Miss Con

Transcriber's note: Unusual and inconsistent spelling is as printed.



I sat long by the lesser hole. Frontispiece.






"Whene'er a noble deed is wrought,
 Whene'er is spoken a noble thought,
      Our hearts in glad surprise
      To higher levels rise."—LONGFELLOW.






At the Ballantyne Press, Edinburgh


I DO not think I need apologise for sending out another tale about girls and for girls—a tale of everyday life, such as numerous everyday girls in this Nineteenth Century have to live. There may be already a legion of books belonging, more or less, to the same class; but the omnivorous appetite of modern girlhood is not yet satisfied.

Nor, perhaps, need I apologise for its being in some measure a story about and for young Authoresses, incipient or developed. So many girls now crowd the lower rungs of literary ladders, that a few general hints for their guidance can hardly fail to be useful in one quarter or another.

It must not, however, be supposed that "All Those Girls" were would-be Authoresses!











































February 20.       

"THE very thing for you, Constance. Most satisfactory. Really, if we had—a—if we had hunted all England over, we could not—ahem—could not have hoped to find anything more suitable. Positively, it is, if I may so say—if I may venture to use a somewhat time-worn illustration—the fitting of a round man into a round hole,—a round woman, I should rather say,—ha, ha! Nothing better could be desired."

So Craven declared, about ten days ago, with that oily satisfaction which people are sometimes apt to show about a convenient arrangement for somebody else. If I decided to go to the Romillys, it would be particularly convenient for Craven. I had been a full month in his house, and he was beginning to favour me with plain hints that a month was enough. Albinia never ventures to oppose him.

"Just the very thing," he repeated, rubbing his big flabby hands together. He might be a handsome man, this brother-in-law of mine, if less ponderously rotund, and boasting a smaller allowance of cheek and chin. I could not help thinking that afternoon, as he lounged back in his study-chair, what a huge individual he is for his fifty years. Anybody might take him for sixty.

I have not written in my journal for many months. Time enough now to make a fresh start. The only way is to go straight ahead, letting alone arrears and explanations.

"Precisely the opening for you," he went on. "Really, your course is, if I may so say, plain as daylight. As I say, plain as daylight. I am most happy to have been the means of affording you—ahem—a shelter, until this—a temporary shelter, I should say,—until this opening should appear."

Craven, like many other speech-makers, indulges in broken sentences and needless repetitions.

"Not merely an opening, but a duty,—a positive call to duty. I have always held the opinion—always, I may say,—that you were by nature fitted—peculiarly fitted—for the work of teaching. In fact—a—that you were a first-rate instructress of youth thrown away,—pardon me! And really, after the monotony of your existence—a—with the worthy old lady who has been—ahem—has been so lately removed from our midst,—after the monotony of your existence, as I say, hitherto,—you will find—ahem—will find positive excitement, positive dissipation—a—in the surroundings of your new life with the Romilly circle."

Craven ought to have felt exhausted by this time. If he did not, I did.

"Supposing I go," I answered perversely. Craven always rouses the perverse element in me.

"I was not aware that—ahem—that any other opening had—a—had presented itself, my dear Constance."

"I don't wish to decide in a hurry," I replied, though I knew as well as did Craven, that the matter was already practically settled. "Besides," I added, "it is not generally supposed that a governess' life means too much dissipation. Too much work is more likely."

For I did and do think that Craven might be a little less willing to let me enter on a life of possible or probable drudgery. Not that I want pity, or that I believe in the need for real drudgery in anybody's life. Plenty to do is my delight, and the question of drudgery depends on the spirit in which one does things. Moreover, I have never expected Craven to offer me a home; and if he made the offer, I would not accept it.

Still one does like a man to act a consistent part. Craven has in his own person so ardent a love for ease and non-exertion, that from his standpoint, he ought justly to spare me some grains of pity. My protest only set him off afresh, however.

"There can be no question, my dear Constance,—ahem—that your post will be a light one. At the same time, it will afford you—a—will offer precisely such a sphere for your talents as you—ahem—will offer, in fact, an appropriate sphere for your talents. For I see no harm in admitting—a—no harm in admitting that you are possessed of certain talents. Here, for the first time in your life,—as I say, for the first time in your life,—here is a field for their exercise. Not in mere lesson-giving, but in the exercise of—a—the exercise of—ahem—the exercise of a mild and beneficent and improving influence on all around you."

"Am I to begin by improving Mr. Romilly?" I asked.

The laboured and monotonous utterances sounded so exactly like a third-rate platform speech, that my gravity was upset. I had to say something which might serve as an excuse for a laugh.

Craven did not smile. He lifted one broad hand silencingly.

"In the shaping—ahem—the moulding—ahem—the general improvement, as I say, of those young people who will be in your charge. A more delightful occupation could—a—could scarcely be found. There can be no hesitation whatever—I say, there can be no hesitation whatever in pronouncing that you, my dear little sister, are by nature—a—singularly adapted for the post." Craven always calls me "little" when he wants to give me a set-down, though really I am almost as tall as himself. To be sure, I am not so broad!

"That is the question," I said. "If I could be sure that I really am fitted—But the responsibilities will be immense. If I were a woman of forty, instead of a girl not twenty-three—"

"With the appearance of—a—of thirty at least," asserted Craven.

There might be some truth in this. Twice in the month before, I had been taken for Albinia's twin. But also I had been twice taken for only eighteen years old. So much depends on the mood one is in.

"If I could be sure that I am fitted," I said again, rather rashly inviting a further flow of speech.

"Adapted undoubtedly, I should say," Craven answered. He drummed his right hand solemnly on the chair-arm, by way of emphasis. "Unquestionably! For you have gifts, my dear sister,—I may say that you have gifts. You are clever,—ahem—intellectual,—ahem—and you have cultivated your intellect. You are well-read. You draw and paint,—really quite tolerably. Yes, I may say—a—quite tolerably. Your music is, on the whole—on the whole, above the average."

Craven's knowledge of music is rather less than that of his favourite puppy, but this only makes it the easier for him to pass judgment.

"You have—" he went on—"you have your faults also: who has not? A certain impetuosity; somewhat too good an opinion of yourself; an over-readiness to oppose your views to those of others; these defects have—ahem—have to be subdued. But again there are faults which in your new position—which, I may say, in your new position will be—a— transformed into virtues! For instance! A certain faculty for spying out others' weaknesses—ahem—a somewhat unenviable readiness to set others to rights—pardon the suggestion, my dear little sister! But the adaptability of things is remarkable—is really, I may say, most remarkable. For henceforth the business of your life will be—the leading aim of your existence will be—a—the setting of others to rights a—the correction of others' faults. Thus, as I may say, as in fact I have already observed—a—thus at least one faulty tendency glides into a positive virtue."

My impetuosity came, I suppose, into play here. I felt all at once that I had endured as much as could reasonably be expected.

"Have you done, Craven?" I asked, standing up.

Craven was astonished. Probably he had not done; but my sudden movement disturbed the beautiful orderliness of his ideas, and put the remainder of his speech to flight.

"Because I think our discussion has lasted long enough," I said. "I will write to Mrs. Romilly by this evening's post, and promise to be at Glynde House in a fortnight."

Craven rose slowly and examined the framed almanack. We were together in the library, whither he had summoned me on my return from an afternoon stroll in the park.

"Nothing keeps Con indoors," Albinia is wont to declare, and certainly that day's fog had not sufficed to do so.

"A fortnight from to-day," he said dubiously. "That brings us to—the twenty-fifth. Yes; if I am not mistaken—the twenty-fifth."

"Mrs. Romilly names the twenty-fifth," I said. "I cannot offer to go sooner. It is unfortunate; but she does not leave England for another week; and she wishes me to arrive a week later. I am afraid you will have to put up with me so long."

Without waiting for an answer, I passed out of the luxurious library into the spacious hall.



THE SAME—continued.

February 21.       

ALBINIA has a comfortable home,—so far as carpets and curtains are concerned. If only that mountain of human pomposity were not appended! But then she need never have accepted him unless she wished. Albinia went in for the man, with the carpets and curtains, of her own free-will.

Of course it is pleasant to be comfortable. I should be the last to deny that fact. Velvet-piled carpets, into which the foot sinks as into moss, are superior to bare boards; and tapestry at twelve or fifteen shillings the yard is very much nicer than a cheap cretonne at twelve or fifteen pence. Still a good deal depends on how much may be involved in the possession of mossy carpets and rich tapestry.

Sometimes I find myself wondering whether, if ten years ago could come over again, Albinia would say "Yes" a second time. She was only twenty then, and he was by no means so portly as now. But Craven Smyth was Craven Smyth always. He never could be anything else. He managed invariably to excite naughty feelings in me, though I was a child under twelve. Albinia could not understand why. She used to say he was "so nice!"—That delightfully indefinite term which does quite as well for a man as for a cretonne. And her one hesitation seemed to be on the score of his surname. "To think of becoming Mrs. Smyth!" she remarked often.

After leaving the library, I lingered in the hall, thinking. Should I write my letter first, or speak to Albinia first? Time enough for both before I needed to dress for dinner. The latter seemed right, so I passed on into the drawing-room, with its costly furniture and superabundant gilding.

Not four days had gone by since I first heard of this "desirable opening" in the Romilly household. I had answered the earliest appeal by return of post, asking further particulars, and expressing strong doubts as to my own capacity. A letter had now arrived from Mrs. Romilly herself, urging, nay, imploring me to accept the position.

Had the request come from any one else except Mrs. Romilly, I must have unhesitatingly declined. For whatever Craven may say, I am not fitted for the post. I, a girl of twenty-two, unused to teaching, inexperienced in family life,—I to undertake so anomalous and difficult a task! The very idea seems to me wild, even foolish. Humanly speaking, I court only failure by consenting to go!

And yet—what if it is indeed the right thing for me? For all along it has appeared as if that were the one open path; as if all other paths were hedged up and shut. Any one else except Mrs. Romilly! Yes; that would make all the difference. But then, it is Mrs. Romilly! And she is ill, depressed, troubled, in difficulties, and she implores my help. How can I hesitate or think of self?

I have no other friend in the world like Mrs. Romilly. Not that we have been so very much together; but I think I fell in love with her at first sight, and the love has gone on growing ever since, steadily. Three times, at intervals, she has spent a month with an aged relative in Bath,—an acquaintance of Aunt Lavinia's and mine,—and each time we met as often as possible. We walked and drove together; read and sang together; went often to the Abbey Church together. I can talk freely to her, as I have never talked with any other human being; and she is no less free with me. She has often said that I helped her; and this seemed strange, because she has so often helped me.

Sweet Gertrude Romilly! I have never met with any one else quite like her; and I doubt if I ever shall. She is twenty years my senior; yet I do not think we have found disparity of age any bar to friendship. It would be unreasonable to suppose that I am as much to her as she is to me. She is so lovely, so beloved; and she has so many who are very near and dear to her, while I have but few. But, indeed, I find the love that she gives to me very full and satisfying.

I suppose her spirits in girlhood must have been wonderfully high. She has gone through much trouble, and has suffered under it most acutely; and notwithstanding all, she seems often to be just rippling over with happiness and fun. I never quite know whether to count her more winning in her gay or in her pensive moods.

During the three years since our acquaintance first began, Mrs. Romilly and I have corresponded regularly; and she has pressed me often to pay her a visit at Glynde House. But I have never felt that I could rightly leave poor Aunt Lavinia, since she grew so very infirm.

Now that my dear old aunt has been taken from me, things are changed. It did seem strange for a while that no word of sympathy came from Glynde House. The response has always been so quick, if I were in any trouble. But a few lines from the eldest daughter, Nellie, with a dictated message from my friend, soon let me know the cause.

I cannot now understand precisely what is wrong. Mrs. Romilly has broken down in health, though to what extent I do not know. A sudden attack on her chest has revealed a condition of things there, unsuspected before; and she is ordered off in haste to the south of Europe before March winds begin. That is not all, however. Nellie alludes to "the state of her nerves;" and it seems to be expected that she may have to remain many months away,—perhaps a great part of the summer. Nellie goes in charge of the invalid, and Mr. Romilly remains behind.

In the midst of these anxieties, another blow has fallen. The governess, Miss Jackson, who for fifteen years has lived with the Romillys, was summoned home to the bedside of a dying mother just before Mrs. Romilly's illness. After weeks of absence she wrote, unexpectedly, to plead the claims of a widowed father, begging to be if possible at once released. The claim could hardly be disallowed, and no difficulties have been made. But then it was that Mrs. Romilly turned to the thought of me. She knew of my plans for self-support. Would I, she asked, step into the vacant post, and be—not merely governess, but companion, caretaker, elder sister, guide, and friend to her darling girls?

The first letter on this topic was dictated, but the second was in her own hand,—so changed and feeble a hand, that it grieved my very heart,—pleading earnestly. Would I—could I—refuse to set her mind at rest?

No, I could not; and were the moment of decision to come over again, I feel that my reply would be the same. I could not refuse; even though the sense of incapacity weighed then and weighs still most heavily. I am not old enough or experienced enough for the position. Yet it did seem to me then, and it seems so still, that I have no choice.




February 24.       

I MUST take up the thread where I left off three days ago. The last evening in Albinia's house has come, and to-morrow I make my plunge into a new life. It is late, and I have been busy; but there is much to think about, and sleep looks impossible at present. As well sit up and write, as toss to and fro in the dark.

Albinia was seated near the drawing-room fire when I went in, reading a little, or working a little, I can't say which. She is always doing a little of something, which ends in nothing. Perhaps she was working, for I noticed the flash of her diamond rings as she moved her hands.

Craven likes his wife to dress richly, and to make a good display of jewellery,—perhaps as an advertisement of his wealth. She is apt to be a little overladen with gems, just as her drawing-room is overladen with gilding. Her natural taste is good, but she conforms to her husband's taste in all such minor matters. Wisely, no doubt. Anything is better than a succession of domestic jars; and when Albinia became Craven's wife, she knew the manner of man who was to be her husband.

"What a dull afternoon we have had," I said.

"Yes," Albinia answered slowly. "Have you been out till now?"

I did not at once respond. Her question fluttered by me, and was forgotten. A reflection of our two figures in a pier-glass, lit up by half-lowered gas and dancing flames, had attracted my attention, and set me cogitating.

Albinia and I are often said to be alike. Though eight years my senior, she looks young for her age, and I—at least when grave—look decidedly old for mine. That brings us nearer together, and makes the mistake as to twinship occasionally possible. If I were to describe Albinia as I saw her in the glass—rather tall, rather thin, with a good figure, long supple limbs, and much natural self-possession; also with grey eyes, dark hair, and tolerably regular features—the description would apply equally well to myself, and probably would give no true impression of either.

For in reality Albinia and I are not alike. It is impossible that we should be. We may be formed on much the same model; eyes and hair may be the same in colouring; but we are not alike. Differences of temperament and character must show in the face. Albinia's torpid easiness of disposition and her willingness to submit, are the precise converse of my untiring energy and troublesome strength of will. Strangers may and sometimes do mistake the one for the other; but those who know us well are apt to deny the fact of any resemblance at all,—which is curious.

I have seen Albinia look very pretty at times,—not always, but under certain circumstances. Generally her fault is a lack of animation; and if this is overcome, she wins a good deal of admiration. Much more than I do. Some indeed tell me that I am far better looking than Albinia, but those are only my particular friends. We always see the best of a face when it is really dear to us. Many, I know, count me not at all attractive; and they are the people for whom I do not care. But I do not know why I should write all this.

The difference of our respective standings in life was well marked, that afternoon, by the blaze of Albinia's diamonds and the lustre of her splendid silk, seen side by side with my plain black serge and jet brooch. I did think she might have worn deeper mourning for the good old aunt to whom in childhood we both owed so much. But—there is Craven!

"Well," Albinia said at length.

"I beg your pardon, Albinia. I went into the park first; and since then I have been in the library, talking,—or rather listening."

"Talking about your plans?"

"I shall go to Glynde House in a fortnight."

A glittering flash of the diamonds showed me that Albinia had stirred suddenly.

"Then you have quite decided?"

"Quite. The Romillys want me, and Craven does not."

"We are expecting visitors soon," she said, rather faintly.

Poor Albinia! It was not her fault. I would not suggest that the house contained eight spare bedrooms.

"Of course I would rather have kept you for a few weeks longer," she went on. "But still—" and a pause. "If Craven—" another break. "And perhaps Mrs. Romilly wants you there before she leaves."

"No; not before. It would be her wish, but the doctors forbid excitement. She starts in a week from to-day; and she wishes me to go a week later,—just allowing the household time to recover a little from the parting. That seems wise, perhaps, as I am not to see her."

"You would have liked to see her."

"One cannot think of one's own wishes in such a matter," I said.

"And you only know Mrs. Romilly,—not the husband or daughters?"

"Except that I have heard so much about them all from Mrs. Romilly,—I can hardly feel myself a stranger."

"Are Mr. and Mrs. Romilly rich?" was the next question.

"Yes,—very comfortably off. And I suppose still more so since the death of a great-uncle of Mrs. Romilly's last autumn. An estate in Yorkshire came to them then. Mrs. Romilly spoke in a letter of their intention to go there every summer: though Glynde House will still be their home for the greater part of the year."

"And you will have the entire education of several girls! Housekeeping too?"

"I really don't know, Albinia. My notions as to what I shall have to do are hazy in the extreme. That is the worst of not seeing Mrs. Romilly. No, not the entire education. There are masters for accomplishments, I believe; and there is a nursery governess for the two youngest. Besides, Maggie must be pretty well out of the schoolroom."

"Oh, then of course she will be housekeeper."

"Craven predicts more need for the exercise of a 'beneficent influence' on my part than of actual teaching."

Albinia opened her eyes non-comprehendingly.

"He expects me to improve the household as a whole,—beginning, as I tell him, with Mr. Romilly. My own fear is that I shall be too much of a girl among girls,—with too little authority."

"It all depends on yourself. You must take a proper stand from the first. I dare say things will fit in well enough."

So easy for her to say and think. Hardly anything is more easy than to be philosophical for somebody else. I do not count that my own feeling in the matter is cowardice. I have never feared work or shrunk from responsibility. But from early childhood, I have been under the dominion of a strong sense of duty; and to half perform a duty has been always a misery to me. And I do feel myself so unfitted, so terribly inadequate, for the duties to which I seem called.

"Called." Yes; there it is. If indeed "called" to them, I shall find help sufficient. God does not place His children in positions of difficulty, to leave them alone afterward. My prayer has been—"If Thy Presence go not with me, carry me not up hence." And if His Presence does go with me, then nothing else can matter very much.

"I never expected you to have to take to governessing," Albinia said suddenly.

"Did you not?" I asked.

"No. Two years ago I had not a doubt that you would be married before this." She looked at me with questioning eyes. "What were you about, Con?"

"About my own business, I hope," I said. "Nearly time to dress for dinner. I must be quick."

"You can just as well write a line afterwards."

"No; I would rather catch an earlier post. I must set Mrs. Romilly's mind at rest, and I want to have the thing settled."

"You can write here," said Albinia.

I acquiesced, going to a davenport, though solitude would have been preferable. The letter seemed to need careful wording. Between my desire to bring repose to Mrs. Romilly, and my conscientious dread of promising more than I might be able to perform, I scarcely knew what to say. And I leant back in my chair, thinking.

"Do you know what o'clock it is, Con?"

Albinia's words roused me from a dream. She was crossing the room, and before me lay a black-edged sheet, with the date written—nothing more. While, fading from the foreground of my mind, was a vivid picture of a scene in a certain small Bath dining-room—a scene nearly two years old, called up by Albinia's utterances—a scene unknown to any living person, except myself and one other. I had forgotten Mrs. Romilly, forgotten my letter, forgotten the need for haste.

For recollections of that scene are apt to involve me in a train of questionings. They come up afresh now as I write.

Had I then known how soon the dear old aunt was to be taken away, how short a time she would claim my care, I think I should have come to a different decision. But I did not know. There seemed no reason why she might not live another ten or twenty years, always ill and helpless, always dependent on me.

What I did, I did for the best, and under a compelling sense of duty. At the moment I had no doubts, no feeling of hesitation. My path seemed clear as daylight. He thought me fearfully cold, and he was wounded and angry. Yet it was for his sake—because I would not bind him to years of waiting.

Was it quite needful—even as things then stood? Should I have been wrong to let him see that my "No" was a "No" of sheer duty, not of choice? Was there not at least the fault of too impulsive action, too rapid decision,—of not delaying to ask and wait for guidance?

"He that believeth shall not make haste." Those words come to me sometimes with a sharp sense of pain. I did believe, but did I act practically upon that belief? If I had not made quite so much haste, I might at least have worded my answer a little differently. And—I cannot be sure, but sometimes I do wonder if he had not almost a right to know that I was not so indifferent as I seemed.

After-regrets are worse than useless. They only unnerve one for daily life. I feel that, yet I cannot always hold these questionings in leash. They gain the mastery over me once in a while, though to no purpose,—worse than none. For he is gone out of reach. He will never know how things really were. Communication between us is at an end,—utterly! He said that he would take very good care never again to trouble me with his unwelcome presence, and I—I let him think it was unwelcome. I said nothing; and he went.

It was from thoughts such as these that Albinia's voice aroused me to the consciousness of my unwritten letter. She was going across the room, and had paused behind my chair.

"No, I have not done," I answered quietly. "One moment, please."

And I dashed off, in a rapid scrawl,—


   "Yes, I will come—on the 25th inst. I am afraid it will be only to disappoint your expectations; but I cannot refuse. I will at least do my best.

   "This is in haste, to catch the next country post. I want you to hear to-morrow morning. I will write again more fully in a day or two.—Ever yours affectionately—


The letter went, and I was committed to the undertaking.

Now, sitting alone by candle-light in my room,—mine no longer after to-day,—with packed and half-packed trunks around, I find myself doing what I have resolved not to do,—turning back to that closed page of my history, and conning it anew.

I doubt if there be any occupation more vain than reading the past in the light of the present, and breaking one's heart for the things which might have been,—if only one had known! Except indeed that from the blunders of the past, one may gain wisdom for the future.

God knew all the time! That is the one great comfort. He knew—and cared—and guided. Not indeed with the precise and explicit guidance, which would have come, if I had expressly waited and looked out for His hand to point the way. But He makes all things work together in the end for the good of His loved ones,—yes, I do believe, even their very blunders. A mother does not neglect to watch the hasty steps of her most heedless little one; and I know that my Father does not—did not—forget me.

Nor will He. And does not the little one learn from its own stumbles to cling more to the mother's hand? I think so.

Still, I cannot help a feeling of loneliness to-night,—this last night of shelter in my sister's home, before stepping out into an untried and new world. One does crave at times for somebody to come very close, knowing and understanding all that one could say—or would not say. People think me so matter-of-fact and sensible and cheerful, and when they tell me what I am, of course I assent. If I demurred, they would only count their own opinion worth the most. But one cannot be always sensible or always cheerful, and the thirst for human sympathy has me in its grip this evening.

Yet is it not at such times that the human sympathy of Christ our Lord comes home—or ought to come home—to one? If not, the want is in us, not in Him—never in Him!

Now it is close upon midnight, and I must go to bed. What sort of a home shall I be in, twenty-four hours hence?




February 25. Evening.       

"SO you leave us—a—to-day, my dear Constance, and—ahem—proceed to your new sphere of work. I am sure I may say—a—that you carry with you our best wishes—my wife's and mine, I should say."

N.B. * I have a great deal to write of first impressions in my new home, but Craven's utterances come up irresistibly, and insist on first attention.

* N. B.—nota bene

"Thanks," I replied. "It is quite a case of speeding the parting guest."

Now this was unkind to Albinia. She never can withstand her husband, but the gratification which beamed from his rotund face was not reflected in hers. I thought her even a little depressed in her apathetic way.

Craven showed no signs of being affected by my sharp utterance, but drawled out his next inquiry, "I believe you—a—start some time this morning—a—my dear Constance."

"The twelve o'clock train. Different lines don't fit in their time-tables well," I said. "It is unkind to passengers. I shall have two changes, and scant time for either."

"No doubt—a—if one train is missed, another runs later," said Craven.

"No doubt," I answered. "But I don't particularly want three or four hours' delay."

"I believe you—a—change trains at—a—at Hurst," said Craven.

"That is my first change," I replied. "The second is at Glynde Junction." But Craven was talking, not listening, so I stopped.

"At Hurst,—yes. Just so,—yes. To be sure,—yes. No doubt you will obtain lunch there,—yes, a very good plan. You will write and inform Albinia soon—inform Albinia as to your welfare—ahem. I may say that—a—I believe—a—that I feel no doubt whatever you will do well—ahem—will do excellently well in your new sphere. Yes, I may say—excellently. You have acted hitherto an exemplary part in the care of—a—your worthy relative,—looking for no return."

This was quite true. Aunt Lavinia cared for me in childish days, and I have cared for her in later years. It was a matter of course that I should do so. She has depended upon me entirely. But I have had no thought of reward. I always knew that the greater part of her income consisted of a life annuity. And it was my friends, not I, who were disappointed when, after her death, it became known that with the exception of one hundred pounds everything at her disposal was left to Albinia, not to me.

"Looking for no return," repeated Craven, with an unctuous little smack of approval peculiar to himself. "Yes, I may say—looking for no return. One reward you have doubtless, my dear little sister,—namely, the satisfactory mandate of your own conscience, and ahem—and a very respectable nest-egg of one hundred pounds, which you will do well to allow to accumulate at—a—at compound interest. The world now lies open to you, and an opportunity has at last arrived—a—has, I may say, at last arrived—for the exercise of your intellectual gifts. As I was about to remark, you—a—you undoubtedly possess—"

"I seem to have heard all this before, Craven," I said, glancing at the clock, which pointed to more than half-past ten. Breakfast in the Smyth household is not inordinately early.

"In a governess, my dear Constance," Craven said slowly, helping himself to fish for the fourth time, "in a governess—a—this fish is very much overboiled, Albinia, very much indeed—a—in a governess, my dear Constance, such impetuosity as yours is, I may say,—"

"Really! I thought I was particularly well adapted for being a governess," I exclaimed.

"Is, I may say,—" pursued the imperturbable Craven, "likely—a—to lead you into serious difficulties—ahem. Remember, my dear sister,—you should—a—remember that your office now is to guide—a—to instruct—a—the young. More than this, you depend—ahem—entirely upon your own exertions; and if—a—if, in a temporary fit of impetuosity, you are led to throw up your situation, you—a—you find yourself homeless—absolutely homeless, my dear Constance."

"I understand," I said. "I shall not come to you for shelter, Craven," and I stood up. "Will you kindly excuse me, Albinia? It is getting late, and I have not done my packing."

Albinia assented, not reluctantly; and I vanished. But I felt very vexed with myself. After many resolutions to keep calm and smooth to the end, here was I giving vent to irritability, like a pettish school-girl. Apart from the wrong-doing, what was the use? Craven would not understand.

As I turned the key of my travelling bag, Albinia glided into the room.

"The cab has come," she said. "It is rather early, and I meant to send you in the carriage; but—"

"No need for excuses," I said. "You can't help things, Albinia. I am only amazed that I could stoop to be angry with him."

Pretty severe, this; but I do not think the words touched Albinia. She said only, "I have brought you a little packet of sandwiches."

"Thank you," I answered. "Craven's plan of luncheon at Hurst is not quite feasible. I shall have just three minutes there."

"You need not say anything about the sandwiches downstairs," observed Albinia. Craven, with all his wealth, is no "lover of hospitality."

Another hour, or less, and I found myself alone in a second-class carriage, passing swiftly out of London, with nearly two unoccupied hours lying ahead.

The train was not an express, and several stoppages took place. Yet no one came into my compartment; and the solitude was not unwelcome. Between the closed chapter of my past life and the opening chapter of my future, this little pause seemed well. I had a book with me, but I could not read. There is something in the steady rush of a train which always inclines me to steady thought; and I had so much to think about.

It is odd to look back to one's previous imaginings of people or things, and to compare those imaginings with the realities.

I can recall clearly now some of the pictures which floated through my mind as I sat in the train. Probably they would soon fade, if I did not jot them down while fresh.

There was Margaret, the second daughter, "my sweet Maggie," as Mrs. Romilly calls her. I felt that I already knew well this dear girl, just nineteen in age, and of a nature so humble and winning that none could fail to love her. Mrs. Romilly doubtless leans more upon the capable Nellie; but it is around Maggie, her "tender, clinging Maggie," that I have seen her heartstrings to be most closely twined. Poor gentle Maggie! How I pitied the young girl yesterday, picturing her left thus suddenly at the head of a large household. She would indeed need all the help and advice that I might be able to give. I longed for Maggie's sake to have had more experience. She was not naturally a gifted manager like Nellie,—so I had heard,—but had always depended on her mother and elder sister.

Then there was Thyrza, some fourteen months younger than Maggie—"that dear difficult Thyrza," she is termed by her mother. I meant to win Thyrza in time, to gain her confidence by slow degrees. But in the reserved and brusque Thyrza, I could not look for so pleasant a return as in the sweet and lovable Maggie. Unconsciously, perhaps, I was a little prejudiced against Thyrza. Mrs. Romilly had so often spoken of her with a sigh.

The twins, Nona and Elfleda came up next, aged sixteen and a half. "My bright Nona," and "my lovely gipsy Elf!" Mrs. Romilly has called them. I could see in imagination the fair face of the one—"all sunshine, with such clouds of auburn hair and such a complexion!"—and the brilliant merry eyes of the little dark beauty. "Not very fond of study, either of them, but able to do anything they liked,—so quick and clever." Yes; Nona and Elfie could not fail to be favourites.

And the two small children, Popsie and Pet; and their young nursery governess, Miss Millington,—I had to be friends with all. There was also the fifteen year old boy, Denham, "my handsome son," Mrs. Romilly has styled him. I thought he must be dearer to her than the elder son, Eustace, which seemed curious. A mother usually clings most to her firstborn. But I had heard little of Eustace Romilly.

In addition to all these, there was Nellie Romilly's great friend, Gladys Hepburn, living "just round the corner," and closely interwoven with life in Glynde House, beside many others with names more or less familiar. But among all these figures, it was that of Margaret Romilly, "sweet Maggie," which stood out with the most inviting distinctness, forming the centre of my expectations. A purely imaginary figure, of course. I pictured Maggie as a girlish reproduction of my friend,—tall, slender, graceful, with liquid loving brown eyes, and pensive winning smile. Mrs. Romilly had shown me few photographs of her people. She always said they were such failures.

The background in my mind to all these moving figures was a fine country mansion, with extensive gardens and something of park land. I can hardly tell how this idea grew into existence; except that Mrs. Romilly has a way of writing and speaking about "our place," which has perhaps misled me. I am sure she does it with the utmost simplicity. It is habit she has fallen into unconsciously.

Mr. Romilly overshadowed the whole. I had formed a vivid idea of him. I knew him to be many years older than Mrs. Romilly, and she has spoken of him always with true wifely enthusiasm. My mental sketch of him was drawn from recollections of things she has said. There could hardly be such another man in the world. His face, his features, his manners, his self-forgetfulness, his kindness, his indulgence, his generosity,—all these have been painted before me, till I could only feel that he must be a very prince among men, and that to live under the same roof with Mr. Romilly must be a priceless privilege. The only marvel to my mind was that he had not gone abroad with his wife. But doubtless a spirit of self-denial restrained him, and he remained in England for the sake of his girls.

I found myself wondering next what manner of Church and of clergyman I should find. Mrs. Romilly may have described them to me, but I could recall no particulars. In my quiet Bath life, I used to attend many week-day Services in addition to those of Sunday. I found them a help—nay, a positive necessity. But things would be different at Glynde. That which had been a duty as well as a privilege in Bath—a duty because I had the leisure to go, and no prior home-claims to hinder me—might at Glynde cease to be a duty, because of such other claims.



THE SAME—continued.

February 26. Early Morning.       

AFTER all, I might have procured my luncheon at Hurst without difficulty: for I missed my train, and had a long waiting time.

It passed, as such intervals do, and I found myself in a crowded compartment on the way to Glynde Junction. This second stage of my journey was a good deal occupied in observation of fellow-passengers. None of them was in any sense remarkable, but all human beings are more or less worth studying.

After a while the compartment began to empty, and I at the same time began to be aware that the train had lagged a good fifteen minutes behind time. No pleasant discovery this, since it probably meant the loss of the next train at Glynde Junction, and another long delay.

One old lady remained alone at the farther end of the carriage, nodding sleepily over a novel. A gentleman had stepped in at the last station, and had taken the corner opposite to me. While busily comparing watch and time-table, I had not noticed him; but a little while before reaching the Junction, I happened to glance up and met his eyes.

Evidently he had been examining me: no doubt from the same general interest in human beings to which I have confessed. He did not snatch away his eyes in the alarmed fashion of some people caught in the act, but met mine frankly. He might be, I supposed, under thirty: a gentleman every inch of him: in manner quiet, steadfast, entirely at his ease, and free from the least suspicion of self-consciousness. Mouth and chin were hidden by the brown moustache and beard, and more of the same soft brown hair receded in waves from the wide forehead. The eyes were singular, large and gentle as a woman's, pale brown in hue, with soft shading lashes, and set in hollowed-out caves, which, together with the delicately outlined temples and the slightness of the ungloved right hand, gave an impression of not very robust health.

I read at once in his look the unspoken question—"Is anything the matter?"

And my answer came involuntarily—

"I was wondering if there is any chance of my catching the train to Glynde."

"At the Junction? Yes; a chance, but a poor one."

"That train does not wait for this?"

"It is not supposed to do so."

"Glynde is new ground to me," I observed. "A pretty place, is it not?"

"There are a few pretty spots in the neighbourhood," he answered; and he mentioned one or two by name, describing briefly.

It is singular that I should have been drawn on to chat with him. As a rule, I am very shy of railway acquaintances. A woman, and especially a young woman, travelling alone, can scarcely act with too much reticence. Somehow I was disposed during those few minutes to make an exception in favour of this particular fellow-traveller, recognising instinctively a man whom one might trust. Not that such instincts may be safely depended on.

Some remark made by him led to the question on my part—

"Can you tell me anything about the Church?"

He asked, "Which Church?"

"The nearest to Glynde House," I answered; and a slight flash or lighting up of his face showed me that he was acquainted with the Romillys.

"The Parish Church is a mile and a half distant," he said. "There is a small Church or Chapel-of-ease not far from Glynde House."

"What kind of Church Services?" I asked next, speaking perhaps with a touch of wistfulness. I did not know it, till I saw the reflection in his face. But indeed the burden of the future and of my own incapacity was weighing on me heavily.

He answered again by a question, "What kind would you wish?"

"I should like—something helpful," I said.

A curious smile came into his face. "Is not the 'something helpful' always there?"

"Always!" I moved my head dissentingly.

"It ought to be."

"But things are so different in different Churches," I urged. "One cannot find the same amount of help, for instance, when the Services are dull and spiritless."

"Perhaps not the same amount," he said slowly. "But sufficient for our need—always that!" After a moment's thought, he went on—"We hear a good deal in our day about Church privileges; and none can value such privileges more highly than I do. Still, one ought not to forget that the greater a man's privileges are, the greater must be his responsibility."

"I suppose so," I said.

"Necessarily. It is an invariable rule—the more given, the more required. If our spiritual advance does not keep pace with the amount of our Church privileges, so much the worse for us."

"Yet there cannot be advance without—" I began, and stopped. For I knew I did not mean that.

"I must differ from you," he said courteously. "Some of God's greatest saints on earth have been by no means the most favoured with outward helps to devotion."

"But still—" I said.

"Still one craves such help. True; and the craving in itself may not be wrong—is not wrong, I should rather say. Though here, too, as with bodily needs, I believe one ought to be content either to 'abound' or to 'suffer need,' as God may appoint for us. Besides," he added, "that which is the greatest help to one, is not always helpful to another. We are differently constituted, and our needs differ. It is a perplexing question sometimes. Our Church Services are meant for the many. I am afraid some among us are, perhaps, a little too much disposed to insist on providing for the many that which only suits the needs of the few."

"And suppose," I said, "that the many insist on having what is no help at all to the few, but only a hindrance?"

"It should not be a hindrance."

"But if it is—"

"It need not be. The question as to a man's spiritual advance does not hinge there. Wine of heaven may be as freely given in a cup of earthenware as in a cup of porcelain, if only one is willing."

I repeated to myself, "If one is willing!"

"The gist of the matter lies there," he said.

The old lady at the other end woke up, looked round, and moved promptly down the seat to our vicinity, putting out a hand and a rubbed kid glove.

"How do you do, Sir Keith—how do you do?" she said, in brisk cordial tones. "Quite well, I hope; and Lady Denham too? Are you going home to her? No? I can't quite hear what you say—the train does make such a noise, and I'm getting just a little deaf."

There was no difficulty whatever in hearing the lady's own utterances, as she shouted in shrill tones at Sir Keith's left ear.

"Not going home till later! Oh, that's it, is it? Ah, you're such a busy man, I know—always hard at work about something or other. Well,—and so poor Mrs. Romilly is really off. Very sad about her, isn't it? I was sure you'd feel it, knowing them so well! And all those girls left behind,—really, it's a thousand pities. Just when they need a mother most! Nice girls too!"

She scanned him with quick inquisitive glances, as he listened, calmly attentive. "I wonder which is your favourite, now! I like Nellie best—not that I know them intimately. The Romillys are difficult people to get hold of. But I always do say they are nice ladylike looking girls, if only they weren't quite so much wrapped up in one another, and in their own concerns. A very attached family, I'm sure, and it's quite pretty to see them all so devoted to their father, dear man! Oh, Mr. Romilly is an immense favourite of mine. But as for Mrs. Romilly,—why, there's no doubt she does keep people at a distance, and holds herself as if she was a duchess. So very exclusive and all that! I hate exclusiveness, and I can't endure airs and graces. Still, Mrs. Romilly is nice enough in her own way, when one gets used—Are you going to get out here?"

It was a marvel to me that the old lady could keep on so long, with her twinkling black eyes fixed on that face of grave disapproval. I had begun to wonder whether I ought to announce myself openly as the new Glynde House governess, for fear something might be said before me which I had no business to hear. But as I hesitated, the train slackened speed, and Sir Keith stood up to lift down my roll of shawls.

"It is just possible that you may be in time," he said. "Ha! There is a man who will do his best." He threw open the door, handed my shawls to the porter answering his summons, then stepped out himself to assist me. Plainly all this came as a matter of course.

"Glynde train off yet?" he asked.

"No, sir." The porter had touched his cap, with evident recognition and as evident pleasure. "Just going, sir."

"See this lady in, if you please. The luggage will be behind. No time to get a ticket, I fear."

"Thank you very much," I said, and he lifted his hat before returning to his seat. Then followed a rush along the platform, a frantic hauling out of my trunks, a breathless scamper upstairs, over the bridge, down the other side, and I found myself in a first-class compartment with two gentlemen. There had been no leisure to choose. My trunks were flung in, unlabelled; and we were off.

Recovering from the flurry of my chase, I became aware of a gentle little piping masculine voice opposite—

"No, I—I could not possibly hesitate,—such very apparent need—er. Poor thing! It is a great gratification to be able to help those in need—er. My dear boy, it is very cold—very chilly—er. I am quite distressed to think of the girls driving to the station—er—in the open chaise. I really wish I had given different directions—er."

I could not help thinking of Craven; though this speaker, with something of the same cautious hesitation in bringing out his words, and even more of a tendency to linger on concluding syllables, had nothing whatever of Craven's grandiloquent pomposity. He was short, and of narrow small-boned make, with sunken cheeks, and delicate girlish hands. Grey hair, in the prettiest silken curls, peeped from under his most dainty travelling cap, partly hiding the defects of a narrow and unintellectual forehead; and a pair of deep-blue eyes, full of anxious appeal, wandered to and fro beseechingly. The mouth was anxious too—a really beautiful mouth in its classic curves, only so tremulously nervous and troubled.

Side by side with this little elderly personage was a young man, not at all resembling him. For the young man was tall, broad-shouldered, and powerfully made, with no pretensions to good looks. It seemed to me a good sensible face, however—that plain sunburnt face of his—though not handsome; and I admired the deferential kindness of his manner towards the older gentleman. Could they be father and son?

"If I had guessed—er—that it would be so chilly—er—I think it would have been advisable to procure hot-water cans for the journey—er. My feet are so very cold—er—quite suffering. I hope you do not feel the cold—er—very much, my dear boy."

He feel the cold! I could have laughed at the question. But the young man answered, without a smile, "Not at all, thanks. I wish I had thought of the hot-water tin for you, though."

"No consequence, my dear boy,—not of the very least consequence—er. And we shall be there directly, so it really does not—er—does not matter. But I am very chilly. I almost think—er—if you could get out a shawl for me, I should like it over my shoulders—er. Thanks—no, not that one. The Scotch tartan. Not there, do you say? Very strange, very strange indeed—er. I must speak to Phipps, I must speak to him quite seriously. He knows so well—er—I always use that shawl in travelling—er—quite invariably. No, nothing else, my dear boy,—nothing else will do. If the tartan shawl is not here, I must endure the chill."

Poor gentleman,—he shivered and looked quite blue. But the young man made no attempt to persuade him, only rolling up submissively the rejected wraps.

"Very cold indeed for the girls," went on the elder gentleman. "I am so afraid they will suffer—er. If only I had desired them to have a closed cab, instead of driving in the open chaise—er—it would have been safer. But perhaps they may think of it. Perhaps when we arrive, we could arrange—er—don't you think, my dear boy?"

"Yes, father," said the young man. He spoke very gravely, with no relaxing in the set of his strong plain face. Was he always so serious? It struck me as singular; for I should not have guessed him to be more than three or four and twenty at the most.

"I think we might arrange—er—if it should be very cold indeed at the station—er—perhaps—but I really do not know. It is very distressing to have had to send away the brougham just now. I shall ask you to see about that, my dear boy,—to get matters pushed forward—er. I have been really too shaken myself to attend—er—to attend to anything."

"Yes, father."

"I should hardly have ventured—er—on this little trip to-day,—if I had not hoped to meet you. It was very thoughtful of you to arrange things so,—very thoughtful. And I am sure that poor lady was most grateful—er. One is glad to be able to do a kindness, even at the cost of personal discomfort."

He shivered dolorously again. I leant forward, and asked, "Would you like me to put up this window?"

An immediate bow was the response. Plainly this little sickly elderly person was a thorough gentleman,—quite as much so, after his own fashion, as my former fellow-traveller, though a very different stamp of man.

"Thanks—er—I am very much obliged. But pray, do not inconvenience yourself—er. It is a chilly day!—" another shudder, accompanied by a suffering smile. "Very chilly, and I—er—am not robust. But pray do not,—unless you prefer it."

I did not prefer it, being a devoted lover of fresh air; nevertheless, I would have pulled up the glass promptly, if the younger man had not started forward to forestall me. I congratulated myself that it was not to be a case of prolonged suffocation. Five minutes more would bring us to Glynde.

The two fast-shut windows thickened rapidly with breath-mist; but the elderly gentleman seemed more at his ease, and shivered in leas deplorable style.

"Glynde at last," he said, as a whistle sounded. "Eustace, my dear boy, pray collect the parcels. And I think we should have the window open—er. Thanks. Ah, there are the girls. Maggie has not thought of a fly. Only the open carriage,—and such a cold afternoon. Thyrza not there—how strange! Pray secure a porter at once, my dear boy, to carry these parcels—er. And I think, as soon as we are out,—I think you should inquire whether Miss Conway has arrived—er—or whether she is expected now."

The train stood still. I had not at once noted the name "Eustace," but the more familiar "Maggie" and "Thyrza" could not be passed by, and what followed settled the business. I turned to the speaker, and said—

"I beg your pardon! I am Constance Conway!"

But could that be Mr. Romilly?




February 26. Thursday.       

I AM writing at odd times to-day, as I find leisure. A hot fit of journalism is on me just now; perhaps as a relief to certain nameless feelings; and I have a fancy to note down early impressions fully. The first two or three days amid new surroundings are often the future life there in miniature. Lessons do not begin till Monday; and the girls seem very busy in various ways, leaving me more to myself than I should have expected. Also I had a good spell of writing before breakfast. But—to continue!

I found myself on the platform, in the midst of a family gathering. A few other passengers alighted and vanished. There seemed small chance of our speedily vanishing likewise. My trunks were tossed out of the luggage-van, and the train passed on.

We were near the door of the general waiting-room, with a projecting roof over our heads. The roof ended a few paces farther on, and a white paling bounded the uncovered portion of the platform. I could see an open chaise beyond, with a fat brown pony hanging its sleepy head, and a boy lounging on the small box where was only room for one.

Mr. Romilly formed the centre of an eager group; and I, standing slightly apart, had leisure for a few observations. The grave young man, Eustace, stood also apart, and the immobility of his face struck me anew. I could not understand his receiving so moderate a welcome from his sisters. All eyes were bent upon Mr. Romilly, and the girls hovered about their father, with the devotion of satellites round a sun.

Vainly I looked for the "sweet Maggie" of my expectations, vainly also for the Nona and Elfleda of Mrs. Romilly's painting. Thyrza I knew had not appeared, and the boy in charge of the pony I guessed to be Denham. But Maggie, Nona, Elfie, the two little ones, the nursery governess,—enough were present to stand for all these. The two little ones I could of course distinguish. The rest at first sight I could not.

All the voices talked together. Broken scraps reached me, in tones not loud but excited.

"O father! We've had the jolliest day! We went such a walk!"

"And Millie was so tired!"

"And Gladys went with us."

"Oh, and father, only think—"

"Father, I'm going to have a canary-bird,—Pet and me, I mean."

"Yes, father, isn't it lovely? Mrs. Hepburn is going to give a canary to Popsie and me for our very own."

"Isn't Mrs. Hepburn a dear, father?"

"And it's a green canary."

"I thought canaries were yellow."

"So they are, Pops! But, father, only think, Gladys has heard—"

"O Nona! You might let me tell father that! Gladys has heard—"

"About her book—"

"Her story that she wrote—"

"From the Society where she sent it, father, and he says—"

"Nonsense, Nona: a society is it, not he."

"Well, it says, father, that they'll bring it out—"

"Because she's made the little girl that died get well again instead—"

"Yes, because there are such lots of cripples in stories, you know, father."

"And of course Gladys didn't mind doing that, and now it's really taken and going to be printed."

"And Maggie means to write stories too, father, like Gladys. Won't that be awfully nice?"

"My dears, I really don't—er—quite understand."

"Of course you don't, father, when Nona and Elfie tell you in such a ridiculous way."

"Oh, you don't understand, of course, father, because nobody has known a single word about it till to-day."

"Except Mrs. Hepburn and all of them."

"Anybody out of their house, I mean. At least Nellie might, but Maggie didn't."

"I knew Gladys wrote stories, Nona."

"Yes; but not about her trying to get them printed."

"Father, did you see that poor lady, and give her a lot of money?"

"And Thyrza not here, my dears-er! I don't understand Thyrza's absence."

"Oh, she meant to come in time, father,—if she could."

"Father, who is to walk and who is to drive? Millie thought—"

"Nonsense, Nona. I don't wish to be quoted on all occasions."

"But, Millie dear, I was only going to say—"

"Now, children—er—I think we have talked long enough. Miss Conway is waiting all this time—er—quite neglected. Pray do excuse us, Miss Conway. I fear you will think the children sadly uncivilised. My dears, this is Miss Conway—your beloved mother's dear friend—er—and you will give her a very warm welcome. This is Maggie, Miss Conway, our eldest now at home,—and this is Nona, and this Elfleda. Thyrza, I regret to say, is not here. Our little ones—er—Popsie and Pet—and—er—Miss Millington. My second boy, Denham, is with the pony."

One after another came forward to shake hands, showing more or less of shyness, and no particular warmth.

My first view of Margaret Romilly brought disappointment. For she proved to be in no wise a reproduction of Mrs. Romilly. She is short instead of tall, plump instead of slender; and the only prettiness of which her round innocent face could at that moment boast, lay in the possession of a peach-bloom complexion, and a pair of dark-grey eyes with long curved black lashes. Neither figure nor carriage is good, and the rosy childish hand put into mine might have been years younger than the long fingers of the tall Nona, her more than two years' junior,—both having pulled off their gloves.

Where were Nona's "clouds of auburn hair?" I saw only a knotted coil of decided "carrots" under the brown hat which sheltered Nona's face. A bright face enough, with ordinary features, and with a really transparent skin, which however is a good deal marred by the brown cloudiness resulting from abundant summer freckles.

Elfleda, my friend's "lovely gipsy," I might have recognised earlier, despite the fact that to my critical eyes the loveliness was lacking. I saw only a slim creature, very small in make for sixteen years and a half, with sharp tiny features, elfishly old and quaint, a pair of dusky orbs which neither flashed nor sparkled, a pale sallow complexion, and minute brown hands. Apparently the elf had less to say than anybody. Her little shut-up button of a mouth opened rarely during those few minutes of general talk.

The two youngest girls, Popsie and Pet, or more correctly Mary and Jean, aged eight and seven years old, struck me as rather pretty. They stood hand in hand, under the guardianship of Miss Millington, a young lady perhaps one or two years older than Maggie, and scarcely over Maggie in height, but with greater confidence of bearing, a compact figure, and a neat "pussy-cat" face, by no means intellectual.

A sudden silence fell upon the party with my introduction. Miss Millington's eyes travelled over me from head to foot, taking an inventory of my dress. I made some remark upon the journey, and Mr. Romilly chimed in nervously, repeating my words and enlarging on them.

Then we moved towards the pony-carriage, and the boy in charge descended to greet us. His manner towards me was both more frank and more indifferent than that of the girls. Like Elfleda, he is small in make; and his delicate sharp features are his father's over again, but the slim figure is well-knit, and the blue eyes contain possibilities of unbounded mischief. The silky grey curls of the father are silken brown curls in the son, dropping over a forehead neither high nor broad, but white as alabaster. I have heard much about the singular beauty of this boy, and for the first time I could recall my friend's description with no sense of disparagement.

Mr. Romilly was talking, talking, in his little thin slow voice, about the weather, and about the danger of a chill, and about the need for a closed fly, and most of all about Thyrza's non-appearance. He was fretted and worried, and nothing could be arranged quite to his liking. Eustace offered to go for a fly, but Mr. Romilly could not possibly wait. Denham suggested a hunt for the missing Thyrza, but Mr. Romilly could not think of it. "If Thyrza did not care to come—er!" &c.

Then the question rose anew, who should drive and who should walk. My luggage was to be sent, and it was taken for granted that I must drive, a decision against which I protested vainly. Nobody so much as listened. Maggie stepped in after me, as a matter of course; and Mr. Romilly dallied long, with one little patent-leather boot on the step. He wanted Popsie and Pet with him; and he thought it unkind to permit Miss Millington to walk; and he was quite sure dear Elfie must be overdone; and he was so very sorry not to feel equal to the exertion himself. And everybody waited to know his decision, with, I am afraid, much more patience than I could feel.

