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      "Where charity beginsat home," answered Dick, graciously; "that is, if you will continue to make yourself so, as you have been doing for the last three days."

      I should think sorather! Why, theres nobody in the world like Trafford!"Yes."

      Business, he said. Business must be attended to, my dear Esmeralda. You see, if I stayed here long I should win all the boys money, and so I have to shift the scene occasionally.The Baynhams' dinner-party was a function to be anticipated with horror, and undergone with resignation. For the first week after the acceptance of the invitation the ceremony had seemed so far off that it could be talked about[Pg 170] lightly, and even made an occasion for mirthAllegra giving her own little sketch of what a dinner at Myrtle Lodge would be likethe drawing-room with its wealth of chair-backs and photograph albums, and the water-colour landscapes which Mrs. Baynham had painted while she was at a finishing school at Plymouth, never having touched brush or pencil sinceand Mrs. Baynham's rosy-cheeked nieces from Truro, who always appeared on the scene of any festivity. Yes, one could tell beforehand what the entertainment would be like.

      "I like it ever so much better than your Cockneyfied cemetery," she exclaimed. "Think how grand it must be to lie for ever within the sound of the seathe terrible, inscrutable sea, whose anger means deaththe calm, summer sea, whose waves come dancing up the sands like laughing water. I wonder whether the Rashleighs would let me have a little grave of my own somewhere among these crags and hillocksa modest little grave, hidden under wild foliage, which nobody would ever notice? Only I should hear the sea just as well as they do in their marble tomb."

      All gentle, delicate souls, all sympathetic hearts, go with her; curiosity, coldness, rudeness, must needs follow after. In that sick-room, Love only may remain,Love which, by its long patience of sorrow, its steady conscientiousness, its freedom from all self-seeking, has won at last its blessed right to be,and to be happy!

      As he stood upright, his ear caught the faint jar of a closing door, followed by the sound of slow footsteps, and a cracked voice humming a song. Apparently, the spot which he had chosen, lonely as it seemed, was not far from some human dwelling. He and his companion exchanged startled glances, plunged into the underbrush, and fled silently and swiftly.Moreover, the little, sleepy town, whose intellectual brilliants were few, and not of the first water, naturally felt that it could not afford to ignore the fine talent which had so suddenly blazed out in its midst, and which might be regarded as, in some sense, of its own creation.



      Awhile ago, she would have answered confidently, "With Art." Now, she knew better. For two years she had been testing Art's capacity to fill and satisfy an empty human heart, and her soul was exceeding bitter with the unexpected result. She had painfully experienced the truth (though she could hardly be said to understand it as yet) that he who embraces Art with a thought of self and not of service, will find it turn to ice or to ashes in his arms. In itself, it has neither balm for affliction, nor skilful surgery for remorse, nor sunshine to throw athwart the black gloom of despair."You have been all that is dear and good," Isola answered softly, "and I shall feel dreadfully lonely without you; but it won't be for long. And I shall be so comforted by the knowledge that nothing can come between you and your life's happiness."


      Colonel Disney laid his wife in the place she had loved, the cemetery under the shadow of the old Roman wall, in a verdant corner near Shelley's grave.