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plain matter, too, and not the least taste of dishonesty in it, at all. I’ve been thinking I’d make you senator if you’ll agree to go against free trade, and that’s just what I’ll do, and no more.”

“It is impossible for me to make such a bargain, Mr. Ballymolloy. After your exposition of the importance of truth I am surprised that you should expect me to belie my whole political life. As I have told you, I am prepared to support laws to protect iron as much as is necessary. Free trade nowadays does not mean cutting away all duties; it means a proper adjustment of them to the requirements of our commerce. A proper adjustment of duties could not possibly be interpreted to mean any injury to the iron trade. You may rely upon that, at all events.”

“Oh, and I’m sure I can,” said Ballymolloy incredulously, and he grew, if possible, redder in the face than nature and the action of alcohol had made him. “And I’m not only sure of it, but I’ll swear it’s gospel truth. But then, you know, I’m of opinion that by the time you’ve done reforming the other things, the reformed gentlemen won’t like it, and then they’ll just turn round and eat you up unless you reform us too, and that just means the ruin of us.”

“Come now, Mr. Ballymolloy, that is exaggeration,” said John. “If you will listen to me for a moment”–

“I haven’t got the time, sir, and that’s all about it. If you’ll protect our interests and promise to do it, you’ll be senator. The election is coming on, Mr. Harrington, and I’d be sorry to see you thrown out.”

“Mr. Ballymolloy, I had sincerely hoped that you would support me in this matter, but I must tell you once more that I think you are unreasonable. I vouch for the sufficient protection of your interests, because it is the belief of our party that they need protection. But it is not necessary for you to have an anti-reform senator for that purpose, in the first place; and secondly, the offer of a seat in the Senate would never induce me to change my mind, nor to turn round and deny everything that I have said and written on the subject.”

“Then that is your last word of all, Mr. Harrington?” said Ballymolloy, heaving his heavy body out of the easy-chair. But his voice, which had sounded somewhat irate during the discussion, again rolled out in mellifluous tones.

“Yes, Mr. Ballymolloy, that is all I have to say.”

“And indeed it’s not so very bad at all,” said Patrick. “You see I just wanted to see how far you were likely to go, because, though I’m a good Democrat, sir, I’m against free trade in the main points, and that’s just the truth. But if you say you will stand up for iron right through, and use your best judgment, why, I guess you’ll have to be senator after all. It’s a great position, Mr. Harrington, and I hope you’ll do honor to it.”

“I hope so, indeed,” said John. “Can I offer you a glass of wine, or anything else, Mr. Ballymolloy?”

“Indeed, and it’s dirty weather, too,” said Patrick. “Thank you, I’ll take a little whiskey.”

John poured out a glass.

“You won’t let me drink alone, Mr. Harrington?” inquired Patrick, holding his tumbler in his hand. To oblige him, after the manner of the country, John poured out a small glass of sherry, and put his lips to it. Ballymolloy drained the whiskey to the last drop.

“You were not really thinking I would vote for Mr. Jobbins, were you now, Mr. Harrington?” he asked, with a sly look on his red face.

“I always hope that the men of my party are to be relied upon, Mr. Ballymolloy,” said John, smiling politely.

“Very well, they are to be relied upon, sir. We are, every man of us, to the last drop of Christian blood in our blessed bodies,” said Patrick, with a gush of patriotic enthusiasm, at the same time holding out his heavy hand. Then he took his leave.

“You had better have said ‘to the last drop of Bourbon whiskey in the blessed bottle!'” said John to himself when his visitor was gone. Then he sat down for a while to think over the situation.

“That man will vote against me yet,” he thought.

He was astonished to find himself nervous and excited for the first time in his life. With characteristic determination he went back to his desk, and continued the letter which the visit of the Irish elector had interrupted.

Meanwhile Mr. Patrick Ballymolloy was driven to the house of the Republican candidate, Mr. Jobbing.

CHAPTER XVI.

Sybil was right when she said the family politics at the Wyndhams’ were disturbed. Indeed the disturbance was so great that Mrs. Wyndham was dressed and down-stairs before twelve o’clock, which had never before occurred in the memory of the oldest servant.

“It is too perfectly exciting, my dears,” she exclaimed as Joe and Sybil entered the room, followed–at a respectful distance by Ronald. “I can’t stand it one minute longer! How do you do, Mr. Surbiton?”

“What is the latest news?” asked Sybil.

“I have not heard anything for ever so long. Sam has gone round to see– perhaps he will be back soon. I do wish we had ‘tickers’ here in the house, as they do in New York; it _is_ such fun watching when anything is going on.”

She walked about the room as she talked, touching a book on one table and a photograph on another, in a state of great excitement. Ronald watched her in some surprise; it seemed odd to him that any one should take so much interest in a mere election. Joe and Sybil, who knew her better, made themselves at home.

It appeared that although Sam had gone to make inquiries, it was very improbable that anything would be known until late in the afternoon. There was to be a contest of some sort, but whether it would end in a single day, or whether Ballymolloy and his men intended to prolong the struggle for their own ends, remained to be seen.

Meanwhile Mrs. Wyndham walked about her drawing-room descanting upon the iniquities of political life, with an animation that delighted Joe and amused Ronald.

“Well, there is nothing for it, you see,” she said at last. “Sam evidently does not mean to come home, and you must just stay here and have some lunch until he does.”

The three agreed, nothing loath to enjoying one another’s company. There is nothing like a day spent together in waiting for an event, to bring out the characteristics of individuals. Mrs. Wyndham fretted and talked, and fretted again. Joe grew silent, pale, and anxious as the morning passed, while Sybil and Ronald seemed to enjoy themselves extremely, and talked without ceasing. Outside the snow fell thick and fast as ever, and the drifts rose higher and higher.

“I do wish Sam would come back,” exclaimed Mrs. Wyndham at last, as she threw herself into an easy-chair, and looked at the clock.

But Sam did not come, nevertheless, and Joe sat quietly by the fire, wishing she were alone, and yet unwilling to leave the house where she hoped to have the earliest information.

The two who seemed rapidly growing indifferent to the issue of the election were Sybil and Ronald, who sat together with a huge portfolio of photographs and sketches between them, laughing and talking pleasantly enough. Joe did not hear a word of their conversation, and Mrs. Wyndham paid little attention to it, though her practiced ears could have heard it all if need be, while she herself was profoundly occupied with some one else.

The four had a somewhat dreary meal together, and Ronald was told to go into Sam’s study and smoke if he liked, while Mrs. Wyndham led Joe and Sybil away to look at a quantity of new things that had just come from Paris. Ronald did as he was bid and settled himself for an hour, with a plentiful supply of newspapers and railroad literature.

It was past three o’clock when Sam Wyndham entered the room, his face wet with the snowflakes and red with excitement.

“Hollo!” he exclaimed, seeing Ronald comfortably ensconced in his favorite easy-chair. “How are you?”

“Excuse me,” said Ronald, rising quickly. “They told me to come in here after lunch, and so I was waiting until I was sent for, or told to come out.”

“Very glad to see you, any way,” said Sam cordially. “Well, I have been to hear about an election–a friend of ours got put up for senator. But I don’t expect that interests you much?”

“On the contrary,” said Ronald, “I have heard it so much talked of that I am as much interested as anybody. Is it all over?”

“Oh yes, and a pretty queer business it was. Well, our friend is not elected, anyway”–

“Has Mr. Harrington been defeated?” asked Ronald quickly.

“It’s my belief he has been sold,” said Sam. “But as I am a Republican myself and a friend of Jobbins, more or less, I don’t suppose I feel so very bad about it, after all. But I don’t know how my wife will take it, I’m sure,” said Sam presently. “I expect we had better go and tell her, right off.”

“Then he has really lost the election?” inquired Ronald, who was not altogether sorry to hear it.

“Why, yes–as I say, Jobbins is senator now. I should not wonder if Harrington were a good deal cut up. Come along with me, now, and we will tell the ladies.”

The three ladies were in the drawing-room. Mrs. Wyndham and Joe sprang to their feet as Sam and Ronald entered, but Sybil remained seated and merely looked up inquiringly.

“Oh now, Sam,” cried Mrs. Wyndham, in great excitement, “tell us all about it right away. We are dying to know!”

Joe came close to Mrs. Wyndham, her face very pale and her teeth clenched in her great anxiety. Sam threw back the lapels of his coat, put his thumbs in the armholes of his broad waistcoat, and turned his head slightly on one side.

“Well,” he said slowly, “John’s wiped out.”

“Do you mean to say he has lost the election?” cried Mrs. Wyndham.

“Yes–he’s lost it. Jobbins is senator.”

“Sam, you are perfectly horrid!” exclaimed his spouse, in deepest vexation.

Josephine Thorn spoke no word, but turned away and went alone to the window. She was deathly pale, and she trembled from head to foot as she clutched the heavy curtain with her small white fingers.

“Poor Mr. Harrington!” said Sybil thoughtfully. “I am dreadfully sorry.”

Mr. and Mrs. Wyndham and Ronald moved toward the fire where Sybil was sitting. No one spoke for a few seconds. At last Mrs. Wyndham broke out:

“Sam, it’s a perfect shame!” she said. “I think all those people ought to be locked up for bribery. I am certain it was all done by some horrid stealing, or something, now, was not it?”

“I don’t know about that, my dear,” said Sam reflectively. “You see they generally vote fair enough in these things. Well, may be that fellow Ballymolloy has made something out of it. He’s a pretty bad sort of a scamp, any way, I expect. Sorry you are so put out about it, but Jobbins is not so very bad, after all.”

Sybil suddenly missed Joe from the group, and looked across to where she stood by the window. A glance told her that something was wrong, and she rose from her seat and went to her friend. The sight of Josephine’s pale face frightened her.

“Joe, dear,” she said affectionately, “you are ill–come to my room.” Sybil put one arm round her waist and quietly led her away. Ronald had watched the little scene from a distance, but Mr. and Mrs. Wyndham continued to discuss the result of the election.

“It is exactly like you, Sam, to be talking in that way, instead of telling me just how it happened,” said Mrs. Wyndham. “And then to say it is not so very bad after all!”

“Oh, I will tell you all about it right away, my dear, if you’ll only give me a little time. You’re always in such an immense fever about everything that it’s perfectly impossible to get along.”

“Are you going to begin?” said Mrs. Wyndham, half vexed with her husband’s deliberate indifference.

