‘ “Do not—do not pass!—stay with me awhile; let us exchange a few quiet words. It is three days since I spoke to you alone; such changes are cruel.”

‘ “I have no wish to be cruel,” she responded, softly enough; indeed, there was softness in her whole deportment —in her face, in her voice; but there was also reserve, and an air fleeting, evanishing, intangible.

‘ “You certainly give me pain,” said I. “It is hardly a week since you called me your future husband, and treated me as such, now I am once more the tutor for you; I am addressed as Mr. Moore, and Sir: your lips have forgotten Louis.”

‘ “No, Louis, no: it is an easy, liquid name; not soon forgotten.”

‘ “Be cordial to Louis, then, approach him—let him approach.”

‘ “I am cordial,” said she, hovering aloof like a white shadow.

‘ “Your voice is very sweet and very low,” I answered, quietly advancing: “you seem subdued, but still startled.”

‘ “No—quite calm, and afraid of nothing,” she assured me.

‘ “Of nothing but your votary.”

‘I bent a knee to the flags at her feet.

‘ “You see I am in a new world, Mr. Moore. I don’t know myself—I don’t know you; but rise: when you do so, I feel troubled and disturbed.”

‘I obeyed; it would not have suited me to retain that attitude long. I courted serenity and confidence for her, and not vainly; she trusted, and clung to me again.

‘ “Now, Shirley,” I said, “you can conceive I am far from happy in my present uncertain, unsettled state.”

‘ “Oh yes, you are happy,” she cried hastily; “you don’t know how happy you are; any change will be for the worse.”

‘ “Happy or not, I cannot bear to go on so much longer; you are too generous to require it.”

‘ “Be reasonable, Louis; be patient. I like you because you are patient.”

‘ “Like me no longer, then—love me instead; fix our marriage-day. Think of it to-night, and decide.”

‘She breathed a murmur, inarticulate, yet expressive, darted or melted from my arms, and I lost her.’

  By PanEris using Melati.

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