but pretematnrally distinct; "here, and nowhere else. How
good you are—how noble and how generous! Love you! Why
there are women a hundred times my superiors in beauty and in
goodness who might love you dearly; but you ask too much of
me. You ask too much of me! Bemember what my Hfe has
been; only rememler that. From my very babyhood I have
never seen anything but poverty. My father was a gentleman;
clever, accompUshed, generous, handsome — but poor. My
mother------^but do not let me speak of her. Poverty, poverty,
trials, vexations, humiliations, deprivations ! You cannot tell;
you, who are amongst those for whom Hfe is so smooth and
easy; you can never guess what is endured by such as we. Do
dot ask too much of me, then. I cannot be disinterested; I
jannot be bHnd to the advantages of such an aUiance. I cannot,
Beyond her agitation and her passionate vehemence, there
was an undefined something in her manner which filled the
baironet with a vague alarm. She was still on the ground at
his feet, crouching rather than kneehng, her thin white dress
cUnging about her, her pale hair streaming over her shoulders,
her great blue eyes ghttering in the dusk, and her hands
clutching at the black ribbon about her throat, as if it had been
" Don't ask too much of me," she kept repeating; " I have
been selfish from my babyhood."
" Lucy, Lucy, speak plainly. Do you dislike me P "
" Dislike you I No, no! "
" But is there any one else whom you love P "
She laughed aloud at his question, " I do not lore any one
in the world," she answered.
He was glad of her reply; and yet that and the strange
laugh jarred upon his feeHngs. He was silent for some mo¬
ments, and then said with a kind of effort,—
" Well, Lucy, I wiU not ask too much of you. I daresay I
am a romantic old fool; but if you do not disHke me, and if you
do not love any one else, I see no reason why we should not
make a very happy couple. Is it a bargain, Lucy P "
The baronet lifted her in his arms, and kissed her once upon
the forehead; then, after quietly bidding her good night, he
walked straight out of the house.
He walked straight out of the house, this fooHsh old man,
because there was some strong emotion at work in his heart—
neither joy, nor triumph, but something almost akin to disap¬
pointment; some stifled and iinsatisfied longing which lay
heavy and duU at his heart, as if he had carried a corpse in hia
bosom. He carried the corpse of that hope which had died at