Chapter 23977047

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Chapter NumberI
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article23977047
Full Date1884-12-20
Page Number9
Corrections0
Word Count12238
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939)
Trove TitleBebie: A Christmas Story
article text

BESIE: A CHRISTMAS STORY.

[WRITTEN EXPRESSLY FOR THE "QUEENSLANDER" CHRISTMAS SUPPLEMENT.]

CHAPTER I.

Bt Mrs. E. Spiller.

IT was summer-time, and unusually hot even for that season. At the close of one of the very hottest days, a lady, half-sitting half-reclining on a couch, fanned herself

indolently. Her firmly-marked handsome face—calm, pale, aud proud—expressed at the moment strong ennui; and the book she had been reading had fallen unheeded to her feet. The room she sat in was spacious and lofty, full of neutral tints and aesthetic com binations, and the three large windows were shaded by heavy sage-green curtains, inter woven with gold threads. Looking round her in a listless manner, the lady fell to wondering how a woman of the landlady's stamp chanced to show such good taste. Her wonder would have ceased had she known that Mrs. Hodges had leased the hotel furnished at a valuation. Her idea of a drawing-room would have been a flaming mixture of colours, wool and feather flowers, gilt frames enshrined in yellow muslin, stiffly-starched curtains, and all the various details which go to make up certain people's ideas of comfort and gentility. This good Mrs. Hodges was wont to bemoan the —what she termed— "faded and dead-and-alive style of the house." Had she been told that the artistic and good style of the place gained her many visitors she probably would not have believed it. Yet so it was; and amongst others the lady who now reclined on the dull-hued red couch. To even the most casual observer, through all the weary listlesaness of her manner, pride strong and full was marked. Pride in her birth, her descent, and more than all in her brother. She was thinking of him now, aud wonder ing what kept him. In this huge hotel she felt lonely and distrait. " How stupid of Kenneth to stay away so long," she thought, petulantly ; " those tiresome men are keeping him, and he will come in presently positively reeking of cigara." A firm, swinging, light step, a hand on the door, and her brother entered. A tall splendidly-built man in all the pride and glow of health and youth. Not a school girl's ideal hero by any means, with Grecian nose and curly hair. He was very like his sister, but his features were more strongly marked and powerful The dark eyes—wont

when angry or excited to dilate wonderfully —were now bent on his sister with a look full of love: "Have I ««ayed too4ong, Katherine ? I am lorry, dear. The fact is, when you have a good cigar and begin talking time passes so quickly. I had no idea it was so late. Does the smoke annoy y#u ? It will cling round me^ " A little. Fortunately you smoke good cigars." " Murias, my dear. I have just opened a fresh box." " Extravagant boy ! Are you going to read to me to-night ?" "Of course, if you wish it. By the way, Katheriue, do you know who is ill in the place?" " No ; is there any one ill ?" "There must be. I heard some one moaning nearly all last night in the room next mine. It sounded like a woman. I could not rest very well, as every time I was just dropping off I was roused by those dis mal groans." " Poor thing ! I wonder who it is ?" "Ask Mrs. Hodges. What shall I read to you T "Oh! that delightful book of George Eliot's. I forget the name, but it is on the table." " I suppose you mean the 'Mill and the Floss.' Here it is. Now, attention !" For an hour he sat by her side, reading and occasionally fanning her with a large hand-screen. Then, seeing that she had dozed off into slumber, he covered her care* fully with a light fleecy shawl she had near her. Lightly brushing her forehead with his almost boyish moustache, he turned down the gas, which was burning brightly in four chandeliers, and left the room to in dulge again in one of his favourite " Murias? Younger by one year than his sister, she still leant on him and relied fully in him. Loving him passionately, and grudging every look given to another, she had determined never to marry, but remain with him. They were orphans, and had inherited con siderable wealth. Now, at this hot season of the year, they had left town and sought the seaside. Courted and much sought by the fashionable world, Katherine's delicate health pre vented them from often joining in festivity or mixing in gay society. Nor did they wish to do so. The brother and sister were all-in-all to each other. Now, as she slumbered, he went Whistling softly along the corridor, and, turning into his room, took down his smoking-cap and lit a fragrant cigar. He had left the door of his room open, and presently he heard some one go into the next room. Then he heard the landlady of the hotel say, in an encouraging manner: " Try now to eat a bit, dearie! Do; it will never do to So on like this. You will get that weak iiat all the doctors' stuff in the world will not bring you round." Then he heard a faint voice answer: "O take it away; take it away." "Do let me send for the doctor, dearie. You may have injured your back seriously." " Who is to pay a doctor? I cannot; and if I am ill long I cannot pay you. So perhapsyouhad better turn me out at once, Mrs. Hodges." " No, I'll never do that, Miss Heath. You always was punctual in your payments. As regular as the week came round you paid me my n've-and-twenty shillings. And if it hadn't been for some one's carelessness in my house, leaving the banister-rods unfastened, you would never have slipped and hurt yourself like you have. So just be easy, my dear, and let me send for a doctor." Kenneth Mervyn had stood unconsciously listening to the sweet plaintive voice of the invalid. It was a girl, then, who lay ill. And poor, too ; perhaps in want, from what he had overheard. Why was she here, ap parently alone—and who was she? Thus ruminating he sauntered along the corridor, on each side of which were numerous num bered doors, and at the end a wide balcony provided with many lounging comfortable chairs. Stretching his fufi length on one of these comfortable lounges, Ken neth, whilst dreamily watching the rings of smoke he formed, fell to wondering what this girl was like and how she had hurt herself. That she must be ill he knew by the moaning which kept him awake last night. The landlady was a kind soul, but he had heard her say she was short of servants, and the place was full of guests; therefore she could not do much for the poor girl. He wondered whether Katherine would go into her room and see if she could do any good. Knowing her shrinking from, and dislike of, strangers, he thought it use less to ask her. The wind changed, and the air quickly cooled. Going back to the drawing-room he woke his sister. "I am afraid you will take cold, Katherine." " I am so horribly tired." " Then why not go to bed ? It is not wise to lie here. It is much cooler now." " I will then, dear, if you do not mind." " I am going downstairs again, bo shall be quite amused. I will see you to your door." He kissed her, and, leaving her at her bedroom door, he joined some friends in the cardroom. At 11 o'clock, feeling tired and sleepy, he made his way upstairs to bed, and soon dropped off into a deep and dream less slumber. i

