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The expression of South's genial
good-natured face changed at once.

"Oh, the blackguard!" he exclaimed; and
in the same moment added, "I'm sure I beg
your pardon, Miss Cecil; I should not have
said that, though it was the truth that sprang
out of me. I never could abide him. The
master thought I was jealous of him, which the
Heavens knows I was notneither jealous of
him nor what he gothush money for many a
turn of the poor master's, who was always wild,
as no one knows better than yourself, Miss
Middleton; only in course a sister's the last to
know the turns of her brother's wildness,
barring a wife—"

"Do you know where Dacre is?"

"No, miss, I can't say I do, though I have a
guess. I believe the master gave him a power
of money to go to America after they came
home last time, and master in such a terrible
temper from well, he called it Germany and
Dacre went; but the ship foundered at sea, and
all perished.

"Of course my brother, Major Middleton,
knew that?"

"Yes, miss; I told him when I saw it in the

"What did he say?"

'"Ring the bells, South'never a word

Sick and broken hearted, Cecil entered her
own room. On the table was a bouquet of her
favourite flowers that Chester had placed in the
hand he so warmly kissed that morning.

She drew his miniature from her bosom, and,
falling on her knees, pressed it between her
clasped hands, murmuring:

"Helpoh help me, my Heavenly Father!
Look with pity and mercy on me, while you
strengthen me to perform my duty! Father,
make me strong for justice!" And then, opening
her hands and gazing through the mist of
tears on the beloved face which for years had
been her heart-companion, her comforter, her
joy, she kissed it tenderly, murmuring: "My
love! my love! my love!"

"Oh, my love! my love!"

She could not think of or count the time;
but at last she heard the bell of her little clock
chime six. In another hour she must meet
Ronald Chester and her lawyer. The evening
was closing in, and she was seated in the
drawing-room, when they entered.

Ronald's footsteps, so light and buoyant,
struck on her heart. She arose to meet him,
but she could not advance, and was glad of an
excuse to withdraw her hand from his affectionate
clasp and give it to Mr. Cathcart. The
strong sympathy which existed between Cecil
and her betrothed made him feel, rather than
see, that she had sustained a severe shock. The
pressure of a beloved hand is more eloquent than

"What is it, Cecil? You are not well?" he
whispered, tenderly, as he sought to penetrate
the twilight and read her looks.

"By-and-by I will tell you," she murmured
"after dinner. I am so glad Mr. Cathcart is

Mr. Cathcart was a thorough man of the
world, and well knew the best way of dispersing
a difficulty. He saw that something was wrong,
but asked no questions, and talked incessantly.
Cecil could not meet Ronald's eyes. He had
left her so full of joyous life in the morning;
they had walked up and down the drawing-room
planning the happy future, upon which no cloud
rested; and now she could hardly frame a

She rose as soon as dinner was ended,
and said, "I will wait for you in the library."

Ronald opened the door, and followed her
into the hall.

"My own Cecil, what is it?" he whispered

"There are some papers you and Mr. Cathcart
must see to immediately."

Lovingly he took her sweet face between his
hands, and saw that her eyes were brimming
over with tears.

"My darling, what is it?"

"A little patience, Ronald. I will be ready
for you in half an hour."

He circled her with his arm and supported
her into the library. The lamp was lighted, and
cast a strong light on the ebony writing-desk,
which looked hideously black and stern. Ronald
would have persuaded her to leave all business
until the next day, she looked so unwell, but
she would not. "Leave me," she said, "for half
an hour, and then both of you come to me!"


MESSRS. CHAPPELL AND Co. beg to announce
that, knowing it to be the determination of MR.
DICKENS finally to retire from Public Reading soon
after his return from America, they (as having been
honoured with his confidence on previous occasions)
made proposals to him while he was still in the
United States achieving his recent brilliant successes
there, for a final FAREWELL SERIES OF READINGS in
this country. Their proposals were at once accepted by
MR. DICKENS, in a manner highly gratifying to them.

The Series will commence in the ensuing autumn,
and will comprehend, besides London, some of the
chief towns in England, Ireland, and Scotland.
It is scarcely necessary for MESSRS. CHAPPELL AND
Co. to add that any announcement made in connexion
with these FAREWELL READINGS will be strictly
adhered to, and considered final; and that on no
consideration whatever will MR. DICKENS be induced to
appoint an extra night in any place in which he shall
have been once announced to read for the last time.

All communications to be addressed to MESSRS.
CHAPPELL AND Co., 50, New Bond-street, London, W.

Just published, bound in cloth, price 5s. 6d.,