Suddenly a girlish figure came swiftly round the corner of the station,—taller than Maggie, taller even than Nona, and thinner than either, with a grave set face, troubled, as it seemed to me, in a vexed fashion. I knew in a moment that this was Thyrza, even before her name was uttered by one after another of the group in varying accents of reproach. She walked straight up to us, bent her head to kiss the father who was shorter than herself, lifted it in like matter-of-fact wise to kiss the tall elder brother, and stood still.

I could hardly have told then what there was in this "dear difficult Thyrza" which interested me at first sight more than all the others. It was not beauty though my own immediate impression was that Thyrza would one day be the best-looking of the sisters. It was not attractiveness of manner, for she made no effort to seem agreeable. I think it must rather have been a certain indefinable something which spoke the presence of character—of that which even more than power of intellect, and far more than mere beauty of form or feature, stamps an individual as standing apart from the throng of his or her fellow-men.

Whatever Thyrza's faults might be, I knew at once that in her I should at least not meet with inanity or weakness. There might be misdirected force, but force there was. While these impressions swept through my mind, others were speaking.

"Thyrza, you never came after all, and father was so disappointed," complained Maggie.

"And you promised," put in Nona.

"Oh, Thyrza's promises are pie-crust," said Denham.

"Made to be broken," added Nona.

Thyrza had said nothing thus far. She stood near Eustace, her slender upright figure shown well by a closely-fitting cloth jacket. Unlike the rest, she has her mother's figure, though not her mother's grace. There was something a little rigid in her attitude, and the two arms hung flat, with no suspicion of a curve. Neither has she Mrs. Romilly's face. The straight thin features, the heavy thick black hair, the dark serious eyes, are Thyrza's own. I could see no resemblance in them to any other member of the family. So, too, are the resolute and beautifully-moulded lips: for if in outline they are Mr. Romilly's, in character they belong exclusively to herself.

Those closed lips parted suddenly. "I did not promise, Nona. I said I would come if I could."

"Oh yes, we quite understand," retorted Nona, with a touch of good-humoured pertness.

"Thyrza, my dear, this is Miss Conway," Mr. Romilly said, in a fretted distressed tone, as if he were restraining serious displeasure. I could not see, for my part, what there was so very heinous in her non-appearance to welcome a father who had been absent only one night. Eustace was evidently left out of the question.

Thyrza stepped forward, and gave me her hand abruptly. I do not know whether she read in my face anything of what I thought. Our eyes met, and some look in mine must have touched her—how, I do not know. Her face did not relax, but a sudden softness came into the black eyes; and as she was in the very act of snatching her hand away, the fingers closed round mine in a sharp awkward fashion, as if from an afterthought.

"Now—er—I think we should decide—er," hesitated Mr. Romilly. He seems to me always at a loss what words to employ next. "So very chilly here. I really think—if anybody has no objection to the walk—er—"

He looked round helplessly, and Thyrza responded—

"Why can't Nona and Elfie and I walk with Eustace? Maggie likes driving best, and Miss Millington says she is tired. There's room enough for the children too, if nobody minds crowding."

She had hit the mark, though no precise explanation of the state of affairs had been tendered for her benefit. I noted a slight stress on the "says," and a slight toss of Miss Millington's head, which revealed to me a condition of something like chronic war in one direction. I thought, too, that I could detect more signs of real fatigue in the little thin face of Elfie than on the "pussy-cat" features of Miss Millington. The timely suggestions were followed, however. Neither Nona nor Elfie objected. The four pedestrians started off briskly, and the well-laden pony-carriage soon followed at a moderate pace, suited to the inclinations of the fat and drowsy pony.

I was rather astonished to find that all this delay and discussion had been with reference to a fifteen minutes' walk. The drive proved to occupy quite as long a time, since we had to take a considerable tour in place of a short-cut, and the ground sloped upwards continuously.

Most of our way lay along a dull road, with a hedge on one side and a wall on the other: an occasional house in a garden alternating with small fields.

Mr. Romilly kept up a diminutive flow of talk with Popsie and Pet, addressing a remark now and then to me; but conversation generally was limited in extent. Miss Millington studied me persistently, with eyes which noted every fold and button in my dress, and had power to see very little beyond the folds and buttons. Maggie's pretty eyes studied me too at intervals, in a girlish and interested though not penetrative fashion. I could not feel sure whether or no Maggie were disposed to like me, but I could be very sure that Miss Millington was not.

Reaching Glynde House, my visions of a possible park died a sudden death. For it was evidently just a good-sized "family mansion," so an agent would term it, roomy and comfortable, and standing in a good-sized garden; nothing more and nothing less. Thyrza stood at the front door to welcome us; if her silent reception could be called a welcome. The three others had vanished. She took possession of my bag and shawl, and held them resolutely, while Mr. Romilly insisted on leading me from room to room on the ground-floor, that I might at once know my whereabouts.

So we walked into the large drawing-room, through a kind of ante-chamber or small drawing-room; then into the capacious dining-room; then into the study, the morning-room, and the schoolroom. I was glad to find the latter nicely furnished, with two windows and plenty of book-shelves.

"The morning sun comes in this side," remarked Maggie, who accompanied us, while Thyrza waited at each door in turn. "It would be very cold with only that north-east window. Millie—I mean, Miss Millington—teaches the little ones in the nursery," she added. "Except that she has to give them their music on this piano, because there is no piano upstairs. And, of course, she sits here a good deal. At least she always has. Jackie—I mean, Miss Jackson—was so fond of Millie, and never minded. And they all three come to schoolroom tea and supper here. It saves trouble for the servants."

"This is, of course—er—your special property, Miss Conway," explained Mr. Romilly. "But I hope—er—I trust you will not confine yourself to the schoolroom. My dear wife is counting on your companionship for our dear girls—er—for Maggie especially,—apart from the teaching. Pray consider yourself as our guest—er—as here in every respect as our friend—er—and pray remember that the more we see of you in the drawing-room—er—I am sure you understand."

I did quite, and I wished people would not make speeches, though of course he meant it most kindly. Maggie's expression struck me as a little curious. I could not make it out, for the simple reason, I suspect, that she did not herself know exactly what to think. Maggie's position is almost as new to her as mine to me. She glanced at us both in a kind of puzzled fashion; and when he went on to talk of her inexperience as a housekeeper, and to suggest the benefits of my advice, a look of dissent came.

Some people in my place would have taken her hand affectionately, and said a few words of just the right sort about the mother whom we both loved, and about my readiness to help if asked. But I never am able to manage these little gushes of appropriate feeling at the correct moment. I have often wished that I could. One loses so much time, waiting for others to take the initiative.

I ventured soon to ask after Mrs. Romilly; and her husband entered into a long and sighing dissertation on her state of health, saying much but telling little, and presently diverging to his own condition. Such a comfort it was that they had such a dear girl as their dear Nellie, to undertake the charge of the beloved invalid, he hardly knew what they could have done but for Nellie. He was really so feeble himself, and travelling always affected him so painfully. But dear Nellie was quite invaluable; and everything had been arranged for the comfort of his precious wife. Such a mercy, too, that this very chilly weather had not set in just before they started. And everybody had been so kind, the amount of sympathy from friends under these exceptionally trying circumstances had been really past his power to describe. And then the unutterable consolation to himself and his dear Gertrude, that her chosen friend should be able to come and take her place with the dear girls,—to act, in short, a mother's part to them,—he felt that he might almost lay aside the burden of responsibility, otherwise so heavy in her absence. He had indeed very much to be thankful for, notwithstanding the deep trial of such a prolonged separation.

All this and much more, uttered in a dolefully pathetic minor key hardly expressive of thankfulness, I heard with less of inward than of outward patience. My stock of patience is not, I fear, very large. And the idea of my "acting a mother's part" to these girls struck me as a little too ludicrous. Why, I am but a girl myself, not four years older than Maggie! But perhaps on first arrival I had my thirty-years-old look, which I must certainly endeavour to cultivate.

At length I was taken to my room, and Thyrza offered to help me in the unpacking of my trunks. Maggie lingered about, coming in and going out, with a certain embarrassed persistency, as if unable to decide on her proper line of action. Then she took me downstairs to afternoon tea in the drawing-room; and different members of the family appeared and disappeared, all seeming more or less constrained because of me. I am afraid I have not the gift of putting people at their ease.

The rest of the afternoon and evening passed slowly. We all dined together at seven, even Miss Millington and the little ones, which seems to be regarded as an unusual occurrence. In the drawing-room, later, I was treated as a visitor. The girls played or sang, as they could, and Mr. Romilly kept the talk going laboriously.

I do not yet know what will be the ordinary course of household events. Information is not readily tendered, and I have a dislike to asking many questions. Maggie, being so young a manager, seems to expect things to take a straight course, without effort on her part.

All the evening I had a feeling of perplexity as to my own real position here. It seems to me an anomalous one,—half guest, half governess. Can that work well?

I thought it over late at night, feeling harassed and lonely. No distinct light on the actual perplexity came, but only one short sentence, running through and through my head, as I lay awake:—

"Be of good cheer: IT IS I!"

No more than this; and what more could I need? Whatever comes or may come in my life—still, IT IS JESUS! Harassing perplexities, loneliness, difficulties, uncertainties, what are they all but the pressure of His Hand, drawing me nearer to Himself?

The restlessness and the craving for human comfort died away into a wonderful peace,—such a sense of my Master's loving sympathy, such a readiness to have all exactly as God my Father should will, such a feeling of being upheld and guarded by the Divine Spirit, as I have never in my life known before. And I fell asleep, quite satisfied.




February 27. Friday.       

THE country round Glynde seems to be tolerably pretty, of the English semi-rural description, with fields and hedges, farmsteads and cottages, and enough undulating ground to obviate flatness.

Glynde itself is a sleepy country town, of ordinary type, possessing its two Churches, its clergy, its doctors, its lawyers, its necessary array of second-hand shops, its town-hall and markets, its occasional small concerts and other entertainments, its local business on a limited scale, and its local gossip on a scale unlimited. So much I gather already, from observation and passing remarks.

I have always said that I should detest above all things life in a retired country town,—Bath being a city of too much character and history to come under that appellation. Having declared which, it is not surprising that I find myself now stranded on just such a spot.

For if one is so rash as to assert positively that one will not do a certain thing in life, one is pretty sure to be called on some day to do that thing.

The geography of Glynde House is not difficult to learn. In shape the building is a square substantial block, with a large conservatory jutting out on one side, and kitchen offices protruding behind.

On the ground-floor a broad passage or hall runs from the front door to the storeroom and lavatory, beyond which lie kitchen-premises. To the right of the hall, as one enters, is first, the ante-chamber or small drawing-room, the large drawing-room and the conservatory; next, a small passage and side-door into the garden; and behind these, the schoolroom. To the left of the hall are the dining-room, the study, and the morning-room.

On the first-floor, a broad corridor traverses the house from front to back, ending in a bath-room. To the right are, first, Mr. and Mrs. Romilly's very large bedroom and dressing-room; then a small room occupied by the twins; and lastly, a two-windowed room over the schoolroom, apportioned to me. On the other side, over the dining-room, is the spare-room with its dressing-room; behind that a spacious room belonging to Nellie and Maggie; behind that a room for Eustace and Denham.

On the second floor the left half is entirely set apart for the servants, being divided off by a wall running the whole length of the corridor, which thus becomes two separate passages. To the right are, first, and in front, a big low-roofed nursery, transformed of late into a secondary schoolroom; behind that a locked-up room containing household linen; then a bedroom for Popsie and Pet, and opening into that another for Miss Millington. Behind Miss Millington's again is a narrow strip of a room, appropriated by Thyrza.

It is Thyrza's own choice to sleep there, and she told me so frankly. At one time she shared the elder girls' really luxurious quarters; but about a year ago she entreated that the little box-room might be fitted up for her exclusive use; and the request was granted.

"Anything to have a corner to myself!" she said yesterday afternoon, when explaining this. I was a long time alone in the morning, the girls having promised to walk some distance with friends. They asked dubiously whether I would not like to go also, but I begged off, with thanks. I had unpacking to do, I said, and letters to write. After all, the unpacking and letters resolved themselves into journalising.

Luncheon over, Maggie proposed to drive me out in the pony-carriage, "to see the place;" and the twins accompanied us. Conversation did not flow very easily, I am afraid; and I could not feel that I was making great way as yet. Nona chattered a good deal about nothing; and Elfie scarcely spoke at all. Her little brown impassive face puzzles me. Is she always like this? Maggie seemed to like talking about the Hepburns; and I was interested in what she said, though it did not amount to much.

"This is Glynde Park," Maggie said, as we passed through iron gates. "It belongs to a great friend of ours—Sir Keith Denham."

"There was a gentleman in the train with me yesterday," I said. "Somebody called him 'Sir Keith,' and asked after 'Lady Denham.'"

"Oh, that was the same, of course. How funny!" Maggie said, in her half-childish style. "Lady Denham is his mother. We don't like her so much as we like him, she is so odd. Everybody likes Sir Keith."

She blushed up in her quick way. I could not tell whether it meant anything. Some girls blush at everything, just as others never blush at all.

Nona chimed in, "Oh, everybody! He's the very nicest man that ever was. Eustace is going to dine at the Park to-night. He and Sir Keith are immense friends, aren't they, Maggie?"

I did not admire the little giggle which followed this speech. It sounded foolish, though all else seemed simple and natural enough.

Drizzling rain came on, and our drive was cut short. As I went upstairs I met Thyrza, and she said, "You haven't seen my room yet?"

"No," I answered. "Will you show it to me now?"

Thyrza followed me into my own room, where I removed bonnet and jacket. Then it was that she explained the sleeping arrangements of the family, ending with the ejaculation, "Anything to have a corner to myself!"

"I can understand your wish," I said.

"Can you? Nobody else does. Mother gave way; but she doesn't like my wanting it."

"You have a cosy corner, at all events!" I said, as we entered, glancing round upon the variety of odd knick-knacks and curiosities which adorned the walls of the narrow chamber, or were crowded upon shelves and brackets. Framed photographs and unframed paintings alternated with porcelain figures, china plates, and Japanese fans; and every available space seemed to be filled up with an assortment of quaint cups and teapots, stuffed birds, nursery toys, geologic specimens, everlasting flowers, dried grasses, bulrushes, strings of beads, draped scarves, Swiss sabots, German carvings, and what not! Such a heterogeneous collection in so small a space I had never come across before. The little iron bed was at one end, the fireplace at the other, the window on one side between, looking towards the north-east.

One corner, near the fireplace, seemed to be given up to sacred subjects. Two framed illuminated texts flanked an exquisite engraving of Holman Hunt's "Light of the World;" around the simple Oxford frame of which was entwined a spray of ivy. Beneath the engraving stood a small table; and on the table lay a Bible, a Church Service, a handsome copy of "The Christian Year," Thomas à Kempis' "Imitation," and two or three other volumes.

"Do you like the room?" asked Thyrza.

"I like anything characteristic," I answered. "Some day you must let me into all the secrets of your curiosity-shop."

"Would you care? That will be nice."

The first three words came with quite a flash of pleasure. After a pause, she added, in her abrupt style, "Nobody else likes it."

"Why?" I asked.

"Except Eustace, I mean, and he only because it pleases me. Oh, I don't know why. Tastes differ, I suppose. Father thinks it all nonsense. And mother says that corner is so incongruous with the rest."

We were near the small table already mentioned, and I turned to look upon the kingly Figure depicted above,—the Figure of One waiting with Divine patience at a barred and moss-grown door, and with a wondrous light of loving pity in His glorious Eyes. A hush crept over me as I gazed.

"Isn't it beautiful?" murmured Thyrza. "If only I could see the original painting!"

"I have seen it," I said.

"And you enjoy this—after that?"

"The more, for having seen that."

"It is so beautiful," she said again.

"More than beautiful," I answered. "One seems to gain a fresh insight into His character from studying that Face. There is such a mingling of majesty and tenderness."

I did not expect a sudden little clutch of my hand, and a quick, "Oh, I am so glad you feel that. It's just what I feel, and can't put into words."

"Of course," I added, "it is only a human conception of what He is; and one knows that every human conception of Him must fall infinitely short of the reality."

Thyrza's dark eyes were fixed on me intently. "And you don't think this corner of my room incongruous with the rest," she asked. "I do so like to have all my pet things about me; and I have nowhere to put them except on the walls. Is there any harm?"

"I can understand your mother's feeling," I said cautiously. "And if there were any touch of the really comic, frankly, I should not like that, side by side with the sacred. But the room does not strike me as comic. It is only singular and natural, a putting forth of your mind and tastes. To me, it seems rather to mean the coming of religion into the common little things of everyday life. If our religion doesn't do that, it is not worth much. Perhaps a good deal depends on how one looks upon a question."



THE SAME—continued.

February 27. Friday Evening.       

"THANK you," Thyrza said earnestly.

She led me to the tiny mantelpiece, over which hung numerous photographs. Brothers and sisters grouped round the parents were easily recognisable; most of them having been recently taken.

Somewhat apart from the central family collection, I noted two of cabinet size, placed close together. One was the likeness of a remarkably handsome youth, almost a young man, standing in an attitude of careless and smiling ease. The other represented a lad, perhaps two or three years younger, plain-featured, but brimming over with so irresistible a look of fun and merriment, that I fairly laughed aloud, as I looked into the mischievous eyes.

"Who are those?" I asked, smiling still, and turning to Thyrza.

No answering smile met mine. "Keith and Eustace," she said.

I looked again. "Not your brother Eustace, of course. You have a cousin of the same name, perhaps," I suggested. For the one was far too handsome; and there seemed no possible connection between that other radiantly merry face and the grave young man downstairs.

"Yes, my brothers, Keith and Eustace." She spoke in a curt, even hard tone. "The photos were taken six years ago, just before it all happened. Nobody else can bear to see them together like this. But I think—"

Thyrza stopped abruptly.

"I did not know you had had another brother," I said. There had been the loss of one little girl, I was aware, between the twins and Popsie; but of any older son than Eustace I had not heard.

"Then mother never told you. I wonder at that. She can't speak of Keith generally; but you are her friend!"

"I cannot recall any mention of him," I said.

"And you don't know how it all happened?"

"No." Thyrza was silent, and I repeated the name "Keith! That is the same as your friend at the Park."

"Yes; he was named after his godfather, the old Sir Keith."

I looked at the photograph and asked, "What was his age then?"

"Eighteen, and Eustace was sixteen."

"And you were quite a child."

"Yes, not twelve." She gazed fixedly on the ground, as if thinking. "Everybody knows," she said at length; "and you must too. I would rather you should not say that I told you; but of course you will have to know. It was just before Christmas, and they had come home for the holidays. And the ice on the pond was not safe. Eustace persisted in skating, against orders. Only Keith and I were there, and we begged him not, but it was of no use. He was always so high-spirited, and he liked his own way; and father being so nervous about everything, Eustace thought it nonsense. And he went on; and the ice broke; and Keith plunged in to help him."

"And was Keith drowned?" I asked, in a low voice.

"No; not drowned. But the ice kept breaking, and they couldn't get out, and I ran to call some men to bring a rope. Eustace was saved first, and then Keith sank before he could be reached, and he was insensible for hours after, much worse than Eustace. It was a dreadful time. Eustace soon came all right again; but Keith had never been really strong. He caught a very bad chill, and inflammation of the lungs set in. He died in a fortnight."

"How terrible!" I said.

"Yes. Oh, and if you had known him, such a dear fellow. I can't tell you what he was to us all. Everybody thought so much of Keith, and he never seemed the least conceited. They call Denham like him; and I suppose he is in a way. Father and mother think so, and that is why they can't bear to deny Denham anything he wants. But he is so different. Keith was tall, not little like Denham, and so much more clever and hard-working, and so really good! And he and Eustace were so fond of one another. Don't you think it was worst of all for Eustace, much worse than for anybody else?"

Thyrza's dark eyes looked again earnestly into mine, deepening and dilating with the strength of her own feelings. "Keith did so beg and beseech, before he died, that no difference might be made to Eustace. He said we were never to think of it as Eustace's doing. But—there is a difference. Nobody ever forgets; and nobody ever seems quite to forgive—except—"

"Six years!" I said involuntarily, as she paused.

"Six years and a few weeks! It is a long long while to keep the feeling up. And Eustace meant no harm, Miss Conway. He was just a reckless boy,—in wild spirits. Of course he was wrong to disobey,—very wrong. But still, it wasn't worse that time than fifty other times, I suppose. It does seem such a dreadful punishment to have come upon him."

"I suppose one ought rather to put it the opposite way," I said; "that the fifty other times were really no better than that time."

"Yes—perhaps—but such, a punishment to follow upon that once!" she repeated.

"Hardly upon that once alone," I said. "If he had not disobeyed fifty times before, more or less, he would not have disobeyed then. Don't think me hard upon your brother, Thyrza, for indeed I do feel for him. But I believe we are all a little apt to forget how every single step in life is part of a steady working onward towards some good or some terrible goal. No one deed can be weighed by itself, detached from others."

She gave me a startled glance, and said, "Every single step!"

"It must be," I said. "Everything that we do strengthens either the good or the evil in us; and no one thing done can ever be undone."

Thyrza drew a long breath. "Ah, that is the worst!" she said. After a moment's hesitation she went on, "Eustace has never been the same since. He never speaks of Keith, or of that time. Some don't understand, and think him unfeeling. I have heard him called 'callous.' As if people could not see for themselves!"

"I should have thought it would be enough to compare that photograph with his face now," I said.

"Then you understand," responded Thyrza abruptly.

"And your mother so bright still," I said, with surprised recollection.

"Mother! Oh yes, she is bright by fits and starts. I don't think she can help having a bright manner with strangers, it is her way. But she perfectly worshipped Keith. They thought mother wouldn't have lived through it, when he died."

We did not carry on the conversation farther. I had more unpacking to do, and I went to my room, inviting Thyrza to accompany me. She acquiesced with evident pleasure. Five minutes later there came a tap at the door, and Rouse, the upper housemaid, entered, glancing at my half-empty trunks. She is very staid and superior in look, with the pleasant noiseless manner of a really good servant. "Would you like any help this afternoon, Miss?" she asked.

"Oh no, Rouse, I am going to unpack for Miss Conway," said Thyrza.

Rouse's face showed some lurking amusement. I thanked her, and she withdrew, begging me to ring if I wanted anything.

"What a nice person she seems!" I said.

"Rouse has been with us seven years, and always thinks of everything. Fortunate that she does, for Maggie remembers nothing, and she won't be reminded," said Thyrza.

"People cannot learn housekeeping in a day," I observed; and as I lifted out a dress, Thyrza standing by in a rather helpless attitude of would-be helpfulness, I inquired about the daily arrangements as to meals.

"Breakfast is always at eight, like this morning," she answered. "Father isn't often down till half-past, as you saw to-day, and Prayers are always at half-past, and he breakfasts alone after. And luncheon is at one, always the same, only it is sometimes more of a dinner, and sometimes less. The schoolroom tea is at five, and it is open to anybody. Miss Jackson always made tea, and of course you will now, but Millie is pretty sure to try and oust you, if you don't look out. She dearly likes to put herself first. Mother and Nellie sometimes come to the schoolroom tea; but as a rule they have tea in the drawing-room. Maggie is bent on keeping up the drawing-room tea, though really it is absurd, except just when callers come rather late. Father and Eustace never take tea, and Maggie is only just out of the schoolroom."

"Then she is out of it," I said.

"Yes; and mother wanted me to be out too, so as to be a companion to Maggie. But of course I could not. Why, I am not eighteen for another two months, and Maggie has gone on till her nineteenth birthday is over. Father always promised that I should do the same. I am to pay calls sometimes with Maggie, while mother and Nellie are away. That is bad enough, for I hate calls. Don't you?"

"Not if they come in the way of my duty," I said.

"Are calls ever a duty?" asked Thyrza. "It always seems to me such a sham, going and hoping to find everybody out."

"Is that always a necessary state of things?"

"I don't know," she said. "Not with everybody, but with me. Then there is late dinner at seven, and schoolroom supper at half-past seven. When we are quite alone, all we elder ones down to Denham dine with father, and so will you, because mother settled it so. Miss Jackson never would. She said late dinners disagreed with her. I believe she really was afraid of Millie; for it was only since Millie came that she said so. But you are mother's friend, and differences are to be made. Millie—Miss Millington, I mean,—is awfully jealous of you, because she always has her supper in the schoolroom with the children."

"Thyrza, you must not try to set me against Miss Millington," I said gravely.

"There's no need. You will see for yourself. Besides—" after a pause,—"it is only I who dislike Millie. The others are no end devoted to her, and so was Jackie,—Miss Jackson, I mean. We always called her Jackie. I am afraid it was rude, but she didn't mind. She never minded anything, so long as nobody was cross."

"I should like the schoolroom supper quite as much as the late dinner," I said.

"I like it much best of the two! But mother made a great fuss about that, and it will never do for you to say you don't wish it. Father would be desperately vexed—hurt, I mean! I advise you just to take everything as a matter of course. You will soon learn all the ins and outs of the house."

"One thing is quite certain," I said. "I am your mother's friend, but I am also your governess; and I will not have the last fact forgotten in the first."

Thyrza gave me a wide-eyed glance of wonder and approval.

"You'd better not say that in Millie's hearing."

"Why?" I asked imprudently.

"Oh, nothing offends her more than the word 'governess.' And 'nursery governess' finishes her off altogether."

I could hardly help smiling. "To my mind 'governess' is an honourable term," I said.

Then for a little while I kept Thyrza hard at work, and conversation flagged. By-and-by tapping outside the door sounded, and Nona's bright face appeared.

"Maggie wants me to ask you, Miss Conway—Is Thyrza here?"

"Why not?" asked Thyrza, suddenly on the defensive.

"Father has just been saying that he has seen nothing of you all day, and he wanted to know where you were."

A slight sound of impatience escaped the elder girl. "What were you going to say about Maggie?" she demanded in a brusque tone, which contrasted not quite agreeably with Nona's good-humoured and sprightly manlier.

"Maggie thinks, Miss Conway, that perhaps you are tired to-day, and perhaps you would like Millie to pour out tea in the schoolroom,—as she has done lately."

"Millie all over!" Thyrza muttered.

"I think that had better be as Maggie likes," I answered. "Please tell her so, Nona. If she wishes Miss Millington to pour out the tea this afternoon, I have no objection. But I am not at all tired; and am quite ready to step into my duties without delay."

Nona vanished, wearing a puzzled face.

Thyrza exclaimed, "I shall see about it!" and vanished too.

I do not know exactly what passed among the girls during the next few minutes. When I reached the schoolroom, I found Thyrza mounting guard over the teapot like a young dragoness, and Miss Millington posing as a martyr at the other end of the table, surrounded by a little group of sympathisers. Maggie and Denham were not present.

"Never mind, Millie darling! We'll tell mother!"

"Poor Millie! When she only meant to be kind, and to save Miss Conway trouble!"

"Thyrza is always so cross about everything to do with Millie."

"I think Millie ought to pour out the tea always."

"So do I. Why, Millie has been here ever so much the longest."

"And I'm sure she's nearly as old as that Miss Conway!"

"Oh, I do wish dear sweet old Jackie had never gone away."

"Poor Millie Never mind, darling Millie. We'll always like you best."

These sentences greeted my ears in a rapid rush, as I gained the half-open schoolroom door, spoken eagerly and in raised tones. For a moment I faltered, and could have fled. The difficulties of my new position came over me keenly.

But the next instant, I rallied and opened wide the door, taking care to make myself heard. The small chorus of utterances died a sudden death, and my chief comfort was that nobody could know me to have heard aught.

"This is your seat, Miss Conway," said Thyrza.

I went half-way thither, and paused. "Maggie proposed that Miss Millington should make tea this afternoon."

"Nonsense, Miss Conway,—I mean, that is all nonsense of Maggie's," said Thyrza. "It is your place."

"Millie thought you would be tired," two or three voices cried.

"I don't think I am exactly tired," I said deliberately. "But everything is strange to me, and I am strange to all of you. So it really will be a kindness if Miss Millington does not mind pouring out the tea, just this once. To-morrow I mean to be quite fresh, and ready for all my duties. May I sit at the side of the table and be lazy this afternoon? I shall not ask it a second time."

I saw glances exchanged, and I knew that Miss Millington felt herself in a manner checkmated. It is a misfortune that I have had to do so soon anything which savours of checkmating. She rose without a word and went to the head of the table, Popsie and Pet hanging on to either arm, and Thyrza yielding to her somewhat sullenly.

I must confess to a feeling of relief, when seven o'clock came, at the absence of Miss Millington from dinner. The presence of that little person acts already as an incubus on my spirits.

The evening has been very much a repetition of yesterday evening. To-morrow may be different, for Mrs. Hepburn and her daughter, Gladys, are expected to dine with us. I am curious to see the young embryo authoress. One gets rather tired of embryo authoresses in these days, when everybody is trying to rush into print, with or without anything to say; still, Gladys Hepburn may possibly belong to the more limited class of those who really have something to say.

Maggie is evidently fired by example. I see her scribbling away at side-tables, the other girls peeping over her shoulder and offering suggestions. Apparently she does not dislike a little fuss made about the matter.

The Hepburns have lived for two or three years past in Glynde Cottage, a small house round the next corner. Gladys, Nellie Romilly's friend, is an only daughter, eighteen years old. Mrs. Hepburn is a widow, and seems to be universally esteemed. A brother of hers—bachelor or widower—lives with them; also a lanky lame youth, rather younger than Gladys, and two little girls, about the same age as Popsie and Pet. These three are Gladys' first cousins, and were left orphans not very long ago, I believe.




February 28. Saturday Evening.       

SCHOOLROOM tea was nearly over to-day, when Denham dashed in and took his place. There had been no further question as to patronage of the teapot, which fell to me naturally, though I caught a glowering glance now and then from the two youngest, as they clung to Miss Millington with vehement demonstrations of affection, interlarding their talk with "sweets" and "lovies" innumerable.

"Where have you been all this time?" Nona asked.

"Oh, only round to the Cottage," Denham answered. "No, not bread-and-butter. Cake, please,—and a jolly big piece, for I'm ravenous. There's a note from Nellie to Gladys, inside father's, and he thought she'd want it directly. Gladys said she would tell us this evening if there was any news."

"Has father heard from mother?" cried the chorus.

Denham nodded, his mouth being full.

"And Maggie?"

The boy shook his head.

"Nobody else except father?"

"Only a note to Gladys. Maggie is to hear next."

Elfie's face had struck me already as looking strangely tired and pale, with a complete absence of brightness in the black eyes. I saw her now looking at Denham in a hungry pitiful fashion, which quite touched me, and the muscles of her throat were working painfully. She asked no questions, and I felt sure that she could not trust her voice. One or two more remarks passed about the foreign letters; and the next moment she had slid her chair back, and had rushed from the room.

"Hallo!" exclaimed Denham.

"She's only in a hurry to ask what father has heard," said Nona.

Tea lasted as long as Denham's appetite, which is saying a good deal. It came to an end in time, however, like everything else; and we had just risen from table, when I heard Pet's voice saying—

"What are we to call Miss Conway?"

"Miss Conway, of course," Miss Millington answered.

"What would you like to call me, Pet?" I asked.

Pet's eyes grew round. "I don't see what we can," she answered. "Because we always call Miss Jackson 'Jackie,' and Miss Millington 'Millie.' But we couldn't call you 'Connie!'"

"For shame, Pet! How can you be so ridiculous," cried Thyrza.

Pet turned crimson at the rebuke, and fled to the shelter of Miss Millington's arms.

"I don't see anything ridiculous in the idea," I said. "But I suppose there is one little difficulty in the way. You see, Pet, my name is Constance Conway, so 'Connie' is my Christian name."

Pet was covered with confusion, and had nothing more to say. I thought Miss Millington's protecting embrace unnecessary and affected.

"I say, why not 'Miss Con'?" asked Denham.

Two or three voices repeated "Miss Con!" in doubtful tones; and Denham defended the abbreviation as being "less of a jaw-breaker" than my full cognomen. I should not have thought the absence of one syllable so highly important, but when appealed to, I acquiesced, and Denham clenched the matter by an immediate, "I say, Miss Con; just give me half-a-cup more tea, please."

So that I suppose is to be my new title.

In very good time for dinner, I donned my one handsome black silk, which not only fits well and looks well, but also gives me an appearance of being a good deal older than my real age, no small advantage under present circumstances. It is trimmed with jet beads, and I wore jet ornaments to correspond.

Nearly twenty minutes before seven, finding myself ready, I went downstairs. As I reached the lowest step, Maggie came out of the study, followed by two ladies, one middle-aged, the other young. They were well-cloaked, and evidently had just come in from out-of-doors. None of the three happened to be looking in my direction.

"I dare say we shall like her pretty well," Maggie was saying aloud. "One can't tell yet, of course. But nobody can be the same as dear old Jackie to us. And she does seem so stiff and cold, after—"

This would never do. "Maggie, I don't think you know that I am here!" I said hastily.

The next instant I wished that I had made Maggie aware of my presence, without seeming to suppose that her words bore reference to myself. But the regret came too late. Maggie started, and her peach-bloom grew brilliant.

"Oh! It is Miss Conway, Mrs. Hepburn!" she said.

Maggie was much too confused to attempt any introduction, but Mrs. Hepburn came forward at once, offering her hand. I suppose she is about forty-five in age, ladylike and sweet, with bright dark eyes which looked straight into mine, full of friendliness.

"I am very glad to see you, Miss Conway," she said. "You seem already well-known to us all. We hardly need introductions, do we?"

Maggie started anew, with an awkward, "Oh, I forgot!"

As Mrs. Hepburn continued, "But I must introduce my child, Gladys, to you,—Nellie's friend."

Gladys shook hands in the same cordial fashion as her mother, though with only a shy look of pleasure and no words. She seemed to me a very simple straightforward girl, rather squarely-built, with a fresh complexion, brown hair, and big blue eyes. I should hardly have guessed her at first sight to be particularly clever, though the shady hat certainly sheltered a head of good breadth.

"I have heard of Miss Hepburn before," I said.

"You are in danger now of hearing about us too often," the mother said, smiling. "We live very near. I hope you will come in to see us, the first day that you are able. Now, Maggie dear, I think we ought to take off our wraps, or we shall not be ready when the gong sounds."

Maggie, who was looking most uncomfortable, gladly led them upstairs. I tried to banish from my mind the words I had overheard, and went to the drawing-room.

There I stood still, just within the door, unobserved as yet, but in no danger of overhearing aught not meant for my ears. Nona was playing a lively tune on the piano, and two small couples were spinning round the room.

Popsie and Pet I recognised at once. They were in white frocks, and their fair locks intermingled, tossing to and fro. But about the little light figure clinging to Denham I did hesitate.

At the first moment, when my glance fell on a slender girl in cream cashmere, with deeper cream ribbons, and on a small though by no means childish face, brilliant with exercise, the jet eyes shining, the lips and cheeks carnation-hued, I had not a doubt that I was looking on a stranger—somebody come in to spend the evening with us. But the next moment I noted that her dress was an exact counterpart of Nona's, and as the two went past, there was a flash of recognition from those glancing eyes.

"Is that Elfie?" I exclaimed aloud; and the mother's description recurred to me again.

Nobody heard or answered. I went nearer the piano, and Nona, perceiving me, stopped suddenly. As a matter of course, the four little dancers stopped too.

"I say! What's that for?" demanded the boy.

"Nona, do go on! It's such fun," cried Popsie.

"I can't," Nona said, rising. "And Elfie looks warm now, so it doesn't matter. Besides, here comes father."

Mr. Romilly's entrance was the signal for a general move in his direction. Elfleda alone hung back, leaning against the piano. Already the sparkle was fading out of her eyes, and the extreme prettiness which had taken me by surprise was vanishing. A pinched careworn look came into her face, better suited to thirty than to sixteen. As I watched her, I saw suddenly a violent though suppressed start, and her little hand went with a hasty motion to her ear and cheek.

"Is anything the matter, Elfie?" I asked.

Maggie was just ushering in the Hepburns, with shyly-dropped eyes and still heightened colour. I was struck with her attractiveness, and I began to think I had perhaps too hastily concluded all a mother's swans to be—well, not geese exactly, but at most only ducks.

"No," Elfie answered. Amid the buzz of voices, my question was unheard by others.

"You are sure?" I asked gravely; for the carnation-tints had faded, and the little brown lustreless face of an hour earlier had come back.

"No, it's nothing. Only neuralgia. I often have that, and nobody thinks anything of it. Please don't say a word to the others."

"Poor child!" I responded pityingly: and the sombre eyes glanced up into mine with so singular an expression, that I said, "Elfie, are you really only sixteen?"

"Sixteen and a half," she answered sedately. "But everybody says I'm much the oldest of any of them,—except Thyrza."

There was another sharp movement.

"My dear, I am sure you are in bad pain," I could not help saying.

"Oh no, not all the time. It's only just when a sort of stab comes, I can't keep quite still then. But I promised I wouldn't give way. Please don't say anything."

A sudden flush of tears had filled her eyes, and she swept her little hand across them, giving me a grateful look as she moved aside into the throng of Mr. Romilly's satellites. A few minutes later the gong sounded, and we all went to the dining-room.




March 2. Monday.       

I MUST carry on to-day my story of Saturday evening. It was impossible to finish before going to bed.

Maggie could not at all get over the little contretemps in the hall. I could see all dinner-time that she was under a weight of shy uneasiness, even talking and laughing with Gladys; and every remark addressed to me was accompanied by a renewed bloom. The little hesitancy of manner, the bright colouring, and the droop of her long curved lashes over the grey eyes, quite changed her from the Maggie of the last three days. I had not guessed before that Maggie could look so sweet. Few people gain in attractiveness from an uncomfortable mood, but just a very few do, and Maggie seems to be one of those few.

The Hepburns not being strictly counted "company," Denham and the twins were present. Talk flowed without difficulty. I found Mrs. Hepburn a charming g person, well-read and well-informed. Gladys Hepburn's simple style of girlish chat with the other girls made me wonder again at her reputed authorship; though now and then a passing flash of something, a little out of the common way, showed possibilities of more below the surface than appeared outside.

Eustace had an engagement at the Park, and Thyrza was unsociably silent—one might almost say, gloomy. But Nona and Denham's tongues seldom ceased to be heard, and I saw Elfie exerting herself in cheerful wise.

Two or three times the subject of news from abroad came up; and each time Elfie eagerly turned the conversation to some other topic. I had noted before this shrinking on her part from speech about the absent mother and sister. It was more marked on Saturday evening, just because the matter was brought forward more often.

Three times Elfie's efforts were successful; but the fourth time, they failed. We were then having dessert, and the two little ones were present. Mr. Romilly, as he cracked nuts for Popsie and Pet, launched into a series of remarks about his wife, addressed to Mrs. Hepburn and myself. He enlarged on the enormous relief to his mind of knowing that his beloved Gertrude had borne the journey so well, so very well, so much better than might have been expected—er!

"At this time of the year," he repeated in his thin small voice, "the risk so great—really we cannot be thankful enough—er! I am sure we may hope in a very short time, Miss Conway, to hear that our dear invalid is truly benefiting by the change—er, and is growing stronger—"

"Father, have you asked Gladys all about her book yet?" broke in Elfie, speaking very fast.

Gladys looked by no means grateful for the suggestion, and Mr. Romilly pursued, unheeding it—

"As I was saying—er—I hope that in a very short time our dear invalid will so benefit from the soft air of Italy—er—"

"It's going to be published very soon, isn't it, Gladys? You know, father, don't you?"

"Yes, my dear, I have heard some mention of it certainly,—er," said Mr. Romilly, with a polite glance at Gladys, and a troubled air at the interruption. "But I was just saying to Miss Conway—er—that I hope we may expect before long to hear—er—"

"It's not to be a big book. Gladys doesn't exactly know yet how big. Perhaps a shilling or two," continued Elfie, running the words one into another, while I could see every muscle in her face to be on the quiver. "And she wouldn't tell us, till—"

"Elfie, we know all that," said Nona. "Gladys has told us herself."

"And you keep on interrupting father," added Maggie. "He wants to say something."

"Elfie isn't well," interposed Thyrza bluntly, making an original remark for the first time. "Can't you see? If mother were here—"

The rest of Thyrza's sentence was lost. Elfie became in a moment the centre of attention. But for this, she might perhaps have fought through to the end of dinner successfully, long and slow as Glynde House dinners are. We had sat down at a few minutes after seven, and now it was a quarter-past eight.

Thyrza's words may have given the finishing touch: I cannot be sure. But Elfie grew white to the lips and started up, gazing round with great despairing eyes.

"May I go? Oh, may I go?" she gasped.

"Nonsense, Elfie. Sit down and be quiet," said Maggie. "You promised mother not to give way to this sort of thing."

"She really can't help it," I heard Thyrza mutter.


There I laid her on a sofa.

What others would have done, if I had kept my seat, I do not know. But the look in Elfie's face was too much for me. I forgot all about being a stranger, and I forgot Maggie's last words. Before another remark could be made, I was by Elfie's side.

"Come, dear, come into another room with me," I said impulsively.

I had no time to see what others thought of my sudden move. Elfie literally flung herself into my arms, and lay there, a dead weight, rigid and voiceless. The wide-open fixed eyes alarmed me. Others were starting up from the table, with a medley of exclamations.

"It's about the letter from mother! Poor little Elf!"

"Why couldn't you all have sense to keep clear of that?"

"Denham, for shame! It was father who spoke!"

"Call Millie, somebody! Millie will know best what to do."

"Yes, Millie knows how to manage. Call Millie."

"Mother never likes a fuss made about Elfie, Miss Conway!"

I paid no attention to any of them, but dipped my hand into a tumbler, and dashed water into Elfie's face. Then I carried her resolutely through the throng, past Miss Millington as she entered in response to a summons, and into the study. There I laid her on a sofa, kneeling beside her. The rigidity and the fixed stare passed into a burst of the most passionate weeping. Miss Millington drew close, talking and trying to take possession of the sobbing girl; but Elfie turned from her, and clung wildly to me.

"Elfie is very wrong. She ought not to give way like this," Maggie's voice said.

"She would not, but for being petted," observed Miss Millington.

Maggie took her cue from the suggestion. "It will never do to pet Elfie when she is hysterical, Miss Conway. Mother never allows anything of the sort."

I looked up, and said, "Maggie, there are too many of us here. Elfie will leave off, if she is quiet. You and I are quite enough."

Maggie looked rather astonished, and said nothing. Miss Millington whispered to her, and withdrew, followed by Thyrza and Nona. Mrs. Hepburn and Gladys had wisely not added to the crowd, thereby keeping Mr. Romilly, Denham and the little ones, also away.

"Now, Elfie!" I said.

"Petting never does for her, Miss Conway," persisted Maggie.

Whereupon I stood up, with difficulty releasing myself from Elfie's clutch, and said, "Will you undertake her, Maggie, or would you rather leave her to me? Pulling two ways is quite useless."

"Oh, I never can manage Elfie in these states. Mother always says it is best to leave her alone. She will cry and scream about everything, if she is allowed." Maggie walked off as she spoke, with an offended air, shutting the door.

"Now, Elfie!" I said once more.

She buried her face on my shoulder, fighting hard to obey. I stroked her black hair once or twice with my hand, and the slender arms held me in a tight clasp.

"Poor little woman! It seems a long time, doesn't it?" I said cheerfully, after a while. "But the weeks go very fast. You will be astonished soon to find how they have flown. And I dare say you will feel better for having had a cry."

"I did try so hard, and I could not help it," she sighed. Actual weeping had pretty well ceased, though breath came brokenly still.

"I am sure you tried," I said. "But nobody can be surprised at your feeling her absence, Elfie. She is such a dear mother, isn't she?"

"Yes. Oh, I do love her so! But nobody else cries, and they all say I mustn't. And it almost seems as if nobody else cared, and I can't bear them not to care. And I don't know how to bear her being away—such a dreadfully long time! If only they wouldn't say things—wouldn't speak—"

"Hush, Elfie! You have cried enough," I said gravely.

She laid her face on my shoulder, resolutely suppressing every sound.

"That is brave," I whispered. "And you have to be brave, haven't you? Your mother would be so grieved to hear that any of you were unhappy."

"Yes, oh, I know. If only I needn't think of her! If only nobody would speak—"

"But you would not quite like that really," I said. "It is so natural for you all to speak and think of the dear mother."

And then I tried saying a few words about the need for patience and for submission to God's will. I told her that she must ask for strength to fight on bravely, must ask to be kept from adding to others' troubles. I spoke also about God's loving care of our absent ones; and I reminded Elfie how she might pray very often for the dear mother, and how she might always think of her as safe in a Father's hands, guarded and protected.

"That is the best comfort, Elfie," I said, "the only real comfort! For He is just as much with her out there in Italy as with us here in England."

I was surprised at the sudden calmness which came in response to my few and simple words. Elfie's tears stopped, and the hard long breaths grew easy. She sat up on the sofa, put her arms round me once more, and said, "I am so sorry to have given all this trouble."

"No trouble at all," I said. "But I should like to see you happy, dear Elfie."

"I know I ought to be happy," she said quietly.

Then I noticed again a shrinking gesture, and I found her to be suffering from a fit of acute neuralgia.

"It didn't matter," she said gently. She "supposed it had been coming on all day, and crying always made the pain worse. So that was all her own fault, and nobody would think anything of it."

I could not see any "fault" under the circumstances; for Elfie's distress really seemed to me natural, if perhaps a little excessive.

I made her talk more about her mother, thinking anything better than the smothering down all feeling, and I was glad to find that she could respond calmly. One or two facts dropped from her, with which I was not yet acquainted. Mrs. Romilly has evidently been in a state of great nervousness and over-strain for months past. Sometimes for days together she could scarcely endure a voice or a footfall. Nobody has known what was the matter with her. I could not help suspecting from one or two of Elfie's expressions that she has also shown constant irritation.

"It was so difficult to get on," Elfie observed. "And you know I am always the one that teases mother so, not like Maggie."

The pain grew worse, and Elfie seemed hardly able to bear it. She did not complain, and there were no signs of an inclination to cry; but she walked up and down the room, and could not be still an instant. I persuaded her to go to bed, and accompanied her upstairs. Nona presently appeared, and we tried two or three remedies without much success.

"Nothing would do any good, except going to sleep," Nona averred.

I had to endure one of Mr. Romilly's little speeches, later in the evening, when only Maggie was present, beside our two selves; the Hepburns having departed.

"A sensitive girl, Elfie!" he said. "But it is not our way—er—to make much stir about Elfie's little crying fits, Miss Conway. I think—if you will excuse my making the suggestion—er—that it might perhaps be wise on the whole, another time to consult—er—Maggie, or—er—Miss Millington. My dear wife is very particular—er—very particular indeed—about Elfie's hysterical tendencies receiving—er—no encouragement."

"It is necessary of course that she should learn to control herself," I managed to edge in.

"You see—er—Miss Conway,—it is not that Elfie has more heart than the others—but—er—less command—and very nervous. Her dear mother always says—er—that dear Elfie requires much bracing. The dear girls are all so unlike one another. You will find—er—very different modes of treatment required. Elfie has always been something of a trouble to her dear mother. So unlike dear Maggie and Nona, and our dear Nellie—er. Thyrza again—but indeed Thyrza is a difficult girl to comprehend. In Elfie there is no want of feeling—" a slight stress on "Elfie" seemed to imply the want in Thyrza,—"but—er—not a happy temperament, I fear. My dear wife made Elfie promise—er—promise faithfully not to give way in her absence to these hysterical tendencies. I am quite grieved that dear Elfie's resolution—er—should so soon have failed."

"I think Elfie fought well, before giving way," I said. "She is not well this evening."

Mr. Romilly shook his head, demurred, and sighed. Maggie took no part in the dialogue, and her good-night to me was markedly frigid.

I could not but muse much, in the course of going to bed, on things as they were compared with things as I had expected to find them. And never in my life before have I prayed so earnestly for wisdom in everyday life. One false step now might bring on a most unpleasant state of things, and permanently alienate Maggie from me.

Thyrza I have in some measure won already; and Elfie's manner since Saturday evening has been affectionate. But I have no hold on Nona; Maggie does not like me; and Miss Millington is already my distinct antagonist.

"If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, . . . and it shall be given him." Clear enough that. "But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering."

I do lack; and I think I am asking, with full belief in the promise. But the wisdom one asks may not be given precisely as and how one would choose. I must be content to wait.

Late as I sat up, Saturday night, others overhead were later still. A prolonged murmur of voices went on long. Not till I was in bed did it cease, and then I heard footsteps come softly downstairs, and pass into "the girls'" room, where Maggie now sleeps alone.

Could that be Maggie? I thought. And next morning I overheard Denham say—

"What were you after, Maggie, not coming to bed till such unearthly hours last night?"

"I know," Nona answered for Maggie. "She was up with Millie, talking. That's all."

I begin to think my journalising is in danger of running to excess. I must curb myself. Lessons have begun to-day, and my leisure will decrease.




July 1 (preceding).       

MY eighteenth birthday. Mother gave me a beautiful edition of Shakespeare. She really ought not to spend so much on me, though I do dearly like to have this. Then I have a gold pencil-case from Uncle Tom; and Ramsay's present is a painting of his own, framed. I like the frame better than the painting, but I shall hang it up in my room. I am so glad I was not cross with him yesterday evening.

I do wonder whether I shall have a book out before my next birthday. It seems dreadfully conceited to think of such a thing.

Just two years and three months since we came to Glynde. I am so glad we came. To be sure it was nice being near London, and living alone with Mother and Uncle. But, after all, the children keep us bright, dear little things; and Ramsay can be pleasant sometimes, if he is provoking. Then I have Nellie here. Two years ago I did not dream what friends the Romillys and we would become; though, to be sure, Nellie and I took an immense fancy to each other at first sight. And the more I see of her, the more I love her.

I used not to care at all for Mr. Romilly. He has such a way of going on talk, talk, talk, and expecting everybody to listen meekly without a word in answer. Well, I am afraid I don't care for him much even now, for the matter of that; though of course I ought, because he is so good. I wonder if people ever are loved only for their goodness, and for nothing else.

Mother says she never knew a more truly good and generous man than Mr. Romilly. If only he had not such funny little ways, and were not so desperately careful of himself! I like a dashing soldierly man, who will dare anybody and face any danger, and who can bear any sort of discomfort without grumbling—a man who will do just whatever lies before him to be done, without thinking for a moment whether he may find it a trouble or suffer for it after. And Mr. Romilly is not dashing at all. He is afraid of everything, and the very least uncomfortableness makes him doleful. It always seems to me that he ought to be tied up in cotton-wool, and put away in a drawer for safety.