“Well, as near as I can make out it was generally thought at the start that John had a pretty good show. The Senate elected him right away by a majority of four, which was so much to the good, for of course his friends reckoned on getting him in, if the Senate hadn’t elected him, by the bigger majority of the House swamping the Senate in the General Court. But it’s gone just the other way.”

“Whatever is the General Court?” asked Ronald, much puzzled.

“Oh, the General Court is when the House and the Senate meet together next day to formally declare a senator elected, if they have both chosen the same man, or to elect one by a general majority if they haven’t.”

“Yes, that is it,” added Mrs. Wyndham to Ronald, and then addressing her husband, “Do go on, Sam; you’ve not told us anything yet.”

“Well, as I said, the Senate elected John Harrington by a majority of four. The House took a long time getting to work, and then there was some mistake about the first vote, so they had to take a second. And when that was done Jobbins actually had a majority of eighteen. So John’s beaten, and Jobbins will be senator anyhow, and you must just make the best you can out of it.”

“But I thought you said when the House and the Senate did not agree, the General Court met next day and elected a senator?” asked Ronald again; “and in that case Mr. Harrington is not really beaten yet.”

“Well, theoretically he’s not,” said Sam, “because of course Jobbins is not actually senator until he has been elected by the General Court, but the majority for him in the House was so surprisingly large, and the majority for John so small in the Senate, and the House is so much larger than the Senate, that the vote to-morrow is a dead sure thing, and Jobbins is just as much senator as if he were sitting in Washington.”

“I suppose you will expect me to have Mr. Jobbins to dinner, now. I think the whole business is perfectly mean!”

“Don’t blame me, my dear,” said Sam calmly. “I did not create the Massachusetts Legislature, and I did not found the State House, nor discover America, nor any of these things. And after all, Jobbins is a very respectable man and belongs to our own party, while Harrington does not. When I set up creating I’ll make a note of one or two points, and I’ll see that John is properly attended to.”

“You need not be silly, Sam,” said Mrs. Wyndham. “What has become of those girls?”

“They went out of the room some time ago,” said Ronald, who had been listening with much amusement to the description of the election. He was never quite sure whether people could be serious when they talked such peculiar language, and he observed with surprise that Mr. and Mrs. Wyndham talked to each other in phrases very different from those they used in addressing himself.

Sybil had led Joe away to her room. She did not guess the cause of Joe’s faintness, but supposed it to be a momentary indisposition, amenable to the effects of eau-de-cologne. She made her lie upon the great cretonne sofa, moistening her forehead, and giving her a bottle of salts to smell.

But Joe, who had never been ill in her life, recovered her strength in a few minutes, and regaining her feet began to walk about the room.

“What do you think it was, Joe, dear?” asked Sybil, watching her.

“Oh, it was nothing. Perhaps the room was hot, and I was tired.”

“I thought you looked tired all the morning,” said Sybil, “and just when I looked at you I thought you were going to faint. You were as pale as death, and you seemed holding yourself up by the curtains.”

“Did I?” said Joe, trying to laugh. “How silly of me! I felt faint for a moment–that was all. I think I will go home.”

“Yes, dear–but stay a few minutes longer and rest yourself. I will order a carriage–it is still snowing hard.” Sybil left the room.

Once alone, Joe threw herself upon the sofa again. She would rather have died than have told any one, even Sybil Brandon, that it was no sickness she felt, but only a great and overwhelming disappointment for the man she loved.

Her love was doubly hers–her very own–in that it was fast locked in her own heart, beyond the reach of any human being to know. Of all that came and went about her, and flattered her, and strove for her graces, not one suspected that she loved a man in their very midst, passionately, fervently, with all the strength she had. Ronald’s suspicions were too vague, and too much the result of a preconceived idea, to represent anything like a certainty to himself, and he had not mentioned them to her.

If anything can determine the passion of love in a woman, it is the great flood of sympathy that overflows her heart when the man she loves is hurt, or overcome in a great cause. When, for a little moment, that which she thinks strongest and bravest and most manly is struck down and wounded and brought low, her love rises up and is strong within her, and makes her more noble in the devotion of perfect gentleness than a man can ever be.

“Oh, if only he could have won!” Joe said again and again to herself. “If only he could have won, I would have given anything!”

Sybil came back in a few moments, and saw Joe lying down, still white and apparently far from well. She knelt upon the floor by her side and taking her hands, looked affectionately into her face.

“There is something the matter,” she said. “I know–you cannot deceive me –there is something serious the matter. Will you tell me, Joe? Can I do anything at all to help you?” Joe smiled faintly, grateful for the sympathy and for the gentle words of her friend.

“No, Sybil dear. It is nothing–there is nothing you can do. Thanks, dearest–I shall be very well in a little while. It is nothing, really. Is the carriage there?”

A few minutes later, Joe and Ronald were again at Miss Schenectady’s house. Joe recovered her self-control on the way, and asked Ronald to come in, an invitation which he cheerfully accepted.

John Harrington had spent the day in a state of anxiety which was new to him. Enthusiastic by nature, he was calm by habit, and he was surprised to find his hand unsteady and his brain not capable of the intense application he could usually command. Ten minutes after the results of the election were known at the State House, he received a note from a friend informing him with expressions of hearty sympathy how the day had gone.

The strong physical sense of pain which accompanies all great disappointments, took hold of him, and he fell back in his seat and closed his eyes, his teeth set and his face pale with the suffering, while his broad hands convulsively grasped the heavy oaken arms of his chair.

It may be that this same bodily agony, which is of itself but the gross reflection in our material selves of what the soul is bearing, is a wholesome provision that draws our finer senses away from looking at what might blind them altogether. There are times when a man would go mad if his mind were not detached from its sorrow by the quick, sharp beating of his bodily heart, and by the keen torture of the physical body, that is like the thrusting of a red-hot knife between breastbone and midriff.

The expression “self-control” is daily in the blatant mouths of preachers and moralists, the very cant of emptiness and folly. It means nothing, nor can any play of words or cunning twisting of conception ever give it meaning. For the “self” is the divine, imperishable portion of the eternal God which is in man. I may control my limbs and the strength that is in them, and I may force under the appetites and passions of this mortal body, but I cannot myself, for it is myself that controls, being of nature godlike and stronger than all which is material. And although, for an infinitely brief space of time, I myself may inhabit and give life to this handful of most changeable atoms, I have it in my supreme power and choice to make them act according to my pleasure. If I become enamored of the body and its ways, and of the subtleties of a fleeting bodily intelligence, I have forgotten to control those things; and having forgotten that I have free will given me from heaven to rule what is mine, I am no longer a man, but a beast. But while I, who am an immortal soul, command the perishable engine in which I dwell, I am in truth a man. For the soul is of God and forever, whereas the body is a thing of to-day that vanishes into dust to-morrow; but the two together are the living man. And thus it is that God is made man in us every day.

All that which we know by our senses is but an illusion. What is true of its own nature, we can neither see, nor hear, nor feel, nor taste. It is a matter of time, and nothing more, and whatever palpable thing a man can name will inevitably be dissolved into its constituent parts, that these may again agglomerate into a new illusion for future ages. But that which is subject to no change, nor disintegration, nor reconstruction, is the immortal truth, to attain to a knowledge and understanding of which is to be saved from the endless shifting of the material and illusory universe.

John Harrington lay in his chair alone in his rooms, while the snow whirled against the windows outside and made little drifts on the sills. The fire had gone out and the bitter storm beat against the casements and howled in the chimney, and the dusk of the night began to mingle with the thick white flakes, and brought upon the solitary man a great gloom and horror of loneliness. It seemed to him that his life was done, and his strength gone from him. He had labored in vain for years, for this end, and he had failed to attain it. It were better to have died than to suffer the ignominy of this defeat. It were better never to have lived at all than to have lived so utterly in vain. One by one the struggles of the past came up to him; each had seemed a triumph when he was in the glory of strength and hope. The splendid aims of a higher and nobler government, built by sheer truth and nobility of purpose upon the ashes and dust of present corruption, the magnificent purity of the ideal State of which he had loved to dream–all that he had thought of and striven after as most worthy of a true man to follow, dwindled now away into a hollow and mocking image, more false than hollowness itself, poorer and of less substance than a juggler’s show.

He clasped his hands over his forehead, and tried to think, but it was of no use. Everything was vague, broken, crushed, and shapeless. Faces seemed to rise to his disturbed sight, and he wondered whether he had ever known these people; a ghastly weariness as of death was upon him, and his arms fell heavily by his sides. He groaned aloud, and if in that bitter sigh he could have breathed away his existence he would have gladly done it.

Some one entered the room, struck a match, and lit the gas. It was his servant, or rather the joint servant of two or three of the bachelors who lived in the house, a huge, smooth-faced colored man.

“Oh, excuthe _me_, Mister Harrington, I thought you wath out, Thir. There’s two o’ them notes for you.”

John roused himself, and took the letters without a word. They were both addressed in feminine handwriting. The one he knew, for it was from Mrs. Wyndham. The other he did not recognize. He opened Mrs. Wyndham’s first.

“DEAR MR. HARRINGTON,–Sam and I are very much put out about it, and sympathize most cordially. We think you might like to come and dine this evening, if you have no other invitation, so I write to say we will be all alone and very glad to see you. Cordially yours,

“JANE WYNDHAM.”

“P.S. Don’t trouble about the answer.”

John read the note through and laid it on the table. Then he turned the other missive over in his fingers, and finally tore open the envelope.

It ran as follows:–

“MY DEAR MR. HARRINGTON,–Please don’t be surprised at my writing to you in this way. I was at Mrs. Wyndham’s this afternoon and heard all about it, and I must write to tell you that I am very, _very_ sorry. It is too horrible to think how bad and wicked and foolish people are, and how they invariably do the wrong thing. I cannot tell you how sorry we all are, because it is just such men as you who are most needed nowadays, though of course I know nothing about politics here. But I am quite sure that all of them _will live to regret it_, and that you will win in the end. Don’t think it foolish of me to write, because I’m so angry that I can’t in the least help it, and I think everybody ought to.

“Yours in sincerity,”

“JOSEPHINE THORN.”

CHAPTER XVII.

