His wife had accompanied him, as much for the pleasure of seeing her dear friend, from whom she had been parted so long, as to visit her mother and sister.

Mrs. Huntingdon expressed herself glad to see Milicent once more, and pleased to behold her so happy and well. `She is now at the Grove,' continued the letter, `but she often calls to see me. Mr. Hattersley spends much of his time at Arthur's bedside. With more good feeling than I gave him credit for, he evinces considerable sympathy for his unhappy friend, and is far more willing than able to comfort him. Sometimes he tries to joke and laugh with him, but that will not do: sometimes he endeavours to cheer him with talk about old times; and this, at one time, may serve to divert the sufferer from his own sad thoughts; at another, it will only plunge him into deeper melancholy than before; and then Hattersley is confounded, and knows not what to say,--unless it be a timid suggestion that the clergyman might be sent for. But Arthur will never consent to that: he knows he has rejected the clergyman's well-meant admonitions with scoffing levity at other times, and cannot dream of turning to him for consolation now.

`Mr. Hattersley sometimes offers his services instead of mine, but Arthur will not let me go: that strange whim still increases, as his strength declines--the fancy to have me always by his side. I hardly ever leave him, except to go into the next room, where I sometimes snatch an hour or so of sleep when he is quiet; but even then, the door is left ajar that he may know me to be within call. I am with him now, while I write; and I fear my occupation annoys him; though I frequently break off to attend to him, and though Mr. Hattersley is also by his side. That gentleman came, as he said, to beg a holiday for me, that I might have a run in the park, this fine, frosty morning, with Milicent, and Esther, and little Arthur, whom he had driven over to see me. Our poor invalid evidently felt it a heartless proposition, and would have felt it still more heartless in me to accede to it. I therefore said I would only go and speak to them a minute, and then come back. I did but exchange a few words with them, just outside the portico-- inhaling the fresh, bracing air as I stood--and then, resisting the earnest and eloquent entreaties of all three to stay a little longer, and join them in a walk round the garden,--I tore myself away and returned to my patient. I had not been absent five minutes, but he reproached me bitterly for my levity and neglect. His friend espoused my cause:--

`"Nay, nay, Huntingdon," said he, "you're too hard upon her--she must have food and sleep, and a mouthful of fresh air now and then, or she can't stand it I tell you. Look at her, man, she's worn to a shadow already."

"What are her sufferings to mine?" said the poor invalid. "You don't grudge me these attentions, do you, Helen?"

`"No, Arthur, if I could really serve you by them. I would give my life to save you, if I might."

`"Would you indeed?--No!"

`"Most willingly, I would."

`"Ah! that's because you think yourself more fit to die!"

`There was a painful pause. He was evidently plunged in gloomy reflections, but while I pondered for something to say, that might benefit without alarming him, Hattersley, whose mind had been pursuing almost the same course, broke silence with,--

`"I say, Huntingdon, I could send for a parson, of some sort.--If you didn't like the vicar, you know, you could have his curate, or somebody else."

`"No; none of them can benefit me if she can't," was the answer. And the tears gushed from his eyes as he earnestly exclaimed,--"Oh, Helen, if I had listened to you, it never would have come to this! And if I had heard you long ago--oh, God! how different it would have been!"

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