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"BUT, I assure you, I suffer unspeakably
from nervous depression! You don't know
how I sink down like a leaden weight
dropped into water sometimes. It is the
most dreadful feeling! And besides, I
take scarcely anything. A glass or two of
champagne at dinner is the only thing that
keeps me up!"

"It seems to me that the reaction you
complain of feeling ought to be sufficient
to convince you that even the small
quantity of wine you take is doing you harm
instead of good."

"Ah, bah! I don't believe you
understand the case."

Veronica threw herself back on her chair
with the pettish air of a spoiled child.

Mr. Plew sat opposite to her, very grave,
very quiet. He had put aside all her
gracious coquetries, and entered into her
reason for sending for him, in a manner so
entirely unexpected by her, that for some
time she could not credit her senses, but
kept awaiting the moment when he should
go back to being the Mr. Plew of old days.
At last when she found he persisted in his
serious demeanour, she lost her temper,
and showed that she had lost it.

But not even this change of mood
availed to shake Mr. Plew's steadiness.
And gradually a vague fear stole over her.
He looked at her so earnestly with
something so like compassion in his eyes!
Good God, was she really very ill? Did
his practised observation discern latent
malady of which she was herself unconscious?
Was the weariness and depression
of soul from which she did in truth suffer
but the precursor of bodily disease,
perhaps even of——? She shuddered with a
very unaffected terror, and her smiles, and
archings of the brow, and haughty curvings
of the lip, and pretty, false grimaces,
dropped away from her face like a mask.

"Do you think I am ill?" she asked,
with dilated eyes.

"Do not you think so, since you sent for

"Yes, yes; but I mean very illseriously
ill, you know! You look so strange!"

"I do not think you are well, madam."

"Whatisit?" she asked, faintly.
"You must tell me the truth. But there
can't be danger. Don't tell me if you
think so! It would only frighten me.
And of course I know it's all nonsense.
And you will tell me the truth, won't

Her self-possession was all gone. The
unreasoning terror of disease and death,
which she inherited from her mother, had
taken hold upon her.

The egotism which enabled her so
effectually to resist the sorrows and sufferings
of others, beyond a mere transitory movement
of dilettante sentiment, made her
terribly, exquisitely sensitive to her own.

"Don't be alarmed," said Mr. Plew,
gently. "There is no need."

"Why do you look so, then? And speak
so? I have never been ill since I was a
childnot really ill. It would be so dreadful
to be ill now!"

The tears were absolutely in her eyes as
she spoke. In the presence of a stranger
she might have succeeded in commanding
herself more, but with Mr. Plew she did
not even attempt to do so.

It pained him greatly to see her tears.