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“SIR,—Your letter has had such a but at the same time felt himself saying bad effect upon the health of my dear for ever and ever farewell to that ideal husband, that I beg you won't trouble lady who henceforward, in earth or him with any more such communica- heaven, could never be his. This passed tions. If it's meant to get money, that's while he was looking at the letter which vain—for neither him nor me knows already his rapid eye had read and anything about the friends Arthur may comprehended. “So there is an end have picked up. If he had stayed at of your hopes,” said Colin. “Now we home he would have received every are the only friends she has in the attention. As for his ungrateful sister, world—as I have always thought." I won't have anything to say to her. “Softly,” said Lauderdale. “Callants Mr. Meredith is very ill, and, for any like you aye rin away with the half thing I know, may never rise from a of an idea. This is an ignorant woman's bed of sickness, where he has been letter, that is glad to get rid of her. The thrown by hearing this news so sudden; father will mend, and then he'll take her but I take upon me to let her know as out of our hands." he will have nothing to say to one that “He shall do nothing of the kind," could behave so badly as she has done. said Colin, hotly. “You speak as if I am always for making friends, but she she was a piece of furniture ; I look knows she cannot expect much kindness upon her as a sacred charge. We are from me after all that has happened. responsible to Meredith for his sister's She has money enough to live on, and comfort and happiness,” said the young she can do as she pleases. Considering man, who during this conversation prewhat her ingratitude has brought her ferred not to meet his companion's eye. dear father to, and that I may be left “Ay!” said Lauderdale, drily, “ that's alone to manage everything before many an awfu' charge for the like of you and days are past, you will please to con- me. It's more that I ever calculated sider that here is an end of it, and not on, Colin. To see her safe home, and write any more begging letters to me. in the hands of her friends“JULIA MEREDITH.”
“Lauderdale, do not be so heartless ; cannot you see that she has no friends?"
cried Colin ; “not a protector in the This communication Colin read with world except- ” a beating heart. It was so different from “Callant, dinna deceive yourself,” said what he expected, and left him so free to Lauderdale; “it's no a matter for hasty carry out the dawning resolution which judgment; we have nae right to pass he had imagined himself executing in sentence on a man's character. He's the face of tyrannical resistance, that he her father, and it's her duty to obey felt at first like a man who has been him. I'm no heeding about that silly straining hard at a rope and is sud- woman's letter. Mr. Meredith will denly thrown down by the instantaneous mend. I'm here to take care of you," stoppage of the pressure on the other said Colin's guardian. “Colin, hold side. When he had picked himself up, your peace. You're no to do for a the facts of the case rushed on him moment's excitement, for pity and ruth distinct and unmistakable. The time and your own tender heart, what you had now come when the lost and friend may regret all your life. Sit down and less maiden stood in the path of the true keep still. You are only a callant, too knight. Was he to leave her there to young to take burdens on yourself; fight her way in the hard world by there is but one way that the like of herself, without defence or protection, you can protect the like of her and because, sweet and fair and pure as that is no to be thought of, as you she was, she was not the lady of his consented with your own mouth.” dreams ? He made up his mind at “I am aware of that,” said Colin, once with a thrill of generous warmth, who had risen up in his excitemento
“There is but one way. Matters have All this, it may be imagined, was little changed since we spoke of it first.” compatible with that reverential regard
“I would like to know how far they for womankind in general which both have changed,” said Lauderdale. “Colin, the friends entertained, and evidenced a take heed to what I saý; if it's love I'll security in respect to Alice's inclinations no speak a word ; I may disapprove a' which was not altogether complimentary the circumstances, and find fault with to her. And yet it was highly comevery step ye take; but if it's love__” plimentary in a sense ; for this security
“Hush!” said Colin, standing upright, arose from their appreciation of the spotand meeting his friend'seye; “if it should less unawakened heart with which they happen to be my future wife we are speak- had to deal. If Colin entertained little ing of, my feelings towards her are not to doubt of being accepted when he made be discussed with any man in the world.” his proposition, it was not because he
They looked at each other thus for a had an overweening idea of himself, moment, the one anxious and scruti- or imagined Alice "in love” with him nizing, the other facing him with blank according to the vulgar expression. A brightness, and a smile which afforded certain chivalrous, primitive sense of no information. Perhaps Lauderdale righteous and natural necessity was in understood all that was implied in that his confidence. The forlorn maiden, blank ; at all events, his own delicate knowing the knight to be honest and sense of honour could not refuse to true, would accept his protection loyally admit Colin's plea. He turned away, and simply, without bewildering hershaking his head, and groaning privately self with dreams of choice where no under his breath ; while Colin, struck choice was, and having accepted would .with compunction, having shut himself love and cleave as was her nature. To up for an instant, unfolded again, that be sure there were types of woman less crisis being over, with all the happy acquiescent; and we have already said grace of apology natural to his disposi- that Alice did not bear the features of tion. “You are not any man in the the ideal of which Colin had dreamed ; world,'” he said with a short laugh, but such was the explanation of his which implied emotion. “ Forgive me, confidence. Alice showed little distress Lauderdale ; and now you know very when she saw her stepmother's letter well what I am going to do.”
