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Neither, I felt convinced, had Mrs. Strong then. Several weeks
elapsed before I saw the least change in her. It came on slowly,
like a cloud when there is no wind. At first, she seemed to wonder
at the gentle compassion with which the Doctor spoke to her, and at
his wish that she should have her mother with her, to relieve the
dull monotony of her life. Often, when we were at work, and she
was sitting by, I would see her pausing and looking at him with
that memorable face. Afterwards, I sometimes observed her rise,
with her eyes full of tears, and go out of the room. Gradually, an
unhappy shadow fell upon her beauty, and deepened every day. Mrs.
Markleham was a regular inmate of the cottage then; but she talked
and talked, and saw nothing.

As this change stole on Annie, once like sunshine in the Doctor's
house, the Doctor became older in appearance, and more grave; but
the sweetness of his temper, the placid kindness of his manner, and
his benevolent solicitude for her, if they were capable of any
increase, were increased. I saw him once, early on the morning of
her birthday, when she came to sit in the window while we were at
work (which she had always done, but now began to do with a timid
and uncertain air that I thought very touching), take her forehead
between his hands, kiss it, and go hurriedly away, too much moved
to remain. I saw her stand where he had left her, like a statue;
and then bend down her head, and clasp her hands, and weep, I
cannot say how sorrowfully.

Sometimes, after that, I fancied that she tried to speak even to
me, in intervals when we were left alone. But she never uttered a
word. The Doctor always had some new project for her participating
in amusements away from home, with her mother; and Mrs. Markleham,
who was very fond of amusements, and very easily dissatisfied with
anything else, entered into them with great good-will, and was loud
in her commendations. But Annie, in a spiritless unhappy way, only
went whither she was led, and seemed to have no care for anything.

I did not know what to think. Neither did my aunt; who must have
walked, at various times, a hundred miles in her uncertainty. What
was strangest of all was, that the only real relief which seemed to
make its way into the secret region of this domestic unhappiness,
made its way there in the person of Mr. Dick.

What his thoughts were on the subject, or what his observation was,
I am as unable to explain, as I dare say he would have been to
assist me in the task. But, as I have recorded in the narrative of
my school days, his veneration for the Doctor was unbounded; and
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