John read Joe’s note many times over before he quite realized what it contained. It seemed at first a singular thing that she should have written to him, and he did not understand it. He knew her as an enthusiastic and capricious girl who had sometimes laughed at him, and sometimes treated him coldly; but who, again, had sometimes talked with him as though he were an old friend. He called to mind the interest she had taken in his doings of late, and how she had denounced Vancouver as his enemy, and he thought of the long conversation he had had with her on the ice under the cold moonlight. He thought of many a sympathetic glance she had given when he spoke of his aims and intentions, of many a gentle word spoken in praise of him, and which at the time he had taken merely as so much small, good-natured flattery, such as agreeable people deal out to each other in society without any thought of evil nor any especial meaning of good. All these things came back to him, and he read the little note again. It was a kindly word, nothing more, penned by a wild, good-hearted girl, in the scorn of consequence or social propriety. It was nothing but that.

And yet, there was something more in it all–something not expressed in the abbreviated words and hurriedly-composed sentences, but something that seemed to struggle for expression. John’s experience of womankind was limited, for he was no lady’s man, and had led a life singularly lacking in woman’s love or sentiment, though singularly dependent on the friendship of some woman. Nevertheless he knew that Joe’s note breathed the essence of a sympathy wider than that of mere every-day acquaintance, and deeper, perhaps, than that of any friendship he had known. He could not have explained the feeling, nor reasoned upon it, but he knew well enough that when he next met Joe it would be on new terms. She had declared herself his friend in a way no longer mistakable, for she must have followed her first impulse in writing such a note, and the impulse must have been a strong one.

For a while he debated whether to answer the note or not, almost forgetting his troubles in the tumult of new thoughts it had suggested to him. A note, thought he, required an answer, on general principles–but such a note as this would be better answered in person than by any pen and paper. He would call and see Joe, and thank her for it. But, again, he knew he could not see her until the next day, and that seemed a long time to wait. It would not have been long under ordinary circumstances, but in this case it seemed to him an unreasonable delay. He sat down and took a pen in his fingers.

“Dear Miss Thorn”–he began, and stopped. In America it is more formal to begin without the preliminary “my;” in England the “my” is indispensable, unless people are on familiar terms. John knew this, and reflected that Joe was English. While he was reflecting his eye fell upon a heap of telegraph blanks, and he remembered that he had not given notice of his defeat to the council. He pushed aside the note paper and took a form for a cable dispatch. In a moment Joe was forgotten in the sudden shock that brought his thoughts back to his position. He wrote out a simple message addressed to Z, who was the only one of the three whom he officially knew.

But when he had done that, he fell to thinking about Joe again, and resolved to write the note.

“MY DEAR MISS THORN,–I cannot allow your very friendly words to remain unanswered until tomorrow. It is kind of you to be sorry for the defeat I have suffered, it is kinder still to express your sympathy so directly and so soon. Concerning the circumstances which brought the contest to such a result, I have nothing to say. It is the privilege of elective bodies to choose as they please, and indeed, that is the object of their existence. No one has any right to complain of not being elected, for a man who is a candidate knows from the first what he is undertaking, and what manner of men he has to deal with. Personally, I am a man who has fought a fight and has lost it, and however firmly I still believe in the cause which led me to the struggle, I confess that I am disappointed and disheartened at being vanquished. You are good enough to say you believe I shall win in the end; I can only answer that I thank you very heartily indeed for saying so, though I do not think it is likely that any efforts of mine will be attended with success for a long time.

“Believe me, with great gratitude,

“Very sincerely yours,

“JOHN HARRINGTON.”

It was a longer note than he had meant to write, in fact it was almost a letter; but he read it over and was convinced he had said what he meant to say, which was always the principal consideration in such matters. Accordingly the missive was dispatched to its destination. As for Mrs. Wyndham, John determined to accept her invitation, and to answer it in person by appearing at the dinner-hour. He would not let any one think he was so broken-hearted as to be unable to show himself. He was too strong for that, and he had too much pride in his strength.

He was right in going to Mrs. Wyndham’s, for she and her husband were his oldest friends, and he understood well enough what true hearts and what honest loyalty lie sometimes concealed in the bosoms of those brisk, peculiar people, who seem unable to speak seriously for long about the most serious subjects, and whose quaint turns of language seem often so unfit to express any deep feeling. But while he talked with his hosts his own thoughts strayed again and again to Joe, and he wondered what kind of woman she really was. He intended to visit her the next day.

The next day came, however, and yet John did not turn his steps up the hill towards Miss Schenectady’s house. It was a cloudless morning after the heavy storm, and the great drifts of snow flashed like heaps of diamonds in the sun. All the air was clear and cold, and the red brick pavements were spotted here and there with white patches left from the shovels of the Irishmen. Sleighs of all sizes were ploughing their way hither and thither, breaking out a track in the heavy mass that encumbered the streets. Every one was wrapped in furs, and every one’s face was red with the smarting cold.

Joe stayed at home until mid-day, when she went to a luncheon-party of young girls. As usual, they had been sewing for the poor, but Joe thought that she was not depriving the poor people of any very material assistance by staying away from the more industrious part of the entertainment. The sewing they all did together in a morning did not produce results whereby even the very smallest baby could have been clothed, and the part effected by each separate damsel in this whole was consequently somewhat insignificant. Joe would have stayed at home outright had the weather not been so magnificent, and possibly she thought that she might meet John Harrington on her way to the house of her friend in Dartmouth Street.

Fate, however, was against her, for she had not walked thirty yards down the hill before she was overtaken by Pocock Vancouver. He had been standing in one of the semi-circular bay windows of the Somerset Club, and seeing Joe coming down the steep incline, had hurriedly taken his coat and hat and gone out in pursuit of her. Had he suspected in the least how Joe felt toward him, he would have fled to the end of the world rather than meet her.

“Good morning, Miss Thorn,” he said, walking rapidly by her side and taking off his hat, “how very early you are to-day.”

“It is not early,” said Joe, looking at him coldly, “it is nearly one o’clock.”

“It would be called early for most people,” said Vancouver; “for Mrs. Wyndham, for instance.”

“I am not Mrs. Wyndham,” said Joe.

“I am going to see Harrington,” remarked Vancouver, who perceived that Joe was not in a good humor. “I am afraid he must be dreadfully cut up about this business.”

“So you are going to condole with him? I do not believe he is in the least disturbed. He has far too much sense.”

“I fancy the most sensible man in the world would be a trifle annoyed at being defeated in an election, Miss Thorn,” said Vancouver blandly. “I am afraid you are not very sorry for him. He is an old friend of mine, and though I differ from him in politics, very passively, I cannot do less than go and see him, and tell him how much I regret, personally, that he should be defeated.”

Joe’s lip curled in scorn, and she flushed angrily. She could have struck Vancouver’s pale face with infinite pleasure and satisfaction, but she said nothing in immediate answer.

“Do you not think I am right?” asked Vancouver. “I am sure you do; you have such a good heart.” They passed Charles Street as he was speaking, and yet he gave no sign of leaving her.

“I am not sure that I have a good heart, and I am quite sure that you are utterly wrong, Mr. Vancouver,” said Joe, in calm tones.

“Really? Why, you quite surprise me, Miss Thorn. Any man in my place ought”–

“Most men in your place would avoid Mr. Harrington,” interrupted Joe, turning her clear brown eyes full upon him. Had she been less angry she would have been more cautious. But her blood was up, and she took no thought, but said what she meant, boldly.

“Indeed, Miss Thorn,” said Vancouver, stiffly, “I do not understand you in the least. I think what you say is very extraordinary. John Harrington has always been a friend of mine.”

“That may be, Mr. Vancouver, but you are certainly no friend of his,” said Joe, with a scornful laugh.

“You astonish me beyond measure,” rejoined Pocock, maintaining his air of injured virtue, although he inwardly felt that he was in some imminent danger. “How can you possibly say such a thing?”

Joe could bear it no longer. She was very imprudent, but her honest anger boiled over. She stopped in her walk, her back against the iron railings, and she faced Vancouver with a look that frightened him. He was forced to stop also, and he could not do less than return her glance.

“Do you dare to stand there and tell me that you are Mr. Harrington’s friend?” she asked in low distinct tones. “You, the writer of articles in the ‘Daily Standard,’ calling him a fool and a charlatan? You, who have done your very best to defeat him in this election? Indeed, it is too absurd!” She laughed aloud in utter scorn, and then turned to continue her way.

Vancouver turned a shade paler than was natural with him, and looked down. He was very much frightened, for he was a coward.

“Miss Thorn,” he said, “I am sorry you should believe such calumnies. I give you my word of honor that I have never either written or spoken against Mr. Harrington. He is one of my best friends.”

Joe did not answer; she did not even look at him, but walked on in silence. He did not dare to speak again, and as they reached the corner of the Public Garden he lifted his hat.

“I am quite sure that you will find you have misjudged me, Miss Thorn,” he said, with a grieved look. “In the mean while I wish you a very good morning.”

“Good-morning,” said Joe, without looking at him; and she passed on, full of indignation and wrath.

To tell the truth, she was so much delighted at having spoken her mind for once, that she had not a thought of any possible consequences. The delight of having dealt Vancouver such a buffet was very great, and she felt her heart beat fast with a triumphant pleasure.

But Vancouver turned and went away with a very unpleasant sensation in, him. He wished with all his might that he had not left the comfortable bay window of the Somerset Club that morning, and more than all he wished he could ascertain how Joe had come to know of his journalistic doings. As a matter of fact, what she had said concerning Pocock’s efforts against John in the election had been meant in a most general way. But Vancouver thought she was referring to his interview with Ballymolloy, and that she understood the whole matter. Of course, there was nothing to be done but to deny the accusations from beginning to end; but they nevertheless had struck deep, and he was thoroughly alarmed. When he left the club he had had no intention of going to see Harrington; the idea had formed itself while talking with her. But now, again, he felt that he could not go. He had not the courage to face the man he had injured, principally because he strongly suspected that if Joe knew what he had done, John Harrington most likely knew it too.

He was doubly hit. He would have been less completely confused and frightened if the attack had come from Sybil Brandon; but he had had vague ideas of trying to marry Joe, and he guessed that any such plan was now hopelessly out of the question. He turned his steps homeward, uncertain what to do, and hoping to find counsel in solitude.

He took up the letters and papers that lay on his study table, brought by the mid-day post. One letter in particular attracted his attention, and he singled it out and opened it. It was dated from London, and had been twelve days on its way.

