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as pleased as the others; and, indeed, under the influence of a suggestion which made him feel his own importance so delightfully, Oswald was not at all sure that this was not the best thing, and the evident conclusion of the whole. But in the meantime he let his mind float away upon other fancies. Her! how little they knew who She was whom they thus ignorantly discussed. When he had got into the sanctuary of smoke, at which Mrs. Meredith shook her head, but which she had carefully prepared for her boys all the same, Oswald lit the other cigar which he had invited his brother to accompany, and sat down with that smile still upon his face, to enjoy it and his fancies. He laid his hand indolently upon a book, but his own musings were at the moment more amusing, more pleasantly exciting than any novel. The situation pleased and stimulated his fancy in every way. The demure little school procession, the meek young conventual beauty, so subdued and soft, yet with sparkles responsive to be struck out of her, half frightened, yet at the same time elevated above all the temptations that might have assailed other girls-it was scarcely possible to realise anything more captivating to the imagination. He sat and dreamed over it all till the small hours after midnight sounded one by one, and his fire went out, and he began to feel chilly; upon which argument Oswald, still smiling to himself, went to bed, well pleased with his fancies as with everything else belonging to him; and all the better pleased that he felt conscious of having roused a considerable deal of excitement and emotion, and of having, without any decided intention on his own part, delightfully taken in everybody, which delighted the schoolboy part of his nature. To be so clever as he was conscious of being, and a poet, and a great many other fine things, it was astonishing how much of the schoolboy was still in him. But yet he had no compunction as he went up the long staircase: he had not finished, nor indeed made the least advance with his poem.

From old Pietro's canvas freshly sprung
Fair face!-

This beginning was what he liked best.

Edward was moved in a very different way. He would have been magnanimous and given up Cara-that is, having no real right to Cara, he might have given up the youthful imagination of her which had always been his favourite fancy, to his brother, with some wringing of the heart, but with that compensation which youth has in the sublime sense of self-sacrifice. But there is no bitterness greater in this world, either for young or old, than that of giving up painfully to another something which that other holds with levity and treats with indifference. To hear Cara, the sacred young princess of his own fancy, spoken of lightly, and the supreme moment of possible union with her characterized as "turning off," was a downfall which made Edward half frantic with pain and shame, and indignation and impatience. She would be to Oswald only a common-place little wife, to be petted

when he was in the humour, standing very much lower than himself in his own good graces; whereas, to Edward she would have been

! but it was Oswald, not Edward, whom she had chosen. How strange they are all those wonderful confusions of humanity which depress the wisest, the blind jumps at fate, the foolish choices, the passing over of the best to take the worst, which form the ordinary course of existence everywhere, the poor young fellow thought, in this first encounter with adverse events; and this was mingled with that strange wonder of the tender heart to find itself uncomprehended and rejected, while gifts much less precious than those it offers are accepted, which is one of the most poignant pangs of nature :—and these feelings surging dimly through Edward's mind, filled him with a despondency and pain beyond words. Indeed he could not have told all the bitterness of the vague heavy blackness which swallowed up the fair world and everything lovely before him. It was not only that Cara had (he thought) chosen Oswald instead of himself, but also that the lesser love was preferred to the greater, and that the thing one man would have worshipped was thrown to the careless keeping of another, as if it were a thing of no price. The personal question and the abstract one twisted and twined into one, as is general in the first trials of youth. He himself unconsciously became to himself the symbol of true love misjudged, of gold thrown away for pinchbeck-and Cara the symbol of that terrible perennial mistake which is always going on from chapter to chapter of the world's history. Even, for he was generous in the very pangs of that visionary envy, it added another pang of suffering to Edward's mind, that he could not but consider his brother as the pinchbeck, so far as Cara at least was considered. While Oswald sat smiling to himself through the fumes of his cigar, Edward threw his window open and gazed out into the chill darkness of the winter night, feeling the cold wind, which made him shiver, to be more in consonance with his feelings than the warmth of the comfortable room inside.

Thus the whole little world was turned upside down by Oswald's light-hearted preference of his own gratification to anything other people might think. He had half forgotten the appointment he had so anxiously made with Cara when the morning came, having got into full swing with his verses-which was a still more captivating way of expressing his sentiments than confession of them to Cara

Fair face from old Pietro's canvas sprung,

Soft as the eve, fresh as the day,

Sweet shadow of angelic faces, young

And heavenly bright as they,

Soul of all lovely things, by poets sung

He could not content himself with the last line-"Accept my lay," or "my humble lay," was the easiest termination, but it was prosaic and affected. The consideration of this occupied him to the entire exclusion of Cara, and he only recollected with what anxiety he had begged her

to get rid of her aunt and see him alone at a quarter past twelve, having appointed to meet her at noon. He thrust the bit of paper on which he had been scribbling into his pocket, when he remembered, and went off languidly to pay his visit; he had meant to have completed the poem, and read it over to her, but it was clear that this must be postponed to another day.

Meanwhile good Miss Cherry, full of anxieties, had got up much earlier than was necessary, and had spent a long day before twelve o'clock. By way of giving to her withdrawal at that fated hour an air of perfect naturalness and spontaneity, she invented a great many little household occupations, going here and there over the different rooms with Nurse, looking over Cara's things to see what was wanted, and making a great many notes of household necessities. The one most serious occupation which she had in her mind she postponed until the moment when the lover, or supposed lover, should appear. This was her real object in coming to London, the interview which she had determined to have with her brother. With a heart beating more loudly than it had beaten for years, she waited till Oswald Meredith's appearance gave the signal for this assault, which it was her duty to make, but which she attempted with so much trembling. By the time Oswald did appear, her breath had almost forsaken her with agitation and excitement, and she had become almost too much absorbed in her own enterprise to wonder that at such a moment the young man should be late. She was already in the library when Oswald went upstairs. Two interviews so solemn going on together! the comfort of both father and daughter hanging in the balance. Miss Cherry knocked so softly as to be unheard, and had to repeat the summons before that "come in" sounded through the closed door which was to her as the trump of doom.

