rephed Helen, " it was merely a joke,
be assured. I really know very little of
Lord Davenant, but enough to foretell
he has loved too truly ever to love
" And do you think," asked Clarence,
" that no one can love twice ?"
" Such a love is not worth the having,
in my opinion," answered Helen.
" And yet Clive did," said Clarence.
''Oh, no, Lord LesUe," exclaimed Helen,
•' Henry never loved any one but Agnes.
He tried to deceive himself but he never
deceived me. I always knew that she
possessed his first, his best affections,
and that circumstances had induced
Lord Clive to seek me, and to wish to
make me his wife. The result proved
me to be right. We both had a very
near escape of wTetchedness, which we
both deserved. I, especially."
" How so. Miss Murray ?" eagerly
^'^ I ought not to have accepted a man
I did not love. Nothing can justify a
girl for doing so. Nothing can justify
any one who goes to the Altar with a
person not beloved better than all the
world beside. Certain misery is the
consequence," said Helen, very gravely.
"^ And do you think it more honor-
able," asked Leshe, "to break through
all promises, all engagements, all pro-
fesssions, rather than marry a person
one does not love ?"
" Oh, decidedly, my Lord," said Helen.
" At least, if I were the lady in question,
I should think myself worse used b}^
being deceived than by being deserted.
It is an unpardonable sin both to God
and to your wife."
" Then Helen," said Leslie, " I fear I
am about to commit that sin."
" What is it you say, my Lord ?"
exclaimed Helen. "I think you mis-
understand me. We had better not
discuss the subject farther."
" Perhaps so," sighed Leslie. " Per-
haps we had better not discuss any
subject, for I feel it very dangerous to
my peace. Forgive me, forgive me,
Miss Murray. I see I offend you. For-
get what I so inadvertently said."
" Good night, Helen," said Mr. Arthur
Young, who advanced to her at that
moment. '^ When do you return home r
I hope. Lord Leslie, you find no ill
effects from your broken arm. It would
have been better had poor Henrietta
Brown stuck to you, instead of marrying
that crab of a Baronet. Well, Helen,
you look charmingly. You don't fret
after your lover I am sure. You had
better not trust any of them again.
Wait for me. Jane cannot live for ever.
Does'nt she look very well though to
night. Should vou guess, mv lord, that
she is eighteen years older than I am r
Rather too much, but we go on very
well together. Good night, Helen.
Remember and wait for me. You are
engaged, my Lord, I understand, or I
should have picked you out to-night as
an admirer of my pretty cousin. You
blush, Helen. Well, there are more.
Lord Leslies in the world, never fear.
"• Good night, Helen," said Mrs. Young,
who now also came up to hasten the
long adieu of her husband. " How you
linger, love," she continued, taking
Young's arm. " It is late, and to-morrow
is St. Matthias. We ought not to have
dined here to-day, but we had so often
refused. I hope you checked your
appetite, Arthur dear. I could not see
what you were about, but I trust you
remembered it was a fast day,"
" I am afraid not, Jane," said Young.
" The excellent dinner put it out of my
head ; but I only drank one glass of
champagne, and it is that which dis-
agrees with me, and I ate Devonshire
cream rather than plum pudding ; so I
did abstain, and that you know our
friend, our Hterary friend, says is fasting.
But come, love, be quick. I have to
read over my sermon for the good St.
Matthias to-night, or I shall bungle sadly
over it to-morrow," and the loquacious
young husband led off his antiquated
The party were now generally wishing
good night, and Helen sought her aunt.
On leaving the drawing room Lord
Leslie stopped her. ^^Will you forget,
Miss Murray, that I have said ought to
displease you just now ?"
" Oh, yes, my Lord," replied Helen.
"It has already passed from my mind.
I had not made myself understood, I am
sure. Good night ;" and they parted.
When Helen reached her own room,
and after dismissing x\lice, she sat over
her fire thinking on the conversations
she had heen so exceedingly enjoying
with Lord Leslie. She tried to recal his
every word, and it was wonderful how
correctly she was able to do so. She
endeavoured to interpret his every look,
but here she was not nearly so successful.
She could not doubt his love for Con-
stance. There was not one reason to do
so. Oh, no, whatever he had said that
appeared strange must have arisen from
his having misunderstood her, or perhaps
she did not comprehend him. She
ended her musings therefore by the cer-
tainty that Lord Leslie liked her exceed-
ingly, and that his affections were where
they ought to be, in the keeping of
Constance Davenant, his affianced wife.