“MY DEAR VANCOUVER,

“Enclosed please find Bank of England Post Note for your usual quarterly honorarium, L1250. My firm will address you upon the use to be made of the Proxies lately sent you for the ensuing election of officers of the Pocahontas and Dead Man’s Valley R. R., touching your possession of which I beg to reiterate the importance of a more than Masonic discretion. I apprehend that unless the scattered shares should have been quickly absorbed for the purpose of obtaining a majority, these Proxies will enable you to control the election of the proper ticket. If not, and if the Leviathan should decline the overtures that will be made to him during his summer visit to London, I should like your estimate of five thousand shares more, to be picked up in the next three months, which will assure our friends the control. Should the prospective figure be too high, we may elect to sell out, after rigging the market for a boom.

“In either event there will be lots of pickings in the rise and fall of the shares for the old joint account, which has been so profitable because you have so skillfully covered up your tracks.

“Yours faithfully,”

“SAUNDEKS GRABBLES.”

“P. S. The expectations of the young lady about whom you inquire are involved in such a tangle of conditions as could only have occurred to the excited fancy of an old Anglo-Indian. He left about twenty lacs of rupees in various bonds–G. I. P. and others–to his nephew, Ronald Surbiton, and to his niece jointly, provided that they marry each other. If they do not, one quarter of the estate is to go to the one who marries first, and the remaining three quarters to the other. The estate is in the hands of trustees, who pay an allowance to the heirs. In case they marry each other, the said heirs have power to dispose by will of the inheritance. Otherwise the whole of it reverts to the last survivor, and at his or her death it is to be devoted to founding a home for superannuated governesses.”

Vancouver read the letter through with care, and held it a moment in his hand. Then he crushed it angrily together and tossed it into the fire. It seemed as though everything went wrong with him to-day. Not only was no information concerning Joe of any use now. It would be a hard thing to disabuse her of the idea that he had written those articles. After all, though, as he thought the matter over, it could be only guess-work. The manuscripts had always gone through the post, signed with a feigned name, and it was utterly impossible that the editor himself could know who had written them. It would be still more impossible, therefore, for any one else to do more than make a guess. It is easy to deny any statement, however correct, when founded on such a basis. But there was the other thing: Joe had accused him of having opposed John’s election to the best of his ability. No one could prove that either. He had even advised Ballymolloy to vote for John, in so many words. On the whole, his conscience was clear enough. Vancouver’s conscience was represented by all those things which could by any possibility be found out; the things that no one could ever know gave him no anxiety. In the present case the first thing to be done was plainly to put the whole blame of the articles on the shoulders of some one else, a person of violent political views and very great vanity, who would be greatly flattered at being thought the author of anything so clever. That would not be a difficult task. He would broach the subject to Mrs. Wyndham, telling her that the man, whoever he should be, had told him in strictest confidence that he was the writer. Vancouver would of course tell it to Mrs. Wyndham as a state secret, and she would tell some one else–it would soon be public property, and Joe would hear of it. It would be easy enough to pitch upon some individual who would not deny the imputation, or who would deny it in such a way as to leave the impression on the public mind unchanged, more especially as the articles had accomplished the desired result.

The prime cause of all this, John Harrington himself, sat in his room, unconscious, for the time, of Vancouver’s existence. He was in a state of great depression and uncertainty, for he had not yet rallied from the blow of the defeat. Moreover he was thinking of Joe, and her letter lay open on the table beside him. His whole heart went out to her in thanks for her ready sympathy, and he had almost made up his mind to go and see her, as he had at first determined to do.

He would have laughed very heartily at the idea of being in love, for he had never thought of himself in such a position. But he realized that he was fond of Josephine Thorn, that he was thinking of her a great deal, and that the thought was a comfort to him in his distress. He knew very well that he would find a great rest and refreshment in talking to her at present, and yet he could not decide to go to her. John was a man of calm manner and with plenty of hard, practical sense, in spite of the great enthusiasm that burned like a fire within him, and that was the mainspring of his existence. But like all orators and men much accustomed to dealing with the passions of others, he was full of quick intuitions and instincts which rarely betrayed him. Something warned him not to seek her society, and though he said to himself that he was very far from being in love, the thought that he might some day find that he wished to marry her presented itself continually to his mind; and since John had elected to devote himself to celibacy and politics, there was nothing more repugnant to his whole life than the idea of marriage.

At this juncture, while he was revolving in his mind what was best to be done, a telegram was brought to him. It was from Z, and in briefest terms of authority commanded John to hold himself ready to start for London at a moment’s notice. It must have been dispatched within a few hours after receiving his own message of the night before, and considering the difference of time, must have been sent from London early in the afternoon. It was clearly an urgent case, and the supreme three had work for John to do, even though he had not been made senator.

The order was a great relief. It solved all his uncertainty and scattered all his doubts to the wind. It gave him new courage and stimulated his curiosity. Z had only sent for him twice before, and then only to call him from Boston or New York to Washington. It was clear that something of very great importance was likely to occur. His energy returned in full, with the anticipation of work to do and of a journey to be made, and before night he was fully prepared to leave on receipt of his orders. His box was packed, and he had drawn the money necessary to take him to London.

As for Joe, he could go and see her now if he pleased. In twenty-four hours he might be gone, never to see her again. But it was too late on that day–he would go on the following morning.

It was still the height of the Boston season, which is short, but merry while it lasts. John had a dinner-party, a musical evening, and a ball on his list for the evening, and he resolved that he would go to all three, and show himself bravely to the world. He was full of new courage and strength since he had received Z’s message, and he was determined that no one should know what he had suffered.

The dinner passed pleasantly enough, and by ten o’clock he was at the musical party. There he found the Wyndhams and many other friends, but he looked in vain for Joe; she was not there. Before midnight he was at the dance, pushing his way through crowds of acquaintances, stumbling over loving couples ensconced on the landings of the stairs, and running against forlorn old ladies, whose mouths were full of ice-cream and their hearts of bitterness against the younger generation; and so, at last, he reached the ball-room, where everything that was youngest and most fresh was assembled, swaying and gliding, and backing and turning in the easy, graceful half-walk, half-slide of the Boston step.

As John stood looking on, Joe passed him, leaving the room on Mr. Topeka’s arm. There was a little open space before her in the crowd, and Pocock Vancouver darted out with the evident intention of speaking to her. But as she caught sight of him she turned suddenly away, pulling Mr. Topeka round by his arm. It was an extremely “marked thing to do.” As she turned she unexpectedly came face to face with John, who had watched the maneuver. The color came quickly to her face, and she was slightly embarrassed; nevertheless she held out her hand and greeted John cordially.

CHAPTER XVIII.

“I am so glad to have found you,” said John to Josephine, when the latter had disposed of Mr. Topeka. They had chosen a quiet corner in a dimly- lighted room away from the dancers. “But I suppose it is useless to ask you for a dance?”

“No,” said Joe, looking at her card; “I always leave two dances free in the middle of the evening in case I am tired. We will sit them out.”

“Thank you,” said John, looking at her. She looked pale and a little tired, but wonderfully lovely. “Thank you,” he repeated, “and thank you also for your most kind note.”

“I wish I could tell you better how very sorry I am,” said Joe, impulsively. “It is bad enough to look on and see such things done, but I should think you must be nearly distracted.”

“I think I was at first,” said John, simply. “But one soon grows used to it. Man is a vain animal, and I suppose no one could lose a fight as I have without being disappointed.”

“If you were not disappointed it would be a sign you did not really care,” answered Joe. “And of course you must care–a great, great deal. It is a loss to your cause, as well as a loss to yourself. But you cannot possibly give it up; you will win next time.”

“Yes,” said John, “I hope I shall win some day.” But his voice sounded uncertain; it lacked that determined ring that Joe loved so well. She felt as she sat beside him that he was deeply hurt and needed fresh encouragement and strength to restore him to his old self. She longed to help him and to rouse him once more to the consciousness of power and the hope of victory.

“It is my experience,” said she with an air of superiority that would have been amusing if she had spoken less earnestly–“it is my experience that one should never think of anything in which one has come to grief. I know, when one is going at a big thing–a double post and rails with a ditch, or anything like that, you know–it would never do to remember that you have come off at the same thing or at something else before. When a man is always remembering his last tumble he has lost his nerve, and had better give up hunting altogether. Thinking that you may get an ugly fall will not help you over anything.”

“No,” said John, “that is very true.”

“You must forget all about it and begin again. You have missed one bird, but you are a good shot, and you will not miss the next.”

“You are a most encouraging person, Miss Thorn,” said John with a faint smile. “But you know the only test of a good shot is that one hits the mark. I have missed at the first trial, and that is no reason why I should not miss at the second, too.”

“You are disappointed and unhappy now,” said Joe, gently. “It is very natural indeed. Anybody would feel like that. But you must not believe in yourself any less than your friends believe in you.”

“I fancy my friends do not all think alike,” answered John. “But I am grateful to you for what you say.”

He was indeed grateful, and the soothing sound of her gentle voice was the best refreshment for his troubled spirit. He thought for a moment how brave a man could be with such a woman by his side; and the thought pleased him, the more because he knew that it could not be realized. They sat in silence for a while, contented to be together, and in sympathy. But before long the anxiety for the future and the sense of his peculiar position came over John again.

“Do you know,” he said, “there are times when I regret it all very much? I never told any one so before–perhaps I was never so sure of it as I have been since this affair.”

“What is it that you regret so much?” asked Joe, softly. “It is a noble life.”

“It is, indeed, if only a man knows how to live it,” answered John. “But sometimes I think I do not. You once said a very true thing to me about it all. Do you remember?”

“No; what was it?”

“You said I should not succeed because I am not enough of a partisan, and because every one is a partisan here.”

“Did I? Yes, I remember saying it,” answered Joe, secretly pleased that he should not have forgotten it. “I do not think it is so very true, after all. It is true to-day; but it is for men like you to set things right, to make partisanship a thing of the past. Men ought to make laws because they are just and necessary, not in order that they may profit by them at the expense of the rest of the world. And to have such good laws men ought to choose good men to represent them.”

“There is no denying the truth of that,” said John. “That is the way to construct the ideal republic. It would be the way to do a great many ideal things. You need only persuade humanity to do right, and humanity will do it. Verily, it is an easy task!” He laughed, a little bitterly.

“It is not like you to laugh in that way,” said Joe, gravely.

“No; to tell the truth, I am not overmuch inclined to laugh at anything to-day, excepting myself, and I dare say there are plenty of people who will do that for me without the asking. They will have no chance when I am gone.”

Joe started slightly.

“Gone?” she repeated. “Are you going away?”

“It is very likely,” said John. “A friend of mine has warned me to be ready to start at a moment’s notice on very important business.”

