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feelings from anybody but you; but I will tell you that--briefly and
plainly, Kate--that I love her.’

Kate’s eyes brightened, and she was going to make some reply,
when Nicholas laid his hand upon her arm, and went on:

‘Nobody must know this but you. She, last of all.’
‘Dear Nicholas!’

‘Last of all; never, though never is a long day. Sometimes, I try
to think that the time may come when I may honestly tell her this;
but it is so far off; in such distant perspective, so many years must
elapse before it comes, and when it does come (if ever) I shall be so
unlike what I am now, and shall have so outlived my days of youth
and romance--though not, I am sure, of love for her--that even I
feel how visionary all such hopes must be, and try to crush them
rudely myself, and have the pain over, rather than suffer time to
wither them, and keep the disappointment in store. No, Kate!
Since I have been absent, I have had, in that poor fellow who is
gone, perpetually before my eyes, another instance of the
munificent liberality of these noble brothers. As far as in me lies, I
will deserve it, and if I have wavered in my bounden duty to them
before, I am now determined to discharge it rigidly, and to put
further delays and temptations beyond my reach.’

‘Before you say another word, dear Nicholas,’ said Kate,
turning pale, ‘you must hear what I have to tell you. I came on
purpose, but I had not the courage. What you say now, gives me
new heart.’ She faltered, and burst into tears.

There was that in her manner which prepared Nicholas for
what was coming. Kate tried to speak, but her tears prevented her.

‘Come, you foolish girl,’ said Nicholas; ‘why, Kate, Kate, be a
woman! I think I know what you would tell me. It concerns Mr

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