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they were. St Cuthbert's alone was left to them. Various causes had conspired to effect the downfall of the once powerful family: persecuted for their religion, for their loyalty, for their heroism and devotion—they had paid the penalty of being true and stanch when the reformers worked ruin around. Cyril Clifford, the present representative, had been designed for holy orders ; but delicate health, and the decease of his three elder brothers, changed the aspect of affairs materially. He was the only protector of his sister, Miss Clifford : she had been to him both mother and sister combined; and he gave way to her earnest wishes, at the suggestion of their medical advisers, for a temporary change of scene and climate, and suspension from all intellectual labours-for Cyril was a devoted student.

Mr Tresham, so snappish and rude to all others, when in the presence of the gentle Miss Clifford invariably became tame and subdued : but there was nothing like admiration or gallantry in his demeanour towards her, which was simply more silent and respectful when in her presence; and it might also be observed with what covert interest he watched over the health and conduct of young Cyril Clifford, though often downright bearish towards him in manner. Cyril's refinement he termed effeminacy,' his high and courteous bearing, 'puppyism,' and his erudition, pedantry.' 'He endured the lad,' he said, "for his good sister's sake, who was a wise woman, and eschewed matrimony.' So tenderly attached as this brother and sister were to each other, left alone in the world together with reduced fortunes, and noble, generous hearts (the liberal hand and empty purse), it is not surprising that their position had rendered them somewhat averse to general society. Their disposition inclined to solitude and retirement, fostered, doubtless, by their peculiar circumstances; and it was possibly only the claim of kin on the dowager, Mrs Vaughan's part, which had induced them to cultivate the acquaintance of the inmates of Vaughan Hall. By degrees Miss Clifford's interest in the lovely and affectionate Gertrude ripened into warm affection, most fully returned by her youthful friend. Into Miss Clifford's ear she poured all her joys and sorrows, listened meekly to her pious admonitions, and strenuously endeavoured to profit by them; for there was this good in the high-spirited girl—she knew when she did wrong, and always repented her errors; sinned, and repented again; wept, and smiled, and threw herself on Miss Clifford's neck, exclaiming: 'Oh it is impossible you can care for me, you who are yourself so perfect!'

Miss Clifford had written to Gertrude according to promise, and the latter with proud delight hailed the welcome letter ; her heart throbbed and her eyes filled with tears when she came to the words “my beloved Cyril is certainly improving in health.' Gertrude was astonished at her own emotion; she did not understand why the very mention of Mr Clifford's name should cause her heart to beat faster. In his presence she felt a kind of awe, yet he was tender and considerate towards her as to a foolish spoiled child. A glance of reproof from his lustrous dark eyes overwhelmed Gertrude with contrition and even dismay; and when his cheek became pale, and his slight form more attenuated, often she had rushed away from the contemplation of the gradual change, seeking the solitude of her chamber to find relief in tears. Poor child ! she had early begun



her idol-worship, unknowing it to be such : innocent, pure, and confiding, Gertrude believed, if she thought about it at all, that all her feelings were sisterly, and that Cyril Clifford never could be more or less to her. At sixteen, she was a novice in the dangerous love which romances teach; works of fiction were sealed books to her, for Mr Vaughan was no reader, the dowager still less so, and the library at St Cuthbert's Priory, to which she had free access, was stored with volumes likely to strengthen, not weaken or corrupt, the youthful mind. Cyril was now improving in health, the world was becoming bright again, and oh, she would strive to remember his precepts, and dear Miss Clifford's; and when they returned, she would be a woman grown, and perhaps, perhaps they might find her improved. She would strive at anyrate to be more worthy of their friendship. They were to be absent for three or four long years; but then it was to save Cyril, and Gertrude had a true woman's heart, devoid of selfish considerations where the beloved was concerned. If it was good for him, could she repine ?

It had been a stormy day-gusts of wind, accompanied by thunder and lightning-when Gertrude stood in the cold, large hall to welcome the travellers alighting at the door. The last rays of a watery summer sunset illuminated but failed to render cheerful the bare expanse, so chilling in its magnificence. Gertrude was in her father's arms, clasped to his bosom, and dizzy with emotion, ere she regained self-command sufficient to bestow a calm regard on the two female forms beside her: they were those of her father's wife and her father's step-daughter, the little Aliz. A very young girl, with a profusion of golden ringlets, and large blue eyes, soft and holy as a Madona's, clung to a lady whose strong resemblance at once proclaimed her to be little Aliz's mamma.

Mr Vaughan's bride was still a young woman, and the extreme loveliness of both mother and daughter was absolutely startling, there was such a character of sadness about it-such a sweet, pensive melancholy, which in Mrs Vaughan assumed a more serious aspect. Her cheeks were wan, her beautiful lips compressed, and an expression of suffering dwelt on her brow; but she smiled as Gertrude turned towards her, such a smile as Gertrude had never beheld before. Few words she spoke; but her musical voice made Gertrude thrill as she placed the hand of the fair, trembling Aliz in that of her new sister.

