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English story

Democracy An American Novel

        Tác giả: by Henry Adams

First published anonymously, March 1880, and soon in various
unauthorized editions. It wasn"t until the 1925 edition that Adams
was listed as author. Henry Adams remarked (ironically as usual),
"The wholesale piracy of Democracy was the single real triumph
of my life."--it was very popular, as readers tried to guess who the
author was and who the characters really were. Chapters XII and
XIII were originally misnumbered.

THE next morning Carrington called at the Department and
announced his acceptance of the post. He was told that his
instructions would be ready in about a fortnight, and that he would
be expected to start as soon as he received them; in the meanwhile,
he must devote himself to the study of a mass of papers in the
Department. There was no trifling allowable here.

Carrington had to set himself vigorously to work. This did not,
however, prevent him from keeping his appointment with Sybil,
and at four o'clock they started together, passing out into the quiet
shadows of Rock Creek, and seeking still lanes through the woods
where their horses walked side by side, and they themselves could
talk without the risk of criticism from curious eyes. It was the
afternoon of one of those sultry and lowering spring days when life
germinates rapidly, but as yet gives no sign, except perhaps some
new leaf or flower pushing its soft head up against the dead leaves
that have sheltered it. The two riders had something of the same
sensation, as though the leafless woods and the laurel thickets, the
warm, moist air and the low clouds, were a protection and a soft
shelter. Somewhat to Carrington's surprise, he found that it was
pleasant to have Sybil's company. He felt towards her as to a
sister--a favourite sister.

She at once attacked him for abandoning her and breaking his
treaty so lately made, and he tried to gain her sympathy by saying
that if she knew how much he was troubled, she would forgive
him. Then when Sybil asked whether he really must go and leave
her without any friend whom she could speak to, his feelings got
the better of him: he could not resist the temptation to confide all
his troubles in her, since there was no one else in whom he could
confide. He told her plainly that he was in love with her sister.

"You say that love is nonsense, Miss Ross. I tell you it is no such
thing.

For weeks and months it is a steady physical pain, an ache about
the heart, never leaving one, by night or by day; a long strain on
one's nerves like toothache or rheumatism, not intolerable at any
one instant, but exhausting by its steady drain on the strength. It is
a disease to be borne with patience, like any other nervous
complaint, and to be treated with counter-irritants. My trip to
Mexico will be good for it, but that is not the reason why I must
go."

Then he told her all his private circumstances; the ruin which the
war had brought on him and his family; how, of his two brothers,
one had survived the war only to die at home, a mere wreck of
disease, privation, and wounds; the other had been shot by his side,
and bled slowly to death in his arms during the awful carnage in
the Wilderness; how his mother and two sisters were struggling for
a bare subsistence on a wretched Virginian farm, and how all his
exertions barely kept them from beggary.

"You have no conception of the poverty to which our southern
women are reduced since the war," said he; "they are many of
them literally without clothes or bread." The fee he should earn by
going to Mexico would double his income this year. Could he
refuse? Had he a right to refuse? And poor Carrington added, with
a groan, that if he alone were in question, he would sooner be shot
than go.

Sybil listened with tears in her eyes. She never before had seen a
man show suffering. The misery she had known in life had been
more or less veiled to her and softened by falling on older and
friendly shoulders. She now got for the first time a clear view of
Carrington, apart from the quiet exterior in which the man was
hidden. She felt quite sure, by a sudden flash of feminine
inspiration, that the curious look of patient endurance on his face
was the work of a single night when he had held his brother in his
arms, and knew that the blood was draining drop by drop from his
side, in the dense, tangled woods, beyond the reach of help, hour
after hour, till the voice failed and the limbs grew stiff and cold.
When he had finished his story, she was afraid to speak. She did
not know how to show her sympathy, and she could not bear to
seem unsympathetic. In her embarrassment she fairly broke down
and could only dry her eyes in silence.

Having once got this weight of confidence off his mind,
Carrington felt comparatively gay and was ready to make the best
of things. He laughed at himself to drive away the tears of his
pretty companion, and obliged her to take a solemn pledge never
to betray him. "Of course your sister knows it all," he said; "but
she must never know that I told you, and I never would tell any one
but you."

Sybil promised faithfully to keep his confidence to herself, and she
went on to defend her sister.

