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go droning on with her work, plodding unceasingly over those vast, mysterious processes of growth and renovation, which make ours so puny, so feeble. One does not feel this so much in winter. I wonder if there are any people who never feel it at all, people who do not know what it is to look back on a memory such as mine, and forward to a future so blank sometimes, and dreary.
But all suffering has its lull; all sorrow belonging to this life is hushed sooner or later. Mine is. I feel sometimes as if rest were very near at hand, and if not, I am learning now to bear all there is for me to bear in a strength greater than my own; and even the very thought of that other strength is in itself a sort of rest. Perhaps it is in this way that God is bringing me to the haven where I would be. Once safely anchored there, I shall not think the past has been too bitter.
Last night, whilst Stephen Roden and Maud were sitting in the garden together, I went down to Marbrook to see Miss Nunly. She had got an old cabinet spread open before her, which usually
stands in a corner of the wainscoted parlour, and there was such a sad look on her face that I would have come away again, thinking I had interrupted her in the midst of some painful duty she was obliged to attend to; but she said she would rather I stayed, and then she took out her work, and we had a long pleasant chat together - no, not exactly pleasant,-I should never describe my conversations with Miss Nunly by that word, but quiet, and thoughtful, and enjoyable, with a half haze of sadness over a good many things that we said, yet with that feeling of thorough unreserve and true-heartedness which makes even the speaking of sad things lose half its bitterness. Who could talk with anything but earnestness, or with a quiet, chastened sort of temper, in that quaint old wainscoted parlour of hers, with the elm trees shading off the light, and beating their branches against the window, and the still, silent Mar river drifting on past the garden, and the rooks cawing with such eerie melancholy sound from the old abbey towers close by—who indeed ?
I wonder what Miss Nunly's past has been.
What has turned her hair grey already, for she is not so very old ? How have those long lines grown upon her forehead, which I see so plainly there when she goes off into one of her thoughtful moods, and looks out and away over the hills for almost an hour together without ever speaking a word ? What makes her gaze at me with such an earnest, wistful look when I talk in a sort of off-hand way—as I do sometimes, just to hide the real truth — of enjoying life, and being happy while we can ? And why, when occasionally we have been reading together what I call violent poetry – poetry that dips into feelings of which I know nothing and I take the liberty of expressing a little doubt as to its sincerity, does she check me gravely, and say, in that quiet voice of hers, “ It is quite true, it is quite true"?
What has she known, I wonder? what has she suffered ? I have sometimes thought I would like to ask her; but then, again, there is a dignity and a self-containment about Miss Nunly which keeps you from in any way prying into her inner life, or questioning her of those thoughts
and feelings which she has reserved to herself. Then, after all, if I had her confidence, would I give her mine ? would I tell her all that sorrowful and heavy-laden past which no one has looked upon but myself? Would I let her see that dark, dark thread which has woven itself into my life? And have I any right to ask from her more than I am willing to give? Perhaps, too, she does not like people to pity her; no more do I. Of all things, pity, given in such a way that you are expected to receive it as sympathy, is hardest to bear. No! Miss Nunly; for a little while longer you and I will be content to be strangers to each other's inmost self, bravely laying by in each other's presence our individual griefs, and waiting for fuller sympathy until that bright coming time when we shall know even as we are known.
Miss Gabbatis has got that little Sally of hers married to one of the under-gardeners at Braeton Park, and she gave us such a comical account of it this morning. The young couple have opened an establishment in the fruit line, at a little pillbox of a cottage, turning round the corner as you
go to Mrs. Herman Kaye’s, and, according to Miss G.'s account, are as happy as two little birds. Ah, well-a-day! I hope it will last. I mean to ask mamma to buy her fruit there for preserving this eummer, which will be a help to Roger, and also give me an excuse for calling in and making my own private observations on this new species of ornithological felicity.
I am going to have Maud to myself, for a little while at least, just now, for Stephen Roden is off into Scotland, and will not be back again until the end of the week at the very least. He has gone to make some arrangements on that estate which the Duke of Chartermayne has just been buying, and was sent away at hardly a moment's notice. I wonder who would be agent to a fidgety Duke, and I wonder who would care to have his name in the peerage, or even to have the neat little competence of 60,0001. a year, when that distinction involves, as it does in my Lord Duke's case, the necessity of putting so many people out of the way, and making such untimely upheavals just for his own personal convenience. But it will soon be over, for Stephen resigns his agency