Two Proposals
The Maid of Maiden Lane
Author:Amelia E. Barr

The ruling idea of any mind as**sumes the foreground of thought; and after Arenta's marriage the dominant desire of George Hyde was to have his betrothal to Cornelia recognized and as**sured. He was in haste to light his own nuptial torch, and afraid every day of that summons to England which would delay the event. Hitherto, both had been satisfied with the delicious certainty of their own hearts. To bring Love to discussion and catechism, to talk of Love in connection with house and money matters, to put him into bonds, however light those bonds might be, was indeed a safe and prudent thing for their future happiness; but, so far, the present with its sweet freedom and uncertainty had been more charming to their imagination. Suddenly, however, Hyde felt the danger and stress of this uncertainty and the fear of losing what he appeared to hold so lightly.

"I may have to go away with mother at any time--I may be detained by events I cannot help--and I have not bound Cornelia to me by any personal recognized tie--and Rem Van Ariens will be ever near her. Oh, indeed, this state of affairs will never do! I will write to Cornelia this very moment and tell her I must see her father this evening. I cannot possibly delay it longer. I have been a fool--a careless, happy fool--too long. There is not now a day to lose. I have already wasted more time than was reasonable over the love affairs of other people; now I must look after my own. Safe bind, safe find; I will bind Cornelia to me before I leave her, then I have a good right to find her safe when I return to claim her."

While such thoughts were passing through his mind he had risen hastily from the chair in which he had been musing. He opened his secretary and sitting resolutely down, began a letter to Doctor Moran. He poured out his heart and desires, and then he read what he had written. It would not do at all. It was a love letter and not a business letter. He wrote another, and then another. The first was too long, it left nothing in the inkstand; the last was not to be thought of. When he had finished reading them over, he was in a passion with himself.

"A fool in your teeth twice over, Joris Hyde!" he cried, "yes, sir, three times, and far too good for you! Since you cannot write a decent business letter, write, then, to the adorable Cornelia; the words will be at your finger ends for that letter, and will slip from your pen as if they were dancing: "MY SWEET CORNELIA: "I have not seen you for two days, and 'tis a miracle that I have endured it. I can tell you, beloved, that I am much concerned about our affairs, and now that I have begun to talk wisely I may talk a little more without wearying you. You know that I may have to go to England soon, and go I will not until I have asked your father what favour he will show us. On the street, he gets out of my way as if I had the plague. Tell me at what hour I may call and see him in his house. I will then ask him point blank for your hand, and he is so candid that I shall have in a word Yes or No on the matter. Do not keep me waiting longer than seven this very night. I have a fever of anxiety, and I shall not grow better, but worse, until I settle our engagement. Oh, my peerless Cornelia, pearl and flower of womanhood, I speak your speech, I think your thought; you are the noblest thing in my life, and to remember you is to remember the hours when I was the very best and the very happiest. Your image has become part of me, your memory is a perfume which makes sweet my heart. I wish this moment to give you thousands and thousands of kisses. Bid me come to you soon, very soon, sooner than seven, if possible, for your love is my life. Send your answer to my city lodging. I shall follow this letter and be impatiently waiting for it. Oh, Cornelia, am I not ever and entirely yours?

"GEORGE HYDE."

It was not more than eight o'clock in the morning when he wrote this letter, and as soon as possible he despatched a swift messenger with it to Cornelia. He hoped that she would receive it soon after the Doctor had left his home for his usual round of professional visits; then she might possibly write to him at once, and if so, he would get the letter very soon after he reached the city.