“But it is uncertain, then?” asked Joe, quickly. She had turned very white in an instant, and she looked straight across the little room and pulled nervously at her fan. She would not have dared to let her eyes meet John’s at that moment.

“Yes, rather uncertain,” answered John. “But he would not have sent me such a warning unless it were very likely that he would really want me.”

Joe was silent; she could not speak.

“So you see,” continued Harrington, “I may leave to-morrow, and I cannot tell when I may come back. That is the reason I was glad to find you here. I would have called to-day, if it had been possible, after I got the message.” He spoke calmly, not dreaming of the storm of fear and passion he was rousing in the heart of the fair girl beside him.

“Where–where are you going?” asked Joe in a low voice.

“Probably to England,” said John.

Before the words were out of his mouth he turned and looked at her, suddenly realizing the change in her tones. But she had turned away from him. He could see the quiver of her lips and the beating throb of her beautiful throat; and as he watched the outline of her cheek a tear stole slowly over the delicate skin, and trembled, and fell upon her white neck. But still she looked away.

Ah, John Harrington, what have you done? You have taken the most precious and pure thing in this world, the thing men as brave as you have given their heart’s best blood to win and have perished for failing, the thing which angels guard and Heaven has in its keeping–the love of a good and noble woman. It has come into your hands and you do not want it. You hardly know it is yours; and if you fully knew it you would not know what to do!

You are innocent, indeed; you have done nothing, spoken no word, given no look that, in your opinion, your cold indifferent opinion, could attract a woman’s love. But the harm is done, nevertheless, and a great harm too. When you are old and sensible you will look back to this day as one of sorrow and evil, and you will know then that all greatness and power and glory of realized ambition are nothing unless a man have a woman’s love. You will know that a man who cannot love is blind to half the world he seeks to conquer, and that a man who cannot love truly is no true man, for he who is not true to one cannot be true to many. That is the sum and reckoning of what love is worth.

But John knew of nothing beyond friendship, and he could not conceive how friendship could turn into anything else. When he saw the tear on Josephine Thorn’s cheek he was greatly disturbed, and vaguely wondered what in the world he should do. The idea that any woman could care enough for him to shed a tear when he left her had never crossed his mind; even now, with the actual fact before his eyes, he doubted whether it were possible. She was ill, perhaps, and suffering pain. Pshaw! it was absurd, it could not be that she cared so much for him.

Seeing she did not move, he sat quite still for a while. His usual tact had deserted him in the extremity of the situation. He revolved in his mind what was best to say. It was safest to suppose that Joe was ill, but he would say something indifferent, in order to see whether she recovered, before he suggested that he might be of assistance.

“It is cold here,” he remarked, trying to speak as naturally as possible. “Would you not like to take a turn, Miss Thorn?”

Joe moved a little. She was deadly pale, and in the effort she had made to control her feelings she was unconscious of the tears in her eyes.

“Oh no, thanks,” she faltered, “I will not dance just now.” She could not say more.

John made up his mind.

“You are ill, Miss Thorn,” he said anxiously. “I am sure you are very far from well. Let me get you something, or call your aunt. Shall I?”

“Oh no–don’t–that is–please, I think so. I will go home.”

John rose quickly, but before he reached the door she called him back.

“Mr. Harrington, it is nothing. Please sit down.”

John came back and did as he was bid, more and more surprised and confused.

“I was afraid it was something serious,” he said nervously, for he was greatly disturbed.

Joe laughed, a bitter, harsh little laugh, that was bad to hear. She was making a great effort, but she was strong, and bravely forced back her bursting tears.

“Oh no! I was only choking,” she said. “I often do. Go on, please, with what you were saying. Why are you going away so suddenly?”

“Indeed,” answered John, “I do not know what the business is. I am going if I am required, simply because my friend wants me.”

“Do you mean to say,” asked Joe, speaking more calmly, “that you will pack up your belongings and go to the end of the world whenever a friend asks you to? It is most tremendously obliging, you know.”

“Not for any friend,” John replied. “But I would most certainly do it for this particular one.”

“You must be very fond of him to do that,” said Joe.

“I am under great obligations to him, too. He is certainly the most important man with whom I have any relations. We can trust each other-it would not do to endanger the certainty of good faith that exists between us.”

“He must be a very wonderful person,” said Joe, who had grown quite calm by this time. “I should like to know him.”

“Very possibly you may meet him, some day. He is a very wonderful person indeed, as you say. He has devoted fifty years of his life and strength to the unremitting pursuit of the best aim that any man can set before him.”

“In other words,” said Joe, “he is your ideal. He is what you hope to be at his age. He must be very old.”

“Yes, he is old. As for his representing my ideal, I think he approaches more nearly to it than any man alive. But you would probably not like him.”

“Why?”

“He belongs to a class of men whom old-world people especially dislike,” answered John. “He does not believe in any monarchy, aristocracy, or distinction of birth. He looks upon titles as a decaying institution of barbarous ages, and he confidently asserts that in two or three generations the republic will be the only form of social contract known amongst the inhabitants of the civilized world.”

John was watching Joe while he spoke. He was merely talking because it seemed necessary, and he saw that in spite of her assumed calm she was still greatly agitated. She seemed anxious, however, to continue the conversation.

“It is absurd,” said she, “to say that all men are born equal.”

“Everything depends on what you mean by the word ‘equal.’ I mean by it that all men are born with an equal claim to a share in all the essential rights of free citizenship. When a man demands more than that, he is infringing on the rights of others; when he is content with less, he is allowing himself to be robbed.”

“But who is to decide just how much belongs to each man?” asked Joe, leaning back wearily against the cushions. She wished now that she had allowed him to call her aunt. It was a fearful strain on her faculties to continue talking upon general subjects and listening to John Harrington’s calm, almost indifferent tones.

“The majority decides that,” said John.

“But a majority has just decided that you are not to be senator,” said Joe. “According to you they were right, were they not?”

“It is necessary that the majority should be free,” said John, “and that they should judge of themselves, each man according to his honest belief. Majorities with us are very frequently produced by a handful of dishonest men, who can turn the scale on either side, to suit their private ends. It is the aim we set before us to protect the freedom of majorities. That is the true doctrine of a republic.”

“And for that aim,” said Joe, slowly, “you would sacrifice everything?”

“Yes, indeed we would,” said John, gravely. “For that end we will sacrifice all that we have to give–the care for personal satisfaction, the hope of personal distinction, the peace of a home and the love of a wife. We seek neither distinction nor satisfaction, and we renounce all ties that could hamper our strength or interfere with the persevering and undivided attention we try to give to our work.”

“That is a magnificent programme,” said Joe, somewhat incredulously. “Do you not think it is possible sometimes to aim too high? You say ‘we seek,’ ‘we try,’ as though there were several of you, or at least, some one besides yourself. Do you believe that such ideas as you tell me of are really and seriously held by any body of men?”

Nothing had seemed too high to Josephine an hour earlier, nothing too exalted, nothing so noble but that John Harrington might do it, then and there. But a sudden change had come over her, the deadly cold phase of half melancholy unbelief that often follows close upon an unexpected disappointment, so that she looked with distaste on anything that seemed so full of the enthusiasm she had lost. The tears that bad risen so passionately to her dimmed eyes were suddenly frozen, and seemed to flow back with chilling force to her heart. She coldly asked herself whether she were mad, that she could have suffered thus for such a man, even ever so briefly. He was a man, she said, who loved an unattainable, fanatic idea in the first place, and who dearly loved himself as well for his own fanaticism’s sake. He was a man in whom the heart was crushed, even annihilated, by his intellect, which he valued far too highly, and by his vanity, which he dignified into a philosophy of self-sacrifice. He was aiming at what no man can reach, and though he knew his object to be beyond human grasp, he desired all possible credit for having madly dreamed of anything so high. In the sudden revulsion of her strong passion, she almost hated him, she almost felt the power to refute his theories, to destroy his edifice of fantastic morality, and finally to show him that he was a fool among men, and doubly a fool, because he was not even happy in his own folly.

Joe vaguely felt all this, and with it she felt a sense of shame at having so nearly broken down at the news that he was going away. He had thought she was ill; most assuredly he could not have guessed the cause of what he had seen; but nevertheless she had suffered a keen pain, and the tears had come to her eyes. She did not understand it. He might leave her now, if he pleased, and she would not care; indeed, it would be rather a relief if he would go. She no longer asked what she was to him, she simply reflected that, after all was said, he was nothing to her. She felt a quick antagonism to his ideas, to his words, and to himself, and she was willing to show it. She asked him incredulously whether his ideas were really held by others.

“It makes little difference,” answered John, “whether they are many or few who think as I do, and I cannot tell how many there may be. The truth is not made truth because many people believe it. The world went round, as Galileo knew, although he alone stood up and said it in the face of mankind, who scoffed at him for his pains.”

“In other words, you occupy the position of Galileo,” suggested Joe, calmly.

“Not I,” said John; “but there are men, and there have been men, in our country who know truths as great as any he discovered, and who have spent their lives in proclaiming them. I _know_ that they are right, and that I am right, and that, however we may fail, others will succeed at last. I know that, come what may, honor and truth and justice will win the day in the end!” His gray eyes glittered as he spoke, and his broad white hands clasped nervously together in his enthusiasm. He was depressed and heartsick at his failure, but it needed only one word of opposition to rouse the strong main thought of his life into the most active expression. But Joe sat coldly by, her whole nature seemingly changed in the few minutes that had passed.

“And all this will be brought about by the measures you advocated the other day,” said she with a little laugh. “A civil service, a little tariff reform–that is enough to inaugurate the reign of honor, truth, and justice?”

John turned his keen eyes upon hers. He had begun talking because she had required it of him, and he had been roused by the subject. He remembered the sympathy she had given him, and he was annoyed at her caprice.

“Such things are the mere passing needs of a time,” he said. “The truth, justice, and honor, at which you are pleased to be amused, would insure the execution at all times of what is right and needful. Without a foundation composed of the said truth, justice, and honor, to get what is right and needful is often a matter so stupendous that the half of a nation’s blood is drained in accomplishing the task, if even it is accomplished after all. I see nothing to laugh at.”

Indeed, Joe was only smiling faintly, but John was so deeply impressed and penetrated by the absolute truth of what he was saying, that he had altogether ceased to make any allowances for Joe’s caprice of mood or for the disturbance in her manner that he had so lately witnessed. He was beginning to be angry, and she had never seen him in such a mood.

