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support her! I knew she had fearfully overtaxed her strength.”

Both the young men sprang forward together at this summons, and our hero, who was nearest to the drooping Cécile, seized her wrist to uphold her as she was gliding to the ground from Constance's unavailing embrace. A faint cry of intense anguish responded at once to his over-zealous grasp.

“ Take care,” said Edward; "she is, so delicate. Lay her on the floor, Conny, now that she is quite insensible. She will soon come to herself again.”

“Surely, I cannot have hurt her,” muttered the disconsolate Viscount, who had not relinquished the frail hand that he still held in his own; "and yet I certainly did feel something like a nasty rough bracelet under her sleeve. God bless my soul! there's blood upon her hand now !"

“So there is; what can be the cause of it, Edward ?” cried Constance.

“It must be some horrible torture of her invention,” replied he, and the all-motionless arm having been bared a little, a gold bracelet was removed, and the true cause, both of the momentary pain and of the slight wound, was discovered. . “I thought as much,” resumed Edward, still in a whisper. “ See, how she has twisted this braiding of iron-wire round her arm ; it is full of sharp points and edges, which have pierced the skin in twenty places. However, I will soon settle the matter now, if you will but hand me those garden-scissors that are on the chimney-piece, there, like a good girl.”

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Scarcely had the obnoxious circlet been thus summarily disposed of, when the patient showed the usual symptoms of returning consciousness ; and the first object which she could distinctly perceive, after having recalled her scattered senses, was her own arm, uncovered nearly to the elbow, and despoiled of her golden bracelet, as well as of the sterner appendage which it had concealed. She gazed anxiously in Constance's face, and detecting something of the truth in the playfully triumphant smile which she observed there, she said, in a tone of tender yet deep reproach:

“ Conny, was this kind ? I never should have expected it from you.”

“Don't be angry with me, dearest Cécile,” replied her cousin, embracing her. “In the

first place, I am not the greatest culprit, and then, it really was by a mere accident that we discovered that odious wire-work."

" It was,” added Edward ; " but henceforth, we shall take very good care that your bracelets shall conceal no such evil secrets."

“1 trust that you will not have many oppor. tunities of thus interfering where yon have no concern,” answered the indignant Cécile ; " but you really must excuse me: I am not fit company for any one this afternoon. Don't come with me, dear Constance, or at all events, you must not stay with me, for I must take a little rest now, if I am to appear at all this evening."

Constance, however, would again accompany her retiring cousin, and as she did not show anew the light of her countenance below during that afternoon, her brother and St. Edmunds were left mutually to impart whatever solace or entertainment the conversation of each could afford to the other or to himself. Why, during this lengthened dialogue, the name of Miss Cécile Basinstoke, who surely might have called forth some compassionate recollection, was not once mentioned between the two young men, we leave the intelligent reader to conjecture.

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CHAPTER V.

SAINT CECILIA REPRIMANDED.

NOR even at dinner-time did the fair Constance re-appear, the alarm, which Cécile had given her, having been the cause, or the pretext for one of those headaches to which she conceives herself subject. Singular indispositions they are, by the way, those headaches of Constance Basinstoke, shedding a fearful gloom, for the time, on the circle from which she is withdrawn, but by no means affecting either the radiant beauty or the glowing spirits of the fair sufferer. Her brother, too, being absent, in consequence of an engagement at the Thornhills', the small party was reduced to its remaining four members.

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first place, I am not the greatest culprit, and then, it really was by a mere accident that we discovered that odious wire-work.”

“ It was,” added Edward; “but henceforth, we shall take very good care that your bracelets shall conceal no such evil secrets."

“I trust that you will not have many oppor. tunities of thus interfering where yon have no concern,” answered the indignant Cécile; “ but you really must excuse me: I am not fit company for any one this afternoon. Don't come with me, dear Constance, or at all events, you must not stay with me, for I must take a little rest now, if I am to appear at all this evening.”

Constance, however, would again accompany her retiring cousin, and as she did not show anew the light of her countenance below during that afternoon, her brother and St. Edmunds were left mutually to impart whatever solace or entertainment the conversation of each could afford to the other or to himself. Why, during this lengthened dialogue, the name of Miss Cécile Basinstoke, who surely might have called forth some compassionate recollection, was not once mentioned between the two young men, we leave the intelligent reader to conjecture.

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