Chapter 198463352

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Chapter Number3. VII
Chapter TitleTEMPTATION.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article198463352
Full Date1895-12-07
Page Number2
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Word Count6201
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Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleEvening Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1869 - 1912)
Trove TitleWhatsoever a Man Soweth
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WHATSOEVER A MAN SOWETH.

BOOK III.-THE REAPING OF HARVEST. THE CHAPTER VII. TEMPTATION.

BY EOGAH.

The presence in Shelly Bay of Miss Melville, as we shall still continue to call her, is eaeiiy explained. Mr. Austin owned e. small cottage at the Bay, and every year he sent come of his family to the seaside for a change of air. Miss Melville had already been there some weeks with one servant and several of the children. It was noticed that shortly after Reece Meadows^re's return to Melbourne, at the conclusion of his visit to Warrydong, the health of Miss Melville began to fail, and she continued weak and low-spirited throughout the winter. Mabel's quick eyes first noted the change, tad she made a shrewd guess as to the probable oaute of it, but wisely held her peace so far as the family was cocoerned. She, however, kept up a regular correspondence with Meadowsere, and did nut fail to keep hiui woli acquainted with the doings of all his Warrydong frieuds, and of the governess in particular, whose health she had latterly represented as being in a preoarious condition. Mies Mabel had a reason for ail this. Mesdowsere'i letters had revealed to her that he took a more than passing interest in all affairs relating to Miss Meiviile; and this being so she very cleverly introduced the subject of the governess into all her own letters without appealing to give the matter any undue prominence. Her long-cherished hope of a union between these two was not yet dead, and as she began to read between the lines of Meadoweere's epistles she thought she £6 last held a clue to the real state of his feelings. He was in love, she ooncluded emphatically, and with Miss Melville. That Mies Melville was also in love with Reeoe she had decided long ago. What then was the mysterious something whioh wa£ keeping them apart? It was impossible to say; but at any rate it would not be her fault if the barrier between them were not destroyed, and to the accomplishment of this end Mabel devoted all her energies. It was a rule of here to read aloud for the benefit of the others all letters received from Reeoe (though she very skilfully omitted portions which might perhaps have necessitated some slight explanation on her part), and it •ever escaped her that Miss Melville was an eager listener. Then again, no opportunity of speaking a good word for Meadowsere was ever loBt; while, on the other hand, when writing to Reece, her praise of the governess was equally warm and sincere. In faot, she did her utmost to stimulate their mutual love and respect, and to keep alive and active the interest eaoh felt in all matters relating to the other. Yet so innocently was this done that no one suspeoted the designs which were at the root of her unusual aotivity in this direction, and both Reeoe and Mus Melville looked upon her as au invaluable and a wholly disinterested friend. The siiomer saw no change for the better in Miss Melville's health, and it being about the time for the children's annual trip to the Beaside, Mrs. Austin decided to Bend them to Shelly Bay in oharge of the governess, hoping that the change might prove of material benefit to the latter. Master Bob had left home shortly after Christmas to spend some portion of his holidays with friends iu the North, and Miss Austin being away in Melbourne, it fell to Miss Mabel's lot to remain at

