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      The duke continued chatting about the estate, and town gossip, always with the same placid serenity and simple, childish satisfaction. In the midst of their talk the door opened, and a young woman came in.Esmeralda, she said.

      Oh, yes; I would begin at once.

      Which? The lady, do you mean? he asked.No; this was no deliriumthere was a terrible reality in her words. The eyes looking up at him were not bright with[Pg 294] fever, but with the steady resolute soul withinthe soul panting for freedom from sin.

      I am very glad you are pleased, said Lilias. We want you to be very happy while you are here, and I hope you will be, Miss Chetwynde.

      The end came that night, with an appalling suddenness. Isola had refused to be carried back to her bedroom at the usual time. She seemed to have a horror of going back to that room, as if the shadows lurking there were full of fear. Even Father Rodwell's presence, which generally had a soothing effect upon her nerves and spirits, failed to comfort her to-night. She refused to lie in her usual position, and insisted upon sitting up, supported by pillows, facing the doorway at which her fancy had evoked Lostwithiel's image. She would not allow the door to be shut, and there was the same strained look in her too brilliant eyes all the evening.


      "Who can tell? She may want to get herself talked about. As Miss Leland, of the Angler's Nest, a sort of useful companion to her brother's wife, she is a nobody. If she can get a reputation for piety and philanthropy, that will be better than nothing. Or she may be only angling for a husband."Yes, said Norman; but we all hope that will be a long while; for the duke is the dearest old chap, and Trafford is as fond of him as he can be.


      Esmeralda frowned again.


      "Then I need not ask if you are heartily sick of the place?"And then he laid down severe rules as to diet, until it seemed to Isola that he wished her to be eating and drinking all daynew-laid eggs, cream, old port, beef-teaall the things which she had loathed in the dreary days of her long illness.