Aliz looked into Gertrude's speaking eyes, and from that moment Gertrude knew that Aliz was to be her care. 'My gentle darling,' she exclaimed, 'welcome to Vaughan! My sweet little sister Aliz, what & joy you will be to me!'

. And will you not welcome me, dear Gertrude?' said her stepmother timidly, her eyes full of grateful tears as she contemplated the two beautiful creatures.

· Ah, mamma,' replied Gertrude blushing, 'I had almost forgotten you in my delight to find such a sister; but you are papa's care, Aliz is mine.'

Prophetic words ! Mrs Vaughan felt them to be so, for with a heavy sigh she turned away, and followed her husband to the dowager's presence. There was a terrific scene: his aged mother's tears unmanned Mr Vaughan, and her upbraidings cut him to the heart. She was his mother, and he





her only child. She put back his bride with her withered hand, shaking her head, and muttering: "The fair face and the cold heart: cold to my son, but warm to his gold-warm to his gold!'

Mrs Vaughan blushed scarlet, and her husband turned pale, and looked angry. 'Mother, what do you mean?—why do you talk so?' he cried. "Why do you not welcome the daughter I have brought you?'

'I welcome her!—I welcome her! Nay, nay, my son; her fair face won't wheedle me: she hears me say it too. She'll get none of my gold, neither she nor her bonny daughter Aliz. And you think she loves you, foolish boy?' she exclaimed suddenly; for Mr Vaughan was often a boy with her.

Well, mother, I hope so,' he answered seriously, at the same time drawing his pale wife to his side, and whispering words which none could hear. But she turned away weeping; and his mother cried triumphantly: 'She dares not face you, my son, before me, or declare that she married you for love!' Mrs Vaughan only wept hysterically, and the first seeds of suspicion were sown in her husband's breast.

The dowager had been successful beyond her hopes. She watched the pair with a scowling eye, which gradually became more tame and satisfied. 'Ah, my fine bride, we shall see which is strongest-a mother's influence or yours. I hate you because you have stolen my son's heart from me, but only for awhile-only for awhile,' muttered the dowager to herself as she took an unusually large pinch of snuff, tapping her gold box vehemently.

Never once did the second Mrs Vaughan make the slightest effort to obtain the mastery, or even her proper footing at Vaughan Hall. She retired in dismay and terror from the presence of the irritated dowager; and her quiet, subdued manner became even more subdued. Well had it been if any kindness and respect on the part of her husband had nerved the poor lady to sustain her lot. The poison, however, had been infused into Mr Vaughan's ear: it spread and grew; and at length he became convinced that his melancholy bride had married him for a home for herself and the child on whom her best affections were centred. She had been very poor, when Mr Vaughan, struck by her fascinations and beauty, 'made a fool of himself,' as Mr Tresham said. The novelty wore off; passion evaporated; and, alas! ''tis an old tale, and often told, Mr Vaughan repented the step he had taken, and wearied of his wife. She patiently bore all his harshness and coldness. But the more patient and resigned the wife, the more overbearing and intolerant became the dowager lady. As for Gertrude, she was always respectful and affectionate to her stepmother; but she studiously avoided noticing by outward demonstration the line of conduct which her father pursued towards the hapless lady so completely in his power. Far different was it where Aliz was concerned. Her she took completely beneath her wing, shielded her from every blast, protected her from blame, and fostered the goldenhaired nursling even like some rare exotic. And well did Aliz Lee repay fair Gertrude Vaughan's love and care—with silent gratitude and warm affection, yearning tenderness, and a depth of truth and thoughtfulness far beyond her years.

Early sorrows, privations, and self-denial, together with a most selfdenying, sweet disposition, and a knowledge of that better part' which sorrows often teach the young, had conspired to render Aliz Lee not undeserving the high encomiums so enthusiastically passed upon her by the generous Gertrude. A soft and gentle nature, sensitive and shrinking to the last degree, seemed to demand a prop whereon to lean : this stay Aliz found in Gertrude; and the more she leaned, the more Gertrude loved and fostered her. Never had Gertrude had any one to love before like her beautiful, winning, little sister Aliz, as she fondly called her. What in comparison to this pet was the curly-eared spaniel or the cooing doves ? It was a strong human passion compared with the poetry of a day-dream; and Gertrude, who never did anything by halves, felt that for Aliz Lee she could lay down her life. Mrs Vaughan the younger looked on in silence; but a placid smile might be observed to illumine her features as her eyes followed the movements of the two fair girls–Gertrude with her arms twined round Aliz, whose head rested lovingly on the other's shoulder. It was a strange, ominous smile, and to those versed in such readings betrayed presages of what was to come.

