peacefulness of the lonely country was over-shadowed and saddened by the influence of the falling year.
I reached the moor; I stood again on the brow of the hill; I looked on, along the path—and there were the familiar garden trees in the distance, the clear sweeping semicircle of the drive, the high white walls of Limmeridge House. The chances and changes, the wanderings and dangers of months and months past, all shrank and shrivelled to nothing in my mind. It was like yesterday, since my feet had last trodden the fragrant heathy ground! I thought I should see her coming to meet me, with her little straw hat shading her face, her simple dress fluttering in the air, and her well-filled sketch-book ready in her hand.
Oh, Death, thou hast thy sting! oh, Grave, thou hast thy victory!
I turned aside; and there below me, in the glen, was the lonesome grey church; the porch where I had waited for the coming of the woman in white; the hills encircling the quiet burial-ground; the brook bubbling cold over its stony bed. There was the marble cross, fair and white, at the head of the tomb—the tomb that now rose over mother and daughter alike.
I approached the grave. I crossed once more the low stone stile, and bared my head as I touched the sacred ground. Sacred to gentleness and goodness; sacred to reverence and grief.
I stopped before the pedestal from which the cross rose. On one side of it, on the side nearest to me, the newly-cut inscription met my eyes—the hard, clear, cruel black letters which told the story of her life and death. I tried to read them. I did read, as far as the name. "Sacred to the Memory of Laura——" The kind blue eyes dim with tears; the fair head drooping wearily; the innocent, parting words which implored me to leave her—oh, for a happier last memory of her than this; the memory I took away with me, the memory I bring back with me to her grave!
A second time I tried to read the inscription. I saw, at the end, the date of her death; and above it——
Above it, there were lines on the marble, there was a name among them, which disturbed my thoughts of her. I went round to the other side of the grave, where there was nothing to read—nothing of earthly vileness to force its way between her spirit and mine.
I knelt down by the tomb. I laid my hands, I laid my head, on the broad white stone, and closed my weary eyes on