"You must not blame Madeleine," said she; "if you knew as well as
I do what she has been through, you would not think her cold. You
do know how suddenly her husband died, after only one day's
illness, and what a nice fellow he was. She was very fond of him,
and his death seemed to stun her. We hardly knew what to make of
it, she was so quiet and natural. Then just a week later her little
child died of diphtheria, suffering horribly, and she wild with
despair because she could not relieve it. After that, she was almost
insane; indeed, I have always thought she was quite insane for a
time. I know she was excessively violent and wanted to kill
herself, and I never heard any one rave as she did about religion
and resignation and God. After a few weeks she became quiet and
stupid and went about like a machine; and at last she got over it,
but has never been what she was before. You know she was a
rather fast New York girl before she married, and cared no more
about politics and philanthropy than I do. It was a very late thing,
all this stuff. But she is not really hard, though she may seem so. It
is all on the surface. I always know when she is thinking about her
husband or child, because her face gets rigid; she looks then as she
used to look after her child died, as though she didn't care what
became of her and she would just as lieve kill herself as not. I don't
think she will ever let herself love any one again. She has a horror
of it. She is much more likely to go in for ambition, or duty, or
self-sacrifice."

They rode on for a while in silence, Carrington perplexed by the
problem how two harmless people such as Madeleine and he could
have been made by a beneficent Providence the sport of such cruel
tortures; and Sybil equally interested in thinking what sort of a
brother-in-law Carrington would make; on the whole, she thought
she liked him better as he was. The silence was only broken by
Carrington's bringing the conversation back to its starting-point:
"Something must be done to keep your sister out of Ratcliffe's
power. I have thought about it till I am tired. Can you make no
suggestion?"

No! Sybil was helpless and dreadfully alarmed. Mr. Ratcliffe came
to the house as often as he could, and seemed to tell Madeleine
everything that was going on in politics, and ask her advice, and
Madeleine did not discourage him. "I do believe she likes it, and
thinks she can do some good by it. I don't dare speak to her about
it. She thinks me a child still, and treats me as though I were
fifteen. What can I do?"

Carrington said he had thought of speaking to Mrs. Lee himself,
but he did not know what to say, and if he offended her, he might
drive her directly into Ratcliffe's arms. But Sybil thought she
would not be offended if he went to work in the right way. "She
will stand more from you than from any one else. Tell her openly
that you--that you love her," said Sybil with a burst of desperate
courage; "she can't take offence at that; and then you can say
almost anything."

Carrington looked at Sybil with more admiration than he had ever
expected to feel for her, and began to think that he might do worse
than to put himself under her orders. After all, she had some
practical sense, and what was more to the point, she was
handsomer than ever, as she sat erect on her horse, the rich colour
rushing up under the warm skin, at the impropriety of her speech.
"You are certainly right," said he; "after all, I have nothing to lose.
Whether she marries Ratcliffe or not, she will never marry me, I
suppose."

This speech was a cowardly attempt to beg encouragement from
Sybil, and met with the fate it deserved, for Sybil, highly flattered
at Carrington's implied praise, and bold as a lioness now that it
was Carrington's fingers, and not her own, that were to go into the
fire, gave him on the spot a feminine view of the situation that did
not encourage his hopes. She plainly said that men seemed to take
leave of their senses as soon as women were concerned; for her
part, she could not understand what there was in any woman to
make such a fuss about; she thought most women were horrid;
men were ever so much nicer; "and as for Madeleine, whom all of
you are ready to cut each other's throats about, she's a dear, good
sister, as good as gold, and I love her with all my heart, but you
wouldn't like her, any of you, if you married her; she has always
had her own way, and she could not help taking it; she never could
learn to take yours; both of you would be unhappy in a week; and
as for that old Mr. Ratcliffe, she would make his life a burden--and
I hope she will," concluded Sybil with a spiteful little explosion of
hatred.

Carrington could not help being amused by Sybil's way of dealing
with affairs of the heart. Emboldened by encouragement, she went
on to attack him pitilessly for going down on his knees before her
sister, "just as though you were not as good as she is," and openly
avowed that, if she were a man, she would at least have some
pride. Men like this kind of punishment.

Carrington did not attempt to defend himself; he even courted
Sybil's attack. They both enjoyed their ride through the bare
woods, by the rippling spring streams, under the languid breath of
the moist south wind. It was a small idyll, all the more pleasant
because there was gloom before and behind it. Sybil's irrepressible
gaiety made Carrington doubt whether, after all, life need be so
serious a matter. She had animal spirits in plenty, and it needed an
effort for her to keep them down, while Carrington's spirits were
nearly exhausted after twenty years of strain, and he required a
greater effort to hold himself up. There was every reason why he
should be grateful to Sybil for lending to him from her superfluity.
He enjoyed being laughed at by her. Suppose Madeleine Lee did
refuse to marry him! What of it?

"Pooh!" said Sybil; "you men are all just alike. How can you be so
silly?

Madeleine and you would be intolerable together. Do find some
one who won't be solemn!"

They laid out their little plot against Madeleine and elaborated it
carefully, both as to what Carrington should say and how he
should say it, for Sybil asserted that men were too stupid to be
trusted even in making a declaration of love, and must be taught,
like little children to say their prayers. Carrington enjoyed being
taught how to make a declaration of love.