Probably Madame Hyde divined something of the importance and tenor of a missive sent in such a hurry of anxious love, so early in the day, but she showed neither annoyance nor curiosity regarding it. In the first place, she knew that opposition would only strengthen whatever resolve her son had made; in the second place, she was conscious of a singular restlessness of her own spirit. She was apprehending change, and she could think of no change but that call to leave her home and her native land which she so much dreaded. If this event happened, then the affairs of Joris would as**sume an entirely different aspect. He would be obliged to leave everything which now interested him, and he could not live without interests; very well, then, he would be compelled to accept such as a new Fate thrown into his new life. She had a great faith in circumstances. She knew that in the long run every one wrote beneath that potent word, "Your obedient servant." Circumstances would either positively deny all her son's hopes, or they would so powerfully aid them that opposition would be useless; and she mentally bowed herself to an influence so powerful and perhaps so favourable.

"Joris, my dear one," she said, as they rose from the breakfast table; "Joris, I think there is a letter from your father. To the city you must go as soon as you can, for I have had a restless night, full of feeling it has been."

"You should not go to bed to feel, mother. Night is the time for sleep."

"And for dreams, and for many good things to come, that come not in the day. Yes, indeed, the nighttime of the body is the daytime of the soul."

Then Joris smiled and kissing her, said, "I am going at once. If there is a letter I will send a quick rider with it."

"But come thyself."

"That I cannot." "But why, then?"

"To-morrow, I will tell you."

"That is well. Into thy mother's heart drop all thy joys and sorrows. Thine are mine." And she kissed him, and he went away glad and hopeful and full of tender love for the mother who understood him so sympathetically. He stood up in his stirrups to wave her a last adieu, and then he said to himself, "How fortunate I am about women! Could I have a sweeter, lovelier mistress? No! Mother? No! Grandmother? No! Friend? No! Cornelia, mother, grandmother, Madame Jacobus, all of them just what I love and need, sweet souls between me and the angels."

It happened--but doubtless happened because so ordered--that the very hour in which Joris left Hyde Manor, Peter Van Ariens received a letter that made him very anxious. He left his office and went to see his son. "Rem," he said, "there is now an opportunity for thee. Here has come a letter from Boston, and some one must go there; and that too in a great hurry. The house of Blume and Otis is likely to fail, and in it we have some great interests. A lawyer we must have to look after them; go thyself, and it shall be well for both of us."

"I am ready to go--that is, I can be ready in one or two days."

"There are not one or two days to spare. Gerard will take care of thy work here. To-day is the best time of all."

"I cannot go with a happy mind to-day. I will tell you, father. I think now my case with Cornelia will bear putting to the question. As you know, it has been step with step between Joris Hyde and myself in that affair, and if I go away now without securing the ground I have gained, what can hinder Hyde from taking advantage over me? He too must go soon, but he will try and secure his position before he leaves. To do the same thing is my only way. I wish, then, the time to give myself this security."

"That is fair. A man is not a man till he has won a wife. Cornelia Moran is much to my mind. Tell her my home is thine, and she will be a mistress dearly loved and honoured. And if a thing is to be done, there is no time like the hour that has not struck. Go and see her now. She was in the garden gathering asters when I left home this morning."

"I will write to her. I will tell her what is in my heart--though she knows it well--and ask her for her love and her hand. If she is kind to my offer she will tell me to come and see her to-night, then I can go to Boston with a free heart and look after your money and your business."

"If things be this way, thou art reasonable. A good wife must not be lost for the peril of some gold sovereigns. At once write to the maid; such letters are best done at the first thought, some prudences or some fears may come with the second thoughts."

"I have no fear but Joris Hyde. That Englishman I hate. His calm confidence, his smiling insolent air is intolerable."

"It is the English way. But Cornelia is American--as thou art."

"She thinks much of that, but yet--"

"Be not afraid. The brave either find, or make, a way to success. What is in a girl's heart no man can tell, if she be cold and shy that should not cause thee to doubt. When water is ice, who would suspect what great heat is stored away in it? Write thy letter at once. Put thy heart into thy pen. Not always prudent is this way, but once in a man's life it is wisdom."

"My pen is too small for my heart."

