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he opened the piano, and sought to vent the disquiet of his mood in a plaintive melody, which every now and then he interrupted with the wildest discords. At last the door opened, and Lady Eda entered. He took no notice of her, but went on with his discords.
"What are you doing, Mr. More? Do please shut up the piano. I never heard such a noise.”
"I am sorry it offends you, but it happens to express the exact state of my mind at the present moment."
“ What an unenviable state it must be !" said Lady Eda, taking up a book to read.
“ It is rather,” returned Pierce. struggle between love and friendship. I cannot make up my mind which of the two has most charms.”
Friendship, to be sure. I don't believe in romance. Love between relations is very beautiful, no doubt. I often wish I had a
" It is a
sister. Brothers don't care for one much, I think.”
More played on, but did not turn. As he played, he murmured lowly to himself:
“Would I were your brother! Or that I could change my sex and be your bosom's friend-sharer of all your most secret thoughts, your heart's best counsellor--certain, then, your happiness would be my own; without fear or jealousy of losing the too passionate love which could not then exist between us ! Now! now, my fears so outweigh my hopes that every sweet thought of you is coupled with a
more bitter pang.”
“What an extraordinary recitative! I could not hear a word of it,” said Lady Eda. “What were you saying ?”
“ That friendship,” he replied, “ may be a nobler tie than love. Yet is it but one element of love. The ecstacies of love I
know must pass away, must yield to common-place affection, may even change to cold indifference; but is it the less sweet because it is so transient ? Is the lightning less brilliant because it does not shine for ever? We cease to wonder at the dazzling rays of sunlight, but the electric cloud that bursts in thunder
with amazement. One moment’s bliss redeems long years of sorrow !”
“ The price is a dear one,” said Lady Eda.
“Not so dear but that it is worth the paying for, Lady Eda.”
He left the piano, and stood before her. His face was deadly pale, but his voice was firm and his look determined.
Well, Mr. More ?”
“It seems to me,” said Lady Eda, “that you are rather a fidget.”
“ What makes you think so ? Because I walk up and down the room? I do that when I read by myself. It helps one to think.”
“ But independent of that, you think me a fidget. If you mean by fidget, that I never rest till I accomplish what I undertake -perhaps I am so.
But I should say, Lady Eda, you are not otherwise than a fidget.'
“I? Good gracious! I am not the least bit of a fidget. My father often scolds because I sit calmly at my book or work, while he is stamping about with excitement. I never show my excitement."
“ You think so? Sometimes I fancy your feelings betray themselves.”
No, I am always calm before others. It is not right, you know, to show excitement before other people. feel it when alone, but that is quite different.”
There was a pause of some minutes. Pierce then sat down beside her.
May I sit here ?” he asked.
“ Like you,” he said, after another pause, “I never, if I can help, show what I feel before other people. Not a word escapes me when my whole soul is panting for utterance. The deeper my emotion the more it shrinks from the light—from encountering the blighting look of indifference. But not on this account are my feelings less strong—not on this account can you have failed to know
You have not, cannot be deceived. If till now my manner has not spoken it, here I tell you all—all. Eda, dear Eda, I love you! From the moment we first met, you were destined to rule my fate. My life, my being, hangs on your will !” He let fall the hand he had grasped within
Her look of surprise and calm