|Newspaper Title||Mercury and Weekly Courier (Vic. : 1878 - 1903)|
|Trove Title||Margaret Dalling's Christmas|
MAGARET DALLING'S CHRISTMAS. BY AUTHOR OF "THE TROUBLES OF CHATTY AND MOLLY, " "THE DINGY HOUSE AT KENSINGTON," ETC. So it was the 23rd of- December, the day before Christmas Eve, and Arthur Marston, was expected from Lonidon. Margaret Dalliong was sitting a little apart from the group in the drawing room, feeling like a looker-on at the company rather than one of it.§ "' am not fit for any of them," she thought. "I am different from them alL I only feel out of place among them, and constrained, and awkward, and never at my ease. They are all rich, and well-born and educated; and I am noboiy--just nobody-with nothing to make me over anybody." This was what she had ?mq thinking over and over again. "They put up with, me as Mrs. Marston's companion,but they wouldn't put up with me as one of themselves really ; and when I am married to Arthur they will look down on him for my sake perhaps, and on me, and snub me; but they shan't !" The tears gathered in her eyes. She was so lonely, she always had been ; oh, if she could but hope it would all come right with Arthur, and she should not always be lonely! As they sat there the sound of wheels was heard, and Mary, or May, as they all called her, started to her feet ; and the next moment Mrs. Marston was in the hall welcoming her son. Margaret did not move from the spot where she sat ; till presently, with a start, he recognised her, and darted forward. "Miss Dalling," he said, "I did not know you were here." "Did you bring down the riling whip, Arthur ?" Mary Cameron asked, coming beside him, and touching his arm. "Oh yes ! it's somewhere," he an swered, almost roughly, and shook her off; and remained standing near Margaret, as if uncertain what to do. "Shall I come and help you dress for dinner ?" Margaret asked the fair girl, who had kissed her the day before; and the two girls went up-stairs to gether. But, instead of dressing, Mary sat down and covered her face with her hands, and began to sob. With a sick fear and dread at her heart, Margaret knelt, and soothed her. "What is the matter, Miss Cameron ?" she asked, longing to be kind, and feeling stiff and awkward. There had been nobody to teach Margaret cares sing ways. "It is nothing," she answered, looking up, while the smile gathered round her mouth again. "It has often been so, lately. I can't help thinking he doesn't really care for me." "Who ?" asked Margaret. "Arthur, of course. We are engaged you know, we have been all our lives in a sort of way ; but, somehow, he has changed so during the last few months, it nearly breaks my heart sometimes." She did not see the terrible face bending over her. "Do you love him much ?" "Much !"-she looked up at her companion, and almost started. "Miss Dalling, you. are ill ! what is the matter ?" "It is nothing. Tell me, do you love him much ?" "With all my heart and soul !" the girl said, simply. "I have loved him all my life long." "Poor child !" Margaret Dalling answered, bending down and kissing her. "I wonder if he is worth it." Then she went to her own room, and made her own hasty toilette. "Oh, how could he be so cruel ! how could he be so cruel !" she moaned, miserably, but she shed no tears.