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flew to the window to give her air.

It was fortunate, for if she had returned
to her place by her friend's side, Sophy's
smothered ejaculation of ' Thank Heaven !
could hardly have escaped her ears.

Enfranchisement is a blessed thing, no
matter by what means it is obtained — whether
by manumission, or the death of the task-
master. The air that Sophy breathed was the
air of freedom : those only can understand its
sweetness who have been deprived of it.

' Darling, darling Sophy, try to bear it,'
whispered Henny, fervently.

' I will ; I do.' Then, in low tones which
she strove to clothe in sorrow and strip of
eagerness, ' When did it happen ? '



BREAKING IT. 303

The form of inquiry was strange enough,
the more natural question being obviously,
' How did it happen ? ' But Henny set it
down to her friend's confusion and distress of
mind. As a matter of fact, Sophy had ex-
pressed the real point of her anxiety clearly
enough.

' He was rowing on the river, poor fellow,
up some back stream where there was a chain
across ; after chapel.'

Sophy groaned. The first part of Henny' s
reply had comforted her companion ; she
knew that the obstacle in question existed on
the stream that led from Trumpington Mill,
and she took it for granted that the unhappy
young man had perished on his return home
from their interview early in the afternoon ;
there could have been no time for him to have
reached home and written that letter to his
father which he had threatened her with ;
but Henny' s concluding words had filled her
anew with apprehension ; if the catastrophe



304 THE CANON'S WARD.

took place after chapel there had been time.
If that evidence of her marriage existed, it
would be impossible to suppress it. A life of
misery and thraldom was, indeed, no longer
before her ; but shameful exposure was — it
was but too likely — awaiting her. It may
have been a small thing to think of, side by
side with such an awful catastrophe ; but
the one had happened and the other had
not, and might be remedied. Under the
influence of terror, the weak are scarcely less
heartless than the cruel. There was, how-
ever, one advantage in this new cause for
alarm. It filled poor Sophy with all the
melancholy which her companion expected to
find in her from another cause ; there was no
longer any need for hypocrisy. Her distress
was such, indeed, that Henny began to feel
that it was aggravated by her presence ; and,
with her usual simplicity and straightforward-
ness, presently inquired if this was the case.
' I came here to comfort you, my darling ;



BREAKING IT. 305

but, if, now that I have fulfilled my sad
errand, you feel that you would rather be
alone, do not hesitate to say so.'

1 If you don't mind, if you would not be
hurt, dear Henny, I think I would,' was the
whispered rejoinder.

' And your Aunt Maria ; you would,
perhaps, rather not see her to-night ? While
a wound is tender, one shrinks from even the
kindest touch.'

' True, darling, true,' answered Sophy,
eagerly ; ' how well you understand me ! I
had rather be quite alone.'

Henny rose at once, and the girls em-
braced one another affectionately. Sophy
dearly loved her friend. Nor must it be sup-
posed that she had no scruples in deceiving
her ; her conscience reproached her very
keenly, notwithstanding that, in truth, she
had no alternative in the matter. It is
not the least among the many drawbacks
attaching to a course of duplicity, that it

vol. 1. x



3o6 THE CANON'S WARD.

forbids us to be open even with those from
whom we would fain have no secrets : when
we once leave the plateau of plain dealing, it is
impossible to reascend at pleasure ; a road has
first to be made to it with toil and trouble,
and by the work of our own hands.



END OF THE FIRST VOLUME.



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Hours with the Players. With a
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Nights at the Play: A View of the
English Stage. New and Cheaper
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Leo: A Novel. Post 8vo, illustrated
boards, 2s.

Paul Foster's Daughter. Post 8vo,
illustrated boards, 2s. ; crown 8vo,
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Copyright.— A Handbook of

English and Foreign Copyright in
Literary and Dramatic Works. By
Sidney Jerrold, of the Middle
Temple, Esq., Barrister-at-Law. Post
8vo, cloth limp, 2s. 6d.

Cornwall.— Popular Romances

of the West of England ; or, The

Drolls, Traditions, and Superstitions
of Old Cornwall. Collected and Edited
by Robert Hunt, F.R.S. New and
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Two Steel-plate Illustrations by
George Cruikshank. Crown 8vo,
cl ot h extr a, 7s . 6d.

Creasy.— Memoirs of Eminent

Etonians: with Notices of the Early
History of Eton College. By Sir
Edward Creasy, Author of " The
Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World."
Crown 8vo, cloth extra, gilt, with 13
Portraits, 7a. 6d.

Cruikshank (George):

The Comic Almanack. Complete in

Two Series : The First from 1835
to 1843 ; the Second from 1844 to
1853. A Gathering of the Best
Humour of Thackeray, Hood, May-
hew, Albert Smith, A'Beckett,
Robert Brough, &c. With 2,000
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Crown 8vo, cloth gilt, two very thick
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The Life of George Cruikshank. By
Blanchard Jerrold, Author ot
"The Life of Napoleon III.," &c.
With 84 Illustrations. New and
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Robinson Crusoe. A choicely-printed


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