“Lucy, what do you mean?” said she, under her breath.

“I mean that I value vision, and dread being struck stone blind.”

It was best to answer her strongly at once, and to silence for ever the tender, passionate confidences which left her lips sweet honey, and sometimes dropped in my ear molten lead. To me she commented no more on her lover’s beauty. Yet speak of him she would—sometimes shyly in quiet, brief phrases, sometimes with a tenderness of cadence and music of voice exquisite in itself, but which chafed me at times miserably; and then, I know, I gave her stern looks and words. But cloudless happiness had dazzled her native clear sight, and she only thought Lucy fitful.

“Spartan girl! proud Lucy!” she would say, smiling at me. “Graham says you are the most peculiar, capricious little woman he knows; but yet you are excellent; we both think so.”

“You both think you know not what,” said I. “Have the goodness to make me as little the subject of your mutual talk and thoughts as possible. I have my sort of life apart from yours.”

“But ours, Lucy, is a beautiful life, or it will be; and you shall share it.”

“I shall share no man’s or woman’s life in this world, as you understand sharing. I think I have one friend of my own, but am not sure; and till I am sure, I live solitary.”

“But solitude is sadness.”

“Yes, it is sadness. Life, however, has worse than that. Deeper than melancholy lies heart-break.”

“Lucy, I wonder if anybody will ever comprehend you altogether.”

There is, in lovers, a certain infatuation of egotism. They will have a witness of their happiness, cost that witness what it may. Paulina had forbidden letters, yet Dr. Bretton wrote; she had resolved against correspondence, yet she answered, were it only to chide. She showed me these letters; with something of the spoiled child’s wilfulness, and of the heiress’s imperiousness, she made me read them. As I read Graham’s I scarce wondered at her exaction, and understood her pride. They were fine letters—manly and fond, modest and gallant. Hers must have appeared to him beautiful. They had not been written to show her talents; still less, I think, to express her love. On the contrary, it appeared that she had proposed to herself the task of hiding that feeling, and bridling her lover’s ardour. But how could such letters serve such a purpose? Graham was become dear as her life; he drew her like a powerful magnet. For her there was influence unspeakable in all he uttered, wrote, thought, or looked. With this unconfessed confession, her letters glowed; it kindled them, from greeting to adieu.

“I wish papa knew; I do wish papa knew!” began now to be her anxious murmur. “I wish, and yet I fear. I can hardly keep Graham back from telling him. There is nothing I long for more than to have this affair settled—to speak out candidly; and yet I dread the crisis. I know, I am certain, papa will be angry at the first; I fear he will dislike me almost. It will seem to him an untoward business; it will be a surprise, a shock. I can hardly foresee its whole effect on him.”

The fact was, her father, long calm, was beginning to be a little stirred; long blind on one point, an importunate light was beginning to trespass on his eye.

To her he said nothing; but when she was not looking at or perhaps thinking of him I saw him gaze and meditate on her.

One evening (Paulina was in her dressing-room, writing, I believe, to Graham; she had left me in the library, reading) M. de Bassompierre came in. He sat down. I was about to withdraw. He requested me to remain—gently, yet in a manner which showed he wished compliance. He had taken his seat near

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