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blind idiot as that comes to! While your lover had Copleston, you were false to me--now that I have it, you are false to him. I don't understand him-but I understand you! Dare to tell me you would not make love to old Grimes, if he became owner of Copleston!”

Helen could only stand dumb and crimson before him. None could guess more profoundly than she felt, how it was for love's best sake that she had been clutching at what love had shown to be duty. But she could meet his look bravely at last ; for the most shameful part of his charge had wildly missed fire.

“Gideon!” she said, “I can only tell you that, if Victor Waldron were the richest man on earth, and you the poorest, my place should be with you, and I would never see him again. . . . You have a right to suspect of anything a woman who married a man for the reason that I married you. .. But try me in any way you can find, and see. . . . Do you know what I most wish with my whole heart and soul?—that Copleston were Victor Waldron's very own, so that you might see what I would do; and that my duty, instead of meaning wealth, might mean poverty and every sort of struggleOh,” she cried eagerly, “it would be so infinitely easier to do then!”

You—you tell me that, if he were rich and I were poor, you would choose me? ... Helen, answer me this, and answer it truly-I shall know well enough whether you speak truth or no. Answer it truly—if you were free, and if he came to you rich and I poor, which would you choose then? No—not that—if we came to you on equal terms ? No-not that again ; which of us two would you choose, he or I, if I came to you rich and he poor? ... Speak, Helen-say instantly, truly, which you would choose ; I do not mean to be blind any more. Have you not even the wit to say, 'I would choose you,' and honesty enough to say, 'Whoever had it, I would choose Copleston'? Helen-I swear before Heaven, I will be. lieve you if you say “I would choose you,' even if I know it to be a lie!”

"Gideon," faltered Helen, "you bade me speak the truth—and I cannot; but I want to do what I ought, and I will—do not make it too hard !” “So that is the whole truth!” said he.

“ You would do your duty as my wife because the man you love bids you ; Victor Waldron gives me Copleston ; Victor Waldron gives me my wife. . . . Goodnight, Helen. Perhaps I shall understand things better-some day. I suppose you think I want Copleston still? Not I. ... I only want a dose of sleep. I can always get what I want, where that's concerned. Go to bed yourself; and tell my uncle that I'm taking a nap here for an hour. I suppose it isn't your fault that you prefer

NO. 1800.

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VOL. CCXLIX.

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that sort of man-sane or no—who has all the proper sentiments at his tongue's end, and can afford to throw away estates as if they were handfuls of dust, to one who doesn't want duty, or anything, right or wrong, but only-you."

It will be remembered that Gideon Skull had at least once before put in practice an exceedingly peculiar art of sleeping by means of which he could ensure himself absolute escape from every: thing that troubled him-even against the disturbance of dreams. But, in truth, he had used it far oftener than once ; often enough, indeed, to make himself master of the art, whatever it might be. The only condition he required for it was the certainty of unbroken solitude ; he needed no help from narcotics or any sort of artifice to induce the result. Some physical peculiarities must have made that result possible, but his only apparatus was a concentrated effort of will applied, as may be inferred, to the nervous centres; a kind of self-mesmerism, in which the will of the patient aided that of the operator, since the two were one, and thus acquired more than double power. According to cases which have become historical, he by no means stood alone in the possession of the power of reducing himself at will less into an ordinary condition of sleep than into that of a trance, resembling nothing so much as a suspension of vitality for the time. By its nature, it could not continue long ; but it was 80 complete as long as it lasted that he never failed to rise, at the end of a period varying from a few minutes to nearly an hour, without the sensation of having come to life again after a temporary separation of body and soul, during which the latter at least, if not both, had taken an infinitely refreshing holiday. And to-night he needed this utter profundity of rest and annihilation of thought more than ever, so that to-morrow he might be wholly himself again and see clearly what life must henceforth mean, and be.

As soon as Helen, reduced to self-conscious silence, had left him to prepare for the facing of a new life in her own very different way, he, as before, partly undressed, loosened the rest of his clothes, and stretched himself at full length upon a sofa on his back, with his head low. His first proceeding was to withdraw every sort of personal thought from his mind-an operation which, as most sound and regular sleepers know, practice and habit render perfectly easy, and requires no real effort of will. Everybody who knows how to do it has his own receipt for it; some people substitute abstract facts for their proper thoughts, others fancies : Gideon's way was exceedingly simple, and consisted in merely watching the development of the changing colours with which darkness amuses closed eyes.

But to-night, for

the first time, it seemed as if his receipt would prove vain. To-night, for the first time, he had not merely thoughts and plans to extract from his brain, but something which did not seem to be in his brain at all. Not only did the darkness become filled with its normal hues of red and green, orange and blue, but a living face was painted upon the black background, and that was Helen's.