" My God ! my God ! Let me die ! let me die!» The words in their piercing agony broke the stillness of the room, and in their startling suddenness and distinctness seemed to be actually in the room. All sleep dispelled, he sat up, and presently heard the same weary moan of pain that he had heard on the previous night. " I cannot stand this," ho said, jumping out of bed and hastily dressing himself; " that girl must be very ill. I shall go and bring a doctor on my own responsibility. Trevyllan is the very fellow. Bis practice is very small and he is a thoroughly good man." He was hurrying out of the hotel by this time, and, striding down the street, turned to the left and pulled a bell, labelled "Night," attached to a gloomy red-brick house, the hall-door of which was faintly lighted by the rays of a lamp flaring and flickering in the wind. Almost immediately, in answer to his summons, a head was tlirust out of the window and a voice asked : " Is it poor Smith I'm wanted for?" " No. It is I, Kenneth Mervyn !" "Your sister ill?" " No." " Then what the —— do you want at this hour?" " Come down, there's a good fellow, and I'll tell you all about it. I cannot very well shout it out in the street.'' Grumbling and muttering, the head disappeared from the window, and in a short time the hall-door was thrown open and Dr. Trevyllan admitted Kenneth. "What's the matter?" " I want you to come round to my hotel. There's a lady ill there. I don't know who she is from Adam. I do know that she ought to have a doctor. Her room is next to mine, and I cannot sleep for her moan ing. I happened to overhear sufficient to convince me that no one was attending her, and that some one most certainly ought to be doing so. So come along, my dear fellow ; I will see that you are at no loss." " Loss be hanged ! If she is as ill as you think, and no one is attending her, I will come at once. Is the landlady or anyone with her ?" " That I cannot tell you. It will do no harm, at any rate, for you to come and see her." In a few minutes they arrived at the hotel, and Kenneth left Dr. Trevyllan at the sick girl's bedroom door. Knocking, but receiving no answer, the doctor opened the door and went into the room. He never forgot what he saw. Propped by the aid of pillows almost into a sitting posture a young girl lay on the bed. The light of fever blazed in her eyes; the golden glory of her hair tossed back from her brow, and falling in a gleaming shower round her on pillows and coverlet. One round white arm was bared, and she was tying a handkerchief round the wrist. She showed no surprise at seeing him. "I thought you might be Mrs. Hodges," she said, "and she does worry me so. She will talk, and how can I listen to her when this roaring is in my head ?" " What are you doing to your arm ?" he asked, gently taking her hand and placing his finger on the wrist. " Don't you know if you wet a handker chief and tie it round your wrist, and then tie another tightly over it, it will send you to sleep ? And Ido so want to go to sleep ; but how can I ? The bed has been tossing up to the ceiling, and hearses with big plumes and black horses have been driving in and out of the room all the evening. So, you see, it is hardly possible to sleep with all this going on; besides the hideous faces which are always coming looking at me from the foot of my bed." "Will you let me give you this?" he asked, taking a small flask from his pocket and pouring a portion of its contents into a glass. "It burns my mouth. I want water, not fire !" "Itis brandy, my child. Only a very little. Try to drink it." " I cannot. My mouth is parched." "Have you anything in the room to drink?" "I had some milk and water, but I poured it over my handkerchief to wet it to send me to sleep. Are you an angel ? No ! or you would give me something to cool my mouth—not fire." "My poor child! Stay one minute, and I will get you something to drink. Good God! Fancy leaving her alone in this Btate ! It is simply murder." He went out of the room, and soon re turned, carrying lemonade and ice. Mixing them together, he held a glass of the beve rage to the parched lips. She drank greedily, then smiled at him. Something in the large violet eyes, up-turned to his in their unconscious delirium, appealed to his heart, and big tears rushed to his eyes, overflowed, and fell on her hand. • "Is it raining? Something makes me think of those who once loved me and would weep for me now if they knew what pain I suffered. Look! the bed is rising again ! Hold me fast or I shall knock my head against the ceiling!" "I will not let you be hurt. Lay your head back on the pillow, my child. Come, take my hand and try to sleep." " How can I sleep when I suffer so ?" " I must wake the landlady; I cannot '

leave her alone in this state ; and she must have a draught directly." He left the room, and at the head of the staircase met Kenneth Mervyn. "If you can, send some one to the poor girl lying yonder, Mervyn. She ia in no state to be there alone." 11 What is wrong ?" " I cannot tell; utter prostration, I fancy. She is delirious now. " I will get my sister to go to her till we can find a nurae." He hastened to Katherine's room. Her door was unfastened, and going in he knelt beside her bed. " Kathie," he whispered, «it is Kenneth; do not be afraid. Are you awake 1" " Yes. Are you ill, Kenneth ?" No ; lam not ill. Katherine, if you love me, and wish to prove it, get up now, dear, and go to that poor girl lying so ill in this house.' " But, Kenneth—the landlady" " Katherine, do not shatter my trust in you ! Here is a woman fighting death, and you, ray sister, will not go and do what little you can to aid a creature who appears to be so utterly desolate and alone." " I will come, Kenneth; but how do you" "Do not stop to ask questions. I will tell you all to-morrow." "Go into the corridor; I will come pre sently." She joined him in a few minutes, wrapped in her trailing cashmere gown. He took her to the door of the room and left her. The beauty of the girl lying on the bed ia her flushed and fevered condition, the bared white arm, the gleam of the golden hair, and the anxious expression on the face of the young man who stood beside her, flashed on Katherine in one glance. ; "I am glad you have come, Miss Mervyn. Will you stay with this poor child?, fine seems to be alone, and to-morrow—or rather to-day, for dawn is not far off—l will send a nurse." "I will stay." Her voice was calm and cold; and the physician thought love could surely never be kindled in such a proud nature, -las this woman evidently possessed. "Ambition will rule her," he thought. : "Will you be kind enough to ask my brother, should you see him, to bring me my chair and some wraps ? and I will stay with this—young person until the morning. Thank you." * " I will bring her a sleeping-draught in about ten minutes. Will you kindly give it to her, as sleep is imperative?" "Certainly." "Is that you, Kenneth 1 Leave them at the door. Oh, dear me! I cannot lift this heavy chair in, and there is absolutely nothing on which I can sit. Kenneth, I am afraid you must bring it in for me." He carried in the chair ; placed it and the rugs for his sister; heard the voice from the bed prattling of strange things; gave one glance, and—his destiny was fixed. The sweet childish face. Violet eyes, which even in delirium looked bo full of truth and souL He thought he had never seen a woman like this. Going out of the room he stumbled against Mrs. Hodges, who, drowsy, and indignant at not being roused hearing an unusual stir, had come up to ascertain the cause. "Lori Mias Mervyn 1 well be having you ill next. You go off to your bed and I'll stop with Miss Heath. Dearie, dearie me! I mustn't come a-nigh you. Don't you know me, my pretty—your own Mrs. Hodges?" " I will stay with her, thank you. Your presence seems to excite Miss Heath. If you will kindly leave her to me you may rest assured I will take great care of her." "Highty-tighty I The airsof some people l r muttered the landlady, finding herself fairly bowed out of the room. Dr. Trevyllan returned and gave the draught to Miss Mervyn, with instructions to administer it in ten minutes if the patient still remained sleepless. Finding Ethel Heath continued to rave and toss about without cessation, Miss Mervyn administered the potion, and in a short time had the satisfaction of seeing the white eyelids droop over the blue eyes, the restless hands quieten, and at length the regular deep respirations told her that the narcotic had taken effect. "She is lovely," she thought, looking at the regular features, dark faintly-marked brows, and long-fringed eyelashes of the girl as she lay before her. "And so young ! How strange to be here alone I However, since she is, and apparently with no one to look after her, I suppose we must— that is, I mußt—do so." Dawn broke at length ; and a housemaid, bringing Miss Mervyn a cup of tea, offered to take her place; but, following an unaccountable impulse, Katherine refused to allow her to do so. The hours dragged slowly away, and between 8 and J) o'clock Dr. Trevyllan came, looking as fresh and cheery as if he hail slept throughout the preceding night instead of having been, as he actually had three parts of it, running about to different patients. " Good morning, Miss Mervyn. I see my patient still sleeps." " Yes. She has not stirred since taking the draught—or rather, since it took effect. " Did it take effect easily ?"

