedding day” we parted from her; / ceive; and urging that her sister wanted her and though suffering now froin painful anxiety, companionship, and only half-enjoyed her sports her countenance had lost the habitual shade of without her, he enticed the docile child from the sadness it then wore. It would seem that at verandah to the garden. one bound she had sprung from alınost youth For a period that might be counted by years, to that most uncertain of all ages called “ cer- | Geraldine had been content and serene in the tain;" but that since then, Time had passed her presence of Lionel Weymouth. It is true that by, without claiming his tribute. He had even he was still the dearest object on earth to her stayed the bleaching of the hair, which showed heart: but her affection was so moulded with in massive glossy coils beneath the prettiest of love for Florentia, and entire devotion to their morning caps (a Parisian purchase), which Ge- children, that there was not one selfish feeling Faldine sore; the few lines of silver anong the interiningled, or a thought she had need to hide braids which shaded her cheek being by no from her own scrutiny, when remembering him means unbecoming -- they never are, when forty as the husband of another. As much could not years are fairly passed. Nature adapts her pic- be said for Lionel Weymouth; for though tures better than the inventors of patent wigs worlds would not have teinpted him to breathe a and mysterious hair dyes, and the whitening thought that could have disturbed the serenity locks harmonize with the fading cheek, with he knew she had regained, there were regrets which youthful tresses only contrast. Then and convictions buried in the inmost recesses of Geraldine had the good taste to eschew girlish his own heart, which, strive as he might to stifle costume, and dress like what she was-the and extinguish thein, still burned on with conwoman of forty-one or two. Having mentioned stant power to torture, Laid out as in a map, the pretty cap therefore, I may add that her he now could see how blessed a lot his life would dress was of a rich, dark silk-made, however, have been with her whose true and long-tried very fasbionably, and which set off her figure, love he had despised and rejected! What had unimpaired in its roundness and symmetry, to it been for seven lonx years? A dream of unthe greatest advantage.

satisfied longings, whose only waking reality had I really fear that in my earlier chapters I been Disappointment! neglected to describe Geraldine's person; and “How kind of you,” he exclaimed, as soon as now it is so late in the day, I must needs be the child had left them-how kind of you to brief. Of the middle height, with tine eyes, a come thus promptly at my suinmons! Yet it is pretty mouth, and good teeth, many people only like yourself; fur I never yet knew you thought her still a very “charining woman;" pause at a sacrifice of your own convenience.” and every one who had made her acquaintance. “My dear friend," replied Geraldine, "you lately, believed she must have been very hand- give me praise where I do not deserve it. My

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