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the dust, and realises that henceforth she must love him, not for that better part that might live for ever, but as a human living clod that, even while she clings to it, may be resolved into nothing, and so escape her.
"But I will give him back to her," she said, scarcely above a whisper; “I will learn to live without him. Only I must get away before he comes back . ... and you wil help me Frank. .. she will forgive me, perhaps, when she knows that I suffer too."
How strong in the thought, how powerless in the action, is this same will that does not take into account human flesh and blood, habit, duty, nothing that we know and hold on by ! Even in that moment of renunciation, human feeling gripped Madcap fast, and asked what life would be without him? Love cried out that it starved, and would be fed; the shadow of sin cleared from that beloved face, and left only him—that indestructible something that she loved. She said to herself that she would be dumb, deaf, blind, imbecile ; but to his side she must creep and cling ... the man's wrongdoings seemed far away, the man most near in that moment of strong impulse towards h m.
“Thy do you not speak for him ?” she said, looking up with some of the old Madcap fire kindling in her eye. * You loved him once
and he loved you too though he was dishonest to you but I made him that .... he would have spoken for you—he would have told me not to believe it ..
Frank turned suddenly, and across his brain there flashed one of those wild ideas that have stamped a man ere now as hero or madman-a moment, and he had adopted it as one of those forlorn hopes that, by splendid courage or audacity, have now and again been pushed to a victory that has reversed every law of likelihood. He drew his breath hard, and said,
“ You have been very happy, Madcap, and, please God, you shall be happy still. My dishonour will not break your heart, , dear; and it was not a very long misery for you after all . ..." for a moment he took her little cold hand in his, then loosed it, and stood apart.
“Poor Frank,” she said, with the ghost of a wan smile, you would make me happy if you could. I think you would even give your life for me; but you cannot give me this, dear
no one, not even he can make me happy now.” “ Can I not?” he said; and moved yet a little farther away.
“But at least, Madcap, I can tell you”—he paused, and went paler than she-"the truth."
No,” she cried, her face flaming up; " that is his affair, not yours."
“No," he said, and in the ring of his voice there was less of entreaty than command; “it is mine."
Madcap looked up; this was a new Frank who stood before her,—no boyish sweetheart, dependent on her will, but a man as strong to love, ay, and to sin, maybe, as Mr. Eyre himself.
Madcap,” he said, and his voice was as one who spoke by rote, “there are other men in the world besides Mr. Eyre . Can't you think that it might be someone you know someone you called your friend. . .
Madcap's arms fell to her sides. She hardly seemed to breathe as she gazed at him; then, like a shipwrecked mariner, who at the eleventh hour sights land, she flung them high above her head, and “ It was Barrington Eyre ?” she said.
For a moment there was a dead silence, broken only by the shrill whisper of the grasshopper-lark in the meadow hard by; then
"It was not Barrington.
Something in his face struck her; she seized his arm, and looked up in his face, feeling herself violently snatched back from the verge of so awful a joy as brain and heart might not well endure.
Oh! Frank, Frank .... it was you ?” He looked down on her without a word. His sweet little Madcap, who had vexed his heart full sore, but who had never worn any but kind looks for him yet,—to whom he had never lied . . . . if ever he had had any poor hope of shining in her eyes by his constancy, by his long faithfulness, this was the end of it.
“It was a boyish infatuation,” he said, pushing resolutely on, since in movement only was there safety, and a moment's pause might bring defeat. “She was years older than I; it
; was a man's folly that you cannot be expected to understand," he went on, almost harshly; "and for God's sake, Madcap, spare me the recital of it.”
“A folly,” said Madcap, into whose heart every word of Hester's cut deep; "you call it that .... Frank, you promised me that I should be happy are you telling me a lie ?"
“Ask the village,” he said, “the whole county even—they will tell you if I have lied or no.”
“But the resemblance," she cried, with no blush of shamein the supreme issues of life the bastard emotion finds no place, “the resemblance to her own child that she saw in mine."
She is almost insane on the point,” he said, “and beholds a fancied image in all she looks on."
“But she spoke of her wedding-day,” said Madcap swiftly.
“When I-broke with her,” said Frank, still in that hard monotonous voice, “I told her that I was going to be married; she must have found out your name, and thought that you had married me-not Mr. Eyre."
Madcap fell on her knees, covering her eyes.
“I can't take it,” she said, “this great happiness it is as if I had stepped over your dead body to get it back again husband .... dear love
forgive, forgive me she whispered in a low cry whose intensity bore the weight of a prayer and a blessing in one. She had forgotten Frank, who stood at a little distance, looking down on that halfhidden face upon whose mouth a smile had
Waxed too holy,
And left the lips praying Suddenly she looked up and saw him standing apart-downcast, pale, but with so much nobility and bravery in his face as ill-befitted the character he just then filled.
She passed her hand across her brow, looked at him, then away, then back again, crying out from her very heart, for her own happiness made her pitiful, “Oh, Frank-Frank-"
He knew all the question contained in that cry, and stood silent beneath it, motionless as a carven image of despair.
She had come close to him; he felt as though he were a wretch' thrust out into hell, and yet able to look up at the starlit skies of Heaven, as he slowly lifted his eyes to her face, on which was a great light of pity, and trembling joy.
“Frank,” she said, and he turned suddenly towards her, wishing that this moment, in which she looked and spoke so kindly, might last for ever, "you were so young then--you did not know—but now you will repair the wrong you did her
she has suffered so much .. and she loved you.” “What do you wish of me, Madcap ?” he said.
“You will make her your wife;" and she took one of his hands between both her own; "and we will love you, he and I, better than ever.”
“You know not what you ask, Madcap,” he said sadly; "it is impossible-women do not understand about such things.”
'No!” said Madcap, looking straight before, her grey eyes shining like stars beneath ruffled rings of hair
Like sunshine broken in the rill“they can only suffer ... God does not let them die and men will not let them understand. Is there any worse thing left in your heart," she cried, turning on him, “than you have shown me to day? A traitor to one woman- a coward to another- -a liar to me if you had had any manliness in you, you would have told me the truth in her presence, and not left me to half-an-hour of such agony, as a lifetime of happiness could never wash away the memory of !”
Half hour” he said, “it is a long time . yet, some agonies last a lifetime.”
“ As hers must,” she said, with a scorn that showed how the stone was rolled away from her heart, and the spirit elastic, and unbruised as ever, within her. “But at least I will go to her; I will tell her that I did not wrong her, as she thought . "perhaps she will forgive me then."
She bade me tell you that she would not see you,” said Frank slowly. “It will be unwise in you to make any such attempt.”
“ Are you my keeper?” she said, her eyes flashing; then trembled, thinking of how near this woman and she had been to each other an hour ago . . . . and, passing Frank by as if he had been her lackey, went proudly away, till pride gave place to sorrow, and that in its turn to joy; so that unconsciously to herself she danced along the last few steps of the coppice like a maiden hurrying to the tryst.
“She did not suffer long," said Frank aloud, when the last white fold of her gown had vanished; "it was quickly over; and I will take care of the rest."
A MAIDEN fair, on a bright Spring day,
There's a handsome young yeoman at Primrose Farm,
There's a little grey church near Primrose Farm,
T. STEWARD ABEL.