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CHAPTER XV.

Hence, vain deluding joys,

The brood of Folly, without father bred,

How little you bestead,
Or fill the fixed mind with all your toys.

MILTON.

How beautiful, how fragrant, how laden with Nature's choicest dower is the fair month of June! Hedges groan under the freight of their own richness; the flowers are in their first tide of green beauty,—the warblers of the grove so freshly sing their love-tuned lays. June is the youth of summer, blushing amidst a wreath of clustering loveliness, smiling under a canopy of blue sky, and lighted by the most re

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splendent hues of the sun's golden rays. Fashionable persons, however, are above the vulgar feeling which could be indulged by the meanest peasant; therefore they have unanimously abandoned the country when at its climax of beauty, and, whilst carriages are rolling along the dusty London streets, Nature is smiling amidst verdure and fragrance.

The drawing-room windows were thrown open, and the sun only pierced through the apertures of the Venetian blinds; therefore, Alice Lemington could bend over her embroidery frame, and if visitors arrived, the strikingly pallid hue of her interesting countenance, might be attributed to the shadow of the green blinds; at all events, poor Alice was strenuously endeavouring to assume a calmness she could not feel.

The young girl's thoughts, when once more the drawing-room door closed and

she was left alone, were strangely sad, and yet they wandered only to the recollection of a single week. Was young Cunnington so dear to her, that when she heard he was going to leave England, her very breath seemed to grow faint, and a pang of depression smote her heart, as she vainly endeavoured to persuade herself she had nothing to do with the sudden resolution.

“Does he love me as I love him ?” the wretched girl asked herself; “if he does, vain will be the relief he fancies he will experience from absence ;” and poor Alice tortured herself with a thousand unhappy conjectures. There was truly something inexpressibly sad in the reflection that he, the heir,—the only son,—the hope of the family, was on the point of leaving his native land, his home, and kindred; there was intense misery to reflect that he had no aim in view, save to conquer disappoint

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ment, perhaps to heal a broken heart; and yet, Alice, knowing as she did, that she was the one young Cunnington wished to shun, still her native delicacy caused her to shrink from confessing that which she so well knew, and she dare not ask permission to leave Lord Cunnington's roof.

Will men believe that there are moments when woman wishes she had not been beautiful ? will they believe that beauty is sometimes a heavy weight to bear? perchance not. Perhaps man fancies there is not often concealed wretchedness in the smile which sends him home to dream of the beauty he adores. Alice Lemington raised her face from the hands on which it had rested, and so doing, she saw that young countenance reflected in the mirror before her,then it was she wished she had less beauty.

Always graceful in every line, that face was now so lovely, it had such a touch of young pensive grief, such an expression of thought stamped upon its lofty brow ; it was a face from which vulgar-minded persons would have turned to look on fresher beauty,—it was a face, on which the man of refinement must gaze with fond admiration. Alice Lemington's was a dangerous gift of beauty; it was the reflection of the bright soul of intellect beaming on her young countenance, even in the gay saloons of mirth; young Cunnington had been struck with the lofty expression which stole over those gentle features ; it seemed as if those light steps followed the inspiration of the music, whilst the mind, wrapped in a halo of poetical excitement, lent grace to the fairy-like form.

And now Alice's heart was bruised—always gentle, she now experienced a sort of painful softness to the feelings of others ;

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