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A BROKEN WEDDING RING.

BY--BERTH* M. CLAY,

CHAPTER XX.

warmly attached to to say-that, if Heaven -ai-S&i- with a son. he should resemble Sir Basil. HSiKtfte*-* l, * «« ™nv_ •Sffidl&ed Dim; he was a general i ■„ ift2n t far more 01 his ***T££toootlten at Glen. 6s?;|L day that dawned, with ggggfc rose and set. with every that waxed and waned. tf#? Tne world was as i»l=* f slie became absorbed m 2&§&*** *" F life " hel " some to whom this iatal § lliegt love "is given. They are even as they are the most **l£ Titex reach the highest, bliss they know the most ----nains Xo one warned Leah, jgrer-oii-= interested, as she £, in any trial of .kill for mastership. She did SS^-«aer by word or look. how it was that Leah. refused some 01 tne best offers "iSLTW &v* a her hearc and Stint si»b± to thls man - the »»e girl in ?k her face, her voice her r^ercaassed completely: her love Scored her. ffM touched her dress trembled; n he touched r ff te.fiß greeting, she grew pale as tir W «" a wMte Wj: " ben she to linn all tie pent-up passion or VeTioil seemed-to go out to him. tsieh awrld-oi love lay in the dark eyes! T- ttooM have been a thousand limes £*«Mor Leah had she never had such rpretrv theory as that of souls meetfc/or filed her mind with ideal notions. No' au=grrings came to her. no doubt, fear She never asked herself whether Jar nlii love would be returned., she ktet asked herself how it would end: tie lived entirely in the present, each for fall of lappiess. of interest, of thp ieantv. and g!o'. r of the passion that assessed her. Sl"e had forgotten that fer -B-oold sooa leave Brentwood: she ssd forgotten that they were going to Paiß Abbey; she had forgotten every-thing.--except that Sir Basil was near ierpaid thai she loved him. Every dream.-eTEry-wish of her life was realised; there Vas ao more to desire. She irMd iiave "been quite content to lie dovm m.the light of her great love and die.- ft seemed to her that ?il her life Jiad bKE ordered for this. Xow she had leaoied the haren of rest, never thinking that the storms in the haven might, Is greater than those on the open sea. It happens so often that a great love ;S lavished in vain. Sir Basil ; aw nothing of Leak's. He admired her exceedingly, .but he. never dreamed of loving her. He would have done anything for her;, he had the kindly affection of E brother.forherj ever since she had stood by the white Mies in the hall, in the spot "where his fair young sisxer had died, she had to Mm in some measure taken that dead sisters place. He confided everything-to-her. told her o-f all ids- affairs, sought her advice, was happy ia-lteT-yorietv. never rested away fcap. heziJhpnght; > pf:'her with continual Endly -affection; hut of love he never dreameH*- ----- • " -

Ihe .dachess. who had said to herself that she -troold not interfere, did just ihis- one thing: she told Sir Basil of the- splendid triumphs that. Leah had adnsved, and how she had passed through three 'such seasons as few <;ven most 'brilliant beauties had ever erperienced. She told of the offers of carriage made to her, and how she had Kfosed them aIL

•"Wiiydid she refuse them?" he asked. The duchess meant to do a kindly Etion wien she answered:

"She Mas ideas that are peculiar for fte nineteenth century; they are, I may fay, obsolete." "^He~looked aimoudy at her. =he tiioiioiit. .•"Pat ideas," he asked— "if mv quesiaay be answered?"' ' l answ3r if '" said the OTcfcs. «Mss Hattoa has issas-thar are quite out of date, Marri*f 5 m - ?T **?*> h an arrangement. Se mjit lave been Countess of Bartoy Bsie had liked; but she is romaner marTy wtd she can to mc right/ said Sir you think so," returned & docket dryly. -But iliss Hatton theory. I t is this-that for ■««X P?x=on m this world there g_love az-done lover-half souls, she °% aim, ii you can understand the St f 1 * Meves that eh* will recogg=te half soul or lover whenever she

Er La V e F prett - v Eaid SmM i.- d ° not see why any °«« Si Ob]Wt t0 h " He looked at her «ut eagerly as he n.ked: -And this ideaLyet'qUes : doa " * h * alone can fa&S-H.?? F" B *-*** ■*"■ yourself.tie duchess; and she smiled to was f ar too modest neiiVp'A l" Ueh a P e " le *s beauty, shouid fa" in love ier ideal in lllm uever acble Sd she hid rejeCted &t-*w ' * S fOr som * one "igher. wfc&M heard increas <* h - ■ S ? eCt lor h?r - He liked v Wail patiently lmtU "ridded to th\ luaaj ' ' vould have 4fl t mptatlon of rank and * for ? otteQ belief : ' asp'-ationj or early girlhood-

eHot ** « »« with eyes that e - re P ea:ed J and ll Sarre - ~*h£ - ala see Sir Ba = u no &%._ JT 4 IDr S°«en it/ , she said