"Not very. In about half-an-hour I should say." " Strange 1 It was very powerful. I never give sleeping-potions if I can help it. In her case it was most necessary to tret sleep/ b "Here is Mrs. Hodges. I will leave her ?with you." "Well, Dr. Trevyllan, you mustn't go and blame me for not having you here aooner. I'm sure I begged and prayed Miss Heath to allow me to send for a medical man, but she was that wilful" "You should have taken the case into your own hands, madam, and insisted on it. Had not I been sent for, Miss Heath would probably have been dead now." " You don't say so 1 I hear Mr. Mervyn "went for you through a-hearing of her moans through the wall. It is thin ; and a blessing it was in this case, though many a time I've heard gentlemen as forgot them selves so far as to swear awful through, a-hearing of snores through it. Not that it isn't aggravating when you're just dropping " She is waking ! Good morning, Miss Heath." " Where am I ? Oh !is that you, Mrs. Hodges ? Ido not know who this gentle man is, or why he is here, but I will Bay ' good morning.'" "Poor creature, she's still wandering," said Mrs. Hodges, in a loud whisper. "This gentleman is Dr. Trevyllan, my dear." " Dr. Trevyllan, they ought not to have sent for you. I have no money and cannot pay you. "We will talk about that another time," said he kindly, seating himself beside her and taking her hand. "You are much Better, are you not ? Back ! What is the matter with your back ?" asked the doctor, darting a keen glance at Mrs. Hodges. " She slipped down a flight of stairs, and has taken to her bed since. She seemed light-headed two days ago, but she's always worriting about money, and wouldn't hear of a doctor." " Where is the pain, my child ?" " Here," said she, placing her hand to the right of the spine, and moaning. He looked grave as he examined her. "You have been worrying very muck lately. I can cure your back; but to a ' mind diseased' lam afraid I can do as little as ailyone else." She coloured, but did not answer. " Well—well, when you know me a little better perhaps you will confide your troubles to me. Meantime you must eat everything that Mrs. Hodges brings you, and try to sleep. Some one will come during the day to stop with you. Mrs. Hodges, will you come and provide me with pen, ink, and paper ?" Outside the door he said :" She has had a bad fall, and it may be a long time, perhaps weeks, before she gets about again. Do not be at all uneasy with regard to pay ment. Mr. and Miss Mervyn will satisfy you in that respect. Just one more word: Do not speak to Miss Heath about herself." " It isn't likely I shall," said Mrs. Hodges, indignantly, " and even if I knew I wasn't going to get a penny for her keep, here she should stay. I'm not the woman to turn a poor pretty creature like that out in the world because she has been unfortunate enough to hurt herself." " I place every confidence in you, Mrs. Hodges. Hot, isn't it 1 I shall probably drop in this evening." " Well," soliloquised the landlady, "it is good of those Mervyns to befriend a young girl like that entirely unknown to them— and to me, too, for the matter of that. She told me when she first came that she was an orphan, and quite dependent on herself. She Baid she earned her money by music-teach ing—and a beautiful player she is, too, on the piano. I declare she made the one in the blue drawing-room apeak when I asked her to play on it when she first came. And paid regular, too; and dressed well. Every inch a lady, I should say. This must be the nurse coming upstairs." "Mrs. Hodges ?" " I am that party, ma'am." " I have been sent by Dr. Trevyllan to nurse a young lady here." " Oh, indeed ! Will you come this way, if you please ? May I - ask your name ?" "Miss Morgan. I have been nursing now eighteen year come next Chrißtmas— and that ain't far off; only a fortnight now and it'll be here." " Lord ! so it will; how time do pass, to be sure ! It seems only the other day that Christmas was here. It'll be a melancholy one for this poor young lady, I'm afraid," said Mrs. Hodges, opening Ethel's door and ushering the nurse in. " Here's Miss Mor gan, my dear, as Dr. Trevyllan has sent to nurse you round and make you strong and well. Make her take some of that nice chicken-broth, nurse." " Please go away, and let me be quiet." "I'm going now. She's just a leetle— you know," said she, touching her forehead significantly ; " wandering, you know ; you mustn't mind her telling you to go away, or anything like that., nurse. When she's well she's the aweeteßt creature you ever met. Yes, dearie, I'm going ; I'm going." " How bad you do look, to be pure," said Miss Morgan, angularly seating herself on the chair near the bedside, and layhig her long clammy hand on the girl's fore head ; "itll be some time before } ou're up, I'll be bound." This last sentence was uttered m a ton^ of gloomy enjoyment; and Ethel Heath

