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it best to make a clean breast of it; and that's all I had to say.” As he drove the boat forward once more, Irvine Dale lay still among the cushions, thinking. His heart had almost stopped beating at the first sound of her name. Now, with eyes half closed, he was forcing himself to think of his own unworthiness—of the harm done by weakness. He told himself that he would not hope, and he hoped. He told himself that a proved craven should not dare to purpose, and his purpose was formed. “Come what may, I will do something and expect nothing,” he said to himself. If he were ever worthy — but he would not think of that. He would work, and be humble. But Ned did not love her. What a weight had been lifted from him by that knowledge! So he lay thinking, and was very tired, when the boat was laid cleverly along the edge of the lawn. Ned almost lifted him out, drew his arm across one stalwart shoulder, and half carried him into the house. Restored to his sofa, Irvine held his cousin's hand a moment. “You have made me very happy,” he said. “I don't deserve to hope, but-you have made me very happy.” Ned pressed the thin, tremulous fingers, and looked down frankly into the plaintive eyes, but he said nothing. He went out into the
road, and looked across at the village inn. Then he turned sharply away, buttoned his pilot-coat over his flannel shirt, and set out for a walk. There were signs of unusual emotion about this quiet young gentleman. He walked faster and faster, breathing hard. He left the village behind him, and went striding up a steep lane. It was an hour of intense repose. He hated secrets, and felt a hot desire to break this insufferable stillness. As he sped along, the burning words leapt out. “It was a lie!” he cried—“a lie! I loved her.” Thus he made his confession in the pure air of heaven, perhaps not a complete confession, when he said, “I loved her.” Complete confessions, if not impossible, would be very long. “I loved her,” said Edward Harefel, and set about making the words true. He was not one to nurse a weakness; to spend time in self-pity; to fold his cloak about him and sit crying over spilt milk. He understood the simple soul who took his half-loaf with gratitude; but he had small patience for the Manfred of the milk-pail. On he went, tramping along and wrestling with himself, as he hoped, for the last time. At last he came striding homeward, tired, calm, and, it must be confessed, hungry. He had won the final victory of a long and hard campaign.
AN END AND A BEGINNING.
It was a morning full of promise and sweet air. It seemed as if the sun had been reconciled to England once more. He had breathed away the early mists from the river, and made its surface tremulous with laughter. The year, now old enough to be staid and placid, capriciously renewed its youth and the first wonder of summer. Irvine, who grew stronger daily, was already propped and pillowed on the lawn, imbibing health. Close beside him sat Ned, cross-legged, weaving a net. Kerisen leaned his back against the big lime, and smoked his afterbreakfast cigar. Leonard Aubrey, all white flannel from head to foot, had flung himself on the warm grass by Irvine's feet—Leonard, the embodiment of easy mirth, laughing with the laughter of the running stream. Talk came lazily, and in fragments.
“They go to-morrow,” said Kerisen, moodily, in answer to a question. “They will come again in spring, like other good things.”
Irvine quoted dreamily“But green leaves, and blossoms, and sunny warm weather,
And singing, and loving—all come back together.” “More singing than loving," muttered Kerisen, curtly, and tossed the rest of his cigar into the river. After a pause he looked round upon his friends with a droll expression, and made this dismal confession: "She said yesterday, that when she had reached her best, she should marry a firstrate accompanyist.”
“What were you talking about when she said that?" asked Ned, sagely.
“Oh, I make no secret of my feelings.”
“No, that you don't,” cried Leonard Aubrey, laughing.
“I shall win some day, when I have served my seven years or more. Better to wait a lifetime for her than look at any other woman.”
“He makes no secret of his feelings," observed the mocker from the grass. "Indeed he does not. He whispers his hope to the stage-carpenter and the call-boy. The printer's devil who waits for those invaluable articles, has demanded a higher
salary for listening over time to Mr Kerisen's confidences. Contributions are daily returned to him with the request that he will remove the eulogies of a prima donna from his papers on political economy and foreign policy. My boy, how are you translated! To think of you caring for political economy, aware of the existence of politics, and in love !"
Kerisen looked down at him with contempt. “Trifler,” he said.
"Pluck up a spirit,” said Leonard, lying flat on his back, “and come round the world with me.”
“Round the world !” exclaimed Ned, who was kept in a perpetual state of surprise.
“Why not? It's a very little one."
“A minute ago. It's a mind easily made up. I saw a bird, and the thought came to me."
“But what shall you do?” asked the practical Mr Harefel again.
“Sketch. On mornings like this I feel the painter. I shall sketch the world. I am off. I have had too much Oxford; I need a change. It's a duty."
They all laughed, but the traveller looked up wisely at Kerisen, and said, “You had better come.