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possible it is that things should have been otherwise? how make him believe her great pity for him? Now is the time to tell him, but how can she convince him that she plighted him her troth in all good faith; that, but for the merest chance, she would still be his?
She is so indescribably happy that she almost wishes she could make him happy too. But there is only one man in the wide world for her, and she can find no comfort for another but to confess him the truth as tenderly as may be.
‘Minnie, answer me honestly,' Dane blurts out at last, stopping suddenly, and facing round upon her, how long have you loved
He knows it! How fierce are his eyes, how they glitter in the dim light! An interval, his face twitching as he watches her lips. 'Ah, Regy,' she answers, 'I couldn't help it. If he had not loved me I should have conquered myself. I thought he did not care, but he does.'
Her voice has never sounded so passionately sweet, this glory has never irradiated her beauty thus for him.
How long have you loved Jim ?' he repeats with an effort.
She looks up at the wakeful stars.
Since that day-at the cascade.'
can you have found out? How is it that-’
Then quickly, 'But how
'I went to find you,' he interrupts harshly, 'this evening in the plantation, and I saw and heard what I would have rather died than see and hear. I was not spying on you; I give you my word I got away as soon as I could, without falling down by the way. I believe I was as near fainting as ever I was in my life.' A bitter laugh.
It was an accidental meeting, Regy,' she cries; it was indeed. O, don't laugh like that! Look-Jim came this evening to say good-bye; he couldn't bear to be at the wedding; and he was walking up through the plantation, when he heard me say something,' hanging her pretty head-' something that made him understand that that I had put off the marriage because I didn't love you enough, and because I still loved him too much; and then-"
'God! don't go on!' breaks in Dane; I believe you, Minnie. But, O heavens! why did you accept me if you loved him?'
She takes his hand, looking into his suffering face with pitiful
'I was so wretched, and you were so kind; I despaired of all else; and I was fond of you, and thought that I should love you in time. But, you know, Jim does care for me; he did all along.'
A long sad pause.
What a fool I am!' he murmurs, gulping down his grief. 'Listen, Minnie; I won't keep you long; I have only a few words more to say. When we were walking in the hotel garden at
Malaise you remember ?' tossing his auburn curls off his forehead, 'I made a vow to myself; it was this: that I would never, by any act of mine, bring the tears into your soft eyes. I am going to keep my promise.'
He stops a moment, and resumes:
You are engaged to me; you love Captain Tregarvan. Poor as he is don't speak yet-poor as he is, you are willing to share his poverty; you will glory in helping him on; you will be happy with him (God give you all the happiness I wish you, my darling !) ; but if you thought you had broken your faith with me, your happiness would not be perfect,' a deep breath. You are free. God bless you, Minnie-beautiful Minnie! He only knows how I love you. Good-bye!'
He presses her hand to his lips, and turns away towards the house.
Ah, Regy, forgive me!' she sobs out; Regy, forgive me before you go!'
'Forgive you for my being unable to win your love!' Very sadly, Well, darling, if it will put you at rest, I forgive you, and I shall love you for ever. There, don't cry, little one; think how happy you have made two months of my life. ling; good-bye!'
Good-bye, my dar
And he has vanished through the darkness.
The Kaiserhof Hotel, Ems. A bright sunny room; open windows, giving on waving trees and a wall of fragrant mountains, whose pine-clad crests tower above the promenade, already thronged with gay costumes on their way back from an early dose of the waters.
Breakfast-things glittering on the table-and Minnie Tregarvan deftly pouring out coffee for a certain stalwart gentleman, who sits slippered and loose-jacketed at her side, casting his eye over the columns of a Times that has just arrived with the letters.
Monsieur est servi,' she says, passing round him to put down the cup at his elbow, with a praiseworthy attempt to look matronly in her fresh white wrapper and pink ribbons; but, for all her affected staidness of demeanour, she must needs deposit a little kiss, from behind him, on the top of his forehead, and is consequently captured and summarily dealt with.
'Poor dear little me! Can't even go near its great ugly husband without being treated like this!' seat resumed in gleeful misery. I say, Crabs, don't keep all the news to yourself. What is that bit you are so absorbed in ?'
Jim looks up with a bright smile. It's rather interesting,
"On the 2d inst., at the parish-church of Holyoak, near Leam
ington, by the Rev. Alfred Ferrers, Rector of Southmead, assisted by the Rev. Charles Wincham, Vicar of Holyoak, Sir James Tregarvan, Bart., of Castle Tregarvan, Cornwall, to Wilhelmina, only daughter of the late Hon. John Goring, formerly Captain in her Majesty's 9th Hussars."
There, Lady Tregarvan; what do you think of that?'
'O dear,' with just the slightest pout, what a flourish of trumpets about our quiet little marriage! And yet, you base man, I do believe, if I hadn't seen that bit you cut out of the newspaper one day, I should never have known you had any property at all till this moment.'
'It was such fun,' he continues, opening his letters to hear you contriving all sorts of financial plots and economic conspiracies, to hear you map out a future, which, by the way, seemed to consist principally in hard work for you and beatitude for me—it almost made me wish I was hard up. Letter from the Colonel: "My dear Jim"-hum, ah-" Mrs. Morant has left us-gone to Baden with her married sister"-hum, hum-"Margaret has a severe coldconfined to her room-misses our dear Minnie very much❞—our dear Minnie, indeed! of course they miss you; beastly rude if they didn't-hum-"Yours affec., Bertie Ferrers.-P.S. Poor Dane is off for change of scene to New York by to-day's mail. He looked very bad last time I saw him."'
'Poor old Regy!' sighs Minnie, with glistening eyes.
Suppose it were I, Min,' drawing her to him fondly. pose I had said good-bye, and was on my way to Egypt, looking bad ?'
'O Jim, I am very, very sorry for him-but I couldn't lose.
'He is not hopeless,' whispers the deep tender voice; the voyage will do him good; he will come back himself again. I was a broken man; it would have killed me.'
Presently Jim picks up the letter, and continues: "P.P.S. Camille writes to say he has found a house to suit him, on your home. estate; in his own words, all that there is of most gentle in way of châlets.' He will be a fixture by the time you come back."
'Dear little man,' cries Minnic, I am so fond of him! Do you know, Jim, I fancy I like him so much because in one point we are exactly alike.'
'What's that?' inquires he expectantly.
'We both love you better than anything else in this big beautiful
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