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when it was concluded, he raised both his hands to his face, and then a sob was heard, so long and so loud, that it could not have proceeded from the gentle Constance, though the tears were, at that very moment, fast falling from her eyes also. Sir Charles Basinstoke is not much used to the melting mood. He had not been known to weep since the day when he had promised this same Cécile's mother, on her death-bed, to be a second father to her orphan child. Was it that recollection which moved him so, if, in truth, that wild outburst of manly grief proceeded from him ?
We have said that Constance was likewise in tears. She also is not much accustomed to yield to such human frailty without a good cause. Whether any such was afforded in the present instance, we shall judge, by ourselves glancing at the letter that she was reading :
“My dearest Conny, “When you open this, I shall be far, far away. You will be the first perhaps to learn that I am gone, as you come tripping joyously in to scold me for not having joined you yet. Oh! how I
have grieved at that thought alone, even amid so much wretchedness ; but yet, you will be less surprised than others.
“ You have long known, dear Conny, that, through the sad infirmity of my disposition, I have suffered much at Redburn. You cannot, however, know all—you are too wise, too sensible, to allow your heart to bleed, as mine has bled, where no real misfortune was : still, the secret anguish was there, long, long since, though, until to-day, it did not quite surpass my powers of endurance. But when all my own torturing misgivings were realized; when I learnt that I was considered, what I well felt myself to be, the evil genius of the family; when I was accused of injuring all, and of betraying even you, then the hasty yet long-matured decision was irrevocably taken.
“ There is a home, Conny, for the homeless. There is a refuge, even here below, where they who are weary indeed shall be at rest, and hear no more the voice of the taskmaster. Do you remember when, not so long ago, we read together of the Poet in the German Legend; how he came too late, when the earth
and all its treasures were divided and shared, and how he was called, by the Almighty, to a higher and purer abode at His own side ? I then said, Conny, that there was more than one moral to the lovely fable, and that that heavenly abode might be found even on the inhospitable surface of the long-occupied globe.
"Such is my bourn now. I must not say more yet : I have pledged myself that nothing should be revealed at present, and to hold, after this one, no communication whatsoever, for three whole months, with any whom I have formerly known. Then, we can write, and even, perhaps, meet again, though not often.
“I have told you that you do not know all. You have something to learn, which I am not quite free to reveal, but which you will hear in time from others. I have written to your cousin, Conny: see him, darling, and tell him, as I have, that I wish him to conceal nothing from you. He is well aware of what I have longed and prayed for on my knees to see accomplished. You have both within your reach happiness such as this world can seldom afford. Oh! do not tempt the rigours of Providence by useless hesitations, scruples, or delay. All
around you wish it even more than I had thought: none so ardently as I do. For the sake of the happy past, for the memory of all the counsel, and of the sister's vows that we two have shared, you will not reject my last parting word of advice.
“Adieu, dearest. The grey dawn is breaking, and it is more than time that the fugitive should be on her way. In three months, with God's blessing, we may meet again for some happy fleeting hour, and then, I trust, you will bear another and still nobler name,
We have said that the Saint's letter to her uncle contained one for Lord St. Edmunds. It ran thus :
“My dear Lord St. Edmunds, “ You will excuse, I am sure, my having delayed until now returning any answer to your very pretty lines. Constance and your father, when they tell you all that has occurred, will give you my best reasons for not having replied sooner. You will be surprised, indeed, to hear what apprehensions have arisen around you, and
how forgetful we have both been deemed of what we owe to our respective creeds and stations. I am not mistaken, however, I trust, in thinking that you will allow me to express the very sincere interest which I take in what concerns your happiness, and how truly I rejoice that you should have it in your power to secure, with the favour of Heaven, its most essential conditions. Few have known more intimately than I have her whose affections I have long and earnestly prayed that you should be so fortunate as to win. No one better than I can tell how deeply blessed he will be who may call her the partner of his life. It would be fearful, indeed, to pause or to doubt where so priceless a pearl may be possessed.
"I would willingly allude to another subject, which I believe to be in your thoughts as well as in mine; but while none can be more important, none also requires more mature consideration. Let, therefore, no hasty impulse, and, above all, no personal influence urge you to any precipitate decision. The truth, in due time, wherever it may be, will do its own work.
“ Farewell. We shall never meet again, but