twisted away her head petulantly from the hand laid on her brow. " Please don't talk to me ; I want to be quiet. Why do they send any one to sit with me V she thought. " I mußt moan and move about, and I can't in peace with this womau watching me " —and she eyed with great disfavour the prim-featured elderly woman who Bat stiffly-erect beside her. • " Come now. miss; drink this nice broth." " I can't, and I won't!" " What is a nurse to do with such a self willed young lady V ejaculated Miss Mor gan, appealing to the ceiling with uplifted eyeß and hands. " You'll certainly take it to please me." " I shall not take it to please myself. It has been standing on the table near me all the morning—and look at the flies ! Ugh I" " Well, if you won't have it now, I'll put it down and you must have it another time. I'll just read a hymn while you try to go to sleep." " How is she now V asked Mrs. Hodges, putting in her startlingjy-becapped head at the door. "Oh ! she isn't asleep. I'll just come in for a few minutes." Ethel groaned, but felt too faint to remon strate. Noises were beginning to make themselves audible in her head, and she re signed hex-self to the feeling that was gradually overpowering her. Mrs. Hodges had settled herself comfortably in a low chair, and her round face beamed good humouredly on the angular sour-visaged nurse. "You must have seen many strange things nursing all that time, Miss Mor gan?' " I have that; and many's the eyes I've closed in their long last sleep," answered Miss Morgan, putting down the hymn-book and folding her bony hands one on top of the other. "There was Mrs. Rodgers— getting along beautiful, and then took sud dent. How true it is we are here to-day and gone to-morrow! Like grass of the field, Mrs. Hodges." "Yes," said Mrs. Hodges, heaving a huge sigh that shook her portly sides; "we never know who's turn it is next. The young lady as sat with Miss Heath last night dont look over strong. My word ! her brother would be in a fine way if he lost her." "I hope she's prepared to go." "Oh ! she ain't that bad—only delicate looking. How she do moan ! Waft them flies off her, nurse. She ain't got nothing the matter with her; only them high-bred ones often looks delicate. If she'd drink a glass of good ale occasional, and eat heartier, she'd look more like," she added, surveying her own substantial proportions with pride. "She don't look as if she eat much," said the nurse, peering over at the invalid upon the bed. " Lord bless you! I don't mean her! She hasn't eaten enough to keep a fly alive the last week. Talking of flies! look at them! Shush!" . "They generally do gather round a person that's going to die," said Miss Morgan, sinking her voice into a deep penetrating whisper; " and, mark my words, she aiux long for this world." " Bless my soul, here's the doctor," said Mrs. Hodges, bustling up and opening the door; " I'd know your tap anywhere, doctor." " Hardly such a good one as your own," answered he, essaying a feeble joke, but, taking his patient's hand, his tone and face became grave. "How are you feeling to-day, Miss Heath ? Haveyou eaten any thing and everything Mrs. Hodges has sent you ? Come now ! tell me what you have < had to-day ?" "Beautiful chicken-broth I made her with my own hands," broke in Mrs. Hodges, adroitly whipping the bowl off the table and covering it with her apron. " These flies appear very troublesome ; they must annoy you, Miss Heath ?" " Yes. Perhaps it is the flies that cause the buzzing and roaring in my ears " "Very likely. I will bring you some straws to catch them. If I bring you some, and a treacly compound, will you promise to dip them into it ? "Somebody will. I wonder why that ugly old man is grimacing at me V " Come now ! That is very unkind in deed ! If you had called me an ugly young man, now !" "It is not you. He stands at the foot of my bed." "There isn't no ugly man there, dear," said Mrs. Hodges; then, winking at the nurse, she again tapped her forehead mysteriously, crossed the floor with slow and careful steps, and, leaving the room, closed the door with the greatest delibera tion and care, causing it to creak dismally on its hinges. " I will give you something that will soon make the old man run away," said Dr. Trevylkn, who had been thoughtfully gazing at Ethel. Then writing a prescrip tion he handed it to Miss Morgan, saying : " See that this prescription is made up at once, and let the patient have the medicine every two hours." Leaving the hotel he was encountered by Kenneth Mervyn, who eagerly staked him how M.;r»:< Heath wks progressing. " Sh< • < vtvy bad, 1 ana afraid. Trnipera ture 102 now. Puzzling case—very ! Good day"

Kenneth Mervyn walked upstairs and into his sister's drawing-room. She was there, languidly trying some new music. " Katherine, that poor girl is very ill, so Trevyllan says." " They have sent for a nurse, have they not?" r " Yes"—and he tugged his moustache. " Well, we can do no more. Come and try this duet with me.' " Very well, dear," said Kenneth, placing his arm on her shoulder. Their young clear voices blended har moniously ; but through the music a refrain seemed beating in Kenneth's heart: " How young to die ! how sad to die !" " She shall not. die, if I have any will," he determined. "I will see what this vaunted will power can do." " How badly you are singing, Kenneth ! Don't you care to go on ?" "1 beg your pardon, Katherine. Of course I will go on;" aud bending over her he sang, as she loved to hear him, with his clear tenor voice. In a little while she rose, aod, closing the piano, sauntered to the window. "After all, Kenneth, one gets tired of seaside life in a very short time. After you have bathed, and walked, and ridden, there is so very little to do when people do tot care to go out." ; " Is there anywhere you would care to go—concert, bazaar, or anywhere ?" " No," she laughed, " I do not care to go and see a dozeu men with their facet blackened with cork, and hear them singing vile travesties of the dear old songs we used to hear on our father's plantation; and most certainly I do not care to hear and see the twaddle and nonsense that goes on at bazaars. No, brother mine, we will stay at home and have a cosy evening together." " Dear girl! you know how much I love to be with you Have you been in to gee Miss Heath to-day, Katherine ?" " No. I imagined my duty in that direc tion was over." "How for the time I wish I were a woman I" " Kenneth ! what would you wish Chat for ?" " Because, then, my dear, I could go and satisfy myself that that poor girl was being properly cared for." "You take a great deal of interest in her," said his sister, coldly. "Do I, dear ?" said he, stealing hi* arm round her neck, and patting his cheek, nearly as soft as her own, against her face: " and ought I not to, considering this gooa little sister of mine sat up with her and watched over her ?" "Kenneth t" said she, softening, "what do you wish me to do ?" "Go now, dear, and see if they are really taking proper care of her. I have a great distrust of these hired nurses." In half-an-hour's time she returned, looking very white. "You were right, Kenneth. That woman does not look after her properly." " Send her away at once, then," said he fiercely, and jumping up from the sofa; "never mind about the money; pay her and pack her off!" " she has done nothing to justify that. Kenneth. The case is simply this : 1 {puna Miss Heath just as delirious as she was last night; and when I asked the woman if she had given her the medicine regularly she said :' No, poor dear 1 She takes on so, and I don't like to worrit her.'" " Have you sent for the doctor V "No. You had better do so. Is not that his step now in the corridor V "I believe it is," said Kenneth, dashing out and nearly overturning Dr. Trevyllan, i who was coming into the room. " Hallo! hallo ! What's the matter with you r " I beg your pardon, doctor. I thought it was you, and was coming out to see!" " I must apologise for troubling you, Miss Mervyn; but must make—well yes, perhaps— the life of a fellow-creature hanging on. it my excuse." " Pray sit down, dqator." " No, I thank you ; I will state the case to you as briefly as I can. lam dissatisfied with this nurse ; and possibly I cannot get another anywhere just now. Miss Heath is in great danger—so much so that I dread to leave her. You, Miss Mervyn, are look ing pale and tired. Mrs. Hodges, though good-natured, is very ignorant in these matters, and the same may be said of all the household servants. Should Miss Heath's temperature suddenly abate, and chill and faiutness come on, and she has not some* body near her who will act promptly, I dread the consequences. Her Bystem is terribly weakened." " Tell me what I should do, doctor?" " She ought to have the medicine I have left her regularly every hour ; and, should she suddeuly become cold and faint, brandy should be given immediately." " You may rely upon me, doctor; but the nurse may resent my interference." "That cannot be helped; but I think I can arrange that. May I accompany you now to Miss Heath's room ?" " Wait one minute, Katherine. God bless you, denr, for a noble woman! Should you want help I can hear every sound from my room." "Do not give me any unmerited praise, Kennetli," answered his sister; "I am simply doing this because 1 cannot see how I can avoid it. Be a good boy, and do not smoke too much. Good night."

