`You know what is my feeling on that subject, Maggie. There is no need for my repeating anything I said a year ago. While my father was living, I felt bound to use the utmost power over you, to prevent you from disgracing him as well as yourself and all of us. But now I must leave you to your own choice. You wish to be independent - you told me so after my father's death. My opinion is not changed. If you think of Philip Wakem as a lover again, you must give up me.'

`I don't wish it, dear Tom - at least as things are - I see that it would lead to misery. But I shall soon go away to another situation, and I should like to be friends with him again while I am here. Lucy wishes it.'

The severity of Tom's face relaxed a little.

`I shouldn't mind your seeing him occasionally at my uncle's - I don't want you to make a fuss on the subject. But I have no confidence in you, Maggie. You would be led away to do anything.'

That was a cruel word. Maggie's lip began to tremble.

`Why will you say that, Tom? It is very hard of you. Have I not done and borne everthing as well as I could? And I have kept my word to you - when - when... My life has not been a happy one any more than yours.'

She was obliged to be childish - the tears would come. When Maggie was not angry, she was as dependent on kind or cold words as a daisy on the sunshine or the cloud: the need of being loved would always subdue her as in old days it subdued her in the worm-eaten attic. The brother's goodness came uppermost at this appeal, but it could only show itself in Tom's fashion. He put his hand gently on her arm and said in the tone of a kind pedagogue,

`Now listen to me, Maggie: I'll tell you what I mean. You're always in extremes - you have no judgment and self-command; and yet you think you know best, and will not submit to be guided. You know I didn't wish you to take a situation. My aunt Pullet was willing to give you a good home, and you might have lived respectably amongst your relations until I could have provided a home for you with my mother. And that is what I should like to do. I wished my sister to be a lady, and I would always have taken care of you as my father desired, until you were well married. But your ideas and mine never accord, and you will not give way. Yet you might have sense enough to see that a brother, who goes out into the world and mixes with men, necessarily knows better what is right and respectable for his sister than she can know herself. You think I am not kind - but my kindness can only be directed by what I believe to be good for you.'

`Yes - I know - dear Tom,' said Maggie, still half-sobbing, but trying to control her tears. `I know you would do a great deal for me - I know how you work and don't spare yourself. I am grateful to you. But, indeed, you can't quite judge for me - our natures our very different. You don't know how differently things affect me from what they do you.'

`Yes, I do know - I know it too well. I know how differently you must feel about all that affects our family and your own dignity as a young woman, before you could think of receiving secret addresses from Philip Wakem. If it was not disgusting to me in every other way, I should object to my sister's name being associated for a moment with that of a young man whose father must hate the very thought of us all, and would spurn you. With any one but you, I should think it quite certain that what you witnessed just before my father's death, would secure you from ever thinking again of Philip Wakem as a lover. But I don't feel certain of it with you - I never feel certain about anything with you. At one time you take pleasure in a sort of perverse self-denial, and at another, you have not resolution to resist a thing that you know to be wrong.'

There was a terrible cutting truth in Tom's words - that hard rind of truth which is discerned by unimaginative, unsympathetic minds. Maggie always writhed under this judgment of Tom's: she rebelled and was humiliated in the same moment: it seemed as if he held a glass before her to show her her own folly and weakness -

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