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      She held out her hand with a curiously timid gesture to her husband, who clasped it tenderly, bending his lips to kiss the pale thin fingers. Oh, Death, pity and pardon are so interwoven with thine image that neither pride nor anger has any force against thy softening influence. She had been false. She had wronged him and dishonoured herself, cruelly, cruelly, most cruelly; but she had suffered and repented,[Pg 322] and she was passing away from him. Let the broken spirit pass in peace!

      Major Bergan set down the glass that was on its way to his lips, and looked wonderingly at his guest."You can ask Gwendolen as many questions as you like," answered Isola, with an offended air, "and you will see if she denies that I was with her in the December you were away."

      Meanwhile, he addressed himself, with renewed ardor and determination, to the study of brain diseases. His attention had already been engaged by the recently promulged theory of Gall, that each faculty of the mind had its distinct location in the brain; and he was quick to see the fine field thereby opened to pathological investigation. It was in this direction that he hoped, some day, to make his name famous; and it was chiefly as a means to this end that Bergan Hall was valuable in his eyes. He wanted wealth in order to be able to devote himself exclusively to the study of this branch of medical science, and to pursue it, unhampered by considerations of expense, throughout the books and manuscripts, the practitioners and patients, the hospitals and asylums, the morgues and the dissecting-rooms, of the whole world. Till he could do that, he must content himself with the one patient whom circumstance had thrown into his hands.

      "What is your particular line, Allegra?" asked her brother. "Is it landscape?"

      Oh, if they could see her now, those old friends of her unclouded childhood, the mother and father who had loved and trusted her, who had never spoken of evil things in her hearing, had never thought that sin could come near her! And she had fallen like the lowest of womankind. She had forfeited her place among the virtuous and happy for ever. She, Martin Disney's wife! That good man, that brave soldier who had fought for Queen and countryit was his wife who stood there in her shame, haggard and dishevelled!

      It was Doctor Remy's fate, therefore, to stand by many deathbeds,where he comported himself much more like a baffled and beaten general than a sympathetic, sorrow-stricken friend. It was also his frequent privilege to see the life-forces rally and stand fast, under his generalship, to begin anew the fight that seemed wellnigh over, to win back, inch by inch, the ground that had been lost, and finally to stand a conqueror on the field. Even then, those most indebted to his skill were often chilled to see how little the cold triumph of his face had to do with their deep heart gladness. Nevertheless, this was the position wherein the doctor appeared at his best,as now at Rue's bedside.

      "Nothing," answered his wife. "It's just a delicate constitution, that's all. She's like one of those grape hyacinths[Pg 206] that never will stand upright in a vase. The stem isn't strong enough."


      They cant, said Lord Norman. Theyve borrowed money on them, and if they hadnt they couldnt sell them. It would be a kind of sacrilege.


      She had spoken impetuously, fancying that there was some slight towards her absent husband in Miss Crowther's speech. Her flash of anger made a break in the conversation, and nothing more was said about her going or not going to the Hunt Ball. They talked of that entertainment in the abstractdiscussed the floorthe lightingthe bandand the great people who might be induced to appear, if the proper pressure were put upon them.


      "And you would not for the world do him any wrong?" pursued the priest, more and more earnest as he went on, pale with emotion, his whole power of observation concentrated upon the whitening face and lowered eyelids of the woman sitting at his feet.A fair and gracious wife and mother was Carice! She never lost the flower-like grace and purity of her girlhood, nor her rare power of seeing straight to the central truth of things. "It is said that I have lost a year of my life," he once remarked; "it is the year that I count most truly saved."