in which we had first met. The paper trembled in her hand as she held it out to me—trembled in mine as I took it from her.
I was afraid to say what I felt—I only answered, "It shall never leave me; all my life long it shall be the treasure that I prize most. I am very grateful for it—very grateful to you, for not letting me go away without bidding you good-by."
"Oh!" she said innocently, "how could I let you go, after we have passed so many happy days together!"
"Those days may never return, Miss Fairlie—my way of life and yours are very far apart. But if a time should come, when the devotion of my whole heart and soul and strength will give you a moment's happiness, or spare you a moment's sorrow, will you try to remember the poor drawing-master who has taught you? Miss Halcombe has promised to trust me—will you promise too?"
The farewell sadness in the kind blue eyes shone dimly through her gathering tears.
"I promise it," she said in broken tones. "Oh, don't look at me like that! I promise it with all my heart."
I ventured a little nearer to her, and held out my hand.
"You have many friends who love you, Miss Fairlie. Your happy future is the dear object of many hopes. May I say, at parting, that it is the dear object of my hopes too?"
The tears flowed fast down her cheeks. She rested one trembling hand on the table to steady herself while she gave me the other. I took it in mine—I held it fast. My head drooped over it, my tears fell on it, my lips pressed it—not in love; oh, not in love, at that last moment, but in the agony and the self-abandonment of despair.
"For God's sake, leave me!" she said faintly.
The confession of her heart's secret burst from her in those pleading words. I had no right to hear them, no right to answer them; they were the words that banished me, in the name of her sacred weakness, from the room. It was all over. I dropped her hand; I said no more. The blinding tears shut her out from my eyes, and I dashed them away to look at her for the last time. One look as she sank into a chair, as her arms fell on the table, as her fair head dropped on them wearily. One farewell look; and the door had closed upon her—the great gulf of separation had opened between us—the image of Laura Fairlie was a memory of the past already.
The End of Hartright's Narrative.