home with her parents. She by no means relished this, but there being no help for it she submitted with a shrug of her shoulders and many sighs a« the thought of the lonely time before her. Miss Melville was not alto gether pleased either, fearing that her prospect of hearing news of Meadowsere was now a poor one; but aa Mabel promised to keep her well posted up in all matters of interest she oould only secretly hope that Rsece's doings would come under this category. Mabel list no time in informing Reeoe of the decision arrived at; nsr did she forget to mention the oantinued indisposition of the governess, which had partly necessitated the change, and also to impress upon his mind the faot that, sava for the presence of the children andservaat. Miss Melville would be quite alone at Shelly Bay. Maboi had grown bolder of lete, and had thrown out hints as to the cause of Miss Melville's illness whioh Reeoe oould not fail to understand ; and, though by no means hopsful_ himself, he was seriously inalined to visit wholly Bay and once more try his fortune. Meadoweere's love had not lessened by absence; it had rather strengthened, and time seemed but to increase its strength. He was losing interest in bis work and pursuits; he waa growing discontented and irritable. His home wai lonely, and there seemed to be something missing in his life. He knew what it was—he desired a companion —a helpmate—a wife. He was sufficiently a man of the world to know that there were many ladies of his acquaintance, youug and beautiful, who would be willing to accept the responsibility; not for his own sake, but rather beoauseof the reputation he had won, aod for tba position auo'e on alluaaa would give them in sooiety. But it was not a wife of this sort he wanted. He did not wish for a mere ornament, but for a woman who would be a valued companion at all times; one whom he oould love, and who would love him in return. There was but one to whom his thoughts tamed, and for whose sake he felt he could lay down his life—but she had refused him. Could he risk refusal a second time? His pride said "No;" but sinoe Mabel had partially put aside the mask in his favour, and had revealed secrets undreamt of. his resolution wavered. His life had not been blameless he knew; but as a husband no woman would have oause to be ashamed of him, and why should hs not again offer his hand and heart to the one Who had inspired his love? He would do eo. He would sink his pride, and boldly plead his cause. Then, if success attended bis efforts, his happiness would be assured. If not—he would simply remain in his present condition. And so, on the evening of the very day that fate had led Stephen Sternhill's wandering footsteps in the direction of Shelly Bay, Reeoe Meadowsere arrived there aleo, and practically their desires were identical. It

was a singular coincidence, the more so sinoe th«y were piaoed in the same room, and yet had never crossed eaeh other's path since that fateful night years before, when Stornhill'e wife had sacrificed her honour for her love. And -even now, though they met, no word was exchaneed between them, for the one waa deep in sleep and the other bound in the terrible chaine of madness. The first few weeks of Miss Melville's stay at the seaside resulted in a marked improvement, both mentally and physioally. When she oould with safety leave the children alone, or in the charge of acquaintances, she took long rambles in to the oountry, or along the coast.and these walks invariably strengthened while they proved a souroe of oamfort to her. His solitude, the feeiing that she could indulge her thoughts and fancies undisturbed, and the knowledge that in refusing Reeoe Meadowsere's offer she had obeyed the promptings of her conscience, all combined to exeroiee a soothing influence upon her, and she grew daily more aontented and better able to appreciate the advantages she possessed, and the good fortune which had given her a home with people like the Austins. She realized that she had much to be thankful for, and one thought there was which proved a source of never-ending comfort to her, the knowledge that to Reeoe Meadowsere she owed her more than life, for his money it was which had saved her in the years gone by from starvation. Her favourite walk was to the spot upon the oliffs where Stephen Stornhill had found her. Here she spent many hours, and on that particular afternoon she left the hous9*hort!y after dinner, taking with her one of Meadowsere's novels, the more valued beoauee it had been given to her by Reeoe on the occasion of his visit to Warrydong. Bnt reading the book had led to thoughts of the author, and, laying it aside, ehe indulged in the more congenial occupation. it was when thus engaged that Scornhill's voioe had broken in upon her meditations. For a moment hur heart bounded wildly, then seemed almost to csase its beating. It was only by a great mental effort that she succeeded in regaining in a part her composure, and to describe the various phases of emotion through which she passed would ba impossible. But when at length she reached the cottage which was now her hame, she locked herself in the bedroom and threw herself on the bed in bitter anguish. There bad been a time, long ago, when she feared that ouoh an eveat might come to pate, and she woald meet face to faos the man who had ruined her fair young life. Years of peaceful seourity had, however, relieved her from this fear, and she had no longer dreaded any such contingency. But now, when least expected, the blow had fallen, and she writhed undsr it. That Stornhill would seek an opportnnity to press his suit she felt oprtaiu ; but equally osrtain was she that no power on aarth could force her to become the wife of a man she despised and loathed. Yet what might she not suffer by defying him ? Her wretohed past would be raked up, the story of har shame would be made known to those she loved, aud her reputation ruined. Homeless and friondless, she might be aaat upou tho world, at the mercy o' a man devoid alike of principle and of chivalry. And what would Meadowsere think o { her when he heard the tale? He would net despise her, she knew. Perhaps hs would feel a little pity : but how glad be would be that she had not benome his wife ! Ah ! yes; for his sake she had done well in rafuaing tim, and he would understand and perhaps appreciate her action when he lean* the truth. Thinking of Meadowsere restored her somewhat to oalmness. Since her flight from Hallowton, for it oould be called little else.