"My opinion is that thou hast wavered too long. It is a great foolishness to let the cherry knock against the lips too often or too long. A pretty pastime, perhaps, to will, and not will, to dare, and not dare; but at last the knock comes that drops the cherry--it may be into some other mouth."

"I fear no one but that rascal, Joris Hyde."

"A rascal he is not, because the same woman he loves as thyself. Such words weaken any cause. No wrong have I seen or known of Lieutenant Hyde."

"I will call him a rascal, and I will give him no other title, though his father leave him an earl."

"Now, then, I shall go. I like not ill words. Write thy letter, but put out of thy mind all bad thoughts first. A love letter from a bitter heart is not lucky. And of all thy wit thou wilt have great need if to a woman thou write."

"Oh, they are intolerable, aching joys! A man who dares to love a woman, or dares to believe in her, dares to be mad."

"Come, come! No evil must thou speak of good women, I swear that I was never out of it yet, when I judged men as they judged women. The art of loving a woman is the art of trusting her--yes, though the heavens fall. Now, then, haste with thy letter. Thou may have 'Yes' to it ere thou sleep to-night."

"And I may have 'No.'"

"To be sure, if thou think 'no.' But, even so, if thou lose the wedding ring, the hand is still left; another ring may be found."

"'No,' would be a deathblow to me."

"It will not. While a man has meat and drink love will not starve him; with world's business and world's pleasure an unkind love he makes shift to forget. Bring to me word of thy good fortune this night, and in the morning there is the Boston business. Longer it can hardly wait."

But the letter to Cornelia which Hyde found to slip off his pen like dancing was a much more difficult matter to Rem. He wrote and destroyed, and wrote again and destroyed, and this so often that he finally resolved to go to Maiden Lane for his inspiration. "I may see Cornelia in the garden, or at the window, and when I see what I desire, surely I shall have the wit to ask for it."

So he thought, and with the thought he locked his desk and went towards his home in Maiden Lane. He met George Hyde sauntering up the street looking unhappy and restless, and he suspected at once that he had been walking past Doctor Moran's house in the hope of seeing Cornelia and had been disappointed. The thought delighted him. He was willing to bear disappointment himself, if by doing so some of Hyde's smiling confidence was changed to that unhappy uneasiness which he detected in his rival's face and manner. The young men bowed to each other but did not speak. In some occult way they divined a more positive antagonism than they had ever before been conscious of.

"I cannot go out of the house," thought Rem, "without meeting that fop. He is in at one door, and out at another; this way, that way, up street, and down street--the devil take the fellow!"

"What a mere sullen creature that Rem Van Ariens is!" thought Hyde, "and with all the good temper in the world I affirm it. I wonder what he is on the street for at this hour! Shall I watch him? No, that would be vile work. I will let him alone; he may as well play the ill-natured fool on the street as in the house--better, indeed, for some one may have a title to tell him so. But I may as**sure myself of one thing, when I met him he was building castles in the future, for he was looking straight before him; and if he had been thinking of the past, he would have been looking down. I should not wonder if it was Cornelia that filled his dreams. Faith, we have blockheads of all ages; but on that road he will never overtake his thought"--then with a movement of impatience he added, "Why should I let him into my mind?--for he is the least welcome of all intruders.--Good gracious! how long the minutes are! It is plain to me that Cornelia is not at home, and my letter may not even have touched her hands yet. How shall I endure another hour?--perhaps many hours. Where can she have gone? Not unlikely to Madame Jacobus. Why did I not think of this before? For who can help me to bear suspense better than madame? I will go to her at once."

He hastened his steps and soon arrived at the well-known residence of his friend. He was amazed as soon as the door was opened to find preparations of the most evident kind for some change. The corded trunk in the hall, the displaced furniture, all things he saw were full of the sad hurry of parting. "What is the matter?" he asked in a voice of fear.

"I am going away for a time, Joris, my good friend," answered madame, coming out of a shrouded and darkened parlour as she spoke. She had on her cloak and bonnet, and before Joris could ask her another question a coach drove to the door. "I think it is a piece of good fortune," she continued, "to see you before I go."