CIIAPTKR 11. Kenneth Mervtn could not compose himself to sleep for a long time that uight; and when at length a drowsy feeling stole over him, and he dozed off, it did not seem to him, more than & quarter-of-an-hour since he fell asleep when his sister's voice awakened him. " What is wrongi' " I think Misß Heath is dying." " Good God 1 do not stay one second, Katherine. Go al once; I shall be with you immediately. How long is it since you sent for the doctor V "About* quarter-of-an-hour; If ear he must be out, or he would have been here." " Don't stay, Katherine; I will come directly." Kenneth joined her in the next room in less than two minutes. The dreadful weakness and chill pre dicted, or rather feared, by Dr. Trevyllan had come, and Ethel lay now apparently as one dead. When Kenneth touched her hand he found it icy cold. He laid his on her breast, and, detecting no beating or fluttering, stooped down and pressed his ear to it. " She ia nearly gone," he said : " give me that brandy." " Let the poor creature alone," said the nurse, who was sitting at the foot of the bed wearing a most woe4>egone and lugubrious aspect " Give me that brandy, Katherine." " Here it is." "Do not disturb her dying moments," again urged the nurse; " let her depart in peace." "Kenneth, I gave her some before I called you. lam afraid it is of no use." Her brother said nothing, but, kneeling on the bed and raising the motionless and ap parently-lifeless form in his arm*, poured a tablespoonful of brandy into Ethel a mouth without producing any effect. " More," said he, tipping the liquid into a glass and pouring it into the half-opened mouth; "God be my witness; this child shall not die!" A faint flicker of the eyelids, a slight trembling of the lips. He laid her. back on the pillow* and chafed the cold hands. "I will it! I will it! Live! Live! Live !" He set his teeth and thought this, and presently he cried oat: "Sheis getting warmer. She will not diel" The eyelids flickered once more ; then opened. The lips faintly murmured : " I am not going to die." " No, of course not!" said Kenneth, cheerily—though with a suspicious moisture in his eyes—while the nurse { rocking and swaying herself, muttered, audibly: " It's a direct going against Providence— that's what I caU it" "Katherine,. come, dear, and rub her hands. I will give her a little more brandy." T l " Very welL But my dear, she already hat had a considerable quantity." - " And you see the effect." Mrs. Hodges knocked at the door, and Kenneth answered the summons. " How is she now 1" she asked, in a loud whisper. " The doctor has been sent for, but he has been called away, and will not be back till morning. Shall we send for another?" " No," said Kenneth, "my sister is with her, and will take care of her for the night. She is much better"—and closed the dooruri ceremoniously. The icy coldness had gone, and the violet eyes were gazing round in perfect conscious, ness. " I doubt if it is wise, Kenneth, not to send for another doctor. This woman is of no use at all," Katherine said,'in a low voice. " I think the danger is over. And, Kathie, let me stay with her. You are looking worn out." " But, Kenneth, that is impossible. The world—conventionality—nil forbid it We should never have undertaken the business." " Katherine, dear, it is the only oppor tunity that has ever fallen in our way to give practical help and to do true good. Go to bed and rest, and to-morrow you will view this thing in its proper light. It is unlike your own noble self to demur thus. Not the greatest stickler for propriety could object to my assisting the nurse. I will bring a lounge into the corridor and lie down there, where I can hear the faintest sound, if you will go to bed now." " Very well, that will do; although I fear you may take cold, it is so draughty. How ever, I see you mean to have your own way. Nurse, it is imperative that you watch Miss Heath carefully, and give her the medicine punctually. Give her a little jelly or broth now, before I go, if you please. Come, Kenneth, and make your arrangements." " My dear boy," she said, when they were in the corridor, " take my advice and go to bed. However true and good your own feelings are, the world is censorious ; and it is not true kindness to Miss Heath to give any one the opportunity to revile her." "Since you look at it in that light, I must," he said, rather sulkily; "but if any thing happens I shall blame myself." "If it will satisfy you I will remain with her till Dr. Trevylfan comes." "O, Katherine, if you would !" She bit her lips, and, before he could aay another word, turned and i-e-onteml the room. Herthonghtß were bitter : "Already he sacrifices me—his sister, whom the breath

of heaven was once too rough to blow upon— to this stranger !" The quick flash of joy in the girl's eyes, and the white still face lying on the pillows, melted Miss Mervyn's anger. At any rate she would not leave her to-night. " Can you not sleep V ahe asked, gently. Ethel shook her head. " I think I shall not live till Christmas." "You must not think like that," said Miss Mervyn, kindly. "Take my hand; perhaps it may soothe you." She placed her own firm white hand in the girl's thin emaciated one, and sat gazing at her almost unconsciously. Ethel met her look as if fascinated. Presently she tried to disengage her hand, and Miss Mervyn turned her atten tion to the nurse. That person was rolling a handkerchief into a little ball, and with it dabbing her eyes and nose. " Nurse, if you care to lie down and sleep you may do so." "If you would let me read a few hymns to her, ma'am, perhaps it would soothe her and send her off." Whether she meant it would eventually end poor Ethel's troubles, or merely that it would procure her the much-needed sleep, Miss Mervyn could hardly determine. She said, however: "I think perfect quiet is really what she most needs. So perhaps you had better try and procure a little rest"—which, with many sniffs and groans, Miss Morgan accordingly did ; and, to judge from her heavy breathing, was soon in a sound slumber. I'That, at any rate, is a relief," thought Miss Mervyn. Again she took Ethel's hand and looked at her. This time Bhe noticed that a tremor ran throughout the girl's frame. " Are you cold 1" she asked. "No ; but when you touched and looked at me a strange feeling ran over me." "Can it be mesmeric?" thought Miss Mervyn. "I have often heard of such a power, but have never seen it tested." So thinking, she passed her hands gently over the girl's face and neck. For folly half-an-hour she continued this, and Ethel s fixed eyes never wavered. But presently the dilated pupils contracted, the heavy eye lids fell, and the invalid was in a deep and apparently-dreamless slumber. "I will tell Kenneth," thought Miss Mervyn, " and bring in my rug and snatch a little rest." She fouud her brother lying fully-dressed on his bed. He jumped up with a start m she came in. " Do you want me ?" "No, dear. You may safely go to bed and sleep soundly. The poor girl has fallen into a sweet peaceful sleep, and no doubt will be much better to-morrow." He kissed her fondly. " Katherine, you are an angel!'' "But not the only one in the world," said she, archly smiling at him. "No#, sleep well, dear boy." All that night she watched betide Ethel, and at dawn Dr. Trevyllan was announced. He bent over the sleeping girl; felt her poise, her heart, and took her temperature; and still she slept. " She is terribly weak," he said. Miss Mervyn then told him of what had passed, suppressing the fact of her mesmeric influence. "What a miraculous thing it is that she sleeps so soundly. There is no doubt that this, in conjunction with your brother's promptitude in giving her the brandy, ha* saved her life. I expected to have to administer a strong opiate. Now I hope, with plenty of nourishment, she will do.. If we could get her stronger and into another room the change would do her good." "Probably the brandy made her sleep." "No; it would not affect her in the least in her present state. The nurse seems tired," he added, alluding to the still sleeping Miss Morgan. "And you," he said, glancing at the proud white face before him, "are certainly not fitted for this sort of work. I shall make you my patient also, and insist on your retiring and getting a good allowance of sleep. I will wake the nurse to watch her, ana I do not anticipate any return of the symptoms you have described." " Very well; I will do as lam told. I shall certainly come in agaia during the day and see her." - "It is good of you. This is a pretty free day, and I shall be able to look in several times." "My dear, you are looking wonderfully better. Now, isn't she, nurse 1" " Yes, Mrs. Hodges; I believe she has taken a turn for the better. She should humbly thank the Lord." "We all of us have got much to be thankful for. You are going to eat some of this nice jelly, my dearie ?" " Yes, Mrs. Hodges. Give it to me your self." " That s a bonny darling. Why, we'll be having you sitting up on Christmas Day if you go on like this." " Slow and sure, Mrs. Hodges ; slow and sure," said Miaa Morgan. " I don't hold with no such quick up-gettings." "Oh, well, the doctor will know when she's tit to. lath« jelly nice, dearie 9" " Yes," said the girl, nodding, and with a faint smile. Then, putting her hand on tho ljttle fat one holding the glass dish, she'

