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where I and my friends are to land, Mr. Clinton, I seize the opportunity to say a word or two to you on paper. To think you are not happy, affects me deeply-very deeply. I will not pretend to misupderstand one source of your unhappiness. I always despise and abjure prudery from my heart, therefore with frankness I say that I see you still regard me. Your dejected look will not fail to haunt me when I am at a distance from you. It is a pity we have met again. Our peculiar trials in former years were sufficiently heavy for both you and me.
“ To come to the point with you, Mr. Clinton, I am still your true and anxious friend, and such I will remain. More than this I cannot say for two or three years to come at least.
“ I would not let you remain one instant in suspense regarrling me, if I could help it. I believe you capable of a manly honourable affection, and I fully trust that it is such an one which you entertain for me. Time, I hope, has given you more solidity of character than you once had, and misfortunes have, no doubt, had a purifying influence on you. Your former errors have proved salutary pieces of instruction and experience, and you have learned from them how to live more wisely. I give you now two years longer, if at the end of that period your heart is still unchanged, and you have lived the while as beseems a man, you may write to me, and if I am then in existence you shall hear from me in return,
“ I have only a few hurried minutes for this important epistle, therefore you will know how to overlook its abruptness. I will give my hand to no man now living, I pledge you my word, until the two years have expired
and I have heard from, or of you. With this promise you must content yourself as well as you can.
Pray beware of troubling yourself during the period of your probation. by any notions of my entertaining some suitor more apparently my equal in rank. Believe me, to be truly loved, I estimate of more worth than a crown, and I am not the woman to give a shadow of encouragement to any man whom I do not really value. Now I have made this foolish remark, your vanity will be ready enough to convince you that I have some value for you. Well, in two years I may prove to you that I have. In the meantime I enjoin on you the strictest silence, of course excepting your sister, and perhaps
“I shall return sooner to England than I had intended, in order to avoid the hazard of another painful meeting and parting between us.
Remember for your comfort that I live retired henceforward.
“ Be wise, be true, and ponder the motto which is upon the ring enclosed. That ring I beg you to accept of me as a sign of my enduring friendship, even should a stern Providence decree that no nearer bond unite us. Farewell! once more, farewell! In two years, or a little more, if all is as I hope, I shall say with Moore's Finlander
• I've but one path on earth,
That path which leads to thee.'” There was a slight knock at the door; Clinton, half bewildered, hurried the letter into his pocket, and then admitted Jane.
My dear brother, I was so anxious about you, that I could not keep away,” said she.
“0, Jane!” he exclaimed, agitated in excess of joy; “O, Jane, my dear girl, come in ! I have such news for you!” He drew her in, and refastened the door: “ See here, Jane-Lady Hester's gift! see here—her letter! Read! look! In two years, my darling sister, she will be my wife! Lady Hester herself, in two years -only two! Could you have dreamt of such fortunesuch happiness--for your brother? There, read her own words! Read-read !"
Jane eagerly read the letter which he thrust into her hands; then, surveying the ring, repeated some of the sentences aloud, and finally, in a transport of joyful sympathy, sprang into her brother's warm embrace.
“ This is indeed a wonderful change of prospect for you !" said she, as they sat side by side, the letter and ring lying before them on the table.
“ Astonishing!” responded Clinton, his eyes sparkling, then, overlooking the two years that were to intervene, and the probability that before that term had expired, one of them might be in that far distant land “ where there is neither marrying nor giving in marriage,” or that Lady Hester, in spite of her promise, might a second time be induced to sacrifice her inclinations to the shrine of family pride, or that she might be. come acquainted with some of his errors in America, and refuse to fulfil her voluntary engagement with him; overlooking these probabilities and all others which were of an adverse nature, he talked animatedly to his sister of what he would do for her and for his father when he should be Lady Hester's husband; of the accomplished society to which he was sure Lady Hester would delight to introduce her, of the almost certain
chance of her becoming the elected of some Admirable Crichton, some Apollo of literature and fashion; of books and periodicals; the music and the literary talk that should brighten the retirement which it would perhaps be necessary their father should maintain ; and of many similar extravagancies, that in the whole formed as dazzling a castle in the air as ever Aladdin's genii of the lamp could have constructed.
Jane could not avoid feeling a little dizzy in the midst of this whirl of glittering ideas, but on the sudden she checked him by saying, rather pensively and with a downcast air, “ I shall never marry-never. I shall never go into society however fascinating it may be, whatever opportunities I may have. I shall live with my father, and not stir from his side;" then followed a little sigh, and a very faint blush, and a shade of pain altered her usually serene face.
“ Jane, you are thinking of Mr. Lee,” said Clinton, after a brief examination of her speaking features, “ I had quite forgot him. Nay now, my sister, you need not sigh again, as much as to say but I had not. I can believe you.
I remember your theory about immutable love, eh, Jane ? and you are not like some philosophers who teach one system and practise another, are you? Ah! another rosy blush,” said he, laughingly tapping her cheek; “ another sigh too under your breath; then I must be serious. I might be able to persuade Lady Hester to reside in America, near the Pastor's lodge, and then, if Mr. Lee would acknowledge me as a brother, and forget the past, what think you, should we not be happy then ?"
“ Mr. Lee will never be your brother,” said Jane ;
she little knew this was a fatal prediction, destined to be fulfilled in an awful inanner, that was mercifully hid even from her remotest conception. “He will never be more to me than an acquaintance,” said she; but in this she was mistaken.“ Why do you smile, Nicholas ? It is very absurd of you to put on that knowing look.”
“ And it is very absurd of you,” said Clinton, “ to say such foolish things with so positive an air. Who knows not that love can set the strongest resolutions at defiance ?"
“ It will not set mine at defiance," returned Jane; “ I am quite sure to live single all my days,” and she repeated the word sure.
“ As sure as I am,” retorted Clinton, provokingly.
“ And if not,” continued Jane, “ I am sure after what has passed, that the last person I should be likely to marry would be Mr. Lee.”
“I hope so—and the first—for I should be sorry to see my sister enter twice into the holy estate of matrimony," said Clinton, still with a teasing smile.
“ Well, well, I see you are determined to be tormenting, Nicholas, so I will say no more to you on this subject, lest I should lose my temper—"
“ For the first time,” interrupted Clinton. “ I feel so wondrously happy, that I am very much disposed to flatter you. You possess the quintessence of a tem, erdon't you remember Mr. Lee used to tell you so ?”
“ Oh, go on,” said Jane, “ I shall not say another word."
Clinton wrapped up Lady Hester's letter, putting the ring inside, his heart still bounded ecstatically.
“ Come, be reconciled,” said he, playfully, bending