"But where are you going?"

"To Charleston."

"But why?"

"I am going because my sister Sabrina is sick--dying; and there is no one so near to her as I am."

"I knew not you had a sister."

"She is the sister of my husband. So, then, she is twice my sister. When Jacobus comes home he will thank me for going to his dear Sabrina. But what brings you here so early? Yesterday I asked for you, and I was told that you were waiting on your good mother."

"My mother felt sure there was a letter from father, and I came at once to get it for her."

"Was there one?"

"There was none."

"It will come in good time. Now, I must go. I have not one moment to lose. Good-bye, dear Joris!"

"For how long, my friend?"

"I know not. Sabrina is incurably ill. I shall stay with her till she departs." She said these words as they went down the steps together, and with eyes full of tears he placed her carefully in the coach and then turned sorrowfully to his own rooms. He could not speak of his own affairs at such a moment, and he realized that there was nothing for him to do but wait as patiently as possible for Cornelia's answer.

In the meantime Rem was writing his proposal. He was not as**sisted in the effort by any sight of his mistress. It was evident Cornelia was not in her home, and he looked in vain for any shadow of the sweet face that he was certain would have made his words come easily. Finally, after many trials, he desisted with the following, though it was the least affective of any form he had written: To MISS MORAN, Honoured and Beloved Friend: Twenty times this day I have tried to write a letter worthy to come into your hands and worthy to tell you how beyond all words I love you, But what can I say more than that I love you? This you know. It has been no secret to you since ever you were a little girl. Many years I have sought your love,--pardon me if now I ask you to tell me I have not sought in vain. To-morrow I must leave New York, and I may be away for some time. Pray, then, give me some hope to-night to take with me. Say but one word to make me the proudest and happiest lover in the world. Give me the permission to come and show to your father that I am able to maintain you in every comfort that is your right; and all my life long I will prove to you the devotion that attests my undying affection and gratitude. I am sick with longing for the promise of your love. May I presume to hope so great a blessing? O dearest Cornelia, I am, as you know well, your humble servant, REMBRANDT VAN ARIENS.

When he had finished this letter, he folded and sealed it, and walked to the window with it in his hand. Then he saw Cornelia returning home from some shopping or social errand, and hastily calling a servant, ordered him to deliver the letter at once to Miss Moran. And as Cornelia lingered a little among the aster beds, the man put it into her own hands. She bowed and smiled as she accepted it, but Rem, watching with his heart in his eyes, could see that it awakened no special interest. She kept it unopened as she wandered among the purple and pink, and gold and white flowers, until Mrs. Moran came to the door to hurry her movements; then she followed her mother hastily into the house, "Do you know how late it is, Cornelia? Dinner is nearly ready. There is a letter on your dressing table that came by Lieutenant Hyde's servant two or three hours ago."

"And Tobias has just brought me a letter from Rem--at least the direction is in Rem's handwriting."

"Some farewell dance I suppose, before our dancers go to gay Philadelphia."

"I dare say it is." She made the supposition as she went up the stairs, and did not for a moment anticipate any more important information. As she entered her room an imposing looking letter met her eyes--a letter written upon the finest paper, squarely folded, and closed with a large seal of scarlet wax carrying the Hyde arms. Poor Rem's message lost instantly whatever interest it possessed; she let it fall from her hand, and lifting Hyde's, opened it with that marvellous womanly impetuosity which love teaches. Then all the sweet intimate ardour and passionate disquietude of her lover took possession of her. In a moment she felt all that he felt; all the ecstasy and tumult of a great affection not sure. For this letter was the "little more" in Hyde's love, and, oh, how much it was!

