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and the recollection that I was his constant companion, and was
not prevented, as I might have been by a hundred circumstances,
from being beside him?’

‘To be sure,’ sobbed Miss La Creevy; ‘it’s very true, and I’m an
ungrateful, impious, wicked little fool, I know.’

With that, the good soul fell to crying afresh, and, endeavouring
to recover herself, tried to laugh. The laugh and the cry, meeting
each other thus abruptly, had a struggle for the mastery; the result
was, that it was a drawn battle, and Miss La Creevy went into

Waiting until they were all tolerably quiet and composed again,
Nicholas, who stood in need of some rest after his long journey,
retired to his own room, and throwing himself, dressed as he was,
upon the bed, fell into a sound sleep. When he awoke, he found
Kate sitting by his bedside, who, seeing that he had opened his
eyes, stooped down to kiss him.

‘I came to tell you how glad I am to see you home again.’
‘But I can’t tell you how glad I am to see you, Kate.’

‘We have been wearying so for your return,’ said Kate, ‘mama
and I, and--and Madeline.’

‘You said in your last letter that she was quite well,’ said
Nicholas, rather hastily, and colouring as he spoke. ‘Has nothing
been said, since I have been away, about any future arrangements
that the brothers have in contemplation for her?’

‘Oh, not a word,’ replied Kate. ‘I can’t think of parting from her
without sorrow; and surely, Nicholas, you don’t wish it!’

Nicholas coloured again, and, sitting down beside his sister on a
little couch near the window, said:

‘No, Kate, no, I do not. I might strive to disguise my real

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