sake, and for mine. I don't say that they would distress you, or distress me -- I wouldn't have you think that for the world. But -- I want to be so happy, now I have got you back again, and I want you to be so happy too --' She broke off abruptly, and looked round the room, my own sitting-room, in which we were talking. `Ah!' she cried, clapping her hands with a bright smile of recognition, `another old friend found already! Your bookcase, Marian -- your dear-little-shabby-old-satin-wood bookcase -- how glad I am you brought it with you from Limmeridge! And the horrid heavy man's umbrella, that you always would walk out with when it rained! And first and foremost of all, your own dear, dark. clever, gipsy-face, looking at me just as usual! It is so like home again to be here. How can we make it more like home still? I will put my father's portrait in your room instead of mine -- and I will keep all my little treasures from Limmeridge here -- and we will pass hours and hours every day with these four friendly walls round us. Oh, Marian!' she said, suddenly seating herself on a footstool at my knees, and looking up earnestly in my face, `promise you will never marry, and leave me. It is selfish to say so, but you are so much better off as a single woman -- unless -- unless you arc very fond of your husband -- but you won't be very fond of anybody but me, will you?' She stopped again, crossed my hands on my lap, and laid her face on them. `Have you been writing many letters, and receiving many letters lately?' she asked, in low, suddenly-altered tones. I understood what the question meant, but I thought it my duty not to encourage her by meeting her half way. `Have you heard from him?' she went on, coaxing me to forgive the more direct appeal on which she now ventured, by kissing my hands, upon which her face still rested. `Is he well and happy, and getting on in his profession? Has he recovered himself -- and forgotten me?'

She should not have asked those questions. She should have remembered her own resolution, on the morning when Sir Percival held her to her marriage engagement, and when she resigned the book of Hartright's drawings into my hands for ever. But, ah me! where is the faultless human creature who can persevere in a good resolution, without sometimes failing and falling back? Where is the woman who has ever really torn from her heart the image that has been once fixed in it by a true love? Books tell us that such unearthly creatures have existed -- but what does our own experience say in answer to books?

I made no attempt to remonstrate with her: perhaps, because I sincerely appreciated the fearless candour which let me see, what other women in her position might have had reasons for concealing even from their dearest friends -- perhaps, because I felt, in my own heart and conscience, that in her place I should have asked the same questions and had the same thoughts. All I could honestly do was to reply that I had not written to him or heard from him lately, and then to turn the conversation to less dangerous topics.

There has been much to sadden me in our interview -- my first confidential interview with her since her return. The change which her marriage has produced in our relations towards each other, by placing a forbidden subject between us, for the first time in our lives; the melancholy conviction of the dearth of all warmth of feeling, of all close sympathy, between her husband and herself, which her own unwilling words now force on my mind; the distressing discovery that the influence of that ill-fated attachment still remains (rio matter how innocently, how harmlessly) rooted as deeply as ever in her heart -- all these are disclosures to sadden any woman who loves her as dearly, and feels for her as acutely, as I do

There is only one consolation to set against them -- a consolation that ought to comfort me, and that does comfort me. All the graces and gentleness of her character -- all the frank affection of her nature -- all the sweet, simple, womanly charms which used to make her the darling and delight of every one who approached her, have come back to me with herself. Of my other impressions I am sometimes a little inclined to doubt. Of this last, best, happiest of all impressions, I grow more and more certain every hour in the day.

Let me turn, now, from her to her travelling companions. Her husband must engage my attention first. What have I observed in Sir Percival, since his return, to improve my opinion of him?

  By PanEris using Melati.

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