Helen's thoughts then reverted to Lewis
Pemberton. She feared she had been
somewhat rude to him, or at least that he
felt hurt by her coolness. She was sorry
for this ; still she felt it was better so to
offend, than to run the risk of misleading
him. But she determined, if possible, to
try so to conduct herself as to avoid
giving offence, and yet give him no
excuse for mistaking her feelings towards
him. And what were poor Lewis' thoughts
as he pressed his pillow that night r
Very sad ones, very bitter. He could
not sleep ; and when he did close his
eyes it was to dream of Helen, and to
awake thinking of her. It seems hard
that a heart so gentle, so amiable, so
devoted, should be doomed to neglect
and suffering. But such is the way-
wardness of love.
And Lord Leslie. He gave himself up
to the pleasures of the present hour, and
determined to enjoy to the full the so-
ciety of Helen. He felt secure in his
own honor. He felt sure that Helen
could not suffer from his attentions^ be-
cause she knew him to be another's by
promise, and she believed him to be
another's by affection. Constance was
not there to see his devotion. Besides,
if she were, she ought not to complain.
He was ready to fulfil his engagement.
He liked her as well as he had ever
done. He would be true to his plighted
vows. He would marry her, and endea-
vour to make her happy. But Helen was
his first, his only love. No one knew
this but himself. The secret must burn
in his breast and consume him, rather
than be allowed to burst forth. Con-
stance could never suspect it. Helen
should never know it ; and he hoped,
when really the husband of another, that
his feelings would assume a proper tone,
and that his admiration for Helen would
not be incompatible with his duty and
affection to Constance.
He thought over Helen's words, and
her decided disapprobation of a marriage
whose bond was not love. But then,
she had so nearly suffered from that sort
of thing, that she spoke warmly, feel-
ingly, but not, consequently, wisely ;
and Lord Leslie must forget how he had
been, for a moment, tempted to think
her rights and to act upon her opinion.
He had the great satisfaction of feel-
ing certain that Helen liked him^ liked
to sit by him, to talk to him — and what
a privilege to have her preference, to
enjoy her friendship. Yes, yes ; he
should still be happy with Constance as
his wife, Helen as their friend. But
should Helen really marry, and marry
Lord Davenant ; many things were
more improbable. Leslie discarded the
thought, and the misery it gave him
convinced him how very dear Helen was
to him, and he, too, closed his eyes and
dreamed of her, and awoke thinking of
her. But, alas ! without Lewis Pember-
ton's hope. And, yet, of the two, Leslie
was the happier man.
Mrs. Melbourne had noticed Lord
Leslie's attention to her niece, and
Helen's pleasure in it, but she could not
fear for one or the other, and she did
not allow it to disturb her.
And now for the skating party.
The sun shone brightly, the weather
was less cold, but the hard ground be-
tokened the continuance of the frost,
and the party at the breakfast table at
Pemberton Castle were in high spirits,
and determining to take advantage of
the fineness of the early morning, and
set off immediately to the Mere, as the
piece of water was called, which was
about a mile and a half from the Castle.
Accordingly the ladies clothed in their
furs^ and the gentlemen loaded with their
skates and a wicker chair or two for
those of the fair sex who would venture
on the ice in such a carriage drawn and
pushed by the skaters, left the Castle
about twelve o'clock.
The party consisted of Lady Aston,
escorted by Mr. Fairfax, who could not
resist the flattery of her ladyship, who
had pronounced him the best skater last
year in town, nor yet the vanity of dis-
pla}dng his prowess in the country.
Miss Aston was closely attended by
Captain Pemberton, and she was using
her influence in endeavouring to dissuade
him from enjoying in this dangerous
amusement, and declaring she must
scream if he went on the ice. Frank,
delighted with her anxiety, never in-
tended to alarm her ; but he did not tell
her so, as it pleased him to listen to her
whispered fears for his safety.
The two younger Miss Colvilles, Emily
and Caroline, were walking with the
young Baronet, and Sir Lenox Buxton
wisely preferred talking to girls who
listened to him with good-humoured de-
light, rather than to one whom he
admired more, but who evidently would
have thought his company a bore.
