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tive to my mind, as well as to your o did not exist, I would deny it; and I do deny any personal agency or knowledge about it whatever. I say to you that I am amazed! It is incomprehensible to me how Catherine could have conceived, much less written such a letter; and, above all things, it is inexplicable how she should have written so disrespectfully of Mrs. Clifton, whom she loved and venerated so much."
"Or whom, for certain purposes, she pretended to love and venerate so much."
"She did, sir. She really did. She was sincere in her esteem and affection. She was sincere in all things."
"I know she affected rare sincerity."
It was no affectation, Major Clifton. I have known her from childhood-it was truth. And I tell you, I scarcely believe my own eyes! I scarcely believe that I am awake when I see that letter! I am confounded!"
"Well, sir!" said Major Clifton sternly, his whole manner changing, I, at least, am not so confounded as not to know that she never would have written such a letter to you, had you not been the confidant of her plans; and you are not so confounded as to be ignorant that, after such a development, I am constrained to forbid you the house, and to interdict all communication between your sister and yourself."
There was something of Catherine's own nobility in the manner of Carl's reply. He stood a moment with his forehead thrown back, as if in calm, unimpassioned thought; then he said, "Major Clifton, my sister is now your wife, and you have, doubtless, the perfect right to control her actions neither do I accuse you of undue severity in this affair, for, under like circumstances, I should, perhaps, be tempted to act in the same way. I cannot account for this letter. For the present, it must remain unexplained. Nor can I exculpate myself any more than my sister from the odium of a suspicion, which God knows I am willing to bear with her, since I cannot clear her of it. You do not know how dear to an only brother's heart is his only sister. Yes! I am willing to share the odium with her, hoping, knowing that it will pass away in time. And then, Major Clifton, you will feel more pain at the recollection of the injustice you have done us than I feel now in suffering it. You will be
more angry with self than I could be with you. You will reproach yourself more bitterly than I could reproach you, were I ever so indignant. And I am not indignant at all! I could not be so! All feelings are subdued to calmness in the sacred proximity of the unburied dead in the next room. One thing only remains to be said. It is this: I cannot continue to live upon this place, under the cloud of the master's ill opinion. My engagement as manager of this farm terminates with this year; I shall be glad if, before the time expires, you will provide yourself with another overseer."
Yet I should not have
"As you please, Mr. Kavanagh.
sent you away with your young family."
"You are considerate, sir!" said Carl, bowing; then adding, I presume you have no further commands for me, Major Clifton ?"
"None, Mr. Kavanagh."
"Good night, sir." "Good night."
The next day was the day of the funeral. Before the people began to assemble, Catherine, impelled by an irresistible desire to gaze once more upon the face of her beloved friend, found herself at the door of the front parlour in which the corpse was laid out for burial. But here, with her hand upon the lock, she hesitated, and, finally stifling her crying want, turned away, saying within herself, 'No, I will not intrude. I will be guided by the spirit as well as by the letter of his commands. He will not accept my love. To yield him perfect, unquestioning obedience is all the earthly comfort I have left." And she began to retrace her steps.
Major Clifton came out of the back room and met her face to face.
"What were you doing near that door, Catherine ?"
I wished to take a last look at her dear" Here Kate burst into tears and wept convulsively a few minutes, during which Clifton watched her in stern sorrow. Then controlling herself, she said, "I wished to look once more, and for the last time, upon her beloved face; but when I reached the door and was about to enter, I remembered your commands and turned back."
Clifton, who had never taken his eyes from her, groaned aloud. Then he said gravely and sadly, “Catherine, if any
feeling of penitential sorrow inspires your wish to go there, go, in Heaven's name! And may the sight of that dead face bring you to repentance."
She turned to thank him, and ask him what he wished her to repent; but before she could find words, he had re-entered his study. Catherine passed into the room of death, turned down the pall, and gazed upon the face of the dead. It had changed very much every furrow and every wrinkle was softened out of it; the forehead was as smooth as the brow of childhood; an ineffable, a divine repose spread like a dream of heaven over the features. Catherine's tears were stayed, the convulsions of her bosom were calmed, her soul was awed and exalted as she gazed upon this countenance, so beautiful in death. But at last her full heart revealed itself in a look of unutterable tenderness and devotion, and she murmured, in low, slow, gentle tones, "You always loved and trusted me, and, for your dear sake, I will be a good wife to your son. Yes! whatever he may be to me, for your dear sake, as well as for his own, I will be a good wife to him. Hear my vow-I cannot think you dead. This is all I seethis beautiful, calm clay; but I know your spirit hovers near. Hear my vow. Hear me promise, with God's grace, to dedicate all my faculties of brain, and heart, and hands to his interest and happiness! to bear all things, to endure all things, to hope all things, even to the end of life, come what may. She stooped and sealed her vow by a farewell kiss upon the brow and lips of that beloved face, and reverently covered it, and, not to abuse her privilege by too long a stay, slowly left the room. She never saw that face again.
