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He knew not how long he had been watching the old familiar garden, unfamiliar now in its solitude and neglect ; but suddenly, from under the cedar's hanging boughs a figure flitted out, and raising its hands upwards to the dark vault of heaven, rushed like a ghostly shadow across the lawn, and disappeared behind the shrubs which led to the churchyard.
It was the work of a moment to follow her, and into the biting frosty air, down the freezing slippery paths leading on to the place of certain death; he caught sight of her poor scanty black garments, but she seemed fleeter of foot in her weakness than he in all his manly strength. In his eagerness, he called her by her name,
“ Janette, dear Janette, wait for me; I am Basil Montgomery, come to you at last !”
She stopped close to the churchyard-wall; she paused, looking wildly back at him. Like a startled fawn she stood at bay, as it were, till he came up near her, and again repeated her name,
“ Janette ! have you forgotten me?"
With a cry of mingled pain, and dread, and joy, she stretched out her poor cold hands to him, and sank down exhausted and unconscious.
He carried her to the nearest house, where warmth and light and womanly attendance could be procured; and as soon as it was safe to move the poor, delicate, over-wrought frame, he took her, a gladly honoured welcome guest, to the Manor House, where luxurious comforts and the tenderest sympathy brought the lonely girl back again to calmness and peace.
Christmas Eve found Janette reclining on a couch in an inner room, a little removed from the large family party, who were all mirthfully employed in happy preparations for the morrow's festival. It was not only in the feasting and amusements of the holiday gathering that they were busy. The many members of the family, from the squire down. wards, kept the great Birthday in view, and knew that no blessing would come into their personal joys unless they could rejoice together as members of one Church doing honour to her great Head.
Janette was not able to join in the practical work which was occupying her friends, although now and again Edith ran in to consult the taste of her friend, or to exhibit some exquisite cross of hot-house flowers, which was arranged ready for the adornment of God's Holy House in the festival services.
“How I wish you could be with us, dear," said Edith, as with her pretty fingers, stained with her decorating work, she appeared for a moment by Janette's sofa.
“I do not deserve so great an honour,” said Janette, in her gentle voice. “I have been so faithless, so forgetful, of the one great joy which is brought to all at this time.”
Basil Montgomery was sitting by her, watching the beautiful pale countenance, as it was regaining its roses under the sunny influence of the happiness around her.
“It seems so like a dream, Basil, that I am here, with dear Edith and them all ; and that I have got you back, my brother-friend! I almost dread the awakening."
“It is something much more tangible than a dream, Janette; we will forget the past, and begin a happy new life now,” said Basil.
“ It cannot last for ever. I am so dependent, you know,” said the girl, with a sigh. “Even the clothes I wear,” she added, looking down on the rose-coloured embroidered wrapper, whose graceful folds were around her slender form; “even this is not my own.”
There was silence for a few moments, for Basil Montgomery was watching with a full heart the soft liquid orbs which were downcast before his.
“ Janette," he said at last, "you were my child-love, will you try to love me now as a woman can love? I have never loved any but you. No other woman shall be my wife.”
“Oh, Basil !” and the slender fingers went up to the downcast eyes, and presently, as with throbbing heart he watched her, he saw large tear-drops forcing themselves between the fingers.
“Darling!” he whispered low, “I have been too precipitate, you are not strong enough for this excitement."
“Not strong enough for happiness ?”' she uttered, in deep tremulous tones. “Basil, you are too good to me; do not do this thing from pity.”
“Pity to myself,” he answered.
Her beautiful pale face was covered now with a crimson blush, and just then the Christmas joy-bells burst out, commemorating by their glad solemn sound the union of the two hearts, whose lives from that moment were devoted to each other for life and until death, and who grew on as helpers together in spirit, so that they might hope to gain that deathless union of souls which can only be consummated in the presence of our great High Priest at the right hand of GOD.
THE RESURRECTION OF THE JUST.
AN ADVENT POEM.
The mighty breath of GOD
And stir the lifeless sod,
They, days long gone, have trod.
The angels' song shall roll,
As doth a parched scroll,
And mete out praise or dole.
In heaven's Eternal Day,
Refined and pure as they,
With hymns of victory.
On that last earthly morn,
The righteous to adorn.
They laughed the Just to scorn.
Has opened wide its door,
“ Your intended godchild and namesake, Miss Mabel; I shall be content if you will make her like yourself,” said Mrs. Verney, as upon the first day she had been pronounced strong enough to see visitors, she placed a lovely babe in Mabel's arms.
“The little snowdrop! I hope uncle will allow me to take charge of her,” exclaimed Mabel, fondly clasping the infant. “Only,” she added with unfeigned sincerity, “I shall do all I can to make her as unlike myself as possible.”
“That will not be according to our compact,” rejoined Mrs. Verney, as she smiled into the ingenuous face which bent over her pillow.
“My compact was that you should see the fairy changeling, and judge whether you would not leave her to the champion of the watersprites. Now bid my patient here good-bye, and go home to begin a work on education. Away with you, Miss May Bird, and I will send Geraldine to edit the first volume; I suppose it will be practically needed in about a fortnight.”
Mabel noticed the flush of great feebleness on Mrs. Verney's cheek, and seeing that the Doctor really wished to hasten her departure, she took leave without prolonging her farewells, or saying how extremely probable she thought it that her uncle might deem her unfitted for the trust.
The road she had selected for returning to the vicarage, led through the orchard which divided Kingstone Farm from the miniature shrubbery attached to Major Verney's residence. The latter was a pretty cottage, somewhat whimsically styled the “Bungalow," a designation which, however vague it might have been in India, was sufficiently distinctive in the Scilly Isles.
Very attractive at all seasons was that narrow strip of orchard ground enclosed upon the slanting hillside. Pleasant in winter, when the western sunshine basked upon its slope, or during autumn, when the fruit trees bowed beneath their load of tiny red and golden apples, or as it was now seen in early spring, before the boughs had yet “flushed into green,” but when the hum of insect life was stirring, and Lent lilies opened their sweet yellow petals to the mild March sky,