Besides, I do like clever people, and I can't look up to a man who hasn't mind. And nobody could call Mr. Romilly clever. I don't believe he ever reads a book through by any chance. The most he does is to peck a little at the cover.

Oh no, Mr. Romilly is good and kind, but not the smallest atom clever, or dashing, or soldierly, or self-forgetful. I suppose he can't help it, poor man; but he would be very much nicer if he were different.

Then Mrs. Romilly, how shy she always makes me feel, even to this day. I never know what to say, when she is present. She is so tall, and she dresses so beautifully, and she seems so certain that everybody must admire her. And when she walks, she has a sort of undulating movement, exactly like the waves that go over a corn-field or the squirms that run down a snake's back.

What would Nellie say to all this? But it is only my dear private journal, and I may write what I like. One can say things to one's private journal that one could not say to anybody else—not even Mother or Nellie.

Altogether Mrs. Romilly doesn't suit me, though of course she is a most delightful person, and the most beautiful woman in Glynde—so uncle Tom says. Uncle Tom prefers Mrs. Romilly to Mr. Romilly, and Ramsay can't endure either. Ramsay declares that Mrs. Romilly worships her husband, and expects to be worshipped herself by all the rest of the world. But then Ramsay says hard things all round about almost everybody. He prides himself on liking very few people, which always seems to me so shallow.

Mrs. Romilly doesn't make many friends, I fancy. People talk of her looks, and call her "interesting" and "charming;" but they do not speak as if they loved her. She has one friend, quite a girl, living in Bath, hardly older than Nellie. So odd!

Nellie and I are great friends. She is three years older than I am, and the dearest girl I ever knew. Mother often says that Nellie's place as eldest daughter in that house must be very difficult to fill; but Nellie manages wonderfully. I suppose she is not so pretty as Maggie—at least some would say not. I like Maggie very well; only she has such a droll blundering way of doing things. I never can imagine why Mrs. Romilly is so much more fond of Maggie than of Nellie; but everybody sees it, though one could not say a word to Nellie.

The three eldest girls have spent the evening here, and we have had games and plenty of fun. To be sure I would rather have had Nellie alone, but Mother says that won't do always. Only I did wish that darling little Elfie might have come instead of Thyrza. Elfie is a perfect little witch; and I never can get on with Thyrza. She is so tall and stiff and cold; she freezes me quite up. And she never seems to think it worth her while to talk to me. Perhaps if I were not proud too, Thyrza's proud manner wouldn't make any difference, but I don't like her, certainly. Maggie is the nicest after Nellie,—if not Elfie. And Nona is a kind good-natured girl too; only there never seems to be anything in her. Mother once said that all Nona's growth had gone into her body, and all Elfie's into her mind.

Mrs. Romilly thinks Maggie most wonderfully clever. But somehow Mother and I don't. Nobody calls Nellie clever; only she is always good and unselfish and helpful, doing everything for everybody, and never thinking about her own wants.

July 20.—It is so seldom that I write in my journal, I really ought to put very long entries.

Some months ago Mother made me very happy by saying one day that she almost thought I might, before long, write a little book for children, and try to get it published. She had been reading my last tale, and seemed pleased with it. And she went on to say, "Why not try now?"

Of course I have been writing for years past; so this was not a new idea to me; and I have had some practice. Mother has always seen my stories when she liked, and sometimes she has thought one good enough to read to uncle Tom.

When Mother spoke, I was just going out for a walk; and directly I came back, I started the fresh story. It took me about three months; for I wanted to do my very best; and I wrote the whole out three times, once in pencil and twice in ink. Uncle Tom advised me to try one of the Religious Societies which publish little books, and he sent it up for me to the Secretary. Of course we did not talk about this to anybody out of the house. I never could make up my mind to tell even Nellie.

After waiting more than a month such a kind letter came from the Secretary, giving me real praise and encouragement. We quite thought it meant that the story would be taken, and I did feel happy all day. But next morning the MS. came back, for it was found "not quite up to the mark."

I can see that well enough even now, when I look at it, such blunders, in spite of all my care. But at the time, I was dreadfully disappointed, and Mother even more so. Only we had the comfort of that nice letter, telling me I should most likely succeed by-and-by.

I did not send the MS. anywhere else. It seemed so much better to begin at once upon a fresh tale, and try to make that more "up to the mark." For another three months I have been very busy. The book will only be a small one, if it ever comes out; but then I have copied and corrected a great deal. And last Tuesday we sent it off to a fresh Society; for it is wise perhaps not to go so soon again to where I have been refused.

Now I have to wait for an answer; and I do think waiting patiently is almost the hardest thing one ever has to do.

Some ideas for a fresh tale are coming up; and I am going to set to work soon; but Mother wants me to make a short break.

August 30.—No news yet of my MS., except just a printed acknowledgment that it arrived. I am trying very hard to feel that it will be for the best either way, whatever answer comes. But I do pray and long for success, very very much.

I have said nothing to Nellie yet. Somehow I can't, till I have a scrap of success to tell. Is that pride?

Another short tale is going on pretty steadily. Mother likes me to keep up my practising directly after breakfast every morning; and then I help her for an hour with the children. After that, I can generally get one or two hours for writing; and also there are the evenings. The children go to bed early, and then Mother works, and Uncle Tom and Ramsay read. The Romillys always have to work and talk and play in the evening. It sounds cheerful; but our plan is better for my stories. We do talk, off and on; only not a very great deal; and I get on with writing between whiles.




October 18.       

I MET the girls to-day, and they were quite full of the thought of this Yorkshire estate, which has come to Mr. and Mrs. Romilly.

The place is named "Beckdale," and it is far-away in a lonely part of the West Riding. It has belonged to an old great-uncle of Mrs. Romilly's, who stayed there all the year round, and never asked anybody to visit him; or scarcely ever. Once, about ten years ago, the two eldest boys, Keith and Eustace, spent about a fortnight of their summer holidays with the old gentleman; and that is all. So of course his death can't make his relations very unhappy; and naturally the girls do like the idea of spending their summers in such a lovely place.

For it must be really very lovely, quite hilly and mountainous, with beautiful dales, and wild passes, and queer underground caves, and torrents and waterfalls. Eustace was walking with the girls; and though he did not say very much—he never does when they are there—what he did say sounded more like Switzerland than England. But I shall miss Nellie dreadfully, if she is to be away so long every year.

No answer yet about my little book. Every time the postman knocks I hope and hope, but the letter does not come. It is a long while to wait.

Something seems to be wrong with Mrs. Romilly—we don't know what. She has grown terribly thin, and she is weak and low and hysterical. I think Elfie takes after her mother in being so hysterical; only it is treated as a crime in Elfie. Everybody in the house is expected to be always happy and cheerful, for the sake of Mrs. Romilly, and for fear of upsetting her. The least thing upsets her now. She burst into tears in Church on Sunday, and had to be taken out. It did look so funny to see her little bit of a husband trying to support her; and I was angry with myself for feeling it funny, when they all looked so troubled—and yet I could hardly keep down a smile.

I am quite sure life is not very smooth just now in Glynde House. Nellie does not say much; but Elfie looks wretched; and Elfie is a sort of family-barometer, Mother says. One can tell the state of the home atmosphere from her face. Maggie and Nona are not easily disturbed; and Thyrza seems always apart from the rest.

November 22.—A really hopeful answer has come about my little book. If I am willing to make certain alterations, it is most likely to be accepted. Of course I should not think of refusing. They want the story to be more cheerful, and not to have a sad ending.

I sent off lately another small story-book to a publisher; but somehow I am not hopeful about that. Now I shall set to work upon these alterations.

Poor Mrs. Romilly is very ill, with a sharp attack on the chest. A doctor has been down from London for a consultation; and he says she has been frightfully delicate for a long while, and has been under a great strain, trying to keep up. The lungs are affected, he says, but I believe not dangerously; and her nerves are much worse. She can see nobody except Nellie and her maid,—not even Mr. Romilly; and she won't hear of a trained nurse, and they don't know what to do with her. I hardly get a glimpse of Nellie.

December 22.—Poor Mrs. Romilly is a shade better,—not so fearfully weak and excitable, but still she can't leave her room, or bear to be spoken to above a whisper. A step on the landing sends her into a sort of agony. I wonder if she could not possibly help some of this, if she really tried. She makes such a fuss always about Elfie controlling herself. But then Mrs. Romilly is ill, and Elfie is not. That of course makes some difference. I do think it is terribly trying for those girls, though—not to speak of Denham. The house has to be kept as still as if a funeral were going on.

February 20.—Those poor Romillys! Oh, I do feel sorry for them—and for myself!

There has been another consultation about Mrs. Romilly; and the doctors say she must go abroad as soon as possible, and stay away nobody knows how long. Nellie and Benson are to travel with her.

The cold March winds are talked about as the chief reason; but of course that is not all, for she is to stay on the continent six months at least. March winds will be over long enough before then.

Their chief difficulties have been about the home party. Mr. Romilly stays at Glynde House, to be sure; but he is of no use, and Maggie is too young to manage the others. Miss Jackson not being able to come back makes such a difference.

They are writing to ask Mrs. Romilly's Bath friend to be governess. Miss Conway has lost her aunt, and wants now to support herself by going out. But she is only a girl—and there are all those girls to look after. And Mr. Romilly being so fidgety and odd—and Thyrza so set on her own way—and Elfie so easily upset—why, it ought to be a woman of forty or fifty, to know what to do. However, Mrs. Romilly is quite set on having nobody but Miss Conway, and the others daren't contradict her.

February 24.—It is all settled. Miss Conway comes a week after Mrs. Romilly goes. I cannot help pitying her. Uncle Tom says, "No doubt it will all be for the best." But is everything always for the best,—even unwise arrangements of our own? If they were, I should think one would not mind making blunders.

February 25. Wednesday.—This morning at last came the answer from the Society, which we have waited for so long. My book is taken. The alterations are found to be all right. It will be published at once, as a one-and-sixpenny volume, and I am to have fifteen pounds for the copyright.

Uncle Tom says "selling the copyright" of a book means getting rid of it altogether. I shall never have any more right over the tale. He says that is the simplest and best sort of arrangement for a beginner. I am very glad and very thankful; and I do feel that this is a real answer to prayer.

About a month ago I told Nellie what I had done; and she was so interested. But till this morning, the other girls have only known that I was fond of scribbling tales for my own amusement. They had arranged to call after breakfast, and take me for a long walk; and when they came Ramsay told them about my book.

Elfie's eyes grew very big; and Thyrza as usual said nothing. She only seemed rather astonished. Nona said "How nice!" And Maggie began to talk at once about doing the same. She said she should begin a story to-morrow; and I think she thought it the easiest thing in the world.

Is it really easy? Or can it be? I have been wondering. Of course music is easy in one way to a man who has a musical genius,—and painting to a man who has a gift for painting. But in another way it is not easy, for it must always mean hard work, and hard thinking, and perseverance. Not just tossing off a thing anyhow, and expecting to succeed without a grain of trouble.

It doesn't seem to me that writing books is a thing which anybody can do, just in imitation of somebody else. One must have a sort of natural bent or gift—God's gift,—and then one has to use that gift, and to make the most of it by hard work.

I did not say all this to Maggie, however. For she might have such a bent, and yet not have found it out. And at all events she may as well try.

February 28. Saturday Evening.—Mother and I have been to dinner at Glynde House, and had our first view of Miss Conway. It would have been an earlier view, if we had not both been away from home for two nights, a thing which hardly over happens.

I like Miss Conway: and I am sure we shall like her more still by-and-by, as we know her better.

She is rather uncommon in look, almost as tall and slight as Mrs. Romilly, and quietly graceful, without any of those squirming undulations when she walks. I should never guess her to be so young as they say. She has a pale face, oval-shaped and rather thin, with regular features and a firm mouth and dark hair. And her grey eyes look you straight in the face, with a kind of grave questioning expression, as if she wanted to make out what you are, and whether you mean to be friends. She says she is strong, and fond of long walks. And she is very fond of reading.

Maggie made such a blunder, talking about Miss Conway out in the hall, never looking to see who might be near. And Miss Conway was quite close. She spoke out at once, and Maggie was very much ashamed, for she had been saying that Miss Conway was stiff and she did not like her.

Mother and I both thought Miss Conway behaved so well, in such a ladylike manner. She made no fuss, and kept quite calm, and nobody could have guessed afterwards from her look what had happened.

There was quite a scene with Elfie at dinner-time. Mr. Romilly persisted in talking about his wife, and everybody seemed bent on saying just the wrong thing, till Elfie had a sort of hysterical attack, like once before, and could not speak. And Miss Conway seemed to know exactly what to do. Mother says she will be "quite an acquisition." But I am afraid that little prim Miss Millington doesn't think so; and she manages to make the girls so oddly fond of her. I only hope she will not set them against Miss Conway.

March 10.—My second little book has come back from the publisher, declined. I do not think I am surprised. It seemed to me rather poor, when finished. Perhaps I shall make one more try with it; and if it fails a second time, I shall feel sure that it is not worth publishing.

I have another tale in hand now, which I really do like. It is to be larger than the others, perhaps as big as a three-and-sixpenny book, or even a five-shilling one, but this I don't whisper to anybody. To write a five-shilling book has been my dream for years; only of course it may not come to pass yet.

I shall call the tale "Tom and Mary" for the present. I am writing each chapter in pencil first, and then in ink before going on to the next; and a great many parts will perhaps need copying again, after the whole is done.

Miss Conway has fitted quietly into her work. They all say she is an interesting teacher,—even Nona, who hates lessons. Mother thinks it quite wonderful, the way in which she has taken things into her own hands, and the tact she shows, for after all she is such a thorough girl, and there has been nothing in her training to prepare her for this sort of life.

Things may be going less smoothly than we know; and it is difficult to tell from Miss Conway's face whether she is quite happy. She comes in to see Mother and me, but says little about the girls. And in a grave steady sort of fashion she is always cheerful; but, as Mother says, one can't tell if that manner is natural to her. I should like to see her really excited and pleased. I think she would become almost beautiful.

Thyrza certainly likes Miss Conway, but Maggie does not. I fancy Elfie gives her the most affection, and perhaps she would give more, if Nona did not laugh at her.

March 15.—Maggie has actually finished a story, and is sending it off to a publisher. The other girls have helped her to write, and have put in little pieces. I cannot understand anybody being able to do any real work in such a way; but of course people are different.

Yesterday Maggie asked me to go in to tea, and she read aloud the story to all of us in the schoolroom. I thought her very brave to do such a thing. She asked, too, if Mother would like to see it, but decided not to have delays. Curious—that though Maggie is shy about some things, she is not in the least shy about her writing.

The reading aloud did not take long. I believe Maggie thought she had written quite a good-sized volume; and when I calculated for her, and found that it would not be more than a tiny twopenny or threepenny book, she was almost vexed, and would not believe me.

Then Maggie wanted to know how we all liked the story; and the girls praised it immensely. I was puzzled to know what to say; for it read exactly like a rough copy, and the verbs were mixed up so oddly, and there were whole pages without a single full stop. And I could not make out any particular plot. The people in it come and go and talk and do things, without any object; and what one person says would do just as well for all the rest to say.

I could not, of course, be so unkind as to say all this to Maggie, especially just now, when I have had a little success! And, after all, how do I know that others won't say the very same of my story?

When Maggie would have an opinion, I said, "What does Miss Conway think?"

"I think it wants cohesion," Miss Conway said at once.

Maggie repeated the word, "Cohesion;" and looked puzzled.

Then she turned to me again; and I said the story was pretty, I have been wondering since if that was quite honest; only really one might call almost anything "pretty." And then I said that perhaps, if I were Maggie, I would try writing it out once more, so as to improve and polish a little. But Maggie said, "Oh, that would be a bother! It will do well enough as it is."

I am afraid I don't understand Maggie. For I should think one never ought to be content with doing a thing just "well enough." It ought to be always one's very best and very utmost. Isn't that meant when we are told in the Bible to do "with our might" whatever we have to do?

One could hardly look for success, except with one's best. Of course success is not the chief tag in life; and sometimes I am afraid that I wish for it too much. The chief thing is doing all that God gives us to do for Him. One may think too eagerly about success, but never too much about doing His will. And that only makes the struggling after our very best and utmost still more needful. For if it were only for oneself, it wouldn't matter so much how one worked; but if it is all for Him, I don't see how one can be content with any sort of hurried or careless work.




April 15.       

   DARLING NELLIE,—We are all so glad to hear better accounts of sweetest Mother, and that she likes the idea of going soon to Germany. The weather has been so lovely this week, that tennis is beginning, and I am getting several invitations. So I do hope it will keep fine. Thyrza is asked too, but she won't go. She says she can't possibly spare the time from lessons. It is so tiresome, for I don't half like going alone—at least to some houses.

   I wish Lady Denham and Sir Keith would come back, for tennis at The Park is nicer than anywhere else, of course. Did I tell you about Miss Conway meeting Sir Keith in the train, the day she came to us, and getting him to see after her luggage or something of the sort? Poor Millie says she could never have done such a thing. I believe Sir Keith caught a bad cold that day, and that was why Lady Denham hurried off with him to Torquay, and has stayed there ever since. If I were a man, I should not like to have such a fuss made. Lady Denham seems to be always getting into a fright about him.

   I expect I shall hear very soon about my book now: and when that is settled I mean to write another. Gladys does, you know. Has Gladys said anything to you about my story? I thought it so funny of Gladys not to say more, when I asked her how she liked it. Millie says Gladys is jealous of anybody else writing books as well as herself: and I do really think she must be—just a little bit. Else, why shouldn't she like my story, as much as the others do?

   I wonder if I shall have fifteen pounds for it, like Gladys. It would be very nice: and I don't see why I shouldn't. I think writing books is great fun.

   Tell darling Mother I will write to her next. It is your turn now, and Father is sending a long letter to Mother.—Ever your loving sister, MAGGIE.

Private half-sheet, enclosed in, the above:—

   I can't say more for Mother to see, of course, as she mustn't be worried, but you know we settled that you should have private scraps now and then only for yourself, darling, and I must tell you how disagreeable things are. Miss Con will have everything just as she chooses in the schoolroom; and poor dear Millie is so unhappy. Miss Con seems quite to forget that Millie has been here so much the longest. I do think it is too bad. Millie says she feels just like an intruder now, when she has to go into the schoolroom.

   Only think! Yesterday I found poor Millie crying so in my room, and she said she had come there for comfort. It was something Miss Con had done. I can't imagine what Mother finds to like so in Miss Con. She is so cold and stiff. Thyrza defends her through thick and thin; but of course Thyrza always must go contrary to everybody else. If I liked Miss Con, Thyrza would be sure to detest her.

   Elfie is the only one besides who pretends to care for Miss Con: and that is only because she makes a fuss with Elfie. I'm sure I don't know what Mother would say. Yesterday, Nona says, she actually told Elfie to leave off doing her German translation for Fraulein, because she "looked tired"—just imagine!—and made her lie down on the schoolroom sofa, and Elfie went off sound asleep for more than two hours. And Popsie wasn't allowed to practise, when Millie sent her down, for fear of waking Elfie. And it must have been all a nonsensical fancy, for I never saw Elfie look better than she did yesterday evening. We shall have no end of fusses, if she is coddled like this.


April 22.       

   MY DEAR NELLIE,—YOU told us all to write quite openly to you, so long as we could manage not to worry Mother. So I am sending a sheet enclosed in a letter from Gladys to you, as she says she has room.

   I do wish something could be done about the way Millie goes on. It is perfectly abominable. She sets herself against Miss Con on every possible opportunity, and does her very best to set the girls against her too.

   The fact is, Miss Con doesn't flatter Millie, and Millie can't get along without flattery. It is meat and drink to her. And Millie is frightfully jealous of Miss Con, for being taller and better looking and cleverer than herself—and also for being Mother's friend. I do wish sometimes that Mother had just let things alone, instead of trying to arrange for Miss Con to be like a visitor as well as a governess. Millie counts her dining with us every night a tremendous grievance.

   Then of course Miss Con does insist upon having schoolroom matters in her own hands. I don't see how she could manage, if she didn't. Millie has no reasonable ground for complaint. Miss Con is always kind and polite to her, and tries to meet her fancies: but Millie does dearly love to rule the roost; and of course she can't be allowed. She is always stirring up mud; wanting to come into the schoolroom for music, just when Miss Con is reading aloud or giving a class lesson; and fidgeting and grumbling over her "rights," till things are unbearable. Maggie always takes Millie's part; and I only wonder Miss Con stays on at all. I do believe it is just for Mother's sake.

   It's no earthly use my saying anything to Maggie. She is so cockered up with having to manage the house, that she won't stand a word. If it wasn't that Rouse and the other servants know exactly what to do, I am sure I can't think what we should come to. It's the merest chance whether Maggie remembers to give her orders in time. She forgets to order dinner about twice a week: but happily it comes up just the same. And Millie just twists Maggie round her little finger. The two have endless gossips every night in Millie's room.

   I can't tell you how wise Miss Con is with Elfie. She does not think the Elf at all strong, and she is careful not to let her do too much, and to make her have plenty of rest. But all the time there is no sort of fussing or coddling: and she never encourages self-indulgence. She seems to brace up Elfie, without saying much about it: and I never saw Elfie trying so hard not to give way to nervous fads. Somehow Miss Con has a way of making a pleasant duty of a thing, where other people only give one a scolding.

   I do wish you knew her, Nellie, for I think you would understand what she is. It isn't often that Mother's favourites are mine. But Miss Con is so unlike the common run of people, so earnest and good and so clever. She seems to have read and heard and thought over everything. And she helps me as nobody else ever did, in other ways—you know what I mean. Her religion is so real; not mere talk. She makes one feel that life may be made really worth living, and that one need not just fritter it away in girlish nothings—like so many. I think I know better now what "living to God" really is than I ever did before. I mean I know what it is, seeing it in Miss Con. But of course all this is only for yourself, and for nobody else. You know how I hate things being passed round and talked over. If I did not feel perfectly sure of you, I would not say a word.

   You will know whether you can manage to write anything to Maggie, which might make her behave more sensibly. I'm not at all sure that you can, and quoting me would be no good at all. But anyhow it is a comfort to speak out for once.

   I don't send messages to Mother, as this is only for you, and the others don't know me to be writing. I told Gladys I had one or two things to say which you ought to know, though Mother must not: and she is safe not to talk.—Your affectionate sister—



April 29.       

   MY DEAREST MAGGIE,—I am going to enclose a note to you in one to Gladys, as we arranged to do sometimes. If it goes in the usual way, I know how difficult it is for you not to show it all round. Father may see this, by all means: but please do not read it aloud at the breakfast-table. However, I am forgetting,—you will not receive it then.

   The dear Mother is much the same,—just so far better on some days, that I can send tolerably cheerful accounts. But I do not see any steady improvement; such as one might count upon for the future. I suppose we ought hardly to expect it yet.

   I am always thinking about you, darling, and about all the difficulties that you must have to contend with. Managing a big household, without any practice beforehand, is no light matter. I should find difficulties enough in your place: and yet I have had some little training now and then, when Mother has been away from home.

   Your private half-sheet reached me safely, though I have not been able to answer it till now. Lately Mother has seemed scarcely able to bear me out of her sight; and if I am writing, she wants to know who it is to and what I have said. And just now, too, she likes me to sleep with her: so for days I have had scarcely a moment alone.

   But I do feel very sorry for all the little rubs and worries you speak of. It is so likely that things should be perplexing sometimes, with no real head to be appealed to. For you would not like, any more than I should, to be always bothering Father. And though I know you are doing your very best, yet of course you are young, darling, and only just out of the schoolroom, and you can't have full authority all in a moment over the rest.

   Mother's idea has been all along that Miss Conway would act in many ways as a kind of temporary head. I don't mean in ordering dinner, and so on: but in everything connected with you girls. I know it isn't very easy to make things fit in: but, perhaps, the more you can appeal to Miss Conway the better. And I think it ought to be quite clear that Miss Conway has the entire arrangement and management of everything in the schoolroom; and that Millie's plans must yield to hers.

   You see, poor Millie has a rather sensitive temper, and she is a little apt to imagine slights. Kind Miss Jackson gave in to her too easily, more than was right. I am afraid Millie has been spoilt by her: and we cannot expect quite the same from Miss Conway. I should be very sorry to think that poor Millie was really unhappy: but I wouldn't, if I were you, help in the nursing of all her small grievances.

   I shall be delighted to hear that your book is successful, and that you have fifteen pounds of your own. Writing books is not at all in my line, for I am a very humdrum sort of individual; but it seems quite a nice new amusement for you. I don't think Gladys would be jealous, darling Maggie. Why should she? There is room enough in the world for books by you both. Perhaps she was a little shy about giving too decided an opinion.

   Mother wants me, and I must stop.—Ever your loving sister, NELLIE.


May 1.       

   MY DEAR MRS. ROMILLY,—I have not hitherto asked leave to write to you, knowing how you need complete rest. But Maggie says that you are expecting and wishing for a few lines.

   Some day, when we meet again, I shall have much to say to you about my first impressions of all your girls: though I must not trouble you now with lengthy outpourings. On the whole, I think I gained a tolerably fair notion of most of them from your previous descriptions. Only I expected perhaps that Maggie would be rather more like yourself.

   Thyrza is very hard at work over her various studies: and I am struck with her force and energy. She will never turn into a limp pretty young drawing-room lady, with no ideas in life beyond the last novel or the latest fashion. But I do think there are grand possibilities in Thyrza. There is abundance of steam, ready to be utilised. A few angularities now do not mean much.

   At present Nona's energies are expended more upon tennis than upon literature. She delights, as you know, in any sort of "fun," and keeps us all with her high spirits; and she takes life easily. That makes one remark more the contrast of your little sensitive brave-spirited Elfie. There is no taking anything easily in Elfie's case; but I think I never saw a girl of sixteen make so hard and resolute a fight not to be mastered. You will, I know, be glad to hear this: Nona seems to be all bright sunshine without shadow, while in Elfie sunshine and shade alternate sharply. She is a dear little creature, and intensely conscientious.

   You may be interested and amused to have these passing ideas of mine. I could, of course, say much more, if I did not fear to tire you. We work very steadily at lessons, and take long country rambles, sometimes all together, sometimes in detachments.

   How you will enjoy a few days at beautiful Heidelberg! I hope your time in Germany will be as pleasant as your time in Italy has been.

   You will understand that I do not expect or wish for any answer. I hear of you constantly. Only try to get well, my dear Mrs. Romilly, as soon as possible,—as soon as it is God's will. Then we may all hope for the joy of welcoming you home.

   Believe me still, your affectionate friend—



May 7.       

   MY DEAREST CONSTANCE,—I have persuaded my watchful Nellie, with great difficulty, to let me send a few words in answer to yours. I cannot get out of my head a haunting fear that somehow you do not quite appreciate my precious Maggie. It would grieve sue intensely if things were so.

   Maggie is like me, reserved as to her deepest feelings: and it may be that you have scarcely read as yet her true nature. She is capable of giving such devoted love. Dear Constance, have you won it yet? Forgive me for asking the question. Forgive a mother's anxieties. I can scarcely judge from Maggie's letters, but I have had doubts, and your letter has awakened real fear. Your mention of her is so slight, compared with all that you say of my other dear girls. Does that—can it—betoken indifference?

   I know well how terribly my sweet Maggie is suffering at my absence, though she will bear up courageously for the sake of others. And I want you to see below the surface with her. I want you to know my child's real worth and depth. She is so humble, so tender-spirited,—I could not bear, dear Constance, to think that you and she should not fully understand one another.

   It rejoices me to hear that darling Elfie is really trying to be brave. She is, as you say, a sensitive little puss—not with the acute sensibilities and intense feeling of dear Maggie, so seldom allowed to appear,—but excitable, nervous, fanciful, and soon overwrought. Miss Jackson had not quite the right method of managing Elfie. I was compelled at one time to make a strong stand, and to insist on no spoiling. I trust to you for more firmness.

   Nona's powers will develop. I am not at all afraid for that dear girl. She is capable of anything: but sixteen is very young, and the high spirits which seem to you such a disadvantage, I should call quite a blessing. I wish I could look forward as hopefully for Thyrza as for Nona. I do find there a strange hardness, which exists in no other of my children. If you are able to influence her for good, so much the better. But, dear friend, do think over what I have said about my precious Maggie. I have so depended on your loving companionship for her, now in her time of trial and loneliness. If you knew how that dear girl has always clung to me and depended upon Nellie, you would realise a little of what she must now be suffering. Try to win her heart, dear Constance,—for my sake! I can assure you my Maggie's love is worth having.

   I must not write more. I shall suffer severely for this.—Believe me, your warmly-attached friend—





May 12. Tuesday.       

IF ever anybody managed to write a harmless and non-exciting letter, I should have said that mine to Mrs. Romilly came under that description. Her answer fell upon me like a small thunder-clap.

Of course I showed Mrs. Romilly's letter to nobody: though, equally of course, I was expected to pass the sheet round the breakfast-table. That very bad habit prevails in this house to an unfortunate extent. Mr. Romilly labours under a ludicrous belief that anything written by any near relative of his own must be intended for his eyes: and nobody is supposed ever to receive a letter or note which cannot be regarded as common property. Hence arises an occasional necessity for objectionable little private slips and secret postscripts, as the only possible mode of saying what must be said, and avoiding betrayed confidences.

All eyes were on me as I read, and when I put the letter into my pocket glances of meaning were exchanged. Mr. Romilly, who had just appeared, sighed in an audible and appealing fashion, while Maggie remarked that "Mother could write so seldom and only to one at once, and tell all the news."

"Mrs. Romilly tells me really no news," I said.

"And no messages to any of us!" exclaimed Nona,—pertly, I thought.

"None," I replied. "Perhaps she was tired with writing, for she ends abruptly."

"Jackie always showed her letters from mother!" These words in a subdued whisper reached my ears. Of course I paid no regard to the sound.

Mr. Romilly sighed afresh, and observed that his dear wife was really not in a state to write at all—er, just before a journey—er. He hoped, however, that she must be feeling a little stronger—er, as she ventured on the exertion—er.

"I am afraid it was not very prudent of Mrs. Romilly," I said.

Then the Prayer-bell rang, and the subject had to be dropped.

My thoughts have dwelt a good deal on that letter to-day, as is perhaps natural. Mrs. Romilly has never before said or done anything to make me really uncomfortable, and to be made uncomfortable by friend is a trial. One must allow for the weakened fancies of illness. But what could induce her to suppose that I objected to Nona's high spirits? I would not, if I could, lower them by a single half-inch. Certainly I should be glad to find something in Nona besides the love of fun.

I am wondering, too, what more I can do with respect to Maggie. True it is, no doubt, that I have not yet succeeded in winning her love. Is this my fault? Everybody cannot suit everybody else: and the winning of another's affection must surely depend in some degree on natural compatibility of temper and of tastes. I hope in time to possess Maggie's trust and esteem. But suppose I never succeeded in gaining her love,—should I be necessarily to blame? Surely I need not count myself so lovable a person, that all with whom I come in contact must needs care for me!

Again, what about Mrs. Romilly's estimate of Maggie? Are there really such hidden depths beneath that childish manner? It might, of course, be so: yet somehow I cannot help thinking with a smile of the famous Chicken's soliloquy, as he views the empty egg-shell whence his little body has just emerged—

"And my deep heart's sublime imaginings
                In there!!"

One might almost as soon credit a newly-hatched chicken with "sublime imaginings" as Maggie Romilly with hidden depths of profound affection and acute suffering.

Maggie grieving terribly over the parting! Maggie hiding intense sorrow under an appearance of cheerfulness! I could laugh as I write the words, remembering the high glee with which two or three hours ago she and Nona were racing round the schoolroom, trying to catch the little ones. Quite right too. I am only glad to see them so happy. But certainly I detect no symptoms in Maggie of severe self-control, of concealed depression, of overmastering anxiety. And with one so quick to betray each passing mood, pain and sorrow could scarcely be held under continuously.

It seems to me that Maggie is rather gratified than otherwise with her present position in the house; and is very much preoccupied with out-of-door engagements, especially tennis. She likes an unbroken course of such amusements as Glynde can afford, and is rather apt at present to let duty wait upon pleasure. Care has not fed yet upon her damask cheek. She looks well, is plump and rosy, and at times she strikes me as quite pretty. Indeed, I should say that she and all the girls, except Elfie, are unconsciously rejoicing under the sudden cessation of the strain which always comes upon a household with long illness.

Now and then I see Maggie to be greatly put out with me, when I have to take some decisive step in opposition to Miss Millington.

One odd phase of affairs is Maggie's devotion to Miss Millington. It is odd, because in some respects Maggie is proud. She will not brook a hint or suggestion from any one as to the management of things and she has an extremely good notion, transparently shown, of her own reflected honours as the daughter of Mr. Romilly, owner of a big house in the south and a fine estate in the north. But pride does not come between her and "Millie."

Certainly I will allow that Miss Millington is quite ladylike, as well as almost pretty. Still, it is a little droll and out of place to see Maggie, the eldest daughter at home and present head of the establishment, running perpetually after the little nursery governess, fondling her, making much of her, holding long consultations with her late at night, behaving, in short, as if Miss Millington were her most intimate personal friend and most trusted adviser. I am wrong to say that Maggie will take hints from nobody; for she will receive any number from Miss Millington.

The most singular part of this devotion is its novelty. I suppose Maggie has been fond of Miss Millington before, but by no means to the same extent. "Maggie always allowed Millie to call her by her name," Thyrza observed a day or two ago, "so of course she has done the same to me. I know Nellie didn't think it a good plan. But they were very little together. Maggie was always dangling after mother and Nellie,—it didn't matter which: and she was the same to Jackie as to Millie. But now Jackie is gone, and mother and Nellie are away, there's only Millie; and Maggie always must have somebody!"

Does the clue lie in those words,—that Maggie "always must have somebody!" Woodbine must cling to something. If one prop be removed, it will find a second.

What to write to Mrs. Romilly, I do not know. For I must comfort her: and yet I cannot say what is not true. Something vaguely kind and cheering will be best. I shall tell her how pretty Maggie's eyes are, and how fond she seems of her sisters—not mentioning poor Thyrza. Then I might perhaps generalise a little—abstractedly—about the deepest natures not being always the most quickly won. Not that I believe in that theory, but it will do as well as anything else just now for my poor friend: and it is safe enough to assert that a thing is "not always" this or the other. But I shall have to be very careful. She is so quick to read "between the lines."

May 14. Thursday.—My letter to Mrs. Romilly has gone off. I feel rather "quaky" as to results.

Maggie will scarcely speak to me to-day. She is looking her prettiest, not sulky and disagreeable, like most people when they are vexed, but pensively grave, with just a little heightening of colour, and a shy serious droop in her grey eyes which suits them to perfection. Nona, taking her cue from Maggie, is blunt, almost pert: and Elfie looks pinched and miserable.

Of course I know the reason. Yesterday afternoon I refused permission for Popsie to practise in the schoolroom, while I was giving a lesson on Grecian history to the twins and Thyrza. Miss Millington had kept her upstairs during the usual time for her scale-playing, and desired that she might do it later instead. I sent a kind message, saying I was sorry that it could not be. A small thunder-cloud has brooded in the air ever since. "Millie" was doleful at tea, and she and Maggie shared grievances till twelve o'clock at night, in Miss Millington's room.

But for Miss Millington, I do think my difficulties here would soon lessen. I do not wish to make too much of her conduct. She is what some people wrongly call "sensitive;" that is, she has a susceptible temper, and is always imagining slights. I believe she had delicate health in childhood, which too often means a more or less spoiling preparation for after-life. Whether or no that is the chief cause, I do find her a difficult little person to get on with comfortably. The friction is incessant.

One cannot expect to go through life without some rubs; and no doubt there are faults on both sides. Very likely I am a trouble to her, as well as she to me. I do not exactly see how I could follow any different line of conduct: but perhaps nothing is harder than to weigh dispassionately one's own conduct, above all one's own bearing, towards another, in such a case as this. We are each in a somewhat ticklish position: and then, is not compatibility of temper to smooth matters down.

It often strikes me as remarkable how almost everybody has to do with somebody else who is incompatible, somebody more or less trying, vexing, worrying; not, of course, always with only one. And I often wonder whether this ought to be viewed at all as an accidental circumstance; still less as a subject for regret and complaint.

Trial must be trial, in whatever shape it comes; and I do feel that one is always free to pray for its removal, if God so wills. But this is our time of probation and battling. It is far more essential for us to learn patience and forbearance than to glide smoothly through life. And I cannot at all see how, if there were nothing to try our tempers, we ever could become patient or forbearing. Untried good-humour is not patience: any more than the stillness of ocean on a breezeless day is rigidity. And the very word "forbearance" implies the existence of something which must be borne.

May it not be that our Father does deliberately so place us one with another, side by side—those who are not suited, not compatible—for this very reason, that we may have the opportunity to conquer ourselves, to vanquish our hasty and impatient tempers, as we never could if He allowed us to be only among those who can become so intensely dear to us, that yielding to them must become a pleasure, not a pain at all?

I don't know whether this sentence would be quite clear to anybody else reading my journal: but it is very clear to myself what I mean. There are such different kinds and degrees of love. So often we love or try to love another, merely because of circumstances, because we ought, because we are thrown together, because we are related. So seldom we love soother with pure and heart-whole devotion, entirely because of what he or she is.

If things be thus, "Millie" is certainly my foremost opportunity for patience in life just now, and very likely I am hers.

Looking upon the matter in such a light ought, I think, to make a great difference to one. For, instead of feeling annoyed and worried at everything she says and does, I shall understand that my Father is setting me a lesson in patience and quietness of spirit, which has to be learnt.

Then, too, I must think how my Master, Christ, had the same trial to endure, only to such an overwhelming extent. For what is the utmost incompatibility of character and temper between us and those around us, compared with the infinite incompatibility between His pure and holy Spirit, and the dull grovelling thoughts of His disciples? Only—His love for them was so great! But for that, He never could have borne it all those years. And I am sure a more loving spirit is what I need. If I cannot love Miss Millington for what she is in herself, or for what she is to me, cannot I love her at least with a kind and pitying love—and because she is dear to my Lord and Master?

It is not easy, I know. In the learning of this lesson, I have to spell out the words letter by letter, looking up for Heavenly teaching.

For I have to be patient with her, yet not weakly yielding. I have to do my duty, often in direct opposition to her wishes, yet not be angry when she shows unjust resentment. No light programme to carry out. But "help sufficient" is promised.

June 1. Monday.—No answer has arrived from Mrs. Romilly, and no notice has been taken of my letter. I fear she has been hardly so well lately; and evidently there is no idea of her return to England for many months.

Much talk goes on about our projected journey north, in July. I am looking forward as keenly as anyone to the beautiful surroundings of Beckdale. Mountains will be a new delight to me. But I have my doubts whether we shall get away before the beginning of Denham's holidays. He would be obliged to board with somebody in Glynde if we left earlier. The same difficulty will not exist another year, for after the summer holidays, he goes to Eton. Time he should too; for of all spoilt boys—! Yet there is something winning about the lad too.

Also we have much discussion at meal-times about the future career of Eustace. Poor Mr. Romilly cannot keep any worry to himself: and every day we wander with him round and round the same hazy circles. I never realised before the wearisomeness of a man who is unable to come to any decision, without somebody to lead him by the hand. A woman of that kind is bad enough, but a man is worse. He talks and talks on, in his thin monotonous tones, reviewing all the perplexities of a subject, pulling up first one side and then the other, meekly opposing every suggestion, mournfully refusing to accept any solution of the puzzle. And if by dint of some happy hit, you really think he is at last brought to some more hopeful point—suddenly he slips out of your fingers, and starts the whole question again from the very commencement.

It seems singular that Eustace Romilly should have reached the age of twenty-two, and be still in uncertainty as to his course in life.

He has not been home this half-year, except for three nights at the time of my first arrival, and for one week at Easter. Having finished his University career before Christmas, he is now acting temporarily as tutor to the son of an old friend. This gives umbrage to his father, and is matter for never-ceasing complaint. It seems that Mr. Romilly is bent upon seeing Eustace enter the Church, and that Eustace is at present opposed to the step.

I do not know the ins and outs of the affair, nor am I acquainted with Eustace's motives, but certainly I have a very strong feeling against any man being pressed to take so solemn a charge upon himself, unless distinctly called to it.

All the girls except Thyrza unite in blaming their brother, and Thyrza says nothing.

"So stupid of Eustace! Why can't he do what father wishes?" Maggie said yesterday, and Thyrza's black eyes flashed with silent indignation.

I am more and more convinced that Thyrza has a very strong affection for her eldest brother, though she seldom or never shows it in her manner when with him; and he is uniformly the same to all his sisters.




June 16. Tuesday.       

MAGGIE'S story has been returned, as any one might have foretold. She has wondered much over the delay, devising all sorts of extraordinary reasons for the same, and she has written repeatedly to remonstrate with the publisher. Poor man! No doubt he has cartloads of such rubbish tilted upon his devoted head. I feel a certain sense of satisfaction in having never contributed my quota to the load,—though perhaps I could achieve a passable second-rate story, if I chose.

Maggie's remonstrances having brought no result, she persuaded her father to write. I believe Mr. Romilly accomplished some six pages, to be fired by post at the same luckless publisher, after a morning of dire effort and mighty consultation. And the six pages, whether read or unread, took effect. For within forty-eight hours a tied up manuscript arrived; and—this being the "most unkindest cut of all,"—no letter of explanation accompanied it; not even one half-page.

The publisher's ears ought to have burned that morning, with the things said of him at our breakfast-table. Everybody, trying in affectionate family conclave to comfort the crest-fallen Maggie, vied one with another in hot indignation at his decision. Never was there living man so lacking in taste, so utterly unappreciative. Such a sweet pretty story,—and he not to want to bring it out! Well, then he didn't deserve to have it! Maggie would soon find a more sensible publisher. Of course it was well-known that all the greatest authors always have the most difficulty at the beginning, and all the best books are always refused by a dozen publishers before one enlightened man consents to bring them out! So being refused meant nothing at all: only he might just have had the politeness to write and explain exactly why he didn't want it, and what he disliked in the tale. And of course he would have done so, if there were anything really to dislike. But never mind, Maggie must just try somebody else, and she would be sure to succeed, and very likely would get twenty pounds after all, instead of only fifteen.

I could not help remembering, as I listened in silent amusement to all this, how Gladys had remarked, a day or two before, "What kind pleasant people editors and publishers seemed to be!" But it was not for me to remark on the contrast. Maggie must, find her own level, through the stern realities of failure.

June 17. Wednesday.—At last I have seen again my travelling companion, Sir Keith Denham!

He and his mother, Lady Denham, have been absent from The Park almost entirely since my arrival in Glynde. At one time they were coming home, then suddenly changed their plans and went abroad. Sir Keith has paid one or two flying visits, I believe, lately, but he and I have not met.


I stood still to break off a small spray of may.

Now they will be at The Park for some weeks, and the girls are quite excited,—Thyrza excepted, and Maggie especially. But I fancy the chief source of their excitement is the prospect of tennis there.

Thyrza and I had a walk alone together this afternoon, the twins going by invitation to the Hepburns. I always enjoy a ramble with Thyrza: for if no one else is present, she opens out, shakes off the shackles of reserve, and allows me some glimpses of her true self. It is an interesting "self" to me, crude and unformed indeed, but thoughtful, earnest, full of vague longings and high aims. If only Mrs. Romilly could see her thus!

Coming homeward after a long round, we passed through a pretty lane, arched over by trees. I stood still to break off a small spray of may from the hedge, and Thyrza knelt down on the bank for the better securing of a few violets. She loves flowers almost as much as I do.

Footsteps drew near, and I looked up. Somebody following in our rear had just overtaken us; and for a moment I was under a puzzled sense of familiarity with the face and form, though I could not recall who it might be. Apparently he had not yet become aware of our presence. He was walking swiftly, and gazing steadfastly downward.

"Miss Con, just smell these! How sweet they are!" cried Thyrza.

Then two large brown eyes were lifted in a curious slow fashion to meet mine, as if their owner had been very far-away in thought; and at once I knew. I should not have expected him to recognise me. The instant pause and the raised hat were a surprise.

"Thyrza!" I said, for her back was turned.

She glanced round, and sprang up, freezing into her usual unapproachable stiffness.

"How do you do?" Sir Keith said, giving her his ungloved hand, or rather taking the rigid member which she poked half-way towards him. "I hope you are all well at home. Pleasant day, is it not?"

He looked towards me again, and Thyrza ungraciously mumbled something about—"Miss Con—at least, Miss Conway!"—which was doubtless intended for an introduction.

Sir Keith's hat was lifted afresh, with his air of marked and simple courtesy,—simple, because so absolutely natural. I have never seen a more thoroughly high-bred manner.

"I must supply Thyrza's omission," he said, smiling. "My name is Denham, and we are near neighbours. We have met before: and the name of Miss Conway is by no means unknown to me, as Mrs. Romilly's friend."

"And governess," I said. I could not help noticing the flash of his eyes, curiously soft and gentle eyes for a man. It meant approval, certainly, and something else beyond approval which I could not fathom. One never loses in the end by claiming no more than one's rightful position. It is rather absurd of me to care what Sir Keith does or does not think about the matter. But I should say that he is a man whose good opinion one could hardly help valuing.

"I hope you caught your train that day?" he said, after a few remarks had passed between us.

"Thanks to you, I did," was my answer.

"Are you going home now? My way is identical with yours, so far as the end of the next lane," he said, and we walked side by side, Thyrza marching solemnly, a yard off, declining to take any share in the talk.

Sir Keith had been ill in Bournemouth, I found, from the effects of a chill, caught on the day of our first encounter, "A touch of rheumatic fever," he said carelessly. Since then he and his mother had been abroad, and he "would have liked to go on to Italy, for a peep at Mrs. Romilly, had that been practicable."

He seemed interested to find that I had never been out of England; and soon the subject of Beckdale came up, whereupon he spoke with warmth of Yorkshire scenery.

"That part of the West Riding is quite unique in style," he said; "I have never seen anything resembling it anywhere else."

"Not in Scotland?" I asked.

"I am not comparing degrees of beauty," he said. "That is another question. Mountains two thousand feet high cannot vie with mountains four thousand feet high: and there are views in Scotland which I don't think can be rivalled anywhere. No, not even in Switzerland. The two are so unlike in kind, one can't compare them. But the Yorkshire dales are peculiar to Yorkshire. English people don't half know the loveliness of their own country. I could envy you the first sight of such surroundings."

He went on to describe briefly the lone heights and passes, the long parallel valleys or "dales," the brawling "tea-coloured" torrents, the extraordinary deep caves and underground waterfalls, the heather colouring, the frank kind simplicity and honesty of the "northeners." Thyrza drew near, looking interested, and I was quite sorry when we had to part.

"How is my particular pet, the Elf?" he asked, with a smile, as we shook hands.

"Elfie is all right," Thyrza's brusque tone answered.

Sir Keith vanished, and I said, "He looks delicate."

"I don't think he ever is very strong," said Thyrza, at once natural again. "He never makes any fuss about his health; but Lady Denham fusses for him."

"Is Lady Denham like Sir Keith?"

"No. She is a little plain sort of person, and rather odd, and she thinks nobody in the world is equal to him."

"He seems to be a general favourite," I said.

"Oh yes, of course he is. Everybody sings his praises. And I hate general favourites," cried Thyrza, with sudden heat. "I should like him fifty times as much, if—"

"If everybody else disliked him," I suggested, as she came to a stop.


"Is that perversity, my dear?" I asked.

"I don't know. I hate running with the crowd."

"If the crowd is going in a wrong direction—yes. I would never have you follow a path merely because others follow it."

"If everybody thinks a thing, I am not bound to think the same, I suppose," she said, hotly still.

"Certainly not. Never think a thing merely because others think it. But always to disagree with the majority is quite as illogical as never to disagree with the majority. And to refuse a particular conclusion, only because many others have reached that same conclusion, savours of weakness."

She blushed, but did not look annoyed. When alone with Thyrza, I can say what I like to her.

"You must learn to take everything upon its own merits, and to weigh it with an independent judgment," I said. "A certain animal which always goes to the right if its tail be pulled to the left is no more really independent than—"

She interrupted me with a laughing protest.

"But I can't make myself like Sir Keith," she added. "Perhaps I ought because he is Eustace's great friend, and Keith was so fond of him. If only one didn't get so tired of hearing about his virtues. And Maggie puts me out of all patience."

I suppose I looked the inquiry which I would not ask.

"Oh, I can't tell you exactly what I mean, it is nothing particular, only she is so silly. I hate to see a girl make a sort of idol of a man . . . and not an atom of reason . . . Of course he is very kind and polite; . . . but he looks upon us as a set of schoolgirls. It is so ridiculous of Maggie. I don't mean that she does or says anything—particular—only she is so absurd! I should like to give her a good shaking. I do wish, girls had a little more common self-respect!" Thyrza concluded fiercely, with burning cheeks.

I listened in silence to this rather enigmatical explanation.

"Sir Keith spoke of Elfie as his 'pet,'" I said, after a break.

"Yes, don't you see what I mean? He just looks on us as hardly more than children. I suppose he will find out in time that we are getting older: but he hasn't yet. And he is just like our elder brother—in some things. Why, when Maggie and I were five and six years old, he was a great boy of fifteen, and he used to carry us about, one on each shoulder. That was when father bought Glynde House, and we came to live here, on purpose to be near the Denhams. And Elfie was always like a sort of pet kitten to him from the first. But it's only lately that Maggie has taken to setting him up as her hero. Somebody put it into her head, I suppose. I do wish she wouldn't be so ridiculously silly."

I thought it best not to pursue the subject. Thyrza is at all times too ready to pass judgment on those older than herself.




June 22. Monday.       

LADY DENHAM has been to call, and her call was avowedly on me as well as on Maggie. This is very kind. She is, as Thyrza has said, a plain little woman, yet a thorough lady and kind in manner. I should think one would not know her quickly. She dresses in a rather peculiar style, wears limp black still and a modified widow's cap, though her husband died seven or eight years ago, and has a certain quaint way of saying things, which strikes one as uncommon. I expect to like her, but she is not a favourite among the Romilly sisters.

Sir Keith dined here to-night, and I have watched him with a good deal of interest. He is thoroughly at home in the house, and almost on brother-and-sister terms with the girls, which makes it difficult to guess the real nature of his feelings towards them. Almost; not quite; since he speaks carefully of Nellie as "Miss Romilly;" and though he addresses the younger girls by name, they all call him "Sir Keith."

I cannot resist an impression that somebody here is a good deal to him: but I could not say which. Perhaps the absent Nellie.

