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"You certainly don't deserve that he should write to you," said Mrs. Dale.

"I don't expect it for a moment,—not till he gets back to London and finds that he has nothing else to do at his office. But I should so like to see how you and Lady Julia get on together. It was quite clear that she regarded you as an ogre; didn't she, Bell?"

"So many people are ogres to Lady Julia," said Bell.

"I believe Lady Julia to be a very good woman," said Mrs. Dale, "and I won't have her abused."

"Particularly before poor Bernard, who is her pet nephew," said Lily. I dare say Adolphus will become a pet too when she has been a week with him at Courcy Castle. Do try and cut Bernard out."

From all which Mrs. Dale learned that some care which had sat heavy on Lily's heart was now lightened, if not altogether removed. She had asked no questions of her daughter, but she had perceived during the past few days that Lily was in trouble, and she knew that such trouble had arisen from her engagement. She had asked no questions, but of course she had been told what was Mr. Crosbie's income, and had been made to understand that it was not to be considered as amply sufficient for all the wants of matrimony. There was little difficulty in guessing what was the source of Lily's care, and as little in now perceiving that something had been said between them by which that care had been relieved.

After that they all rode, and the afternoon went by pleasantly. It was the last day indeed, but Lily had determined that she would not be sad. She had told him that he might go now, and that she would not be discontented at his going. She knew that the morrow would be very blank to her; but she struggled to live up to the spirit of her promise, and she succeeded. They all dined at the Great House, even Mrs. Dale doing so upon this occasion. When they had come in from the garden in the evening, Crosbie talked more to Mrs. Dale than he did even to Lily, while Lily sat a little distant, listening with all her ears, sometimes saying a low-toned word, and happy beyond expression in the feeling that her mother and her lover should understand each other. And it must be understood that Crosbie at this time was fully determined to conquer the difficulties of which he had thought so much, and to fix the earliest day which might be possible for his marriage. The solemnity of that meeting in the field still hung about him, and gave to his present

feelings a manliness and a truth of purpose which were too generally wanting to them. If only those feelings would last! But now he talked to Mrs. Dale about her daughter, and about their future prospects, in a tone which he could not have used had not his mind for the time been true to her. He had never spoken so freely to Lily's mother, and at no time had Mrs. Dale felt for him so much of a mother's love. He apologised for the necessity of some delay, arguing that he could not endure to see his young wife without the comfort of a home of her own, and that he was now, as he always had been, afraid of incurring debt. Mrs. Dale disliked waiting engagements,-as do all mothers,but she could not answer unkindly to such pleading as this. Lily is so very young," she said, "that she may well wait for a year or so.'

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"For seven years," said Lily, jumping up and whispering into her mother's ear. "I shall hardly be six-and-twenty then, which is not at all too old."

And so the evening passed away very pleasantly.

"God bless you, Adolphus!" Mrs. Dale said to him, as she parted with him at her own door. It was the first time that she had called him by his Christian name. 'I hope you understand how much we are trusting to you."

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"I do, I do," said he, as he pressed her hand. Then as he walked back alone, he swore to himself, binding himself to the oath with all his heart, that he would be true to those women,both to the daughter and to the mother; for the solemnity of the morning was still upon him.

He was to start the next morning before eight, Bernard having undertaken to drive him over to the railway at Guestwick. The breakfast was on the table shortly after seven; and just as the two men had come down, Lily entered the room, with her hat and shawl. "I said I would be in to pour out your tea,' said she; and then she sat herself down over against the teapot.

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It was a silent meal, for people do not know what to say in those last minutes. And Bernard, too, was there; proving how true is the adage which says, that two are company, but that three are not. I think that Lily was wrong to come up on that last morning; but she would not hear of letting him start without seeing him, when her lover had begged her not to put herself to so much trouble. Trouble! Would she not have sat up all night to see even the last of the top of his hat? Then Bernard, muttering something about the horse, went

away.

"I have only one minute to speak to you," said she,

jumping up," and I have been thinking all night of what I had to say. It is so easy to think, and so hard to speak." "My darling, I understand it all."

66 But you must understand this, that I will never distrust you. I will never ask you to give me up again, or say that I could be happy without you. I could not live without you; that is, without the knowledge that you are mine. But I will never be impatient, never. Pray, pray believe me! Nothing shall make me distrust you."

"Dearest Lily, I will endeavour to give you no cause."

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I know you will not; but I specially wanted to tell you that. you will write,-very soon?"

"Directly I get there."

"And as often as you can. But I won't bother you; only your letters will make me so happy. I shall be so proud when they come to me. I shall be afraid of writing too much to you, for fear I should tire you."