except for her father's illness, though “Oh ay, I ken what you are going to even that seemed rather consolatory to do; I kent three months ago, for that her than otherwise, as a proof of his matter," said the philosopher. “A man love for Arthur. As for Mrs. Mereacts no from circumstances, as is generally dith's refusal to interfere on her behalf, supposed, but from his ain nature,” she was clearly relieved by the intiWhen he had given forth this oracular mation; and things went on as before utterance, Lauderdale went straight off for another week or two, until Sora to his room without exchanging another Antonia, who had now other tenants word with Colin. He was satisfied in a arriving and many occupations in hand, way with this mate for his charge, and began to murmur a little over the belonged to too lowly a level of society watch which she would not relinquish. to give profound importance to the in. “Is it thus young ladies are left in expediency of early marriages—and he England,” she asked with a little indigwas fond of Alice, and admired her sweet nation, “without any one to take care looks and sweet ways, and respected her of them except the Signori, who, self-command and patience; neverthe- though amiable and excellent, are only less, he too sighed, and recognised the men ? or when may Madama be exdeparture of the ideal woman, who to pected from England who is to take him as little as to Colin resembled Alice charge of the Signorina ?” It was -and thus it was understood between after this question had been put to them how it was to be.
him with some force one evening,
that Colin proposed to Alice, who was beginning to lift her head again like a flower after a storm, and to show symptoms of awakening from the first heaviness of grief, to go out with him and visit those ilex avenues, which had now so many associations for the strangers. She went with a faint sense of pleasure in her heart through the afternoon sunshine, looking wistfully through her black veil at the many cheerful groups on the way, and cling ing to Colin's arm when a kind neigh. bour spoke to her in pity and condolence. She put up her veil when they came to the favourite avenue, where Lauderdale and Colin walked so often. Nothing could be more silent, more cool and secluded than this verdant cloister, where, with the sunshine still blazing everywhere around, the shade and tho quiet were equally profound and unbroken. They walked once or twice up and down, remarking now and then upon the curious network of the branches, which, out of reach of the sun, were all bare and stripped of their foliage, and upon the blue blaze of daylight at either opening, where the low arch of dark verdure framed in a space of brilliant Italian sky. Then they both became silent, and grew conscious of it, and it was then, just as Alice for the first time began to remember the privileges and penalties of her womanhood, that Colin spoke,
"I brought you here to speak to you,” he said. “I have a great deal to say. That letter that Lauderdale showed you did not vex you, did it? Will you tell me ? Arthur made me one of your guardians, and, whatever you may decide upon, that is a sacred bond.”