Try as he would, that face would not shift or move. He could only feel that he had lost her for ever; that the love which bade her devote herself to a wife's duty was not for him ; that she only gave him her life because she could not give him her heart and her soul. It was a hideous prospect for the man who had too late discovered that he, even he, had a soul that could love as well as a body that could desire ; and that all he had done, out of what he thought wisdom, had been to lose Helen by gaining that Copleston which was to buy her and had cut him off from her. Why had he not known from the beginning that it was Helen's own self he wanted, and not Copleston? His own irremediable blunder in life and in his belief about life no longer filled him with shame : it overwhelmed him with despair. What was he

What was he to do with a wife who had vowed to be his slave only because she could never love him? In a word, Gideon Skull was crushed and maddened because he had at last found out that all men are not scoundrels, that all women are not heartless fiends, that Helen was a woman, and that he himself was a man, with the need in him of good as well as of evil.

He could not contrive, try as he would, to disbelieve in Waldron's hitherto incredible honesty, or in Helen's indifference as to who might be the owner of Copleston. But all this had become but half material to him now. He felt that he had been taking hold of the world by the wrong end, or rather had believed it square when in truth it was round. A round shape may not be better than a square one-it is enough that a globe is not a cube. If disbelief in one's whole self and an impossible love means what we mean by a broken heart, Gideon's first discovery that he, or any man, had what is called a heart at all was proved by its breaking.

“ Let us be good,” were Helen's last words. They must mean something beyond a hypocritical common form.

“Good!” thought Gideon. “I dare say I could be that, if I could begin things all over again; I could run a blockade every time, and pluck every feather out of Sinon and Aristides, and do everything I haven't done, if I could begin all over again. . . . There must have been something wrong, after all, about either the world or

me... Well : then I must abolish the world for an hour, and I will. I

a

won't give in; no, not even now. Can't be good ? Bah! There's no can't about anything. Gideon Skull the Good !-Well, anything for a change. I don't suppose it will be so very hard to be pretty good on Copleston. If Helen-- Gideon Skull the Good For how long ?”

Though he was alone, the fancy took the form of a sneer. But it was only the sneer without which he would have as yet found it impossible to own, even to himself, that Goodness is a thing as well as a word.

“Good” is a child's word. And Gideon, new to all that was real at over forty years old, used it like a child-and this time it was the sneer that was an empty form.

One sort of will, or another, began to do its work at last; the face before him softened without fading away. Then, with some weary and passive sort of consciousness that some form or fashion of new life was before him after all, he let himself sink, rather than forcibly compelled himself, into that state of trance wherein all his faculties found absolute repose. As when Helen had first heard of Alan's death, his heavy jaw relaxed, and his breath came so quietly and faintly that his chest could not be seen to heave. No wonder that he required absolute freedom from disturbance when he indulged in this form of rest, for any intruder would assuredly have taken him for a dead man.

Helen had slept but little; for she had spent nearly the whole of the night in thinking out some plan whereby she could, in spite of all that passed between her and her husband, crowd her life and his with so much fulfilment of all that duty in its heaviest sense can mean that she, and—if it might be—he also, should be able to willingly dispense with every thought of happiness for the rest of their days. She had learned from his latest words, and by her deepening knowledge of him through herself, that he had been crushed and softened; and she had never suspected, till to-night, that he had ever felt for her more than a sort of passion to which she had of set purpose closed her eyes, combined with a very decided passion for Alan's lands. If he had come to need and want her for herself—what would that mean? It would make her wifely duty a thousand times more hard, but ten thousand times more needful. To devote herself to Gideon Skull loving her, instead of to Gideon Skull hating her, looked impossibly hard, without greater strength than she could hope to find; but even so it must be. She knew all Victor Waldron had meant now. To think how all these things had sprung from a mother's attempting to be her son's providence, she wid not dare. Nor did she look forward with any special anxiety as to what the morrow might bring. Life was going to consist of too many days to make her especially heedful of any one of them life was likely to be too long to let her think much of hours that were so near. She would have plenty of time to thrust Victor Waldron from her heart and to give it, though empty of all but honesty, into the hands of Gideon Skull, to whom it belonged as rightfully as did Copleston.

So she had not yet quite lost her old courage after all-unless, indeed, some one had given her some new courage that was not her own.

There was of course nothing for her to notice in Gideon's not having left his uncle's study before she was dressed, since he had chosen to convert that into a bedroom. But she, a little restored to her old self, and therefore, as of old, letting her deeds run before her thoughts by seizing the first possible moment for putting into execution any resolve however immature, herself went into the study to call him, as a better wife might have done.

She had never seen him in one of these trances; and, seeing him thus still, white, without sign of breath or motion, was seized with a strange and new alarm. “Gideon!” she breathed out in a frightened whisper, as she laid her hand on his brow. He neither heard nor moved.

In truth, the man had never had a soul to part from before. It had come to him that night in the form of the bewildered soul of a new-born child, and, having once escaped, had been too frightened to come back again.

Only this remained—that the old Gideon had ceased to live before the new-born Gideon had died.

CHAPTER XXXV.
Boughs that are serest

Will soonest be sheen :
For Spring-time is nearest

When Summer hath been :
When the frost that thou fearest
For closest and dearest

Alone is between
The seeking, forsaking,
The losing and taking,
The sleep and the waking,

The Russet and Green.

HERE, many will fairly enough suppose, this chronicle of Copleston has reached its natural and conclusive end. Mrs. Reid, by

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