the had heard often of Stornhill—though he himself was in total ignorance of her whereabouts—and knew enough of hie oharaoter to feel tbat from him she must expect the worst. Mr. Austin, however, was a man of broad views and deep sympathies, and Stornhill oould do her bat little harm in that quarter. Nor was Mrs. Austifl likely to prove cruel and unjust. She was a motherly woman, lenient towards the faults of others, and M.ise Melville felt that her sin would be judged in its true light, and her punishment awarded by those who loved her. Whatever happened the AustinB would remain her steadfast friends; and rather death itself than a marriage with Stephen Stornhill. Yet the exposure that threatened her was terrible to contemplate, and it is small wonder that she shrank from it. But what was the use of meeting trouble halfway? She was determined not to marry Stephen Stornhill, and could only wait with all the courage she could muster for future developments. Bravely she left her room and went about her household duties. She prepared tea for the children, and when that was over teld them stories until bedtime. Then, when they had gone to bed, she went and said "Good night" to them as was her custom, and only the thoughtful Bertie noticed that she looked ill and unlike herself. She made light of his enquiries, however, and, kissing him, retired to her roam for the night. It was morning before she fell asleep, and then her Bleep waa troubled, and she awoke unrefreshed. Dressing wearily, and going into the room always used for meals, she found the breakfast laid, but the children missing. " They bad gone down to the beach," the servant said. Presently a chorus of voices was beard out- Bide, and the children rushed into the cottage. They were all speaking at once, and the governess could make very little sense out of their eag6r and excited exclamations. _ "Hush! hush <" she said, gently; "one at a time, obildren. Now, Bertie, what is it?" "A unan, Miss Meiviile—a dead man down oa the bsaoh," he gasped, and the rest chimed in, "Yes, a dead man, Miss Melville— drowned he was by the sea, and he's dead." "Drowned yoa mean," she correoted mechanioally, for her own trouble seemed to have made her callous, and the news brought by the excited children interested her but little. Not so the servant, however, who stood listening with a white faoe and mouth wide open. "Did you see him ?" ehe asked, in an awe-stzuck voice. "Yes," answered all the children together; and Bertie added, "They were taking him to the hotel; he was staying there, aud they aay there will be an inquest to-day to show how he came to be drowned." Still Miss Melville was almost indifferent. "It IB very sad,"she said, " but do not speak about it now. Breakfast is ready, chddren." They sat down, and ehe said grace. Bertie asked whether she was better and received no answer. He then devoted hiB attention to the bread and milk before him, but left it unfinished. The sight of the body thrown up by the sea had upset him, and the others too found it difficult to eat and sat silent. They did not understand Miss Melville's preoccupation, and hardly oared to speak of the subject uppermost in their minds after she had forbidden them to do so. When the meal was concluded the children again wished to go out, but were directed to play about the cottage. Grace—for Miss Melville still retained her old Christian name —was afraid of being left alone, and afraid also to venture out till she had learnt something of Stephen Stornhill's movements. In the meantime the servant, overcome by curiosity, had joined one of the many groups of gossipers discussing the tragio event which bad taken place during the night. When she came in to remove the breakfast things she

