much native honour in him, for him not to feel that if her will should recoil, his conduct would have been odious, and she would have a right to reproach him.

But Maggie did not feel that right: she was too conscious of fatal weakness in herself - too full of the tenderness that comes with the foreseen need for inflicting a wound. She let him take her hand when he came to sit down beside her, and smiled at him - only with rather a sad glance: she could say nothing to pain him till the moment of possible parting was nearer. And so they drank their cup of coffee together, and walked about the deck, and heard the captain's assurance that they should be in at Mudport by five o'clock, each with an inward burthen - but in him it was an undefined fear, which he trusted to the coming hours to dissipate - in her it was a definite resolve on which she was trying silently to tighten her hold. Stephen was continually, through the morning, expressing his anxiety at the fatigue and discomfort she was suffering, and alluded to landing and to the change of motion and repose she would have in a carriage, wanting to assure himself more completely by pre-supposing that everything would be as he had arranged it. For a long while Maggie contented herself with assuring him that she had had a good night's rest, and that she didn't mind about being on the vessel - it was not like being on the open sea - it was only a little less pleasant than being in a boat on the Floss. But a suppressed resolve will betray itself in the eyes, and Stephen became more and more uneasy as the day advanced, under the sense that Maggie had entirely lost her passiveness. He longed, but did not dare, to speak of their marriage - of where they would go after it, and the steps he would take to inform his father, and the rest, of what had happened. He longed to assure himself of a tacit assent from her. But each time he looked at her, he gathered a stronger dread of the new, quiet sadness with which she met his eyes. And they were more and more silent.

`Here we are in sight of Mudport,' he said, at last. `Now, dearest,' he added, turning towards her with a look that was half beseeching, `the worst part of your fatigue is over. On the land we can command swiftness. In another hour and a half we shall be in a chaise together - and that will seem rest to you after this.'

Maggie felt it was time to speak - it would only be unkind now to assent by silence. She spoke in the lowest tone, as he had done, but with distinct decision.

`We shall not be together - we shall have parted.'

The blood rushed to Stephen's face.

`We shall not,' he said. `I'll die first.'

It was as he had dreaded - there was a struggle coming. But neither of them dared to say another word, till the boat was let down, and they were taken to the landing place. Here there was a cluster of gazers and passengers awaiting the departure of the steamboat to St Ogg's. Maggie had a dim sense, when she had landed, and Stephen was hurrying her along on his arm, that some one had advanced towards her from that cluster as if he were coming to speak to her. But she was hurried along, and was indifferent to everything but the coming trial.

A porter guided them to the nearest inn and postinghouse, and Stephen gave the order for the chaise as they passed through the yard. Maggie took no notice of this, and only said, `Ask them to show us into a room where we can sit down.'

When they entered, Maggie did not sit down, and Stephen, whose face had a desperate determination in it, was about to ring the bell, when she said, in a firm voice,

`I'm not going, we must part here.'

`Maggie,' he said, turning round towards her, and speaking in the tones of a man who feels a process of torture beginning, `Do you mean to kill me? What is the use of it now? The whole thing is done.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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