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I was about, that her voice sank low when she
spoke to me, and her ribbons brushed my cheek
in the wind before she could draw them back.

The evenings which followed the sketching
excursions of the afternoon, varied, rather than
checked, these innocent, these inevitable
familiarities. My natural fondness for the music
which she played with such tender feeling, such
delicate womanly taste, and her natural enjoyment
of giving me back, by the practice of her
art, the pleasure which I had offered to her by
the practice of mine, only wove another tie
which drew us closer and closer to one another.
The accidents of conversation; the simple
habits which regulated even such a little thing
as the position of our places at table; the play
of Miss Halcombe's ever-ready raillery, always
directed against my anxiety, as teacher, while it
sparkled over her enthusiasm as pupil; the
harmless expression of poor Mrs. Vesey's
drowsy approval which connected Miss Fairlie
and me as two model young people who
never disturbed herevery one of these trifles,
and many more, combined to fold us together
in the same domestic atmosphere, and to lead
us both insensibly to the same hopeless end.

I should have remembered my position, and
have put myself secretly on my guard. I did
so; but not till it was too late. All the discretion,
all the experience, which had availed me
with other women, and secured me against other
temptations, failed me with her. It had been
my profession, for years past, to be in this close
contact with young girls of all ages, and of all
orders of beauty. I had accepted the position
as part of my calling in life; I had trained
myself to leave all the sympathies natural to my
age in my employer's outer hall, as coolly as I
left my umbrella there before I went upstairs.
I had long since learnt to understand,
composedly and as a matter of course, that my
situation in life was considered a guarantee
against any of my female pupils feeling more
than the most ordinary interest in me, and that
I was admitted among beautiful and captivating
women, much as a harmless domestic animal is
admitted among them. This guardian experience
I had gained early; this guardian experience
had sternly and strictly guided me straight
along my own poor narrow path, without once
letting me stray aside, to the right hand or to
the left. And now, I and my trusty talisman
were parted for the first time. Yes, my hardly-
earned self-control was as completely lost to me
as if I had never possessed it; lost to me, as it
is lost every day to other men, in other critical
situations, where women are concerned. I know,
now, that I should have questioned myself from
the first. I should have asked why any room
in the house was better than home to me when she
entered it, and barren as a desert when she
went out againwhy I always noticed and remembered
the little changes in her dress that I had
noticed and remembered in no other woman's
beforewhy I saw her, heard her, and touched
her (when we shook hands at night and morning)
as I had never seen, heard, and touched
any other woman in my life? I should have
looked into my own heart, and found this new
growth springing up there, and plucked it out
while it was young. Why was this easiest,
simplest work of self-culture always too much
for me? The explanation has been written
already in the three words that were many
enough, and plain enough, for my confession.
I loved her.

The days passed, the weeks passed; it was
approaching the third month of my stay
in Cumberland. The delicious monotony
of life in our calm seclusion, flowed on
with me like a smooth stream with a swimmer
who glides down the current. All memory of
the past, all thought of the future, all
sense of the falseness and hopelessness
of my own position, lay hushed within me
into deceitful rest. Lulled by the Syren-song
that my own heart sung to me, with eyes shut to
all sight, and ears closed to all sound of danger,
I drifted nearer and nearer to the fatal rocks.
The warning that aroused me at last, and
startled me into sudden, self-accusing
consciousness of my own weakness, was the
plainest, the truest, the kindest of all warnings,
for it came silently from her.

We had parted one night, as usual. No
word had fallen from my lips, at that time or
at any time before it, that could betray me,
or startle her into sudden knowledge of the
truth. But, when we met again in the morning,
a change had come over hera change
that told me all.

I shrank thenI shrink stillfrom invading
the innermost sanctuary of her heart, and laying
it open to others, as I have laid open my
own. Let it be enough to say that the time
when she first surprised my secret, was, I firmly
believe, the time when she first surprised her
own, and the time, also, when she changed
towards me in the interval of one night. Her
nature, too truthful to deceive others, was too
noble to deceive itself. When the doubt that I
had hushed asleep, first laid its weary weight on
her heart, the true face owned all, and said, in
its own frank simple languageI am sorry for
him; I am sorry for myself.

It said this, and more, which I could not then
interpret. I understood but too well the change
in her manner, to greater kindness and quicker
readiness in interpreting all my wishes, before
othersto constraint and sadness, and nervous
anxiety to absorb herself in the first occupation
she could seize on, whenever we happened to be
left together alone. I understood why the
sweet sensitive lips smiled so rarely and so
restrainedly now; and why the clear blue eyes
looked at me, sometimes with the pity of an
angel, sometimes with the innocent perplexity
of a child. But the change meant more than
this. There was a coldness in her hand, there
was an unnatural immobility in her face, there
was in all her movements the mute expression
of constant fear and clinging self-reproach. The
sensations that I could trace to herself and to
me, the unacknowledged sensations that we