was evidently burning with the desire to impart the result of her few minutes' chat. "It's quite true what the children said, ma'am," she remarked, by way of abeginning. "It is hardly likely that they would invent a tale of that kind, "said Miss Melville listlessly. She was wondering what the day was to bring forth for her, and did not think of much else. " I thought perhaps they had been himposed upon," the girl said, slightly nettled at the indifference with whioh her information had been reoeived. " They saw the man himself, Jane. It is a terrible affair, especially for the poor fellow's friends." "So far as I could learn," replied Jane sententiously, "he didn't have no friends. He only oame yesterday, and was a stranger here." " A stranger !" echoed Miss Melville, " and only oame yesterday. Did you hear his name, Jane?" and she turned to her with halffloppressed eagerness. " No, ma'am—nobody aeemed to know anything about his name at alL" " What if it were be?" murmured Graoe to herself, with white, trembling lips. "But no —it could not be—I am foolish to imagine such a thing." "I seen an acquaintance of yours walking about the beaob, Miss Melville," volunteered Jaue, with a sharp glance at her mistress. Graoe started, and drew a deep breath. Surely Jane oouid not know of her meeting with Stephen Stornhill ? It was absurd. She had nothing to fear yet. " Who was it ?" Bhe asked faintly. "Mr. Meadowsere,ma'am," was theaosw**— An earthquake could hardtj- iruvs surprised Jane more Chun did the effect of her words. Miss Melville reeled, and clutched a ohair to save herself from falling. "You must bave been mistaken, Jane," she gasped. "Mr. Meadowsere is hundreds of miles away." "If it wasn't him, it was his ghost," persisted the eervant. " Mr. Meadowsere ain't a common-looking man, and I ought to remember him, considering haw long he was at Warrydong." Grace could not understand it. She felt faint and ill, and hardly knowing what she did she hurriedly put on her hat, and oalling the children set out towards the beaoh. One thought was uppermost in her mind—the necessity for preventing a meeting between Meadowsere aad Stephen Stornhill. But how oould this be managed? Her reason Baid " Not at all;" bat her heart eaid " Yee ; it mu^t and should be done." She had almost reached the jetty, whither the children had literally dragged her unresisting, for she was wholly engrossed in her thoughts, when a shout from Bertie caused her to raise her eyes, and there, but a few yards away, fftocd Reece Meadowsere. He had not seen them, but at the Bound of Bertie's cry of welcome he turned and was at once surrounded by the children, with whom he was a prime favourite. Miss Melville was painfully conscious that her cheeks were burning as Reece held oui his band in greeting. "You are surprised at sseinfT me," he said gravely. "Yes, "she answered, dropping her eyes. "I was under the impression that you were in Melbourne." " I only arrived from there last night. Bat may I join your little party ? You are taking a morning stroll, I presume ?" "I am afraid you will find us rather dull," was her reply; but Reece did not seem to think se, for heaooompanied them forsomedistftuoe, and found it a difficult matter to answer the many questions put to him by the shildren, who wished to know why he had come, how long he intended staying, and so on. These topics being exhausted, they turned eagerly te the subject of the looal tragedy, and Miss Melville asked timidly— "Who is the unfortunate person, Mr. Meadowsere ?" " A man named Stornhill," answered Reeoe, and Graoe bit her lip to keep back a startled cry. As ha went oa to tell her what he knew of Stornhill's position in life, and how he had known him yt-ars ago, she looked away and listened as though in a dream. The first shook of horror overcome, Rhe experienced a strange feeling of elation—almost of joy. Before it bad bnen as if a heavy weight were pressing upon her brain. Now she felt free as air. The weisrht was removed; the terrible agony of suspense was ovsr ; and the danger which had threatened her was past. Her secret was safe, for dead men tell no tales, aud she need have no more fear of Stephen Stornhill. But was it not wioked ; was it not heartless to think of herself ? she wondered. Had she no pity for the man who had come to eo fearful an end? She did not know. It waB too sudden—too strange for her to altogether realize in so short a time. Sho heard little of what Meaduwsere was telling her till he stopped abrupt^-. " I will leave you now," he said. " When am I most likely to find you alone?" "Iam generally alone in the afternoons," she answered, gazing a% the obildren, who were now a little ahead, in some confusion. " Then I will call this afternoon, as soon aB the inquest is concluded." " Are you £oing •>" "To the inquest ? Y6S ; I am a witness." " What have you to do with it? she asked, Etartled. "Very little; but, strange to say, the unfortunate man and I ehared the same room last night, thouqh I was unaware ef it until this morning. I was asleep when he came to bed, and never even saw him." " Did he know you were iu the room?" " It is impossible to say." " How—how d" you think it happened ?" she enquired nervously. " I think he oommisted suioide. It appears he had been drinking heavily. Something however, may be gleaned at the inquest to throw light on the occurrence. I will say good-by now, Miss Melville, until this afternoon." He raised his hat and hurried awav. Stornhill s strange fate had eomewhat unmanned him. He was restless and nervously ill at I* 86 " u-T° haVe elept in th ® a »me room as Stornhul, and yet not to have known it until the morning when he lnoked upon his lifeless body, and was told the story of the preceding Bight's dissipation, shocked him more than he would have been willing to acknowledge. There waa something terrible in the thought that but a few hours ago Stornhill was a living oreature, but now lay a corpse ; and to be reminded at such a moment as this, and in to