She pondered it until she was called to dinner. There was then no time to read Rem's letter, but she broke the seal and glanced at its tenor, and an expression of pity and annoyance came into her eyes. Hastily she locked both letters away in a drawer of her desk, and as she did so, smilingly said to herself, "I wonder if papers are sensitive! Shut close together in one little drawer will they like it? I hope they will lie peaceably and not quarrel."

Doctor Moran was not at home, nor was he expected until sundown, so mother and daughter enjoyed together the confidence which Hyde's letter induced. Mrs. Moran thought the young man was right, and promised, to a certain extent, to favour his proposal. "However, Cornelia," she added, "unless your father is perfectly agreeable and satisfied, I would not advise you to make any engagement. Clandestine engagements come to grief in some way or other, and if your marriage with Joris Hyde is prearranged by THOSE who know what is best for your good, then, my dear, it is as sure to take place as the sun is sure to rise to-morrow. It is only waiting for the appointed hour, and you may as well wait in a happy home as in one you make wretched by the fret and complaining which a secret in any life is certain to produce."

Now, it is not often that a girl has to answer in one hour two such epistles as those received by Cornelia. Yet perhaps such an event occurs more frequently than is suspected, for Love--like other things--has its critical moment; and when that moment arrives it finds a voice as surely as the flower ready to bloom opens its petals. And if there be two lovers equally sincere, both are likely to feel at the same moment the same impetus to revelation. Besides which, Fate of any kind seeks the unusual and the unexpected; it desires to startle, and to force events by surprises.

The answering of these letters was naturally Cornelia's first afternoon thought. It troubled her to remember that Joris had already been waiting some hours for a reply, for she had no hesitation as to what that reply should be. To write to Joris was a delightful thing, an unusual pleasure, and she sat down, smiling, to pen the lines which she thought would bring her much happiness, but which were doomed to bring her a great sorrow.

MY JORIS! My dear Friend: 'Tis scarce an hour since I received your letter, but I have read it over four times. And whatever you desire, that also is my desire; and I am deceived as much as you, if you think I do not love you as much as I am loved by you. You know my heart, and from you I shall never hide it; and I think if I were asleep, I should tell you how much I love you; for, indeed, I often dream that I do so. Come, then, this very night as soon as you think convenient. If my father is in a suitable temper it will be well to speak plainly to him, and I am sure that my mother will say in our favour all that is wise.

Our love, with no recognition but our own, has been so strangely sweet that I could be content never to alter that condition; and yet I fear no bond, and am ready to put it all to the trial. For if our love is not such as will uphold an engagement, it will sink of itself; and if it is true as we believe it to be, then it may last eternally. What more is to say I will keep for your ear, for you are enough in my heart to know all my thoughts, and to know better than I can tell you how dearly, how constantly, how entirely I love you.

Yours forever, CORNELIA.

Without a pause, without an erasure this letter had transcribed itself from Cornelia's heart to the small gilt-edged note paper; but she found it a much more difficult thing to answer the request of Rem Van Ariens. She was angry at him for putting her in such a dilemma. She thought that she had made plain as possible to him the fact that she was pleased to be a companion, a friend, a sister, if he so desired, but that love between them was not to be thought of. She had told Arenta this many times, and she had done so because she was certain Arenta would make this position clear to her brother. And under ordinary circumstances Arenta would have been frank and free enough with Rem, but while her own marriage was such an important question she was not inclined to embarrass or shadow its arrangements by suggesting things to Rem likely to cause disagreements when she wished all to be harmonious and cheerful. So Arenta had encouraged, rather than dashed, Rem's hopes, for she did not doubt that Cornelia would finally undo very thoroughly what she had done.

"A little love experience will be a good thing for Rem," she said to herself--"it will make a man of him; and I do hope he has more self- respect and courage than to die of her denial."

