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her fascination. It is her wonderful eyes, her mysterious eyes." Her thoughts flew quickly. After a brief pause she turned again to her friend, with the colour once more in her cheeks, and her eyes full of tenderness. “You will come back again and see him when he is better,” she said. “He will be so glad to see you."
"Perhaps ; I can't say. I shall be very busy." The prima donna stood hesitating, awkward as a shy child, eager to say something more, but doubtful. Her sensitive, slim fingers quivered with excitement, and Katharine took them into her strong shapely hand with something of protection, Miss Archer began to speak quickly, as if she had only waited for this friendly touch. “No, I will not come again; it is better not. I am so glad to see you here. I always thought it when he used to speak of you; now I am sure. Ab, forgive me! but you are so good and so beautiful!"
Katharine blushed furiously at the Southern frankness of this tribute to her fair face. She was embarrassed. She could not let her visitor, of all people in the world, go away with a false notion. It was hard to speak, but her character imposed on her one law, which she could not break. She must be true. “You must not think,”
she began, with the blush still on her cheek, and hesitated. Then she set her blue eyes straight on the unfathomable eyes before her, and said, “I am here with poor Irvine's aunt, to help him if I can. That is all. We are very old friends and playmates, he and I, and that is all.”
“But it must not be all. Ah, forgive me! you English girls are so proud, and keep to yourselves. I am English too, and I know. But you will be kind to him, and gentle. You can cure him if you will. He is kind and good, but not very strong, and he needs you. He loves you—ah! I am sure that he loves you; I know it."
It was perhaps lucky that Mr Irvine Dale, however discontented with himself, did not hear himself described by a young girl as good but weak. When Katharine stooped and kissed her new friend again, she said to her own heart, with a kind of awe, that it was true, and that she was pledged. Marion was unusually pale, and her eyes were larger than ever, as she felt the kiss upon her cheek, and accepted its silent message. “You are right,” she said, quickly, and turned to go.
Not far from the house the fly stopped short. Miss Archer looked, and beheld her father stretched at full length on a patch of green by the wayside.
“A sweet spot,” he said, lazily gathering himself together.
Kerisen rose quickly from a neighbouring heap of stones, and came to the side of the carriage. “Did you not find him?" he asked, as he tried to read her face.
“He is there," she answered, “but I did not see him. He is doing well, they say. His people are with him. They were very kind; and they will write to me."
Kerisen saw that further questions would not please her. He had become strangely observant of her moods. “Come," said he to Sebastian, who had by this time risen, “our inquiries are over. The day is before us. What shall we do?”
“We will get to Richmond somehow," answered Mr Archer—" dear Cockney Richmond. We have an endless summer day; and there is the river, the park, the view, and a tolerable dinner. Will that do, my little one ?”
“Whatever you like, padre mio,” she said; and Kerisen, looking at her, thought that he had never heard her voice so gentle nor seen her face so fair.
ON THE RIVER.
IRVINE did not die. The fevered body grew daily cooler, and the hot brain saner. It was a wonderful summer for England, and the early days of August made all men rest who could, and even all women. Lured partly by the thought of running water, partly by pity for the sick man, Mr Dale's friends gathered around him. Mrs Adare, enjoying the heat, and clad in the freshest of gowns, came from town, and carried her daughter across the road to the inn. It seemed better that the patient, now capable of recognition, should not be surprised by the presence of any lady more distracting than his nurse. So Ned Harefel succeeded Katharine at the cottage ; and it was Ned's hand which felt the first friendly pressure of Irvine's wasted fingers. Sir Joseph, who had sat up very
late, grown very hot, and cried “Hear, hear!” and “Oh, oh!” and made other important exclamations throughout a trying session, had been nursed back to his normal bloom by a devoted wife, and recommended complete repose after his severe parliamentary labours. So he took a house some two miles below Sunleigh, and thence the worthy baronet would come solemnly sculling against the stream, brooding once more over the great French Egg question, gaining an appetite for dinner, and showing a proper interest, as he hoped that he had never failed to do, in his eccentric nephew. “Mens sana in corpore sano,” he observed more than once; and, indeed, no man of saner mind may be found on any of the senatorial benches. As for his dear good wife, the hot weather induced an amount of sleep which left but short time for her numerous housewifely duties. Nevertheless not a day went by on which her sleek horses did not bear her, asleep or awake, to the startled village of Sunleigh. For her the little rustic girls drew up short in their running, and bobbed as if dipping in the sea, while ruder little boys dashed through the dust with shouting. She, good lady, beamed on all alike, musing on some new comfort for the poor invalid, or considering how best to introduce to the doctor