Mr. and Mrs. Pemberton walked arm
in arm, very like a newly-married pair,
and decided not to stay long at the
Mere ; but it was a pleasant morning,
and early exercise they agreed was
Sir James Aston had started before,
and he had dragged, absolutely dragged
Lewis with him, for nothing short of
compulsion could have taken him from
the rest of the party. He had fully made
up his mind to monopolize Helen, and
to make her an offer of his heart and
But Sir James had a plan in his head,
and he wanted Lewis to help him to
carry it out. It was a surprise for Lady
Aston. Sir James had learned to skate,
and his wife did not know it. She had
always been asking him to do so, but
he did not fancy it. However, he altered
his niind ; he took up the exercise, and
he excelled in it. He wished his wife
to admire his skating without suspecting
it was him, and his intention was to
assume a costume that would disguise
his person, and thus deceive and amuse
the whole party. Accordingly he had
provided a dress, and with Lewis' assist-
ance he meant to be ready for the party
as they arrived.
In the walk to the Mere, Helen had
taken the proffered arm of Lord Leslie,
as the road was rough, and in some
places slippery too. The party went on,
some more quickly than others, and none
" I think the frost is going," observed
LesUe, as he pursued his way with Helen.
" But no doubt the Mere is frozen hard
enough for to-day's sport."
" I trust so," replied Helen, " or I
hope no one will venture on it. You
have not brought your skates, my Lord."
" I do not skate now," said Clarence.
" My wound forbids that exercise."
"Oh, how could I forget that/' said
Helen. "Ought you to walk, Lord Leslie?
Do turn back, I can soon overtake the
"Not for worlds. Miss Murray," said
Leslie, "would I give up walking this
morning ;" and he drew Helen's arm
again within his, for she had relinquished
it in her intention of proceeding alone.
" Not for worlds, my Lord," said
Helen. "That is indeed a proof that
skating has great attractions, though you
cannot join in it."
" Yes," said Leslie, "' It powerfully
attracts me this morning. But I wonder
where Lewis is. I feel as if I were
occupying his place, Miss Murray; his
" As regards what, my Lord ?" asked
Helen, who wished to put Lord Leslie
right, though he seeraed determined to
be wrong, and to appropriate people to
her whom she was indifferent to.
"As regards you, Miss Murray," said Cla-
rence, very gravely. " Lewis Pemberton's
love for you is no secret, indeed, it can
be none to any body. But this morning
accidentally meeting him in the library,
before any one else was down, he opened
his whole heart to me, and he begged
I would forward his suit, inasmuch that
I would not so completely occupy you,
(such was Lewis's expression,) and thus
effectually preclude his approaching you.
I promised him not to do so, and I as-
sure you to find myself by your side,
and to be allowed to remain here is a
most agreeable surprise to me, and some-
thing of a mystery. Where can Lewis
be r "
" Indeed," said Helen, " I do not
know, and should he make his appear-
ance, will you promise me. Lord Leslie,
not to leave me ?"
His Lordship looked delighted, and
Helen feared she had been too familiar.
She blushed and said, " I mean — I trust
you do not misunderstand me."
"I hope not," replied Clarence. "I hope
I understood that it is your wish for me
to remain by your side, and could / ever
wish not to do so."
Helen felt his gaze was upon her,
and she dared not raise her eyes to
his. She must say something, or she
might indeed be mis-interpreted, and
what then would Leslie think of her ;
for did she not know he was affianced
" My Lord," Helen began, " you are
very kind to be thus anxious to oblige
me, and since Mr. Lewis Pemberton has
not kept his own counsel, I will venture
to tell you that I am anxious to avoid
him. I cannot accept him as a lover,
and yet I like him much too well to
mortify him by a refusal. And, there-
fore it is that I ask you to remain
with me, though Mr. Lewis should join
Lord Leslie lost his animation at this
explanation of Helen ; and he now
walked silently on, seemingly, in deep
thought, at last he said, " May 1, Miss
Murray, assume the privilege of an old
friend, and venture to ask you one ques-
tion ? Have you ever loved ? And if
not, which I suspect to be the case, is it
that nature has blessed you with a cold
disposition, or that you have never met
with one you thought deserving of your
" And may I enquire, Lord Leslie,"
said Helen, " why you ask me such a
question ? It must be from sheer curio-
sity, decidedly, and, therefore, I will
not answer you."
" If you had substituted the word
interest for curiosity you would have
been right," said his lordship. ' I
look at you, and I think of you,
and I wonder who will have the happi-
YOL. III. M
ness of gaining a heart whose value is
above all price."