“Yes, oh yes,” said Alice, with tears, “ I know how kind you both are. No, it did not vex me, except about papa. I was rather glad, if I may say so, that she did not send for me home. It is not -a-home-like what it used to be," said Alice; and then, perhaps because something in Colin's looks had advertised her of what was coming ; perhaps because the awakening sense sprung up in a moment, after long torpor, a sudden
change came upon her face. “I have given you a great deal of trouble," she said ; “I am like somebody who has had a terrible fall-as soon as I come to myself I shall go away. It is very wrong of me to detain you here."
“You are not detaining us,” said Colin, who, notwithstanding, was a little startled and alarmed; “and you must not talk of going away. Where would you go? Are not we your friendsthe friends you know best in Italy? You must not think of going away.”
But even these very words thus repeated acted like an awakening spell upon Alice. “I cannot tell what I have been thinking of,” she said. “I suppose it is staying indoors and forgetting everything. I do not seem to know even how long it is. Oh yes, you are my kindest friends. Nobody ever was so good to me; but, then, you are only gentlemen,” said Alice, suddenly withdrawing her hand from Colin's arm, and blushing over all her pallid face. “Ah!. I see now how stupid I have been to put off so long. And I am sure I must have detained you here."
“No,” said Colin,“ do not say so; but I have something more to say to you. You are too young and too delicate to face the world alone, and your people at home are not going to claim you. I am a poor man now, and I never can be rich, but I would protect you and support you if you would have me. Will you trust me to take care of you, Alice, not for this moment, but always ? I think it would be the best thing for us both.”
“Mr. Campbell, I don't understand you,” said Alice, trembling and casting a glance up at him of wistful surprise and uncertainty. There was an eager, timid inquiry in her eyes besides the bewilderment. She seemed to say, “What is it you mean?” “Is that what you mean?” and Colin answered by taking her hand again and drawing it through his arm.
“Whether you will have me or not," he said, “there is always the bond between us which Arthur has made sacred, and you must lean on me all the
same. I think you will see what I to him, and by the tender dependence mean if you consider it. There is only of the clinging arm. He set her one way that I can be your true protector doubts at rest almost as eloquently, and guardian, and that is if you will con- and quite as warmly, as if she had sent to marry me, Alice. Will you ? indeed been that woman who had You know I have nothing to offer you; disappeared among the clouds for ever, but I can work for you, and take care and led her home to Sora Antonia with of you, and with me you would not be a fond care, which was very sweet to alone."
the forlorn little maiden, and not irkIt was a strange way of putting it, some by any means to the magnanicertainly-very different from what Colin mous knight. Thus the decisive step had intended to say, strangely different was taken in obedience to the necessities from the love-tale that had glided through of the position, and the arrangements his imagination by times since he became (as Colin had decided upon them) of a man; but he was very earnest and Providence. When he met Lauderdale sincere in what he said, and the innocent and informed him of the new event, the girl beside him was no critic in such young man looked flushed and happy, matters. She trembled more and more, as was natural in the circumstances, and but she leaned upon him and heard him disposed of all the objections of prudence out with anxious attention. When he with great facility and satisfaction. It had ended, there was a pause, during was a moonlight night, and Colin and which Colin, who had not hitherto been his friend went out to the loggia on the doubtful, began himself to feel anxious; roof of the house, and plunged into a sea and then Alice once more gave a wistful, of discussion, through which the young inquiring look at his face.
lover steered triumphantly the frailest “Don't be angry with me," she said ; bark of argument that ever held water. “it is so hard to know what to say. If But, when the talk was over, and Colin, you would tell me one thing quite truly before he followed Lauderdale downand frankly_Would it not do you a stairs, turned round to take a parting look great deal of harm if this was to happen at the Campagna, which lay under them as you say ? ”
like a great map in the moonlight, the * No," said Colin. When he said old apparition looked out once more the word he could not help remember from the clouds, pale and distant, and ing, in spite of himself, the change it again seemed to wave to him a shadowy would make in his young prospects, but farewell. “Farewell! farewell! in heaven the result was only that he repeated his nor in earth will you ever find me," negative with more warmth." It can sighed the woman of Colin's imagido me only good,” said Colin, yielding nation, dispersing into thin white mists to the natural temptations of the moment, and specks of clouds; and the young “ and I think I might do something for man went to rest with a vague sense of your happiness too. It is for you to loss in his heart. The sleep of Alice decide - do not decide against me, was sweeter than that of Colin on this Alice," said the young man; “I cannot first night of their betrothal; but at that part with you now."