It is easy, then, to understand how Cornelia, relying on Arenta's usually ready advice and confidences, was sure that Rem had accepted the friendship that was all in her power to give him, and that this belief gave to their intercourse a frank and kindly intimacy that it would not otherwise have obtained. This state of things was desirable and comfortable for Arenta, and Cornelia also had found a great satisfaction in a friendship which she trusted had fully recognized and accepted its limitations. Now, all these pleasant moderate emotions were stirred into uncomfortable agitation by Rem's unlooked-for and unreasonable request. She was hurt and agitated and withal a little sorry for Rem, and she was also in a hurry, for the letter for Joris was waiting, as she wished to send both by the same messenger. Finally she wrote the following words, not noticing at the time, but remembering afterwards, what a singular soul reluctance she experienced; how some uncertain presentiment, vague and dark and drear, stifled her thoughts and tried to make her understand, or at least pause. But alas! the doom that walks side by side with us, never warns; it seems rather to stand sarcastic at our ignorance, and to watch speculatively the cloud of trouble coming-- coming on purpose because we foolishly or carelessly call it to us.

MY DEAR AND HONOURED FRIEND: Your letter has given me very great sorrow. You must have known for many weeks, even months, that marriage between us was impossible. It has always been so, it always will be so. Why could you not be content? We have been so happy! So happy! and now you will end all. But Fortune, though often cruel, cannot call back times that are past, and I shall never forget our friendship. I grieve at your going away; I pray that your absence may bring you some consolation. Do not, I beg you, attempt to call on my father. Without explanations, I tell you very sincerely, such a call will cause me great trouble; for you know well a girl must trust somewhat to others' judgment in her disposal. It gives me more pain than I can say to write in this mood, but necessity permits me no kinder words. I want you to be sure that the wrench, the "No" here is absolute. My dear friend, pity rather than blame me; and I will be so unselfish as to hope you may not think so kindly of me as to be cruel to yourself. Please to consider your letter as never written, it is the greatest kindness you can do me; and, above all, I beg you will not take my father into your confidence. With a sad sense of the pain my words must cause you, I remain for all time your faithful friend and obedient servant, CORNELIA MORAN.

Then she rang for a lighted candle, and while waiting for its arrival neatly folded her letters. Her white wax and seal were at hand, and she delayed the servant until she had closed and addressed them.

"You will take Lieutenant Hyde's letter first," she said; "and make no delay about it, for it is very important. Mr. Van Ariens' note you can deliver as you return."

As soon as this business was quite out of her hands, she sank with a happy sigh into a large comfortable chair; let her arms drop gently, and closed her eyes to think over what she had done. She was quite satisfied. She was sure that no length of reflection could have made her decide differently. She had Hyde's letter in her bosom, and she pressed her hand against it, and vowed to her heart that he was worthy of her love, and that he only should have it. As for Rem, she had a decided feeling of annoyance, almost of fear, as he entered her mind. She was angry that he had chosen that day to urge his unwelcome suit, and thus thrust his personality into Hyde's special hour.

"He always makes himself unwelcome," she thought, "he ever has the way to come when he was least wanted; but Joris! Oh there is nothing I would alter in him, even at the cost of a wish! JORIS! JORIS!" and she let the dear name sweeten her lips, while the light of love brightened and lengthened her eyes, and spread over her lovely face a blushing glow.

After a while she rose up and adorned herself for her lover's visit. And when she entered the parlor Mrs. Moran looked at her with a little wonder. For she had put on with her loveliest gown a kind of bewildering prettiness. There was no cloud in her eyes, only a glow of soft dark fire. Her soul was in her face, it spoke in her bright glances, her sweet smiles, and her light step; it softened her speech to music, it made her altogether so delightful that her mother thought "Fortune must give her all she wishes, she is so charming."

The tea tray was brought in at five o'clock, but Doctor Moran had not returned, and there was in both women's hearts a little sense of disappointment. Mrs. Moran was wondering at his unusual delay, Cornelia feared he would be too weary and perhaps, too much interested in other matters to permit her lover to speak. "But even so," she thought, "Joris can come again. To-night is not the only opportunity."

