`They needn't see or speak to anyone, but run in at any time; for I'm shut up in my study at the other end of the house, Laurie is out a great deal, and the servants are never near the drawing room after nine o'clock.'

Here he rose, as if going, and Beth made up her mind to speak, for that last arrangement left nothing to be desired. `Please tell the young ladies what I say; and if they don't care to come, why, never mind.' Here a little hand slipped into his, and Beth looked up at him with a face full of gratitude, as she said, in her earnest, yet timid way:

`Oh, sir, they do care, very, very much!'

`Are you the musical girl?' he asked, without any startling `Hey!' as he looked down at her very kindly.

`I'm Beth. I love it dearly, and I'll come, if you are quite sure nobody will hear me - and be disturbed,' she added, fearing to be rude, and trembling at her own boldness as she spoke.

`Not a soul, my dear. The house is empty half the day; so come and drum away as much as you like, and I shall be obliged to you.'

`How kind you are, sir!'

Beth blushed like a rose under the friendly look he wore; but she was not frightened now, and gave the big hand a grateful squeeze, because she had no words to thank him for the precious gift he had given her. The old gentleman softly stroked the hair of her forehead, and stooping down, he kissed her, saying, in a tone few people ever heard:

`I had a little girl once, with eyes like these. God bless you, my dear! Good day, madam'; and away he went, in a great hurry.

Beth had a rapture with her mother, and then rushed up to impart the glorious news to her family of invalids, as the girls were not at home. How blithely she sang that evening, and how they all laughed at her, because she woke Amy in the night by playing the piano on her face in her sleep. Next day, having seen both the old and the young gentlemen out of the house, Beth, after two or three retreats, fairly got in at the side-door and made her way, as noiselessly as any mouse, to the drawing room where her idol stood. Quite by accident of course, some pretty, easy music lay on the piano; and, with trembling fingers, and frequent stops to listen and look about, Beth at last touched the great instrument, and straightaway forgot her fear, herself, and everything else but the unspeakable delight which the music gave her, for it was like the voice of a beloved friend.

She stayed till Hannah came to take her home to dinner; but she had no appetite, and could only sit and smile upon everyone in a general state of beatitude.

After that, the little brown hood slipped through the hedge nearly every day, and the great drawing room was haunted by a tuneful spirit that came and went unseen. She never knew that Mr. Laurence often opened his study door to hear the old-fashioned airs he liked; she never saw Laurie mount guard in the hall to warn the servants away; she never suspected that the exercise-books and new songs which she found in the rack were put there for her especial benefit; and when he talked to her about music at home, she only thought how kind he was to tell things that helped her so much. So she enjoyed herself heartily, and found, what isn't always the case, that her granted wish was all she had hoped. Perhaps it was because she was so grateful for this blessing that a greater was given her; at any rate she deserved both.

`Mother, I'm going to work Mr. Laurence a pair of slippers. He is so kind to me, I must thank him, and I don't know any other way. Can I do it?' asked Beth, a few weeks after that eventful call of his.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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