ghastly a manner, of an event in his life he would fain forget, eeemed to Meadowsere as if the hand of fate were lifted against him. He regarded it almost as a warninR to turn baok, and relinquish the hope of ever accomplishing his heart's desire. But this was weak, he argued. If it had been any other man than Stephen Stornhill wbo was drowned, he would never have regarded it as bearing in any way upon his life ; and what reason was there to do BO now Wone at all. He had oome to Shelly Bay with a purpose. He would not leave until that purpose was accomplished. M'ss Melville found the day dreary and long, despite the blessed feeling of freedom from the danger of Stephen Stornhill's hatefid attentions. She oould noi blind her eyes to the terrible nature of the catastrophe which had given rise to this sense of seenrity. Perhaps she herself was in a measure responsible for the deed which had been committed. It may have been her refusal to become Stornhill's wife that had lea him to end hiB life, and Graoe shuddered as this thought oocurred to her. But still, even BO, ehe was not to blame, she told herself. It waa morally impossible that she eould aooepj for a husband a man whom she despised ; and if Stornhill had met his death whilst in a state of intoxication, as Meadowsere seemed to think was highly probable, what Dity did he deserve? She had never wronged him, but instead bad Buffered much at his hands. Why then should she reproach herself? She realized tbat there was no need to do ao. So far BB Stephen Stornhill's death was concerned she W38 altogether blameless. But there was something else that troubled her—the near presence of Reece Meadowfiere. Her meeting with him in the morning had been like the probing of an old wound, and as the hours went by a dull pain at her heart caused her to be indifferent to all things about her. Why had he oome? Why«ould be not leave her in peace ? It was oruel—he ought to have remained away. And yet— how waB he to know that? He had never gueBsed how she loved him. And now the battle would have to be fought again, for she realized instinotively what had brought him to Shelly Bay. She' would keep tho oitildren at home, aud refuse to see him alone, she said to herself one moment. But the next ehe knew that this was impossible. Her love waa strong, she oould not stifle it altogecher, and her heart cried out against the idea of refusing Meadowsere a private meeting. It would bnt add to her suffering, yet it would be something to remember in after days; and, though to think of it gave her pain, there waa mingling with it an exquisite feeling of glad anticipation. She would see Reese onee more, and hear again the voioe whioh baunted even ber dreams. But it must be for the last time. She would aBk him to go away, and he would go. Then all would be over, and save in her memory he would be dead to her for'ever, It was late when he oame. The children had gone out with friends, and Graoe was alone. She weloomed him with quiet self-possession, and at „ enoe questioned him as to the result of the inquest. He told her what had transpired. How in the evidence taken it was shown that Stornhill had arrived in the bay on the previous day. He went out shortly after dinner, and did not return until late at night, when it was eeen that his clothes had been wet through. Graoe trembled at Reeoe spoke of hia appearanoe and the conjectures whieh had been hazarded as to the oause of his long disappsaranee. It recalled very vividly the interview whioh had taken place on the oliff. and ehe oould not but wonder what Stornhill had done after ehe left him. The subjeot possessed a strange fascination for her, but ehe could obtain no satisfac-