said : " How good you are to me, dear Mrs ; Hodges !" " She always was the sweetest creature when well," said the landlady, turning with a beaming smile on her round face to the nurse, who sat grimly looking on; " the sweetest creature ever breathed. And for those naaty stairs to go and trip her up like that! How's the pain now, dearie 1" "Much better if I keep still." " Poor thing! Well, never mind, you'll be running up and down stairs in a very little while, or my name ain't Mary Hodges. Eat a little bit more, dearie." "No, thank you. And take it away with you, Mrs. Hodges, please; I cannot bear anything after it stands in the room." " Lor ! think of that ! When I was ill I liked to have my bit of chicken or what not ready to hand. But never mind, I'll take it away, and nurse can ring for what you want If she falls into a nice sleep, Miss Morgan, you come down stairs and have a comfortable cup of tea with me. Do now, there's a good soul." " I'm sorry Mrs. Hodges is so worldly. Not that I would not like a oup of tea, Miss Heath, if you think you can spare me." " Go by all means," aaid Ethel, glad of an opportunity to rid herself of the woman's presence. Presently Dr. Trevyllan came in. "Now, thia^u excellent! You are 10 per cent better, are you nott We shall have you in Miss Mervyn's drawing-room in a day or so if you go on like this. Do you ace much of her 1" "Miss Mervyn r "Yet." " She very often comes in, and does me a great deal of good. She is so calm; and, though she seems cold, there is great depth of feeling below the surface." " I thought that. So you like her, eh ?" " Very much," said Ethel, with a roguish smile. "Under the deep bronze of his skin she noticed that the usually-impassive doctor flushed deeply. He said, briskly : "Tell me what you have eaten to-day V She told him of the various dainties Mrs, Hodges had brought her, and which she had essayed to take. "But," she said, "I am only a poor friendless girl; why do you interest yourself in me V v Because," said he, bowing gallantly, and seeing his wav to return her little shaft, "no one could fail to take an interest in auch a charming young lady as Miss Heath. You must not say you are friendless, i take an interest in you, and hope in time voa will honour me with your friendship; Miss Mervyn also does; and lam sure her brother takes a very warm one." It was Ethel's turn now to bluah, which she did—the crimson blood dyeing the fair white skin to the very roots of the bright hair. "He has taken a great deal of trouble about me, lam afraid-—as you all have. I can never be too grateful or thankful." " You may thank Mr. Mervyn for what little he has done when you are carried into Miss Mervyn's room. For, as I cannot allow yoti to walk, carried you certainly must be. You must imagine you have gon« back to the days of your childhood, baby-hood rather, for you do not look much moro than a'child now." " I am twenty next birthday." " Getting quite old !" said ho, smiling. , "Sometimes I feel 'as old as the hills,'" said Ethel, drawing a weary sigh. " Come, said he, sitting down beside her and taking her hand, "confide your troubles to me. Doctors and priests are privileged confidantes, you know. " Yes," she answered—and her eyes grew black and misty with feeling—"l will tell you my little story, doctor; it will not take long." "Do not tell me anything if it will pain you." " I think it may do me good." " Very well then, my dear child." "I was the only and spoiled child of wealthy parents. Feted, flattered, and caressed, I grew up. Supposed to be a rich heiress, I did not want for suitors. Amongst them was one whom, from his attention to my father and mother, I judged to be all that was noble and good. I thought he really loved me, and my girlish feelings were stirred. It was not long before he pleaded for my hand. The wedding-day was fixed, when my dear mother died sud denly, thus postponing it. Her death and, as it eventually proved, money troubles preyed on my father's health, and it -was not long ere he joined my mother. Before he d ied he called me to him and said : ' Ethel, my darling, you must forgive me before I go, for you will be left penniless and without kith or kin ; I am utterly ruined through certain failures. I thank God that you are the chosen wife of a man of means, who has enough to shield you from the rough world.' * Father,' I cried, ' stay with me,' for my heart even then felt a gloomy foreboding that when he was gone I should indeed be alone in the world. That night he died. When a little later my lover folded me in his arms and showered caresses on my brow I forgot my forebodings. A few days later the will was read, and, instead of being the heiress I was thought to bo, I was a pauper. I turned to the man I was to marry. He stood with gloomy brow and folded arrng. The blood seemed all to surge to my heart and theu away from it, leaving me almost faint. Putting aside the feeble offers of friendship made me by a few present, I left

