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      In furtherance of this design, he had tapped lightly at the door of Astra's studio, ere the sound of voices from within told him that she was not alone. Carice Bergan was with her, and both were discussing Astra's statue of clay; unto the creation of which she had lately turnedwith such scanty measure of successfor distraction, if not for comfort. With a slight bow and a word of greeting to Doctor Remy, Carice went on with what she was saying, in her own singularly gentle, yet frank and fearless, fashion.

      "And very perfectly you have succeeded," said Bergan, admiringly. "The arch cunning and malice of the face is simply wonderful. Indeed, it seems to me that the statue lacks but one thing."Life flowed on its monotonous course, like the Fowey river gliding down from Lostwithiel to the sea; and there seemed nothing in this world that could again disturb Martin Disney's domestic peace. Vansittart Crowther made no[Pg 198] further attempt to avenge himself for the night attack upon his gates; nor did he demand any apology for the vulgar abuse which he had suffered in the sanctuary of his own library. This he endured, and even further outrage, in the shape of the following letter from Colonel Disney:

      "I promise. Yes, it is a sweet spot, is it not? It was down yonder in the old burial-ground that Shelley looked upon the grave of Keats, and said it was a spot to make one in love with death. But I would not have you think yourself doomed to an early death, Mrs. Disney. Have you never read in the 'Lives of the Saints' how some who were on the point of death have revived at the touch of the holy oil, and have lived and have renewed their strength, and re-entered the world to lead a holier and nobler life than they had led before? Who knows if you were to confess your sin, and patiently suffer whatever penance you were called upon to bear, new vistas might not open for you? There is more than one way of being happy in this world. If you could never again know the sweetness of a domestic lifeas trusted wife and happy motherthere are other and wider lives in[Pg 266] which you would count your children and your sisters by hundreds. There are sisterhoods in which your future might be full of usefulness and full of peace. Or if you had no vocation for that wider life, it might be that touched by your helplessness in the past, and your remorse in the present, your husband might find it in his heart to forgive that bygone sin, and still to cherish, and still to hold you dear."

      At that moment, a dark, slender woman's figure hurried past him, toward the ruined foot-bridge, which was near at hand. "One of my brother's servants, who has stolen over to dance with mine," he said to himself, turning idly to watch her progress."I wish that no such effort were necessary,"began a different voice; but with the instinct of delicacy, Bergan set his foot upon the lower step of the piazza in a way to be distinctly heard, and would have done the same had he supposed that the conversation concerned him, which he did not. The voice ceased abruptly, and a gentleman, whom he instantly recognized as his uncle, advanced to meet him. Though he had enough of the Bergan cast of feature to identify him at the first, casual glance, as belonging to the race, it was lost, almost as soon as seen, amid traits widely differing from the ancestral pattern. He was a much more genuine outcome of American soil than the rest of Sir Harry's descendants,in whom a childhood fed upon old-world family traditions, and a youth spent at Oxford or Cambridge, had availed to preserve the English mould from all but the more unavoidable modifications. The race had always been marked by a greater volume of muscle, a ruddier complexion, and a sturdier texture of character, than was exactly native to the soil. But, in Godfrey Bergan, these characteristics were lacking. Though tall and well-formed, he was spare in figure and thin in face. His complexion had the true American sallowness of tint. In matters of bulk, weight, and coloring,all the purely animal characteristics,he fell far below the standard of his half-brother. By way of indemnity, his figure had more litheness and grace; and his features were more clearly cut, and endowed with a keener vivacity of expression,apparently, they were informed by a quicker and finer intellect, as well as a gentler spirit.

      "Good night, Master Bergan," said she, "or rather, good morning. For you, the night is past, and the dawn is near. For you the Bergan star shines bright in the morning sky; for you and the old Hall a new reign of peace and prosperity is begun. Neglect not the warnings of the past; rejoice in the promise of the future. God bless you, now and evermore!"

      "It is your cousin, Bergan Arling, the son of my sister Eleanor," briefly explained her father.

      Bergan saw the impression that he had made, and a cold, sick despair crept over him. "I beg of you, uncle," he exclaimed, vehemently, "as you value your own future peace of mind, put a stop to this unhappy business, ere it be too late."



      "Doesn't that seem inconsistent?" exclaimed Allegra, as they walked homewards. "What is the good of coming to Cornwall if he wants to go to the Hebrides? It must be very much out of his way."Bergan motioned him to stand aside, and helped Doctor Remy to his feet. "Thank Godif you ever do such a thing"said he solemnly, "that you have been saved from the commission of another crime. Go, now; and, for your own sake, as well as for the sake of those connected with you, take care to be seen here no more. I assure you that it is a dangerous place for persons without legitimate business and fair credentials."


      "'Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them.'"