Maggie was in a pretty flutter of shy pleasure and blushes and drooped sweet eyes, all the evening, but it was so like a child's innocent enjoyment of a toy! I don't really think she is touched. And Sir Keith seemed no more occupied with her than with the others. He talked indeed chiefly to Mr. Romilly, and to me, as the greatest stranger present.

I see that he likes to draw out Thyrza, and respects her blunt truthfulness. Sometimes she responds; sometimes she grumpily retreats into her shell. Elfie he seems very fond of,—as a child, or a kitten. But can that last? Small as she is, she will soon be seventeen, and he is only twenty-eight. It must be difficult for him to realise how fast they are all growing up. And his manner towards them all, even towards Popsie and Pet, while brotherly, is also so chivalrously polite and gentlemanlike, that really one could wish nothing changed,—only—one wonders what things may develop into. For, whatever Thyrza may say, there can be no question that he is a singularly attractive man.

June 29. Monday.—A short letter has come at last from Mrs. Romilly, the coldest briefest epistle I have ever had from her. Does this mean that she is seriously vexed or distressed with what I have said—or have not said? Well, I can only go straight on, meeting each difficulty as it arises. I will write again soon. But I cannot pretend to believe that Maggie does really care for me. I know she does not.

Calling to-day at Glynde Cottage, I could not help thinking again about "incompatibility of temper," and the rubs which must come to one in daily life. I do not often see Ramsay Hepburn. He is a tall lanky youth, slightly lame, and just invalidish enough to give an excuse for perpetual fuss about his own health. I suppose he has his better side, and his pleasanter moods; but this afternoon he was by no means agreeable.

Not that he meant to be disagreeable to me. He is given to showing a rather elaborate politeness to people outside his own home-circle, so elaborate, in fact, that he seems to have none remaining for home-use. I overheard him snub Gladys two or three times, when he thought it would be unnoticed; and he has an objectionable habit of breaking into what Mrs. Hepburn or any one else is saying, contradicting, questioning statements, and getting up absurd little discussions on every possible unimportant point.

If somebody else remarks that the wind is east, Ramsay declares it to be west. If somebody else expects a fine day, Ramsay is certain it will rain. If Mrs. Hepburn refers to an event as having happened on the 10th of February, Ramsay contends that it occurred on the 9th. If Gladys observes that Mr. Smith told a fact to Mr. Brown, Ramsay will have it that the information came from Mr. Robinson to Mr. Jones.

That sort of individual must be very trying to live with. Mrs. Hepburn is most gentle and forbearing, but I could not help pitying her and Gladys, not to speak of "Uncle Tom." And then I remembered that they all needed opportunities for patience. No doubt Ramsay is one of the family "opportunities."

July 2. Thursday.—I could not have thought that I should be so weak, so easily unhinged. I, who always pride myself on my powers of self-restraint.

I suppose it was the thing coming so suddenly, with no sort of expectation on my part.

Yesterday morning an invitation arrived from Lady Denham, for all of us to spend the afternoon at The Park: not only the girls and myself, but also Miss Millington and the little ones. Nobody else was to be there except ourselves. Denham was asked, but he had a half-holiday cricket engagement. Mr. Romilly was asked too, and he sighed, complained of his inability for exertion, wished kind friends would leave him in peace—er,—settled after all to go, and finally stayed at home.

Tennis was for a while the order of the day; then came tea on the lawn, with a profusion of strawberries and cream. Then tennis again, or rambling about the lovely garden, whichever one preferred,—and I had a very pleasant stroll with Lady Denham, who thawed and became quite friendly. I was surprised, having heard much of her coldness.

Since coming to Glynde I have not played tennis for I am afraid of seeming too juvenile. They used to say in Bath that I always looked young over tennis.

A sharp shower, arriving unexpectedly, drove us all indoors, and photograph albums were put in requisition. Sir Keith brought a big volume to Elfie and me, full of foreign views, which he undertook to display. Two or three others of the party drew near to look also, including Miss Millington.

About half-way through the book, we came upon a photograph of an old street in Rouen. "It is more than two years since we were there last," Sir Keith remarked. "I always connect this scene with a poor young fellow who was in the same hotel with us,—do you remember him, mother?"

Lady Denham looked round rather vaguely from a talk with Thyrza, which seemed difficult to keep up.

"A poor fellow in a hotel!" she repeated. "No, my dear, I don't recollect. Where was it? At Rouen? Yes, I do remember that young officer who seemed so ill and miserable, and had no friends. If you mean him?"

"Hadn't he anybody with him?" inquired Elfie.

"No, Elf," Sir Keith answered. "Not only that, but he seemed to have few relatives anywhere."

"And was he very ill?" asked the Elf, her black eyes full of pity.

"Yes, quite ill for some days; and I think still more unhappy."

"What was he unhappy about? Done something wrong?" demanded Nona.

"Not that I am aware of. He did not tell me his trouble; only one could see from his face that he felt very sad. Nobody could help being sorry for him," Sir Keith went on in his kind way, and he added musingly, "What was his name? Linskell—Lemming—no,—Len—"

"Captain Arthur Lenox. My dear, your memory is not so good as mine," Lady Denham said, with pardonable satisfaction.

Sir Keith laughed and assented. "I am not good at names," he said. "Yes, that was it,—Arthur Lenox. A fine soldierly young fellow,—only rather too cynical in his way of speaking. But that might mend in time. I wish we had not lost sight of him since. He seemed—"

A sudden pause took place. I knew why. Till the utterance of that name, I had not dreamt of whom they were speaking. Then in a moment the past came back, and I was once more in the little old Bath sitting-room, alone with Arthur Lenox. And an added pain had come to me, in a new realisation of the suffering that I had caused to him. I did not stir, did not lift my eyes from the photograph, but I knew that every drop of blood had left my face, driven inward, as it were, and for the instant I knew myself to be incapable of steady speech.

That dreadful silence! It did not last, I am persuaded, over three seconds, if so long. Yet they might have been three hours to me.

Then Sir Keith turned over a page of the album, and began talking again in a quiet even voice, drawing away the attention of the girls. And I was able to look up. I saw Elfie's eyes wide-open and startled, while Miss Millington's were on me in a fixed stare, which perhaps proved more bracing than anything else. I knew that I must act at once, so I turned back the last page, as if to look once more at the street of Rouen, and remarked with a smile—

"Those quaint old French towns must be very interesting. I should like to see them." In a doubtful tone, I added, "Lenox, did you say? I have known one or two of that name, but I am not aware of their having been to Rouen."

And I said the words with entire composure.

"Rouen lies very much in the beaten track," said Sir Keith. "Tourists seldom fail to go there, sooner or later. I can show you other views of French towns, very similar. But I see that the rain is over. Would anybody like to come and take a look at the fernery?"

"I should," I said at once. "Yes, really—" and as his eyes met mine in a swift questioning glance, I laughed quite naturally. "I believe I am rather tired to-day, and I have just been feeling a little—not quite well, perhaps. And the fresh air will revive me."

"My dear, you fag too hard with all these young folks," Lady Denham said, in such a kind manner. "You ought to take a little rest sometimes."

And Elfie crept close up to me, slipping her hand into mine with mute sympathy.

I had some difficulty in getting off a quiet half-hour indoors with Lady Denham. But I wanted to be on the move, to be able to forget myself and the past, and I pleaded anew for fresh air.

Lady Denham yielded at once, with the genuine courtesy which so distinguishes herself and her son, and she accompanied us into the grounds. She was quite motherly to me in manner, and Sir Keith looked grave and troubled, evidently fearing that he had given pain.

Before we left The Park, I succeeded in doing away with a good deal of the impression caused by my sudden change of colour. Miss Millington's inquisitive eyes kept me up to the mark. I had to submit to being treated as a semi-invalid, a thing I particularly dislike; but by resisting, I should have given countenance to that which I most wished to drive out of people's minds. So when I was told that I looked pale and fatigued, that I must rest in an easy-chair, and must be driven home instead of walking, I gave way without a struggle. The plea of fatigue was a genuine enough plea for me to use. I do not know when I have felt such languor as during some hours, after that little event. Still, in a general way, I would have laughed at any suggestion of care-taking, so long as I had two feet to stand upon.

The girls were all kind. Maggie became quite gentle and sympathising in manner, the moment she thought me unwell. That has been a real comfort. Can it be that she dislikes me less than I have imagined?

Even Miss Millington said, "You really do too much, Miss Conway!" And Nona insisted on carrying my shawl, while Elfie would hardly leave me for a moment. When saying good-night, she threw her arms round my waist, and held me as in a vice. I understand fully the dear child's unspoken sympathy. Of all the girls, I do not think one has crept so far into my heart as this loving tiny Elf.

I must not think more about what Sir Keith said. It unnerves me. For myself I can endure, but I cannot bear to picture Arthur Lenox' grief.

And I have to be very calm and cheerful after this, or others will certainly guess something of the truth.

July 8. Wednesday.—Another short letter from Mrs. Romilly, kinder than the last. I think she must have felt, after sending that off, that it would trouble me. This is more in the old style, only she harps still incessantly on the one string of "her precious Maggie." I suppose nothing in the world would convince her that Maggie is not, all these months, in a broken-hearted condition about her absence.

Yet it is Elfie, not Maggie, whose eyes fill up with tears at any sudden reference to the absent ones. It is Elfie, not Maggie, who craves for every scrap and item of news about them. It is Elfie, not Maggie, who has distinctly lost flesh and strength with worry and anxiety of mind for the dear mother's condition.

If we had not the prospect of so soon going north, I should certainly press for medical advice for Elfie. I do not feel satisfied about the child. Her little hands are transparently thin, and her eyes look bigger than ever in the tiny brown face, while this constantly recurring neuralgia shows weakness. "Oh, it is only Elfie," Maggie says, if I speak to her, and Elfie fights on bravely. I do not like the state of things, however.

July 9. Thursday.—Mr. Slade Denham has been to dinner here this evening, an unusual event, for he detests society.

It strikes me that I have written little or nothing in my journal hitherto about the Church we attend. There is always so much to say about these girls.

St. John's is only five minutes distant, a graceful little Gothic Chapel-of-Ease to the Parish Church, built by Sir Keith himself to meet the growing needs of Glynde. The Rector of Glynde, Mr. Wilmington, is an elderly man, with two curates; one of the two, the Rev. Slade Denham, having sole charge of St. John's. We go there regularly, the Parish Church being too far off.

Mr. Denham is a first-cousin of Sir Keith's, and about the same age, but not in the least like him,—very plain, shy and brusque in manner, and rather odd in his ways. He is a thorough "study-man," a hard reader, a hater of platforms, and a busy organiser of Parish work,—characteristics not always found in juxtaposition. He is rarely to be seen out of his study, except in the cottages of the poor, in the sickrooms of either poor or rich, and in needful Parish gatherings. Tennis is not in his line; and his one recreation takes the shape of long lonely walks in the country,—hardly sufficient recreation, perhaps, in the case of so severe a brain-toiler. He looks like a burner of midnight oil.

The poor are devoted to Mr. Denham,—and the rich are not. Easily explained, for to the poor he is all gentleness, and to the rich he is all shy curtness. It is a pity; since he loses influence thereby. Yet one does not know how to regret the hermitage-loving turn of mind which results in such sermons as his,—no strings of platitudes strung together in a hurry, and spun out to fill up a stereotyped twenty minutes or half-hour, but real downright teaching, Sunday after Sunday, in a full and systematic course. Surely our Church means us to have such systematic teaching, declaring to us throughout the year the "whole counsel of God," and not merely to be fed upon stray scraps of that "counsel," gathered up almost at random without plan or method. But I have never had it before.

The services too are full of help and refreshment, bright, hearty, reverent, with a good choir and congregational singing. Everybody seems to join. There is no lounging or lolling, and scarcely any staring about. It is wonderful how infectious in a Church is a spirit of deep earnestness and intense reverence.

I often think of Sir Keith's words on any journey here,—of the responsibility involved in greater privileges. For I do feel that such a Church as St. John's near at hand is a real privilege, and ought to be a real and practical help. And that means that I ought to advance more quickly, that I ought to become more Heavenly-minded, that I ought to live more nearly such a life as Christ my Master lived, that I ought to walk more fully as He walked.

Is it so, indeed? The question is a very serious one. For if not—better far that greater privileges and means of spiritual advance were not mine, than that having I should fail to use them!

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts, and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the Way everlasting."

No better prayer for me than this. Of all dangers, I dread none more than the perils of self-deception and of spiritual stagnation.




April 23. Thursday (preceding).       

UNCLE TOM was in London on Tuesday, and he very kindly went to see two or three publishers for me. Mr. B. spoke a long time about the great necessity for careful preparation and revision. And Mr. D. also spoke about that. He said he had just refused two manuscripts, written by a lady, for nothing but because they were so carelessly done. If I like at any time to send him a very carefully prepared MS., he will look at it. And Mr. F. told Uncle Tom about some other publishers who might be the right sort.

I begin to understand that it isn't only a question about a story being pretty good in itself, but also one has to be careful where one sends it. Some publishers chiefly bring out novels; and some history; and some religious tales; and so on. And a man might refuse a book just because it didn't suit him, while it might be the very book for another publisher over the way.

Mr. F. also said that the better plan was to send my MSS. straight off, instead of writing first to ask leave. Because, naturally, if a man hasn't seen the MS., and can't possibly judge anything about it, he is more likely to say at once "No" than "Yes."

May 2. Saturday.—My little book is out! It costs one-and-sixpence. Twelve copies have arrived, bound in different colours. The first picture is really pretty, and it is nice to see my own ideas embodied by somebody else.

So at last my wish is granted, and I am very pleased and thankful. Only perhaps not so desperately excited in myself as I expected to be,—not nearly so excited as others are about it, I think. For somehow, now it has come to pass, the thing seems quite natural. And of course I am very much more interested in the story I am actually writing than in one which was finished so long ago.

May 14. Thursday.—Fifteen pounds came yesterday,—the first money I ever earned by my own brains. I have put some into the Savings Bank, and part of it I mean to spend. I hope I shall never get into spendthrift ways.

Several kind letters have reached me about my little book,—and some give advice. I think I liked best of all Mr. Wilmington saying he had nearly cried over it. Aunt Anne Hepburn complains that the colour of her copy is very ugly, and she points out a misprint on the fourth page. But I don't see how one can choose out the prettiest colours for everybody.

The little ones from Glynde House have been here this evening, and we all had a good game of play. It was rather fun to feel that, as I had a printed book out, nobody would count me too childish for my age, and so I could just enjoy myself as much as ever I liked. Was that silly?

I wonder how soon poor Maggie will hear about her MS. She seems getting rather impatient. I don't wonder, for I have often felt dreadfully impatient.

May 16. Saturday.—Mother and I don't think Miss Conway looks quite so strong and bright as when she first came. I wonder if anything is worrying her.

It is so strange that Maggie does not grow more fond of Miss Con. Mother and I think Miss Con delightful. And Ramsay is growing quite absurd. At first he used to say all sorts of hard and contemptuous things about her, as he does about almost everybody; but now he has turned right round, and he seems to think the ground scarcely good enough for her to tread on. But I don't suppose Miss Con has the least idea of his state of admiration, for he only gets red and awkward when he sees her. If she had, how she would laugh! She a girl of twenty-three, with the mind of a woman of thirty, as Uncle Tom says,—and he a backward boy of seventeen.

And yet I don't know whether she really would laugh,—at least it would not be unkindly.

June 17. Wednesday.—Maggie's little MS. has been sent back, as I felt sure it must be, if she wouldn't work it up more carefully. I am very sorry, for she is so disappointed. But the odd thing is, that she seems quite angry, too, with the publisher. I don't understand that, because of course he must be free to take or refuse books. And it always seems to me that one has just to learn what one can do, by trying. One trial doesn't settle the matter; but a good many trials would. And if one really had not the gift, if God really had not called one to the work,—ought one to be vexed?

Still, if I had failed instead of succeeding, I might not find it so easy to write like this.

July 7. Tuesday.—My book "Tom and Mary" is finished at last,—was finished last week, I mean: and I have been correcting hard ever since. I don't mean the MS. to have one single untidy page. Of course that means more copying, but it is worth while. The greatest difficulty is to think of a good title.

It really does seem to me large enough for a five-shilling volume: but I have not said so to anybody, for fear of being mistaken.

We have pretty well settled what publisher to send it to. But I don't feel very hopeful of another success so soon. It seems more than I ought to expect. Not very good accounts of poor Mrs. Romilly. There seems no idea of her coming home yet. Even if she did, I should not see Nellie, for the Romillys all go north in about a fortnight,—as soon as Denham's holidays begin. They did talk of going sooner, but Mr. Romilly couldn't make up his mind to it. I'm sure I don't know what he will do when Denham has gone to school,—only sometimes people bear a thing better when it can't be helped than when it can be helped. Lady Denham is very much taken with Miss Con; and Mother and I are so pleased. Lady Denham says she is "distinguished-looking." I believe Sir Keith admires her too, only he is so cautious and polite that one never can know what he does truly think and feel. I can't make out whether he cares for anybody, really,—more than just as a pleasant acquaintance.

It provokes me, rather; and yet of course I like him,—at least, I suppose so. He is very good, and very handsome, and most people count him perfect. I don't think I do. And the sort of liking that I have wouldn't make me the least unhappy if he went away to-morrow and never came back again. For I should have Mother still—and Nellie,—and my dear writing,—and a great many delightful things besides. And yet Sir Keith is a real friend of ours, and he certainly means to be as kind as possible to everybody all round.

That is just it! I suppose I don't care to be merely one of "everybody all round." And if I don't, it must be pride.

And yet I shouldn't wish him not to be pleasant and polite. And I know he likes Mother,—and I like him for that. And if he didn't always bring on such a shy fit that I can't speak, I might perhaps think him nice to talk to.

There is one other thing that I do like in Sir Keith; and that is, that he doesn't think himself bound to make pretty remarks about my writings, only just to please me. As if I were a child, wanting sugar-plums!

I don't mean that one isn't glad to have an opinion worth having; and honestly-meant praise is pleasant. But that is different. And it seems to me that the people whose opinion one cares for the most are very often the most backward of all in giving it.

July 9. Thursday.—My MS. has gone off. Oh, I do hope and pray that it may succeed!

July 11. Saturday.—Such a kind answer has come from the publisher, Mr. Willis, promising "immediate attention."

July 17. Friday.—I do believe this has been the most delightful day I ever had in my life.

First of all there came a long letter from Nellie, just like her dear self all through.

Then at breakfast-time Mother told me that I am to have a quarter of really good music lessons, from a master just come to live in Glynde. It is two years since I had any. Won't I work hard!

After breakfast, Maggie came in to ask if the children and I would go for a long day's ramble, to the woods. Mother said "Yes" at once, and lessons were left. We took our lunch with us, and had all sorts of fun.

Miss Con and I were together a good deal, and I really do begin to love her dearly. She was so sweet,—thinking about everybody except herself. Maggie kept hanging about Miss Millington, just exactly in the same way she used to hang about Nellie. It provoked me then, because I wanted more of Nellie; and it provokes me now, because I can't endure that little Miss Millington. But anyhow it gave me more of Miss Con.

Thyrza and I got on better than usual; only I can't help seeing that Thyrza does not care for me; and that makes it so difficult to be kind and bright towards her. And the twins were as merry as could be. So we enjoyed ourselves immensely, and we didn't get home till past six o'clock. I haven't had such a holiday for a long while.

But then came the best of all. A letter was waiting for me at home,—from Mr. Willis. And he offers to give me £25 for the copyright of "Tom and Mary," which he thinks will make a 5s. book. And if I agree, it is to go to the printer's at once.

Oh, I am so glad and thankful! It does seem so kind of God to answer prayer like this. I know quite well I didn't half expect it.




July 27. Monday.       

THE Romillys leave to-morrow, and I have seen almost if not quite the last of them to-day. They spend one night in London at a hotel,—a troublesome plan, we think, for such a large party; but it allows the servants to arrive a day sooner, and to get things ready. Beckdale House seems to be smaller than Glynde House, and so not all the servants will go. Rouse and Phipps are to be there of course, and two housemaids, and what Nona calls "a local cook." The old cook stays here in charge, with one of the housemaids,—and the gardener and his wife will be here in their cottage too.

I wonder how the "local cook" will answer. Mr. Romilly is so very particular about his eating.

Maggie goes flying round to-day, forgetting everything; and Miss Con is just as quiet as usual, forgets nothing. And poor Mr. Romilly is in a dreadful state of fuss and fidget. He always is before a journey. A whole mountain of luggage went off last week, and another mountain goes to-morrow; but still he is quite sure they won't have everything they want, and he seems perfectly certain that nobody can be ready in time. It is comical to hear him, for, after all, the most likely person to be late is Mr. Romilly himself. I really don't think he can make haste. It doesn't seem to be in him.

I should feel their leaving much more if Nellie were here. But she isn't; and none of the other girls can be the same to me. I'm not sure that I don't mind most of all saying good-bye to Miss Con. Yesterday evening, after Church, she came in for a few minutes, and she was so very affectionate. She said to Mother, "I shall miss you and Gladys extremely." I know we shall miss her.

Just now I am beginning another story, and that is, of course, a great interest.

This morning I had my first music-lesson. Mr. Lee is rather odd; and the lesson was delicious.

He said, "Play the Scale of C in octaves." When I had done it, he said, "Wrong, from first to last."

That made me feel rather small; because I thought I certainly could play—well, just a little nicely. I am always asked to play at friends' houses, and once or twice I have even been clapped, and perhaps made to feel rather conceited. But of course Mr. Lee is a much better judge than the common run of people, and it must be such a good thing to find out one's real level in anything one does. I shall have to work hard now, to get on. And the first thing will be to learn the "wrist-action," as he calls it, which he thinks so much of.

His touch is just splendid. He seems to bring something out of the piano which I never knew before to be in it. All day long I have been hearing the ring of those wonderful octaves and chords,—almost more exciting than the thought of my book. It has been very hard to settle down to anything else, and trying to write was a sham.

Wasn't it odd? I was going into the drawing-room to-day, and I overheard Mother say—

"Gladys is very much pleased with her new music-master."

"Placidly pleased," Uncle Tom said, and he laughed, while Ramsay added—

"Oh, that's all one must expect. Nothing excites Gladys."

And I turned and ran away. I felt so stupidly hurt, I could have cried. It was stupid, for I shouldn't at all like any one to know just exactly how I do feel, and yet one does wish to be understood. It has made me think how very little one person can know of another's inside, merely from his or her outside,—and how easily I may be mistaken in others, just as they are mistaken in me!

By-the-bye, I must be very careful not to say much about the book before Maggie; for it might not seem kind. She has had her MS. sent back by a second publisher. I do wish she would take a little more trouble to do well, so as to give herself a fair chance.

She has an idea now of writing to some well-known authoress, to ask for advice about getting a book published, and for an opinion on her story. Miss Millington has put this into Maggie's head. Miss Millington says young authors often do it. I wonder if that is true. I never thought of trying such a plan; and I can't fancy that it could make much difference in the end. For, after all, one must go, sooner or later, to publishers and editors. Still, perhaps she will get a little advice of some sort.

July 28. Tuesday.—The Romillys are off; and I feel a great deal more flat and dismal than I expected. Glynde House looks so frightfully empty. I can't bear to walk past it.

We have not had a comfortable day: for Ramsay is in a mood to rub everybody the wrong way. Because of Miss Con, I suppose. Mother says, "Poor Ramsay!" While I am afraid I feel more like saying, "Poor Gladys!" For when he is like this, he makes me cross too.

Mother spoke to me this evening about giving way to temper: and I know she is right. Another person's ill-humours are no excuse for me. But it is very difficult. If only people would be reasonable and sensible.

I do want not to grow horrid and conceited, just because I have had a little success. And that, of course, is a real danger. If I were not the least proud, I shouldn't mind so much the things he says. And of course I ought to think of his lameness, and of what a trial it must be to a boy not to play at cricket and football, or to run races and do everything like other boys. It wouldn't matter so much for a girl, but for a boy it really is dreadful. Yet when he worries me, I don't remember that, I only think of defending myself.

Nellie wrote so sweetly in her last letter. She said, "You know, darling Gladys, I am not clever, and I shouldn't like you to think me preaching, but still I do hope that having this work given you to do for Jesus will make you keep very close to Him."

And oh, I do hope the same! For it is work for Jesus,—though I am afraid some of it is for myself too, because I do so love writing, and I do so like what it brings. But He does give me the work to do; and I want it to be for Him; and I want to honour Him. I must pray to be able to keep silent when I feel vexed.

July 29. Wednesday.—Such a thing has happened,—and I am very unhappy. And yet I am so thankful that darling Nellie herself is not hurt.

Just before breakfast this morning a telegram came for Mother. It was from Nellie. She and Mrs. Romilly have just reached Cologne, where we knew they were going for a few days on their way farther North. The telegram is from a Cologne hotel, and it says—

"Please break news to father, railway accident, Mother much hurt, will Eustace come?"

And that is all. Not a word about whether she is in danger or not. But we all know that it must mean danger. Nellie would never frighten Mr. Romilly without good reason,—or send for Eustace.

The telegram seems to have been delayed, for Uncle Tom says it certainly ought to have come sooner, and that is so unfortunate, for it might just have caught Mr. Romilly.

The question was what to do. Uncle Tom would have gone straight up to London, but it was impossible that he should arrive before they had all left for Yorkshire. So a telegram was sent to Miss Con, repeating Nellie's words, and asking her to break it. Uncle Tom also telegraphed to somebody in the hotel, begging to hear at once whether the other telegram had arrived in time.

But it did not. The Romillys were off first. So then Uncle Tom sent another copy of the same telegram to the station where we believed they would stop for lunch, and a second copy to Beckdale Station, which is some miles off from Beckdale House.

All day long we have been waiting for a reply. It has been impossible to do much of anything. Of course the children's lessons had to go on: and I took out my writing just as usual, because I am determined not to get into the way of being a slave to moods. But I couldn't get a single page done, worth keeping. And every time a bell rang, one of us ran into the passage.

We are afraid now that they will not know what has happened, till they get to Beckdale Station. If the first telegram had reached them, we must have heard before this.

It is a comfort to know that Eustace has joined them in London. But what will poor Mr. Romilly do? And to think of Nellie, all this time alone with Mrs. Romilly among strangers,—Mrs. Romilly perhaps dangerously ill, and only one English maid there to be any help. It does seem very terrible. Only I know how brave darling Nellie is, and how she forgets herself and always seems to lean upon God, when she is in any difficulty.

July 30. Thursday.—Quite late last night, after we had all gone to bed, a telegram came from Miss Con. Mother slipped into my room, to tell me, if I should be awake: and I was. It was dated from Beckdale Station, and it only said—

"News received, Mr. R. and E. off at once to Cologne, rest of us go to Beckdale."

I shouldn't have expected Mr. Romilly to show so much spirit; but it seems quite right. Uncle Tom has been looking out about trains, and he finds that Mr. Romilly and Eustace could come south by a return-train from Beckdale Station, not long after they got there. Most likely that is what they have done.




July 30. Thursday.       

I SHALL never forget our arrival at Beckdale Station yesterday.

Everybody was in the highest spirits,—that is to say, the highest of which each was capable,—charmed with the glimpses of mountain scenery which we had during the last hour or so of our journey. Clouds hung rather low, shutting off the summits; but I don't know that this did not make the views only more Impressive. For imagination was free to add unknown altitudes, and a touch of mystery always gives sublimity,—not alone in landscapes.

Fine rain had begun to fall when we reached Beckdale Station, and the wind was gusty enough to send Nona's hat bowling along the platform. Of course a chase took place, with much laughter. The luggage was bundled out from the van; and we found a waggonette and dog-cart in waiting, besides two carts for the luggage.

Privately I wondered how we were all to pack into these two vehicles, for a drive of five or six miles; but I would not suggest difficulties, and after all the waggonette was a very roomy one. Mr. Romilly seemed greatly disturbed at the thought of a dog-cart for any of his party: two-wheelers being his pet aversion: and he also showed alarm about the steep descent before us. For the line of rail by which we had come, since our latest change, had gradually ascended to quite a respectable height on the mountain-sides, and a particularly rugged road led downward from the station into the valley,—Beckdale Station being at the head or upper end of the long valley or dale wherein our "summer residence" is situated.

Poor Mr. Romilly! He fidgeted up and down the platform, counting his packages, bemoaning the deploring his choice of this route, dolefully wondering how we should ever reach Beckdale House. I am afraid I must confess to a sense of amusement. Naturally I have not much sympathy with the state of mind which insists on manufacturing troubles out of nothing. Yet I hardly know whether any weakness is more deserving of pity than this,—just because it is so distinctly a character-weakness as to be seldom recognised as such by its possessor, and therefore seldom really cured.

For two or three minutes I listened; and then I forgot all about Mr. Romilly, standing outside the station-shelter. The rain drove against me in fine sheets, like spray; but what did that matter? I was revelling in my first view of mountains. Bath hills I know well, but aught like this I have never seen before.

Beyond the valley, on either side, there rose wild grey heights, capped by stormy grey clouds which seemed to drop long trains or fringes into every gorge and cleft. I think it was the wildness, the greyness, the lonely and solemn unworldliness of the scene, which told upon me most. The stately march of those cloud-battalions over the mountain-tops was grandly indescribable. I seemed to be gaining a glimpse of something high and pure, far removed from the littlenesses of everyday life. This small station and our tiny selves were a mere accessory—almost a mistake.

Then all at once everyday life came back to me. For somebody stepped up, and put a telegram-envelope into my hand.

I thought of Albinia instantly—Albinia as ill, or perhaps suddenly widowed. She would want me in London. Could I go, or was I tied to my duties at Beckdale? These questions flashed past while I opened the envelope. Elfie was close to my side,—I had not seen her before,—and her dusky eyes grew large with ready sympathy, as she murmured, "Poor Miss Con! I hope it isn't anything the matter with anybody."

Anybody belonging to me, she meant. But at once I saw.

"Elfie dear, I must speak to your father," I said quietly. "You and Nona had better put on your waterproofs meantime, for it is raining."

I have not the least idea how I managed to evade inquiries, and to get into the waiting-room, alone with Mr. Romilly and his eldest son. That came about somehow,—Elfie assisting, under the evident impression that I had some trouble of my own to communicate. And then I broke the news.

Telegrams tell so cruelly little,—I have always felt this, yet never so keenly as when I stood in the little bare waiting-room, with the slip of paper in my hand, and those two faces looking anxiously for more—more! A railway accident,—of what kind we do not know; Mrs. Romilly "much hurt,"—how much we cannot guess; Eustace wanted there,—for what purpose we are not informed. Cologne so far-away too. The telegram went first to the Hepburns, and Mr. Hepburn has forwarded the sad news to me.

Eustace heard with his usual gravity; and somehow the shock to Mr. Romilly seemed less than I had expected. He did not lose his presence of mind, and there was not half so much fretting over this real calamity as over the minor worries of the journey. He said sighingly, "Poor dear Gertrude!" And then—"But I think—er—our duty is quite plain. Pray inquire about trains, my dear boy. I think—er—you and I should be off with—er—as little delay as possible. Yes, at once—er,—no need to go on to Beckdale. I could never forgive myself, if—er—if anything happened, and I had remained here. And Miss Con will undertake—er—the entire management—er—"

He came to a helpless pause.

"Yes, father," assented Eustace.

"I think—er—Phipps must accompany us,—yes, certainly—er—I cannot manage without Phipps." He sighed again dolefully. "It is a severe strain—er—in my health. But the call is urgent—er—undoubtedly urgent. Your dear mother is 'much hurt,' Nellie says,—and whatever that may mean—er—my duty is, I think—plain."

The thought flashed across me, quite wickedly, that poor little Mr. Romilly was by no means sorry to escape "that frightful descent," as he termed the road from the station. I cannot, of course, calmly let myself suppose that he thought of this at all: but the idea did intrude.

"Perhaps—" he went on,—"perhaps it would be best, Miss Conway—er,—if you could be so very kind as to call the girls—I think it might be as well to explain—"

I obeyed with no delay, and Eustace disappeared also, doubtless to make other arrangements. Denham was outside, and he rushed off at my request to collect his sisters.

"Your father has heard from abroad," I said in an undertone. "Yes,—not quite good news; but don't frighten any one. Only ask them all to come to the waiting-room."

I saw a general move at once in the right direction, and went back myself to Mr. Romilly.

Maggie entered first, rosy and laughing, her arm through Miss Millington's,—then the twins and the little ones, followed by Thyrza and Denham.

"My dears—er—something very sad has happened—er—very sad indeed," Mr. Romilly began, his delicate lips trembling like those of a distressed child. He launched into a long and hesitating speech, which I would fain have cut short, had it been in my power. "Your beloved mother," and "our dear Nellie," alternated with unhappy conjectures and dismally-expressed hopes. He read the telegram aloud, and enlarged upon it piecemeal. Then he explained that he and Eustace, with Phipps, would start immediately—at once—that very evening—for London; going thence as fast as possible to Cologne, where he hoped—er—trusted—er—to find their precious invalid on a fair road to recovery-er. Meanwhile—er—they were all to be dear good girls—er—and to do exactly what their mother's friend, Miss Conway, desired—er. He was sure he could depend upon Miss Conway to undertake—er—all responsibility.

Eustace bent lower at this point, and said something to him in a low voice. I had not till then noticed the return of Eustace, and I could not hear what he said; but Mr. Romilly nodded.

"Yes, you are right, my dear boy. It is necessary—that one should be at the head,—in case—er—my absence should be at all prolonged. Maggie is—er—unfortunately too young. You understand, my dear children—all of you—" he looked at Miss Millington among the rest,—"that during my absence I leave—er—Miss Conway entirely responsible—and with full authority. Yes,—with full authority—er. I wish—er—everything to be referred to Miss Conway,—and I expect—er—implicit obedience to her." His eyes ran over the group. "Thyrza—you understand? If difficulties occur, the decision will—er—will rest with Miss Conway. You understand me, Thyrza?" He seemed to count Thyrza the only one likely to resist my authority, whereas I knew her to be the one who would most steadfastly uphold it.

"Yes, father," she answered. "Then I suppose Miss Conway will have the housekeeping too."

Maggie and Miss Millington exchanged looks. Mr. Romilly's face fell into a helpless set.

"I really—er—hardly know," he said feebly. "That is—er—I think—er—a matter which I must leave you to—er—settle among yourselves."

"It is unimportant—" I began; but Eustace interrupted me—

"I beg your pardon, Miss Conway. I think Thyrza is right. There ought to be no possibility of a mistake. While my father is away you are, by his appointment, distinctly and unequivocally head of the household. This includes housekeeping. A divided authority cannot work well. For the time, Maggie must be content to count herself one of the girls,—subject to you. Do you not agree with me, father?"

Maggie made no protest. She only looked prettily downcast and pensive. Mr. Romilly sighed at being appealed to, and endorsed his son's words, though not very emphatically. Then he went back to the telegram, and discussed anew its meaning, with divers conjectures as to the nature of the accident.

I do not know whether all this slow speechifying stupefied the girls as it stupefied me. They listened for the most part in submissive silence. Maggie's cheeks had not lost their bloom: and though she grew serious, I am not sure that the question of household authority did not form the leading topic in her mind. Thyrza's face settled into a rigid unhappiness, and Nona's eyes filled repeatedly with tears. Elfie was the one I had feared for most; and, strange to say, Elfie seemed the slowest of all to take alarm. Gradually, however, a pinched misery came over her, and the large eyes wandered about despairingly.

Eustace made use of the first pause to speak about trains: and then I found Elfie by my side. She clutched one of my hands, and muttered, "Can't we go? Don't let anybody say any more."

"We will get off as soon as possible," I whispered. "Try to be brave, Elfie. You know we may hope for brighter news to-morrow."

"Oh, I don't know,—only don't talk,—don't let anybody speak. Please!—please!" And she wrung her hands.

I sent her out on the platform, and had a few words with Eustace, obtaining his help. My aim was, if I could, to keep Elfie away from the chatterers. After some discussion, she and I were allowed to mount the front of the dog-cart, with only Thyrza and packages occupying the back-seat. The remainder of our Beckdale party were packed into the waggonette.

Once in the course of these arrangements, I found Eustace by my side, saying something which he evidently meant to be unheard by others.

"My father has asked me to give you these for immediate use," he observed first: and I found bank-notes and gold in my hand. "We will write, authorising you to draw, if needful, on the bank for more,—if our stay should be of any length." Then came a grateful—"It is very good of you! We are asking you to undertake a great deal!"

"I am most glad to do all in my power," I said. "Yes, the responsibility is heavy; I wish I had had more experience."

"It always seems that you must have had so much. But I want to say one word. I think the girls will behave well, and not give trouble;—still, if any difficulty should arise, there is always Lady Denham. You could not do harm by appealing to her. And pray write freely to Nellie. She never makes mischief."

"Thank you very much," I said, and his warm hand-shake was a surprise. Generally he is so undemonstrative.

It is well that these few words passed between us, for certainly I should not have thought of Lady Denham in the event of any difficulty. My impulse would rather have been to appeal to Mrs. Hepburn. But evidently such an idea never occurred to Eustace: and of course the Denhams are much older friends.

"We shall send you news as soon as possible," Eustace said, while tucking the wrapper well in round Elfie and me. "Don't fret, dear;" and he kissed her cold cheek.

I was struck with his unusual freedom and almost cheerfulness of manner. I fancy it arose from a certain gratification in finding himself for once necessary to his father, and useful to all of us.

"Don't fret," he repeated. "Nellie was right to send for me: but you see, she did not mention my father, and she would have been pretty sure to do that, if there were any real cause for anxiety. Don't you think so?"

Elfie tried to smile, and to say, "Yes."



THE SAME—continued.

OUR dog-cart took the lead, descending first the steep and rugged road which led from the station, our driver walking at the horse's head. I found that the waggonette was Mr. Romilly's property, but that the dog-cart was hired,—said driver being its owner, a kind and fatherly old farmer, living near Beckdale House. He and his will be our nearest neighbours here, I imagine.

Rain still fell, though not heavily; and it soon ceased, for which I was not sorry. We could not hold up umbrellas. The wind came in blasts.

Elfie would in a general way have been nervous to the last degree about so abrupt a descent; but she scarcely seemed to notice it. Her whole mind was with her mother. The horse planted his feet slowly and with caution, his great haunches going down in successive jerks. I could hear little cries and exclamations of half-simulated half-real alarm from the waggonette: yet no sound came from Elfie.

It was getting very dusky, for we had been long at the station. I was able, however, to see distinctly the small sharp face leaning against me, whitey-brown in hue, with wide-open terror-stricken eyes fixed on vacancy; and the chill of Elfie's clasping fingers came through her gloves and mine. I did not speak to her, however. I knew she would rather be let alone.

The very steep hillside safely over, our drivers mounted, and we bowled along a good road, still indeed descending, but often so gently that one scarcely perceived the fact.

Dusky hills or perhaps mountains rose high on either side of the long narrow dale through which our way led us: and to our left a brawling stream rushed downward from the dale-head. My attention was riveted, as the road brought us near. I have never before seen a genuine mountain-torrent. The seeing was indeed partial; but the swirl of white foam gleamed weirdly through semi-darkness, and the roar of small waterfalls over opposing boulders came to my ears like grand chords of Nature's music.

I looked to discover if Elfie were able to enjoy all this; but no, she had not stirred, and the fixed eyes were blank, as of one whose thoughts are turned entirely inward.

Then I glanced back, to catch a glimpse of Thyrza's straight characteristic profile—she has the best profile of any one in the family—and she turned, as if from a simultaneous impulse, to glance at me, her lips parted, her eyes shining, her whole face softened into a rare new beauty. I was so glad that enough light remained for me to gain a clear view of her at that moment. It was a fresh glimpse of Thyrza's real self.

"You like this?" I breathed, leaning back to speak, and she said—

"Oh, it is splendid!"

I do not think any more passed between us. One cannot always talk when one feels the most.

Now and then the farmer, Mr. Stockmoor, and I exchanged a few words across the silent Elfie. I found his Yorkshire dialect less difficult to understand than I should have expected; but doubtless many speak far more broadly. He told me that there has been heavy rain lately, so the river is unusually full. Also I learnt that the Dale is somewhere about ten miles long; and that Beckdale House occupies a position over six miles from the Head, and between three and four from the farther and lower end, where is situated the small town of Beckbergh. We might have gone to Beckbergh Station, had it been so willed, but an extra change of trains would have been involved thereby, and Mr. Romilly has a mortal aversion to changes. I suspect, however, that he will prefer to endure any number in future, rather than commit himself to the horrors of "that frightful descent."

The six miles seemed short to me, and I think to Thyrza also, with such surroundings to study. July twilight, especially in the north, is not very profound, or very quick to deepen into darkness.

I could hardly believe that the drive was ended, when we found ourselves entering a garden-gate and immediately stopping before a house,—"t' hoose" our new friend called it,—grown thickly over with creepers. It stood very close to the road, and was a less imposing edifice than I had perhaps expected.

Rouse opened the door; and I explained to her at once, briefly, how things were. Though I did not exactly state my new position in the household, she seemed in a measure to understand, appealing to me as well as to Maggie in respect of sleeping arrangements. After Glynde House, the rooms appeared limited both in number and size. Rouse had settled matters to the best of her ability, and I thought wisely: but Maggie at once proposed a bouleversement of the whole. She objected to the room set apart for her use and Thyrza's, declined to fall in with my suggestion that she should for the present occupy the best bedroom, complained that Miss Millington's was "horridly uncomfortable," roamed discontentedly up and down stairs, contradicted everybody, kept the hungry and tired children waiting for their supper, and showed herself for once unequivocally out of temper. Of course I knew too well the cause; and I augured badly for the future from her mood.

It was my earnest wish to avoid needless struggles, so I only counselled patience to the younger girls, and then did the best I could to smooth matters by offering to share my own bedroom with Thyrza for a few days. Maggie at first flatly refused the offer, but gradually came round to it; and as a next move, she requested Miss Millington to share her bedroom—the same which she had just before denounced as "not big enough" for two sisters.

"Instead of that poky little hole you have now, Millie dear," she said, with a defiant glance at me from her pretty grey eyes.

"Millie" demurred, but agreed. I made no objections, though I could not approve of the plan. I did not believe that Mr. or Mrs. Romilly would like her to sleep so far-away from the children in her charge. This difficulty, however, was removed to some extent by Thyrza's immediate—"Then I shall sleep in that room, and leave Miss Con in peace."

She said to me later, "I know it is better for you: and of course the little ones can't be left with no one near. Such a shame of those two!"

I said little in answer, except to thank her for helping me. The comfort of a room to myself still is not small,—though indeed I would rather have Thyrza for a companion than any one else.

To-day the girls and Miss Millington have been chiefly occupied in unpacking and arranging. I have seen little of any of them, for Elfie has been so ill with neuralgia, that I could neither let her come downstairs, nor leave her alone for any length of time.

We have had drenching rain, without a break, from early morning. I wonder if this is usual in July. Denham has been out, of course, regardless of soaking. Thyrza and Nona ventured a short distance, but they were soon driven back, and had to change everything.

Just opposite our house, on the other side of the Dale, is a fine waterfall,—unusually full and fine just now, from the heavy rain. It begins, not far from the top of the hill, as a straight thread of silver. Then comes a break, where I suppose the stream flows over a slope. Then a great tumbling leap down a rocky descent, followed by a second break, and by a final spreading burst of water to lower levels, where it is hidden by trees. I could stand and watch for hours.

The river, flowing among meadows in the bottom of the valley, is not visible from our windows. We have glimpses of the other road, beyond the river, running parallel with this road; and beyond the road rises a great beautiful mountainous mass, extending far to left and right. I do not know its name yet, but everybody seems to call it "The Fell." The waterfall leaps down its sides near; and far-away to the left we can see upon it "The Scaur," a mass of precipitous bare rock, in a green frame.

The hills on this side of the Dale, behind our house, are more smooth and round, and less lofty. Higher up the Dale, some miles off, we have glimpses of mountains, which I am told are over two thousand feet in height. Their summits are swathed in cloud at present.

July 31. Friday Afternoon.—No news yet from Germany. I cannot make up my mind how soon we ought to hear. Surely a second telegram might have been sent; or a letter written by Nellie just after the accident might arrive.

Elfie was awake all night, and to-day she is shaken and hysterical, tears springing at the least word. I would not let her come downstairs till after lunch. Now she is on the drawing-room sofa, sound asleep, and I am journalising at a side-table. I feel safe in so doing, for once. We have had another wet morning; and the sun having come out since lunch, our whole party started ten minutes ago for a ramble. They will not be back for at least two hours, if rain keeps off. So I may as well utilise the time.

Thyrza alone helps me in taking care of Elfie. Maggie, Nona, the little ones, and "Millie" keep studiously aloof. I cannot but see that this is intentional, and that the ill-feeling towards me is fostered by Miss Millington. Nona has her rude manner. The little ones pout when I come near, and are gushing towards their "sweetest darling duckie Millie!" If I glance at Miss Millington, she bridles and tosses her head. Maggie has scarcely spoken to me to-day, except to oppose whatever I wish or suggest. There has been as yet no actual resistance of my authority, and I hope that there may not be,—also that this state of things may not last. It is very foolish: and Maggie's ill-humour has an odd childishness about it.

A letter unexpectedly reached me this morning from Lady Denham,—short, but very kind. She has had a note from Eustace, written in London; and she writes, plainly with a clear understanding of things generally, to assure me that I must not hesitate to appeal to her, if need should arise.

Of course I have shown and read the letter to no one,—though the postmark was commented on by Maggie and Nona in what I cannot but count an unladylike because interfering style.

If nothing else prevented me, one sentence would. Lady Denham says, near the end—

"Is it not singular? We have just come across that young officer again,—Captain A. Lenox, whom we saw at Rouen. You will remember my son mentioning him in connection with a photograph. I think you said you had known some member of the same family. He was at the same hotel with us in Bath, three days ago. I was glad to see him quite well."

That is all. I do not understand her object in making the remark. She may have written the words quite innocently,—or she may have some dim suspicion of the truth.

Either way, what difference can it make? For I can do nothing. Womanly reserve and self-respect forbid the slightest step on my part. If he knew—But if he did, he might not care! How can I tell? He is "quite well," that may mean "quite recovered" in more ways than one. I think a woman clings longer to a hopeless memory than a man does. And he told me plainly that he would never place himself in my path again.

What can have taken him to Bath I cannot—

       *       *        *       *        *       *        *

Something so terribly unpleasant has happened. I cannot write more now. My hand is shaking, and I feel altogether upset. I will never journalise in the drawing-room again.




August 1. Saturday Evening.       

YESTERDAY afternoon, when I had written those two words, "I cannot—" Nona darted into the room, and seized my dress, with a scared whisper—

"Come! quick! quick! A telegram for you! We are so frightened."

I could see that she was. She looked quite pale and out of breath. I found later that they had met on the road the messenger from the telegraph-office, had guessed his errand, questioned him, and raced back in a body, at full speed, to find out what I should have to tell them.

Elfie showed no signs of waking. In my anxiety to relieve the poor girls' suspense, I rose at once, just closing my journal volume upon a sheet of blotting-paper, but not fastening the spring-lock according to my invariable habit hitherto. Indeed it was not only for the girls' sake that I made all possible haste. A terrible fear crept over me that my dear and loving friend might be no more.

Miss Millington stood in the passage outside. I think I said something to her in passing, but I do not know what; and I remarked with a vague surprise that she did not follow us. Then I forgot her existence.

Maggie, Thyrza, and Denham, with the little ones, were on the gravel-path outside the front porch, waiting for us. Nona hurried me thither,—not faster than I would have gone without her hurrying. I noticed that Popsie and Pet were half crying; that Thyrza was rigid and sad; that Maggie seemed bewildered, yet kept her usual colour. Denham held out the envelope, saying, "We thought you wouldn't like Elfie startled." Afterwards I learnt that they would all have dashed in together, but for Thyrza's remonstrances.

I tore open the thin paper, and read aloud—

"Mother no worse, doctors give hope!"

Dead silence followed, lasting several seconds. Then, to my astonishment, Maggie remarked in a cheerful tone—

"Oh, well, it isn't so bad! She is getting better!"

"Maggie!!" half-smothered, came from behind, and I turned to see Thyrza on the verge of tears, fighting to control herself.

"'No worse,' Maggie—Hardly 'better' yet," I said gravely.

"I can't think why Nellie didn't send the telegram to me," said Maggie.

"She wished, of course, to avoid startling you," I said.

The children were asking—"Is mother nearly well?" And as Maggie chose to give a particularly hopeful response, I did not interfere.

"I would rather have nothing said to Elfie," I observed, when a few remarks had passed.

"Don't you mean to tell her what we have heard?" demanded Nona.

"I am not sure," I said. "Perhaps, by-and-by; but it must depend on how Elfie is."

"Mother never likes Elfie to be coddled," asserted Maggie with promptitude. She has that notion at her fingers' ends.

"I have not the least intention of coddling Elfie," I answered. "There is such a thing as necessary caution; and neither you nor I wish to have Elfie ill. I must request you all to say nothing about the telegram to her without my leave."

Maggie turned and walked a few paces, remarking, "Well, I suppose we may as well go on now. Where's Millie?"

Did she really not care—or not understand? Or was this only assumed indifference?

"She went indoors," Nona said.

"I will find Miss Millington, and ask her to join you out here," I said. "Elfie is asleep, and I would rather not have her roused."

"Millie can catch us up. Come along, girls," Denham said, with an air of forced cheerfulness. I could not but be glad to see how forced his cheerfulness was,—also how pale and serious Nona and the little ones looked. Thyrza held back and when asked to accompany them, she said, "No!" then vanished round the side of the house. Maggie alone showed no signs of being deeply stirred. And when I remember how that poor mother clings to Maggie—But if she were here, she would believe in Maggie still!

I returned then to the drawing-room. As I opened the door and entered, Miss Millington came hurrying across the room. I was struck with her flushed face and flurried manner. She did not look at me, and would have gone straight past, but I whispered—

"They are expecting you in the garden." She made no answer, and disappeared.

A glance revealed to me Elfie sleeping soundly still. I was thankful for that,—poor child. She had stirred and changed her position, but the coming and going had not roused her.

I sat down again at the side-table; and in one moment I knew that my papers had been meddled with. The consciousness came over me like a clap of thunder.

It is my habit to be very orderly in arrangements when writing. Hurriedly as I had been called away, I could have told exactly how each sheet and envelope lay,—placed in readiness for letter-writing, after journalising. The order of them was changed now. Note-sheets, envelopes and post-cards, had been thrust into a heap. That might mean nothing,—merely a hasty movement of somebody's hand, in going to the drawer. But that was not all. I opened my journal, and I knew at once that it had been opened in my absence. The piece of blotting-paper, which I had left between the leaves, had fallen half out; and the leaves themselves were rumpled, as if by too hurried turning over and too hasty closure.