V «T complimentary to BStliS.? , th ~ a who wiH aii ■- My hirers, duchess." ! S£&gt duchess: -tatter - -I*ai Trtk?T a hose ol " admirers." ™? tie " °P en window. #^ftl>-of K^ n the te "a« 'here I? Srifrlurf 5 n tae m °ming on which feSssr^**" stm fa bi ° om - N Sdln™ tlle sudden revelation .- .. :'„■ ~ Aase « SVse tnexe to be

an end now of all the light and brightness that had surrounded her since? The duchess looked ansiouslv at her. Lean's iace was deadly pale in th-2 glowing sunlight. ••The girl's heart is sick." thought the kindly woman, "and in all the -wide world no oik know§ the secret but mc. What can I do for her?" Suddenly her face brightened. Shs rose from her seat and went over to Leah. The pale face was half hidden by the climbing roses tha-t came in at the window.

"I have b<?en thinking. Leah," she said "that it seems a pity to break up this pleasant party here. I like Lady Maude, and pretty May is a very sweet girl! I do not care about the military element, but I shall ask Lady Maude "and May to go with us. That will he very pleasant: will it not:-' .

" Ve '-" replied L«ah, coldly. The pain at her heart was so bitter, "so keen that it was with difficulty she answered at all. •"And I have been thinking." continued thp duchess, "that, as Sir Basil a-nd your unoie seem so warmly attached to each other, it would be a great pity to part them, above all j-ust now. when Sir Basil is evidently recovering health and spirits. The duke likes him very much, and I thought of asking him to go to Dene with us. He will find plenty shooting and fishing there. We are sure to have some pleasant shooting-parties in September." " '

Was it a dazzling burst of .-unlight that brig-htened Leah's fair face and laughed in her expressive eyes? She turned with a quick, graceful gesture, and stooping, kissed the white jewelled hands of the kindly woman who had read -o well h--r heart's desire. She spoke no word, and the duchess did not notice her emotion.

"What do you think of it, Leah?' , she-asked, when she perceived that the sudden thrill of pleasure had passed. "'I think." she replied, slowly, "that he will be very pleaded."

"Do you?"' said the duchess, tryins to speak carelessly, while her heart ached for the girl. I will ask him today."'

She saw that the kindest thing she could do was to leave Leah alone. The ffirl trembled, and the hands that sought the crimson roses shook.

"I have som-e letters to write. Leah," said the duchess. "I think I will finish them before luncheon.' , Leah did not oven hear her. The duchess raised her hands and eyes as she went away. "I thought 1 was in love when I was a girl," she said; "but that was child's play to this. I have always eaid a great love is a terrible thing," and so it is.' .

.She would have been more sure of it still had she .seen" Leah when she knew her-**!! to be alone. She bowed her head, while tear- fell like raindrops upon the crimson roses: and from the girl's trembling lip-s came the murmured words of a prayer. She thanked Heaven. Heaven had sent Sir Basil; and now he was not to be taken out of her life suddenly, but they were to be together the whole of the happy bright autumn. And. for the time, self-sacrificing Het.tie. of whom Leah had heard nothing since they parted, -was forgotten in this new happiness. CHAPTER XXI. The Duke and Duchess of Rosedene. with their visitors, were at Dene Abbey, within sight and sound of the evermurmuring sea. Miss Hatton had the whole day to herself; she had no great household to manage a≤ at Brentwood. she had no care about the entertainment of visitors: the long bright hours were h-ers, to spend as she would. Lady Maude Treves- had gladly accepted the duchess's invitation; but pretty May Luson had promised to pay a visit elsewhere, and coulri not break the engagement. The military element had dispersed. >ir Basil Carlton had been delighted with her grace's proposal to join the party at the Abbey. He liked the duchess; her kindly gracious manner pleased him: he was touched by her great kindness to himself, although he did not know the cause. He did not go with the party froao Brentwood, but he followed them in a few days. It was a wonderful change from the green, sweet woodlands of Warwickshire, to the country bordering on a sunny

southern sea. Dene Abbey was a very old house, one that hundred-s of years before had belonged to an ancient order of friars. Bluff King Harry took possession of it, and gave it to one of his favourite courtiers. In course of time it came into the hands of the Rosedene family, who valued highly old mansion and magnificent estate. The duchess always insisted upon spending a feu- months there every year. Modern rooms and modern luxuries had been added to the old mansion, but it still retained enough of its antiquity to be one of the show places of England.

