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very much, dear fellow. Let me hear you say you are happy, if you

‘I must tell you something, first. I should not have a secret from
you. You would not blame me, at a time like this, I know.’

‘I blame you!’ exclaimed Nicholas.
‘I am sure you would not. You asked me why I was so changed,
and--and sat so much alone. Shall I tell you why?’

‘Not if it pains you,’ said Nicholas. ‘I only asked that I might
make you happier, if I could.’

‘I know. I felt that, at the time.’ He drew his friend closer to
him. ‘You will forgive me; I could not help it, but though I would
have died to make her happy, it broke my heart to see--I know he
loves her dearly--Oh! who could find that out so soon as I?’

The words which followed were feebly and faintly uttered, and
broken by long pauses; but, from them, Nicholas learnt, for the
first time, that the dying boy, with all the ardour of a nature
concentrated on one absorbing, hopeless, secret passion, loved his
sister Kate.

He had procured a lock of her hair, which hung at his breast,
folded in one or two slight ribbons she had worn. He prayed that,
when he was dead, Nicholas would take it off, so that no eyes but
his might see it, and that when he was laid in his coffin and about
to be placed in the earth, he would hang it round his neck again,
that it might rest with him in the grave.

Upon his knees Nicholas gave him this pledge, and promised
again that he should rest in the spot he had pointed out. They
embraced, and kissed each other on the cheek.

‘Now,’ he murmured, ‘I am happy.’
He fell into a light slumber, and waking smiled as before; then,

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