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him, but everyone unites to sing his “Is it only that you are not accuspraise.”
tomed to it?” he said ; “or is it not “He is everything that is best and rather that you cannot accustom yourkindest,” said Christina; but she spoke self to it? Oh, Christina, you do not with an effort, and she dared not look at know how to deceive! You deceive him again.
no one but yourself, and you
think “So you will spend your life here; no one can see that you are struggling you will always be a neighbour of ours, to be free—that you are restless and he said: "and when you are no longer unhappy." afraid of vexing your grandfather, I “I am happy," she said in her dread, hope you will not be so unwilling to facing him as she spoke. come to the Park."
“It is easier to say so than to seem She was growing cold with the force It is a mockery to say that you she was putting upon herself, and the are happy. Is this the first warning battle she was fighting, but yet she you have had? Has no one else seen would not give in. But oh, if only he -has no one spoken to you ?”. would talk of something else--if only Why do you speak of it?” said he would not set her future thus before Christina “ You should say nothing to her.
me that he might not hear. I have “ I suppose your plans are undecided promised to marry him, and now I as yet ?” he continued. “I have not will not talk about it with you. I seen Mr. Warde for some days, þut he have promised to be his wife, and you is always busy with his schools or his have nothing to do with it.” poor people or something or other. I They had reached the same hollow am afraid such things have not been between the hills where they had met much in
for the first time alone. The leaves “Not yet,” said Christina; but her were rustling and falling about them, voice sounded strange, and she put up and lying crisp and yellow on the her hands to her face with a sudden ground, and the bracken crackled bemovement, for it seemed that the white neath their feet. It had been early road upon which the sun was shining spring when they stood there first, and dazzled her as she looked at it.
now it was September, and everything “ Come on to the moor; the sun is too was changed. much for you," he said gently: and he Christina stood still, as if to give followed, whilst she walked on as if in him his dismissal ; the colour had come a dream. They were walking, as they into her cheeks at her last words, and had often walked before, across the she had once more grasped her fate and heath in the sunny freshness of the fortified herself in her pride and indemorning: the mist was still lying in pendence. the hollow, the grass was still wet with “Have I nothing to do with it? Do dew, the birds were wheeling over their you think that I would speak now if I heads, the lizards darting, and the grass had nothing more to say? Is it poshoppers chirruping at their feet; and in sible, Christina, that you do not know the pause which had followed his last what it is ?” words, Christina had once more gathered Then, in spite of everything, though up her strength and would not be van
she was strong,
courage deserted her. quished.
She could no longer hope to deceive “ People can always do what has to him : as she stood there in the flickerbe done,” she said. “I suppose I shall ing sunlight he saw her grow pele, and, learn my duties in time; it is only that she trembled and put out her hand, I am not accustomed to it.”
leaning against a young birch-tree to There was a momentary silence; and steady herself. when by an effort she turned her eyes “ There is nothing to make you upon him, she saw that he was smiling afraid,” he said ; "it has not been your strangely at her.
fault, and I thought only of the moment,
and did not look on till they told me came into her eyes. It was an unequal you were going to be married to another bargain, and yet she was content, and
I think you made me forget the more than content, to give all and take future."
what he offered in return. She knew “Not now—not when it is too late," that he cared for her, and that was she cried, and sat down, for she could enough. not stand, and hid her face in her “I have asked no promise," he said : hands; and a rushing sound was in her and the words brought back to her a ears, and her heart beat in great throbs, sense of what she had done and of what and she was not even conscious of Cap- had yet to be accomplished. tain Cleasby, nor, at first, of the words Oh, how can I?" she cried. “He he said.
does not care for me : it was only that He was not too much agitated to he was kind and
but how plead his cause gracefully and well; and can I tell him? I make every one unyet he was moved and carried out of happy. I don't know how they will himself, for he knew that she loved bear the disappointment.” him, and he too loved her as he had never “Why did they wish it ? Was it loved before. He sat opposite to her on that you might be safely provided for? a bit of broken wood, waiting patiently I must persuade them that I am to till she should speak to him, and his be trusted. I will not give you up, eyes were smiling, though his mouth Christina; and I am not afraid that you was grave.
will desert me. Shall I come with you “What made you do it?” he said at last. “Did they all wish it so much ? But she said not now-she would tell Why did you not trust me?"
