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I haven't been out of the house all day," she said, “and that has made it worse.'

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I don't know how you are to get out if you won't walk," he answered.

Then there was no more said between them till they sat down to their meal.

Had the squire at Allington known all, he might, I think, have been satisfied with the punishment which Crosbie had encountered.

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It was Mrs. Dale's eldest daughter who spoke to her, and they were alone together in the parlour at the Small House. Mrs. Dale took the letter and read it very carefully. She then put it back into its envelope and returned it to Bell.

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It is, at any rate, a good letter, and, as I believe, tells the truth."

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"I think it tells a little more than the truth, mamma. you say, it is a well-written letter. He always writes well when he is in earnest. But yet

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"There is more head than heart in it."

'It so, he will suffer the less; that is, if you are quite resolved in the matter."

"I am quite resolved, and I do not think he will suffer much. He would not, I suppose, have taken the trouble to write like that, if he did not wish this thing."

"I am quite sure that he does wish it, most earnestly; and that he will be greatly disappointed."

"As he would be if any other scheme did not turn out to his satisfaction; that is all."

The letter, of course, was from Bell's cousin Bernard, and containing the strongest plea he was able to make in favour of his suit for her hand. Bernard Dale was better able to press such a plea by letter than by spoken words. He was a man capable of doing anything well in the doing of which a little time for consideration might be given to him; but he had not in him that power of passion which will force a man to

eloquence in asking for that which he desires to obtain. His letter on this occasion was long, and well argued. If there was little in it of passionate love, there was much of pleasant flattery. He told Bell how advantageous to both their families their marriage would be; he declared to her that his own feeling in the matter had been rendered stronger by absence; he alluded without boasting to his past career of life as her best guarantee for his future conduct; he explained to her that if this marriage could be arranged there need then, at any rate, be no further question as to his aunt removing with Lily from the Small House; and then he told her that his affection for herself was the absorbing passion of his existence. Had the letter been written with the view of obtaining from a third person a favourable verdict as to his suit, it would have been a very good letter indeed; but there was not a word in it that could stir the heart of such a girl as Bell Dale.

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Answer him kindly," Mrs. Dale said.

"As kindly as I know how," said Bell. "I wish you would write the letter, mamma."

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I fear that would not do. What I should say would only tempt him to try again."

Mrs. Dale knew very well,-had known for some months past, -that Bernard's suit was hopeless. She felt certain, although the matter had not been discussed between them, that whenever Dr. Crofts might choose to come again and ask for her daughter's hand he would not be refused. Of the two men she probably liked Dr. Crofts the best; but she liked them both, and she could not but remember that the one, in a worldly point of view, would be a very poor match, whereas the other would, in all respects, be excellent. She would not, on any account, say a word to influence her daughter, and knew, moreover, that no word which she could say would influence her; but she could not divest herself of some regret that it should be so.

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I know what you would wish, mamma," said Bell.

I have but one wish, dearest, and that is for your happiness. May God preserve you from any such fate as Lily's. When I tell you to write kindly to your cousin, I simply mean that I think him to have deserved a kind reply by his honesty."

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It shall be as kind as I can make it, mamma; but you know what the lady says in the play,-how hard it is to take the sting from that word 'no.'" Then Bell walked out alone for a while, and on her return got her desk and wrote her letter. It was very firm and decisive. As for that wit which should

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pluck the sting" from such a sharp and waspish word as 'no,' I fear she had it not. It will be better to make him understand that I, also, am in earnest," she said to herself; and in this frame of mind she wrote her letter. "Pray do not allow yourself to think that what I have said is unfriendly," she added, in a postscript. "I know how good you are, and I know the great value of what I refuse; but in this matter it must be my duty to tell you the simple truth.”

It had been decided between the squire and Mrs. Dale that the removal from the Small House to Guestwick was not to take place till the first of May. When he had been made to understand that Dr. Crofts had thought it injudicious that Lily should be taken out of their present house in March, he had used all the eloquence of which he was master to induce Mrs. Dale to consent to abandon her project. He had told her that he had always considered that house as belonging, of right, to some other of the family than himself; that it had always been so inhabited, and that no squire of Allington had for years past taken rent for it. There is no favour conferred,— -none at all," he had said; but speaking nevertheless in his usual sharp, ungenial tone. There is a favour, a great favour, and great generosity," Mrs. Dale had replied. "And I have never been too proud to accept it; but when I tell you that we think we shall be happier at Guestwick, you will not refuse to let us go. Lily has had a great blow in that house, and Bell feels that she is running counter to your wishes on her behalf,-wishes that are so very kind!"