tory answers to her thought*. Then Meadowsere went on to speak of the game of cards that had been played on Stornhill's return to the hotel, and of the great quantity of brandy the wretohed man had drunk. He had been taken to his room by the landlord after that, and his subsequent movements were merely a matter of conjeoture, though a blaok traeker had tracked his footsteps from the window of the bedroom to to the edge of a oliff some distanoe along the coast. It waa supposed that in a temporary fit of madness, brought on by drink, Stephen Stornhill had wandered from the hotel, and, reaching the cliffs, had thrown himself from there into the aea. A verdiot to this effect was brought in, and the botelkeeper was severely censured for permitting Stornhill .to get into the condition it waa proved he had done. And thns both Stephen Stornhill and hia wife had died a violent death, and in the ease of eaeh almost the same verdiot waa returned, thongh in neither was thia verdiot absolutely correct. After Meadowsere oeaaed speaking a long silence ensued, whioh waa at length broken by Miss Melville. "What—what is to ba done with the body ?" she asked faintly. . " Arrangements have been made for sending it to Hallowton, • township near the estate owned by the deceased." " Has—has he any family?" "No. Hm wife died some years ago," eaid Meadowsere sharply: " and there are no children. I doubt whether he haa any relatives even." «gra ~~ fl a pause followed. It was hard on Meadowsere that he ahonld have been brought as it were faoe to faoe with his past Bin by this allusion to Stornhill's family affairs. He felt far a moment that hie tongue was tied, and that it world be impossible to speak of the matter whioh had brought him to the cottage. Bnt conquering this feeling he prooeeded with outward calmness— "You have doubtless realized ere thia what haa brought me to Shelly Bay, Miss Melville. " " You—you oame for a ohange of air, I presume, Mr. Meadowsere." "No; it was to see you," and crossing tho room he stood near her chair, looking down at her. "I asked you when at Warrydong to be my wife; I have oome to repeat that question. " He was very pale, but spoke quietly, and without any display of paaaion. Graoe waa afraid to meet his glance, and turned away her face as she said— " I oan only assure yon now, aa I did then, Mr. Meadowsere." "And far the same reason—that you do not care for me ?"

She did net apeak, and ha waited for a reply, but none oame. "Is that your reason for refusing me?"he aBked again. "I never said that I didn't care for yeu, Mr. Meadowsereand her pale cheeks flushed as she epoke. || Do you?" he eaid, abruptly. "I—I respect and—and like you, Mr. Meadowsere." " But you do not like me enough to aoeept me as a husband ?" Again she waa silent, and Meadowsere waited in vain for a reply. "Miss Melville," he oontinued, presently, with grave earnestness, "this is a matter wmch concerns me very deeply. I am not, I know, an ideal lover, and I cannot express in words the feelings which straggle for utterance within me. But this I can say truly— ttat I love jeu. It is a little word—love— and easily epoken; but its meaning is infinite, and I use it with a lull consciousness of all that it ehould convey to you. Till I beoame acquainted with you at Warrydong I had no thought of marriage. It was my intention to go through life a single man; bub knowing you made me realize how much happier and better my life would be with you as my wife and helpmate. I do not aay that your refusal to aooept my offer will ruin mv career. This would be weak—unmanly. But at the same time I know that the world oan offer me no real happiness without you, and should I go from here devoid of hope my whole future life will be saddened and darkened. Do not think me egotistioal when I say that I am fairly weolthy? I am glad of it only because it is in my power to offer you a home of comfort and of luxury. Such things are * ort^lef18 , perhaps you think, without love. Blaybetheyare.andlhadbestsaynomoreabout them. I am a poor pleader, and hardly know how best to enlist your sympathy ; but this I feel, that my love is strong, and ia yours wholly. I ask you to become my wife, and if you will but consent it will be ray one aim in life to make myself worthy of yon, and to secure, so far as it is in my power, vour happiness." * Miss Melville had listened te his earnest speech with varying emotions. For the first time sinoe she had oome to realize how deeply ner affeotiong were involved the thought occurred to her, "Why should I not accept biB,offer? I love him, and know tbat we shall be happy together. It is not right that i. Bhould spoil both our lives beoause of an error made in years gone by. Besides, I sinned in ignorance; I was but a girl and was led aetray. Surt.lv my punishment has been severe enough, and this great sacrifice is not required of me." The temptation to yield was almost greater than ehe could bear. It seemed to ber that by Stornhill's death the last link that bound her to the past was broken. She was free; there was no further fear of her sin rising up against her; it was dead and buried. But only for a moment did she think thus. Then there followed a reaction. To aoeept Reece Meadowsere's offer would be dishonourable, for she would go to him a dishonoured woman. Osly two courses were ouen to ber. Either she must refuse him, or else ehe must lay before him that dark page in her life's history. Which oourse should she choose? To send Reeoe away without hope was becoming every seoond more difficult: yet how could she reveal her secret? Reece loved her, respected her, above other women. Oould ahe muster up oourage to show him how little Bhe deserved his reejiect? He might shrink from her; and oertainlv he would no longer dream of making her his wife. Better to send him — away — J at —- once in ignorance. She uuo would WUU1U at least rua no risk of sinking in hit esteem, and