“The world would be a very nice tiresome place to live in,” she said, “if every one always did exactly what is absolutely right. I should not like to live among people who would be always so entirely padded and lined with goodness as they must be in your ideal republic.”

“It is a favorite and characteristic notion of modern society to associate goodness with dullness, and consequently, I suppose, to connect badness with all that is gay, interesting, and diverting. There is nothing more perverted, absurd, and contemptible than that notion in the whole history of the world.”

John was not gentle with an idea when he despised it, and the adjectives fell in his clear utterance like the blows of a sledge-hammer. But as the idea he was abusing had been suggested by Joe, she resented the strong language.

“I am flattered that you should call anything I say by such bad names,” she said. “I am not good at arguing and that sort of thing. If I were I think I could answer you very easily. Will you please take me back to my aunt?” She rose in a somewhat stately fashion.

John was suddenly aware that he had talked too much and too strongly, and he was very sorry to have displeased her. She had always let him talk as he pleased, especially of late, and she had almost invariably agreed with him in everything he said, so that he had acquired too much confidence. At all events, that was the way he explained to himself the present difficulty.

“Please forgive me, Miss Thorn,” he said humbly, as he gave her his arm to leave the room. “I am a very sanguine person, and I often talk great nonsense. Please do not be angry.” Joe paused just as they reached the door.

“Angry? I am not angry,” she said with sudden gentleness. “Besides, you know, this is–you are really going away?”

“I think so,” said John.

“Then, if you do,” she said with some hesitation–“if you do, this is good-by, is it not?”

“Yes, I am afraid it is,” said John; “but not for long.”

“Not for long, perhaps,” she answered; “but I would not like you to think I was angry the very last time I saw you.”

“No, indeed. I should be very sorry if you were. But you are not?”

“No. Well then”–she held out her hand–“Good-by, then.” She had almost hated him a few minutes ago. Half an hour earlier she had loved him. Now her voice faltered a little, but her face was calm.

John took the proffered hand and grasped it warmly. With all her caprice, and despite the strange changes of her manner toward him, she had been a good friend in a bad time during the last days, and he was more sorry to leave her than he would himself have believed.

“Good-by,” he said, “and thank you once more, with all my heart, for your friendship and kindness.” Their hands remained clasped for a moment; then she took his arm again, and he led her out of the dimly-lighted sitting- room back among the brilliant dancers and the noise and the music and the whirling crowd.

CHAPTER XIX.

A change has come over Boston in four months, since John Harrington and Josephine Thorn parted. The breath of the spring has been busy everywhere, and the haze of the hot summer is ripening the buds that the spring has brought out. The trees on the Common are thick and heavy with foliage, the Public Garden is a carpet of bright flowers, and on the walls of Beacon Street the great creepers have burst into blossom and are stretching long shoots over the brown stone and the iron balconies. There is a smell of violets and flowers in the warm air, and down on the little pond the swan- shaped boats are paddling about with their cargoes of merry children and calico nursery-maids, while the Irish boys look on from the banks and throw pebbles when the policemen are not looking, wishing they had the spare coin necessary to embark for a ten minutes’ voyage on the mimic sea. Unfamiliar figures wander through the streets of the West End, and more than half the houses show by the boarded windows and doors that the owners are out of town.

The migration of the “tax-dodgers” took place on the last day of April; they will return on the second day of December, having spent just six months and one day in their country places, whereby they have shifted the paying of a large proportion of their taxes to more economical regions. It is a very equitable arrangement, for it is only the rich man who can save money in this way, while his poorer neighbor, who has no country-seat to which he may escape, must pay to the uttermost farthing. The system stimulates the impecunious to become wealthy and helps the rich to become richer. It is, therefore, perfectly good and just.

But Boston is more beautiful in the absence of the “tax-dodger” than at any other season. There is a stillness and a peace over the fair city that one may long for in vain during the winter. Business indeed goes on without interruption, but the habitation of the great men of business knows them not. They come up from their cool bowers by the sea, in special trains, in steamers, and in yachts, every morning, and early in the afternoon they go back, so that all day long the broad streets at the west are quiet and deserted, and seem to be basking in the sunshine to recover from the combined strain of the bitter winter and the unceasing gayety that accompanies it.

In the warm June weather Miss Schenectady and Joe still linger in town. The old lady has no new-fangled notions about taxes, and though she is rich and has a pretty place near Newport, she will not go there until she is ready, no, not for all the tax-gatherers in Massachusetts. As for Joe, she does not want to go away. Urgent letters come by every mail entreating her to return to England in time for a taste of the season in London, but they lie unanswered on her table, and often she does not read more than half of what they contain. The books and the letters accumulate in her room, and she takes no thought whether she reads them or not, for the time is weary on her hands and she only wishes it gone, no matter how. Nevertheless she will not go home, and she even begs her aunt not to leave Boston yet.

She is paler than she was and her face looks thin. She says she is well and as strong as ever, but the elasticity is gone from her step, and the light has faded in her brown eyes, so that one might meet her in the street and hardly know her. As she sits by the window, behind the closed blinds, the softened light falls on her face, and it is sad and weary.

It was not until John Harrington was gone that she realized all. He had received the message he expected early on the morning after that memorable parting, and before mid-day he was on his way. Since then she had heard no word of tidings concerning him, save that she knew he had arrived in England. For anything she knew he might even now be in America again, but she would not believe it. If he had come back he would surely have come to see her, she thought. There were times when she would have given all the world to look on his face again, but for the most part she said to herself it was far better that she should never see him. Where was the use?

Joe was not of the women who have intimate confidants and can get rid of much sorrow by much talking about it. She was too proud and too strong to ask for help or sympathy in any real distress. She had gone to Sybil Brandon when she was about to tell Ronald of her decision, because she thought that Sybil would be kind to him and help him to forget the past; but where she herself was alone concerned, she would rather have died many deaths than confess what was in her heart.

She had gone bravely through the remainder of the season, until all was over, and no one had guessed her disappointment. Such perfect physical strength as hers was not to be broken down by the effort of a few weeks, and still she smiled and talked and danced and kept her secret. But as the long months crawled out their tale of dreary days, the passion in her soul spread out great roots and grew fiercely against the will that strove to break it down. It was a love against which there was no appeal, which had taken possession silently and stealthily, with no outward show of wooing or sweet words; and then, safe within the fortress of her maidenly soul, it had grown up to a towering strength, feeding upon her whole life, and ruthlessly dealing with her as it would. But this love sought no confidence, nor help, nor assistance, being of itself utterly without hope, strong and despairing.

One satisfaction only she had daily. She rejoiced that she had broken away from the old ties, from Ronald and from her English life. To have found herself positively loving one man while she was betrothed to another would have driven her to terrible extremity; the mere idea of going back to her mother and to the old life at home with this wild thought forever gnawing at her heart was intolerable. She might bear it to the end, whatever the end might be, and in silence, so long as none of her former associations made the contrast between past and present too strong. Old Miss Schenectady, with her books and her odd conversation, was as good a companion as any one, since she could not live alone. Sybil Brandon would have wearied her by her sympathy, gentle and loving as it would have been; and besides, Sybil was away from Boston and very happy; it would be unkind, as well as foolish, to disturb her serenity with useless confidences. And so the days went by and the hot summer was come, and yet Joe lingered in Boston, suffering silently and sometimes wondering how it would all end.

Sybil was staying near Newport with her only surviving relation, an uncle of her mother. He was an old man, upward of eighty years of age, and he lived in a strange old place six or seven miles from the town. But Ronald had been there more than once, and he was always enthusiastic in his description of what he had seen, and he seemed particularly anxious that Joe should know how very happy Sybil was in her country surroundings. Ronald had traveled during the spring, making short journeys in every direction, and constantly talking of going out to see the West, a feat which he never accomplished. He would go away for a week at a time and then suddenly appear again, and at last had gravitated to Newport. Thence he came to town occasionally and visited Joe, never remaining more than a day, and sometimes only a few hours. Joe was indifferent to his comings and goings, but always welcomed him in a friendly way. She saw that he was amusing himself, and was more glad than ever that the relations formerly existing between them had been so opportunely broken off. He had never referred to the past since the final interview when Joe had answered him by bursting into tears, and he talked about the present cheerfully enough.

One morning he arrived without warning, as usual, to make one of his short visits. Joe was sitting by the window dressed all in white, and the uniform absence of color in her dress rather exaggerated the pallor of her face than masked it. She was reading, apparently with some interest, in a book of which the dark-lined binding sufficiently declared the sober contents. As she read, her brows bent in the effort of understanding, while the warm breeze that blew through the blinds fanned her tired face and gently stirred the small stray ringlets of her soft brown hair. Ronald opened the door and entered.

“Oh, Ronald!” exclaimed Joe, starting a little nervously, “have you come up? You look like the sunshine. Come in, and shut the door.” He did as he was bidden, and came and sat beside her.

“Yes, I nave come up for the day. How are you, Joe dear? You look pale. It is this beastly heat–you ought to come down to Newport for a month. It is utterly idiotic, you know, staying in town in this weather.”

“I like it,” said Joe. “I like the heat so much that I think I should be cold in Newport. Tell me all about what you have been doing.”

“Oh, I hardly know,” said Ronald. “Lots of things.”

“Tell me what you do in one day–yesterday, for instance. I want to be amused this morning.”

“It is not so very amusing, you know, but it is very jolly,” answered Ronald. “To begin with, I get up at unholy hours and go and bathe in the surf at the second beach. There are no end of a a lot of people there even at that hour.”

“Yes, I dare say. And then?”

“Oh, then I go home and dress: and later, if I do not ride, I go to the club–casino, I beg its pardon!–and play tennis. They play very decently, some of those fellows.”

“Are there any nice rides?”

“Just along the roads, you know. But when you get out to Sherwood there are meadows and things–with a brook. That is very fair.”

“Do you still go to Sherwood often? How is Sybil?”

“Yes,” said Ronald, and a blush rose quickly to his face, “I often go there. It is such a queer old place, you know, full of trees and old summer-houses and graveyards–awfully funny.”

“Tell me, Ronald,” said Joe, insisting a little, “how is Sybil?”

“She looks very well, so I suppose she is. But she never goes to anything in Newport; she has not been in the town at all yet, since she went to stay with her uncle.”

“But of course lots of people go out to see her, do they not?”

“Oh, well, not many. In fact I do not remember to have met any one there,” answered Ronald, as though he were trying to recall some face besides Miss Brandon’s. “Her uncle is such an odd bird, you have no idea.”