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"No more need be said about that. All that may come right yet, if you will remain where you are.'

But Mrs. Dale knew that "all that " could never come right, and persisted. Indeed, she would hardly have dared to tell her girls that she had yielded to the squire's entreaties. It was just then, at that very time, that the squire was, as it were, in treaty with the earl about Lily's fortune; and he did feel it hard that he should be opposed in such a way by his own relatives at the moment when he was behaving towards them with so much generosity. But in his arguments about the house he said nothing of Lily, or her future prospects.

They were to move on the first of May, and one week of April was already past. The squire had said nothing further on the matter after the interview with Mrs. Dale to which allusion has just been made. He was vexed and sore at the separation, thinking that he was ill-used by the feeling which was displayed

by this refusal. He had done his duty by them, as he thought; indeed more than his duty, and now they told him that they were leaving him because they could no longer bear the weight of an obligation conferred by his hands. But in truth he did not understand them; nor did they understand him. He had been hard in his manner, and had occasionally domineered, not feeling that his position, though it gave him all the privileges of a near and a dear friend, did not give him the authority of a father or a husband. In that matter of Bernard's proposed marriage he had spoken as though Bell should have considered his wishes before she refused her cousin. He had taken upon himself to scold Mrs. Dale, and had thereby given offence to the girls, which they at the time had found it utterly impossible to forgive.

But they were hardly better satisfied in the matter than was he; and now that the time had come, though they could not bring themselves to go back from their demand, almost felt that they were treating the squire with cruelty. When their' decision had been made,-while it had been making,—he had been stern and hard to them. Since that he had been softened by Lily's misfortune, and softened also by the anticipated loneliness which would come upon him when they should be gone from his side. It was hard upon him that they should so treat him when he was doing his best for them all! And they also felt this, though they did not know the extent to which he was anxious to go in serving them. When they had sat round the fire planning the scheme of their removal, their hearts had been hardened against him, and they had resolved to assert their independence. But now, when the time for action had come, they felt that their grievances against him had already been in a great measure assuaged. This tinged all that they did with a certain sadness; but still they continued their work.

Who does not know how terrible are those preparations for house-moving;-how infinite in number are the articles which must be packed, how inexpressibly uncomfortable is the period of packing, and how poor and tawdry is the aspect of one's belongings while they are thus in a state of dislocation? Nowadays people who understand the world, and have money commensurate with their understanding, have learned the way of shunning all these disasters, and of leaving the work to the hands of persons paid for doing it. The crockery is left in the cupboards, the books on the shelves, the wine in the bins, the curtains on their poles, and the family that is understanding

goes for a fortnight to Brighton. At the end of that time the crockery is comfortably settled in other cupboards, the books on other shelves, the wine in other bins, the curtains are hung on other poles, and all is arranged. But Mrs. Dale and her daughters understood nothing of such a method of moving as this. The assistance of the village carpenter in filling certain cases that he had made was all that they knew how to obtain beyond that of their own two servants. Every article had to pass through the hands of some one of the family; and as they felt almost overwhelmed by the extent of the work to be done, they began it much sooner than was necessary, so that it became evident as they advanced in their work, that they would have to pass a dreadfully dull, stupid, uncomfortable week at last, among their boxes and cases, in all the confusion of dismantled furniture.

At first an edict had gone forth that Lily was to do nothing. She was an invalid, and was to be petted and kept quiet. But this edict soon fell to the ground, and Lily worked harder than either her mother or her sister. In truth she was hardly an invalid any longer, and would not submit to an invalid's treatment. She felt herself that for the present constant occupation could alone save her from the misery of looking back, and she had conceived an idea that the harder that occupation was, the better it would be for her. While pulling down the books, and folding the linen, and turning out from their old hiding-places the small long-forgotten properties of the household, she would be as gay as ever she had been in old times. She would talk over her work, standing with flushed cheek and laughing eyes among the dusty ruins around her, till for a moment her mother would think that all was well within her. But then at other moments, when the reaction came, it would seem as though nothing were well. She could not sit quietly over the fire, with quiet rational work in her hands, and chat in a rational quiet way. Not as yet could she do so. Nevertheless it was well with her,within her own bosom. She had declared to herself that she would conquer her misery,-as she had also declared to herself during her illness that her misfortune should not kill her,—and she was in the way to conquer it. She told herself that the world was not over for her because her sweet hopes had been frustrated. The wound had been deep and very sore, but the flesh of the patient had been sound and healthy, and her blood pure. A physician having knowledge in such cases would have declared, after long watching of her symptoms, that a cure was

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