66 You will never do that."

"Shall I not? But you must write first, you know. If you could only understand how I shall live upon your letters! And now good-bye. There are the wheels. God bless you, my own, my own! And she gave herself up into his arms, as she had given herself up into his heart.

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She stood at the door as the two men got into the gig, and, as it passed down through the gate, she hurried out upon the terrace, from whence she could see it for a few yards down the lane. Then she ran from the terrace to the gate, and, hurrying through the gate, made her way into the churchyard, from the farther corner of which she could see the heads of the two men till they had made the turn into the main road beyond the parsonage. There she remained till the very sound of the wheels no longer reached her ears, stretching her eyes in the direction they had taken. Then she turned round slowly and made her way out at the churchyard gate, which opened on to the road close to the front door of the Small House.

"I should like to punch his head," said Hopkins, the gardener, to himself, as he saw the gig driven away and saw Lily trip after it, that she might see the last of him whom it carried. "And I wouldn't think nothing of doing it; no more I wouldn't," Hopkins added in his soliloquy. It was generally thought about the place that Miss Lily was Hopkins's favourite; though he showed it chiefly by snubbing her more frequently than he snubbed her sister.

Lily had evidently intended to return home through the front door; but she changed her purpose before she reached the house, and made her way slowly back through the churchyard, and by the gate of the Great House, and by the garden at the back of it, till she crossed the little bridge. But on the bridge she rested awhile, leaning against the railing as she had often leant with him, and thinking of all that had passed since that July day on which she had first met him. On no spot had he so often told her of his love as on this, and nowhere had she so eagerly sworn to him that she would be his own dutiful loving wife.

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66

"And by God's help so I will," she said to herself, as she walked firmly up to the house. He has gone, mamma,” she said, as she entered the breakfast-room. And now we'll go back to our work-a-day ways; it has been all Sunday for me for the last six weeks."

CHAPTER XVI

MR. CROSBIE MEETS AN OLD CLERGYMAN ON HIS
WAY TO COURCY CASTLE

For the first mile or two of their journey Crosbie and Bernard Dale sat, for the most part, silent in their gig. Lily, as she ran down to the churchyard corner and stood there looking after them with her loving eyes, had not been seen by them. But the spirit of her devotion was still strong upon them both, and they felt that it would not be well to strike at once into any ordinary topic of conversation. And, moreover, we may presume that Crosbie did feel much at thus parting from such a girl as Lily Dale, with whom he had lived in close intercourse for the last six weeks, and whom he loved with all his heart, with all the heart that he had for such purposes. In those doubts as to his marriage which had troubled him he had never expressed to himself any disapproval of Lily. He had not taught himself to think that she was other than he would have her be, that he might thus give himself an excuse for parting from her. Not as yet, at any rate, had he had recourse to that practice, so common with men who wish to free themselves from the bonds with which they have permitted themselves to be bound. Lily had been too sweet to his eyes, to his touch, to all his senses for that. He had enjoyed too keenly the pleasure

of being with her, and of hearing her tell him that she loved him, to allow of his being personally tired of her. He had not been so spoilt by his club life but that he had taken exquisite pleasure in all her nice country ways, and soft, kind-hearted, womanly humour. He was by no means tired of Lily. Better than any of his London pleasures was this pleasure of making love in the green fields to Lily Dale. It was the consequences of it that affrighted him. Babies with their belongings would come; and dull evenings, over a dull fire, or else the pining grief of a disappointed woman. He would be driven to be careful as to his clothes, because the ordering of a new coat would entail a serious expenditure. He could go no more among countesses and their daughters, because it would be out of the question that his wife should visit at their houses. All the victories that he had ever won must be given up. He was thinking of this even while the gig was going round the corner near the parsonage house, and while Lily's eyes were still blessed with some view of his departing back; but he was thinking, also, that moment, that there might be other victory in store for him; that it might be possible for him to learn to like that fireside, even though babies should be there, and a woman opposite to him intent on baby cares. He was struggling as best he knew how; for the solemnity which Lily had imparted to him had not yet vanished from his spirit.

"I hope that, upon the whole, you feel contented with your visit?" said Bernard to him, at last.

"6 Contented? Of course I do."

"That is easily said; and civility to me, perhaps, demands as much. But I know that you have, to some extent, been disappointed."

"Well; yes. I have been disappointed as regards money. It is of no use denying it."

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I should not mention it now, only that I want to know that you exonerate me."

"I have never blamed you;-neither you, nor anybody else; unless, indeed, it has been myself."

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You mean that you regret what you've done?

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"No; I don't mean that. I am too devotedly attached to that dear girl whom we have just left to feel any regret that I have engaged myself to her. But I do think that had I managed better with your uncle things might have been different."

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I doubt it. Indeed I know that it is not so; and can assure you that you need not make yourself unhappy on that score.

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