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of discussing the move she almost regretted the step she had taken. Mrs. Purcell thought it madness, and would only give her consent to it after it had received the sanction of some skilful physician. One came down and pronounced that the scheme might be successful, that, indeed, it was the only chance of preventing the case from becoming chronic; that if the chest, which was showing signs of great delicacy; strengthened, she might recover.

It so happened, that Benson was an old friend, and distant connection of Mrs. Grant's; and Dr. Sumner, being well known to the London physician, he strongly recommended their coming to Leighscombe if they went anywhere. Irene felt that she had originated the scheme entirely from selfish motives, and was morbidly anxious about its success. She did not care to tell Mr. Hunter where she was until she saw what was the result of the experiment. His opinion was the only one she cared for, and she knew he would see through the selfishness that had made her wish to get Lucy away from Lawton at all costs; nor did she care that he should hear of it from others, or, indeed that any one should know where they were, but those whom it immediately concerned. All this of course I only learnt by degrees, much of it even after Irene had left Leighscombe.


A MONTH after Irene's arrival at Leighscombe Sir William Mervyn and Mr. Purcell came to pay the girls a visit. They were charmed to see the improvement that had taken place in Lucy already, and Irene was overwhelmed with Sir William's thanks. They remained two days, and Lucy was able to be drawn about in a Bath chair. Sir William could not endure being away from her an hour, but the excitement of seeing him, and the effort of making herself appear better than she really was, proved too much, and she had a slight relapse; and Sir William promised that he would not come again for two months. It was decided that they should remain at Leighscombe through the summer, and many luxuries were provided for them, amongst others a pony carriage; this was a great boon to Lucy, as she was able to be taken to the beach, and, what she valued infinitely more, to the church for some part of the service.

Meeting, as we did, each day, the two girls became very dear to me. Lucy was always ready to sympathise in parish work, while Irene gave

active assistance. With the return of health the prospect of earthly happiness seemed opening out to Lucy again. She appeared to prize it as much for Sir William Mervyn's sake as her own. She was at first half afraid that he would be too sanguine as to the certainty of her complete recovery, though I could see the hope was becoming very strong in her own breast. Irene was never at rest unless she had some work that would afford excitement. For the first month the novelty of the life at Leighscombe, with the frequent services and parish duties which Arthur assigned her at her earnest solicitation seemed enough, and a bright look settled on her face, but when all opposition to their remaining at Leighscombe was removed, and their visit was to be prolonged indefinitely, she grew discontented, and the old uneasy expression I noticed when first she came, returned. She worked feverishly, as though to distract her thoughts. We could not keep her supplied with Dorcas work; she used up our materials, and added more of her own, until we had much over our usual supply of garments. She never missed a service, frequently coming in torrents of rain. She was always asking for more work, but Arthur would only give her a small portion. His unwillingness vexed me, for it seemed a pity to check the zeal of one so young and gifted, and so able to do much in the church, and I could see she chafed at his restrictions. A great deal on my own responsibility I allowed small items of my work, particularly in church decoration, to devolve on her, not really to ease myself, but to make her happier. I did not quite like the way she distributed her charities, she made too many favourites. She had, also, an unpleasant tendency to get on controversial subjects with unsafe people, treating them in a way that I called flippant, though clever.

Arthur could but appreciate her skill and good taste in everything that concerned church decoration, and the many valuable presents she made him, but somehow she seemed to stir up the old antagonisms that had been lying dormant in the parish, and many little fresh worries cropped up that could not be directly traced to her inadvertency, but which we could not help suspecting she had something to do with. She always made a point of asking Arthur's consent before she did anything in the parish, but we soon found that though she never ran directly counter to his wishes, she had a wonderful way of bringing things round, and doing just what she liked in the end. She became very popular among the poor, but she did not use her power well. She

liked the pleasure of doing good, but she had yet to learn the true spirit of charity. We had long talks together, and there was so much that was lovable in her, so many ardent aspirations after what is highest and purest; so many dreams of a future that should be all self-denial, glimpses of a Love that should become all-constraining, that should draw her heart away from and above all earthly vanities, that I could not but feel her life was meant to be something better than a round of worldly dissipation and self-seeking. Yet there was a want in her character, something that should stay her restlessness, and bring her thoughts from the future to the present. She was feverish in her search after happiness. Worldly pleasures had lost their charms, were uncongenial just then, so religion was fallen back upon to supply their place, at least the externals of religion. The motive still was selfpleasing. Latterly the accounts from Egerton Unwin had been most unsatisfactory, Lucy grew anxious, and Irene more and more uncertain and depressed.

