‘Shirley, Shirley, I should have liked to speak one word to him before he went,’ she murmured, while the tears gathered glittering in her eyes.

‘Why do you cry, Lina?’ asked Miss Keeldar a little sternly. ‘You ought to be glad instead of sorry. Robert has escaped any serious harm; he is victorious; he has been cool and brave in combat; he is now considerate in triumph. Is this a time—are these causes for weeping?’

‘You do not know what I have in my heart,’ pleaded the other—‘what pain, what distraction, nor whence it arises. I can understand that you should exult in Robert’s greatness and goodness; so do I, in one sense, but in another, I feel so miserable. I am too far removed from him; I used to be nearer. Let me alone, Shirley. Do let me cry a few minutes; it relieves me.’

Miss Keeldar, feeling her tremble in every limb, ceased to expostulate with her. She went out of the shed, and left her to weep in peace. It was the best plan. In a few minutes Caroline rejoined her, much calmer. She said, with her natural, docile, gentle manner:

‘Come, Shirley, we will go home now. I promise not to try to see Robert again till he asks for me. I never will try to push myself on him. I thank you for restraining me just now.’

‘I did it with a good intention,’ returned Miss Keeldar.

‘Now, dear Lina,’ she continued, ‘let us turn our faces to the cool morning breeze, and walk very quietly back to the Rectory. We will steal in as we stole out; none shall know where we have been, or what we have seen to-night; neither taunt nor misconstruction can consequently molest us. To-morrow we will see Robert, and be of good cheer; but I will say no more, lest I should begin to cry too. I seem harsh towards you, but I am not so.’

  By PanEris using Melati.

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