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THE

DULL STONE HOUSE,

CHAPTER I.

AN ANGELS FACE.

What a title for the heading, of a chapter! Absurd!! Yes, to those who believe that angel's faces never shine upon us here on earth; that they are never round our paths, nor about our beds. That their voices never fall on our ears, making sweet echoing music, which shall reverberate long, long after other worldly sounds have ceased to interest us, have ceased to echo at all. But the face of one of these gentle ones was to beam on Paul Withers's pathway. It

VOL. II. B

was not the face of Margaret Percy. No. That was a beautiful face enough. Like a sculptured marble in repose; like what it was, a lovely woman's face when animated, but never an angel's face.

Paul did not even think so for one moment, in all the wild and hopeless love he lavished on Miss Percy. Her attributes were very earthly. She was beautiful; she was even gentle. She looked earnestly, truthful, and tender, sometimes through those violet eyes of hers. If that was her soul looking through the eyes, it was' not a sordid or a vulgar soul, but she was not an angel.

Paul loved her. He had only seen her twice; but he loved her, and was as weak and yielding to this passion as are most of us, when first love comes upon us in its resistless might, in all its o'ermastering strength, in its overwhelming power. He yielded himself up to this mad feeling; he counted the days that must intervene before each visit to Percy Priory, and when he

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entered the shade of its beech woods, he counted breathlessly his chances of seeing Margaret, of hearing her voice, of dwelling entranced on its every tone. Where is all this to end? When once passion has fairly usurped the mastery, did ever this prudent question recal one being to a sense of prudence? I trow not.

Paul went on his way, not rejoicing, scarcely fearing; treasuring up looks and smiles which she dealt out impartially to all. He hoped for nothing definite, only for the next time of meeting her; only for another chance, and another, of gazing upon her beauty, of hearing her speak, perhaps even of touching her hand.

She would always stop and speak to him in the street, kindly too, and with a light shining over the pure perfect face, as though his presence gave her pleasure. But Miss Percy behaved thus gently to everybody. She had very suave manners. And then, Paul had saved her life. One day, just when the first flush of autumn had

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