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IX 


From Magdalen to Norah.

"July 7th.

"MY DEAREST NORAH -- All that your love for me can wish your letter has done. You, and you alone, have found your way to my heart. I could think again, I could feel again, after reading what you have written to me. Let this assurance quiet your anxieties. My mind lives and breathes once more -- it was dead until I got your letter.

"The shock I have suffered has left a strange quietness in me. I feel as if I had parted from my former self -- as if the hopes once so dear to me had all gone back to some past time from which I am now far removed. I can look at the wreck of my life more calmly, Norah, than you could look at it if we were both together again. I can trust myself already to write to Frank.

"My darling, I think no woman ever knows how utterly she has given herself up to the man she loves -- until that man has ill-treated her. Can you pity my weakness if I confess to having felt a pang at my heart when I read that part of your letter which calls Frank a coward and a villain? Nobody can despise me for this as I despise myself. I am like a dog who crawls back and licks the master's hand that has beaten him. But it is so -- I would confess it to nobody but you -- indeed, indeed it is so. He has deceived and deserted me; he has written me a cruel farewell -- but don't call him a villain! If he repented and came back to me, I would die rather than marry him now -- but it grates on me to see that word coward written against him in your hand! If he is weak of purpose, who tried his weakness beyond what it could bear? Do you think this would have happened if Michael Vanstone had not robbed us of our own, and forced Frank away from me to China? In a week from to-day the year of waiting would have come to an end, and I should have been Frank's wife, if my marriage portion had not been taken from me.

"You will say, after what has hap pened, it is well that I have escaped. My love! there is something perverse in my heart which answers, No! Better have been Frank's wretched wife than the free woman I am now.

"I have not written to him. He sends me no address at which I could write, even if I would. But I have not the wish. I will wait before I send him my farewell. If a day ever comes when I have the fortune which my father once promised I should bring to him, do you know what I would do with it? I would send it all to Frank, as my revenge on him for his letter; as the last farewell word on my side to the man who has deserted me. Let me live for that day! Let me live, Norah, in the hope of better times for you, which is all the hope I have left. When I think of your hard life, I can almost feel the tears once more in my weary eyes. I can almost think I have come back again to my former self.

"You will not think me hard-hearted and ungrateful if I say that we must wait a little yet before we meet. I want to be more fit to see you than I am now. I want to put Frank further away from me, and to bring you nearer still. Are these good reasons? I don't know -- don't ask me for reasons. Take the kiss I have put for you here, where the little circle is drawn on the paper; and let that bring us together for the present till I write again. Good-by, my love. My heart is true to you, Norah, but I dare not see you yet.

MAGDALEN."

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