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eighteen to twenty-five; after that to dress
as you can afford, much as other people do,
without affecting singularity, or indulging in
slovenliness, is the best rule.  Dr. Johnson
was right when he said, a sloven at twenty
will be a beast at forty.




THE next afternoon Dr. Donaldson came to
pay his first visit to Mrs. Hale.  The mystery
that Margaret hoped their late habits of
intimacy had broken through, was resumed.
She was excluded from the room, while Dixon
was admitted.  Margaret was not a ready
lover, but where she loved she loved passion-
ately, and with no small degree of jealousy.

She went into her mother's bed-room, just
behind the drawing-room, and paced it up and
down, while awaiting the doctor's coming
out.  Every now and then she stopped to
listen; she fancied she heard a moan.  She
clenched her hands tight, and held her
breath.  She was sure she heard a moan.
Then all was still for a few minutes more;
and then there was the moving of chairs, the
raised voices, all the little disturbances of

When she heard the door open, she went
quickly out of the bed-room.

"My father is from home, Dr. Donaldson;
he has to attend a pupil at this hour.  May
I trouble you to come into his room down-

She saw, and triumphed over all the obstacles
which Dixon threw in her way; assuming
her rightful position as daughter of the
house in something of the spirit of the Elder
Brother, which quelled the old servant's
officiousness very effectually.  Margaret's
conscious assumption of this unusual dignity of
demeanour towards Dixon, gave her an
instant's amusement in the midst of her anxiety.
She knew, from the surprised expression on
Dixon's face, how ridiculously grand she
herself must be looking; and the idea carried
her down stairs into the room; it gave her
that length of oblivion from the keen sharpness
of the recollection of the actual business
in hand.  Now, that came back, and seemed
to take away her breath. It was a moment
or two before she could utter a word.

But she spoke with an air of command, as
she asked :—

"What is the matter with mamma?  You
will oblige me by telling the simple truth."
Then, seeing a slight hesitation on the doctor's
part, she added

"I am the only child she hashere, I mean.
My father is not sufficiently alarmed, I fear;
and, therefore, if there is any serious
apprehension, it must be broken to him gently.  I
can do this.  I can nurse my mother.  Pray,
speak, sir; to see your face, and not be able
to read it, gives me a worse dread than
I trust any words of yours will justify."

"My dear young lady, your mother seems
to have a most attentive and efficient servant,
who is more like a friend—"

"I am her daughter, sir."

"But when I tell you she expressly desired
that you might not be told—"

"I am not good or patient enough to submit
to the prohibition.  Besides, I am sure,
you are too wisetoo experienced to have
promised to keep the secret."

"Well," said he, half-smiling, though sadly
enough, "there you are right.  I did not
promise.  In fact, I fear, the secret will soon
enough be known without my revealing it."

He paused.  Margaret went very white,
and compressed her lips a little more.  Otherwise
not a feature moved.  With the quick
insight into character, without which no
medical man can rise to the eminence of Dr.
Donaldson, he saw that she would exact the
full truth; that she would know if one iota
was withheld; and that the withholding
would be torture more acute than the
knowledge of it.  He spoke two short sentences in
a low voice, watching her all the time; for
the pupils of her eyes dilated into a black
horror, and the whiteness of her complexion
became livid.  He ceased speaking.  He
waited for that look to go off,—for her gasping
breath to come.  Then she said :—

"I thank you most truly, sir, for your
confidence.  That dread has haunted me for
many weeks.  It is a true, real agony.  My
poor, poor mother!" her lips began to quiver,
and he let her have the relief of tears, sure
of her power of self-control to check them.

A few tearsthose were all she shed,
before she recollected the many questions she
longed to ask.

"Will there be much suffering?"

He shook his head.  "That we cannot tell.
It depends on constitution; on a thousand
things.  But the late discoveries of medical
science have given us large power of

"My father!" said Margaret, trembling all

"I do not know Mr. Hale.  I mean, it is
difficult to give advice.  But I should say, bear
on, with the knowledge you have forced me
to give you so abruptly, till the fact which I
could not withhold has become in some
degree familiar to you, so that you may,
without too great an effort, be able to give
what comfort you can to your father.  Before
then,—my visits, which, of course, I shall
repeat from time to time, although I fear I
can do nothing but alleviate,—a thousand
little circumstances, will have occurred to
awaken his alarm, to deepen itso that he
will be all the better prepared.—Nay, my
dear young ladynay, my dearI saw Mr.
Thornton, and I honour your father for the
sacrifice he has made, however mistaken I