Helen blushed^ and said^ '^ No one
that I have ever seen^ most decidedly.
But we shall miss the skating unless we
quicken our pace, Lord Leslie. The road
here is better, and \ can very well
manage alone." And she withdrew her
arm from his lordship's and hastened on.
The path was just as rough as it had
been, and Lord Leslie's arm would have
been just as useful to our heroine, but
Helen neither liked the manner, nor the
significant words, nor the expressive
looks of Lord Leslie, and she felt she
must avoid him if she must keep her
secret ; and to keep it she was deter-
Helen Murray was not a vain girl ; on
the contrary she was the very last person
to perceive or think she was admired.
But on the present occasion it was too
evident that Lord Leslie wished her to
believe she was, and if she had not so
positively been told by Agnes that his
engagement to Constance Davenant was
one of affection^ and of his own seeking,
nay, that he had urged it upon her, as
Miss Davenant in her diffidence in her-
self, and want of confidence in her
lover's professions had shrank from it,
Helen would now have come to the con-
clusion that LesHe repented him of it,
and that he was fast falling in love again.
She almost wished now for poor Lewis.
On they walked in silence till they came
within sight of the party who had halted
at a gate which was found locked : and
before a way to the next field was made,
Helen and her companion joined them.
Leslie's feelings were not enviable. He
found he had betrayed his love to Helen,
and he feared also that she was dis-
pleased. He determined to be more on
his guard, or he should lose the pleasure
of her society, he should forfeit her
esteem, her good opinion. He now
sought Lady Aston.
" Well^ my lord," she exclaimed, ^' I
thought you and Miss Murray must
have mistaken the way."
"Mind you don't," said Mr. Fairfax,
in his most sarcastic tone, " but better do
it 710W than a few months hence." The
thoughts of his son made him bitter.
Lord Leslie perceived his error. He
had been wrong, very wrong. He had
not merely drawn insinuations on himself,
but on her whose very name in his eyes,
was sacred. He rather angrily replied,
•' Perhaps Mr. Fairfax, you are not aware
that Miss Murray and I are old friends ;
that her father was my friend, that my
sister — "
" Oh, yes, I know all you would say,"
said Fairfax laughing. " But Leslie, I was
only joking, and I will tell no tales. Miss
Davenant is far away," whispered the
sarcastic Fairfax, "and Helen Murray
is a sweet girl."
Lord Leslie thought it wise to restrain
his anger, for he knew Mr. Fairfax
well enough to be com-inced that the
less he seemed to care for his sarcasm,
the less he would hear of it.
Lady Aston heard Mr. Fairfax' remark
on Helen, and said " Miss Murray is
to be my visitor this season in London,
and I expect she will make a great
sensation. One or two things I must
teach her. She must leave off blushing,
and she must never wear pink. In
everything else she is comme it faut. I
intend she shall try to skate this
morning. But," continued her ladyship,
" who have we here ? A lady on the
Mere, Mr. Fairfax. Who can it be :
How exquisitely she skates. Any of
our party r " and her ladyship looked
"A giantess I declare," said Emily
Colville. " Good gracious, what a
monster of a woman. It must be
Mrs. Booth, but how came she here ?"
"It is Le\^ds, at all events," said
" How very strange/' observed Miss
" That woman is a perfect skater,"
exclaimed Lady Aston. ''She must
give me a few hints. Pray let us make
her acquaintance quickly ;" and she
At that moment a tremendous crash
was heard, and both Lewis and the
female figure disappeared.
'' My God !" exclaimed Fairfax, " the
ice has given way, they are inevitably
All ran eagerly forward, and Frank
Pemberton first reached the Mere. Both
bodies were immersed, both had been
sucked under the ice. There wa,s
nothing to be done vdth a chance of
saving them. Frank examined the banks
on all sides. Sir Lenox Buxton ran
back to the Castle for help, in the shape
of ropes and men. Mr. Pemberton made
off to a near cottage, in the hope of
finding help there. Lord .Leslie imme-
diately sprang on to the ice close to the
chasm, to reconnoitre the possibility of
the bodies being near enough to lay hold
of. Mr. Fairfax at the top of his voice
called aloud for help, in the vain expecta-
tion that some one would hear him.