“I do not imagine you see very much of him when you go out there,” said Joe, with a faint laugh.

“Oh, I always see him, of course,” said Ronald, blushing again. “He is about a hundred years old, and wears all kinds of clothes, and wanders about the garden perpetually. But I do not talk to him unless I am driven to it”–

“Which does not occur often,” interrupted Joe.

“Oh, well, I suppose not very often. Why should it?”

Ronald was visibly embarrassed. Joe watched him with a look of amusement on her face; but affectionately, too, as though what he said pleased her as well as amused her. There was a short pause, during which Ronald rubbed his hat slowly and gently. Then he looked up suddenly and met Joe’s eyes; but he turned away again instantly, blushing redder than ever.

“Ronald,” Joe said presently, “I am so glad.”

“Glad? Why? About what?”

“I am glad that you like her, and that she likes you. I think you like her very much, Ronald.”

“Oh yes, very much,” repeated Ronald, trying to seem indifferent.

“Do you not feel as though we were much more like brother and sister now?” asked Joe, after a little while.

“Oh, much!” assented Ronald. “I suppose it is better, too, though I did not think so at first.”

“It is far better,” said Joe, laying her small, thin hand across her cousin’s strong fingers and pressing them a little. “You are free now, and you will probably be very happy before long. Do you not think so?” she asked, looking affectionately into his eyes.

“I hope so,” said Ronald, with a last attempt at indifference. Then suddenly his face softened, and he added in a gentler tone, “Indeed, Joe, I think I shall be very happy soon.”

“I am so glad,” said Joe again, still holding his hand, but leaning her head back wearily in the deep chair. “There is only one thing that troubles me.”

“What is that?”

“That horrid will,” said Joe. “I am sure we could get it altered in some way.”

“We never thought about it before, Joe. Why should we think about it now? It seems to me it is a very good will as things have turned out.”

“But, my dear boy,” said Joe, “if you are married to Sybil Brandon, you will need ever so much money.”

Ronald blushed again.

“I have not asked her to marry me,” he said quickly.

“That makes no difference at all,” replied Joe. “As I was saying, when you have married her you will need money.”

“What an idea!” exclaimed Ronald, indignantly. “As if any one wanted to be rich in order to be happy. Besides, between what I have of my own, and my share of the money, there is nearly four thousand a year; and then there is the place in Lanarkshire for us to live in. As if that were not enough!”

“It is not so very much, though,” said Joe, reflecting. “I do not think Sybil has anything at all. You will be as poor as two little church mice; but I will come and stay with you sometimes,” Joe added, laughing, “and help you about the bills.”

“The bills would take care of themselves,” said Ronald, gravely. “They always do. But whatever happens, Joe, my home is always yours. You will always remember that, will you not?”

“Dear Ronald,” answered his cousin affectionately, “you are as good as it is possible to be–you really are.”

“Ronald,” said Joe, after a pause, “I have an idea.”

He looked at her inquiringly, but said nothing.

“I might,” she continued, smiling at the thought–“I may go and marry first, you know, after all, and spoil it.”

“But you will not, will you? Promise me you will not.”

“I wish I could,” said Joe, “and then you could have the money”–

“But I would not let you,” interrupted Ronald. “I would go off and get married by license, and that sort of thing.”

“Without asking Miss Brandon?” suggested Joe.

“Nonsense!” ejaculated Ronald, coloring for the twentieth time.

“I think we are talking nonsense altogether,” said Joe, seriously. “I do not think, indeed I am quite sure, I shall never marry.”

“How absurd!” cried Ronald. “The idea of your not marrying. It is perfectly ridiculous.”

The name of John Harrington was on his lips, but he checked himself. John was gone abroad, and with more than usual tact, Ronald reflected that, if Joe had really cared for the man, an allusion to him would be unkind. But Joe only shook her head, and let her cousin’s words pass unanswered.

She had long suspected, from Ronald’s frequent allusions to Sybil, which were generally accompanied by some change of manner, that he was either already in love with the fair American girl, or that he soon would be, and the acknowledgment she had now received from himself gave her infinite pleasure. In her reflections upon her own conduct she had never blamed herself, but she had more than once thought that he was greatly to be pitied. To have married him six months ago, when she was fully conscious that she did not love him, would have been very wrong; and to have gone back at a later period, when she realized that her whole life was full of her love for John Harrington, would have been a crime. But in spite of that she was often very sorry for Ronald, and feared that she had hurt his happiness past curing. Now, therefore, when she saw how much he loved another, she was exceedingly glad, for she knew that the thing she had done had been wholly good, both for him and for her.

They soon began to talk of other things, but the conversation fell back to the discussion of Newport, and Joe learned with some surprise that Pocock Vancouver assiduously cultivated Ronald’s acquaintance, and was always ready to do anything in the world that Ronald desired. It appeared that Vancouver lent Ronald his horses at all times, and was apparently delighted when Ronald would take a mount and stay away all day. The young Englishman, of course, was not loath to accept such offers, having a radical and undisguised contempt for hired horseflesh, and as Sybil lived several miles out of town, it was far the most pleasant plan to ride out to her, and after spending the day there, to ride back in the evening, more especially as it cost him nothing.

Joe was on the point of making some remark upon Vancouver, which would very likely have had the effect of cooling the intimacy between him and Ronald; but she thought better of it, and said nothing. Ronald had had no part in all the questions connected with John’s election, and knew nothing of what Vancouver had done in the matter. It was better on many grounds not to stir up fresh trouble, and so long as Vancouver’s stables afforded Ronald an easy and economical means of locomotion from Newport to the house of the woman he loved, the friendship that had sprung up was a positive gain. She could not understand the motives that prompted Vancouver in the least. He had made more than one attempt to regain his position with her after the direct cut he had sustained on the evening when she parted with John; but Joe had resolutely set her face against him. Possibly she thought Vancouver might hope to regain her good opinion by a regular system of kindness to Ronald; but it hardly seemed to her as though such a result would reward him for the pains of his diplomacy. Meanwhile it would be foolish of her to interfere with any intimacy which was of real use to Ronald in his suit.

As a matter of fact, Vancouver was carrying out a deliberate plan, and one which was far from ill-conceived. He had not been so blind as not to suspect Joe’s secret attachment for John, when she was willing to go to such lengths in her indignation against himself for being John’s enemy. But he had disposed of John, as he thought, by assisting, if not actually causing, his defeat. He imagined that Harrington had gone abroad to conceal the mortification he felt at having lost the election, and he rightly argued that for some time Joe would not bestow a glance upon any one else. In the mean time, however, he was in possession of certain details concerning Joe’s fortune which could be of use, and he accordingly set about encouraging Ronald’s affections in any direction they might take, so long as they were not set upon his cousin. He was not surprised that Ronald should fall in love with Sybil, though he almost wished the choice could have fallen upon some one else, and accordingly he did everything in his power to make life in Newport agreeable for the young Englishman. It was convenient in some respects that the wooing should take place at so central a resort; but had the case been different, Vancouver would not have hesitated to go to Saratoga, Lenox, or Mount Desert, in the prosecution of his immediate purpose, which was to help Ronald to marry any living woman rather than let him return to England a bachelor.

When Ronald should be married, Joe would be in possession of three quarters of her uncle’s money–a very considerable fortune. If she was human, thought Vancouver, she would be eternally grateful to him for ridding her of her cousin, whom she evidently did not wish to marry, and for helping her thereby to so much wealth. He reflected that he had been unfortunate in the time when he had decided to be a candidate for her hand; but whatever turn affairs took, no harm was done to his own prospects by removing Ronald from the list of possible rivals. He was delighted at the preference Surbiton showed for Sybil Brandon, and in case Ronald hesitated, he reserved the knowledge he possessed of her private fortune as a final stimulus to his flagging affections. Hitherto it had not seemed necessary to acquaint his friend with the fact that Sybil had an income of some thirty thousand dollars yearly–indeed, no one seemed to know it, and she was supposed to be in rather straitened circumstances.

As for his own chances with Joe, he had carefully hidden the tracks of his journalistic doings in the way he had at once proposed to himself when Joe attacked him on the subject. A gentleman had been found upon whom he had fastened the authorship of the articles in the public estimation, and the gentleman would live and die with the reputation for writing he had thus unexpectedly obtained. He had ascertained beyond a doubt that Joe knew nothing of his interview with Ballymolloy, and he felt himself in a strong position.

Pocock Vancouver had for years taken an infinite amount of pains in planning and furthering his matrimonial schemes. He was fond of money; but in a slightly less degree he was fond of all that is beautiful and intelligent in woman; so that his efforts to obtain for himself what he considered a perfect combination of wit, good looks, and money, although ineffectual, had occupied a great deal of his spare time very agreeably.

CHAPTER XX.

Sherwood was a very old place. It had been built a hundred years at least before the Revolution in the days when the States had English governors, and when its founder had been governor of Rhode Island. His last descendant in the direct line was Sybil Brandon’s great-uncle.

The old country-seat was remarkable chiefly for the extent of the gardens attached to the house, and for the singularly advanced state of dilapidation in which everything was allowed to remain. Beyond the gardens the woods stretched down to the sea, unpruned and thick with a heavy undergrowth; from the road the gardens were hidden by thick hedges, and by the forbidding gray front of the building. It was not an attractive place to look at, and once within the precincts there was a heavy sense of loneliness and utter desolation, that seemed to fit it for the very home of melancholy.

The damp sea air had drawn green streaks of mould downwards from each several jointing of the stones; the long-closed shutters of some of the windows were more than half hidden by creepers, bushy and straggling by turns, and the eaves were all green with moss and mould. From the deep- arched porch at the back a weed-grown gravel walk led away through untrimmed hedges of box and myrtle to an ancient summer-house on the edge of a steep slope of grass. To right and left of this path, the rose-trees and box that had once marked the gayest of flower gardens now grew in such exuberance of wild profusion that it would have needed strong arms and a sharp axe to cut a way through. Far away on a wooded knoll above the sea was the old graveyard, where generations of Sherwoods lay dead in their quiet rest, side by side.

