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presence of a thought so deadly to all the ideas which
its innocence had heretofore conceived.

I knew not whom to suspect of the malignity
of this mean and miserable outrage, nor did I
much care to know. The handwriting, though
evidently disguised, was that of a woman, and,
therefore, had I discovered the author, my
manhood would have forbidden me the idle solace of
revenge. Mrs. Poyntz, however resolute and
pitiless her hostility when once aroused, was not
without a certain largeness of nature irreconcilable
with the most dastardly of all the weapons
that hatred or envy can supply to the vile. She
had too lofty a self-esteem and too decorous a
regard for the moral sentiment of the world that
she typified, to do, or connive at, an act which
degrades the gentlewoman. Putting her aside,
what other female enemy had Lilian provoked?
No matter! What other woman at L——was
worth the condescension of a conjecture!

After listening to all that the ablest of my
professional brethren in the metropolis could
suggest to guide me, and trying in vain their
remedies, I brought back my charge to L——.
Retaining my former residence for the visits of
patients, I engaged, for the privacy of my home,
a house two miles from the town, secluded in
its own grounds, and guarded by high walls.

Lilian's mother removed to my mournful
dwelling-place. Abbots' House, in the centre of
that tattling coterie, had become distasteful to
her, and to me it was associated with thoughts
of anguish and of terror. I could not, without a
shudder, have entered its groundscould not,
without a stab at the heart, have seen again the
old fairy land round the Monk's Well, nor the
dark cedar-tree under which Lilian's hand had
been placed in mine: And a superstitious
remembrance, banished while Lilian's angel face had
brightened the fatal precincts, now revived in
full force. The dying man's cursehad it not
been fulfilled!

A new occupant for the old house was found
within a week after Mrs. Ashleigh had written
from London to a house-agent at L——,
intimating her desire to dispose of the lease. Shortly
before we had gone to Windermere, Miss
Brabazon had become enriched by a liberal
life-annuity bequeathed to her by her uncle, Sir Phelim.
Her means thus enabled her to move, from the
comparatively humble lodging she had hitherto
occupied, to Abbot's House; but just as she had
there commenced a series of ostentatious
entertainments, implying an ambitious desire to
dispute with Mrs. Poyntz the sovereignty of the
Hill, she was attacked by some severe malady
which appeared complicated with spinal disease,
and after my return to L——I sometimes met
her, on the spacious platform of the Hill, drawn
along slowly in a Bath chair, her livid face peering
forth from piles of Indian shawls and Siberian
furs, and the gaunt figure of Dr. Jones stalking
by her side, taciturn and gloomy as some sincere
mourner who conducts to the grave the patron
on whose life he had conveniently lived himself.
It was in the dismal month of February that I
returned to L——, and I took possession of my
blighted nuptial home on the anniversary of the
very day in which I had passed through the dead
dumb world from the naturalist' s gloomy deathroom.

CHAPTEK LXIV.

Lilian's wondrous gentleness of nature did
not desert her in the suspension of her reason.
She was habitually calmvery silent; when she
spoke it was rarely on earthly thingson things
familiar to her pastthings one could compre-
hend. Her thought seemed to have quitted the
earth, seeking refuge in some imaginary heaven.
She spoke of wanderings with her father as if
he were living still; she did not seem to
understand the meaning we attach to the word Death.
She would sit for hours murmuring to herself;
when one sought to catch the words, they seemed
in converse with invisible spirits. We found it
cruel to disturb her at such times, for if left
unmolested, her face was serene-more serenely
beautiful than I had seen it even in our happiest
hours; but when we called her back to the
wrecks of her real life, her eye became troubled,
restless, anxious, and she would sigh-oh, so
heavily! At times, if we did not seem to observe
her, she would quietly resume her once favourite
accomplishmentsdrawing, music. And in these
her young excellence was still apparent, only the
drawings were strange and fantastic: they had a
resemblance to those with which the painter
Blake, himself a visionary, illustrated the Poems
of the " Night Thoughts" and "The Grave." Faces
of exquisite loveliness, forms of aerial grace,
coming forth from the bells of flowers, or floating
upwards amidst the spray of fountains, their out-
lines melting away in fountain or in flower. So
with her music: her mother could not recognise
the airs she played, for a while so sweetly and
with so ineffable a pathos, that one could scarcely
hear her without weeping; and then would come,
as if involuntarily, an abrupt discord, and, starting,
she would cease and look around, disquieted,
aghast.

And still she did not recognise Mrs. Ashleigh
nor myself as her mother, her husband; but she
had by degrees learned to distinguish us both
from others. To her mother she gave no name,
seemed pleased to see her, but not sensibly to
miss her when away; me she called her brother:
if longer absent than usual, me she missed.
When, after the toils of the day, I came to join
her, even if she spoke not, her sweet face brightened.
When she sang, she beckoned me to come
near to her, and looked at me fixedly, with eyes
ever tender, often tearful; when she drew, she
would pause and glance over her shoulder to see
that I was watching her, and point to the drawings
with a smile of strange significance, as if
they conveyed, in some covert allegory, messages
meant for me; so, at least, I interpreted her
smile, and taught myself to say, " Yes, Lilian, I
understand!"

And more than once, when I had so answered,

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