them and Bought the solitude of my room. Next morning brought a letter from him to whom I was engaged. He stated that it would be unjust to both of us if he married, as ho did not consider his income sufficient to maintain in proper style the establish ment he thought would be necessary. Well, doctor, by dint of earnest endeavours, and the recommendations of a few friends who knew I had some slight musical ability, I managed to get pupils in several good families. I had a little store of pocket money, given to me by my dear generous father, and took a room here as I thought I could obtain more solitude than in a smaller place. You know the old adage, * There's no solitude like a crowd.' I tripped over some loose rods left unfastened, slipped, hurt myself, and here I am." "And here you shall not be long, if I can help it. You shall soon be about again. One thing more ; in this very sad little story of yours you omitted to name the man who did you the doubtful honour of asking you to snare his fate, and from which you had a moat decided escape." " I despise him now as heartily and more than I once cared for him ; but I would rather not tell you his name." "Very well. I only asked you because I should have liked to attend him in a bout of illness. Ido not think I would have made his physic very agreeable to his palate," he laughed, gathering up his hat and gloves preparatory to leaving. " You are much better, are you not? Do not be naughty and get feverish again. God bless you!" The doctor tapped at Miss Mervyn's drawing-room door. She was there, alone, and the faintest flash of pink crossed her pale face as she rose to greet him. " Miss Mervyn, you want a tonic." " I never met a doctor yet who did not Bay the same thing about me. I assure you lam not ill; lam habitually pale." He eyed her critically. " You look fagged and tired. You have over-tasked yourself, I am afraid." " I am rested now," she said, not telling him that many times she had succeeded in calming and subduing Ethel Heath's fre quent fits of nervous excitement, always eventually sending her off into a deep calm slumber, by means of that power which she had found she possessed. After the exercise of it she felt faint and tired, and would lie for an hour almost exhausted. No one save Ethel knew of it. Uncon sciously almost to both, a strong bond was springing up between these two—so much go that Katherine ceased to feel vexed when she noticed Kenneth's pre-occupancy of manner and eager questioning with regard to the invalid. Her Drother was as loving and thoughtful as ever; but instinctively sh« divined that no longer was she all to him. Another was enshrined in the most sacred place in his heart The doctor stood facing her, a look of admiration on his honest genial face. He vms thinking : " I have made many friend ships with men, but never felt a desire to do so with women until I met this woman. Many make far greater protestations of kindness and good-will; but I firmly be lieve she would carry anything thoroughly through to the end if she once began it." Aloud he said : "My patient, who owes so much to your generosity and kindness, is progressing bo favourably that I hope to move her into another room to-morrow. The change would do her a world of good." " Of course she can come here." " I thought you would suggest that. Your kindness to this poor young lady has im pressed me very much. Do you know her sad story ?" " Yes; she told it me. In any case I could not have acted differently towards one who appeared so desolate and alone in the world us she actually is. But in talking ?with her I found that she was actually a friend of our father's, though of course I did not recognise the name until I had heard particulars as to where she had lived, and also her father's title. Are you aware that he was a baronet—Sir Richard Heath—and that with him the title is i-nfortunately extinct V " No. Miss Heath did not tell me who or what he was, beyond that he had been wealthy at one time." "Yes, I have often heard my father speak about him. He lost everything in some tremendous speculation, the particu lars of which I am not quite clear about. Miss Heath has agreed to accompany us from here when we return to town." The doctor started. " She will not be able to do so for some little time. That was a nasty accident. However, when she is well enough the plan is an excellent one." " When may she come in here ?" "I think with safety to-morrow. If I can arrange to be here in the morning I will carry her if she will allow me to do so. I do not consider it advisable to let her walk for some little time." " Pray let Kenneth bring her in. I am sure it will delight him. He has so longed to be of use, and, beyond one or two occa sions, he ha 3 absolutely been unneeded." Chapter 111. Kenneth was lounging in the drawing room when his sister, in a fresh white morning dress, with dainty bows of hlun ribbon here and there amidst itß nuowy folds, came in. He looked up ut her and thought there were few women fairer than this siater of his, with her pale statuesque

face, aud coils of dark glossy hair round the small shapely head. Only one he knew, who to him in her sweet childish beauty was a thousand-fold fairer than any other in the world. How he wished he could Bee her once more ! He had grown pale and languid longing for this. Only to do some thing for her ; to win one smile from those beautiful curved lips ! " Are you drowsy, Kenneth ? Not much wonder this warm morning. I am sorry you are so languid, for I needed your services particularly." "My dear sister," he said, jumping up immediately, " you know my time is always at your disposal. What can Ido for you V " Well, lam half afraid to ask you. It might—mind, I only cay it might —be very disagreeable to you." "No matter what it is. Even if you were cruel enough to ask me to take Miss Morgan out for an hour's stroll for the benefit of her health, though she might protest it was bad for her soul, I would do it for your sake, Katrina mia." " Well, dear boy," said she, affectionately patting his cheek, " I will not keep you any longer in suspense. It is—will you come and carry Miss Heath into this room ?" The blood leaped in a wild torrent into the young man's face and throbbed in hia temples. "Will I? Is she well enough? And will you, my proud Katherine, make a friend of this girl who is unknown to you ?" Katherine suppressed a smile. " Will you carry her in ? or Bhall I wait till Dr. Trevyllan comes ?" " Where is she ? May Igo to her ? Is she ready ?" He was at the door by this time. " Stop ! stop ! my dear boy. Let me go first; you follow gently." Within the bedroom Katherine found Ethel awaitiug her in a fevei of impatience. She looked a vision of loveliness in her pale blue gown, with its soft masses of white lace. Close by stood Miss Morgan, bearing a bundle of wraps. Looking on, with her face crimson with pleasure aud excitement, stood Mrs. Hodges. She had donned, in honour of the occasion, a more amazing cap than she had ever been known to wear, and, as she nodded her head at every little smile of Ethel's, the bird-of-paradise which sur mounted the tremendous structure waved its plumage gaily in the air. " I toldyou so, Miss Heath ! I said you would be up for Christmas Day, and here it's Christmas Eve, and you're up. And if you have not got three of the loveliest cards, my name ain't Mary Hodges. Ain't she looking lovely, Miss Mervyn ?" " She certainly looks much better. Are you ready, Ethel ? But first let me intro duce you to my brother, who is eager for that honour. My friend, Miss Heath —ray brother, KennethJtfervyn. Now you know each other formally." " I believe I owe a great deal to you, Mr. Mervyn." Both were blushing foriously. " Not at all. The pleasure of knowing you more than compensates for any trifling service I may have rendered you." "Cannot you two giddy young people wait a little while before you pay each other pretty compliments ? Ethel, you need not fear to trust yourself to my brother. Your light weight will not tax him in the least." Mrs. Hodges held the door wide open and a sort of triumphant procession passed through. First came Kenneth, carrying the light weight as easily as if the slight girl had been a mere child. She could feel his heart beating wildly. To him this brief moment, as he thus held her in his arms, was full of almost delirious j«y, and meeting his eyes, all ablaze with a strange light, hers fell before them. Katherine came next, walking with stately grace, in her long flowing robe. Then the sour-visaged Miss Morgan, bearing the wraps. And, lastly, Mrs. Hodges, flushed and panting, but eager to be on the scene when Ethel was placed on the couch. And so she was ; and she it was who administered a glass of wine as a prevention against fatigue or faintness, the bird-of-paradise nodding in friendly sympathy. Miss Morgan, having deposited her wraps on a chair, stood by with folded hands, and an expression which plainly said: "You frivolous people. Let us offer up a prayer." But she restrained herself from any outward demonstration, beyond pursing her lips and shaking her head in a gloomy despondent manner. Presently Mrs. Hodges beguiled her into accompanying her to partake of " something hot," and Kenneth laughed as the door closed on them. "I firmly believe if that woman were here long enough Mrs. Hodges would con vert her," said he. Katherine, having arranged the window curtains so that ouly a subdued light could penetrate, Baid : " Ethel, I am going to aßk my brother to read to you. His voice has a most soothing effect on me, and invariably sends me off to sleep. I know you will excuse me if I leave you for a little while ; I have some important letters to write. Be a good boy," Bhe said to Kenneth, " and read nicely. I shall not be very long." Kenneth laughed. " You see, she likes to tease me a little. Shall I read Byron to you ?" He opened the volume carelessly, and raid he knew not what. Hb tender melo dious voice rang out the sweet cadenc»ss of the poem, and Ethel felt a strange happy