Mr. Warde first. What had there been to make her “Could not your cousin do something trust ? Nothing; she knew it, though for you?" she did not say it. It was true, as he “Bernard ? Oh no!” she said, with said, that he had not thought of the a pang at her heart; and he asked future; and perhaps he never would nothing more. And so they parted. have thought of it in the way that he “I wish I could spare you all this," was thinking of it now, had it not been he said : and Christina looked at him for Mr. Warde.
with a troubled joy, and a gladness Christina lifted up her head, and which was strangely intermixed with resting her chin on her hand, she pain. She had yielded herself up to looked at him fixedly for a long time him for now and for ever; she knew with her searching dark eyes; but he that she could take back nothing of met her look with imperturbable com what she had given ; she trusted him posure.
and she loved him ; and yet she knew “I did not think that you would that, though he cared for it, he would mind," she said.
never understand, he could never know Even at this moment she knew that what she had given him. he did not love her as she loved him, and yet it made no difference; she would have gladly given up all for
CHAPTER XIV. him, only she could not bear to be deceived. If he had made any protesta CHRISTINA was triumphant and penitions- if he had been vehement or im tent, strangely happy and yet regretful, passioned, even now she might have more than content with what she had turned from him, but he did not profess gained, yet with a natural shrinking more than he felt.
from the consequences of that gain ; “I did mind, Christina," he said ; sometimes she was all these things by and she believed him, and answered turns, sometimes it seemed that she him by one of her sudden smiles, was all these things at once. though at the same moment the tears She came out from her
presence on that evening with a white, better now to him than she had done set face. He was powerless now, and he before. She was grateful to him ; knew it, and did not attempt to exercise she was ashamed of the past, and she authority; but he was bitter and fierce was ashamed of breaking her engagein his disappointment; for he could not ment; but yet she felt that she was without a mortal wound to his pride doing him a service. He had been very accept from Captain Cleasby the help he kind; her mother had said he had been had looked for from Mr. Warde; and kinder than she knew, because she did though Christina had held her own not as yet understand the burthens of against him, there had been a struggle, married life; and from these burthens and the victory had not brought her she was now about to release him. In peace. Then her mother's first impulse one way she had never deceived him; of incredulity had to be overcome, and he had not asked for more than she her weak lamentations heard, not once, could give : and thus it was that but many times.
though she wrote her letter gravely, “You will not be happy with him, and a little mournfully, she did not Christina," she had said. " Of course feel overpowered by shame for what you can do as you please, but do not she had done, nor by pity for what think you will be happy. He loves you she was about to do; and yet it was now, perhaps ; but all that passes away, hard to her to write the letter; and and some day you will look back and though it was short, it was a long time regret what you might have been. He before she could put her meaning into has a fancy for the moment; perhaps he words :would never have had it but for the obstacles raised in his path. All his “DEAR MR. WARDE,—This mornfriends will look down upon you, and ing, Captain Cleasby has asked me some day he may learn to see with to marry him. It was very sudden, their eyes. It may seem cruel now, and I was taken by surprise ; but it but I must warn you before it is too it had not been sudden, I could have late.”
given him no other answer; and “It is too late," said Christina : and after he had spoken I could not she too looked on, as she spoke, to the have married anyone else. I know future which her mother had pictured, that I was engaged to you, and that but yet she smiled, as if she did not I have broken my engagement very know what it was to be afraid. “It is suddenly, and when I had given you no too late. I can never go back again. I reason to think that there was any have been very wrong, but not in this change. But until this morning there and I will not give this up; I could was no change. I think that I ought not; he would not let me."
never to have promised to marry you. “You are doing it on your own re- You were kind and generous in wishing sponsibility then, Christina. Do not it, and now I believe that you will forsay that you were not warned. But of give me, because you are kind and what use are warnings ? I had had generous always. warnings, but I would not listen until
“ Yours very gratefully, the time for them was passed. You
“ CHRISTINA NORTH.” must see Mr. Warde, of course, and I think you ought to let him know at Mr. Warde made no answer by letter, once.”
but in the evening he walked down to “He does know," said Christina; “I the White House, and asked to see wrote to him."
Christina. She was sitting silently at Yes, that afternoon she had written her work, and rose up as he came in to tell him that it must all be over and held out her hand. between them. She knew that she “I meant it for the best, Christina," had behaved badly to him, but it he said ; “but I suppose it was a misseemed to her that she was behaving take. Did you not know your own
mind, or were you afraid to speak passage to see ber grandfather. When
Mr. North spoke to her again, he no “I don't know, I meant," she said, longer refused to see Captain Cleasby, hesitating.
and his tone, though querulous, was no “ Never mind,” he said, with the longer bitter. Then Christina knew considerate kindness which had made that Mr. Warde had already put himhim like her always. “We will not go self upon her side, and that at least she back upon the past. It has been a would have one powerful ally. mistake. I thought that I could have The day after, Captain Cleasby called made you happy ; but as it is not to be, for her; and she saw him again for the why should we make ourselves more first time since their meeting and their unhappy about it than we can help ?” engagement. One day she had said
“Only I must say that I am sorry.” that she must be free to make the
“No, Christina, you need not say announcement to her grandfather and that. It all rests between you and her mother, and to write to Mr. me; and if I do not blame you, no one Warde. Now these things had been else has a right to do so."
done, done with less difficulty and pain There was something so simple, and than she had a right to expect, done yet so generous, in the entire absence of comparatively so easily that she was rereproach or self-pity ; there was some- morseful and sorry, far more sorry than thing so honest and true in his thought she would have been if the opposition for her, that Christina looked up at him she had had to encounter had been more with a feeling of reverence as well as violent and more sustained ; and she admiration. And yet he was no saint, was softened and humbled, feeling as if but an unintellectual man, without she had much to atone for. But yet she sensitive perceptions, or perhaps the knew, in spite of it all, that at last she highest aspirations.