this ehe felt she muet do if Meadowsere became acquainted with ber secret. And yet, would it not be better for his sake that he should know the truth ? He would then see howmisplaoed his love bad been, and would have but little difficulty in overcoming his passion. Surely this was the nobler course to follow. But had she the courage to follow it? Finding her still silent, Meadowsere spoke again, but somewhat hesitatingly— "It is perhaps presumptuous of me to ask, Miss Melville, but believe me, my question is not prompted by idle ourioaity. Do you oire for any one else—as—as a husband ?" "No," ahe answered faintly, and shaking her head. " Th«n has—has any man a—a claim upon you ? I mean—are—are you bound to any one by promise—or—or anything of that sort'" "No, ahe eaid again. " If that is eo," continued Meadowsere. "why will yeu not aooept me? You say that you respect and like me. I aak for no more at present; 1 will try to teach you to love me Only promise to become my wife; give me the right to watch over your life, and I shall do my best to make you happy and to win your love." Ho bent lower, and Graoe raised her head For one moment their eyes met, and they looked at eaoh other. What did Meadowaere see? Enough to make his heart beat high with hope, and to draw from hia lips the following words1:—" You—you do care a little for me then ?" "Hove you,"said Grace, simply. For a little while he held her close. Then Grace gently disengaged herself from hia embrace, eaying with a sad smile— "I—I was weak for a moment, but am stronger cow. You must leave me, Mr. Meadowsere, and never see me again." She held out her hand, and Rmob atarad at her blankly. " Never see yon again," he echoed. " But you are going to be my wife?" " I cannot! For my sake—leave me. Do not make my trial harder to bear than it is. It ia impossible for me to marry you, and to meet you gives me pain. We must part, Mr. Meadowsere. Try to forget me, for I am not worthy to baoome your wife." Her sentences were disjoin ted, and ahe spoke sharply as though in pain. Meadowsere stood perplexed and eilent. Then he said gravely "I do not understand you. You said that you loved me! Waa this true ?" She lowered her head in aaaent, and he went on— " And no one haa any claim upon you ! Do you think then that I am likely to go away and leave you ?" "You must! you must 1" "No! I shall not! Tell rae what you mean, Graoe ?" he aBked imploringly. A look almost of terror cam* into ber eyes. "No! no!" abe exclaimed. "Surely it is enough when I tell yon that I eannot do as you wish." " It is not enough under the oiroumatanees, and I shall not give yon up. Tell me what you mean ?" he asked again. "I cannot," she gasped. "Yon must go away. There is something—something—that —tbat prevents " " You are not married," he exolaimed with fear, even as Stephen Stornhill had done. "No, no—it is not—not that; but " Reeoe took her hand, and drew her gently but firmly towards him. " Let me ask a few questions," he said in a quiet tone. "Do you really love me, Grace?" " You know that I do," she whispered. " That is not an answer. Do you ?" _ "Yes." " And no one elae haa a claim upon yon ?' " No one." " Look at me, Grace. No, don't turn your face away. There !" he added, taking her

faoe between his hands, and compelling her to meet his gaze. "Now tell me why you refuse to do as I wish." Her lips trembled, but she did not speak. Hew oould she confess ber sin when Reeoe gazed at her with eyes full of beseeching love ? It would kill her, she thought, to see his faoe ohange till the look of tenderness became one sf dismay, and perhaps repulsion. " You are unable to answer me," Meadowsere Baid with a alight smile, "and I am not going until yon hare promised to be my wife." , " You—you do not know-:—" " I know thia: that we love eaoh other." "There ia something—in—in my past " "There is nothing in your past that you need be ashamed of; I would .answer for it with my hfe. How long must I wait, Grace? Will you promise to be my wife?" For awhile there waa ailenoe, broken at lengthy by Grace. She looked up, and in a low voioe, scarcely above a whisper, eaid—"I am not worthy; bnt such aa I am I belong to you." -