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I know not whether by accident or design, but Lady Mary and the housekeeper were engaged among the silks and old brocades, and we were alone.
‘Oh, my lord !' I said, 'I cannot take any of these beautiful things. They belong to your house and to your family. They must not leave you.'
Take all,' he whispered. Oh, Dorothy! take all; and yet, they need not leave me, if in taking them you take me too.'
Alas ! what could a girl say ? I knew not what to say; for in the great joy of that moment I remembered not-nay, all this time I thought not about it, being in a Fool's Paradise—what stood between us.
"Oh, my lord !' was all I could whisper.
But he stooped and kissed my fingers, and I think that Lady Mary saw him, for she came back quickly, a little glow upon her faded cheek and a brightness in her eyes ; but said nothing, only presently took my hand in hers and pressed it kindly.
Well, there was no help; she joined her nephew in forcing presents upon me. I chose the fan with Harlequin, Columbiņe, and
Pierrot upon it. Why, it lies beside me still, with its three once happy, laughing faces. Long ago they too have been driven out of their Fool's Paradise, like me. The silk has faded; the pictured faces smile no morethey have lost their youth—they are wrinkled —they have forgotten how to laugh. When I die, I should like that fan to be buried with me.
Other things they gave me—a ring, a bracelet—what matters now ? — with kind words, and praise of beauty and sweet looks. A sensible girl knows very well that this flattery is bestowed out of goodness of heart, and with the desire of pleasing her; it does not turn her head more than the passing sunshine of the moment, though it makes her cheek to glow, her eyes to brighten, and her lips to tremble.
There were never,' whispered the fond young lover, never, I swear, finer eyes or sweeter lips.
In the evening, when I opened my fan, a paper fell out. My lord picked it up and gave it me. Oh! it was another set of verses, and in the same feigned handwriting
as the first. He read them, affecting as much surprise as on the former occasion:
* Learn, nymphs, from wondrous Daphne's art
The uses of the fan,
When she undoes a man.
The artificial fly,
The hook that lies hard by;
The fan in Daphne's arms,
And now conceals her charms,
Yet happier far than he,
And dies in ecstasy.'
A STRANGE THING.
I CANNOT forbear to mention a thing which happened at this time, so strange, so contrary to reason and experience, so far removed from the ordinary stories of apparitions and phantoms, that, had I not been agitated by a thousand tumultuous joys, I must have been thrown by it into great apprehensions, and
perhaps have felt compelled to lay the matter · before the Bishop.
The thing is concerned with my maid Jenny, of course. I have already explained that she was an active and faithful maid, clever with her needle, a good hairdresser, modest and respectful in her behaviour to me, whatever she was to others. With all these virtues, it is grievous to remember that if ever a woman was a witch, and had dealings with the devil-why, even Mr. Hilyard, who is always most cautious in these matters, confesses that the matter is beyond his comprehension, and he knows not how to explain it, or what to say of it. Let us remember that at Blanchland she saw apparitions (though others saw none), to the terror of the village; and there also she was said to lead about a rustic whom she made to do whatever she pleased (this at the time I believed not, though now I know that it may be true). And at Dilston she acted parts either of her own invention, or imitated people, or declaimed what she had heard to such admiration that the men gazed upon her with open mouths, and the kitchen-maids dropped the dishes, and the elder women crossed themselves. Gipsy blood will show, they say ;. no doubt these outcasts are in some sort more liable than the rest of us to diabolical possession, and it is by this, and no other way, that they are enabled to read the future, predict fortunes, and, above all, to bewitch a man and make him do whatsoever they please.