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feet reading to her out of some poetry-book,
or singing while she worked, or, perhaps,
sang, too. These pleasant early intimacies
had never been discontinued, for, while Dick’s
heart was wasting its first passion on his
cousin, she was all the while thinking of
somebody else. He was a boy to her in point
of age still, and this particular day ended
his blissful delusions.

Having put his pony in the stable, he made
his way at once to Amy’s parlour, opening
the door softly, for he liked to surprise her.
Neither she nor the person with her heard
him enter; they were too much occupied
with themselves and each other to hear
anything. Amy was standing in the window,
and beside her, with his arm round her waist,
was the straight-haired, pale-featured curate
of the parish. It was a clear yellow twilight,
and all about Amy’s head the lustre shone
like a glory; her hands were down-dropt,
and the busy fingers were plucking a rose to
pieces, petal by petal, and scattering them on
the carpet at her feet. She was as blushing
herself as the poor rose, and seemed to listen
willingly to the pleadings of her lover. Dick
noticed the slight quivering of her lips and
the humid glitter of her eyes when the low-
spoken, tremulous words, meant only for one
ear, met his, and he said he felt as if all the
blood in his body were driven violently up to
his brain by their sound.

The bird in its cage began trilling a loud
song as it pecked at a spray of green which
the evening wind blew against the wires
through the open window, and under cover
of its noise poor Dick stole out, leaving the
young lovers alone in the blush of their
acknowledged love. He went back to the
stable, got his pony out, mounted it, and
galloped away like mad to rejoin the
companions he had left an hour before for Amy’s
sake. It was not till after midnight that he
came home, and then he was reeling drunk.
His uncle Tarrant and Amy had sat up for
him, and, being quarrelsome in his cups, he
insulted the first, and would not speak to his
cousin. Poor Dick thought to drown his
sorrow, and this was the beginning of his
downward course.

The individual whom Amy had chosen to
endow with her love had nothing about him
particular to approve except his profession.
All his attributes, moral, mental, and personal,
were negative rather than positive. Poor
Dick described him only as Straight-haired,
as if that epithet embodied all his qualities.
He thought that Amy did not really love
him, but was attracted by some imaginary
sanctity and perfection with which her
imagination invested him. It was very likely:
from what we see every day we may be sure
that many women have loved, not the man
himself they have married, but an ideal which
he personates very indifferently indeed to all
eyes but theirs.

Dick could not, for many days, restrain the
expression of his feelings. Coming one day
suddenly on Amy in the garden where she
was walking in maiden meditation, he stopped
her and made her listen to his story, which
he poured out with much exaggeration of
epithet and manner. Amy was startled and
distressed: she endeavoured in vain to stop
his confession by appealing to his common
sense of what was right.

Dick, you know I am engaged to Henry
Listeryou ought not to have spokenlet
me go!”  said she, for he had grasped her
hands tightly in his.

I ought not to have spoken, and I love
you! O! cousin, you don’t know what love
is if you say so. Amy, it will out! Amy, if
I had come before the straight-haired parson,
would you have listened to me then?”

A vivid blush flew into the girl’s face, but
she would not say a word of encouragement;
on that blush, however, poor Dick, whether
rightly or wrongly, contrived to found a
renewed hope. Amy kept his avowal to herself,
knowing well that its discovery would entail
a total separation from her cousin; and she
had become so accustomed to his usefulness
and gaiety in a house where everybody else
was chilly and methodical, that she could not
readily part with him. I incline to think
myself that she did like Dick better than the
straight-haired curate for many reasons, and
Dick himself was persuaded of it. Her
indecision had, as may be supposed, a very
pernicious effect on his mind and conduct. One
day he was in the seventh heaven of hope
and contentment, and the next he was the
most miserable dog alive: then he would go
and forget his griefs in a convivial bout with
his comrades, till at length his Uncle Tarrant
turned him out of doors. Amy had tried her
influence with him in vain.

You are the cause of it, Amy, and nobody
but you,” said Dick, passionately;  “if you
would give that straight-haired fellow warning,
you should never have to complain of me

But Amy, though she fretted a great deal,
held to her engagement, and Dick went on
from bad to worse.

It must have been very deplorable to
behold the reckless way in which he dissipated
his money as soon as he got it into his hands,
ruining at once his prospects, his character,
and his health. With a temperament that
naturally inclined him to self-indulgence, the
road to ruin was equally rapid and pleasant.
When Amy married Henry Lesterwhich
she did after an engagement of six months
Dick kept no bounds, and he irretrievably
offended his family by intruding himself,
uninvited, amongst the guests at the wedding.
There was a painful scene in Amy’s parlour,
where he went secretly, as he himself
acknowledged, in the wild hope of inducing her to
break off the engagement at the eleventh
hour. She was dressed ready for church, and
her mother was with her. That made no

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