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thought but that of using it to the best advantage. A hasty
breakfast taken, and such affairs of business as required prompt
attention disposed of, he directed his steps to the residence of
Madeline Bray: whither he lost no time in arriving.

It had occurred to him that, very possibly, the young lady might
be denied, although to him she never had been; and he was still
pondering upon the surest method of obtaining access to her in
that case, when, coming to the door of the house, he found it had
been left ajar--probably by the last person who had gone out. The
occasion was not one upon which to observe the nicest ceremony;
therefore, availing himself of this advantage, Nicholas walked
gently upstairs and knocked at the door of the room into which he
had been accustomed to be shown. Receiving permission to enter,
from some person on the other side, he opened the door and
walked in.

Bray and his daughter were sitting there alone. It was nearly
three weeks since he had seen her last, but there was a change in
the lovely girl before him which told Nicholas, in startling terms,
how much mental suffering had been compressed into that short
time. There are no words which can express, nothing with which
can be compared, the perfect pallor, the clear transparent
whiteness, of the beautiful face which turned towards him when
he entered. Her hair was a rich deep brown, but shading that face,
and straying upon a neck that rivalled it in whiteness, it seemed by
the strong contrast raven black. Something of wildness and
restlessness there was in the dark eye, but there was the same
patient look, the same expression of gentle mournfulness which he
well remembered, and no trace of a single tear. Most beautiful--
more beautiful, perhaps, than ever--there was something in her

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