one period of existence, it often happens "Ah! ” said Alice with a long that the woman, for once in her life, breath. “If it only would not do you has the advantage. And thus it was any harm,” she added a moment after that the event, foreseen by Lauderdale once more with that inquiring look. on board the steamer at the beginning The inquiry was one which could be of their acquaintance, actually came to answered but in one way, and Colin pass. was not a man to remain unmoved
To be continued. by the wistful, sweet eyes thus raised
No. 61.-YOL. II.
that Colin proposed to Alice, who change came upon her face. “I have was beginning to lift her head again given you a great deal of trouble,” she like a flower after a storm, and to show said; “I am like somebody who has symptoms of awakening from the first had a terrible fall—as soon as I come heaviness of grief, to go out with him to myself I shall go away. It is very and visit those ilex avenues, which had wrong of me to detain you here." now so many associations for the “You are not detaining us,” said strangers. She went with a faint sense Colin, who, notwithstanding, was a little of pleasure in her heart through the startled and alarmed; "and you must afternoon sunshine, looking wistfully not talk of going away. Where would through her black veil at the many you go? Are not we your friendscheerful groups on the way, and cling the friends you know best in Italy? ing to Colin's arm when a kind neigh You must not think of going away.” bour spoke to her in pity and condolence. But even these very words thus repeated She put up her veil when they came to acted like an awakening spell upon the favourite avenue, where Lauderdale Alice. “I cannot tell what I have been and Colin walked so often. Nothing thinking of,” she said. “I suppose it could be more silent, more cool and is staying indoors and forgetting everysecluded than this verdant cloister, thing. I do not seem to know even where, with the sunshine still blazing how long it is. Oh yes, you are my everywhere around, the shade and tho kindest friends. Nobody ever was so quiet were equally profound and un- good to me; but, then, you are onlybroken. They walked once or twice gentlemen,” said Alice, suddenly withup and down, remarking now and then drawing her hand from Colin's arm, and upon the curious network of the branches, blushing over all her pallid face. "Ah!. which, out of reach of the sun, were all I see now how stupid I have been to bare and stripped of their foliage, and put off so long. And I am sure I must upon the blue blaze of daylight at either have detained you here." opening, where the low arch of dark ver “No,” said Colin,“ do not say so; but dure framed in a space of brilliant Italian I have something more to say to you. sky. Then they both became silent, You are too young and too delicate to and grew conscious of it; and it was face the world alone, and your people at then, just as Alice for the first time home are not going to claim you. I am began to remember the privileges and a poor man now, and I never can be penalties of her womanhood, that Colin rich, but I would protect you and supspoke,
port you if you would have me. Will “I brought you here to speak to you," you trust me to take care of you, Alice, he said. “I have a great deal to say. not for this moment, but always ? I That letter that Lauderdale showed you think it would be the best thing for us did not vex you, did it? Will you tell both.” me ? Arthur made me one of your “Mr. Campbell, I don't understand guardians, and, whatever you may decide you,” said Alice, trembling and casting upon, that is a sacred bond.”
a glance up at him of wistful surprise “Yes, oh yes,” said Alice, with tears, and uncertainty. There was an eager, “I know how kind you both are. No, timid inquiry in her eyes besides the it did not vex me, except about papa. bewilderment. She seemed to say, I was rather glad, if I may say so, that “What is it you mean ?” “Is that she did not send for me home. It is not what you mean?” and Colin answered -a-home-like what it used to be," by taking her hand again and drawing it said Alice ; and then, perhaps because through his arm. something in Colin's looks had adver- “Whether you will have me or not," tised her of what was coming ; perhaps he said, “there is always the bond because the awakening sense sprung up between us which Arthur has made in a moment, after long torpor, a sudden sacred, and you must lean on me all the