Within an hour afterwards, the company began to assemble in great crowds; for Mrs. Clifton was widely known, and greatly respected and beloved. The clergyman who was to perform the burial-service arrived, and the solemnity commenced. In the mean time, Catherine sat in her distant chamber, listening to the faint, inaudible sound of the minister's voice that reached her from afar, or else engaged in prayer, but always calmed, strengthened, and consoled. Many people at the funeral wondered greatly why the young bride had not appeared with her husband; but some one imagined it to be because she was too much overcome by sorrow to be present, and told it as a fact, which was at once believed and circulated; and that, like many another idle falsehood, satis
factorily silenced conjecture. When the services were over, and the funeral procession had left the house for the graveyard-when Catherine felt that her more than mother was now indeed gone, gone, gone-she cast herself upon her bed in the last agony of sorrow.
Little household cares-what blessed though humble ministers to sorrow they are! gently drawing away the mourner from the contemplation of her grief, and compelling attention to themselves. So they give occupation, and induce forgetfulness, aiding in their humble way the great c. mforters, religion and time. An hour spent in bitter tears and sobs, and then the little domestic duties came hovering about her like little children, claiming her care. There was a large supper to be prepared, and bedchambers to be got ready for friends who had come from the remoter parts of the county, and who would therefore remain until the next morning; and so Catherine arose and refreshed herself with cold water and a change of dress, and went below stairs to superintend the operations of her cook and housemaids.
When everything was in readiness, she went into the drawing-room, where she received the returning visitors with a pensive, gentle dignity that won all their hearts, proud conservators of rank as they were. And that evening, young girl and new bride as she was, she presided at the head of the long table, filled with the county aristocrats, with all the ease and grace of a lady "to the manner born." Pre-occupied by one earnest thought and purpose, she never once remembered herself as a new-comer into their ranks, or troubled herself with the question of what might be their opinion of her. For the rest, her courtesy was graceful and dignified, because it was natural, and not assumed-the effect of benevolence and kindly social feeling, and not of pride, vanity, or ostentation.
The next morning, after breakfast, the guests departed; and many and cordial were the invitations to their houses extended to Catherine by all-even the haughtiest defenders of the sacredness of caste. Catherine received all these civilities with a gracious nobleness, that sat naturally and well upon her. And all this-the very evident esteem and respect of her neighbours, and the admirable manner in which Cathereceived them would have highly gratified the pride of Clifton, could anything except her exculpation from
suspicion have pleased him. As it was, he witnessed it all with a moody brow and sneering lip, and murmured to himself, "Better and better, Maria Theresa. You should have seen more of the world, before you threw your diplomatic talents away upon me and my country neighbours."
Well, at length they were all, to the very last guest, gone, and Major Clifton and Catherine were left alone-left standing together in the hall, whence they had seen the departures.
Catherine, hesitating between her fear of intruding upon his notice, and her dislike to leave him abruptly and rudely, stood no longer self-possessed and noble, but with her eyes fixed upon the ground, and with the colour deepening in her cheek-in embarrassed silence, wishing that he might say something to her, something to explain the nature of that dark cloud that had arisen so strangely between them.
He broke the silence by saying coldly, "Mrs. Clifton · She started and coloured, at hearing herself addressed by her new name. "It is my intention to make White Cliffs our future home. I desire that you be ready to accompany me thither to-morrow morning."
Catherine bowed her head in acquiescence; and, with a cold nod, he placed his hat upon his head, and walked forth.
Catherine went in, and occupied the remainder of the day in directing the labour of her servants, who were all employed in setting the house in order after the late confusing events, in packing away goods and covering up furniture, and in preparing generally for the closing up of the building.
THE next morning after breakfast, the family-carriage was announced to take them to White Cliffs. Catherine put on her bonnet and shawl, and stood waiting, until Major Clifton, drawing on his gloves, came forward and attended her to the carriage-door. He handed her in, entered himself, took the seat opposite to her, and bade the coachman drive on. The whole distance between Hardbargain and White Cliffs was passed over in perfect silence by the parties; Major Clifton