Lady Aston had sunk on the ground,
and her sister Julia stood beside her
weeping. The Cohilles in silent horror
clasped each others hand; and Helen
racked her brain to think of some plan
to rescue poor Lewis and his companion
She was dragging a large hedge stake
towards the Mere, when she suddenly
rushed on, and was at Lord Leshe's side.
" Pray, my lord, " she said, seizing
his arm, " remain not here a moment.
This piece of ice will go directly. A
large crack is just now perceptible."
" Then for Heaven's sake, Helen,"
cried Leslie, ^^ hasten back. Why did
you venture on it ? Was it to save me r
But go — go, dear Helen."
" I will,", said Helen ; " but let not
m}^ warning be in vain. Pray come
" To the world's end, dear Helen, "
whispered Clarence, as he took her hand
in order to steady her retreat on the
slippery way. When they gained the
bank, " Now, Lord Leslie," said Helen,
quite indifferent, almost unconscious of
his devotion, " use your utmost strength
with this piece of wood, which I have
pulled from yonder hedge, and break
this ice, a larger space may give poor
Lewis a chance."
Lord Leslie did her bidding. The ice
gave way before his Herculean blow,
and immediately it was perceived that
the bodies were there.
Mr. Pemberton had returned from the
cottage, and brought the poor old dame's
clothes line ; this he attached to his
waist, and giving the end to Leslie, he
dashed into the water. He seized the
apparently lifeless body of his brother,
and succeeded in getting it to. shore. He
then returned for the stranger, and, with
more difficulty, from the weight, dragged
the corpse to land, for hfe was extinct
But the horror of the party cannot
be described, when it was discovered that
this stranger, this supposed female, was
Sir James Aston. At that moment
numerous men from the Castle came
running to the spot, and Lord Heath-
down arrived also, with Sir Lenox Bux-
ton, and the carriage soon followed.
Lewis was immediately laid in it, for it
was soon discovered that life with him
was not extinct. No time was lost, and
when he reached home proper restora-
tives were applied. For several hours
there seemed little hope of restored ani-
mation ; but at length poor Lady Heath-
down had the joy of believing her son
was saved to her.
But to return to the party on the
banks of the Mere.
Lady Aston had fainted at the appalling
sight of the dead body of her husband,
Helen was endeavouring to revive her,
and to keep Ufe within her, for she began
to fear it too was ebbing fast. Lord
Leshe brought water from the Mere in
his hat, and rendered Helen every assist-
ance in his power. JuUa Aston was
weeping in the arms of the two Miss
Colvilles, and Frank Pemberton was
imploring her to calm herself for his
sake ; for, in that moment of excitement,
every feehng displayed itself without
care or thought. Mr. Fairfax had ex-
amined the corpse, and stood silently by
the dead body of poor Sir James Aston.
Mrs. Pemberton had gone home in the
carriage with Lewis and her husband.
Helen, pale as monumental marble,
ceased not in her attentions to the be-
reaved wife, and when another carriage
arrived from the Castle, Lord LesUe
carried Lady Aston into it, and laid her
in Helen's arms, who had preceded her
In order to support her. Frank and Miss
Aston occupied the other seat, and in
that melancholy drive, notwithstanding
the presence of Helen, who, however,
seemed little less alive than the motion-
less body she held in her arms, Frank
poured forth his love, and Julia wept
mingled tears of bitterness and joy on
his shoulder as she acknowledged that
she returned it truly and tenderly.
Mrs. Melbourne had stationed herself
in Lewis' chamber, in order to assist and
comfort Lady Heathdown ; but on the
arrival of the second carriage, she imme-
diately descended, feehng anxious for
the other sufferers.
Lady Aston was carried to her room,
and for hours remained insensible, and
when she did recover consciousness, fit
after fit of hysterics terrified her domes-
tics, and distressed her poor father and
mother, whose time was fully occupied
between the rooms of their suffering
Sir James Aston' s body was conveyed
to the Castle in a third carriage, attended
by his servant. The rest of the party
walked home. And so ended a bright
sunny morning in February, that had
opened with the promise of much plea-
sure, and had closed with the death of
one of the party, and the illness of two
others, and had thrown a gloom and an
awe over the whole. Such is life — so
uncertain its continuance, so soon its
sunshine is shut out by clouds, and
storms, and darkness ; and yet man goes
on his path full of hope and joy, and
laughing and revelling as though there
were safety in ever}' step, and as though
this world were his abiding place. And
thus souls are plunged into eternity with
all their sins upon them, and no man
is taught by the daily experience of