If further proof were needed, I had it. For straight before my eyes, close to the name of "Arthur Lenox," lay one small yellowish rose-petal, pink-edged. I was well aware from what rose that petal came. Only half-an-hour earlier I had seen Maggie fasten it in Miss Millington's dress, with an apology for its too full-grown condition. The petal must have fluttered down, unseen, at the last moment, as she shut the book, startled by my quick return.

My first feeling was as if I had been stunned by a blow. I could not understand what had happened,—could not let myself face it. How long I sat, gazing in stupefaction at the last unfinished sentence of my journal, I do not know. It must have been quite mechanically that I at last added a few words, found further writing impossible, shut and locked the book, and glanced at Elfie.

Asleep still! I could not see her face in the new position she had assumed,—a crumpled-up attitude peculiar to herself; but her extreme stillness convinced me that there was no fear of an awakening at present. She might be left for a short time.

I took the journal, and went upstairs to my own room.

There the storm broke,—not outwardly, much of it. But all at once I realised what this deed was which Miss Millington had done to me. She had covertly possessed herself of my heart's secret,—had stolen from me my most guarded possession. The agony of having the thing known at all—worst of all known by her!—came upon me fiercely; and then the contemptibleness of her conduct! The miserable paltry curiosity! The shameless lack of honour!—Then again my own helplessness! I could do nothing. How much or how little she had read or understood, I might never know.

I could not even prove that she had really looked: and if I could, what use? Nothing could undo that which she had done. I would never stoop to accuse her of it,—would never put myself further in her power, by letting her know that I had discovered her act. I would only despise and hate her thenceforward, as a creature utterly base and low, beneath contempt, outside the pale of common respect. Forgive her! Love her! Never!

I have always known that I "had a temper," as the saying is,—a temper capable of being roused on occasions, though not susceptible to very small daily worries. But never till yesterday have I felt myself powerless in its grasp, carried away like a leaf in the gale.

The half-hour that I spent alone in my room might have been hours, judged by what I went through in the course of it.

I was unable to sit still, unable to kneel, unable to pray. The overmastering anguish of hate and scorn gradually subdued all other sensations. Pain itself went down for the time before that storm of withering contempt. For I have always had such a horror of anything not strictly and perfectly honourable! I have always been so scrupulous in dealing with others! To look at a thing secretly, not meant for one's eyes, has seemed to me, not merely so wrong, but so absolutely impossible! And now—to be subjected to this!

Half an hour and no more I gave myself. At its close, the battle was not fought out,—was scarcely indeed begun. I had not fought at all. I had only been swept along by a tornado of passion. And I think that the one thing which kept me from losing my balance, which restrained me from resolving on some wild or rash step of reprisal or escape, in that half-hour of fearful resentment, was the consciousness of my Father's pity,—the knowledge that He was looking down all the while tenderly on His poor racked child, and that He would help me, so soon as I could and would glance up to Him for help.

I thought He would not help me—yet! I thought I could not glance towards Him—yet! But I do think now that my very sense of His loving pity was even then a wordless prayer,—and that even then His Hand was holding me back.

For somehow at the half-hour's end, I could be outwardly calm. I washed my face, smoothed my hair, and noted curiously in the glass my unusual degree of pallor, and the strange expression in my eyes. I wondered if others would remark the latter; for I felt that I could not control it. Then I went downstairs to the drawing-room.

Elfie was awake. She showed no surprise at my absence, but seemed poorly and fretful, and would not talk. I saw signs of tears, and when I tried to comfort her, she turned fractiously away, hiding her face in the cushion. So I left her quiet, and sat down with work, resolving to make no mention at present of the telegram.

The walking-party returned earlier than I expected. I was determined that Miss Millington should see no change in my manner. Pride demanded this of me. But whether I was successful, I do not know. When she first came into the room, I had a sensation of being turned to ice. She may not have noted any difference, since, to my knowledge, she never looked at me once during the hour that we were all together. The resolute manner in which her eyes shunned mine was remarkable; for generally they seem to be everywhere. The walking-party had much to say about their ramble,—not to me, but one to another. I would not be left out of the conversation, and talked as much as anybody; but by the time tea was over, the strain had become almost more than I knew how to endure.

Thyrza, who had been very silent, found an opportunity to say to me, unheard by the rest—

"Are you tired, Miss Con?"

"Rather," I answered. "Would you mind sitting with Elfie for an hour, while I have a walk?"

"No, of course I will. I meant to ask if you wouldn't like some fresh air. But you will not go alone?"

"Quite alone," I said. The words sounded hard, and I tried to smile.

"Couldn't Millie or somebody else take care of Elfie? I should so like to be with you."

"Not this evening," I answered. She looked at me with such puzzled eyes, that I became conscious of something peculiar in my manner, and to soften the words, I added, "Better not ask it. They talked of another ramble before supper."

We have given up late dinner for the present, while Mr. Romilly is away.

"Isn't Elfie so well? Are you worried about her?"

"I don't think she is actually ill," I said. "She needs care."

"And you have told her about the telegram?"

"No. Why?"

"Oh, I thought—I didn't know, of course,—only, she was crying so, just before tea."

"I have said nothing. I hope the children have not let it out," I said.

"They wouldn't dare! If Maggie—" Thyrza paused. "But Elfie always frets, when she is poorly, and her faceache is so bad to-day. I dare say it is only that. I'll go to her now. Do get a walk. I am sure you have been too long indoors."

Thyrza's solicitude was my one touch of outside comfort. I could see that she thought me distressed about her mother, as indeed I was and am. But that pain grows small beside the other.

A few minutes later I was off. The sun had gone in, and it was a grey yet clear evening, some blue sky visible towards Beckbergh, and heavy masses of dark cloud brooding over the upper extremity of the Dale, while mountain-outlines near at hand stood out distinctly against a pale background, dun-tinted. On quitting the garden, I turned to the right, aware that other walkers from our house would turn to the left. I did not yet allow myself to think. I wanted first to work off by rapid exercise some small part of the stony misery.

The road slanted downward, gradually nearing the river. By-and-by I gained glimpses of a broad bridge crossing it, far ahead. One pathway leading up the hillside, on my right hand, attracted me; but I resolved first to have a look at the bridge, then to return and try this path.

As the main road descended, it grew more and more muddy,—not surprising after such heavy rain. I had to choose my steps with some care. There were cows loitering along, a few at a time in charge of a man and a dog, on their way back from afternoon milking. I exchanged a kind "Good-evening" with the man. Old-fashioned greetings from strangers seem the fashion here, why not elsewhere? I pondered this question mechanically, patting the rough side of a cow as I went by. And then I noted one or two distant whitewashed farms: and the pretty silken-coated sheep on the hillsides, so different from our southern sheep, took my fancy. But still I kept at bay the lowering black cloud within.

The bridge was reached at last, by a road which turned down to it from the main road. I leant upon the stone-parapet, and gazed, as in a dream, upon the curdling stream, chocolate-brown in hue, swift and steadfast in its rush. It was hard to believe that the brawling mountain-torrent of a few miles higher up could have already grown to this powerful river.

Somehow I was unable to remain on the bridge. The spot did not satisfy my need. There was a cottage near, and I wanted to be away from anything human. Soon I retraced my steps for some distance along the main road, and struck up by the side-path which I had before noticed.

This path, like the road beneath, led towards the lower Dale-extremity: but it wandered up the steep hillside, instead of keeping near the bottom of the valley, serving evidently as a shorter cut to Beckbergh, over a rocky ridge. It is probably a good deal frequented; yet no one overtook or passed me yesterday. The complete solitude was what I had craved for. I went on, till a distant glimpse of the town, Beckbergh, beyond and beneath, became visible.

I did not wish to get there,—though I might have had time, the evenings now are so long. I only wanted to find a spot, secure from interruption, where I might dare to indulge thought.

I had reached the highest point of the pathway, after which it begins to descend towards Beckbergh. It crosses there a wild green common-like slope, broken by out-standing rocks and big boulders.

So I left the path, and went upwards, regardless of the wet grass, and presently I found a seat upon one flat rock, another rising a little below in just such a position as to hide me effectually from anybody who should pass along the path.

Then at last I knew that I might allow myself to think,—and I meant to begin, and have the matter out. But before I could set to work, my eyes fell on a beautiful plant of real Parsley fern, growing a few paces off, under the shelter of an overhanging boulder.

How delighted Thyrza would be! I would get it for her, of course. She is an ardent fern-collector, and I knew she was hoping to find many specimens while here. Maggie follows suit, as a matter of course, and collects fitfully, under "Millie's" superintendence, neither knowing much about the matter. There had been talk at tea-time about the abundant supplies of Polypody and Adiantum Nigrum, already noted. Maggie had expressed hopes of "Oak" and "Beech," and Thyrza had added—"Perhaps even Parsley!"—almost her sole remark. And here the Parsley was!

My trouble had to wait a while longer. Digging a Parsley fern out of a rocky bed, not having even the help of a knife, is no easy matter. I pulled off my gloves, and knelt down, setting to work with care and determination. The business took some time, but I did it thoroughly, keeping the roots almost intact. My "find" at length was freed, and I went back to the seat I had chosen.

And then I sat silently, looking around, willing to face my grief, yet somehow composed. The storm of rage and contempt did not return. I had felt so sure that it must; and I was mistaken.

I had a good view of the Dale, with its high hill-ranges on either side. "The Fell" lay opposite, extending far up the valley: a great mountainous mass, with curved clear outlines, hummocked and dimpled sides; the frowning Scaur in the distance contrasting with soft green surroundings; masses of bracken varying the grass-tints; slender winding rivulets streaking its sides like silver snakes; and the lights and shades of evening lending a wonderful beauty to the whole. I could see the river below, and near the Dale-Head loftier mountains reared their summits into the grey clouds which clustered there; but my eyes returned persistently to the changeful loveliness of The Fell. For that enchained me.

I almost think that at first there was a sense of disappointment at my own quietness. I hardly wished to be quiet yet. For I had been so grievously wronged. My wrath had been a righteous wrath,—so I told myself, not seeing how far it had passed the righteous boundary. I suppose no anger that has the mastery over one can ever be a purely just anger. The contempt too, I told myself, had been no more than Miss Millington deserved. I despised still, and I must despise. There could be no excuse for her. And a voice seemed to whisper—"No! None! And yet—!"

I hardly know how to tell what followed. I do not wish to lose the recollection, so I must try. But it was not words. It was only—the help I needed.

I must have looked up to Him unknowingly. I did believe that He would help me, sooner or later. And it was sooner, instead of later. Perhaps He sometimes—often—comes, unasked, to the rescue of His own, in peril.

Though passionate anger was lulled, pain was not. It grew keener, deeper, as I sat there. The consciousness of what she had done came over me afresh, and with it a fresh agony at having my secret known. Would she make use of her discovery?—Tell it to others? Surely not! And yet I could believe her capable of even this. I had no fear that she or any one would dare to speak a word to me on the subject. But to know that others know!—This I felt to be enough, more than enough, more than I might endure!

The pain was none the less for being a calm pain. Passion had helped me earlier. Now the very calmness rendered me better able to feel, better fitted to measure the cause which existed for pain. And in a little while, I could not face the sweet scene around—I could only drop my head on my knees, shivering in the cold grasp of a bitter distress, a dull longing to be out of it all and away from everybody—for ever.

My own helplessness was terrible, helplessness to undo the evil, helplessness to meet it, helplessness to guard myself, helplessness to forgive. I seemed to be hedged round on every side.

"Forgive her! Oh never!" I found myself murmuring.

And suddenly I seemed to see that sad Denial-Scene, when one whom the Master loved turned against Him, in cowardly wise abjuring His Name. And I saw in response, no anger, no bitterness, no contempt; only one gentle Look from those wonderful loving Eyes, so grave and sweet, pleading and true, reproachful yet pitying, humanly sorrowful, Royally calm.

What has she done to me, compared with that which the craven disciple did to Him that day? More!—In what has she wronged me, compared with all the wronging of my coldness, heartlessness, ingratitude, towards Him—my Master and King? For I have not loved her,—I have not trusted her,—I have not given up aught for her sake! And what has not He done and endured for me?

The debt of one hundred pence indeed, beside the debt of ten thousand pounds! If He resented my ill-doings as I have resented hers, where should I be?

I think the look which softened St. Peter came to me too, in that hour on the lonely hillside. Perhaps there was the touch as well,—His Hand removing the bitterness, the wrath, the angry contempt; not taking away the pain, but rather laying it upon me anew, as something to be patiently endured for Him; and with it giving His peace.

Had I not only that morning pleaded to have His will worked in me, avowing myself submissive? And if this were His will?

It was not—is not—for me to choose. Just because this trouble so fiercely racks my pride, it may be the very burden I most need.

And, after all, I might have misjudged her. This thought came next. She might not have meant to look,—might have gone to the drawer for something, have moved my papers accidentally, have even thrown the book open by some awkward movement and have shut the page, unread.

If she did read,—then, dishonourable, base, contemptible, are not terms too strong for the deed. But yet I have not to judge her. To her own Master she standeth or falleth. Have I always acted towards my loving Lord with perfect honour, perfect courtesy, perfect thoughtfulness, perfect delicacy? And has He not forgiven me? Oh, times without number!

Besides, she may have been ill-trained. She may have by nature a blunt sense of honour, a defective understanding. There can be no excuse; but there may be considerations inducing pity.

"Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."

That command followed. I knew from Whom it came: and I could only feel that I was willing,—if my God would make me able.

       *       *        *       *        *       *        *

It was later than I had intended, when I reached home. Thyrza came to meet me at the garden-gate. She gave one long look, kissed me gravely, and said, "The walk has done you good. I am so glad."

I showed her the Parsley fern, and said, "I meant this for you. But what do you think? Shall I give it to Maggie?"

She flushed up and exclaimed at the sight of what I had brought, with genuine enthusiasm. Then I saw a moment's struggle.

"Yes,—please do," she said. "Maggie says you always put me first."

"Maggie would have no reason for saying so in this instance," I answered. "You are our chief fern-collector: so I count that you have the prime right."

"But Maggie has the fancy just now. Poor little fern! She will only let you die," sighed Thyrza. Yet there came again a decisive—"Yes, give it to her."

I did so: and Maggie received my gift awkwardly, glancing between her thanks at "Millie," to discover whether she were being betrayed into over-warmth.



August 5. Wednesday.       

I CANNOT quite understand the condition of things. From Thyrza alone I have steady affection and support. All the rest are in unequivocal opposition.

Even Elfie—my little clinging Elfie—has changed. I do not know why. Though not so poorly as last week, and able to be about again, she seems fractious and peevish, and nervous fancies are regaining their old sway over her. The fusses about what she can and cannot do, will and will not eat, are endless.

Now, too, she distinctly turns from me and turns to Miss Millington. If I say a word about not giving way to fancies, she bursts out crying, and "Millie" ostentatiously comforts her, assisted by Maggie, who has all at once left off remarks anent "coddling."

Miss Millington's influence over the girls is to me more and more extraordinary. There seems absolutely nothing in her, which might account for it. I can only suppose that having, through the force of circumstances, gained a certain power over Maggie's weakness, she controls the younger girls through Maggie, one following in another's wake. With the exception of Thyrza—and, it may be, of Nellie,—the sisters have a droll fashion of running in the same groove.

Last Saturday looks often to me like a dream,—only not a dream, for the pain remains. But I would rather not write about it. We go on much as usual. Sometimes I almost think I must have been mistaken. The one thing about which I can feel no possible doubt is Miss Millington's intense and growing dislike to me.

Maggie has had a long letter from Nellie. But for Thyrza, I should have been kept in complete ignorance of its contents. This is, I suppose, poor Maggie's small revenge on me, for not having shown her Mrs. Romilly's letters,—only it seems almost too small to be credible! "Millie" of course hears everything, and takes care to make me aware of the fact.

From Thyrza I learn that the collision was not a severe one, the only passenger injured being my poor friend. The broken collar-bone seems to be a minor injury. I imagine that the present illness is chiefly one of brain and nerves, consequent upon the shock. When Nellie wrote she could scarcely be called quite out of danger; but undoubtedly there was some improvement.

This is enough for Maggie, who has been in wild spirits ever since the letter arrived. We had rain a great part of yesterday and the day before, and she has taken vehemently to her writing again. The notion of consulting some well-known authoress, as to "the best way of getting into print," has also been revived,—probably by Miss Millington, who boasts some manner of acquaintance with two literary ladies. If Maggie should receive wholesome advice from either, so much the better. Whether they can help her "to get into print,"—that acmé of Maggie's desires,—is another question.

We discuss the matter at meal-times, Maggie being entirely unreserved respecting her own would-be authorship.

August 6. Thursday.—This afternoon several of us went to see the Stockmoors, in the quaint old whitewashed farm-house, where they live, and where Mr. Stockmoor's parents and grandparents lived before him. It stands in a small garden, close to the road, about fifteen minutes' walk up the Dale. The farm seems to include little besides pasture for cows and sheep. Mrs. Stockmoor makes butter, but not on any large scale. Mr. Stockmoor is Churchwarden, and evidently is a man much respected.

A kind welcome was accorded, and they took us over the house, pointing out some old and interesting articles of furniture. The Stockmoors have three or four comfortable rooms, which they let to lodgers in the summer. Nobody is here now: but, to my surprise, I suddenly heard a mention of the name "Denham;" and an inquiry brought out the fact, unknown to me before, that Lady Denham and Sir Keith have twice spent a month in these very lodgings.

We were all together in the quaint good-sized sitting-room. It has big ceiling-beams, two small lattice-windows, huge fireplace, old-fashioned chairs, and whitewashed porch opening on the garden, with a lovely view all up the Dale to the massive terminating mountain heights. Yes,—very beautiful and most attractive, I thought, but somehow I could not quite picture Sir Keith and his mother there, fresh from the stately plenishings of Glynde Park. I tried to imagine Lady Denham rocking herself to and fro in the rocking-chair of indefinite age, just then giving amusement to Popsie and Pet; and I found myself in danger of laughter. Then I heard an exclamation from Maggie:

"Only think! Millie, do you hear? Mrs. Stockmoor says Lady Denham means to come very soon; and she has written to take the rooms."

"Sir Keith too?" somebody asked, and Maggie's cheeks gained a vivid hue. She and "Millie" exchanged glances, whereupon Maggie's eyes drooped.

"Not very likely that Lady Denham would come all this way north without him," Thyrza remarked, with a curt and vexed air, as if she disliked the notion.

Mrs. Stockmoor could not say. She hoped so,—such a very nice gentleman as he was. And if the gentleman that was coming first, perhaps, was to—but there she stopped abruptly, twisting her apron round her fingers. I had caught a warning look telegraphed from one of the daughters to the mother. No one else seemed to have perceived this, and Nona asked—

"Is Sir Keith coming first? What!—And leave Lady Denham to manage the journey all alone?"

Mrs. Stockmoor maintained a discreet silence, till further pressed, when she twisted her apron anew and said, "I cannot not tell!" with an emphatic double-negative, which I had already once or twice heard from her.

Then Mr. Stockmoor advanced to his wife's rescue, volunteering information about the surrounding neighbourhood. Had we been yet to see a certain spot, not three miles off; called Gurglepool? It seems from his description to be an odd and mysterious hole in the earth, and I cannot recall hearing the name before, though the girls have evidently been aware of Its existence.

"There are two holes," Nona said, "one big and one little. Eustace told us about them."

I suggested an excursion to the place to-morrow, and Thyrza seconded me.

Maggie immediately protested. She said that "she and the rest" had settled to drive up the Dale in the waggonette. They wanted to see the road to the station by daylight.

"Very well," I replied. "One day is as good as another for Gurglepool."

I noted a gleam of quiet intelligence in Mr. Stockmoor's eyes, and five minutes later, as we were departing, he offered to bring "t' trap" on the morrow to "t' hoose," that I and one or two others might still carry out my project.

As the waggonette could not contain all our party, and I should, of course, be the one left out, I felt no scruple about accepting the offer, with thanks.

But are the Denhams really proposing to stay near us? And if so, is it on our account or on their own? Thyrza thinks their coming very probable.

"And I don't care, for my part, whether they do or don't," she added. "I get so tired of the talk about Sir Keith's virtues. Only I do wish somebody could keep Maggie from behaving like an utter goose! It is all Millie's fault. If you knew the nonsense she talks to Maggie!"

"Better, perhaps, that I should not know, since I cannot check it," I said gravely. "And, my dear, I don't think you have to judge Maggie."

She looked up at me, with tears in her eyes.

"If only they would not treat you so!" she said. "I shouldn't mind anything else so much."

Her sympathy does comfort me. I cannot help feeling that.

August 8. Saturday.—We had our drive in the dog-cart yesterday, Thyrza and I,—not only to Gurglepool and back, but quite a long round, through the wildest country, all dales and mountains, tea-coloured golden-bedded torrents, trees, grass and rocks, blue sky and sunshine, with nothing to mar the complete enjoyment, except recollections which could not be utterly put aside.

No one but Thyrza would come with me. I think Denham wished it, and had not resolution to stand out against the conclave of sisters.

Elfie looked unhappy all the morning, and shunned me persistently. I hardly like to allow to myself how keenly I am pained by this change of manner. I begged Maggie and Nona to take care that she was not overdone, and this was all that I could do, for they were bent on taking her, and I knew that the waggonette would be full without Thyrza and myself.

The next Dale, running parallel with Beckdale, quite different in character, hardly so lovely, I thought, yet with its own distinctive beauty. The hills are lower, more bare and bleak, and the inevitable river which drains it flows often underground, entirely disappearing for a while beneath the dry and stony bed which marks its course, and later on reappearing. In times of flood, the dry bed is filled with a rushing stream.

Far up the Dale we entered a pretty and picturesque little side-valley, branching off at right angles, and well filled with trees. By-the-bye, when I spoke of Gurglepool as about three miles off, I did not understand that that was only the short-cut walking distance. It is a long drive.

At the entrance of this small valley, Mr. Stockmoor bade us dismount, and gave us full leave to remain as long as we liked. He had to stay in charge of the horse, while we explored; but we were not to be in any haste. If the directions given by himself failed to be sufficient, a woman from a cottage at the upper end would act as our guide.

"Don't let us have a guide. Much better fun to hunt out things for ourselves," Thyrza said, and we plunged into the wooded ravine.

There was a lesser hole, as well as the greater Gurglepool, Mr. Stockmoor said, his description therein agreeing with Nona's. We came upon this lesser hole first,—a mysterious cleft in the earth, slanting downward to unknown black regions, paved with loose stones which doubtless act often as the bed of a watercourse. They looked only damp yesterday. Rocks rose high around the sloping mouth, and shrubs grew thickly thereupon. Thyrza and I climbed to a good position for kneeling on the edge and peering over. The sight was altogether weird. I flung a stone down, and it rattled onward in a slow descent, quite two or three seconds after disappearing from sight. Whether it then reached the bottom, or whether sound merely ceased because deadened by distance, we could not tell.

"Looks like a pathway that might lead to the centre of the earth," Thyrza said. "Or like the entrance to some underground giant castle. Miss Con, haven't you had enough? Come and see if Gurglepool itself is different."

I had not had enough, but Mr. Stockmoor was waiting. So we went on through the wild little valley, presently mounting one of its grassy sides, till we reached Gurglepool.

Neither of us said anything at first. We only stood still near the edge, gazing. Thyrza slipped one arm through mine, and I felt her give a shudder.

Gurglepool is really a circular hole,—of what diameter I do not know, but I should guess it to be about thirty feet across: and I am told that it is sixty or seventy feet in depth, not counting the dark still pool of water at the bottom, usually some twenty-five feet deep. An underground stream flows in and out of that pool, not visibly stirring its surface. So, of all awful places to fall into—! I could not help this thought arising, as I looked.

The sides of the hole are rocky, and precipitously steep, except on one side, where a path descends sharply to the margin of earth beside the pool: not a very inviting path, albeit rendered fairly safe by a rough wooden hand-rail, reaching from above to below.

The woman from the cottage, spoken of by Mr. Stockmoor, came up, and told us more about the strange place. Sheep wandering round have often fallen in and been drowned. She spoke of it with dread for her own children, living so near. There has been talk of putting a wall or fence round the opening. This would, I suppose, somewhat spoil the general appearance, but it would be safer. I thought of Denham and the girls, and wished the precaution had been taken.

In very wet weather the water in the pool rises higher and higher, rushing often round and round, like liquid in a pot stirred by a spoon, and sometimes boiling over, so to speak, upon the surrounding grass. It must be a strange sight then. But when the girls come, I shall come too. That I am determined on.

It is no place for a number of giddy young people, under no authority.

The woman made nothing of going down the path to the water's edge; and after some hesitation, I followed her. Thyrza did not seem inclined to do the same. She said she would wait till another time.

We did not like to keep kind Mr. Stockmoor too long, and soon we were driving homeward, full of new interest in this extraordinary corner of quiet old England.

The waggonette party had not returned when we reached Beckdale House. Too long a trip for Elfie, of course, but how could I help it? Needless struggles must be as far as possible avoided. I have to reserve all my authority for real emergencies.

Thyrza and I sat down in the garden, she with a book, I with my work. Presently I saw her to be deep in thought,—not reading or pretending to read. At first I fancied her to be thinking of Gurglepool,—then of the waterfall across the valley, already much attenuated by two fine days. But no,—something more serious gave the very intent look to her dark eyes. She sat perfectly still, as is her wont at such times, in an upright posture, half-rigid, half-careless, and quite unconscious. I love to study Thyrza's face, when she is trying to unravel some perplexity, or has gained a glimpse of some new idea.

"What is it all about?" I asked, after a while.

She turned to me, with an unwonted quickness of response.

"I am thinking—" she said. "Miss Con, don't you very often wish you could be sure of things?"

Though she gave no clue to the previous train of ideas, I understood enough to answer—"I am quite sure of some things."

"But you know what I mean? People think and explain so differently,—and I suppose it isn't always one's own people that must be in the right."

"Not necessarily, Thyrza. That would bring one into an awkward predicament as to 'the right' in different houses."

"Yes, I mean that, exactly." A pause followed, and she knitted her brows. "Father doesn't always put things exactly as you do, Miss Con. And I know Sir Keith doesn't agree with Mr. Hepburn in a great many of his opinions,—or with father."

"Possibly. But you need not feel sure that the different ways of 'putting' a doctrine or belief must always mean error on the one side or the other."

"Mustn't it?"

"Not always. Very often of course both are wrong and very often perhaps both are right. Mr. Hepburn may be looking only on the silver side of the shield, and Sir Keith only on the golden."

"I should think Sir Keith would look on both sides," she said hastily, as if defending him.

I was amused, remembering her many professions of dislike.

"Yes, to the best of his power: but human powers are limited. If you and I were describing The Fell, we could only describe this side that we have seen. Somebody else, living beyond, might give so different a version of its look, that a listener would not recognise the mountain to be the same. That would be no reason why you and I should declare the other's account to be untrue,—merely because we had not had the same view."

"No. I see," Thyrza answered. "I suppose the right thing would be to get round to the other side, if one could." Then she reverted to her first thought. "Still, it does seem as if one could be sure of so little," she went on. "There are so many questions that no two people think exactly the same about."

"Rather an extreme manner of expressing it, my dear," I said. "You may be sure of much, though not of everything."

She looked at me questioningly.

"For instance,—I am quite sure, at this moment, of the blue sky overhead, of the sunshine, of the mountains, of the singing birds. I am quite sure of the river flowing down below, though I can't see it. But I don't feel sure about the exact height of each separate mountain; and I should not like to declare which particular geological theory, as to the manner of their formation, is most correct. Nor do I know all about the precise nature of sunshine, though science has a good deal to say on that matter. And for some minutes past, I have been puzzling myself about those white spots on the hillside, far up the Dale."

"Those stones?"

"Are they stones? I had just come to the conclusion that they were sheep. Somebody else might take them for clothes hung out to dry. One would be the right explanation, and the others would be wrong. But the question would hardly be worth a quarrel. Better for all three observers to allow the fact of limited eyesight, and to leave it in abeyance. We can all agree about the blue sky and the sunshine."

Thyrza's face was brightening. "Agree about the nature of sunshine!" she asked.

"Yes,—in so far that it is warmth-giving, light-giving, health-giving, and that we could not live without it. Not about all theories as to the nature of light-waves."

She pondered seriously.

"Think of our first drive here from the station," I said. "It was getting dark, and we were in a strange part of the country. I don't know whether you were struck, as I was, by the bewildering uncertainties of the landscape."

She said, "Yes,"—quickly.

"I found myself mistaking mountains for clouds, and clouds for mountains. Trees seemed to rear themselves up like giants, coming to meet us; and a big dog gave me quite a start, he loomed out so suddenly, like a wild beast. Then the white foam of the waterfalls was very weird,—one might have conjured up any amount of imaginations as to threatening dangers. You and I could have argued all the way, if we had chosen, about our differing 'views' of this or that object. Of course we knew that full daylight a few hours later would clear away all perplexities: and we could afford to wait. But we know the same now in things spiritual; yet few of us realise that we can afford to wait."

"To wait in uncertainty!" she said. "Not making up one's mind."

"In uncertainty on many lesser points. There was plenty that we could be quite sure about. For instance,—we were sure of being on the right road, because we were sure of our guide; and we were sure of the home to which we were going."

Thyrza's eyes shone.

"And we are sure now of—?" she said in a questioning tone.

"Of our Father's love. Of Christ, our Crucified and Risen Lord. Of the Holy Spirit, promised to us. Of the Home which Christ is preparing. Of the Guide who leads us. Of the Pathway He points out. Of the Means of Grace provided . . . My dear, think for yourself of all that we do or may know with a certain knowledge. Don't be distressed to find a hundred lesser questions about which we cannot be sure, and about which the best men must differ, because we have not, any of us, full daylight in which to make out all details."

"But if Christ is our Light—" she said.

"He is our Light; but the dawn comes to each one gradually,—sometimes very slowly indeed. I suppose the Light vouchsafed is often so dim because we don't really care to have it more fully. And there is the question too of our own defective eyesight. That has to be cured—gradually."

Thyrza pondered again.

"About the Means of Grace,—" she said. "Can one be sure there? People do think so differently."

"People think very differently about the scientific nature of sunshine," I said, "yet we all agree on the need that man should use it. The make of sunshine is practically a lesser question to us."

She only looked at me, as if waiting for more.

"It is one thing to use any medium of help provided,—and quite another thing to be able to define very exactly its nature," I said. "I do think that if the Means of Grace were more ardently used, and less feverishly discussed, we might make better advance in the spiritual life."

"I was thinking about the highest,—about Holy Communion," she said in a low voice. "People differ so—"

"Yes,—I saw you were. But, my dear, you have not to settle other people's differences. The less of definition the better sometimes. I always think that the Evil One has no more subtle method of fighting, than by setting Christians to wrangle over their definitions of spiritual things."

"Then one need not understand exactly?" she said.

"You must understand that God is offering you, through a certain channel, help, food, sustenance,—that you have to use the channel, and to accept what He gives. But more is not needed. Many a poor man drinks from the river below, without the least idea of what the water is composed of, or how it came there. And a little child doesn't refuse the food his mother gives him, until he shall have analysed its nature, and tested the make of the vessels which hold it. He doesn't think about that at all, but trusts his mother's love and wisdom,—eats and drinks,—is satisfied and thankful."

Thyrza drew a long breath. "Yes,—I see," she said.

"It seems to me so melancholy," I added, "that when God says, 'Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it,' we turn away from Him, to wrangle with one another about the kind of food He means to give, and the way in which He will give it. Better do simply as our Church bids us,—'Take and eat this . . . with thanksgiving!' 'Drink this . . . and be thankful.' And then we may be sure that Christ will do the rest."

Little more passed between us, for the waggonette party returned. But I do hope I may have helped that dear girl just a little. I have a very strong feeling of sympathy for thoughtful girls like her, in this difficult age, when every statement of every truth is subjected alike to careless handling and to microscopic inspection. The microscopic inspection, if honest and impartial, works no harm. The careless handling does do harm,—not to Truth, but to those who indulge in it.




August 12. Wednesday.       

SCARCELY more than a fortnight since the Romillys went away: and I am sure it seems an age.

Poor Mrs. Romilly has been so dreadfully ill. Nobody seems exactly to understand how she was hurt, except about the collar-bone, which doesn't explain her being so very ill. Mother believes that it was "a bad jar to her nervous system;" and I shouldn't wonder, for she and her little husband in their different ways seem to be made up of nothing but nerves,—as if all the bones and muscles had been left out. The wonder is that all the girls are not mere packets of nerves too! But I don't think they are,—except Elfie!

Mr. Romilly is out there still with Eustace, and there isn't the least talk of their coming back to England. Mrs. Romilly is better and out of danger. But now that Mr. Romilly has actually reached Cologne, he is settling down quite comfortably. Uncle Tom declares he "won't budge" for six months at least. And Ramsay says—"Sixteen."

Miss Con is at Beckdale, in charge of all those girls. Mother and I do pity her. She has written once to me,—a kind cheerful letter, all about the scenery of Yorkshire.

Proofs of my book are coming in fast. Correcting them is most delightful. A story looks so much nicer in proof than in MS. I wonder why.

August 14. Friday.—Mother and I went to afternoon tea at The Park to-day, to meet a few people. There was somebody whom I have never seen before, though I have heard of him,—a Captain Lenox. The Denhams met him lately at Bath, and asked him here for two or three nights.

He looks younger than Sir Keith, and he is very upright and slight and soldierly. I do like soldierly men. He reminds me just a little of the picture of my Father when he was young, the one hanging over Mother's bedroom mantelpiece. I don't generally admire fair men, and Captain Lenox is rather fair, but it isn't a hay-coloured wishy-washy fairness. He has deep-blue eyes, and light-brown hair, and a tanned complexion. And he looks as if he had an immense amount of character and firmness.

Besides, he is so polite. He was talking to Annie Wilmington and quite enjoying himself, one could see, and all at once that queer little old Miss Pursey came poking about, looking for a seat. And he was up like a shot, offering her his, though he lost the rest of his talk with Annie, and though Miss Pursey isn't the sort of person that some young men take pains to be polite to. Of course they ought, but they don't.

I should not trouble myself to write all this about a stranger, if he were a mere stranger. But he isn't. I do feel a very particular interest in this Captain Arthur Lenox,—for Miss Con's sake.

He must, I suppose, be the same that Sir Keith met at Rouen: and Maggie is sure that he and Miss Con have been friends some time or other, and that she—I don't quite know how to say it—that perhaps she has—well, has liked him a good deal. If Maggie had only said so much, I shouldn't have minded, I dare say. One person must like another, sometimes. I mean—things do begin in that way.

But when Maggie told Mother and me about Captain Lenox' name coming up, and about Miss Con turning pale, she actually laughed, and said, "Millie declares that Miss Con is desperately in love with him. And I was so angry, I could have given Maggie a good shaking. I am sure I should have said something I ought not: but Mother took it up, only saying a few words, and those exactly the right ones, about its being no business of Miss Millington's, and about Miss Millington being very wrong to speak so about Miss Con to Maggie or any of them."

"It is exceedingly bad taste," Mother said. "I hope you will take care that it does not go farther, Maggie dear."

Maggie did turn so red, and she said nothing.

But I cannot, of course, forget all this, and I am very glad to find the sort of man that Captain Lenox is,—not empty-headed, and able only to talk nonsense, but sensible and pleasant. He was rather silent part of the afternoon, but watchful and polite all the while, and when anything interested him, he brightened up and looked quite handsome. Lady Denham told Mother that he seemed to be a man of such very high principle, and that he is immensely respected in his regiment. And Mother thinks him really and truly a good man. She had such a pleasant little talk with him.

So I do believe he might be good enough for even dear Miss Conway,—if that should ever come to anything. But very likely it was only a fancy of Maggie's, and of that tiresome absurd Miss Millington.

I am afraid I was wrong in one thing that I did. Lady Denham put him by me for a talk, and I got on with him much better than I do with Sir Keith. He didn't make me half so shy.

Something made me speak of the Romillys. I said where they were gone, and we talked about Yorkshire, and all at once it came into my head to mention Miss Conway, and to notice how he looked. And I did it, without stopping to think. That is the worst of me! I am always saying things without thinking, and having to be sorry afterwards. I do wish I could get over it.

He made no answer, but listened. I quoted something she had said about Yorkshire dales, and then I said how delightful she was, and that I didn't think I had ever seen anybody like her anywhere else. There would have been no harm, if I had said it all quite naturally, and with no thought behind of how he was feeling,—but I had the thought behind, so I could not depend on myself to be perfectly natural.

He heard me, exactly as if I had been speaking of a stranger, and as if he didn't care the very least. When I stopped, he said, "Indeed!" as coldly as possible: and I was so disappointed, I felt myself turn crimson. He gave me a glance, and I grew hotter still, and he turned his eyes away, and made some careless remark about the weather. Then somebody on his other side began to talk to him: and I was very uncomfortable. I couldn't think what he must have thought.

I have told Mother all this, and she says it is far wiser to leave things alone, and not to interfere. One is so apt to blunder. So I shall take very great care in the future, and never speak of anything of that sort, unless somebody else begins it.

Mother is not so sure as I was at first that his looking cold and grave, when he heard her name, proves him not to care at all. She says we can't possibly judge, as we don't in the least know the real facts of the case.

August 15. Saturday.—Only think!—We had quite a long call from Captain Lenox this afternoon. I felt shy at seeing him again, but he seemed to have for all about my awkwardness. So I hope it didn't look so bad as it felt.

He said he had found that Mother once knew an uncle of his, so he thought he might call. But I don't believe that was his real reason. For the uncle was not talked about at all, after the first moment. He is staying at The Park till Monday, and then he goes north for the rest of his furlough,—into Yorkshire. I don't know what part. It seems that Lady Denham and Sir Keith may go there soon, and they have actually secured some lodgings, and are paying for them. And Captain Lenox is to use these lodgings for as long as he likes.

Mother and I wonder where the lodgings are, for he did not tell us. But we asked no questions, and, as Mother says, we must not ask the Denhams. For it is not our business; and as they said nothing yesterday, they most likely don't wish us to know.

I had made up my mind not to say one word about Miss Conway; and then, just out of sheer nervousness and shyness, I found myself letting slip something about her, at least three times. I was so provoked; and Mother says I really must learn to have myself better in hand. Not that any harm was done; but one never ought to be drawn into saying a thing which one has resolved not to say.

I noticed that each time I said "Miss Conway," Captain Lenox turned half towards me, and then looked at Mother in a quiet polite way, as if he were asking about her. But nobody could have guessed from his manner whether he felt anything more than just a passing interest in a stranger. And he scarcely said a word himself, when her name came up. He only seemed to expect Mother to say something.

Mother managed beautifully,—so much better than I could. She didn't blush or look conscious, but she spoke of Miss Conway as a friend of Mrs. Romilly's and of ours too. We found that he had once seen Mrs. Romilly for five minutes,—he didn't say where or when,—and that he thought her "a beautiful woman." I am sure I don't think her so. But then Miss Conway does; and to my surprise Mother said so. And I had to slide my chair back, for fear Captain Lenox should see what I was thinking.

He didn't look the least conscious, but asked if we had a photograph of Mrs. Romilly. Mother opened my book, which was on the little table close at hand, and showed him all the likenesses of the Romillys that I have. And presently I heard Mother say—

"That is Miss Conway, whom we mentioned just now."

He certainly did look at that photo longer than at any of the rest; and he made one remark—

"Rather a fine face."

"Very good-looking," Mother said; and I could not help exclaiming—

"Oh, Miss Conway is much more really beautiful than Mrs. Romilly!"

Captain Lenox said, "Ah!" and gave a little pull to each side of his moustache, as if it wanted arranging.

"That may be a matter of opinion," Mother said, and I saw him making believe to examine the photo of Nellie on the opposite page, and giving little glances at Miss Con every other moment.

"Taken recently, I suppose," he said, as if it didn't signify at all, only he had to say something.

"Not Nellie Romilly," Mother answered. "I believe Miss Conway was taken some months ago,—before she came to Glynde."

Captain Lenox shut the album, and put it aside. Then he and Mother talked about all sorts of things for half-an-hour. I do think he must be a really and truly good man,—if only one could be quite sure that he has treated Miss Conway rightly. But that is the puzzle!

August 18. Tuesday.—A letter from Maggie to-day. She says they find that Lady Denham and Sir Keith have taken rooms in a farm-house, quite near Beckdale House.

Then that must be where Captain Lenox is going!

Does Captain Lenox know? And does Miss Con know? And would either of them care?

Maggie doesn't write a word about Captain Lenox. She only speaks of the Denhams: and she seems to be in such a state of excitement about Sir Keith and his mother going. How odd Maggie is!

Miss Pursey said last week to me that everybody in Glynde expected Sir Keith to marry Nellie some day. And she seemed to think that he only had to ask Nellie, and Nellie would be sure to say "Yes." That vexed me; and besides I don't believe there is the least chance of such a thing.

Of course if it were for Nellie's happiness, I should be very glad,—only not for my own sake. For if she had a husband, I could not write to her comfortably about everything, as I do now. I should always fancy him peeping over her shoulder at my letters while she read them. Still I would not be so selfish as to think of that: only I don't believe Nellie admires Sir Keith particularly.

Mother says we must be very careful not to make mischief about Captain Lenox going to Yorkshire. So we do not mean to whisper one word about it to anybody, least of all to any of the Romillys.

Part of Maggie's letter is filled up with particulars of a new story she has in hand. She says she has "written to two well-known authoresses," asking them how she is to get it into print.

I don't quite see what the authoresses are to do. If the story is worth printing, some publisher would be almost sure to take it: and if not, the authoresses can't make it so. But perhaps they might give her some useful hints.




August 15. Saturday.       

WE glide on from day to day, hardly aware, perhaps, how time is flitting. Better accounts of Mrs. Romilly reach us, but no word is spoken of Mr. Romilly's return to England.

The holidays once over, I think life may become easier. At present it is not easy. Often when I get up in the morning the weight of the hours ahead seems almost more than I can bear. Perhaps the strain of responsibility has somewhat told upon me lately.

I do not think I am fanciful, or disposed to the foolish magnifying of small affronts. But one cannot entirely shut one's eyes to what lies just ahead.

The constant and fretting opposition has increased steadily. Whatever I suggest, the conclave, headed by Miss Millington, at once resist. Whatever I arrange, the conclave, headed by Miss Millington, at once turn into a grievance.

So far as possible, I appeal to Maggie for her wishes before deciding on any plan: and Maggie of course appeals to "Millie." By this means, I have managed so far to avoid any serious struggles. Yet I sometimes wonder if I am acting quite wisely,—if I am not tacitly yielding to Miss Millington a power which she ought not to possess, and which she may sooner or later misuse.

If Lady Denham were not probably coming soon to Beckdale, I think I should appeal to her for advice. Yet it would be very difficult to put my perplexities into writing; and I am anxious not to take any hasty step.

The girls are talking of a walk to Gurglepool early next week. It has been chilly, with frequent rain for some days, and Maggie has had a cold: otherwise they would have gone sooner. I have fully determined that when they go, I go too. I have a certain dread of the place for them: probably a nervous and unnecessary dread; and of course they wish to see it.

Elfie has been poorly again: and I am still mystified at the change in her. She looks wretched,—pale, peaked, plain; all prettiness and animation gone: her moods being variable, but almost always fretful, and her fancies quite unmanageable. She persistently turns from me to "Millie." Thyrza is my one comfort.

By-the-bye, I have not mentioned our Church, which is between two and three miles off. The services are forlorn and sleepy: just in the style of sixty years ago: and the sermons wind lengthily round and round in hazy circles. When I go, I cannot help thinking of Sir Keith's words, the first time I saw him, about the needed help being "always there," if one is willing. Yes: I am sure he is right. But I do feel very thankful for the different spiritual food provided for us in Glynde,—even though the heavier responsibility is involved.

August 17. Monday.—This morning, when the post came in, Maggie cried, "Oh! Two letters from strangers. I do believe it is both of them at once!"

There was a small burst of excitement and wonder the girls crowding round Maggie. She read aloud the first brief epistle, with an animation which paled visibly towards the close. Thyrza and I kept our seats, but nobody else did.

The letter was so tersely expressed, that it has remained word for word on my mind.

   "MY DEAR YOUNG LADY,—You are most welcome to such advice as I can give you. My advice is,—Don't write till you can't help it! Never write merely for the sake of writing! When you have something to say which will be said, then say it in your best possible mode, and see if anybody counts it to be worth publishing. Till then, be a good girl, and mend your stockings. Yours truly—


"How stupid! She can't be at all a nice old lady," said Nona. "And a friend of yours, Millie!!" The reproachful intonation is not to be described.

Millie hastened to disavow the friendship. She had met Mrs. Smith once, she said, and had thought her a kind old lady, only peculiar of course,—all authoresses being peculiar. This, with a side-glance at me; for "Millie" does not like Gladys Hepburn, and she knows that I do. I must honestly confess that Gladys does not like Miss Millington, and shows the same unequivocally in her manner.

"Yes, she must be peculiar," asserted Maggie, catching at the offered straw. "It is such a very odd letter,—really almost rude. I shall never write to ask her advice again."

Then, the second envelope being opened, Maggie read aloud again. The letter was longer, and I cannot recall it precisely: but it was very nearly as follows:

   "DEAR MADAM,—I can scarcely offer to give an opinion about your writing, unless I see a specimen. If you like to send me a few pages, I will tell you honestly what I think. That is all I can do: and my opinion need not settle the matter for you finally. You may have enough of the gift to be worth cultivating: and if so, I may be able to give you two or three suggestions as to the cultivation needed. From the style of your letter, I should judge that you are very young: and that a considerable amount of preparation would be needed, before you could enter the lists of authorship, with the least hope of success.

   "Choose one dozen or twenty MS. pages of your best, as a fair specimen.—I am, yours truly—


Maggie did not quite know what to make of this. She read it aloud a second time, commenting on each sentence, and evidently agreeing with Denham in his estimate of successful authoresses as "very odd customers!" But on the whole gratification won the day. For Miss Graham had not seen Maggie's last half-finished story. That was a consoling thought. When she had, it would of course make all the difference. She only wrote now to Maggie as she might write to—anybody!

"Do you mean to stop writing, if Miss Graham tells you?" demanded Thyrza.

Maggie looked astonished. "No. Why should I?" she asked.

"I don't know. It doesn't seem much use to ask for advice, unless you mean to follow it."

"I didn't ask her if I ought to write. I asked her what was the best way of getting into print."

If more were needed, Nona's remark supplied it:

"And of course, if she is a nice person, she'll tell you how, Maggie dear."

August 18. Tuesday.—This evening, after supper, I found that an excursion to Gurglepool was planned for to-morrow. Thyrza alluded to it, in evident unconsciousness that the matter had been concealed from me; and Maggie then explained. The party would walk, not drive, starting directly after lunch. Elfie, not being well enough for the fatigue, would of course stay behind under my guardianship: and Thyrza, having been before, could act as guide to the rest. Mr. Stockmoor had explained to Denham all about the short-cut over the hills.

I wished that I had told Thyrza my intentions about Gurglepool. Had she known them, she would have refused to join in any such scheme, without reference to me first.

For a moment the temptation to yield was strong. I knew that any interference with the plans of Maggie and Millie would be a dire grievance. Yet I could not shirk my own responsibilities.

"I am very sorry, Maggie," I said, when she had done; "but things cannot, I am afraid, be exactly as you wish. If you go to Gurglepool to-morrow, I must go too."

"Why?" was asked all round, in astonished accents.

"Because I do not think it is a very safe place; and I wish to be with you—at all events, the first time."

Maggie and Miss Millington exchanged glances. "Elfie can't walk so far," Nona burst out.

"No," I said. "I must ask Thyrza to stay behind in my stead: or else the excursion must be deferred."

"What nonsense!" I heard this distinctly in Miss Millington's murmur.

"Yes,—of course I will," assented Thyrza at once, though she could not quite suppress a look of disappointment.

"But we want Thyrza with us," said Maggie. "And Millie will be there. You don't suppose Millie can't take proper care of the children, Miss Con!" Her pretty grey eyes sparkled and met mine defiantly, and the peach-bloom deepened.

"No, Maggie," I said. "I am not questioning Miss Millington's powers. It is for my own satisfaction that I must go. I am answerable to your father."

"Not more than Millie is."

Maggie tossed her head as she spoke. The childishness of the utterance struck me oddly.

"Yea, certainly more," I replied. "Miss Millington has no responsibility about you older girls. You cannot have forgotten your father's words at the station, Maggie. I don't question the fact that you might all walk to Gurglepool a dozen times, and come home safely. But I have made up my mind that, as a matter of duty, I must the first time be one of the party. It is not for my own pleasure, and I am most sorry to disappoint Thyrza: still I have to do what I believe to be right."

Thyrza warmly assured me that she did not mind at all: she and Elfie would be perfectly happy together. The other girls drew in a knot round Miss Millington whispering. I have noted lately the growth of this schoolgirlish habit, and also I have seen Miss Millington encouraging it.

I could not hear what was said, and I did not try. Occasional bursts of laughter sounded, with more whispers between. Thyrza looked annoyed and quitted the room. I saw glances now and then levelled in my direction, and presently there was a distinct utterance—

"Captain Lenox!"

I paid no regard to the sound, working steadily. Indignation had to wait. Every faculty was bent to the task of keeping myself cool and unembarrassed.

The words came again more clearly:

"Captain Lenox!"

Still my needle went in and out; and Nona said aloud, pertly—

"Millie says you know him, Miss Con."

"Whom?" I asked.

"Captain Lenox."

"I have known a Captain Lenox," I said, looking up. "It may or may not be the same."

Another whisper, and—"Don't tell!" reached me.

"Captain Lenox who used to be at Bath," Miss Millington said, her eyes fixed upon me.

"That would probably be my acquaintance," I answered. "Have you heard anything of him?"

"Yes,—something," she said pointedly enough; and Maggie giggled.

I put down my work, and threaded my needle with a steady hand,—wondering at myself. It flashed across me in that moment how little my dear Mrs. Romilly, if she knew what Miss Millington really is, would approve of such a companionship for her girls.

"Millie knows somebody in Bath too," Nona remarked. "And she has written to Millie about Captain Lenox."

"Very likely," I answered. "Bath is a large place."

Whispers again. I thought I heard—"Carries it off well! But you know how she looked at—"

This was in Miss Millington's voice. Nona's followed; and I said gravely—

"Nona, I don't know what you and Maggie think, but I am very sure that your mother would not approve of such conduct. Whispering before others is a most unladylike trick. If you have secrets to discuss, you should either go into the dining-room, or ask me to leave you alone."