had found that for which unconsciously "I am afraid that you have difficulties she had longed. It was not that she before you, and you know you may did not feel that there might be dangers always count upon my friendship ; but to be met; only now they had no power first, Christina, I am going to preach a to make her retrace her steps. She had little. Do not think that you can thought herself strong, but he had conchoose your trials for yourself. They quered her. are all sent, as well as your blessings, She could not go down to meet him, and you must take them as they come, as she had gone down to meet Mr. Warde. and make the best of them. You ran At the sound of his step on the gravel. with the footmen, and you failed, and yet walk the colour came flushing into her you would have thrust yourself into the face, and she got up quickly, and went swelling of Jordan. You were dissatis- to him half shyly, with her eyes glancing fied and unhappy, and so you thought about in all directions, as they had a yourself capable of a great sacrifice ; and habit of doing when she was excited, in its accomplishment you hoped to find and with a flitting smile hovering round an escape. Perhaps I should have her mouth. thought of this, but I did not until I “At last, Christina,” he said, and he got your letter. I thought that if it too smiled; "and how is it to be? It had been so you would have spoken. is too late for anyone to say no, but still If you are doing right now,—and re- for your sake I hope that I am to be member, Christina, I do not blame you forgiven.” because of to-day,-if you are doing “Grandpapa will see you,” said right in promising to marry Captain Christina ; but they did not go at once Cleasby, do not think that you will to the old man, but sat together in the have nothing more that will be hard front parlour, in that dingy little room into to bear; yet do not despair because which the sunshine was used to creep there are lions in your path."
slowly and stealthily, as into an unacThen he left her, and went across the customed place; but to-day it was filled
with the sunshine of happiness, and at all to the wedding. It was all so Hope was standing at the door.
new, and she was wrapt up in her preAnd the hour passed, as our happiest sent happiness, and she had never and saddest hours pass, so quickly that imagined it would be so soon. But we can hardly understand their sweet- when he appealed to her, she did not ness or their bitterness till it is gone, hesitate a moment. and we shall know it no more ; and “Yes, of course,” she said; "but why then Mrs. North bronight word that her must you go away now? Can't the father would see Captain Cleasby before lawyers do without you? I am sure he left the house.
they don't want you." “Yes, he is coming,” said Christina: “You don't understand, Christina," and she rose at once, and led the way said Mr. North. “Captain Cleasby is across the passage, and knocked at the quite right; a man should always look study door.
after his affairs for himself, and then She wished that there might be no perhaps there wouldn't be so many poor outward show of anger and reproach, fools ruined in this world. Trust yourand yet the meeting struck her as more self, and depend on yourself, and look melancholy than if there had been some about you, -that's my advice : and sign of real feeling; for what is sadder there's many a young fellow would have than a form from which the spirit has been glad had he followed it instead of for ever departed ? A smile which taking his ease, whilst his money was would be friendly if it might, words of being thrown to the dogs:-yes, and his gratitude and kindness veiling the cold- good name too, if he had only known it, ness of a heart.
and all through some one he trusted as Christina felt it instinctively as she a friend,-lucky for him if it wasn't stood in the doorway and watched the his own flesh and blood.” meeting,—her grandfather rising stiffly It was a long speech for Mr. North, from his chair, and holding out his hand and he ended in a low mournful with apparent cordiality; the young cadence, so that they hardly caught his man's graceful and indifferent bearing,— last words. Christina knew that he she understood it all, and turned away was thinking of his son, and of his own with a feeling of pain that it must be misfortunes ; she was softened and pitiso always.
ful, and encouraged by his taking Yet before Captain Cleasby left the Captain Cleasby's part even upon a house he had done much to smooth trifling subject. away the difficulties in their path ; and “You must not think so much of old Mr. North had consented to the marriage times,” she said gently; “I think the taking place so soon as Walter should world has grown better. And we are have got his affairs into order.
all going to be good and happy, like the “I ought to have been straight before people at the end of a fairy tale ; and now," be said ; “but these lawyers are you must forget about the past, and be for ever making difficulties, and as a fond of him for my sake,-won't you, matter of fact, though I have been six grandpapa ?” months at the Park, I have not come She was sitting on the arm of her into my property yet. I think I shall grandfather's chair, and Captain Cleasby have to run up to London to see about was close to her on the other side, leanthings, and in the meantime Christina ing against the low chimney-piece, and can be making her preparations, so that as she spoke she reached out her hand we can be married, when I return, at for one of his, and put it in the old once. I never saw the use of making man's. such a fuss over weddings, and bothering “Say something nice to him, grandoneself with a whole heap of aunts and papa !” uncles. We mean to do it in our own Captain Cleasby smiled, but not sarway, don't we, Christina ?”
castically, and waited a little curiously Christina had as yet given no thought for what would follow.