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ask yo' to be a friend to her. She's seventeen,
but she's th' last on us. And I don't
want her to go to th' mill, and yet I dunno
what she's fit for."

"She could not do"—Margaret glanced
unconsciously at the uncleaned corners of
the room—" She could hardly undertake a
servant's place, could she? We have an old
faithful servant, almost a friend, who wants
help, but who is very particular; and it would
not be right to plague her with giving her any
assistance that would really be an annoyance
and an irritation."

"No, I see. I reckon yo're right. Our
Mary is a good wench; but who has she had
to teach her what to do about a house? No
mother, and me at the mill till I were good
for nothing but scolding her for doing badly
what I did not know how to do a bit. But I
wish she could ha' lived wi' yo', for all that."

"But even though she may not be exactly
fitted to come and live with us as a servant
and I don't know about thatI will
always try and be a friend to her for your
sake, Bessy. And now I must go. I will
come again as soon as I can; but if it
should not be to-morrow, or the next day, or
even a week or a fortnight hence, don't think
I've forgotten you. I may be busy."

"I'll know yo' won't forget me again. I'll
not mistrust yo' no more. But, remember,
in a week or a fortnight I may be dead and

"I'll come as soon as I can, Bessy," said
Margaret, squeezing her hand tight. " But
you'll let me know if you are worse."

"Aye, that will I," said Bessy, returning
the pressure.

From that day forwards Mrs. Hale became
more and more of a suffering invalid. It was
now drawing near to the anniversary of
Edith's marriage, and, looking back upon the
year's accumulated heap of troubles, Margaret
wondered how they had been borne.
If she could have anticipated them, how she
would have shrunk away and hid herself
from the coming time! And yet day by day
had, of itself and by itself, been very
endurable, small, keen, bright little spots of
positive enjoyment having come sparkling
into the very middle of sorrows. A year
agoor when she first went to Helstone, and
first became silently conscious of the querulousness
in her mother's temper, she would
have groaned bitterly over the idea of a long
illness to be borne in a strange, desolate,
noisy, busy place, with diminished comforts
on every side of the home life. But with the
increase of serious and just ground of complaint,
a new kind of patience had sprung up
in her mothers mind. She was gentle and
quiet in intense bodily suffering, almost in
proportion as she had been restless and
depressed when there had been no real
cause for grief. Mr. Hale was in exactly
that stage of apprehension which, in men of
his stamp, takes the shape of wilful blindness.
He was more irritated than Margaret
had ever known him at his daughter's
expressed anxiety.

"Indeed, Margaret, you are growing
fanciful! God knows I should be the first
to take the alarm if your mother were really
ill; we always saw when she had her headaches
at Helstone, even without her telling
us. She looks quite pale and white when
she is ill; and now she has a bright
healthy colour in her cheeks, just as she used
to have when I first knew her."

"But, papa," said Margaret, with hesitation,
"do you know, I think that is the flush of pain."

"Nonsense, Margaret. I tell you, you are
too fanciful. You are the person not well, I
think. Send for the doctor to-morrow for
yourself; and then, if it will make your
mind easier, he can see your mother."

"Thank you, dear papa. It will make me
happier indeed." And she went up to him
to kiss him. But he pushed her away
gently enough, but still as if she had suggested
unpleasant ideas, which he should be
glad to get rid of as readily as he could of
her presence. He walked uneasily up and
down the room.

"Poor Maria! " said he, half soliloquising,
"I wish one could do right without sacrificing
others. I shall hate this town, and
myself too, if she—— Pray, Margaret, does
your mother often talk to you of the old
places: of Helstone, I mean?"

"No, papa," said Margaret, sadly.

"Then, you see, she can't be fretting after
them, eh ? It has always been a comfort to
me to think that .your mother was so simple
and open that I knew every little grievance
she had. She never would conceal anything
seriously affecting her health from me:
would she, eh, Margaret ? I am quite sure
she would not. So don't let me hear of these
foolish morbid ideas. Come, give me a kiss,
and run off to bed."

But she heard him pacing about (racooning,
as she and Edith used to call it) long
after her slow and languid undressing was
finishedlong after she began to listen as
she lay in bed.


FORTY-FIVE miles to the Coco-Maricopa
villages. The river Gila bends to the north, but
will meet us again at the villages, not sooner.
Forty-five miles without water and without
grass. The trains of waggons, and the weary
band of riders must be hurried by the mules
as quickly as may be over the desert stage;
the forty-five miles must be got through
without stoppage during the cool hours of the
evening and the night.

That was once in the summer of last year
our predicament, namely the predicament of
Mr. Bartlett, the United States commissioner
attached to the United States and Mexican
Boundary Commission, of the surveyors,