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"Don't be frightened about me, Anne,"
she says, " I am not worth it, and there is no
need."

"No need!' " says I, out of breath. "No
need, when the bottle has got Poison marked
on it!"

"Poison, dear, if you take it all," says
Mary, looking at me very tenderly; "and a
night's rest if you only take a little."

I watched her for a moment; doubtful
whether I ought to believe what she said, or
to alarm the house. But there was no sleepiness
now in her eyes, and nothing drowsy in
her voice; and she sat up in bed quite easily
without anything to support her.

"You have given me a dreadful fright,
Mary," says I, sitting down by her in the
chair, and beginning, by this time, to feel
rather faint after being startled so.

She jumped out of bed to get me a drop of
water; and kissed me, and said how sorry she
was, and how undeserving of so much interest
being taken in her. At the same time, she
tried to possess herself of the laudanum-
bottle which I still kept cuddled up tight in
my own hands.

"No," says I. "You have got into a low-
spirited despairing way. I won't trust you
with it."

"I am afraid I can't do without it," says
Mary, in her usual quiet, hopeless voice.
"What with work that I can't get through
as I ought, and troubles that I can't help
thinking of, sleep won't come to me unless I
take a few drops out of that bottle. Don't
keep it away from me, Anne; it's the only
thing in the world that makes me forget
myself."

"Forget yourself!" says I. You have
no right to talk in that way, at your age.
There's something horrible in the notion of a
girl of eighteen sleeping with a bottle of
laudanum by her bedside every night. We
all of us have our troubles. Haven't I got
mine?"

" You can do twice the work I can, twice
as well as me," says Mary. " You are never
scolded and rated at for awkwardness with
your needle ; and I always am. You can
pay for your room every week ; and I am
three weeks in debt for mine."

"A little more practice," says I, "and a
little more courage, and you will soon do
better. You have got all your life before
you—"

" I wish I was at the end of it," says she,
breaking in. "I'm alone in the world, and
my life's no good to me."

"You ought to be ashamed of yourself for
saying so," says I. "Haven't you got me for
a friend. Didn't I take a fancy to you when
first you left your stepmother, and came to
lodge in this house? And haven't I been
sisters with you ever since? Suppose you
are alone in the world, am I much better off?
I'm an orphan, like you. I've almost as
many things in pawn as you; and, if your
pockets are empty, mine have only got
ninepence in them, to last me for all the rest of
the week.

"Your father and mother were honest
people," says Mary, obstinately. " My mother
ran away from home, and died in a hospital.
My father was always drunk, and always
beating me. My stepmother is as good as
dead, for all she cares about me. My only
brother is thousands of miles away in foreign
parts, and never writes to me, and never
helps me with a farthing. My sweet-
heart—"

She stopped, and the red flew into her
face. I knew, if she went on that way, she
would only get to the saddest part of her sad
story, and give both herself and me unnecessary
pain.

"My sweetheart is too poor to marry me,
Mary," I said. " So I'm not so much to be
envied, even there. But let's give over
disputing which is worst off. Lie down in bed,
and let me tuck you up. I'll put a stitch or
two into that work of yours while you go to
sleep."

Instead of doing what I told her, she burst
out crying (being very like a child in some of
her ways), and hugged me so tight round
the neck that she quite hurt me. I let her
go on, till she had worn herself out, and was
obliged to lie down. Even then, her last few
words, before she dropped off to sleep, were
such as I was half-sorry, half-frightened, to
hear.

"I won't plague you long, Anne," she said.
" I haven't courage to go out of the world as
you seem to fear I shall. But I began my
life wretchedly, and wretchedly I am
sentenced to end it."

It was of no use lecturing her again, for
she closed her eyes. I tucked her up as
neatly as I could, and put her petticoat over
her ; for the bed-clothes were scanty, and
her hands felt cold. She looked so pretty
and delicate as she fell asleep, that it quite
made my heart ache to see her, after such
talk as we had held together. I just waited
long enough to be quite sure that she was in
the land of dreams; then emptied the
horrible laudanum-bottle into the grate, took up
her half-done work, and, going out softly, left
her for that night.

March 6th. Sent off a long letter to
Robert, begging and entreating him not to
be so down-hearted, and not to leave
America without making another effort. I told
him I could bear any trial except the wretchedness
of seeing him come back a helpless,
broken-down man, trying uselessly to begin
life again, when too old for a change. It was
not till after I had posted my own letter, and
read over parts of Robert's again, that the
suspicion suddenly floated across me, for the
first time, that he might have sailed for
England immediately after writing to me. There
were expressions in the letter which seemed
to indicate that he had some such headlong

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