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the man of all others who cares least for the
gift. If you were married yourself, Marian
and especially if you were happily marriedyou
would feel for me as no single woman can feel,
however kind and true she may be."

What answer could I make? I could only
take her hand, and look at her with my whole
heart, as well as my eyes would let me.
"How often," she went on, "I have heard
you laughing over what you used to call your
'poverty!' how often you have made me mock-speeches
of congratulation on my wealth! Oh,
Marian, never laugh again. Thank God for your
povertyit has made you your own mistress,
and has saved you from the lot that has fallen on

A sad beginning on the lips of a young wife!
sad, in its quiet, plain-spoken truth. The few
days we had all passed together at Blackwater
Park, had been many enough to show meto
show any onewhat her husband had married
her for.

"You shall not be distressed," she said,
"by hearing how soon my disappointments and
my trials began or, even by knowing what
they were. It is bad enough to have them on
my memory. If I tell you how he received the
first, and last, attempt at remonstrance that I
ever made, you will know how he has always
treated me, as well as if I had described it in so
many words. It was one day at Rome, when
we had ridden out together to the tomb of
Cecilia Metella. The sky was calm and lovely
and the grand old ruin looked beautiful
and the remembrance that a husband's love had
raised it in the old time to a wife's memory,
made me feel more tenderly and more anxiously
towards my husband than I had ever felt yet.
'Would you build such a tomb for me, Percival?'
I asked him. 'You said you loved me dearly,
before we were married; and yet, since that
time——' I could get no farther. Marian! he was
not even looking at me! I pulled down my veil,
thinking it best not to let him see that the tears
were in my eyes. I fancied he had not paid any
attention to me; but he had. He said, 'Come
away,' and laughed to himself, as he helped me
on to my horse. He mounted his own horse;
and laughed again, as we rode away. 'If I do
build you a tomb,' he said, 'it will be done with
your own money. I wonder whether Cecilia
Metella had a fortune, and paid for hers.' I
made no replyhow could I, when I was crying
behind my veil? 'Ah, you light-complexioned
women are all sulky,' he said. ' What
do you want? compliments and soft speeches?
Well! I'm in a good humour this morning.
Consider the compliments paid, and the speeches
said.' Men little know, when they say hard
things to us, how well we remember them, and
how much harm they do us. It would have been
better for me if I had gone on crying; but his
contempt dried up my tears, and hardened my
heart. From that time, Marian, I never checked
myself again in thinking of Walter Hartright.
I let the memory of those happy days, when we
were so fond of each other in secret, come back,
and comfort me. What else had I to look to
for consolation? If we had been together, you
would have helped me to better things. I know
it was wrong, darlingbut tell me if I was
wrong, without any excuse."

I was obliged to turn my face from her.
"Don't ask me!" I said. "Have I suffered as
you have suffered? What right have I to

"I used to think of him," she pursued, dropping
her voice,and moving closer to me—"I
used to think of him, when Percival left me
alone at night, to go among the Opera people.
I used to fancy what I might have been, if it
had pleased God to bless me with poverty, and
if I had been his wife. I used to see myself
in my neat cheap gown, sitting at home and
waiting for him, while he was earning our bread
sitting at home and working for him, and
loving him all the better because I had to work
for himseeing him come in tired, and taking
off his hat and coat for himand, Marian,
pleasing him with little dishes at dinner that I had
learnt to make for his sake.—Oh! I hope he is
never lonely enough and sad enough to think of
me, and see me, as I have thought of him and
seen him!"

As she said those melancholy words, all the
lost tenderness returned to her voice, and all
the lost beauty trembled back into her face.
Her eyes rested as lovingly on the blighted,
solitary, ill-omened view before us, as if they saw
the friendly hills of Cumberland in the dim and
threatening sky.

"Don't speak of Walter any more," I said,
as soon as I could control myself. "Oh, Laura,
spare us both the wretchedness of talking of
him, now!"

She roused herself, and looked at me

"I would rather be silent about him for
ever," she answered, "than cause you a
moment's pain."

"It is in your interests," I pleaded; "it is
for your sake that I speak. If your husband
heard you——"

"It would not surprise him, if he did hear

She made that strange reply with a weary
calmness and coldness. The change in her
manner, when she gave the answer, startled me
almost as much as the answer itself.

"Not surprise him!" I repeated. "Laura!
remember what you are sayingyou frighten

"It is true," she said—"it is what I wanted
to tell you to-day, when we were talking in
your room. My only secret when I opened my
heart to him at Limmeridge, was a harmless
secret, Marianyou said so yourself. The
name was all I kept from himand he has
discovered it."

I heard her; but I could say nothing. Her
last words had killed the little hope that still
lived in me.

"It happened at Rome," she went on, as
wearily calm and cold as ever. "We were at a