"Is that meant for me, Miss Conway?" demanded Miss Millington, with a furious flare-up. "Come, girls! We will go!"

And I was left alone, feeling strangely bruised and stunned. Was I right to speak so to Nona just then? Was it wise or unwise? I cannot judge yet. I am writing to-night, because sleep seems impossible: and now I am too tired to write more. How I could love those girls, if they would let me! But they will not. And "Millie" is the hindrance.

Things cannot go on so much longer. Sometimes I feel as if I must write fully to Nellie. Ought I to speak first to Miss Millington? Would she hear me? And what if I was betrayed into saying what I should afterward regret?

August 19. Wednesday.—The excursion to Gurglepool has been put off till to-morrow. We actually made the start to-day, and were turned back by rain.

I saw almost nothing of the girls all the morning,—except Thyrza, who is really distressed at Maggie's manner to me, though she does not know what passed yesterday evening, after she left the drawing-room.

Lunch over, I had to be quick if I would not be left behind. I foresaw small pleasantness in my self-imposed trip. Miss Millington was barely civil, and Maggie would scarcely answer when I spoke. Nona and the little ones, of course, followed suit.

So we started,—I, left to walk apart;—Denham rushing hither and thither; Maggie and Nona each hanging affectionately to one of "Millie's" arms, and the little ones keeping close to them, declining to approach me.

The first part of our way lay along the main road, going up the valley. I noted the gathering clouds, and made up my mind privately that we were in for heavy rain. But I said nothing. Others would see for themselves in time.

As we neared the Stockmoors' farm-house, I was somewhat in advance of the rest. Denham had climbed a bank for a flower, and the five stopped short,—perhaps to watch him, perhaps to note something else.

For I glanced back, and saw them gazing towards the whitewashed farm-house which lay close ahead. Involuntarily I looked in the same direction.

A young man was coming through the garden-gate; —a small gate, leading from the tiny flower-garden.

What first struck me was a certain familiarity in his figure and attitude,—the slight lithe figure, the soldierly bearing, the grace, ease, and promptitude with which he swung open the gate and stepped out upon the road.

In a moment I was face to face with Arthur Lenox!

If it had been anywhere else—if I had been behind the others instead of before,—if I had not been conscious of one dozen curious eyes close at hand,—most of all, if I could have had the least assurance that Arthur cares for me still,—I think I must have given some little word or look of welcome, which might perhaps have led to more!

But as things were, it was impossible! How could I, knowing that Miss Millington stood there? How could I, knowing what Miss Millington has seen of my secret thoughts?—If she did see it, which I can never really doubt. How could I, feeling all the while that Arthur Lenox may have utterly changed, may have given up even the wish to meet me again? No; I knew then, and I know still, that I had no choice.

His eyes met mine, and he lifted his hat. He did not change colour or seem startled: and that looks as if he had indeed got over it. And I—I thought for the moment that my heart must die within me, yet I did not even turn pale. The need to keep up was too desperate. And I know that I managed well: perhaps, alas! Too well, if he could care still. For now indeed he must count the matter hopeless.

I bowed coldly,—not in too icy a fashion, which might have been taken for restrained feeling, but with a quiet indifference, as to the most ordinary acquaintance.

Then I felt that, in the natural course of events, acquaintances meeting on such a spot, would certainly exchange a few words. I did not offer my hand, but I paused, and said something about "not expecting to meet Captain Lenox so far out of the world!"

"Odd encounters do take place sometimes," he answered in a manner freezingly polite. "I hope you are well."

"Thanks, quite," I replied. "Are you staying long at the farm?"

"A day or two, perhaps. No, not long. I came here to escape from crowds."

"Then we must not break in on your solitude," I said, slightly smiling. And I would have turned away with another bow, when, to my astonishment, up marched Maggie.

"Miss Con, is it Captain Lenox? Millie heard from her friend that he was coming. And she would like to be introduced."

This very unconventional and schoolgirlish address must have surprised Arthur Lenox even more than it surprised me. But he turned instantly to Maggie, lifting his hat again,—and I could not but see that he was struck. I know his face so well: and the momentary gleam of admiration gave me a keen pain. Yet I could not wonder at it. Maggie was looking her best;—the fresh roseate bloom heightened by walking; the grey eyes sweet and sparkling, half disposed to droop shyly under the curved black lashes.

"Captain Lenox,—Miss Romilly," I said coldly: and as Miss Millington approached, I named her also. Then, as Maggie fell back a pace, and "Millie" seemed disposed to get into a talk about the Bath friend, I added, "We are delaying Captain Lenox: and I do not think we have any time to lose."

Arthur Lenox made at once a responsive movement, not sorry, I thought, to escape from Miss Millington, though his eyes went again towards Maggie with evident interest. I gave him my hand as we said good-bye, distantly enough: and Maggie, with a cordial air, followed suit, actually inviting him to "afternoon tea at Beckdale House any day while he was at the farm." He thanked her, half excused himself, and went off at a rapid pace in the opposite direction to ourselves.

"That was hardly needful, Maggie," I said.

"Why? The Denhams know him. And he is your friend," said Maggie.

"The question for you is what your mother would wish," I said coldly. "My acquaintances are not necessarily always yours. If Mr. Romilly were here it would, of course, be different."

"Well,—I only know he is the handsomest man I ever saw in my life," declared Maggie.

I thought it best to let the matter drop. We went on pretty steadily until heavy rain turned us back, enforcing postponement of the Gurglepool excursion.

To-night, I am terribly weary and overstrained with to-day's encounter: and so hopeless. For this has indeed been destroying the bridge behind me.




Written at intervals.       

THE excursion to Gurglepool took place on Thursday, August 20. I have much to say which I must jot down gradually.

We had bright sunshine. I think I should have been glad of rain to keep us at home. For the whole morning I was haunted by the thought that Arthur Lenox might after all respond to Maggie's invitation, and look in at tea-time. Though not likely, it was not impossible. And I should be absent!

Yet my duty remained the same. If going was an "ought" the day before, it had not changed. I did feel sorely tempted to wish that I had not arranged to be of the party, or that some excuse were even yet possible. But conscience would not consent; neither would pride. I cannot tell which was the stronger.

Till lunch I stayed indoors, having a good deal to do. At lunch Maggie remarked—

"We've seen Captain Lenox again!"

"Have you?" asked Thyrza, who for some reason had not accompanied Maggie and Miss Millington. I think she and Nona had enjoyed an independent scramble with Denham.

"Yes,—we met him. And he and Millie had quite a talk together,—quite confidential, wasn't it, Millie dear?" Both laughed. "He could have come in to tea to-day, only we shan't be at home, so it would be no use. He means to go away to-morrow morning,—no, I think he said he should start this evening. But next time he visits the Denhams, he hopes to make father's acquaintance."

"Yes; I thought him rather smitten," murmured Miss Millington, whereat Maggie blushed.

The folly of this! As if girls of Maggie's type had not nonsense enough in their heads, without its being helped on. Hardly anything could have been in worse taste. If Mrs. Romilly knew!—with her refined delicacy of feeling!

But what could I do? Too well I divined at whom the shaft was levelled; and too keenly I realised what mischief Miss Millington's tongue might have done to me in one short interview. But I was defenceless. I could do nothing: and while my heart cried out bitterly against her, I was outwardly calm.

Luncheon over, we started, though not without a good deal of delay. It was a lovely ramble. How I could have enjoyed the fair surroundings of dale and mountain, under different circumstances!

The walk proved longer than we expected: quite four miles I should judge. Probably Denham missed the shortest route. We were all glad, on reaching the wild little valley, to throw ourselves down for a good rest; and most of our party were hungry enough to do good justice to the substantial Yorkshire tea-cakes which we had brought with us, to be eaten as buns.

Things had gone more smoothly thus far than I had feared. Part of the way thither Denham had walked beside me, chatting; and Maggie seemed good-humoured. I hoped that the extreme offence at my line of action was lessening.

When scrambling explorations began, after our rest, I submitted to be left in the rear. It would not do to seem suspicious or distrustful: and I could not, of course, keep my eyes upon all of them the whole time. Miss Millington was not likely to neglect the little ones; and the elder girls knew me to be at hand, if any difficulty arose. I was fain to be content with so much: and when they all rushed gaily off, I made no attempt to follow.

Thereafter I had time enough for quiet thought,—more time perhaps than was good for me. Shouts of laughter sounded faintly at intervals, from one direction or another; and sometimes I caught a glimpse of a flitting figure among the trees.

"Millie" was one of the merry party, but I was left alone. The feeling of being shunned by those whom one loves, or could and would love, is very painful.

I sat long near the lesser hole, disinclined for needless exertion: and then strayed slowly towards Gurglepool. Whatever spot I chose to be in was studiously avoided by the rest.

Some two hours must have passed in this fashion, and I knew that we ought soon to start for home. Our walk and subsequent rest had occupied long time, and days late in August are shorter than at midsummer.

With a good deal of difficulty I contrived to waylay Popsie, as she was rushing down a path. She sprang aside, as if to escape, the moment her eyes caught sight of me: but she obeyed my command to "stop;" and I said, "Tell Maggie I want to speak to her, Popsie. We ought soon to leave."

Popsie said "Yes," and flew away.

A long interval followed: and Maggie did not come. It was evident to me that some preconcerted plan for making me repent my presence there was being acted out. I blamed myself for being sure that Miss Millington was to blame for this; yet I was sure. I sat waiting, alone and lonely. It would never do for me to go in chase of Maggie: but I made up my mind to speak to her seriously next day.

To my relief Denham dashed up. "Can't find Nona!" he said. I could not make out from his face whether he were in fun or in earnest.

"When did you see her last?" I inquired.

"Oh, lots of time since. We're having a game of hide-and-seek, and she's tucked herself away somewhere."

"You had better find her quickly, for it is time to start for home," I said.

He dashed off again, and I heard his voice shouting, "Nona! Nona! No—na!" all through the valley. I followed, and presently came upon him, with Maggie, the children, and Miss Millington, seeming to hold a consultation.

"Have you not found Nona yet?" I asked.

"No!" came in chorus.

"I sent a message by Popsie that I wished to speak to you, Maggie, about going home," I observed. "But of course, we cannot leave till Nona is found."

"Of course!" echoed the chorus.

I saw a disposition to laugh on Pet's face.

"And none of you knows where she is?" I put the question gravely, looking at each in quick succession.

Maggie reddened, and a glance passed between her and Miss Millington. All, however, joined in one emphatic and half-angry denial.

"Then there is nothing to be done but to search again," I said. "Nona is very wrong to remain away so long. Where did any one see her last?"

Accounts agreed here. She had been observed standing near the lesser hole. Denham further declared that he didn't see how she could have got away from the trees in its neighbourhood, unnoticed: and I saw that he either imagined, or wished me to imagine, the possibility that she had fallen in. I did not believe he would view the idea so quietly, if he really believed it; and I counted Nona too competent a climber as well as too sensible a girl to do anything so foolish.

However, we all trooped thither, and peered over the edge into the blackness below. Denham shouted Nona's name vigorously: and I was conscious of an odd sense of unreality, almost inclining me to laugh.

"If she slipped over at all, she'd roll miles!" Denham declared.

"Hardly," I said. "But really, Denham, this is rather absurd."

"Why, that's the very thing you were afraid we should do!" cried Maggie.

"I don't think we must wait to discuss that now," I said. "If we do not start at once, it will be dark before we reach home."

"Well, then, I say we'd better have another jolly good hunt," exclaimed Denham. "And we'll all go off in different directions,—except that Maggie can take Pet, and Millie can take Popsie. Mind you all scour the place well. If that doesn't do, we shall just have to get a man and a rope, and somebody must go down the hole."

They scattered again, and once more I was alone. I felt anxious, though more than half believing that Nona had played us some trick, and that the others either knew or suspected the same. The sky had clouded over, and the little wood began to look somewhat dull and shady. As I wandered about, searching and calling, a dread came over me,—suppose something had happened to Nona! How terrible it would be!

The others did not return. I was struck with the cessation of their voices. Denham's shouts had died away in the distance. I hoped none of the searchers would manage to lose themselves.

I stood still to listen, and the absolute silence was oppressive. Scarcely a leaf fluttered.

Could they have found Nona, and gone home without me?

This question did just occur to my mind, but I dismissed it at once. I would not for a moment suspect Maggie or even Miss Millington of such conduct, knowing as I knew they must know what my suspense would be.

Then I thought that nobody had been for a good while to Gurglepool; and I remembered the woman in the cottage at the end of the little valley. Why not appeal to her? She was acquainted with the place, and might give us advice.

I went quickly first to Gurglepool, and stood on the edge of the huge circular hole. The bottom, sixty or seventy feet below, was almost lost in evening gloom. At first I could see nothing; but gradually outlines grew a little more distinct.

Something lying on the steep pathway, half-a-dozen yards beneath where I stood, drew my attention. I could not make it out: and the descent was scarcely a tempting one, in lessening light and loneliness. I laid a hand on the rail, however, and went a few steps carefully, till I could pick up the thing.

It was Nona's silk scarf.

Somehow I had not thought of Gurglepool, so much as of the lesser hole with its mysterious black depths. Gurglepool lay more open to observation. If she had chosen to descend the path, she would have had no means of hiding herself below, while daylight lasted.

Here seemed to be evidence that she had descended it, however, and recently too. For if the scarf had been there not much more than half-an-hour earlier, I must surely have seen it.

Could she be below still?

I spoke her name, called it, and had no answer. Gazing fixedly, till my eyes ached, I fancied I could detect something close to the pool-edge,—something like a human body lying prone. I believe one may look and imagine in dim light, till one can see almost anything. I thought at last that I could detect the very attitude, the pose of the helpless limbs, the white face upturned.

Nothing of course remained to me but to go straight down. The others might wonder where I was; but I could not delay.

The path was slimy and slippery from the heavy rain of the day before, much worse than on my former visit. I meant to descend cautiously. I suppose I was tired out, unnerved, overstrained, and the thought of Nona lying there made my limbs tremble.

About three-quarters of the way to the bottom, when I had just loosened my grasp of the hand-rail to pull up my skirt,—I slipped, and could not recover myself.

It was a long moment's horror,—a helpless sliding quick descent, faster and faster. I thought I should shoot into the dark deep pool, and sink,—sucked downward into the underground river coursing through. And in that instant, I wondered if Arthur Lenox would care.

Then I had arrived at the bottom,—not in the water, but on its muddy margin, just where I had supposed Nona to be. No figure was there, only a large whitish stone which had dropped from the rocky wall. I came down kneeling upon this stone, my whole weight thrown almost entirely upon the right knee; and with the impetus of my descent I rebounded nearly a yard, rolling over on my side.

I have a distinct recollection of so much. Then I think I must have lain stunned for half-a-minute. My first clear thought was of thankfulness at having escaped the black deep water, so awfully close.

"Not yet death!" flashed through my mind; and I said aloud, "How foolish I have been!"

Next I had a sense that I was very much hurt somewhere; but I thought I would get up; and when I tried to move an inch, the pain in my knee was so fearful, that I was obliged to desist at once.

I do not fancy I made any sound, for screaming is not at all in my line; but I did feel dismayed. The position was not an enviable one. I hoped that the pain might lessen soon; but it did not.

Then I recollected that I must try to make known where I was: and I called repeatedly—"Maggie!" "Denham!" "Help!" But there was no response. Indeed, I scarcely expected any. Even if the rest of my party had not already gone home without me,—and I began to feel sure that this must be the true state of the case,—they would content themselves easily with the conjecture that I might have started first alone, and would not search far. The woman in the cottage had very likely retired with her family for the night. Unless a passer-by came near the edge of Gurglepool, my voice from the depth would be unheard; and stray passers-by, on such a spot and at such an hour, were in the highest degree improbable.

I tried again to rise: but in vain. I tried to drag myself, crawling, to the path, only a yard or two off, but I could not. The least motion gave intolerable agony.

Darkness seemed to be coming all at once, in a rush. Outside Gurglepool, no doubt, it was pleasant twilight still; but I lay in black shadow; the straight rocky sides rising steeply for sixty feet or more, all around, in a circle broken only by the path. Small bushes sprouted out here and there from some tiny ledge; and overhead was a circular grey sky. That was all I could see. Dim light above, under the grey sky-roof; no light below. I could just make out the surface of the still water, near to my side. No sound or stir of life was to be heard.

It was strangely solemn to be there, all alone; fir from any human being; clear and calm in mind; but unable to stir.

While I kept absolutely still, the pain was so far bearable, that I could think. But the more I thought, the more I saw that I could do nothing, except endure passively until help should come. To climb the path was physically impossible.

Help of course would come in time:—but when?


It was strangely solemn to be there all alone.

That was the question. If the rest of the party had started without me, they would not expect me to arrive till perhaps an hour after themselves: and then they would wait before doing anything practical. I knew how indignant and grieved Thyrza would be, at the mere thought of my having been left behind alone. Perhaps she would see Mr. Stockmoor: or send some one to meet me. By that time, however, I scarcely saw what she or anybody could do. The walk over the hills in darkness would be no easy matter: and how could they guess where I might be found?

I saw all this very plainly, and it did seem that I should almost certainly have to remain where I was until the morning. The marvel to me now is that I could view the prospect so quietly. I do not think it was stupefaction. I only felt that Christ my Master was with me—absolutely and actually present—whatever might happen: that He would never forsake His own. And four little simple lines kept running in my head:

"His Arm is beneath me,
    His Eye is above:
 His Spirit within me
    Says—'Rest in My love.'"

It seemed at last a certainty that the trick, of which I had not liked to suspect the others, had really been planned. Otherwise I must surely have heard their voices calling my name, when they returned from the search.

"Poor children! How silly of them!" I thought. For I knew that in punishing me, they would—as is so often the case—have punished themselves. And then I reverted to Thyrza, and I did grieve to picture her trouble.

Suppose she went to the Farm, and told Mr. Stockmoor! And suppose—suppose Arthur Lenox were there still! Would he come in search of the missing governess? I felt that anything I might have to endure would be worth such a consummation.

The sound of a slow drop—drop—drop on the pool-surface was followed by big splashes upon my face. Rain came fast; no soft shower, but a pelting sheet of water, hissing down the muddy pathway. Ascent would be worse than ever after this. I should have been thankful for my waterproof cloak, lying far above on the edge. In five minutes my clothes were soaked.

Blacker and blacker grew the sky, heavier and heavier the rain. It was one of Nature's shower-baths. I was soon thoroughly chilled and shivering, less able to bear up. I remember the thought occurring, "Even if I live till daylight, this may mean fatal illness,—may mean the worst!" And then the question, "Would it be 'the worst' to me?" And a murmured, "Even so, my Father,—if so it should seem good in Thy sight."

How long a time passed thus I cannot tell, for I could not see the face of my watch. Every two or three minutes I still called forlornly for aid, though I felt the effort to be almost useless.

After what must have been a considerable while, I tried to change my position. In so doing, I put out one hand, perhaps a foot off,—not on the bank, as I expected, for it splashed into water.

Then—the pool was rising!

At once I understood. The woman had explained to me how these waters did rise in heavy rain, slowly mounting up and up, towards the mouth of the hole, curdling fiercely round like water in a saucepan vehemently stirred, and finally "boiling" over on the grass outside.

I think I must have been getting at last a little stupefied with pain and cold; for I kept picturing this to myself, in a dreamy fashion, wondering if the waters would carry me up as they rose, and would whirl me round in eddying circles, till finally I was cast out upon the grassy slope.

Or I might instead be sucked downwards, drawn into the quiet river below, carried through dark underground passages, and perhaps, a mile or two farther on, be washed out through holes into light of day, just where the hidden river bubbles up once more upon its stony bed, as I had seen it when driving past in the dog-cart.

Maggie would be the one to be pitied,—poor Maggie! I felt such intense compassion for her. I thought of Eustace, and of Keith's death. It did seem strange, if something akin to that were to happen again in the family. Not the same, yet so far alike that Maggie would certainly be blamed for my death. People would say, "How terrible for Maggie! Such a result from one little bout of girlish temper and silliness!" But would that be true? Was it not rather the end of a long downsliding on Maggie's part: a persistent yielding to ill temper and perversity?

I think I wanted to live most of all for Maggie's sake. It seemed to me that my death just then would throw such a shadow over her life.

Of Miss Millington I thought little, and this now seems to me singular. Maggie's face haunted me. I kept seeing the rounded peach-bloom cheeks, and the sweet half-shy grey eyes, just as I had seen them when she stepped forward to speak to Arthur Lenox. And, strange to say, the face grew more dear, just because he had looked upon it admiringly.

Until those lonely hours in Gurglepool hollow, I never dreamt how I loved Maggie, despite all her coldness. I can recall saying, with quite a gleam of joy, "If I get through this, I shall be able now to write to my friend as she wishes, about her darling."

The downpour continued, and the pool still rose. I could feel the water creeping, creeping, like a snake of ice about my feet.

I found myself wondering what the process of drowning would be like. Should I just fade away into a peaceful unconsciousness, or would there be struggling and oppression? Two or three descriptions which I had read came to me, written by some who had gone through the actual experience, so far as all loss of sense. "Not worse in any case than what many have to bear in their own beds," I thought.

And—"When thou passest through the waters I will be with thee!" was as if whispered to my mind.

"Why, I am passing through them now," I said aloud.

Yet how far I realised danger, I do not know. For in the midst of all this, I tried to reckon how many hours must pass before I could hope to be rescued. Then I wondered again whether—perhaps—Arthur Lenox might come. And I seemed to see him and Maggie wandering together, out of my reach.

Consciousness must have been a little vague at times. Somehow it did not occur to me to try again to move. I had quite ceased to call for help, and the very wish to be saved faded gradually away. I hardly even observed that by-and-bye the rain came to an end, and the pool was no longer rising. All this must have taken much time: how much I cannot tell.

There were cries at last,—shouts,—and I saw lanterns above, gleaming through the darkness. I tried to call, but could not, for my voice seemed gone; and I thought, "It does not matter; they will find my cloak;" which indeed came to pass.

Then I knew that somebody was descending the path, followed by somebody else. I have been told since that I was lying half in water, and my remembrance of the exclamations around confirms this.

Some one drew me back gently,—so gently, that I believed it must be Arthur. I did not say his name, but I managed to look up, and I saw—not Captain Lenox, but Sir Keith Denham.

For a moment, I could hardly believe that it was Sir Keith,—his face was so stern and grieved and pale. I felt no surprise at seeing him. There was one sharp stab of disappointment; and then all other thoughts were lost in the pain of being moved.

I shall never forget the ascent of that path; though indeed it was managed beautifully. Two other men helped Sir Keith and Mr. Stockmoor; and sometimes one or another slipped. They could not help it; but the least jar was terrible to me; and I did not lose sense for a moment.

Then followed the long long drive in the waggonette, with its ceaseless jolting. Thyrza was there, and she held me in her dear arms all the while, tears often running down her cheeks. I cannot remember my first sight of Thyrza. They say that she was on the edge of Gurglepool, and that almost the only words I spoke were just these, "I am so sorry for poor Maggie." The remark would be natural enough; but I can remember little of anything, beyond the pain, and Thyrza's distress, and Sir Keith's stern gentleness.

We reached home at last, and faces and voices came round. The sound of Maggie's sobbing went to my heart, and I believe I burst into tears then for the first time. They kept her away from me.

In the early morning, a doctor from Beckbergh arrived. I had thought the pain in my knee all night as much as I could possibly endure: but I had to bear worse from his hands. It was not a case of broken bones, but of severe dislocation, with terrible bruises and swelling. At first he feared permanent injury to the bone. That fear, I am thankful to say, is now going off. He told me everything depended on absolute rest and stillness for the limb; and indeed I have done my best to be quiet, though it was not easy.

For three weeks, only Lady Denham and Thyrza and Rouse were allowed in my room. During some days I had a sharp touch of rheumatic fever, from lying so long in wet clothes. Things are much better now, and I have permission to amuse myself by writing a little at times: so when alone with Thyrza, I ask for my journal. The knee has still to be kept motionless. But my doctor speaks of the improvement in it as astonishingly rapid.

"Thanks, partly, to your being so good a patient," he says.

It was strange that Lady Denham and Sir Keith should have unexpectedly arrived at the Farm that very afternoon. Captain Lenox had left only one hour earlier, walking off with his carpet-bag, and telling nobody where he meant to go. Sometimes I do long to know what passed between him and Miss Millington,—but of course I shall never hear.

Friday. September 18.—Having written the above, piecemeal, up to this day, I hope to resume my more regular journalising.

It is now over four weeks since the accident. Maggie and the twins come in daily to see me: but they are all three more or less constrained and uncomfortable. Nona chatters. Elfie looks pinched and forlorn. Maggie seems at a loss what to say or do. I have seen none of them alone, and scarcely an allusion has been made to the real cause of my illness. I think it best to wait; not to try to force any expressions of regret. There is unhappily an adverse influence.

Miss Millington has not been near me yet. I am told that she says, "It is kinder not to crowd the room."




Tuesday. September 15.       

   DEAR MISS ROMILLY,—I am sorry that I could not write sooner about your MS., but work has been pressing.

   I think I warned you in my last letter that if you would have an opinion from me as to your powers, it must be an honest opinion. That does not at all mean that what I say must finally settle the question for you. I may take a different view of the matter from somebody else; and I may be mistaken. But what I think I must say. It would be no kindness to lure you on with false promises, contrary to my real expectation.

   You have sent me a good deal more than the few pages for which I asked. I have waited till I could look carefully through the whole: though twenty pages would have been enough.

   The first question is respecting this particular MS., and I can unhesitatingly advise you not to offer it to any publisher: for no publisher will undertake to bring it out. There is a want of plot, a want of style, a want of care and finish, a want of force and interest, from beginning to end, which must tell fatally against it.

   It is astonishing how few young people—or people of any age—have any clear idea of what is required in writing for the press. They have a vague impression that the best writers can "dash off" a thing effectively in a hurry, when required; therefore, they suppose, all that a young and unpractised hand has to do is to sit down when the fancy seizes him or her, scribble recklessly whatever comes into his or her head, and be sublimely sure that "anything will do" for a much-enduring public.

   I do not deny that many experienced writers can "dash off" a thing well, or that the most rapid writing is often the best. But the rush of sudden power is generally the outcome of hard thinking, often of hard struggling up to it. I am not certain whether you will understand what I mean; and if not, further words will scarcely make my meaning clear. Of course there have been instances of hasty and brilliant hits from unpractised hands. These, however, are so rare that ordinary mortals—perhaps I should say ordinary would-be authors—have no business to count on any such possibility. In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, to say the least, success presupposes hard work.

   I have noted in pencil on your MS. a few of the more egregious errors in style and grammar. Some of them might be corrected by careful re-writing, if the story were worth further attention: which it is not!

   Now we come to the second question,—as to your future. Is it, or is it not, worth while for you to set the vocation of literature before your mind as a distinct aim?

   I am more reluctant here to give a decisive opinion. You are young still. You may have certain latent powers which might be worth developing. Carelessly as your MS. is scribbled, I detect a certain ease of expression, rather beyond that of the ordinary run of girls. The plot is no plot: and the characters are feeble: but about the little boy there is an occasional touch of reality, which deserves commendation.

   You will not count this too encouraging, yet it is all I can honestly say: There are no such signs of marked talent, still less of any spark of genius, that I may venture to say, "Go on, and prosper."

   It is for you to decide whether you will give up literary efforts, and be content to live a simple womanly life,—that may be busy and beautiful enough, if you will,—or whether you will prepare to enter the lists.

   If you decide on the last,—mark my words!—it will not mean ease, or laziness, or self-indulgence. A successful literary career is no idle career. And the sooner you begin—not to publish, but to prepare for future publishing,—the better.

   Though you cannot write yet for the press, you must write and re-write, for practice. You must read much and steadily. You must study life and human nature. You must go through the best authors, with careful noting of the style of each. You must bind yourself to habits of regular work, and not allow your plans to be lightly broken. Authorship is business, not play: and it must be treated as business.

   It may be that your literary bent is strong enough not to be checked by all this: that you have in your heart a conviction of future success, which will nerve you to meet toil and failure undaunted until you do succeed: that you feel or believe yourself so distinctly called of God to this career, as to render it a duty for you to go straight forward.

   If so, I would not deter you. Strive your utmost: and in time you will learn whether or no you really are called to it; whether or no, any measure of the gift is really yours.

   But if you merely think it would be nice to write because a great many people write in these days; or because you want to make a little money, and authorship seems the easiest fashion of doing so,—then you had better give up the notion at once. That does not mean success.

   One word more. You need not suppose, from what I have said, that a life of authorship is all toil or all difficulties. There are grand delights in it. I can say this from my own experience. I would not willingly exchange it for any other life. But there cannot be heights without valleys: and whether you know anything of the heights must depend upon whether it is the life that God has willed for you.

   If you decide to pursue your efforts, send me a short MS. a year or two hence, and I will tell you how you are getting on.—Believe me, yours truly—



Friday. September 18.       

   DARLING NELLIE,—I promised to send you the letter from Miss Graham whenever it should come; so I suppose I must; but you won't like it any more than I do. I think it's an awfully stupid letter, and I am sure she can't be at all a nice sort of person. I wonder if writing books always makes people get so disagreeable when they are middle-aged. That is two of them, and I dare say Gladys will be just the same by-and-bye, which would be three.

   I am sure Gladys hasn't done nearly all that,—reading and studying and writing everything over and over again for years and years. Why, she just began straight off to print books the moment she wanted to. I don't mean that she hadn't done any stories before, but not in the way Miss Graham says; and I have written two stories. I don't see why I shouldn't begin to have books printed, when I like, just as Gladys has. I certainly shan't wait a whole year. And I don't mean to write to Miss Graham any more.

   Miss Con seems getting on all right, only the doctor won't let her move, except just to be put on the sofa. I wish she would make haste and get well: and then Lady Denham could go back to the Farm and leave us in peace. She is so unkind to poor dear Millie, and seems to think it is all Millie's fault and mine that Miss Con fell down Gurglepool path. And that is so unfair: for of course we couldn't guess that Miss Con would choose to tumble in such a place. Millie says it was very stupid of her,—and so I think. And Millie is sure Miss Con likes being an invalid, and having a fuss made. But you mustn't let Mother see this, because she is fond of Miss Con.

   I'm so very glad to hear such good accounts of darling Mother. It does seem almost as if the being downright ill had made her better. What does Father mean by saying that perhaps you will all come home soon? Is there really any chance of that?

   Lady Denham means to have an excursion one day soon, now Miss Con is well enough to be left. There's a big cave, miles away, which we are to see. She and Sir Keith are going, and she wants to take the twins and Thyrza and me. I do think she might squeeze poor Millie in too, but she won't. I've half a mind to stay at home, if Millie does: only I want to see the cave.—Believe me, darling, ever your loving sister—



PRIVATE September 19.       

   MY DEAR NELLIE,—I have written very short letters lately, but nursing has taken up a great deal of time. And besides—I did not want to say too much at first. I wanted to leave Maggie to tell for herself how things have really been. I think Lady Denham felt the same, from something she said one day.

   But now all these weeks have gone, and I can see quite clearly from your letters that Maggie has not told,—at least that she hasn't said much. I believe Lady Denham asked her yesterday how much she had explained things to you or Father: for I heard her make a shirking sort of answer. She has learnt that from Millie. It wasn't Maggie's way—once.

   She is writing to-day, but I don't suppose she will say much: and I think it is time for me to speak out. You at least ought to understand, for Miss Con's sake: and you may say just as much or as little as you like to anybody else.

   Isn't it good of Lady Denham to spend all these weeks in the house, and to look after everything? You should see the calm way in which she rides over Millie's fads and tantrums. I am afraid I do enjoy that. I never liked her or Sir Keith half so well as I do now.

   But about Gurglepool, and the accident,—it really was the fault of Millie and the girls,—Millie's most, because she twists Maggie round her little finger, and Maggie manages the rest. Only that doesn't set Maggie free from blame.

   They were all very much put out, because Miss Con insisted on going with them to Gurglepool the first time. She thought it safer. And they agreed among themselves to leave her as much as possible alone, while they were there, as a punishment.

   Then somebody proposed—I can't find out who, which makes me sure it was Millie,—that they should slip off, and leave her to walk home alone. Such a horrid unladylike trick! Nona was to hide, and they would have a hunt, and Miss Con was to be frightened and left to watch: and then they would all slip away, and Nona would join them outside the valley.

   It was done too: and that was how Miss Con was so hurt. She found Nona's scarf on the Gurglepool path, and fancied she saw some one lying below: and in going down, she slipped and fell. I don't think the scarf was left there on purpose.

   I was at home with Elfie, and Lady Denham and Sir Keith came in,—quite unexpectedly. They had only travelled from York that day: and they seemed very much disappointed to find Captain Lenox gone.

   Well—Millie and the rest came rushing in, all heated, as if from a race. Millie grew demure in a moment, when she saw who was there. Of course, we asked after Miss Con: and Millie said, "Oh, she's just behind!" which was not true, though perhaps Millie tried to think it was. And Maggie grew so red, I felt certain something was wrong.

   Sir Keith took the matter up at once, and insisted on knowing all: and there was no getting out of his questions.

   Maggie owned at last that it was—"only fun, but they had started first—just for fun—and of course Miss Con would find it out directly, and get home soon."

   I never knew till then how severe Sir Keith can look. One likes him the better for it: because it wasn't displeasure for himself, but for somebody else. I detest people to be always and for ever defending themselves: but defending others is quite a different thing.

   I know I shouldn't like him to look at me as he looked at Maggie. Lady Denham said outright, in her quiet way, "I am ashamed of you, Maggie!" And Sir Keith just turned away from her, with almost a kind of contempt and I heard him say to Denham—"You—a gentleman!—To leave a lady unprotected in such a place after dusk!"

   Then Sir Keith said somebody must go at once to meet Miss Con. Millie, who was tilting up her chin in her offended fashion, declared she couldn't, she was so tired: and Maggie only looked doleful and said nothing. But Denham offered at once,—I think he was so ashamed, he was glad to do anything,—and Nona and I said we would go too. And then we found that Sir Keith meant to be with us.

   We went a long way, first by the road, and then over a hill: but of course there were no signs of Miss Con. And by-and-by Denham was puzzled about the right path, when it grew dark. Sir Keith didn't know the short-cut to Gurglepool, as he had never been that way. Nona tried to guide us, but she failed too: and Sir Keith said we must turn back at once, or we should get lost ourselves, and not be able to help Miss Con.

   To make matters worse, tremendous rain came on. We were like drowned rats by the time we reached home. Maggie did look miserable then, and no wonder. Millie kept talking, talking perpetually about its being nobody's fault. The one thing in life that she does care for, is to shield her precious self from blame. I suppose I ought not to write so of her, but I cannot like Millie. She is so untrue.

   I can't think what we should have done without Sir Keith. He ordered out the waggonette, sent for Mr. Stockmoor, and arranged for two men to go over the hills with lanterns, while he and Mr. Stockmoor and I drove round by the road. It was very good of Lady Denham to let me go. She made me change my wet things, and then actually kissed me, and said, "Don't be frightened, my dear. Miss Conway has probably found shelter in a cottage." Of course that did seem likely, only one could not be sure.

   When we reached the valley, the two men joined us. They had seen nothing of Miss Con, and I began to be almost in despair, for Mr. Stockmoor seemed to think she must have wandered away and been lost on these wild hills.

   We thought it would be best to go first to the cottage, and on our way we passed close to Gurglepool. One of the men went close with his lantern, and then I heard a shout,—for he had found Miss Con's cloak.

   I can't tell you the sort of horror that came over me. I thought she must have fallen into that deep water,—and I thought I should never see my dear Miss Con again. It was very dreadful.

   I wasn't allowed to go down the path, and Sir Keith insisted on being the first. Do you know, Nellie, he turned so pale when her cloak was found, and seemed so unhappy all through, that really I began to think he must care very much indeed for her! I don't understand a great deal about such things, and I should hate to have my head always full of love and marriage affairs like many girls, and to be fancying that everything must mean something,—but still I could not help noticing his look that day.

   You have heard about the actual fall, and about how Miss Con was found, lying half in water. They say that if the heavy rain had lasted a while longer, she must have been drowned.

   Miss Con hardly spoke at all,—except just a whisper about being "so sorry" for Maggie. She gave me one little smile, and then kept quite still,—and all through the drive home she hardly moaned once, though one could see what frightful pain she was in.

   Well,—now it is all out at last, and you will understand the state of affairs. Maggie would think me very cruel, of course, to say so much; but I must, for Miss Con's sake. I am writing in confidence: and if you tell anything to anybody, I trust you not to get me into mischief with the rest.

   Millie has never vouchsafed one word of sorrow, for what was really and truly her doing: and she never asks to go into Miss Con's room. Miss Con has sent her a kind message once or twice,—or rather a good many times,—but not of the sort that would look like blame. You would never guess from Miss Con's manner that she has anything to forgive. And I can't describe what her patience and sweetness have been all through her illness.

   Maggie did seem unhappy for a few days, but she has recovered her spirits wonderfully fast; and she and Millie fraternise as absurdly as ever. Millie is doing Maggie no good,—I can tell you that! But I don't know whether I ought to say it.

   If ever I am worth anything in life, and if I don't turn out a stupid grumpish disagreeable being, I can only say that it will be all Miss Con. I mean—well, you know what I mean. Of course it wouldn't be only and all her doing, but somehow nobody else ever really helped me as she does. She helps me by what she says, and a great great deal more by what she is. But Maggie can't appreciate her in the least; and as for Millie, all one can say is, that she has treated Miss Con abominably! I would not have borne it from her in Miss Con's place; and I don't believe things can go on so much longer.

There! I have said enough. No use to work myself to the boiling pitch. I wish you were back.—Ever your affectionate sister—





Tuesday. September 22.       

MY Elfie has come back to me again. It is strangely a comfort to know that her loving heart has been true throughout, only—But I had better be consecutive.

The others have gone on an excursion to a certain cave. Elfie was to have been one of the party: but at the last moment she begged off, pleading faceache and a wish to be with me. Lady Denham yielded, but did not fall in with Maggie's suggestion that "Millie" should go instead. I heard her say in the passage—"Certainly not. I will not have the children left to Miss Conway. They are in Miss Millington's charge." So Maggie came in to say good-bye, with a pout of her rosy lips.

I had intended making an effort to see something of Miss Millington, in the absence of the rest. Hitherto she has kept resolutely aloof: and I cannot go after her. Others perhaps are not aware that I have scarcely spoken to her since my accident. It does not seem quite a right state of things; yet I do not like to make a stir.

So soon as the waggonette went off, Elfie glided into my room. Until to-day she has always appeared with one of her sisters, always looking impassive and dull. But to-day I noted a change of manner. She seated herself close beside the couch, rested her head on my shoulder, and sighed deeply two or three times.

"Something wrong, Elfie?" I asked.

Silence answered me, lasting I should think for nearly five minutes. Then suddenly she turned, clutched my hand between her own hands, and gasped rather than said—

"I must tell you! I must! I can't go on so any longer!"

"Tell me what, Elfie?"

Another break. "About—" she said, breathing hard. "About—. But you must promise first not to tell."

"I will do nothing hasty. Cannot you trust me?"

"Oh, I couldn't have you tell Mother! Millie would never forgive me. And it is only about you—yourself—not anybody else."

"If it is a matter which only concerns myself, I may safely promise to let it go no farther, without your consent," I said, feeling sure that she had some little revelation to make about the day at Gurglepool.

"And you won't—you won't—hate me?"

"I should find it difficult to do that," I said, kissing her. "Come, Elfie, don't be afraid?"

"Oh, I am not afraid. It isn't that. Only, everything is so horrid. And I ought to have spoken out,—and I didn't. And I don't know how to tell you—and I must."

"Shall I guess, Elfie? Was it that you knew beforehand, from Nona, about the trick that was to be played on me? I dare say you wanted to speak out, and were afraid. But I am quite sure you did not like the trick, even though you could not guess how things would turn out. Another time you will be braver."

She listened to me, with her head now lifted, and astonishment in the large dusky eyes.

"Oh no! You couldn't think that of me! Oh no,—I would never have let them do it without telling you. But indeed they didn't think of such a thing, till they got there, and Millie proposed it. She said it was all so slow, and she wanted some fun. I don't call that fun. Lady Denham says it was so unladylike: and Nona is sorry now, only she doesn't know how to tell you."

"If it wasn't that, what was it, Elfie? I am at a loss," I said.

Elfie dropped her face, hiding it from sight.

"It was—when we first came," she murmured almost inaudibly. "I was in the drawing-room,—on the sofa—and—you were writing—you know—at the side-table."

One instant brought the scene before me; the sleeping figure of Elfie: the journal volume: the sudden interruption: the telegram from abroad: the bitter distress following.

Had I been mistaken? Could Elfie, not Miss Millington, have meddled with my papers? But the thought only occurred to be put aside. I knew Elfie better.

"Yes," I said, and my own voice sounded far-away to myself. "Yes. I remember quite well. You had gone to sleep: and I was called away."

"I didn't hear you go," she whispered, and I could feel the quick fluttering of her heart, as she pressed against me. "At least I think not,—not quite. Only there were voices. And somebody came in. I just peeped sideways. I was only half awake,—and I saw Millie. She was standing by your table,—the table where you had been writing, I mean. And she was reading in the big book, with a lock-clasp. I could see her doing it quite plainly. She turned back a leaf, and leant down a little to read. And I was so frightened. It seemed to make me hot all over, and then like ice. I knew I ought to speak out, and I didn't dare. I knew she would be so angry, and would make me promise not to tell. And I shut my eyes and kept quiet; and I know she turned round to see if I was still asleep, for I could feel her eyes on me. And then I heard you in the passage, and Millie went off in a hurry. And I didn't let you know directly that I was awake,—not till you had been upstairs and came down again. But oh, I did feel so miserable,—knowing I ought to tell, and not daring. Don't you think I was wrong not to speak out? It seemed like deceiving you,—and like joining with Millie in what she had done."

"And so you turned cold to me, Elfie," I said.

"Did I? It was only that I felt so ashamed. And sometimes I was almost sure that Millie guessed what I had seen. It gave her a sort of hold upon me. Oh, I do wish I wasn't such a coward! When you hurt yourself so, I made up my mind that I wouldn't go on with it any longer: but I had to wait till you were better, and I couldn't have a quiet time alone with you till to-day."

"Elfie, have you told me everything now?" I asked, holding her face between my hands, and looking into it.

She blushed slowly. "Yes,—no,—not all. Millie used to laugh and joke about you. Must I tell that? She said you were—were—" a pause and a little sob. "I can't think why Millie dislikes you so,—when you are so dear and good, and Mother's own friend. But she does. She is always trying to set Maggie and Nona and the little ones against you. And then—you know—she said she had a friend in Bath,—and she knew when Captain Lenox was coming, and she wouldn't let us tell you, though he was a friend of yours. And she said—things—"

"Yes?" I said gravely.

Elfie sobbed again. "I knew Mother would be so vexed,—Mother can't bear that sort of talk and nonsense. But Millie would,—and she wanted us to think that she knew about—about you—from her friend in Bath. But I felt perfectly sure that she had read something of yours that she had no business to read,—and it made me feel so miserable. But you won't hate me,—darling Miss Con, will you?—and you won't tell Mother?"

"I will do neither, Elfie," I said, drawing her into my arms. "Perhaps some day it may be right for you to tell your Mother; but I am not the person to do so. Miss Millington has wronged me, and I cannot take any step that might look like revenge. Still—if she is capable of such an action, she is hardly fit to train your little sisters."

Elfie's tearful eyes looked up wonderingly.

"Don't you feel angry with her?"

"I have felt so. This is an old trouble, Elfie. I knew at the time what Miss Millington had done."

"And you didn't speak?"

"It would have been useless. I could not prove what I believed."

After a little hesitation, I added, "You are not a child, Elfie,—not so much a child as many girls of seventeen,—and I do not mind telling you that Captain Lenox did at one time wish to marry me, and I refused him. When Sir Keith once spoke of seeing him at Rouen, it made me very unhappy to think what pain I had given. So now you understand something of the matter. But, for Captain Lenox' sake, this must go no farther."

She kissed my hand, with a strangely wistful and comprehending look, even while saying simply, "It was so bad of Millie."

We did not discuss the subject farther. Elfie seemed relieved, past expression, at having told me of the burden so long resting on her mind. She would hardly leave my side all the morning, and her old affection is completely restored,—or rather the open expression of it, for I am sure she has loved me throughout. Dear little Elfie!

Now I have sent her for a walk with Miss Millington and the children. I wanted time for thought and journalising.

The past keen pain at Miss Millington's conduct has revived, but not the past passion of anger. That battle has not to be fought again. Only I do feel more than ever that all is over between Arthur Lenox and me, that where sunshine might have been, I must now be content with life under a grey-toned sky.

Gladys said to me one day, in a puzzled tone, before we came north, "Uncle Tom always says everything is sure to be for the best; but I don't see how it can,—or else people needn't mind making blunders and doing stupid things."

But—as I said to her in answer,—"We know that all things work together for good to them that love God." Enough for me to know that it is so, without fathoming the "how."

Blunders must bring their natural results; and wrong-doing must be followed by its train of bitter consequences, to oneself and others. And yet—yet—a Father's Hand can turn even those natural results and bitter consequences into pure and lasting good to those who love Him. But the good may not be always apparent in this life.

Wednesday, September 23.—I never saw Thyrza look so handsome as when she came in yesterday afternoon. She holds herself well always; and she had on a particularly becoming grey dress, with grey feathers in her hat. The fresh air had given her an unusual colour; and the dark eyes, often too grave, were actually sparkling. The fine lips, too, were parted with a wistful expression, which I don't remember seeing there before. I said to myself, "A new development—" and then a thought struck me. She has left off speaking against Sir Keith lately.

I was alone, and she sat down by my side, pouring out what had passed.

"It was a splendid drive, Miss Con, some hours both ways. I don't know how long. One doesn't count time when one is perfectly happy. I only wanted you there, to make everything complete. But still—" and a far-away look. "Yes, I did enjoy it. And Sir Keith is so kind. The next best to having you, was hearing him talk about you. We quite agree on that point,—" with a smile, and a squeeze of my hand. "I sat by him all the way, and Maggie opposite with Lady Denham. I think it is rather pleasant to be drawn out by a person who understands how, and to have to say what one really thinks. Sir Keith knows how, when he will take the trouble."

"Very pleasant indeed," I assented.

"And then Sir Keith—" I found this expression recurring perpetually. "And then Sir Keith" did this; "and then Sir Keith" said that.

"How about the cave?" I asked when she paused.

"Oh, well worth seeing. I do wish you could have been there. It is almost like a sort of underground cathedral, a growth of nature,—quite dark. The candles only cast glimmers,—even a queer concern, holding a dozen candles all lighted together, could not make one see far. It was rather a muddy floor; and a stream of water runs in one part. We had to get over by stepping-stones, and Sir Keith gave me his hand across. Lady Denham and Maggie wouldn't go farther: and the guide looked after Nona. In one place there is a sort of stalactite imitation of a pulpit, jutting out from the wall: and another stalactite formation is like a great Westminster Abbey monument. At least I thought so. Sir Keith only laughed, and said I must read up about stalactites and stalagmites with you. I didn't much like the sliminess farther in, and when it came to stepping up on a board to look through a big opening into another cavern beyond, I said I wouldn't. But Sir Keith had got up, and he held out his hand, and said, 'Yes, you must!' So I went, and it was like a round belfry sort of place, underground, you know. And there was a waterfall in the belfry, about thirty feet high, tumbling from black depths overhead to black depths below, and keeping up a roar. I believe they call that inside cavern 'the chapter-house.' It is a most extraordinary place."

"Worth seeing indeed!" I observed.

"Yes, I do like uncommon sights. And Lady Denham and Sir Keith have been so good to me. He likes you, Miss Con."

"I dare say he does, my dear," I said. "And I like him. We are on most agreeable terms of polite friendship."

"Oh, but not only—" and she stopped.

"Anything more would be equally impossible for him and for me."

She looked at me with serious eyes before saying, "But he is so—nice!"

Whereupon I thought of Craven and cretonnes.

"Not quite so disagreeable as you once counted him, Thyrza?"

"Did I? Oh, that was only because Maggie behaved so absurdly. I hope I shall never be so absurd. Only, really and truly, there is nothing we both like so much to talk about as about you."

"I am sorry you should both be content with so unprofitable a subject," I answered: and then we were interrupted.

But I fancy it is not difficult to foresee what may be coming.




October 7. Wednesday.       

A WEEK ago to-day Lady Denham and Sir Keith left us, returning home. Some business recalled him suddenly, and she would not stay behind. I was glad to see the very marked warmth of her good-bye to Thyrza.

By-the-bye, I do not think I have noted in my journal the fact of Denham having gone to Eton. Sir Keith kindly saw to minor arrangements, by Mr. Romilly's wish. The boy went off in high spirits, not without an apology to me for his conduct at Gurglepool, which, whether or no suggested by Sir Keith, did him credit.

Thyrza and the twins have been for some weeks working irregularly at lessons, with such superintendence as I was able and permitted to give them. The last few days, since I have become once more responsible head, their work has grown regular. But I cannot induce Maggie to apply herself to anything. She seems to be in a dissipated state of mind, gapes over books, and says she "hates practising." I had a wave little talk with her yesterday, about the evil of yielding oneself victim to a frivolous and self-indulgent course of life. Maggie listened, and even looked impressed; but ten minutes later, I saw her giggling in a corner with Miss Millington.

In the face of such an adverse influence, always pulling in the opposite direction, what can I do with poor Maggie? It seems to me at present,—nothing,—except pray and wait. The harm that one unprincipled girl can do to other girls is terribly great. I do not suppose Miss Millington realises how distinctly she is fighting the battle of wrong against right. She only pleases herself, by giving the rein to her personal dislike of me, her inclination to oppose whatever I do. Yet surely the "not realising" is no excuse. She ought to see, ought to realise. One thing is plain; Maggie has sadly deteriorated under her companionship.

The improvement in my knee of late has been astonishing. I am able, not only to get up and down stairs without severe pain, but to take a turn along the road, with the help of a stick or of somebody's arm. Much of this quick recovery is due, I am assured, to my resolution in keeping the limb perfectly still the first two or three weeks.

I cannot say much as to physical strength. Long confinement, following upon long worry, have told upon me. It is difficult to keep up at times. Everything is a trouble, even journalising, and often I am so haunted by recollections of the past, that I long to rush away from myself and from memory. I cannot turn from these recollections, do what I will!

Has Miss Millington with one cruel touch blighted my life's happiness? Consciously or unconsciously, she may have so done. I do not know. I cannot be sure whether Arthur cares for me still,—whether she did or did not say any word to him, which might have hastened his departure. I am all in the dark as to the true state of things. Only, there are possibilities; and there is nothing in her which could make those possibilities an impossibility.