She went in. Mr. Beresford was seated as usual at his writing table, with all h's books about him. He was busy, according to his gentle idea of being busy, and looked up with some surprise at his sister when she entered. Miss Cherry came noiselessly forward in her grey gown, with her soft steps. He held his pen suspended in his fingers, thinking perhaps it was some passing question which she meant to ask, then laid it down with the slightest shadow of impatience, covered immediately by a pretended readiness to know what she wanted, and a slight sigh over his wasted time. Those who have their bread to work for take interruptions far more easily than those whose labours are of importance to nobody, and Macaulay writing his History would not have breathed half so deep a sigh as did James Beresford over the half hour he was about to lose. "You want something?" he said, with the smile of a conscious martyr.

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'Only to speak to you, James," said Miss Cherry, breathless. Then she looked up at him with a deprecating, wistful smile. "It is not very often that we meet now, or have any opportunity for a little talk," she said.

"Yes, Cherry, that is true enough. I have been so much away."

"And people drift apart; that is true too. I know I can't follow you in all your deep studies, James; but my heart is always the same. I think of you more than of any one, and of Cara. I hope she will live to be the dearest comfort to you as she always was to us. The light went away from the Hill, I think, when she went away."

"You have been very good to her, I am sure," he said, with due gratefulness," and most kind. You have brought her up very wisely, Cherry. I have no fault to find with her. She is a good little girl."

Miss Cherry, to hear her small goddess thus described, felt a sudden shock and thrill of horror; but she subdued herself. "I wanted to speak to you, James," she said, "of that:" then, with a slight pant and heave of her frightened bosom-"oh, James! do you not think you could give her a little more of your society-learn to know her better? you would find it worth your while!"

"Know her better! My dear Cherry, I know her very well, poor child. She is a good little girl, always obedient and dutiful. There cannot be very much fellowship between a man of my occupations and a quiet simple girl such as Cara is, I am glad to say; but I am very fond of her. You must not think I don't appreciate my child."

"It is not quite that," said poor Cherry. "Oh, James, if you only knew it, our Cara is a great deal more than merely a good little girl. I would not for a moment think of finding fault with you; but if you would see her a little more in the evening-if you would not go out quite so much

"Go out!--I really go out very seldom. I think you are making a mistake, Cherry, my dear."

"Oh no, James; since I have come, it has been my great thought. I know you don't mean to be unkind; but when you are out every evening "

"Really, Cherry, I had no idea that my liberty was to be infringed, and my habits criticised."

Miss Cherry came up to him with an anxious face and wet eyes. "Oh, James, don't be angry! That is not what I mean. It is not to criticise you. But if you would stay with your child in the evening sometimes. She is so sweet and young. It would give you pleasure if you were to try-and-it would be better, far better in other ways too." "I don't understand what you mean," he said, hurriedly.

"No, no. I was sure, quite sure, you never thought, nor meant anything. But the world is a strange world. It is always misconceiving innocent people-and, James, I am certain, nay, I know, it would be so much better: for every one-in every way."

"You seem to have made up your mind to be mysterious, Cherry," he said. I don't see to whom it can be of importance how I pass my time. To Cara you think? I don't suppose she cares so much for my society. You are an old-fashioned woman, my poor Cherry, and think as you were

brought up to think. But, my dear, it is not necessary to salvation that a man should be always in his own house, and between a man of fifty and a girl of seventeen there is not really so much in common.

"When they are father and daughter, James-— ? ”

But if

"That does not make very much difference that I can see. you think Cara is dull, we must hit upon something better than my society. Young friends perhaps if there is any other girl she likes particularly, let her invite her friend by all means. I don't want my little girl to be dull."

"It is not that, James. She never complains: but, oh, if you would try to make friends with the child! She would interest you, she would be a pleasant companion. She would make you like your home again : and oh, pardon me, James, would not that be better than finding your happiness elsewhere?"

At this moment the door was opened, and John appeared ushering in a scientific visitor, whose very name was enough to frighten any humble person like Miss Cherry. She withdrew precipitately, not sorry to be saved from further discussion, and wondering at herself how she could have had the audacity to speak so to James. Nothing but her anxiety could have given her such boldness. It was presumption, she felt, even in her secret soul, to criticise, as he said, a man like her brother, older and so much wiser than herself; but sometimes a little point of custom or regard to appearances might be overlooked by a clever man in the very greatness of his thoughts. This was how kind Miss Cherry put it-and in that way, the mouse might help the lion, and the elderly, oldfashioned sister be of use to a wise and learned man, though he was a member of all the societies. And how kindly he had listened to her, and received her bold animadversions! When there is anything to admire in the behaviour of those they look up to, kind women, like Miss Cherry, can always find some humble plea like this at least, for a little adoration. Such a clever man, had he not a right to be furious, brutal if he pleased, when a simple little woman dared to find fault with him? but on the contrary, how well he took it-what a man he was!

Miss Cherry hurrying upstairs met Cara coming down, and her other excitement came back to her in a moment. She took the girl's hands in hers, though it was in no more retired place than the landing on the stairs. "Well, my darling," she said anxiously.

"Well, Aunt Cherry!" said Cara, and laughed. "I was coming to look for you, to ask you to come out and get some ribbon—”

"But Cara

"Come!" cried the girl, running upstairs again to get her hat; and what had really happened that morning, Miss Cherry never knew. So that both her excitements came to nothing, and the day turned out uneventful like other common days.

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