feeling as she listened. " I cannot he so foolish again," she thought, "as to love anyone. Surely not, after the experience I have had of man's faithlessness and treachery ! Yet this man has been utterly good and kind to me purely on trust; for Ilia m'ster has assured me he knows nothing beyond that lam here—poor, friendless, and alone." She heard only the clear distinct tones of the man as he read line after line of Byron's most impassioned and beautiful odes; the words fell dead on her ear. She was thinking—thinking. How could she attend to the woes of " The Prisoner of Chillon ?" This mau—with his powerful face, tender loving eyes, irregular features, and mane of dark hair tossed from his brow—what a contrast he formed to that other one ! He had been fair, with, faultless features, and spoke in a slightly-drawling voice. She knew now she had never loved him. Suddenly looking up from the book, Kenneth met her eyes fixed on him. He caught her hand aud kissed it pas sionately. Flushing, she drew it from him; then, seeing the pleading agonised look in his face, Tier anger melted into laughter, and she said: . " You are a naughty B. B. man 1" " "What does that mean ?" he asked in a rapturous tone, for her mirth assured him that she was not offended; " what does a CB. B. man'mean?" " It means that you are a bold bad man to do what you did just now." He threw the book away from him, dropped on his knees beside her, and caught the little white hands in his. " Miss Heath—fcthel! let me be your own B. B. man? Let me have the right to watch over yon and shield you from all harm ? Be my wife,darling?" he murmured in impassioned tones, as her head dropped ftoftly on his shoulder. "Be my little Bebie, and you shall never regret it 1" " You know nothing about me—who or what I am, or where I came from." " Nor do I wish to," he answered, strain ing her to him in a close embrace, and showering kisses on the golden hair and white brow ; "those eyes could never har bour deceit You are the only woman I have ever met, save my sister, whose soul looks out of her eyes. Beautiful soul! Beautiful eyes, Ethel!" v Call me Bebie," she whispered. " Bebie, will you be my dear wife V She raised her eyes, looked at him with a shy loving glance, and then—kissed him! " Never call me any other name," she whispered; "with it I begin a new life, and put aside all the misery and despair of the past!" "My darling 1 you shall never know another hour, another minute, of unhappi ness if I can prevent it." Then she told him her little story; and he clenched his hands, and his eyes grew black, as she recounted the treachery of the man whom she had trusted. " Never mind, my darling," she whispered, noting this ; "if he had been true I should have married him, and made a fatal mis take." Meanwhile Di4. Trevyllan, coming to see his patient,went as usual to her door; found it open, and the room untenanted. Turning round he saw a listless white-robed figure tanding in a pensive attitude, gazing to wards the beautiful blue shimmering sea with its foam-flecked waves and little white-sailed boat*. He hesitated a moment — no more; then walked out into the bal cony and stood beside Miss Mervyn. She L -«tarted, and then with a beautiful smile Elided her hand in his. He noticed that er t*ve* were full of unshed team, dimming their c^ear darkness. " I ant g'&d you did not go into the drawingro/>m. My brother is there with Miss Heath/ Instinctively he denned the cause of her grief. " She is a swwt girl," he said, " and a ady." "I am quite sure of that; but—but I cannot help feeling the loss of my brother." " You will not lose him." " I can never bear to take the second place with him. I have always been first; still, I suppose, he must have married some day ! I am sincerely glad he has been fortu nate enough to meet Ethel." " Has it gone so far, then 1" " I do not know if it actually has ; but I fully expect to be presented to my future sister-in-law. Shall we go in now ?" "It is a pity to disturb them. Miss Mervyn, if I dared to say what I am pre sumptuous enough to think !" Her proud eyes fell beneath his. His face, usually so calm and shrewd, was aglow •vith feeling. "Am I sitch a formidable person that you fear to speak to me V "You are wealthy—l am poor, with nothing but my willing hands and brains to aid me. I have prosjrects, certainly ; but they are in the dim future." She had turned half away from him, and tie could not see her face. He feared he bad offended her by his presumption. "I will never offend again," he said, humbly. " Forgive me. You are the only ?woman I have ever met whom I should care to make my wife. Let that be my excuse, and forgive my rashness." He Jturned to leave her, when, without moving

from her position, she stretched out her hand to him. He took it, thinking ; " Angel! She pities me." Pressing her hand gently, he let it drop. Then she turned and stretched out both hands to him —her eyes lit with love-light, and her face transfigured. It was enough. Ho caught her to his heart. " You will be first with me, darling," he whispered ; " now and always."" Then she said: " Come in now, and I will tell my brother." Together they'went to the drawing-room, where they found Kenneth hud taken the place of the pillows and waa supporting EtheL He did not attempt to move, but smiled at his sister and nodded to Dr. Tre vyllan. Then, looking from one to the other, he said, with a laugh : " I am not the only one who has some thing to tell. Doctor, I give you free and full -consent to wed my sister ; and a dear true girl she is. Katherine, Ethel has pro mised to be my wife. Doctor," he added, turning to that gentleman, after he bad carefully placed Ethel among the cushions, "we must celebrate this occasion. I only wish we could procure some of that ambrosia quaffed by the gods. As we cannot, we must content ourselves with ordinary cham pagne : and Mrs. Hodges shall help us drink it." "Bring some champagne—Louis Roe derer," he said to the waiter who answered his summons "or Moquet, if you have not got the other. As Mrs. Hodges if she will be kind enough to come here for a short time if she can." "She's very busy just now, giv, on account of its being Christmas Eve ; but I'll inform her that you wish to see her, sir." He reappeared with the champagne; placed the salver on which it stood on the table, and withdrew. Presently Mrs. Hodges, very hot and flurried, made her appearance. "Busy!" she ejaculated, almost out of breath by her hurried ascent of the stairs; " busy's no word for it. The house is just chock-a-block. Oh, are you here, doctor? And there is my angel, looking as bright as bright can be. How are you now, dearie?" "I want you to drink her health, and a merry Christmas to her, with us, Mrs. Hodges." "Of course I will, with pleasure—the pretty dear!" "She is going to be my wife, Mrs. Hodges." Down the landlady plumped into the nearest chair, and spread out both her fat little hands in amazement. "You don't mean to say so ! Well ! well! I never heard the like ; and you only known her a fortnight. Well, Mr. Mervyn, she's been in my house six months and more ; and when well she's the sweetest creature ! Marry you ! Well! well!" The doctor smiled roguishly and drew Katherine forward. "And Miss Mervyn has consented to marry me also." Mrs. Hodges gasped for breath. "Two marriages made in my house within a fort night, and me never to guess a word about it! And all along of that blessed darling slipping down stairs and hurting herself! If rd nave known it I'd have put on my bird-of-paradise cap and my moire-antique dress, and the gold chain my poor lost Hodges gave me!" "Never mind, Mrs. Hodges, you can wear all those grand things at the double wedding, which will take place as soon as Ethel is well, which Dr. Trevyllan says will be within three months," said Kenneth, cheerily ; " and now," said he, filling her a foaming glass of tho champagne, " will you drink our health and prosperity ?" " That I will !" said she, standing up and taking the glass in her hand. "Here's health, happiness, and a long life to you all— that you may enjoy them—not forgetting A Merry Christmas to You All !"