I thought I had forgiven her, up in the peaceful quiet of my own room. But now, out in the whirl of family life, I find a difference. I know it, by my instinctive shrinking from her presence, by the feeling at times that I can scarcely endure to look at her, or to meet those shallow inquisitorial eyes.

She has never spoken a word of apology for all I have had to go through, though it was partly her doing. But that I do not mind: that I can bear. What stirs me to the depths, is the knowledge that her eyes have seen what no human being was meant to see of my heart,—and that her hand may have given the parting stroke severing me from Arthur Lenox for ever!

Only—"may have." I must fight against any assumption that she has actually done it, without full proof.

But without this, I have much to forgive. And it seems to me that forgiveness of injury is not so much a stated action as a continuous state of mind. I thought I had fought the battle and was conqueror. Now I find that the battle has to be fought over and over again, if I would remain conqueror. It is not enough to say one hour, "I forgive!" And the next hour to be under the dominion of fresh annoyance. I have to aim at a continuous state of loving calm and pity, acknowledging the fact of wrong-doing on her part, yet not exasperated by it,—rather, looking away from her, and taking all pain straight from my Master's Hand.

Is it not so that He looks upon us,—with ceaseless compassionate love? Sometimes we are apt to clothe Him in thought with our own fitfulness. But He does not vary. He is always the same. His forgiveness of us is a constant condition of mind, if one may so reverently speak, not a sensation coming and going, as when man pardons man. We are always grieving Him: He is always forgiving us. And what He is to His children, He would have them be in their little way one to another.

But though I see what I ought to be, I am far enough from attainment. I can but plead to be taken in hand by my Master, taught, trained, moulded, into that which will please Him. Meantime bodily weakness no doubt makes the fight harder. Manner can be controlled, and I hope I do control it; but inwardly a jarred and tired irritation is upon me: I am hourly tempted to feel that nothing is worth doing, nothing worth living for.

Thyrza and Elfie are a comfort. Thyrza, however, is a good deal preoccupied just now: and Elfie keeps loving words for when we are alone, evidently not venturing to show her real feelings before Miss Millington.

After all, I find nothing so helpful as to get away from everybody into some quiet nook, near at hand; and there to find myself alone with Nature,—alone with God. For Nature never hinders intercourse with God. Man is the great hindrance. Nature speaks to us of God, and speaks in clear tones too, though in a language not so easily "understanded of the people" as the voice of Revelation. It does seem sad that man, as the highest part of Nature, should not always speak to men of God; but too often he does not. So one naturally turns from human discord to the more true if lower music of things inanimate.

I love to lie upon the grass of a certain favourite bank, and there to lose myself in quiet studying of the mountain-outlines, the long winding of the Dale, the patches of autumn-red bracken on The Fell, the little streamlets coursing each hillside, the peaceful cloudland of sky above. At such times the bitter thought of what might have been and is not ceases to haunt me; and every whisper of the wind among the trees and every ripple of the nearest brook comes like a murmur from the unseen world. At such times, I can see things in a truer perspective: and the Life Beyond looks grand and restful, whatever this little life may be.

October 8. Thursday.—Startling news to-day! They are coming home!

We were all together in the schoolroom, when Nona entered with a rush, crying, "Two letters, and both for Miss Con! One from Mother, and one from Lady Denham!"

All eyes were levelled at me, as I opened and read Mrs. Romilly's, skimming the contents rapidly.

   "My DEAREST CONSTANCE,—I am writing a very hasty line to announce to you our immediate return to England. It is a sudden decision; but I think we have all been leaning that way for some time, and a long talk yesterday morning brought matters to a point. I am really so much better, that the doctors think I may safely venture; and now that we are all agreed, we are eager to reach Beckdale as fast as possible.

   "Eustace is making arrangements, and Nellie is packing up; so I have undertaken to write the news.

   "Tell my precious Maggie, and all the darling girls, what joy it will be to me to be among them again. You can fancy how a Mother's heartstrings drag her homeward. I wonder now that I can ever have consented to stay away so long.

   "We plan to start the day after to-morrow. Everybody says I must not hurry too much. My husband wishes to spend Sunday at Antwerp, and we shall be one night in London: but we hope to reach Beckdale by the evening of next Tuesday,—the 3th,—and to remain there for one week. This will allow us just to become acquainted with the place. It is not thought wise for me to be so far north any later; so on Tuesday the 20th we hope all to return to Glynde for the winter,—you, of course, accompanying us.

   "I shall have much to say to you, dear Constance. I owe you a great deal,—more than words can express,—for your devoted care of my girls. Of late it has been a great happiness to me to see in your letters how truly you appreciate my sweetest Maggie. At one time I did fear that you and she were scarcely en rapport. The dear one has, I know, suffered most keenly from our long absence. I can imagine her raptures on hearing of our return. Precious one!—When I think of seeing her again—But I must keep composed.

   "From certain little things told me by my dear Nellie, I am afraid your time at Beckdale has been in some respects a trial. Maggie is so young and inexperienced that, with the best intentions in the world, she may not have quite known how to manage; and Miss Millington is a singular person. I have always counted her eminently trustworthy, though, perhaps, like many girls of her age, rather vain and self-asserting. If she should not be what I have thought her—But you will inform and advise me, dear Constance. I cannot tell you how much I shall depend upon your calm judgment in the training of my girls.

   "I have no time to write more. Kiss the dear ones for me. Nellie or Eustace will write again more particularly as to the time of our arrival at Beckbergh Station. The journey that way is, I hear, a little more troublesome, but my dear husband objects to the other station. I would rather no one should meet us there. I must see my girls first in the quiet of home,—not in public. Sweet Maggie will understand so fully her Mother's fancy in this little particular.

   "It is, I hope, at last settled that dear Eustace will enter the Church. He intends to read hard this winter, and we trust that he may receive Ordination next spring or autumn. This decision is a great happiness to us both. He is a good dear fellow.—Ever, dearest Constance, your affectionate friend—


Maggie's raptures! Where were they?

I found myself telling the news, quickly and briefly. There was a deepening glow of pleasure in Thyrza's face: while Nona caught the two little ones, whirling round the room with them: and Elfie flung herself on me, with a smothered cry which was half a sob, and a tremulous clutch of delight.

But Maggie only sat still, and said, "Mother really coming! How nice!" Then her eyes went to Miss Millington, and travelled round to me. "How nice!" she repeated, as if considering the question. "We must take her to Gurglepool."

"And show her the scene of my disaster," I said.

I met Miss Millington's glance. Maggie spoke hastily: "Oh, I didn't mean that. I only meant that Mother would, of course, want to see everything. I suppose we shall all have a holiday that week. It will be most awfully nice, won't it, Nona?"

But somehow the real ring of joy seemed wanting: and as I listened, my heart ached for Gertrude Romilly. Will she when she comes find any lack of response in this child, so passionately beloved? I think it would almost kill her, if she did.

Elfie is radiant with happiness: Thyrza has a look of dreamy content: Nona and the little ones are in mad spirits. Miss Millington seems far from cheerful, however, and she and Maggie are going about arm-in-arm, with divers whispers and expressive looks. Is "Millie" trying to cement her power over Maggie? If so, will she succeed? Am I wrong to conjecture this of her?

O life and its perplexities—how weary one grows of the whole sometimes! Yet is that right? For God our Father has bidden us live,—and live unto Him!

So much for the one letter which reached me to-day. The other was from Lady Denham.

I opened it then, when we were all together, but I did not read it. My eyes fell upon a familiar name, and a sudden chill and trembling warned me to desist. I am not so strong as before my accident, not so well able to master emotion. I put the letter away, and nobody remembered that I had received it.

An hour later, in the quiet of my own room, I read and re-read the four pages. They are full of kind friendliness. Lady Denham seldom favours her correspondents so far. She is noted for brevity of expression: therefore I value this the more.

One sentence above the rest touches me. It may mean so much or so little.

   "You will, perhaps, be interested to learn that your old acquaintance, Captain Lenox—he will be Major Lenox immediately, I hear,—is coming to us. He forsook us quite shamefully when we went to Yorkshire, but he has written to apologise, and my son has invited him here for a week's furlough from next Wednesday. It is rather surprising that he should have leave again so soon: but it seems that he has been unwell, and we hear that he is a great favourite with the Colonel of his regiment, which may facilitate matters.

   "I shall be glad to see him, for he really is a most agreeable young man. It is rather a pity that you will be away, if it would be any pleasure to you to renew the acquaintance. Of course Yorkshire is tempting still to all you young people. Captain Lenox writes that he is tired of England, and that he hopes to exchange soon into a regiment going to India or on foreign service. So I fancy this is the last time we may see him for a good while. I wonder he does not marry. He seems very much alone in the world, poor man, with so few ties in the way of relationship."

And that is all. She writes easily, not as if she in the least suspected the true state of affairs. I do not suppose that she does suspect. Sometimes I have felt that I could almost tell her all,—only never quite. For she has never sought or invited my confidence in this matter: and I cannot give confidence unasked.

Next Wednesday, for a week's furlough! That means—if we go to Glynde on Tuesday the 20th, he will be at The Park one night after our arrival.

But our journey may be delayed; or his going away may be hastened. And even if we do reach Glynde on the day named, and he is there, is it likely that we shall meet?

Hardly,—unless he wishes it.

I dread the next fortnight of suspense. But I must hold myself strongly in. No one must see what I feel. To Lady Denham I can only intimate in most general terms a polite hope or willingness to see him again. Some in my place might perhaps say more, confidentially, but I cannot.

How do I know that Arthur Lenox would go to Glynde at all just now, but for the fact that he expects my absence?




October 13. Tuesday Night.       

THEY have come! I may as well write, for I am in no mood for sleep.

I suppose reunions after long partings seldom pass off exactly as one expects beforehand. Imagination sees only the poetry and delight of meeting. But the reality includes a good deal that is by no means poetical, or perhaps delightful.

When the travellers arrived, at the close of long waiting on our part, there was, of course, a general rushing of everybody into everybody's arms,—exclusive of Miss Millington and myself. Maggie was foremost in the rush: her face beaming.

Everybody said how well everybody else was looking; and then Mrs. Romilly grew a little hysterical, and a glass of water had to be fetched; and talk came spasmodically, as if no one knew exactly what subject to venture on next. Mr. Romilly, as usual, appeared upon the scene with a continuous murmur of small complaining tones: "Such a long journey—er; and the luggage not arrived yet—er; and the dear girls all so blooming; he only wished he could say as much for himself—er: and the dear boy absent—er; such a trial—er; but after all so much to be thankful for—er!—" in the dolefully unthankful tone which good men do sometimes adopt when talking of their "mercies."

Mrs. Romilly has lost her young looks. She might be ten years older than when I saw her last, and she is worn, thin, faded, though still graceful, for nothing can do away with the charm of her bearing. Nellie is not precisely what I expected, not at all pretty or graceful, but perfectly ladylike, with a kind good sensible face. I like her much. There is such a charm in her absolute naturalness, her complete forgetfulness of self.

It was very curious to watch Maggie. At first I almost thought her extreme delight must be a little put on. But no: as the evening passed, I became convinced that it was entirely genuine, that in fact, this is the true Maggie. She has evidently reverted at once, and almost instantaneously, from her later to her earlier love. "Millie" has for a time filled the gap in her life: but no gap now exists to be filled. Millie has dropped from the position of necessary prop; Mrs. Romilly and Nellie being at once installed side by side in their old position.

I do not suppose Maggie means to be fickle or unkind. But it is very plain that "Millie" has ceased to be of any importance to Maggie.

For there were no wandering looks after Miss Millington, as Maggie sat on a stool by her mother's side, clasping one of Mrs. Romilly's hands, and gazing up in her face with eyes of sweetest content. It was a look which I have not seen in Maggie's face all these months. Can it be that in her own fashion, she really has suffered far more than I have believed, and has flown to perpetual engagements, tennis and "Millie," as a distraction from loneliness?

I could not but be sorry for Miss Millington, forsaken by her especial ally, and left outside the charmed circle, a forlorn nobody. The children had no eyes for any one but Nellie, and Maggie seemed glued to her Mother. There was in Mrs. Romilly's manner, when she spoke to Miss Millington, a certain slight air of distance and dissatisfaction, which I could not but notice: and Miss Millington plainly felt unhappy under it.

That gave me no pleasure. I am glad to be able to say so honestly. I have not sunk so low as to rejoice in another's pain, even though this "other" has been in a sense my enemy.

Towards me, Mrs. Romilly was all sweetness and affection. She brought me forward, held me lovingly, thanked me again and again for all I had done, bade her husband and Nellie unite their expressions of gratitude, told the girls how dear I was to her. And I—well, I could not but feel her kindness, even while oppressed by it. I had such a stupid longing to slip away from the flow of words, and to be let alone.

Nobody would imagine this evening that Maggie does not like me. She has dropped in the most easy and marvellous manner into her Mother's tone. Instead of glowering or averted glances, I meet softly smiling grey eyes. Instead of rushing off to Millie, she slides her arm quietly through mine, as she stands by her Mother.

Is it genuine?—Or is it assumed? Has she been all these months under an unnatural strain, and in bondage to "Millie," and is this the real Maggie, set free from trammels? Or is she so utterly weak and pliable a character, as to be heart and soul under the dominion of any one present for whom she most cares?

I cannot solve the riddle? I only know that it is shallowness, not depth, which usually results in such a riddle. Lake waters are transparent, while a little pond will be muddy; and nothing is more difficult to see through than mud. But in this mood, Maggie is so lovable, that I can hardly wonder at her Mother's devotion.

At all events, Gertrude Romilly is satisfied. "My Maggie is sweeter than ever," she said, when bidding me good-night; and for her sake, I was pleased that she saw no farther below the surface. I cannot see to the bottom of the pond myself; but, alas! I know there is mud.

"And the other dear girls, so improved," she went on. "Thyrza and Elfie especially. Your doing, dearest Constance!"

I ought to be gratified, but I can hardly say that I am. Everything is a burden just now. I only feel thankful that the long evening has come to an end.

Friday. October 16.—Plans are unchanged. We go south next Tuesday, starting early, and arriving before night. Nellie had a letter from Gladys to-day, in which she writes with delight of her friend's return, and mentions in passing that Arthur Lenox will be at The Park,—"till Wednesday evening." Nothing more.

Nellie read aloud a few sentences from the letter; and when Captain Lenox' name was mentioned, Miss Millington's eyes came straight to my face. I did not look up, but I was keenly conscious of her fixed stare. I felt myself turning slowly cold and pale; and I knew that she must see it. No remarks were made at the time; only somewhat later, Mrs. Romilly said affectionately, "Constance, my dear, I don't like to see you so worn-out. I shall have to send you soon to your sister for a holiday." But I made nothing of it.

Then all at once she spoke to me about Miss Millington, expressing a grave sense of doubt, and begging to hear confidentially my honest opinion. Was Miss Millington, or was she not, a desirable companion for the girls, and a fit person to train the children?

I do not know how much or how little my friend has heard. Nellie, being everybody's confidante, is generally well acquainted with everything, and doubtless she has used her own discretion in passing on facts to her Mother.

I declined to give any advice in the matter. This was the only line open to me; and I said so. I had not succeeded in winning the affection of Miss Millington: and I did not think I ought to count myself a fair judge.

Mrs. Romilly looked at me in questioning silence. Then she said, "That is enough. You would never fail to say what you conscientiously could in favour of anybody."

This may be true: I hope it is. But I would rather have no hand or voice—even tacitly—in the dismissal of Miss Millington: and I cannot but expect that to be the consummation.

Saturday. October 17.—About an hour after lunch to-day, I was in the back-garden, half-reading, half-dreaming. The girls had all started together for a long ramble, from Nellie down to Pet.

A footstep made me look up: and I saw Miss Millington hurrying along the path, her face aflame, her eyes glazed with tears. Finding me there alone, she stopped short in front of me, and burst out—

"It is your doing!"

"What is?" I asked, though indeed I could guess.

She tossed her head, and bit her lips, glaring at me.

"Oh, you needn't pretend! You know very well! It's what you've been scheming for ever since you came! I know well enough. But I'll be even with you yet. I'll have my revenge."

"It would be idle to pretend that I cannot guess what you may mean," I said seriously. "But you are mistaken, Miss Millington. I have not moved in the matter."

"Oh, I dare say! When your very words show it! You knew she was going to get rid of me! And you persuaded her."

"I did not know it," I answered. "I knew only that Mrs. Romilly did not seem satisfied: and I could guess that she might have spoken to you. That is all."

"Oh, of course! It's all very fine When you can twist Mrs. Romilly any way you please! And everybody knows it!" she said, jerking out short sentences With gasps of passion between. "I understand! You've gone and told her! That stupid cooked-up tale about your accident! Such a fuss about nothing! And it's all untrue! A downright lie! And she has told me I'm to go! Doesn't like my influence! I know what that means! But I'll be even with you yet!"

"You are wronging me," I said, and I found it difficult to control myself. "I have told Mrs. Romilly nothing. She questioned me, and I declined to answer."

"Oh, I dare say! With a virtuous air, just showing what you meant! And I'll have my revenge!"

"Is that Christian, Miss Millington?" I asked. It was grievous to see her look. "I cannot pretend to think that you have acted rightly towards me, or with the girls. But I have done my best to keep from influencing Mrs. Romilly. If you go, it is not my doing."

"But I say it is," she retorted violently. "And I'll never forget,—never! I've got you in my power too, though you mayn't think it, and I'll make you feel my power. I tell you I will."

"How am I in your power?" I asked.

A kind of chill ran through me at the words. I thought of her stealthy peep at my journal. But I could not tax her with that; I had promised not to compromise Elfie.

She burst into angry sobs. "It doesn't matter how. You've nothing to do with what I mean. I know, and that's enough. I'll never forget,—never!—what I owe to you. I'm to leave, and I'm not to be recommended, and it is all your doing. If my mother and sister come to want, that's all your doing too! And I'll be revenged! Sneaking and telling lies like that! But I declare I'll have my revenge! I'll be even with you!"

"Miss Millington!" an astonished voice said close behind her, and Mrs. Romilly appeared, passing round the clump of bushes which shut off the house. "Is this Miss Millington speaking? I can hardly believe my own ears."

The girl looked down sullenly, crimson and sobbing.

"Miss Millington is under a mistake," I said. "She believes that I have influenced you, Mrs. Romilly, in deciding to part with her."

"And if you had!—What then? You are my friend. When I asked your advice, you declined to give it: but I had a right to ask."

A short silence followed. I did not say another word. Miss Millington stirred as if to escape.

"Stay! One moment, if you please," Mrs. Romilly said coldly, and she reined up her head in her graceful way. I do not think I should admire the gesture in anybody else; it is so seldom graceful: but it suits Mrs. Romilly.

"Stay!" she repeated. "This settles the matter, Miss Millington. One who can speak in such a manner to my friend is no fit companion for my children. You will go to your own home on Monday, instead of accompanying us to Glynde. Of course you will receive three months' salary in full, from to-day: and I will also undertake your travelling expenses to London. I hope you will take warning, and learn a different spirit for the future. And remember,—I am able to recommend you as companion to a lady, but not as a governess."

One scowl of positive hate was cast sidelong at me, and Miss Millington fled. I do not think Mrs. Romilly saw that parting glance. She sat down by my side, and I found her to be trembling.

"Anything agitating tries me," she said. "But it must be so. My husband will agree with me, fully." And when I would have pleaded for some slight relaxation of the sentence, she refused to listen. "No, no, not another word, Constance! I cannot sacrifice my darlings' good to her feelings. She has done harm enough already. Have you not seen?"

"I have feared," I said.

"My Maggie used to be so scrupulously true," she said in a low voice of positive anguish.

I could not deny the change, but I spoke comfortingly, foretelling that under her influence and Nellie's, there would soon be a difference. "Maggie loves you devotedly," I added.

"Yes: but is that all?" she asked, her lips quivering. "I thought my Maggie was the one of them all who had most truly given herself to the service of Christ. And now—Yes, I see it in Thyrza and in Elfie,—the fight going on. But Maggie—my Maggie—could I have been mistaken in her before?"

She broke down, and cried bitterly. I did my best to comfort her. No doubt she is seeing daily more and more those faults and weaknesses which have most markedly developed in Maggie during the last few months. I would not suggest that her whole past estimate of Maggie's character has been a mistaken estimate. If her eyes must be opened, I would rather leave them to open naturally.

Tuesday Evening. October 20.—Only time for a few words. It is very late. The journey has been long, and we did not reach Glynde House till past seven. Since arrival, all of us have been hard at work, unpacking for the night.

Miss Millington left us in London. Her good-byes were hurried and cold. She looked no one in the face, and she would not shake hands with me.

Shall we ever meet again? Our intercourse has been far from happy. Yet I cannot but feel a kindly interest in one with whom I have lived for so many months,—the more so, as I fear she will bring sorrow on herself, wherever she may be.

Maggie has not seemed troubled at losing Miss Millington, being entirely absorbed in her mother—or, if her mother is not present, in Nellie. It is very curious to watch Maggie now, and to contrast the state of things only ten days ago. Then she and "Millie" were inseparable; if "Millie" was pleased, Maggie was pleased; if "Millie" was out of temper, Maggie was out of temper. Now all is changed.

I suppose Maggie cannot stand alone. She must be supported by—must be under the dominion of—somebody else. When Millie was her prop, Maggie thought, felt, acted, in unison with Millie. Mrs. Romilly being now her prop, Maggie thinks, feels, acts, in unison with Mrs. Romilly. This is the real love; that was only a spurious attachment. But the character which can undergo such phases is scarcely to be admired.

Maggie's affectionate manner to myself is amazing. It seems to be quite natural, not assumed; and no doubt she does at the moment honestly feel what she expresses. At all events, it gives Mrs. Romilly pleasure. So I accept the warmth, and I make no remarks; only the affection of Thyrza and Elfie is worth more to me.

I hardly know why I write all this. My mind is full of other matters.

A note from Lady Denham to Mrs. Romilly mentions Sir Keith's intention of calling to-morrow morning, "with their guest, Captain Lenox."

Somehow I feel very calm; not shaken or tremulous. Things will be well, however they turn out. I love the thought that all my life is in a Father's keeping.

"Thy way, not mine, O Lord,
    However dark it be;
 Lead me by Thine own Hand,
    Choose out the path for me.
"Smooth let it be, or rough,
    It will be still the best;
 Winding or straight, it leads
    Right onward to Thy rest.
"I dare not choose my lot;
    I would not, if I might;
 Choose Thou for me, my God,
    So shall I walk aright."

I think I can say these words from my heart to-night.

Wednesday Evening. October 21.—I can still say the same. I would not choose for myself. But the disappointment has fallen heavily.

Sir Keith called alone, not long after twelve. He said that Captain Lenox had suddenly found it needful to go off by an early train, instead of waiting till this evening. A letter by post had caused the change of plan.

"A singular fellow—Lenox!" Sir Keith said musingly. "One never knows what he will do next. Curiously reserved too."

That was all, or nearly all, said about the matter. Nobody seemed to count Captain Lenox' defection a thing of any moment. I of course made no remark: and Miss Millington's inquisitive eyes were absent: while Sir Keith, usually very observant, was absorbed in Thyrza.

I will not allow myself to think who may have written that letter. What use? I cannot know, and I must not run the risk of suspecting unjustly. Better to take the pain straight from my God. Nothing comes, not permitted by Him.

But will life ever again seem worth the trouble of living?




October 6. Tuesday.       

THE first copy of my book arrived by this evening's post. Eleven more copies are to follow by rail. We have been looking out for it very anxiously.

October 7. Wednesday.—I think my book looks very nice; so prettily bound: and Mother is so pleased. It seems strange to have written at last a real five-shilling tale,—my childish dream come true. What a long while I have been looking forward to this! I don't know exactly when I first began to expect to publish, though I can remember writing little stories at nine years old,—others say, at seven. But at fourteen, I had quite made up my mind to bring out a five-shilling book some day,—if I could, I mean. And now I am nineteen!

After all, such things don't really affect one's happiness. I am very glad and thankful, but I feel quiet about it,—not as I should have expected.

October 10. Saturday.—Such delightful news! The Romillys are coming home!

Eustace goes to a clergyman in the country, for study; and Mr. and Mrs. Romilly and Nellie travel to Beckdale for just one week, and then the whole party comes south.


Mrs. Romilly seems really stronger, they say,—almost as if the accident and illness had done her good in the end, instead of harm. I suppose troubles often do that. The doctors think she may safely spend the winter at home.

A few words from Nellie tell me this. I am so happy at the thought of seeing Nellie again.

People seem pleased with my book, on the whole. A great many kind things are being said about it,—some of course only out of politeness, but others I fancy are real. Aunt Anne complains that my two stories are exactly alike, because, she says, there are three boys in each, and she is afraid I am "in danger of the usual fault of repetition, common to all young authors." But I don't know what she means, or how she counts, for there really are five boys in one, and six in the other. Ramsay declares that aunt Anne only thinks a little dose of criticism wholesome for me. I don't call that real criticism though; if it were, I should like it, because I do want to be shown real faults in my writing.

October 15. Thursday.—Not a week now before I expect to see Nellie again! I am counting the hours. And that dear Miss Con too! I hope she has quite got over her accident. I am working at a little story for children, which I think of calling "Winnie." When it is done I mean to offer it to the same Society that accepted my first book: and afterwards I shall most likely write another tale for Mr. Willis.

Captain Lenox is actually at The Park again. I do wonder if it means anything. He is to stay till next Wednesday, so he and Miss Con might meet. He called to-day with Sir Keith, but not a word was said about Miss Con. I took very good care not to bring her name forward this time, I was so afraid of making mischief. Mother says I was right. It almost seems to me, from something he said, that he doesn't know yet about the Romillys and Miss Con coming before he leaves.

October 21. Wednesday.—Mother would not let me go to Glynde House this morning. She was sure the Romillys would be too busy: and of course she is right; only I did not know how to keep to my thinking of Nellie being so near. But still I stuck to work; for it does not do to be mastered.

After lunch, in came Lady Denham, for a long talk. She always seems so pleased to see Mother. A good deal was said first about the Romillys: and then she told us that Captain Lenox had left by an early train, directly after breakfast. I felt very disappointed, thinking of Miss Con. Lady Denham laughed a little, and said, "He is a curious man, particularly agreeable, but erratic."

Mother asked, "Would he have objected to meet the Romillys?"

"Why, no, I think not," Lady Denham said. "My son proposed last night that they should call together on Mrs. Romilly to-day, and he seemed to fall in with the proposal; but a letter by this morning's post altered his plans."

Mother said, to my surprise, only I know she and Lady Denham don't mind what each says to the other—"I have sometimes fancied there might be something between him and Miss Conway."

"So I imagined at one time," Lady Denham answered. "But I think it is a mistake. Miss Conway speaks of him with complete indifference; and he never mentions her."

Lady Denham hesitated, and looked at me, before going on—"Gladys is safe, is she not? Between ourselves, the letter this morning was in a lady's hand. He left the envelope on the table, close to my plate, so I could not help seeing it. I know he has no near relatives. One has no business to build on so slight a foundation, but he looked very strange over it,—so strange that I asked if he had had any bad news. He gave an odd short laugh, and said—'Nothing of consequence: only he found it needful to leave by an early train.'"

Lady Denham must feel very friendly towards Mother, to say so much. It is not her way to speak out generally. But I don't think Mother is so sure as she is that we are mistaken about Miss Con and Captain Lenox.

As soon as she was gone, I hurried off to Glynde House. The first person I saw was Mr. Romilly. He was in the hall; and he gave me such a kind welcome, that really I felt ashamed of not liking him more. He smiled at me, and took my hand in his, and he seemed such a pretty little bit of dainty old china! Only I do wish he could be kept under a glass shade, for he is fit for nothing else.

And then I saw Mrs. Romilly. She looks years and years older than before her illness: but she reared up her head and squirmed herself about, just as she always does; and she made me turn so fearfully shy, I had not a single word to say, till Nellie came. And then I forgot Mrs. Romilly's existence, and I was all right.

One very good piece of news I heard the first thing: and that is that Miss Millington has gone home, and is not to return. I don't understand exactly how or why. We shall hear more later. What a relief that she has vanished!

Nellie looks so well: and she is just the same as always, the darling! She has enjoyed being abroad, and now she enjoys coming home. Somehow Nellie always enjoys everything. Mother says it is because she has that rare gift—"a mind at leisure from itself." And I do think Mother is right.

Maggie is exactly what she was before she went away: always flying round after Mrs. Romilly; or if Mrs. Romilly is not within reach, always hanging on to Nellie. Mother says she has grown prettier: but I do not see it. I never cared very much for Maggie.

Thyrza is changed. I never supposed she could grow so handsome! The first moment I saw her, I felt quite startled. Her eyes used to look at every one in a kind of grim way, as if she wanted to fight: and now they are beautifully soft. And when she kissed me, instead of stooping stiffly, like a young fir-tree trying to bend, and giving a poke like a bird's peck, she was gentle and almost affectionate. I always used to think she could not endure me, but perhaps it was shyness and not being happy. I am sure Miss Con has made a great difference in Thyrza's life.

I did not see Miss Con, as I had hoped. Thyrza said she was tired, and had gone to her room to rest. That looks as if she were not strong yet.

October 22. Thursday.—The first notice of my book came this morning: a short one, but good; all praise and no blame.

I have just finished "Winnie." I hope to get it off to-morrow; and to start a new tale next day.

Miss Con came in before lunch, and oh, she is so altered! It has made me really unhappy. She is much thinner, but that is not the worst. It is the look in her eyes that I mind most,—such a sad sweet look, as if she had been through a great stretch of trouble and pain, and were not out of it all yet. And her cheeriness of manner is gone. Mother told her she looked tired, and put her into an easy-chair; and though Miss Con laughed, she did not resist, but sat listening, hardly speaking at first, only giving a little smile, if her eyes met ours.

Presently Mother asked her how she was; and Miss Con smiled again, and said, "Lazy, rather! Beckdale has used up my reserve-powers."

"You will have to get away for a holiday," Mother said.

"At Christmas, perhaps," she answered. "Lessons must go on regularly for a while first."

Then she asked about my writing, and was so kind; not merely polite, but full of real interest. It was the only time she brightened up.

When she was gone, Mother said, "If they do not take care, she will break down altogether. Too much has been put upon her."

I believe Miss Millington has been Miss Con's greatest bother.

Well,—she will not have that bother any longer. A Miss James is coming in Miss Millington's stead; and we have been wondering whether the girls will call her "Jamie." Ramsay declares they will. Miss Conway wanted to undertake the little ones herself, but Mrs. Romilly would not consent,—very right too!

Thyrza means to work hard this winter. She intends to go through a course of Geology, and a course of Political Economy, with Miss Con; and she seems able to talk of nothing else.

When I said something about this at tea-time, Ramsay burst out laughing, and said, "What bosh!" But Ramsay calls everything bosh, except what he does himself.

I must confess that Mother laughed too, and said, "We shall see!" I don't see why. Thyrza is so really fond of study,—not like Maggie.

December 15. Tuesday.—I sent my story "Winnie" to the Society last week; but I expect it will be a good while before I have an answer. Two or three Readers have to go through the MS. first, and then, if they approve, it has to be put in type for others to read. However, I do not feel much afraid about it.

In a few days I hope to begin another, with a heroine named "Selina;" and that will most likely be a five-shilling tale. Just now I am doing a small story of a few chapters, to offer to a child's magazine.

Thyrza and I had a curious talk yesterday with Miss Con; at least they talked, and I listened. Mother had been telling me, only an hour or two before, that I really must try to be less blunt, and to bow more pleasantly to people that I don't like, when I meet them. Of course I promised to try, for one does not wish to be disagreeable; only it is very difficult, when one doesn't care particularly for a person, and, when one is thinking of something else.

I was with Miss Con and Thyrza in Glynde House garden. Nellie and the twins were out, and Maggie had gone for a drive with Mr. and Mrs. Romilly. Thyrza was talking away pleasantly, and looking so bright, when all at once Miss Pursey appeared. She isn't, to be sure, a great favourite with any of us; and Thyrza froze up into an icicle, in one moment. After she had chatted some time, and left a message for Mrs. Romilly and was gone, Miss Con said to Thyrza—

"What made you so curt?"

"Was I curt?" Thyrza asked. "Oh, I don't know. I don't care for Miss Pursey."

"But if you do not, why put the poor lady to pain?" Miss Con inquired.

"You don't suppose she minds!" Thyrza said.

"Yes, I do. All people mind a splash of cold water," said Miss Con.

"Did I administer one? I suppose it is my way," said Thyrza.

"I don't think that excuse will serve," Miss Con said quietly. "It is one person's 'way' to shirk trouble; and another person's 'way' to be idle or untruthful; and another person's 'way' to be a victim to weak fancies. But—"

Miss Con stopped, and Thyrza coloured up, for she was finding fault only the day before, with those very faults in Maggie and Nona and Elfie.

"Of course if one's 'way' is a wrong way, one ought to fight it, Miss Con. Only I can't see that one's manner signifies," Thyrza said. "People in general might like me better, if I put on a softer manner. But if I don't care about being liked except by the few whom I like—?"

"It is no mere question of being liked," Miss Con said. "That would be a base motive. It is a question of right and wrong,—of doing one's duty,—of pleasing God,—of being Christ-like."

Thyrza exclaimed "Oh!"

But Miss Con went on:

"It is a question of giving pain or pleasure; of losing or gaining influence; of helping or repelling others. Of course there are instances in which one has to be cold judicially, to check undue forwardness; and I am not at all advising 'gush' or even universal cordiality. I only advise the cultivation of courtesy, kindness, and gentleness,—not to some only, but to all."

"But one must be natural; one must be true," cried Thyrza. "I can't put on what I don't feel."

"No. There you strike at the root of the matter," Miss Con said seriously.

"But I should not like to be commonplace," Thyrza broke out.

How Miss Con laughed!

"My dear, don't be absurd," she said: and I really expected to see Thyrza offended, only she never seems offended with anything Miss Con says.

"But I don't see any right or wrong in it," persisted Thyrza. "If I can't like people—"

"You are curt to some for whom you do care," Miss Con answered. "But that is not the point. The real question is,—How far are you and I free to indulge in repellent ways to those around us? And this question resolves itself into a second,—How ought we to feel towards those around us?"

Thyrza just looked down and said nothing.

"'Be pitiful, be courteous,' means more, I think, than love and politeness to our particular friends," Miss Con said. "And if we look at Christ, our Example,—that soon settles the matter. I don't think we can picture to ourselves as the barest possibility that He eves indulged in curtness of manner,—that He ever acted bluntly, or put on a repellent air. Stern and displeased He could be,—but not coldly stiff."

I do not know how Thyrza felt, but I know how I did.

"For of course it is self-indulgence,—the indulgence of a mood or humour," Miss Con added. "If we had more of our Master's spirit of love towards all men, I suppose we should not have even the inclination to treat them curtly. Love does not wish to repel."

And then she told us how often she was tempted in this way herself, and how she had to struggle against the tendency. I never should have supposed anything of the kind with Miss Con, but she says so, and I am almost glad, because it makes me hope that perhaps in time I may grow more like her.

It is wonderful how, if any doubtful point comes up, Miss Con seems always to look straight at the Life of our Lord for an answer. And it is still more wonderful how other people don't do so.




February 20. Saturday.       

No answer has come yet from the Society about my MS. "Winnie." I did not think I should have to wait so long: but I sent it at a busy time, so delay is not surprising.

I am working hard at a tale which I mean to call "Selina's Wish."

Miss Con has not been away yet. A holiday at Christmas was talked of for her, but I fancy she has nowhere to go. She said one day that "her big brother-in-law had not pressed his hospitality on her." It seems strange, for one would expect any one to be glad to have Miss Con. He must be a very queer sort of man.

Everybody at Glynde House is so fond now of Miss Con,—even Maggie and Nona! Things are quite altered since Miss Millington left. Mrs. Romilly consults her about everything, and Nellie says she never saw her equal, and Maggie always thinks the same as Mrs. Romilly and Nellie,—at least when she is with them.

Miss James is a harmless little person, with no particular ideas of her own; but I like her because she is pleasant to Miss Con. The girls actually have begun to call her "Jamie," as Ramsay foretold.

I am rather disappointed with Thyrza, for instead of working hard this winter, as she meant to do, at Geology and Political Economy, she seems to be doing hardly anything. She has grown so oddly absent and dreamy too. I really thought there was more stuff in Thyrza.

Miss Con doesn't look well. She is very thin; and though she works hard, and has her cheerful manner again, I often fancy it is all put on.

April 1. Thursday.—Cold weather still, but signs of a change. I hardly know how to wish for spring warmth, much as I love summer. For the Romillys are already talking about Beckdale, and I am afraid they will go north early this year. Mrs. Romilly is said to need the change. I am sure Miss Con does. But I can't bear to think of losing Nellie again for months.

Yesterday evening I finished my story, "Selina's Wish." It is 690 pages of MS., each page having, I believe, about 130 or more words. I hope to get it off in three or four days.

April 14. Wednesday.—My little book "Winnie" has come back from the Society, declined.

Of course I do not let anybody see how disappointed I am. I always like to seem quite philosophical; as if it were only what one might expect. But somehow I didn't expect failure this time. I thought it was almost sure to be taken.

It is politely refused; still it is refused. The Editor says that the Readers objected to such a very faulty mother in a book written for children. I dare say I was wrong to make her so: and it is good of him to explain. Uncle Tom says that one learns as much from failure as from success, and that of course it is all for the best. I suppose that is true; but still, I do feel flat.

Mother and all of them are so kind. They don't go on bothering about it, as some people would.

Well, I just have to try afresh. And after all there is "Selina's Wish." That is the really important one. This is quite a small affair.

April 22. Thursday.—I am waiting anxiously for an answer about my "Selina." And I am trying hard to believe that all will be for the best, either way.

However, I don't think the real difficulty lies there. For of course God knows what is best. He knows everything, and He must know that. And I never feel the least doubt that He loves us, and that He will do what is most for our happiness. The real difficulty with me is to be willing that He should choose for me, not I for myself. I do long so terribly to have my own way; and when I want a thing, I want it so desperately,—I don't seem to care to wait for what is best in the end, but only to have my wish now! That must be impatience; and it is wrong to wish for one's own will at any cost; but I am afraid I often do. And then I ought to be thankful if God does not take me at my word, and give me what I wish; because that would be very dreadful.

April 23. Friday.—Mrs. Romilly was talking to-day in a worried manner about Miss Con looking so thin, and taking no rest. And Mother asked if she would not come to us for a week. It was a sudden thought of Mother's; and Mrs. Romilly was quite pleased. She said any break would be a good thing. So Miss Con has been spoken to, and she will come next Thursday,—for she will not consent to stop lessons sooner. We hope to make the week grow into a fortnight.

Same day. Evening.—The last post has brought back my MS. "Selina's Wish" from Mr. Willis,—declined.

April 27. Tuesday.—I could not write more on Friday about my story: and I have had no heart to do so since,—until now.

I won't say that I was not disappointed, for I was,—intensely disappointed. Of course nobody knew how much. I woke up next morning feeling perfectly wretched, not the least able to rise above it, and really believing I had come to the end of any hopes of future authorship. And the only comfort was in saying over and over again,—"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding." For of course I can't possibly know what is really best for myself or for any of us. And somehow, even before I left my room, things did look a little brighter, and I felt sure I should be helped.

At breakfast-time Mother asked what I meant to do, and after some little talk we settled that I had better write and ask frankly for the reason why the tale is refused,—which I did.

The answer came this morning,—a kind and pleasant answer. We are sure from it that the publisher doesn't at all mean that he will never take a book of mine again; and that is a great comfort. Mr. Willis says that "the character of Selina is too naughty and disagreeable. People would say in reference to several chapters at the beginning—What is the use of it all? Too much of her naughtiness and impertinence are given in detail. The books that are most popular are those with pleasant characters in them. He could understand the interest of the MS. carrying a reader to the end, but the impression left would be unpleasant, and it would not be taken up a second time. Also he thinks the main incident of the book too melancholy. People like cheerful books."

I don't think I like cheerful books so much as sad ones: but no doubt Mr. Willis is the best judge about people in general: and even before I heard from him, I was making up my mind to try after pleasanter characters in my next.

I do not think I will try to get either "Selina" or "Winnie" taken by any one else, at present. The faults in both seem to be much the same. Better to start something fresh, in a different style.

There has been a strange mixture of humiliation and encouragement in all this,—of disappointment now, and hope for by-and-by. I begin already to think that some day I may be thankful not to have had "Selina's Wish" published.

April 30. Friday.—Yesterday morning Miss Con came to us. She was so grateful to Mother for asking her: and she seemed to find it a rest to be able to be quiet, and not to feel it her duty to work.

This afternoon, when we had had tea, she was sitting in one of the windows, reading. Mother was gone out, and I had begun to mend some holes in my gloves. For I do not mean to grow into an untidy authoress, if I can help it. Untidiness is so unwomanly.

I thought Miss Con must be glad of a little real stillness, and I left her alone, and did not talk. And for a moment I felt almost vexed, when Maggie and the twins came rushing in. They were full of fun, and Elfie was in wild spirits, as she generally is now Mrs. Romilly has come back.

Nona declared they wanted a sight of Miss Con,—she had been away "such ages." Maggie hugged her, and plumped down into an arm-chair; and the twins rattled about all sorts of things.

"Oh, I say,—only think," Nona cried all at once. "Maggie has a letter from Millie,—the first she has ever condescended to write. We met the postman outside just now, and he gave it to us."

"Oh, I'm forgetting!" Maggie exclaimed, and she pulled out the envelope, looking round in a half-saucy way at Miss Con, and asking—"Wouldn't you like to hear Millie's news?"

"I should like to know if she is well and happy," Miss Con said.

"I'll read it out. That will be fun," Maggie said.

Then she began, and we all listened,—not that there was anything worth hearing. Miss Millington's letters are as inane as she is herself. The sentences jog on, one after another, in a sort of aimless fashion, all about nothing.

"She doesn't tell us much," Nona said when Maggie reached the end. "Not even why she is at her home now. I thought she had gone to live with an old lady."

"Here is a crossed corner. I didn't see it before," Maggie said, turning the sheet round. "'Have you—' what is the word?—Oh, 'have you seen much of the Denhams lately? They will have told you of Captain Lenox' engagement. A very good thing for him. Quite recent.'"

Elfie was fondling the kitten on the rug, and Nona stood over her. I believe the twins were only half listening to what Maggie read. Maggie herself could not see Miss Con's face without turning round; but I think she was going to turn. She made a movement like it, as she said, "No, I don't think they have told us. I don't remember."

I would not look at Miss Con, and it just flashed across me to call off the girls, and leave her quiet. I am so glad,—oh, so glad I did.

There was no time to think. I said, "You haven't looked at Mother's new plants in the dining-room,—come, Maggie,—before Uncle Tom goes there." And I caught her wrist, and we all four went off, Elfie prancing about like a kitten, with my kitten on her shoulder. Maggie said at first, "What for?" But she did not hang back, and I let her have no time to ask it again.

As soon as they had seen the plants, I took all three into the garden, and kept them there. Elfie once spoke of seeing Miss Con again, but I would not hear; and soon Maggie said they had to be at home before six.

When I went back into the drawing-room, Miss Con was in the same place as before. She had not stirred a finger. She was sitting on a rather low chair, leaning back, with a book open on her knee, and her hands lying carelessly on the book. And her face was calm; only deathly pale. If her eyes had not been open, I should have thought she had fainted. She looked up at me, as I came near, and said gently, "Have they gone home?"

"Yes, Miss Con," I said.

I don't know what made me go close, and kneel down by her side, and take hold of her hands. They were frightfully cold, and they felt quite limp, as if all strength had gone out of them. I did not want to show that I understood anything; but I could not leave her alone like that.

"Dear Gladys!" she said, in a worn-out voice. "You are all so good to me."

I was trembling by this time, wishing Mother would come in, and yet knowing that Miss Con would not want anybody else to see her just then. And oh, I did long to comfort her.

"Miss Con, are you faint?" I asked, and my voice was half choked.

"No, my dear," she said, in a quiet considering tone. "No,—not faint. I only feel a little—tired, I think, and weak. I wanted to go upstairs and rest,—but somehow—I had to wait."

Her eyes looked straight into mine, and I don't think I ever saw such pain and sorrow in any eyes before. I didn't know how to bear it.

She must have seen, perhaps, more than I meant her to see. She must have felt that I did a little understand,—and that she could trust me. For suddenly there was a kind of break-up in the quiet of her face. She did not go into a fit of violent crying, like so many people, and she sat upright, with her hands together in mine. But her lips grow whiter, and every muscle in her face and throat worked and quivered, as if a wave of agony were passing over her, and then her eyes reddened and filled slowly, and great burning drops came splash, splash, on my wrist. It was impossible for me to help crying too.

Nobody came near us: and I do not think she went on long, though it felt long to me. Before I could speak, I heard her saying softly—

"Poor Gladys! I am sorry to have troubled you, my dear."

"O Miss Con, don't!" I whispered; and she stroked my hair, and petted me, as if it had been she who had to do the comforting, and not I. When I was able to see her face, it had grown calm again. But somehow that was worse than the other; and I threw my arms round her, and held her fast, with such a longing to be any help. And then I could feel her struggles not to give way, and the tears came splashing again, though there was not the slightest sound.

"Gladys, my dear, no one must know of this," she said at last, when she had conquered. She put me from her gently, and looked me in the face with such sweet sad eyes. "Not even your dear Mother."

"Oh no,—no,—" I said.

"You will not tell—I can trust you," she said. "You and I are friends, after to-day. I shall not behave so a second time. Now I am going to my room for an hour: and you will see me myself again at dinner."

She smiled as she spoke, and stood up, slipping her arm into mine, so I went with her to the spare-room.

"I can't do anything more for you?" I asked when we reached the door.

"Nothing, dear, thank you," she said, in her natural tone. "I should like a little while alone. But you have been a comfort, Gladys,—" and she kissed me. "And now I know you will ask no questions, and will try to forget this little scene."

I said I would "try," though of course forgetting is out of the question, and I was turning away, when she put her hand on mine.

"One word," she said very low. "My dear,—you have not to blame him. Remember that. He did once ask me, and I refused him. He was perfectly free. I did not know till later how much I cared,—and he has never known."

Then she moved away, and I shut the door. But oh,—what a pity! If he had but known in time! I wonder if it could not have been helped somehow,—if only anybody could have put things straight!

And yet perhaps they are really straight, and just what they ought to be. I wonder if we shall look back by-and-by, and see that all our worries and disappointments were the best and happiest things for us, and the very things we would have chosen, if we could have seen farther ahead!

Only last Sunday Miss Con and I had a little talk about this. I was thinking about my disappointment, which she does not know of. When I said something like what I have just written, she said—

"Yes,—except in those cases where we have brought our troubles on ourselves."

"And never then?" I asked. "Ought we not to say then that they are God's will?"

"In a sense—yes," she answered. "All things that happen are permitted by God. It certainly is His will that we should suffer in this life the natural results of our own wrong-doing or folly. But that is not the whole of the matter. On the one hand, we must never say that He wills any one to act wrongly.

"On the other hand, we must never forget that He makes 'all things' to work together for our good, if we love Him. Those very 'results' which we find most trying may in His Hand work great good to us in the end. Whether we are conscious of the good at the time is another question."

I must not write more now. Except that Miss Con seemed quite composed and natural at dinner. She looked very ill, I thought, and I know my eyes were red. Mother asked no questions; and this makes me pretty sure that she suspects something. For I believe she saw the girls, and it is likely enough that Maggie may have shown her Millie's letter.

Happily Ramsay was too much absorbed in Miss Con to look at me.

May 1. Saturday.—At breakfast to-day there was a letter for Miss Con, from her sister, Mrs. Smyth. The husband,—that very fat brother-in-law who will not invite Miss Con to the house,—is dangerously ill; and his wife begs and implores Miss Con to go and help in the nursing.

Mother and I think Miss Con looks more like being nursed herself, than like nursing somebody else. But of course she has gone. Mrs. Romilly consented directly, and in two hours, Miss Con was off.

I should be dreadfully sorry; only, we think the change of scene may do her good just now. She promises to come to us some other time instead.

One does wonder why it is that sometimes the very best people have the very most sorrow. But perhaps if they had not the most, they would not be the best. And, after all, I don't see why we should expect to understand everything.

Of course I have not said a word to Miss Con about her distress yesterday; nor has she to me. Only her manner is so affectionate, that I feel sure she did not mind my having seen what I did.

Next week I hope to start another tale; and to work very hard and very carefully. I think I have some good ideas for it.

I do believe I have been growing over-confident,—fancying I was sure to succeed, and counting almost anything good enough, written in ever so much of a hurry. So I dare say these two checks have been exactly what I needed. At all events, there shall be no hurried or careless work in my next.

And then at least, if I fail, it will not be my fault. If it is not God's will that I should succeed any more, I must not be too much bent upon it.

I think I do begin to understand that the only safe and happy state of mind is one of entire dependence upon God,—entire acquiescence in His will,—just "making known" one's requests to Him, and leaving utterly in His Hands the time and kind of answer. And then, whatever else He gives or doesn't give, the peace of Christ is promised.

A sentence in a book I was reading to-day struck me very much,—"the dread responsibility of choosing our own way!" I am sure I need to pray to be kept from that.




June 15. Tuesday.       

STILL in Town. I little expected six weeks of absence, when I left Glynde.

Craven's attack, though sharp, was short. In less than a week he was out of danger, and on a fair road to recovery. And then I, in my turn, broke down.

Hardly surprising, I suppose. I have gone through much, mentally, the last few months, one way and another. Long continued strain will tell in time.

The letter from Miss Millington was perhaps the finishing stroke. I think the sudden call here, with full occupation for mind and body at first, was sent mercifully,—and then the wonderful holy calm of those three weeks in my own room, alone, and yet not alone!

Albinia could scarcely ever leave her husband: and the maids only came and went. I was not so severely ill as to need constant attendance. The doctor ordered little beyond rest and stillness. Now I have been about again for nearly a fortnight, regaining strength: but the sweetness of that "quiet time" overshadows me yet.

For I think our Lord Himself led me aside into one of His own green pastures, that He might comfort me. And He did it there, as none but He can do,—with Voice and Touch and Smile, with Divine healing and most Human sympathy.

How can any question the good of pain and sorrow in this life?

For no joy could ever have shown me what He is, like these past weeks. And only the extremest stress of need and weariness will ever drive us so to abandon our whole weight upon Him, as to learn fully the rest of His upholding Arms.