' From the windows, from ihp terraces, I from the grassy knolls in the park— from every part, the sea was visible. Dene lay in Sussex, near the little town of Southwood, which was a favourite watering-place. When calm, the water of the Channel lay like a fair mirror in the distance. When it was rough, the foam and "the dashing «pray seemed almost to envelop the Abbey. I There had been nothing wanting in the ' poetry of Leah's love-story: but if j anything could deepen the romance of ii. it was certainly the presence of the beautiful, restless, heaving sea. The duchess had but one notion of Jjleasing her gueste_at and it was to give them perfect liberty? Some liked the woods, some the yellow sands, some the everchanging sea. They w-ent where they liked and did as they liked, which was the great charm of the place.

So Sir Basil, who liked the sea, and Leah, whose passionate soul delighted in it, were often on the .beach together. They enjoyed the firm, yellow sands, the dancing, crested waves, the tall white cliffs covered with luxuriant vegetation, the briny odour of the sea-breeze, the pretty shells and pebble-s on the beach, the seaweed which drifted with the waters. They spent long hours together listening to the music of the waves and talking of the beauty that lay around. And during this tinne, while the sea-gulls whirled, in the air. while the southern wind kissed the waves, the heart of the girl who loved Sir Basil became so entirely his, her life so wholly wrapped in his, that death would have been easier than to see him pass out of it.

The duchess remarked it. and mourned over it, but did not interfere —it was too late. But she >aid to herself over and over again that it was ten thousand pities' L/eah" had so much romance in her nature: she would have been so much happier had she been more like ordinary girls. The evenings at Dene were delightful". The drawing-room was an immense apartment, containing five large windows. From them one stepped on to a smooth, green lawn; and from the lawn a short path led through the woods to the cliffs and the sea. When the moon shone on the'iwhite cliffs and the shifting water, the effect was dazzling. Then the duchssi liked the lamps to be lowered

and_ the windows all thrown open, "wnen fbe -wind, laden with sweet odours from ■ lana ana sea, came in. 1 One evening the moon shone unwontcdly bright; in the distance the sea '■ looked like molten silver—it was a night 1 to fill all hearts with an undefined sense ■ ot passionate longing. us have some music," said the ! duchess, as she leaned back in,her chair. 1 "Leah, let us hear you sing." Then from out of the soft shadows ! appeared Leah's tall graceful figure en-

veloped in sweeping folds of black lace She Trent quietly to the piano. Th« white, slender hands moved gently over the keys; the beautiful lac« grew fairer as the passionate words fell from hei lips. She sang , :

My heart is like a sinking bird TVhosp nest is in a watered shoot: My heart is like an apple tree Whose, boughs are bent with thick-set fruit;

My heart is like a rainbow shell That paddles in a halcyon sea; My heart is gladder than all these. Because my love is come to mc.

"Raise mc a dais of silk and down: Hang it with hair and purple dyes; Carve it in doves and pomegranates And peacocks with a hundred eyes"ork it in gold and silrer grasses, In leaves and silver fleur-de-lvs. Because the birthday of my life Is come—my loveis come to mc."

5-he did not heed who was in the room. The words sprung as it were from her heart to her lips. She -was thinking just at that time more of her love than of her lover—this golden-winged love that had taken her captive and stolen her heart.

Sir Basil t-ame quietly to her side. "Those are quaint lines. Miss Hatton," he said. "Whose are they?" There was no music- on the piano, and it stru-ek him suddenly tha-t both words and were impromptu. "I believe," he added, impulsively, "that- they a.re your own.' .

The white fingers wandered over the keys. She made no answer; she was wondering whether he had guessed her secret at last.

"My love is come to me"'—the words startled* her when she came to think of their truth.

Sir Basil left the piano and went back to his chair, which was placed outside the long French windows. He thought more of Leah than he had ever thought before. He remembered all that the diichess had told him of her fanciful idea tha.t she would be able to recognise her ideal lover the moment she saw him.: and now she sung that he had come. Was it really so? He looked round on the men sitting apart in little groups; there was not one he considered worthy of her. He never thought of himself. "Each time that night that his eyes fp'-J on her fair face the words came back to him: "My love is come to

Shp was more shy and timid with him after that. She aioided him a little, but loved him jffiaat a€ much. .She wotudhave gone through lire and water for him; she would have made any sacrifice tor him. The marvel ivas that the young baronet never dreamed of the conquest he had made. As for Leah, she had not yet begun to doubt; she felt certain that his love would be hers in the fulness of time.

A little incident happened shortly after this, which changed the oirrreut of their lives and hurried on events.

(To be conrsmied daily.)

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A BROKEN WEDDING RING. Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 83, 7 April 1909

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