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quieted and unhappy. She felt that it was a false and awkward position. She could not bear to see him looking ill and sad, as he did at times, with great black rings under his dark eyes. It was worse still when she saw him brighten up with happiness at some chance word she let fall now and then-speaking inadvertently of his house as “home," or of the roses
He must not mistake her. She could not bear to pain him by hard words, and yet sometimes she felt it was her duty to speak them. One day she met him in the street, on her way back to the house. The roll of the passing carriage-wheels gave Guy confidence, and, walking by her side, he began to say,
“Now I never know what delightful surprise may not be waiting for me at every street corner. Ah, Miss Belle, my whole life might be one long dream of wonder and happiness, if ... “Don't speak like this ever again, or I shall have to go away,” said Belle, interrupting, and crossing the road, in her agitation, under the very noses of two omnibus horses. “I wish I could like you enough to marry you. I shall always love you enough to be your friend; please don't talk of anything else.” Belle said this in a bright brisk imploring decided tone, and hoped to have put an end to the matter. That day she came to me and told her
There were almost as many reasons for her staying as for her leaving, the poor child thought. I could not advise her to go, for the assistance that she was able to send home was very valuable. (Guy
laughed, and utterly refused to accept a sixpence of her salary.) Mrs. Griffiths evidently wanted her ; Guy, poor fellow, would have given all he had to keep her, as we all knew too well.
Circumstance orders events sometimes, and people themselves, with all their powers and knowledge of good and of evil, are but passive instruments in the hands of fate. News came that Mr. Barly was ill; and little Belinda, with an anxious face, and a note in her trembling hand, came into Mrs. Griffiths' room one day to say she must go to him directly. Your father is ill,” wrote Anna. “ Les convenances demand your immediate return to him.” Guy happened to be present, and when Belle left the room he followed her out into the
“I don't know what Anna means by les convenances,' but papa is ill, and wants me,” said Belinda, almost crying
“ And I want you,” said Guy; "but that don't matter, of course. Go-go, since you wish it.”
After all, perhaps it was well she was going, thought Belle, as she went to pack up her boxes. Poor Guy's sad face haunted her. She seemed to carry
it away in her box with her other possessions.
It would be difficult to describe what he felt, poor fellow, when he came upon the luggage standing ready corded in the hall, and he found that Belle had taken him at his word. He was so silent a man, so self-con
tained, so diffident of his own strength to win her love in time, so unused to the ways of the world and of women, that he could be judged by no ordinary rule. His utter despair and bewilderment would have been laughable almost, if they had not been so genuine. He paced about the garden with hasty uncertain footsteps, muttering to himself as he went along, and angrily cutting at the rose-hedges. « Of course she must go,
since she wished it ;—of course she must-of course, of course. What would the house be like when she was gone?” For an instant a vision of a great dull vault without warmth, or light, or colour, or possible comfort anywhere, rose before him. He tried to imagine what his life would be if she never came back into it; but as he stood still trying to seize the picture, it seemed to him that it was a thing not to be imagined or thought of. Wherever he looked he saw her, everywhere and in everything. He had imagined himself unhappy; now he discovered that for the last few weeks, since little Belinda had come, he had basked in the summer she had brought, and found new life in the sunshine of her presence.
Of an evening he had come home eagerly from his daily toil looking to find her. When he left early in the morning he would look up with kind eyes at her windows as he drove away. Once, early one morning, he had passed her near the lodge-gate, standing in the shadow of the great aspen-tree, and making way for the horses to go by. Belle was holding back the clean stiff folds
of her pink muslin dress ; she looked up with that peculiar blink of her grey eyes, smiled, and nodded her bright head, and shrunk away from the horses. Every morning Guy used to look under the tree after that to see if she were there by chance, even if he had parted from her but a minute before. Good stupid old fellow ! he used to smile to himself at his own foolish
One of his fancies about her was that Belinda was a bird who would fly away some day, and perch up in the branches of one of the great trees, far, far beyond his reach. And now was this fancy coming true ? was she going—leaving him—flying away where he could not follow her ? He gave an inarticulate sound of mingled anger and sorrow and tenderness, which relieved his heart, but which puzzled Belle herself, who was coming down the garden walk to meet him.
“I was looking for you, Mr. Griffiths,” said Belle. “Your mother wants to speak to you. I, too, wanted to ask you something,” the girl went on, blushing. “She is kind enough to wish me to come back. But
Belle stopped short, blushed up, and began pulling at the leaves sprouting on either side of the narrow alley. When she looked up after a minute, with one of her quick short-sighted glances, she found that Guy's two little brown eyes were fixed upon her steadily.
Don't be afraid that I shall trouble you,” he said, reddening. “If
you had the smallest
conception what your presence is to me, you would come back. I think
would.” Miss Barly didn't answer, but blushed up again and walked on in silence, hanging her head to conceal the two bright tears which had come into her eyes. She was so sorry, so very sorry.
But what could she do? Guy had walked on to the end of the rosegarden, and Belle had followed. Now, instead of turning towards the house, he had come out into the bright-looking kitchen-garden, with its red brick walls hung with their various draperies of lichen and mosses, and garlands of clambering fruit. Four little paths led up to the turf carpet which had been laid down in the centre of the garden : here a fountain plashed with a tranquil fall of waters upon water ; all sorts of sweet kitchen-herbs, mint and thyme and parsley, were growing along the straight-cut beds.
Birds were pecking at the nets along the walls ; one little
sparrow that had been drinking at the fountain flew away as they approached. The few bright-coloured straggling flowers caught the sunlight and reflected it in sparks like the water.
The master of this pleasant place put out his great clumsy hand, and took hold of Belle's soft reluctant fingers. “Ah, Belle,” he said, “is there no hope for me? Will there never be
chance ?" “ I wish with all my heart there was a chance,' said poor Belle, pulling away her hand impatiently. “Why do you wound and pain me by speaking again