But for a space in every year the desolation was touched with the breath of life, and the sweet June air blew away the mould and the smell of death, and the wild flowers and roses sprang up joyfully in the wilderness to greet the song-birds and the butterflies of summer. And in this copious year a double spring had come to Sherwood, for Sybil Brandon had arrived one day, and her soft eyes and golden hair had banished all sadness and shadow from the old place. Even the thin old man, who lived there among the ghosts and shadows of the dead and dying past, smoothed the wrinkles from his forehead, forgetting to long selfishly for his own death, when Sybil came; and with touching thoughtfulness he strove to amuse her, and to be younger for her sake. He found old garments of a gayer time, full thirty years hidden away in the great wardrobes up-stairs, and he put them on and wore them, though they hung loosely about his shaken and withered frame, lest he should be too sad a thing for such young eyes to look upon.

Then Ronald came one day, and the old man took kindly to him, and bade him come often. In the innocence of his old age it seemed good that what youth and life there was in the world should come together; and Ronald treated him with a deference and respect to which he had long been unused. Moreover, Ronald accepted the invitation given him and came as often as he pleased, which, before long, meant every day. When he came in the morning he generally stayed until the evening, and when he came in the afternoon he always stayed as long as Sybil would let him, and rode home late through the misty June moonlight pondering on the happiness the world had suddenly brought forth for him who had supposed, but a few months ago, that all happiness was at an end.

Six months had gone by since Ronald had first seen Sybil, and he had changed in that time from boy to man. Looking back through the past years he knew that he was glad Joe had not married him, for the new purpose of his new life was to love and marry Sybil Brandon. There was no doubt in his mind as to what he would do; the strong nature in him was at last roused, and he was capable of anything in reason or without it to get what he wanted.

Some one has said that an Englishman’s idea of happiness is to find something he can kill and to hunt it. That is a metaphor as well as a fact. It may take an Englishman half a lifetime to find out what he wants, but when he is once decided he is very likely to get it, or to die in the attempt. The American is fond of trying everything until he reaches the age at which Americans normally become dyspeptic, and during his comparatively brief career he succeeds in experiencing a surprising variety of sensations. Both Americans and English are tenacious in their different ways, and it is certain that between them they have gotten more things that they have wanted than any other existing nation.

What most surprised Ronald was that, having made up his mind to marry Sybil, he should not have had the opportunity, or perhaps the courage, to tell her so. He remembered how easily he had always been able to speak to Joe about matrimony, and he wondered why it should be so hard to approach the subject with one whom he loved infinitely more dearly than he had ever loved his cousin. But love brings tact and the knowledge of fitness, besides having the effect of partially hiding the past and exaggerating the future into an eternity of rose-colored happiness; wherefore Ronald supposed that everything would come right in time, and that the time for everything to come right could not possibly be very far off.

On the day after he had seen Joe in Boston he rode over to Sherwood in the morning, as usual, upon one of Vancouver’s horses. He was lighter at heart than ever, for he had somewhat dreaded the revelation of his intentions to Joe; but she had so led him on and helped him that it had all seemed very easy. He was not long in reaching his destination, and having put his horse in the hands of the single man who did duty as gardener, groom, and dairyman for old Mr. Sherwood, he entered the garden, where he hoped to meet Sybil alone. He was not disappointed, for as he walked down the path through the wilderness of shrubbery he caught sight of her near the summer-house, stooping down in the act of plucking certain flowers that grew there.

She, too, was dressed all in white, as he had seen his cousin on the previous day; but the difference struck him forcibly as he came up and took her outstretched hand. They had changed places and character, one could almost have thought. Joe had looked so tired and weary, so “wilted,” as they say in Boston, that it had shocked Ronald to see her. Sybil, who had formerly been so pale and cold, now was the very incarnation of life; delicate and exquisitely fine in every movement and expression, but most thoroughly alive. The fresh soft color seemed to float beneath the transparent skin, and her deep eyes were full of light and laughter and sunshine. Ronald’s heart leaped in his breast for love and pride as she greeted him, and his brow turned hot and his hands cold in the confusion of his happiness.

“You have been away again?” she asked presently, looking down at the wild white lilies which she had been gathering.

“Yes, I was in Boston yesterday,” answered Ronald, who had immediately begun to help in plucking the flowers. “I went to see Joe. She looks dreadfully knocked up with the heat, poor child.”

And so they talked about Joe and Boston for a little while, and Sybil sat upon the steps of the summer-house on the side where there was shade from the hot morning sun, while Ronald brought her handfuls of the white lilies. At last there were enough, and he came and stood before her. She was so radiantly lovely as she sat in the warm shade with the still slanting sunlight just falling over her white dress, he thought her so super-humanly beautiful that he stood watching her without thinking of speaking or caring that she should speak to him. She looked up and smiled, a quick bright smile, for she was woman enough to know his thoughts. But she busied herself with the lilies and looked down again.

“Let me help you,” said Ronald suddenly, kneeling down before her on the path.

“I don’t think you can–very much,” said Sybil, demurely. “You are not very clever about flowers, you know. Oh, take care! You will crush it– give it back to me!”

Ronald had taken one of the lilies and was smelling it, but it looked to Sybil very much as though he were pressing it to his lips. He would not give it back, but held it away at arm’s length as he knelt. Sybil made as though she were annoyed.

“Of course,” said she, “I cannot take it, if you will not give it to me.” Ronald gently laid the flower in her lap with the others. She pretended to take no notice of what he did, but went on composing her nosegay.

“Miss Brandon”–began Ronald, and stopped.

“Well?” said Sybil, without looking up.

“May I tell you something?” he asked.

“That depends,” said Sybil. “Is it anything very interesting?”

“Yes,” said Ronald. There seemed to be something the matter with his throat all at once, as though he were going to choke. Sybil looked up and saw that he was very pale. She had never seen him otherwise than ruddy before, and she was startled; she dropped the lilies on her knees and looked at him anxiously. Ronald suddenly laid his hands over hers and held them. Still she faced him.

“I am very unworthy of you–I know I am-but I love you very, very much.” He spoke distinctly enough now, and slowly. He was as white as marble, and his fingers were cold, and trembled as they held hers.

For an instant after he had spoken, Sybil did not move. Then she quietly drew back her hands and hid her face in a sudden, convulsive movement. She, too, trembled, and her heart beat as though it would break; but she said nothing. Ronald sprang from the ground and kneeled again upon the step beside her; very gently his arm stole about her and drew her to him. She took one hand from her face and tried to disentangle his hold, but he held her strongly, and whispered in her ear,–

“Sybil, I love you–do you love me?”

Sybil made a struggle to rise, but it was not a very brave struggle, and in another moment she had fallen into his arms and was sobbing out her whole love passionately.

“Oh, Ronald, you mu–must not!” But Ronald did.

Half an hour later they were still sitting side by side on the steps, but the storm of uncertainty was passed, and they had plighted their faith for better and for worse, for this world and the next. Ronald had foreseen the event, and had hoped for it as he never had hoped for anything in his life; Sybil had perhaps guessed it; at all events, now that the supreme moment was over, they both felt that it was the natural climax to all that had happened during the spring.

“I think,” said Sybil, quietly, “that we ought to tell my uncle at once. He is the only relation I have in the world.”

“Oh yes, of course,” said Ronald, holding her hand. “That is, you know, I think we might tell him after lunch. Because I suppose it would not be the right thing for me to stay all day after he knows. Would it?”

“Why not?” asked Sybil. “He must know it soon, and you will come to- morrow.”

“To-morrow, and the next day, and the day after that, and always,” said Ronald, lovingly. “But he will not like it, I suppose.”

“Why not?” asked Sybil, again.

“Because I am poor,” said Ronald, quietly. “You know I am not rich at all, Sybil dearest. We shall have to be very economical, and live on the place in Scotland. But it is a very pretty place,” he added, reassuringly.

Sybil flushed a little. He did not know, then, that she had a fortune of her own. It was a new pleasure. She did not say anything for a moment.

“Do you mind very much, dearest?” asked Ronald, doubtfully. “Do you think it would bore you dreadfully to live in the country?”

Sybil hesitated before she answered. She hardly knew whether to tell him or not, but at last she decided it would be better.

“No, Ronald,” said she, smiling a little; “I like the country. But, you know, we can live anywhere we please. I am rich, Ronald–you did not know it?”

Ronald started slightly. It was indeed an unexpected revelation.

“Really?” he cried. “Oh, I am so glad for you. You will not miss anything, then. I was so afraid.”

That evening Ronald telegraphed to Joe the news of his engagement, and the next day he wrote her a long letter, which was more remarkable for the redundant passion expressed than for the literary merit of the expression. It seemed far easier to write it since he had seen her and talked with her about Sybil, not because he felt in the least ashamed of having fallen in love within six months of the dissolution of his former engagement with Joe, but because it seemed a terribly difficult thing to speak to any one about Sybil. Ronald was very far from being poetical, or in any way given to lofty and medieval reflections of the chivalric sort, but he was a very honest fellow, loving for the first time, and he understood that his love was something more to be guarded and respected than anything that had yet come into his life; wherefore it seemed almost ungentlemanly to speak about it.

When Joe received the intelligence her satisfaction knew no bounds, for although she had guessed that the climax of the affair was not far off, she had not expected it so very soon. Had she searched through the whole of her acquaintance at home and in America she could have found no one whom she considered more fit to be Ronald’s wife, and that alone was enough to make her very happy; but the sensation of freedom from all further responsibility to Ronald, and the consciousness that every possible good result had followed upon her action, added so much to her pleasure in the matter, that for a time she utterly forgot herself and her own troubles. She instantly wrote a long and sympathetic letter to Ronald, and another to Sybil.

Sybil replied at once, begging Joe to come and spend a month at Sherwood, or as much time as she was able to give.

“I expect you had best go,” remarked Miss Schenectady. “It is getting pretty hot here, and you look quite sick.”

“Oh no, I am very well,” said Joe; “but I think I will go for a week or ten days.”

“Well, if you find you are going to have a good time, you can always stay, any way,” replied the old lady. “I think if I were you I would take some books and a Bible and a pair of old boots.”

Miss Schenectady did not smile, but Joe laughed outright.

“A Bible and a pair of old boots!” she cried.

“Yes, I would,” said her aunt. “Old Tom Sherwood cannot have seen a Bible for fifty years, I expect, and it might sort of freshen him up.” The old lady’s eye twinkled slightly and the corners of her mouth twitched a little. “As for the old boots, if you conclude to go, you will want them, for you will be right out in the country there.”

Joe laughed again, but she took her aunt’s advice; and on the following day she reached Newport, and was met by Sybil and Ronald, who conveyed her to Sherwood in a thing which Joe learned was called a “carryall.”

Late in the afternoon, when Ronald was gone, the two girls sat in an angle of the old walls, looking over the sea to eastward. The glow of the