It was nearly seven o'clock when the doctor came, and Cornelia was sure her lover would not be much behind that hour; but tea time was ever a good time to her father, he was always amiable and gracious with a cup in his hand, and the hour after it when his pipe kept him company, was his best hour. She told her heart that things had fallen out better than if she had planned them so; and she was so thoughtful for the weary man's comfort, so attentive and so amusing, that he found it easy to respond to the happy atmosphere surrounding him. He had a score of pleasant things to tell about the fashionable exodus to Philadelphia, about the handsome dresses that had been shown him, and the funny household dilemmas that had been told him. And he was much pleased because Harry De Lancey had been a great part of the day with him, and was very eloquent indeed about the young man's good sense and good disposition, and the unnecessary, and almost cruel, confiscation of property his family had suffered, for their Tory principles.

And in the midst of the De Lancey lamentation, seven o'clock struck and Cornelia began to listen for the shutting of the garden gate, and the sound of Hyde's step upon the flagged walk. It did not come as soon as she hoped it would, and the minutes went slowly on until eight struck. Then the doctor was glooming and nodding, and waking up and saying a word or two, and relapsing again into semi-unconsciousness. She felt that the favourable hour had passed, and now the minutes went far too quickly. Why did he net come? With her work in her hand-making laborious stitches by a drawn thread--she sat listening with all her being. The street itself was strangely silent, no one passed, and the fitful talk at the fireside seemed full of fatality; she could feel the influence, though she did not inquire of her heart what it was, of what it might signify.

Half-past eight! She looked up and caught her mother's eyes, and the trouble and question in them, and the needle going through the fine muslin, seemed to go through her heart. At nine the watching became unbearable. She said softly "I must go to bed. I am tired;" but she put away with her usual neatness her work, and her spools of thread, her thimble and her scissors. Her movement in the room roused the doctor thoroughly. He stood up, stretched his arms outward and upward, and said "he believed he had been sleeping, and must ask their pardon for his indifference." And then he walked to the window and looking out added "It is a lovely night but the moon looks like storm. Oh!"--and he turned quickly with the exclamation--"I forgot to tell you that I heard a strange report to-day, nothing less than that General Hyde returned on the Mary Pell this morning, bringing with him a child."

"A child!" said Mrs. Moran.

"A girl, then, a little mite of a creature. Mrs. Davy told me the Captain carried her in his arms to the carriage which took them to Hyde Manor."

"And how should Mrs. Davy know?"

"The Davys live next door to the Pells, and the servants of one house carried the news to the other house. She said the General sent to his son's lodging to see if he was in town, but he was not. It was then only eight o'clock in the morning."

"How unlikely such a story is! Do you believe it?"

"Ask to-morrow. As for me, I neither know nor care. That is the report. Who can tell what the Hydes will do?"

Then Cornelia said a hasty "good-night" and went to her room. She was sick at heart; she trembled, something in her life had lost its foot- hold, and a sudden bewildering terror--she knew not how to explain--took possession of her. For once she forgot her habitual order and neatness; her pretty dress was thrown heedlessly across a chair, and she fell upon her knees weeping, and yet she could not pray.

Still the very posture and the sweet sense of help and strength it implied, brought her the power to take into consideration such unexpected news, and such unexplained neglect on her lover's part, "General Hyde has returned; that much I feel certain of," she thought, "and Joris must have left Hyde Manor about the time his father reached New York. Joris would take the river road, being the shortest, his father would take the highway as the best for the carriage. Consequently, they passed each other and did not know it. Then Joris has been sent for, and it was right and natural that he should go--but oh, he might have written!--ten words would have been enough--It was right he should go--but he might have written!--he might have written!"--and she buried her face in her pillow and wept bitterly. Alas! Alas! Love wounds as cruelly when he fails, as when he strikes; and even when Cornelia had outworn thought and feeling, and fallen into a sorrowful sleep, she was conscious of this failure, and her soul sighed all night long "He might have written!"