The shadow of death rested on the poor lady: she alone saw it afar off; and weary as she was of the world, which to her had brought nothing but disappointment and bitterness, she was quite ready to depart. At length the death-angel shook his wings so loudly that the dim-sighted and dull of hearing both saw and heard; then indeed the dowager relaxed her persecutions, and her son laid aside his coldness for a show of interest and tenderness. But the sufferer saw through the flimsy veil; she knew she had no place at Vaughan Hall, and that they were aware she would soon pass away. In two years from the period when she came there as a bride, Mrs Vaughan felt that her end approached, and that she must leave that stately mansion no more, save for the last dismal journey.

Mrs Vaughan one autumn evening was stretched on a couch beside the casement, gazing on the fading rainbow tints of the autumnal sunset; she was strikingly altered even within the last few hours: there was death in her eyes. She faintly beckoned Gertrude to her; and when Gertrude's tears fell thick and fast, the dying woman took her hand and whispered words of comfort. 'Do not weep, dear girl; I am going home, and I am happy. I have not much time, and I must hasten to say all that is passing in my heart. It is about Aliz I would speak. Listen, Gertrude Vaughan listen! for in an hour hence I shall be beyond that setting sun, beyond human ken, and Aliz will be motherless. Never forsake her, never leave her. To you I bequeath my child, my angel-child, who has never caused me one moment's pang since her birth, who has been to me what never child was to mother before. She is yours now, Gertrude. It is enough;

I need say no more; I know your noble nature, and I leave the world in peace.'

Mr Vaughan was troubled in conscience after his second wife's decease, but allowed himself to be soon comforted by his mother and Mr Tresham. Vainly the old lady strove to persuade her son to send Aliz away-to school, to a foreign convent, anywhere to get rid of her decently. Vainly, for Gertrude's strong will overpowered her father's weak one. went, she went too; and Gertrude was her father's pride and joy: he could not part with her.

As Gertrude attained to woman's estate, she completely outgrew those

If Aliz

outbursts of temper which had once rendered Vaughan Hall anything but a seat of peace, the contentions between the dowager and her granddaughter frequently waxing loud and turbulent. Still they were opposed to each other-opposed in character, disposition, and action; but with quiet sway Gertrude had by imperceptible degrees asserted her right, and after her stepmother's death she took her place as the mistress of the household. Everywhere her influence was felt and acknowledged, and with impotent passion the dethroned old lady witnessed the advent of her queenly descendant. Strikingly beautiful and gracious in deportment, the contrast was remarkable between Gertrude Vaughan and Aliz Lee; the latter clinging to her stronger friend as some delicate tendrils twine around and are supported by a noble stem. There never was one who needed fostering and tending more than the gentle, delicate orphan; her health was so frail that Gertrude often endured intense anxiety as she noted the wan cheek and slight form, so like those of her mother. 'She is too pure, too good for this world,' sighed Gertrude; "and my heart misgives me that I shall lose my treasure.'

Five years glided by; the dowager in her turn was gathered to her fathers; and the Cliffords were expected at St Cuthbert's Priory. Mr Clifford's health was perfectly re- established, and they were coming 'home to settle,' wrote Miss Clifford.

My darling Aliz!' exclaimed Gertrude with delighted animation, “how I long to introduce you to these dear friends! They are so noble, and so superior to all other human beings, that I hope you will learn to love and value them as I do.' Aliz said she hoped so too. Why was it that the remembrance of Mr Tresham’s boding words came into the heart of Gertrude just then, and caused a pang which she hated herself for feeling?

* Aliz Lee work me mischief !' said Gertrude with a smile : 'it is impossible !'


In a sequestered nook near St Cuthbert's, sheltered by a superbly-wooded hill, and just at the commencement of a green valley, through which tumbled and foamed the rivulet, finding its way to St Cuthbert's hamlet, stood a low and rambling mansion, beautiful and picturesque. This was the Priory, the ancestral home of the Cliffords. There was a curious old gateway enveloped in ivy which admitted to an enclosure too small for a park, yet too wild for a shrubbery, surrounded and dotted by masses of ivy-covered ruins, arches tastefully festooned by nature's hand, and a few prostrate pillars, now forming moss-covered seats. There was a veneral cedar, too, whose antiquity was the subject of dispute. The original monastic building had evidently been a substantial and highly-decorated one, though not extensive; and in the present dwelling a richly-stained glass-window was preserved in the oak library, where the dim religious light fell on sculptured devices, black with time's sombre painting. In the entrance-hall were niches containing oddly - carved figures and illegible inscriptions ; dark-coloured roses grew in the crevices and hung round the casements; and what with the gray walls, and gray lichens, and brown moss, and a mysterious dreaminess pervading the very atmosphere, St Cuthbert's Priory seemed a fitting shade for the recluse, who, wearied of the

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