One morning after matins she stopped in the porch, looking haggard, and with tears on her face, and begged me to come up to the cottage directly I had finished my morning work, as she had something very particular which she must talk over with me. When I got there I found a letter had been received from India, urging in what seemed to me terms more peremptory than affectionate, that Irene should come out at once with a Mrs. Glanville, a distant connection of the Unwins, who had come to England with two of her children, and was going out again in a few months, and had offered her services as chaperone, and that Irene should be married from her house. He had his promotion, but was not likely to have leave for three years. Irene was quite willing to accede to his proposal, but she dared not do so without seeking the consent of her guardians, and she felt sure they would decidedly oppose it. The control of her fortune was left entirely in their hands, and on her marriage they were to make whatever disposition of it they chose.

We decided, after much discussion, that she had better return to Lawton, and talk the matter over with her father, leaving Lucy under my charge. After a few days she returned, confirming what we had feared. Her father, Mr. Hunter, and Lord Powys were equally opposed to the match, and had urged her in the strongest terms to break it off at once, but this she had steadfastly refused to do, and had so strongly asserted her determination to go to India, in spite of what

ever they might say to the contrary, that they made a compromise, and agreed that Mr. Purcell should write to Major Unwin, clearly stating the circumstances to him, and at the same time informing him that in case of the marriage taking place, they should feel it their duty as guardians to have every shilling of her fortune strictly settled on herself, leaving him no control whatever over it. Irene wrote by the same mail a letter full of indignation at the course her father thought fit to pursue, but assuring him that her money could only be valuable to her when it was the means of increasing his comforts.

Of course I then knew nothing of Major Unwin, and could I have hoped he was worthy to be Lucy's brother, I should not have doubted but that in another year Irene would be a happy wife in India; but I did not like the tone of his letter, and I could see that neither of the girls felt at all sure as to what course he might take, Lucy even less than Irene; the former hinted to me one day that she feared money was anything but a matter of indifference to her brother, but she tried to look at the bright side, and in spite of much anxiety grew better daily. Sir William Mervyn came again with Mrs. Purcell, and she was able to enjoy his visit, and looked prettier and younger than ever. It was arranged, with every prospect of her health being sufficiently restored, that they should be married in the beginning of another summer. The doctors decided that she would do better to remain at Leighscombe through the winter, and Irene dreading the return to Lawton gladly consented to be with her, at least until Mrs. Glanville returned to India, when in the event of Irene going out with her, one of Lucy's cousins could come and stay with her for a little while.

Our quiet reverent services were very dear to Lucy, and Sir William Mervyn warmly sympathised with her. He and my brother became great friends. The dear little bride elect seemed to look forward to her happy future with great self-distrust. She told me she feared prosperity would be a sorer temptation than adversity; that life seemed almost too happy. She feared she should get quite selfish, and forget that every one was not so well off as herself. She said she had told Arthur the same one day, and that he had replied, "Do not forget, my child, that they have both come from one Hand, and that you can have strength from that never-failing Source to enable use what He sees fit to send, always for His glory." Irene was restless and miserable. The suspense was unendurable to one of her excitable and sensitive temperament, and she seemed

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utterly thrown off her balance. She turned from all her former occupations with disgust; gave up her communions, because she felt her mind was unfitting her for the privilege, and yet she would make no effort to do what she knew she ought, and so she excommunicated herself, and grew more and more miserable from the sense she was sinning wilfully. Lucy reasoned with her in vain, begged her to write to Mr. Hunter, or to speak to Arthur; used all her powers of persuasion to turn her from a course which she knew full well would soon fill her with bitter remorse when the excitement was over. She

would laugh off her reasoning with hollow mirth. I begged Arthur to speak to her, but she studiously avoided giving him an opportunity. Lucy wrote herself to Mr. Hunter, and he came down at great personal inconvenience, professedly to pay a long-promised visit to Arthur. But Irene, to his infinite distress, proved utterly self-willed and unmanageable. She told him plainly she knew she was wrong, she was utterly miserable, but that it was useless his speaking to her, it only made her worse. Mr. Hunter tried to make her promise that she would do nothing rashly, but be guided by the advice of those who were only concerned for her happiness; but she would promise nothing. He told my brother that the more they looked into the matter the more convinced they were that Egerton Unwin was utterly unfit to be trusted with the happiness of any woman. The only hope they had was that after Mr. Purcell's letter he would give her up himself; indeed, they believed he would, and that though the blow might fall heavily at first, it would be infinitely better for her than a marriage to such an unprincipled man as they knew Major Unwin to be. He begged my brother to watch over her, and do all in his power to bring her to her


This threw a very decided shadow on dear little Lucy's new-found happiness. It was an enigma to her how Irene could be unhappy and perplexed, and yet not turn to her heavenly FATHER with loving confidence for guidance and support. To her religion was no mere form and shadow, but a very part of herself, a fruit of the indwelling of the Holy One, realised intensely, acted upon scrupulously, not in her own strength, but in His with whom she so earnestly craved and sought to be entirely one.

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