June 16. Wednesday.—Plans seem now arranged. I do not return to Glynde, but remain here till early next week. The Romillys propose travelling up to Town on Monday: and on Tuesday we all proceed to Beckdale.

Mrs. Romilly writes that Lady Denham and Sir Keith will be at the Farm. I cannot help expecting something to come about soon.

June 19. Saturday.—This afternoon I went for a stroll in The Park, avoiding as far as possible the crowded parts, and getting into a comparatively neglected side-path. It was pleasantly sunny, with a fresh breeze. One might escape in some measure from the stream of human beings, but there was no escaping from the stream of human sound. I caught myself smiling at the thought of those lovely Yorkshire dales, so soon to surround me! No roar of voices and vehicles there, but only the rustle of leaves, and the rush of torrents. And then I think I wandered off to Thyrza, walking slowly with downward-bent eyes, perhaps speculating on her future.

Something made me glance up. I found myself in a sheltered spot, divided by shrubs from the nearest groups of people. One seat was quite near, and on this seat was one young girl.

My first impression was of the utter misery in her look and attitude. She sat leaning forward, with bent head, rounded shoulders, tightly-clasped hands, and wide-open fixed eyes. There were no tears, only a hard gaze of extreme wretchedness, which was even more strongly expressed in the droop of her lower lip.

Involuntarily I came to a standstill, and stood for one moment, watching. Not more than a moment. My gaze seemed to wake her up from a kind of stupefaction. She lifted her head, and looked at me, in a listless indifferent fashion.

But listlessness and indifference vanished. I knew her then, and she knew me. Strange that I had not recognised her before. In a moment the face changed, the cheeks reddened, the eyes were averted, and she sprang half up.

"Miss Millington!" I said. She would not offer her hand, and I took it, only to have it snatched away.

"What makes you come? As if I wanted to see you! Why can't you leave me alone?" she asked, with bitter scorn, her lips shaking in agitation.

"The Park is free to all," I said gravely. "I did not expect to find you here."

"No, I dare say not! You thought you had got me out of your way, at any rate!" she retorted.

"You do me wrong," I answered. "Miss Millington, I should like a few words with you. Will you sit down here?"

"No, thanks. I'm going home."

"Where is your home?"

She made no response.

"I have, of course, no right to interfere," I said. "But I think you are in trouble; and I would gladly help you if I could. Will you not sit down with me, for five minutes?"

"No! Why should I? If I am in trouble, it is your doing," she broke out passionately.

"You are mistaken. It is not my doing," I said; and after a moment's thought I laid one hand on her arm, adding, "Sit down."

She yielded sullenly, and I placed myself beside her.

"One word of explanation first," I said, speaking gently. "I should like you to understand that I had not, practically, to do with your going. Mrs. Romilly appealed to me for a confidential opinion, and I declined to give any. There were things which she had heard, and which she disapproved: but she did not hear them from me."

Miss Millington shook her head, in evident disbelief.

"There was much that tried and grieved me," I said in a lower voice. "No need to go into particulars. You know well enough to what I allude. I would have been a friend to you, if you had allowed it."

She gave me a strange look; then said, "Thanks!" very scornfully.

"And you are in trouble now?" I said once more.

"That is my business; not yours," came in sharp answer.

"It is only mine, in so far as I might be able to help you," I said.

"Nonsense! As if you cared!"

"I do care!" I said, and I spoke truth.

She looked at me again, broke into a mirthless laugh, and said—

"Not enough to lend me fifty pounds,—or fifty shillings, for the matter of that! I know what people mean by caring. There, that's enough! I am going home."

But my hand was on her arm, and she did not rise. A sudden thought came to me. Was this at last—at last!—the opportunity to "overcome evil with good?"

My little legacy of one hundred pounds is lying still at the Bank,—not yet invested, as Craven advised. I had to indent upon it largely, for mourning and other expenses, after my aunt's death. This year, by care and economy, I have made up the amount to something over one hundred pounds laid by; and the question of investment has recurred.

Fifty pounds out of it would be a large proportion,—to be, not lent, but given! For this was the "good" which occurred to me, as that by which I might overcome long-standing evil.

I cannot say the thought was—or is—welcome. I have none but myself to depend upon. A long lonely life may lie before me. Health and strength may at any time fail. Craven will never offer a home. I must save for the future, while working for the present.

And she has so wronged me! It came over me in a rush, as I sat there silently by my silent companion,—how she has resisted and scorned my best efforts, opposed my will, fought against my authority,—nay, far worse, if things are as I verily believe, has ruined my life's happiness, separating me from Arthur Lenox for ever!

Once more I seemed to see her bending over my open journal, dishonourably scanning the lines never meant for her eyes, and meanly afterward making use of the information thus gained.

A great wave of the old passionate wrath and hate surged up within me, and almost broke. I—to forgive her! I—to despoil myself of half the little I possessed, for her sake!

Did she deserve it! No! A thousand times, No!

But—do I deserve the benefits which God has showered upon me?—The love of Christ my Lord? A million times,—No!

And He, in His forgiving pity, has said,—"Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good!"

The rising storm was checked, and at the Voice of my Master—"Peace, be still!" There was a great calm.

I cannot say if she saw or knew aught of this. I only know that we both sat in silence,—perhaps for some seconds only, perhaps for five minutes. Then I found myself answering her last utterance, "You need fifty pounds,—for what?"

"To save my mother's life."

Miss Millington's self-command broke down, and she hid her face, sobbing.

I let her cry for a while, before saying, "Tell me a little more."

"What is the use? It is no good," she cried petulantly.

"No,—but I should like to hear," I answered.

A measure still of resistance was followed by yielding. Once started, I think she found the "telling" a relief to herself.

Mrs. Millington is a widow, with only one other and younger daughter. She must have been a good and true mother: and the best side of Miss Millington came out in speaking of this mother.

For many years the three have been in very straitened circumstances, especially of late, depending partly on the eldest daughter's earnings. Since last summer Miss Millington has been in only one situation, which she failed to keep. Under the consequent long pressure of anxiety and money-difficulties, Mrs. Millington became very ill: and the knowledge of her liabilities has so pressed upon her mind, that the doctor to-day foretells a fatal termination, unless the burden can be in some way lightened.

"And of course I can do nothing,—how can I?" the girl said, half-bitterly, half-sullenly. "We've got behindhand with everything. It isn't the doctor,—he is an old friend, and he charges nothing, though he is poor himself. But there's the chemist, and the rent,—and other things,—about fifty pounds altogether. I don't mean to say we were straight last summer, only we were trying to get so. If I had stayed on with the Romillys, it would have come right in time,—and now, instead of that, everything has been getting worse. And I don't see what is to be done. I can't expect to have so much from anybody else as I had from Mrs. Romilly. Besides, I hate being a companion and Mrs. Romilly won't recommend me as a governess. So mother will die—" a sob and a gulp came here,—"and that will be the end of everything. It is all hopeless,—and when the doctor said what he did, I Just set off and walked miles,—and they don't know at home where I am. I ought to be there now. I shall have to go back in a 'bus: though I'm sure we can't afford it."

The same undisciplined nature which had caused me so much trouble. I could not but note this.

"And I don't know why I should say it all to you,—you, of all people," she muttered. "Absurd of me!"

"Not quite," I said. "At least I can feel for you."

She turned away with an impatient movement, standing up.

"I must go," she said.

"I intend to drive home in a hansom. I will take you to your door first."

She protested. "Nonsense; it would be ridiculous. Our house is miles out of your way."

But I held to my point. If I had simply asked the address, I could not be secure of having a true answer. It was not my intention to go into the house to-day; for I wanted time to consider what I ought to do. I was only resolved to learn her whereabouts.

Yet when we reached the shabby little house, and a sickly young girl came out on the doorstep, saying reproachfully—"Oh how could you leave us so long?"—I did go in.

Not to stay. I knew that I must hasten back, to be in time for dinner. I spoke a few words to the sister; and I had one glimpse of the sick mother, unseen by herself. That face touched me deeply. I said only to Miss Millington, "You shall hear from me again."

June 21. Monday.—This morning, soon after breakfast, I drove to the Bank, with a cheque for fifty pounds, which I there had cashed,—forty pounds in bank-notes, the rest in gold.

I said nothing beforehand to Craven or Albinia. They would count my action utterly foolish; and it is my own concern only. After a day and two nights for quiet thought, I hesitated no longer. It did most distinctly seem that this was the right thing for me to do.

As for my future, what need to disquiet myself? Yesterday, when doubts arose, I could but think of the answer of the prophet to Amaziah,—"The Lord is able to give thee much more than this."

And is He not my Father? A child can surely trust her Father to provide for her!

Of course I may be making a mistake. The fact that this particular step seems the right one for me to take, does not absolutely prove that it is the right one. Of one thing, however, I am sure,—whether or no I mistake His will, He knows that my hearts longing is to do His will. And the root of the matter lies there,—far more in the heart's longing than in the actual doing.

So I went to the Millingtons', arriving about midday. I saw the younger sister, Jeannie, first. She welcomed me warmly, spoke of her mother's state as not improved, then vanished, to send her sister.

Miss Millington entered with a cold and depressed air,—almost with the old look of aversion. Her eyes said plainly—"What brings you here?"

I paid no regard to her manner, but said, "I am sorry to hear that your mother is not better."

"Not likely to be," she answered shortly.

"I have brought a little present, which I hope may be the remedy she needs."

Miss Millington repeated the word, "Remedy!" in a vague tone, adding—"We have our own doctor."

"But this is the medicine he prescribes," I replied, and I put into her hand the purse I held. "You will not be too proud to accept it from me,—for your mother's sake."

Few people know how to receive a gift gracefully, even under favourable circumstances; and the circumstances were hardly favourable to Miss Millington. She stared at first; opened the purse slowly; grew distressingly scarlet and gasped, when she caught sight of bank-notes and gold.

"There are fifty pounds," I said, "the amount you need."

"But—but—you mean—as a loan—" she stammered.

"Not a loan, but a gift," I said distinctly. "You need not hesitate. It is only part of a little legacy which I had, not long ago. I should like it to be a real help to you all, as a loan could not be."

She seemed choked, hardly able to speak. A smothered "Thanks!" escaped her lips. I could see a struggle going on below; but no words came, such as I had half hoped to hear. A misery of embarrassment overpowered her.

I hardly knew what to say. In my then position I could not with delicacy assume the office of adviser,—otherwise, a few words of advice for her future did seem sorely called for. But I could only observe in a low voice—

"You will not doubt me now."

She hung her burning face speechlessly. I went a step nearer.

"There have been some sorrowful passages between us," I said. "But at least by my will I have not offended against you. If I have wronged you unknowingly, I can only ask your forgiveness. And—the things that you have done against me—" I found my voice failing, and I was only able to add—"This will show that you are forgiven, when you care to know it."

Then I went out to the front door, where a hansom waited. Miss Millington followed me, looking crushed. I could not feel that the gift which might restore her mother had brought relief to herself. She did not refuse it, did not spurn the offered help. She only seemed to be bowed beneath the weight of that little purse.

"I must not stay now," I said. "I have a great deal to do: and to-morrow we go to Beckdale. But you will write perhaps some day, and tell me how your mother is getting on. Good-bye."

Her damp fingers closed limply round mine, and the dropped eyes were not raised. I saw her lips tremble, and I caught one sound, half-word, half-sob, which might have been "Sorry!" No more followed. She shrank into herself and from me, with a kind of shudder. I had to leave her thus, and to drive away.

To-night, I can only pray for her, and thank God.




June 23. Wednesday.       

HERE we are again in the dear old Dale, far-away from London's busy roar.

The mountainous heights stand all around, as they have stood for ages past; and the torrent-river brawls over its rocky bed from the Dale-Head, a golden stream fast widening. The streamlets streaking the side of our beautiful Fell are slender lines of silver this dry weather. And oh, the clear sweetness of the air, after Metropolitan murkiness!

I do not undervalue our mighty City, with its wonders of intellect and thought, its heroes and sages alive and dead, its grand historical past, and I hope grander historical future, its "wealth of soul that is there." And I know well that God is as near in the most crowded City street, as in this lonely wilderness. But I think it is sometimes easier to realise His Presence here than there.

My seven weeks in Town might be seven months,—I have gone through so much in them. Now I am striving hard to live just by the day; letting a "dead past bury its dead;" not looking forward at all, except to the great Beyond; only willing hour by hour to accept what my Master gives me. Life at present does and must wear a grey hue. That I have to expect. But there are many to love and be loved by me. The more I can throw myself into others' interests, the better.

The affection of all these dear girls is very comforting. Yes;—even sweet changeable Maggie, though I cannot trust her love, as I trust Thyrza's love,—even Maggie I like to have clinging about me, with her grey eyes looking up and her soft lips pressing mine. For I am sure she means it all, just at the moment. And one must not expect to find lake-depths in a tea-cup.

How different things might have been last year: but for "Millie!"

The contrast between Millie and Nellie is extraordinary. For Millie scents to go through life, making difficulties; Nellie goes through life, smoothing difficulties away. Millie is never happy unless she finds herself a centre of attention: Nellie is never so happy as in the background.

July 1. Thursday.—A few lines of shy and warm gratitude from Jeannie Millington have reached me. She says, "I can't persuade my sister to write, so I must, though of course she ought. We do really hope our dear Mother is better."

Millie will write yet—some day. I cannot but feel that she will.

July 19. Monday.—Why on earth a man does not speak out, when he has made up his mind, is a mystery to me. Here are Sir Keith and his mother, still at the Farm, staying on week after week. It is perfectly evident that Sir Keith has only one idea in life just now; that idea being Thyrza. It is almost equally evident that Thyrza, though she does her best womanfully to veil her feelings under a surpassing interest in Political Economy, has also only one idea in life, that idea being Sir Keith. Yet nothing definite comes of it all.

I thought he must surely have spoken to Mr. and Mrs. Romilly; but Mrs. Romilly says he has not. "Oh no, he will do nothing in a hurry," she said yesterday, when I at last questioned her. "He is a very cautious man. I don't suppose he has the least doubt about our consent, but he will not speak to Thyrza until he is perfectly certain of no rebuff."

Pride, no doubt. Well, caution is admirable enough at times, where it does not degenerate into faintheartedness. But I think I like better the impetuous outspokenness of—I mean, which does not calculate in quite a style its certainties or uncertainties.

Still, he is a delightful man. I have not a word to say against him.

July 21. Wednesday.—Nellie, Maggie, and Thyrza having a tennis party engagement at Beckbergh to-day,—not for the afternoon only, but for the greater part of the day,—Sir Keith kindly arranged to take the twins and me for a long drive in t' trap. Sir Keith of course ousted the dear old farmer, undertaking himself to drive.

It did not occur to me, when this plan was proposed, that he had any particular object in it, beyond giving us pleasure.

When Thyrza heard what was to take place, she said brightly, "Wise man! He knows the delight that it is to get Miss Con all to oneself!"

"My dear," I said, "you don't call it exactly 'all to oneself,' with the twins there as well."

"Oh yes, I do! I understand," she retorted, laughing. But of course she did not understand, any more than I did myself.

We started early, and went through one dale after another, each differing from the rest. The twins, sitting behind, back to back with Sir Keith and me, chattered incessantly; but Sir Keith was unwontedly silent. He tried to get up talk from time to time, without much success. I wished nothing better than to be let alone, that eye and mind might feast on the scenery undisturbed. Still I had to respond to his efforts.

After nearly two hours of quick driving we entered a singular valley, unlike most of the dales in our neighbourhood. It was wide, wild, and bare, with extraordinary terraced cliffs on either side, rising tier above tier in perpendicular stone or rather rock walls, each divided from the next by a narrow sloping band of grass. As seen from the road below, the general appearance was like some mighty old Roman fortress. Countless boulders, large and small, lay scattered on the flat valley-bottom. Shrubs grew here or there, but few trees were to be seen.

"If Thyrza were but with us!" I said involuntarily, and Sir Keith turned his head quickly to me.

"She must come too another day," he said, "if—" and a long pause followed. I waited in vain for more. He seemed to relapse into troubled thought.

Near the upper end of the dale we turned into a side-valley, and there dismounted. A certain famous cave had to be inspected. This part of the world seems to abound in caves. There were awkward steps inside, Sir Keith said,—would I allow him to take the twins down first, and to escort me afterwards? I did not see the need for such excessive caution, but his desire was so very evident that I gave way at once, and remained outside, chatting with the old man who has charge of the place, and with him keeping guard over our tethered steed.

The twins presently reappeared in a state of high delight, and I, following Sir Keith's guidance, found myself in a singular spot.

A sharp descent led to the actual entrance of the cave, and then many steep wet rocky steps conducted to the lower depths of a huge hollow. Enormous masses of rock were piled by Nature's hand, beneath, around, and overhead. Some of those overhead seemed suspended in readiness to fall. The steps themselves were roughly shaped out of the natural rock.

At the farther end was a fine waterfall,—a whole river, suddenly appearing, after a mile or so of underground coursing, to take one grand leap of seventy or eighty feet into a dull black pool, with crash and roar and perpetual splash of foam, thence vanishing underground once more for at least another mile. A gleam of light seemed to come down from above the fall, obviating entire darkness.

Sir Keith guided me carefully down the lower rocky steps, till we reached a platform near the fall,—not quite the nearest possible. There we stood in silence. It was very solemn, very impressive. The air was full of reeking moisture from the incessant rebound of spray; and the steady roar never faltered. The dim light too, and the whiteness of the rushing water, in contrast with the piled-up massive dark rocks around, were not to be soon forgotten.

I heard Sir Keith say suddenly—

"Yes,—Thyrza ought to see this."

"She would appreciate it," I replied.

"She has learnt to appreciate—from you," he said; and before I could answer, he added—"She owes much to you. Thyrza herself says so."

"Thyrza is a dear girl," I said, rather absently, I am afraid. My attention was riveted on the fall.

"Miss Conway, will you give me your advice?" came next in distinct tones.

"You, Sir Keith!" I glanced at him involuntarily.

"Yes, I—myself," he answered; and to my astonishment I saw that the falling foam was scarcely whiter than his face. "I can never get a word alone with you for three minutes."

"So you have made this opportunity," I said, hardly able to help smiling; and yet it was no place to smile in. Weird grandeur does not make one lighthearted.

"Can you guess what I wish to ask?" he inquired.

I said at once, "Perhaps—yes."

"About—" and he faltered.

"About Thyrza," I said. I could listen, but I could not look at him. The continuous heavy flood in its underground leap enchained my eyes.

"About Thyrza," he echoed. "Then you have seen—"

"It did not need a magnifying-glass," I answered. "So far as you are concerned, Sir Keith."

I knew how his face fell, though I was not looking in his direction.

"Yes,—yes,—but as to Thyrza," he said hurriedly.

"Thyrza must speak for herself," I replied.

"And you will not even give me a word of advice! You understand her so well,—better than any of her own people. Shall I risk all by speaking now? Or shall I wait? Is it too soon? I am depending on what you say."

Half-a-minute's thought I allowed myself, then asked, "Have you spoken to Mr. and Mrs. Romilly?"

"No. I have come to you first. But I have no fear in that direction. Mr. Romilly has more than once intimated his willingness to have me for a son-in-law." This sounded very like Mr. Romilly.

"Then—" I said, "perhaps—the sooner you speak to Thyrza, the better. I only say perhaps.'"

"You do not think I am in too much haste?"

I heard my own laugh ring softly through the cave, mingling with the perpetual roar. Sir Keith smiled, and grasped my hand.

"Thanks—thanks," he said. "I knew I might venture to put the question. You are her best and truest friend."

And he allowed me three minutes' undisturbed enjoyment of the fall. Strange—how the face of Arthur Lenox seemed to rise and mingle with the spray. I cannot always banish it yet.




Written some days later.       

THURSDAY, the 22nd of July,—next after my visit to the cave with Sir Keith,—proved an eventful day.

The first thing in the morning I heard that Sir Keith had an engagement at Beckbergh. What the engagement might be, I was not told; only it appeared to interest Thyrza. Some suppressed fun gleamed in her face; fun of a happy kind. It did not seem to me to be happiness in connection with herself. She did not seem to be thinking of herself.

She told me then that she had set her heart on a long ramble with me, through a certain mountain-pass, leading from Beckdale into a neighbouring dale. Thyrza and Denham went that particular walk last year, while I was laid aside, and she has often since wished me to see the same. Would I, she asked, give up a good part of the day to going alone with her, taking some slight provisions with us?

I made no objections. Beckdale has greatly restored my walking-powers; and lessons did not stand in the way. Mrs. Romilly has insisted on a full month of holidays, despite all the broken time before. Moreover, it is always a pleasure to have Thyrza to myself for a little while.

Mrs. Romilly protested against the distance, and settled that we should at least drive the first two or three miles in the waggonette. Thyrza consented to so much, adding with a laugh, "And if we do collapse, and don't get home, you can but send Sir Keith in the dog-cart to our rescue." She looked so merry and handsome that I could not help being struck. Nellie answered, "Very well; I wont forget."

Just at the moment of our starting, a letter was brought to me. Somehow I had been out of the way when the post came in, and it was afterwards forgotten. I noted the black edge, and, not recognising the handwriting in a rather careless glance, supposed the writer to be a former Bath acquaintance, with whom I corresponded occasionally. I knew her to be in mourning. "From Ellen Smyth," I said, and I dropped the unopened letter into my pocket. "That will keep."

The other girls were going for an hour's drive, after setting us down nearly three miles from home. We waved good-byes, and Thyrza and I set off briskly.

A stony steep path, or narrow road, led upwards, after a while through a little scattered village on the hillside, then into a wild high pass, skirting one side of the mountainous mass which we know as The Fell. I fancy that side possesses a distinct name; certainly it is loftier, and has a different aspect.

We must have ascended some twelve or thirteen hundred feet. The higher summits of the mountains to right and left of the pass are, I am told, close upon two thousand feet in height, if not more.

The road went gradually upward to a central ridge, on this side of which all streams run towards Beckdale, gathering quickly into a small river. Beyond the ridge, the watershed is all the other way.

After the first rapid rise from Beckdale we had some three or four miles of comparatively slight ascent and descent. This was the actual pass; a desolate and wildly beautiful region. To our left, as we went, were broken hills, with mountain heights beyond: to our right was one grand continuous sweep of steep slopes, like a broad flowing mountain-skirt, extending for miles unbroken, the summit throughout those miles seeming to keep always one even height.

Short grass covered these grand slopes, varied by patches of heather and abundant bracken; and long walls ran down at intervals from top to bottom. The excessive steepness of the higher parts was—or ought to have been—apparent to us, from the fact that no actual walls could there be built, flat layers of stones taking their place.

About half-way through we sat down by the roadside, to enjoy our well-earned lunch.

Till then, when we were ourselves quiet, I had not fully realised the absolute stillness of the scene. As we sat together, gazing and not talking, the absence of sound and of life seemed oppressive. No trees grew near. No birds were visible. I did not notice any insects. One old horse browsed in lonely content, by the roadside. One cart, containing a man and woman, had gone by ten minutes earlier. Some sheep dotted the lofty slopes. The trickle of a stream was faintly audible: and now and then a distant low bleat could be heard. That was all.

"Would you care to live here, Miss Con?" Thyrza asked.

"Hardly," I said. "One would at least wish for a few human beings within reach, to be kind to."

"That is like you," she made answer quickly. And presently she asked, "Miss Con, do you remember speaking of The Fell as a picture of Truth,—different people seeing different sides from different standpoints?"

"It is a favourite idea of mine," I said.

"I thought of that, last Sunday evening, when father and Sir Keith were talking. They do look upon some things so differently, you know. Only Sir Keith is such a thorough gentleman, he never gets angry in argument, or tries to thrust his opinions down other people's throats, and he always lets other people have their say too. But still, of course one could see that they didn't think just alike. If father were not so fond of Sir Keith, he would mind it more. He doesn't like people not to think exactly the same as he does, generally."

"Perhaps none of us do—by nature," I said. "A strong belief in one's own wisdom is particularly human."

"But I think you have taught me to believe that I may be mistaken sometimes," she said wistfully, even humbly. "I used to be so horridly dogged and determined about everything."

"You were—rather," I replied, smiling. "And the more unimportant the question, the more dogged you were in asserting your own convictions."

"Yes,—I know. Am I quite so bad now, Miss Con?"

"No; I see a marked difference," I said.

"I'm so glad. I will try harder."

"Don't go to the opposite extreme, my dear, of thinking that you are to have no opinions at all, but must always agree with everybody."

She laughed, and asked, "Am I in danger of that?"

"Not at present, I think. But it is a weakness of human nature to be disposed to rebound from one extreme to another. Truth lies more generally in the fair road between,—though it does sometimes include a measure of one or both extremes."

Thyrza looked up, and said, "I suppose any one living here would describe the mountain as stern and frowning. And we at Beckdale would describe it as all soft beauty,—except just at The Scaur. And both would be true."

"Yes," I said; "but no man would have a fair conception of the mountain as a whole, unless he had gained at least a glimpse of both sides,—not to speak of other sides also which we have not seen yet."

Then we rose and continued our walk. Thyrza seemed thoughtful still. She observed, after a while, as if carrying on our talk—

"Don't you think that sometimes people seem to see only one side of—" she hesitated, lowering her voice reverently,—"of Christ? I mean, even those who do really love and obey Him?"

"My dear, ninety-nine hundredths of the errors into which most of us fall, spring from one-sided views of Him," I said. "For He is THE TRUTH. One-sided views of Him are one-sided views of Truth: and a one-sided view is always a defective view."

"And isn't there any help—any cure?" she asked.

"Only in Him. He gives us clearer eyesight, and then He shows Himself more clearly,—if we are willing," I said. "But a great many people are so well content with what they already see, as really to care little for seeing farther."

"Sir Keith often says that very much depends on our willingness," Thyrza observed gravely.

I could not but remember the first time I had seen Sir Keith. He had put the thought into my head.

We went on to the end of the Pass, the last part of our way being a sharp descent, till we reached the pretty river which begins as a streamlet on the central ridge or highest point of the Pass. There for a while we rested, and there, to Thyrza's joy, she discovered a fine plant of Parsley fern, growing half under a sheltering rock. My "find" of last summer died long ago, as Thyrza then predicted. "But I shall keep this for my own," she said.

Plenty of time remained yet, when we had passed the central ridge on our return. Thyrza seemed in no hurry to reach home. She was in high spirits, no longer disposed to sit still and meditate. She had repeatedly expressed a wish to climb the steep hillside lying now to our left: and as we advanced, the desire came over her more strongly.

"I really do think I must," she said at length. "It is quite too tempting. And I am as fresh as a lark still. You shall just sit here, and wait for me."

"Why should I not go too?" I asked.

"Oh, because you are not so robust as I am: and there is always the chance of your hurting your knee again. No: you must sit perfectly still, and be lazy. I know you enjoy being alone in such a place as this. I dare say I shall not be long. When I come down, we'll finish off the cake, before going on."



THE SAME—continued.

I WATCHED Thyrza, as she crossed actively the broken but on the whole level space, between the road and the steep mountain-sides: and I saw her begin to climb with easy speed.

It was a temptation to me to join her, even then. I am a good climber by nature: and an ascent has always a fascination for me. But I knew that without any such additional exertion, I should have taxed my powers pretty severely by the time we reached home. So I followed Thyrza's advice, and remained quiet, seated on a rock by the roadside, with my face toward the flowing green slopes.

The deep stillness of the scene impressed me again, more forcibly than ever. For now I had not a companion. I was entirely alone. Not even the trickling of water was to be heard. One solitary dream-like "ba-a-a" sounded, to be answered by a second. Then silence again. No human being was in sight, except the figure of Thyrza, growing momentarily smaller, as she went upward.

Her ascent seemed very slow, as I gazed. I began to realise how much steeper and loftier those heights were than we two had imagined.

But Thyrza went on, sometimes pausing, sometimes turning to right or left, as if choosing her steps. At present she showed no inclination to come back.

I observed her movements steadily, wondering how much farther she would go. Her last words had been—"Perhaps I shall have had enough of it half-way up." She appeared now to be more than half-way up, but there were no signs that she had had enough of it. Hardly probable that she should. If the enthusiasm of climbing had possession of her, she would scarcely rest content short of the summit.

The little black figure still rose,—more and more like a big ant clinging to the wall of a house; or I thought so.

All at once she came to a pause. I judged that she had mounted somewhere about three-quarters of the height from my level: but it is very difficult to judge truly, looking upward. For some minutes she remained perfectly still. I supposed her to be resting: yet it seemed a curious spot to choose for a rest.

I was growing rather nervous at her prolonged fixity in one position, when I distinctly saw her move. She seemed to crawl a few paces to the right, and there to pause afresh. At all events, she could start again, when she chose. That set my mind at ease. It seemed likely that she saw the last piece to be too much for her powers: and that after a brief repose she would come down.

"Time enough too," I said aloud; and my voice sounded strange in the solitude. "This takes longer than I calculated on. We ought to be getting homeward."

Then, curiously, it flashed into my mind that I had an unread letter with me. Why not wile away some minutes by reading it, as I sat there?

I pulled out the black-edged envelope, which was a good deal crumpled; and noticed the London postmark. "Not Bath!" I said, with momentary surprise. And one look at the agitated uneven handwriting showed me that it was not Ellen Smyth's,—but—Miss Millington's! Strange that I had not recognised it at first sight; only hers, as I had known it previously, was neither agitated nor uneven, but neat and precise to a fault.

Within were two sheets, blotted, blurred, and closely filled.

Then that which I expected had come at last!—And I knew it!

I am ashamed to say that I forgot all about Thyrza. I think I even forgot where I was. Noises were sounding in my ears, like the distant roar of a great city; and a dread of what I might find in that letter had possession of me.

For I could see it to be some manner of outpouring; and I could conjecture what the outpouring might include. I quailed before the prospect. Suspicion was one thing; certainty would be another. I believed that I had fully forgiven Miss Millington. Would the battle have now to be fought all over again?

With a voiceless prayer, and with a resolute effort, I took up the sheets, not reading yet, but glancing rapidly at a sentence here or there. When I reached the end thus, one short assertion only remained on my mind—

"I was not really sure."

I must have sunk into a dream upon those five words, and their possible meaning. Then I woke up to the fact that the letter contained much besides, especially the sad news of Mrs. Millington's death.

I began again at the beginning, and read the whole through carefully. It was a sorrowful composition,—bitter, self-reproachful, miserable in tone. I cannot copy the whole, and I will not keep the original. A few sentences will be enough.

   "I don't know what kept me from speaking, that day," she wrote. "For I did really want to tell you I was sorry; only I could not. I suppose it was pride. I know I am proud. I did so hate to take the money; and yet somehow I could not say no, for I thought it might save my Mother's life. And it has not. That is the worst of all. I have gone through that horrible humiliation for nothing. Mother did seem better for a time, and of course it was a real comfort to her to be out of debt, but she failed at last quite suddenly, and nothing more could be done.

   "It was only yesterday that she died.

   "I am writing to you now, because I must. I dare not put off. I have such a dreadful feeling that perhaps, if I had spoken out sooner, God would not have taken my Mother. I dare say some people would say I am foolish to think this, but I know better. All these months I have known I ought to speak, and I have been struggling against it; and now she is gone, and I have nobody left except Jeannie. And perhaps if I do not speak out, she will be taken too. I don't think I could bear that. She looks ill, and it terrifies me. I dare say I deserve that, or anything,—but at all events, I am telling you the truth now. I wish I had before . . .

   "You told me you had forgiven me: but I never could feel that was real, because if you had known all, you would not have said so . . .

   "I don't know what made me hate you as I did! I suppose it was partly your being Mrs. Romilly's friend. And I always thought you could not endure me: and when you seemed kind, I felt sure you had an object. I can't make up my mind how much you really know of things, or how much I ought to tell you—" and then followed melancholy particulars, written as it seemed to me in a half-broken half-bitter spirit, more because she dreaded not to tell from a haunting fear of punishment, than because her will was bowed to do God's will.

No need to copy out these details. Only—I have not judged her falsely.

For the Gurglepool trick was hers: and she did set herself to oppose my authority in every possible way. She endeavoured systematically to turn the girls against me. She used the opportunity to look into my private journal, and she employed afterwards the information so gained, making it a subject of jesting with the girls, and untruthfully professing to have learnt it through a friend of hers who lives in Bath.

Worse even than all this,—not morally worse, for that could hardly be, but worse in its actual results upon my happiness,—when Arthur came to Beckdale, to learn if he had any hope of winning me; which she seems to have divined as his object; she set herself deliberately, falsely, to quash his hopes. In a certain brief interview, she gave him to understand, not by assertion, but by insinuation no whit less untrue, that I had shown a marked dislike to him.

More still,—when she received her dismissal from Mrs. Romilly, she took a further step. She sent a brief note to Arthur to reach him at The Park, briefly warning him as a friend—a friend!!—that if he wished to consult his own interests and peace of mind, he would keep out of my way.

   "I don't know what he thought of me. I think I must have been mad,—such a wild thing to do," she wrote. "He never answered my note or took any notice of it. But it took effect: and that was all I cared for. I had my revenge,—and I wanted nothing else.

   "It is of no use to ask if you can possibly ever forget all this; for I know you can't. I could not in your place. I will never never be untruthful again,—but that can't alter what I have done to you. It is impossible that you should get over it."

And at the moment my heart cried out assent to the impossibility.

For he had come indeed to seek me once: and a second time we might have met; and twice she had driven him away.

Then at length I reached the mention of her more recent letter to Maggie, in which was contained the news of his engagement.

   "I was so glad to have it to tell," she wrote, "that I would not ask any particulars,—I wouldn't even try to find out if it was true. I was not really sure. It was just told as a piece of gossip, and I knew there might be some mistake. I was not really sure. But I wrote to Maggie directly, and I have never heard any more. I do not even know where Captain Lenox is now. I think I should have heard if it were not true, and I am afraid it is. So I can do nothing at all to undo the past: and that makes me sure that I must not expect you ever to be friends with me again. Only for the sake of Jeannie, and because of my feeling that she will die, if I do not—I must tell you all."

I had not noticed before those words following the others,—fearing it was, after all, true.

It did seem to me too much—too great a wrong! I must have sat long, half unconscious of my own position, clasping the letter tightly between both hands. For a while I could not think,—I could only feel. The knowledge that a year ago he had still cared, touched me very keenly, with a mingling, of sweet and bitter. But the "might have been," and the "was not,"—and the sense of the great life-loss, the loneliness, the sadness to come,—all through her! How could I forgive?

The stony hardness broke up at last, and tears fell in a shower. I have not wept so freely for years, I think. And when that came to an end, the bitterness seemed gone. I could once more say,—"His will—not mine."

       *       *        *       *        *       *        *

But Thyrza!

It came over me in a flash, vivid as lightning, how long I had been there. Thyrza ought by this time, surely, to have reached the lower slopes.

I looked up, running my eyes swiftly over the broad mountain face, searching from below to above, from right to left. In vain. No Thyrza was to be seen. I scanned the frowning beauty of the level summit, and travelled downward again to the spot where I had noted her last. But Thyrza had vanished.



THE SAME—continued.

I HAD not looked at my watch when Thyrza left me. A glance at it now showed the afternoon to be far advanced; indeed, this I already knew from the slant of the sun's rays.

Blaming myself much for the absorption in my own affairs, to which I had weakly yielded, I stood up and again eagerly scanned the green slopes; without result.

Had Thyrza reached the top, and there been taken ill from over-exertion? Such a thing might happen. Or had she lost her footing, and rolled downward?

If the latter, I should find her without difficulty lying below, hidden from where I stood, but not far off. The very idea brought a cold shiver. That I disregarded, however. Action of some kind was necessary. Feeling had to wait.

It was not, of course, impossible that Thyrza should have reached the summit, tempted onward by the excitement of climbing, and there should have vanished for a short time before descending. But the fact which startled me was the length of the time she had been absent. A brief disappearance would not have been surprising. I could not understand her remaining away. Thyrza is so thoughtful; unlike Maggie and Nona; and especially thoughtful about me. I had said to her laughingly before she went, "Mind, if anything goes wrong, I shall come after you." She would remember this; and I knew she did not wish me to attempt the ascent.

The search below was soon over. I explored every spot where she might lie hidden, had she slipped and fallen. She was not there; neither was she on the slopes. I could see the broad green expanse, as I stood beneath looking upwards,—in parts frightfully near the perpendicular. I began to think I had done foolishly in consenting to let her go up.

If she did not very soon appear, nothing remained for me but to follow in her wake. I determined to wait a quarter of an hour; then, if she had not appeared, to start without more delay.

The fifteen minutes dragged past slowly. I had made my way to a low wall, and there I sat, waiting, watch in hand, in the soundless solitude. Nobody passed along the road. No human being was visible on the heights. It seemed to me that they grew steeper and loftier the longer I gazed.

"Time up! I must go!" I said aloud.

I suppose I moved too hastily, stepping down from my seat on the wall. I had gone there for a clear view. The wall was formed of large jagged stones, piled loosely together. One of these stones gave way under my foot, and I came to the ground with a sharp jar,—standing, but a good deal shaken,—and when I took a step away from the spot, I was instantly conscious of a crick in my weaker knee,—it might be a strain or twist.

For a minute I kept perfectly still, hoping that it would prove to be nothing. But the first movement showed me conclusively that my climb was at an end. I might as well have tried to reach the moon as the summit of the mountain.

It was a severe disappointment. If Thyrza had hurt herself, and were ill or disabled above, she would be needing me sorely.

Still, it was out of the question that I should go: and the thought now occurred that I ought at once to return to my seat on the road. If the dog-cart came to meet us, as it might do later, I had no business to be out of its direct path. Besides, Thyrza would know where to find me, or to send a messenger, if she had found it needful to go round some other way, rather than attempt the descent.

So very cautiously, and not without a good deal of pain in the knee, I limped back to my old position.

The hour following seemed very long, very dreary. I do not know that I have ever felt more weighed down and altogether sorrowful. I was anxious about Thyrza: and my own future seemed so grey and wearisome. The letter from Miss Millington pressed upon me like lead. Could I in heart and soul forgive her the wrong she had wilfully done to me?

At the end of an hour, or something like an hour, I looked up,—I had been gazing on the ground,—and the sunbeams were shining like reddish gold all along the broad mountain brow, with wonderful beauty. It seemed to me the gleam of a smile from heaven. The mountain's frown was lost in that smile.

"I shall find brightness enough in another world, if not in this," I found myself saying aloud. "One only has to wait a little while."

The deadly stillness of the Pass was so strange: no answer coming. And then a soft voice seemed to say, "Miss Millington?"—as if asking a question.

"Yes!" I said; and there was a sudden radiance of joy in my heart, resembling the outside glow. "Yes, I do forgive! I will write and tell her so."

The shining radiance deepened, without and within. I had an extraordinary sense of rest,—of willingness to receive whatever might be sent me. No thought of fear mingled with the willingness, though I whispered instinctively, "Does this mean some fresh great trouble?" If it did, I was willing still. The Presence of my Master would make all things light.

I almost expected another utterance of the soft voice, speaking to my heart from without or within—which, I do not know. I waited—listening.

And no voice spoke. But my eyes fell upon a figure, descending the great green slope, exactly in front.

"Thyrza!" I cried.

It was not Thyrza. It was a man. I saw him distinctly in the full sunlight. Had he come to tell me ill news of Thyrza?

I cannot think now why I was not more afraid. I did not feel afraid, sitting there with clasped hands, gazing upward. I could follow every movement of the descending figure. He seemed to be a good climber. That was speedily apparent. Down and down he came, steadily. Once he leaped a wall, perhaps to find an easier slope on the other side.

When more than half-way down, he stood still, and seemed to be looking at something or for somebody. I waved my handkerchief, and he at once waved his. So I knew he was coming to me,—though I did not know yet the full meaning of "he!" Joys, like sorrows, often dawn upon us step by step.

The lower portion of the slope was very rapidly got over; so rapidly that I was afraid he would slip. He took it at a run, and I saw him spring over some obstacle at the bottom. After which he marched straightly and swiftly towards where I sat.

Till then no thought of the truth had come into my mind. But something in the upright bearing, the slender frame, the soldierly walk, brought recollections thronging and made my heart beat fast.

"Absurd," I murmured. "Ridiculous of me to think—But it is like! I suppose he must be in the army too, whoever he is."

I do not know how long I fought against the reality,—how soon I dared to let myself believe it. I only know that I stood up slowly, and that he came nearer and nearer,—came fast, with his face turned fixedly towards mine. And the sunshine outside seemed to be filling my heart again; only this time it was a more earthly tremulous sunshine, flickering with every stride he took.

And I forgot all about Miss Millington, all about the news of Arthur's engagement.

For he was standing close in front of me, his hand clasping mine, and I was looking up into his face with a smile of welcome, such as I had not dared to give him that other time when we met. The lonely Pass seemed all at once full of life; and every touch of greyness had gone out of my future.

For the moment that our eyes met, I think each understood the other; though I only said, "Where is Thyrza?"

"Gone home with Sir Keith," he answered.

"Then you have seen her?" I asked.

"Yes," he said, and he explained briefly. Thyrza had climbed two-thirds of the height; then, pausing to look below, she had been seized with terror and giddiness, for the first time in her life, and had very nearly fallen down the mountain side. By dint of remaining still, and looking resolutely upward, she had so far recovered herself as to continue the ascent, reaching the top with great difficulty.

To descend again, however, had proved out of the question. Every time she approached the edge, dizziness and dread overpowered her anew. She had waved her handkerchief and made various signs to me, hoping that I should understand. Being short-sighted, she could not know whether I responded, which of course I did not, as I was then wrapped up in my letter.

Thereafter Thyrza had started off to find another way round. Her first intention was to go to The Scaur, and to descend the narrow path which runs down beside the bare rock: but happily she hit upon a shorter cut to the road by which we had approached the Pass.

Thyrza knew that Sir Keith had gone to Beckbergh to meet Arthur: and she knew that the two might possibly drive to meet us, if our return were at all delayed. I believe she had rather liked the prospect, and had been not indisposed to bring it about by delay: though later, when hurrying alone down the hills, she little expected to be so fortunate as to meet them at the moment she reached the road.

However, this really occurred. They pulled up and sprang down, astonished to see her alone. Thyrza must have been a good deal shaken by her touch of "vertigo," for she burst into tears when trying to explain matters,—a most astonishing event. Thyrza never cries in public, under any consideration, as a rule. Sir Keith was much troubled, and very sympathising; and Arthur promptly proposed to go in search of me, while Sir Keith drove Thyrza home.

Thyrza at first resisted, but she had to yield to Sir Keith's determination. The general impression was that I should certainly endeavour to climb the height in search of Thyrza, when she failed to return,—a well-founded theory, as proved by circumstances. Arthur resolved, therefore, to go by the same way that Thyrza had come. He had already explored these mountains, when staying last year at the Farm: besides, he is one of those men who are never at a loss in the wildest country.

So Sir Keith drove off with Thyrza, promising to bring or send the dog-cart with all speed to meet Arthur and me: and he made good use of his opportunity, following the advice I had given.

Arthur meanwhile found his way with all speed to the brow of the mountain, walking along it till he saw a little figure seated far below in the road. And as he came down, he stopped now and again to wave his handkerchief. Twice in vain: the third time I saw him, and waved mine.

Some of this Arthur told me briefly; much more I have heard since.

Then, to his concern, he learnt that I had hurt my knee: and he said how foolish he had been to let the dog-cart go home first, instead of driving straight to the Pass. And I said—"Oh no,—I am so glad you did!" For how could I wish anything to be different? How could I mind waiting?

Then he said something, speaking a little brokenly, about having almost made up his mind to leave England for ever. He had thought of it for months. And he had been to Glynde again for a night,—he hardly knew why. He had seen Mrs. Hepburn and Gladys. And something—something Gladys said or did not say,—something in her look of reproach, when she spoke of me,—had made him resolve to try once more.

And in a husky altered voice, he asked—

"Constance, is it true?—Have I been under a great mistake? Could you be mine now,—after all?"

I have no idea what I said in answer. It matters little what words one uses at such a moment, or whether one uses any words at all. He understood me, and I understood him. It was such wonderful unexpected happiness. All clouds seemed to have been suddenly swept away from my whole horizon, leaving only sunshine and a blue sky.

But I think my first impulse was to look up,—to feel that this joy was indeed my Father's gift to me, and to Arthur.

Life was so changed to both of us, in that one short hour. Changed, and yet the same. For the same Presence is with us still, the same Will directing us, the same Love surrounding us, the same Light beckoning us onward.

Only now we hope to live a life of service to Christ together,—not apart. And that means earthly as well as Heavenly sunshine.

When we reached home, we found that Sir Keith and Thyrza were engaged, to the great satisfaction of everybody. Thyrza appeared to have quite recovered from her severe climb. And I wrote at once a few lines of comfort to Miss Millington, telling her of my new happiness, and of the Help which might be hers, if only she herself were willing.


July 27. Tuesday.—Good news! Good news!

I was dreadfully afraid last week that I might have blundered. It is so fearfully difficult to know always what is just the wisest thing to say and do.

Major Lenox made his appearance suddenly. He was spending a night at the Inn, and he asked if he might come in to afternoon tea. And when he was here, instead of keeping off from the subject of Miss Con, he seemed to do nothing but bring her name up.

Well,—I really thought I ought to say something. I could not ask Mother's advice; because, of course, I have never felt free to tell her or any one about Miss Con's distress that day. It would be a betrayal of confidence.

An opportunity came up in the garden, when nobody was near for a minute or two. He said something about Yorkshire, and I spoke of the Romillys; and he answered me; and I asked him if he knew Miss Millington. He said "Hardly," in a considering tone; and I said, "Oh, she wrote us word of your engagement."

I was afraid he would think me blunt and interfering, but I really did it only for dear Miss Con's sake. He turned sharp round, and said, "How could she have heard that ridiculous tale?"

I believe I said, "Was it a tale?"

"Certainly," he said. "No foundation whatever!" And he looked quite fierce, and tugged at his moustaches.

And I said—not knowing what meant to come next—

"One never can depend on anything from Miss Millington. She told Maggie—and Maggie told me—and Miss Conway."

"Miss Conway heard it?" Major Lenox asked.

I said, "Yes!" and I looked straight at him for a moment. I did not dare to say any more, but I know what I wanted to say. And somehow it almost seemed to me that he read my thoughts. Such a curious softened expression came into his eyes: and his manner was different after that moment.

Nothing more was said by either of us: only next morning he walked in to say good-bye, and in a casual sort of way he spoke about "going north."

The very next thing we heard was that he had seen Miss Con, and that they are engaged. And he has given up all idea of exchanging into a regiment abroad. Oh it is so good!

Thyrza is engaged too,—actually on the same day, and to Sir Keith, of all people.

Mother seems not at all surprised, but it is a great surprise to me. I like Thyrza much better than I used: because she is more affectionate and less stiff; but I should not count her the kind of girl to be fallen in love with easily. And I should never have guessed Sir Keith to be the kind of man either.

However, of course tastes differ, and they ought to know their own minds. I am glad it is not Nellie.

July 29. Thursday.—Just ten days since I sent my last MS. to Mr. Willis.

After so many months of disappointment, one thing after another failing, I could hardly be hopeful. I could only pray and wait,—feeling that most likely I was not to have a book out at all this year. But I have worked hard with this tale, and I did do my very best.

Now the answer has come. Mr. Willis offers me thirty pounds for the first edition of 2000 copies: the copyright after that remaining in my hands. He says the story seems "interesting and well written," and he "hopes it may have a fairly good circulation."

At all events, the heroine is not too disagreeable this time!

I have written to accept the offer: and I do feel very happy about it.

It has been desperately hot weather lately: and I wanted so much to get it done, that I have been copying at the rate of forty to seventy MS. pages a day. But it was worth while. And I am only just in time for the autumn.

But I can see the good of failures,—even coming one after another. A year ago I was getting too confident, and perhaps careless. I think I have learnt a lesson for life.

August 15. Wednesday.—Plans seem settling into shape. About the middle of September the Romillys all come south; and early in October the double wedding will, it is hoped, take place. How droll to think of Thyrza as "Lady Denham!"

Miss Con is to be married from Glynde House; and perhaps her sister may be present. Not Mr. Smyth, for he never goes anywhere. He is too fat.

And I am to be one of Miss Con's bridesmaids!

Miss Con writes so brightly. She seems full of happiness. Her knee is almost well again, which is a great comfort.

She has been very busy lately, finding a situation for Miss Millington, as companion to an old lady in Bath, and also making arrangements about a home for the younger sister.

So like Miss Con!



Edinburgh & London

James Nisbet & Co.'s List.


"Tales that bear Miss Giberne's name are 'the best of the best.'  No writer excels her in this department of literature."—Fireside News.

"That the story is Miss Giberne's guarantees refinement and Christian principle."—Churchman.


THE DALRYMPLES. With Illustrations. Cheap Edition. 1s. 6d.
   "An interesting tale, exhibiting some striking situations."—Church Bells.

"LEAST SAID, SOONEST MENDED." Cheap Edition. 1s. 6d.
   "To say that it is by Miss Giberne is at once to recommend the story highly to girls."—Quiver.

   "A delightful story, and, we need hardly add—being Miss Giberne's—is full of the highest and most profitable religious teaching."—Record.

   "Miss Giberne's book is for gentler readers. It appeals very delicately to their softer sympathies, and introduces them to one young girl
    at least who may serve as a model or ideal to them. It is written in a pleasing sympathetic style."—Scotsman.

MISS CON; or, All Those Girls. 2s. 6d.
   "Constance Conway is a charming heroine. Her diary is an admirable collection of character sketches."—Athenæum.

   "Enid's nature is essentially heroic . . . The other characters are cleverly sketched."—Times.

ST. AUSTIN'S LODGE; or, Mr. Berkeley and his Nieces. 2s. 6d.
   "A very good example of the author's well-known style. It is carefully written, and is in all respects a conscientious performance."—Academy.

Prize and Gift Books.


BERYL AND PEARL. Illustrated. 2s. 6d.
   "One of Miss Giberne's most delightful tales."—Record.

KATHLEEN. Illustrated. Crown 8vo. 2s. 6d.
   "A fascinating tale."—Record.

SWEETBRIAR. Illustrated. 1s. 6d.

AIMÉE: A Tale of the Days of James the Second. Illustrated.
   Crown 8vo. 2s. 6d.

   "One of the best and soundest books we have seen."—Public Opinion.

   "A charming story, which displays all this well-known writer's knowledge of girls and their habits of mind."—Scotsman.

   "There are few boys or girls to whom this story will not prove interesting reading."—Court Circular.

OLD UMBRELLAS; or, Clarrie and her Mother. 1s.
   "This book is bright and lively, and will be read with pleasure and profit."—Christian.

MILES MURCHISON. Illustrated. Small crown 8vo. 1s.