He did not ask where Sybil had learned so much about men's
stupidity. He thought perhaps Schneidekoupon could have thrown
light on the subject. At all events, they were so busily occupied
with their schemes and lessons, that they did not-reach home till
Madeleine had become anxious lest they had met with some
accident. The long dusk had become darkness before she heard the
clatter of hoofs on the asphalt pavement, and she went down to the
door to scold them for their delay. Sybil only laughed at her, and
said it was all Mr. Carrington's fault: he had lost his way, and she
had been forced to find it for him.

Ten days more passed before their plan was carried into effect.
April had come. Carrington's work was completed and he was
ready to start on his journey. Then at last he appeared one evening
at Mrs. Lee's at the very moment when Sybil, as chance would
have it, was going out to pass an hour or two with her friend
Victoria Dare a few doors away. Carrington felt a little ashamed as
she went. This kind of conspiracy behind Mrs. Lee's back was not
to his taste.

He resolutely sat down, and plunged at once into his subject. He
was almost ready to go, he said; he had nearly completed his work
in the Department, and he was assured that his instructions and
papers would be ready in two days more; he might not have
another chance to see Mrs. Lee so quietly again, and he wanted to
take his leave now, for this was what lay most heavily on his mind;
he should have gone willingly and gladly if it had not been for
uneasiness about her; and yet he had till now been afraid to speak
openly on the subject. Here he paused for a moment as though to
invite some reply.

Madeleine laid down her work with a look of regret though not of
annoyance, and said frankly and instantly that he had been too
good a friend to allow of her taking offence at anything he could
say; she would not pretend to misunderstand him. "My affairs," she
added with a shade of bitterness, "seem to have become public
property, and I would rather have some voice in discussing them
myself than to know they are discussed behind my back."

This was a sharp thrust at the very outset, but Carrington turned it
aside and went quietly on:

"You are frank and loyal, as you always are. I will be so too. I can't
help being so. For months I have had no other pleasure than in
being near you.

For the first time in my life I have known what it is to forget my
own affairs in loving a woman who seems to me without a fault,
and for one solitary word from whom I would give all I have in
life, and perhaps itself."

Madeleine flushed and bent towards him with an earnestness of
manner that repeated itself in her tone.

"Mr. Carrington, I am the best friend you have on earth. One of
these days you will thank me with your whole soul for refusing to
listen to you now.

You do not know how much misery I am saving you. I have no
heart to give.

You want a young, fresh life to help yours; a gay, lively
temperament to enliven your despondency; some one still young
enough to absorb herself in you and make all her existence yours. I
could not do it. I can give you nothing. I have done my best to
persuade myself that some day I might begin life again with the
old hopes and feelings, but it is no use. The fire is burned out. If
you married me, you would destroy yourself You would wake up
some day, and find the universe dust and ashes."

Carrington listened in silence. He made no attempt to interrupt or
to contradict her. Only at the end he said with a little bitterness:
"My own life is worth so much to the world and to me, that I
suppose it would be wrong to risk it on such a venture; but I would
risk it, nevertheless, if you gave me the chance. Do you think me
wicked for tempting Providence? I do not mean to annoy you with
entreaties. I have a little pride left, and a great deal of respect for
you. Yet I think, in spite of all you have said or can say, that one
disappointed life may be as able to find happiness and repose in
another, as to get them by sucking the young life-blood of a fresh
soul."

To this speech, which was unusually figurative for Carrington,
Mrs. Lee could find no ready answer. She could only reply that
Carrington's life was worth quite as much as his neighbour's, and
that it was worth so much to her, if not to himself, that she would
not let him wreck it.

Carrington went on: "Forgive my talking in this way. I do not mean
to complain. I shall always love you just as much, whether you
care for me or not, because you are the only woman I have ever
met, or am ever likely to meet, who seems to me perfect."

If this was Sybil's teaching, she had made the best of her time.

Carrington's tone and words pierced through all Mrs. Lee's armour
as though they were pointed with the most ingenious cruelty, and
designed to torture her. She felt hard and small before him. Life
for life, his had been, and was now, far less bright than hers, yet he
was her superior. He sat there, a true man, carrying his burden
calmly, quietly, without complaint, ready to face the next shock of
life with the same endurance he had shown against the rest. And
he thought her perfect! She felt humiliated that any brave man
should say to her face that he thought her perfect! She! perfect! In
her contrition she was half ready to go down at his feet and confess
her sins; her hysterical dread of sorrow and suffering, her narrow
sympathies, her feeble faith, her miserable selfishness, her abject
cowardice. Every nerve in her body tingled with shame when she
thought what a miserable fraud she was; what a mass of
pretensions unfounded, of deceit ingrained. She was ready to hide
her face in her hands. She was disgusted, outraged with her own
image as she saw it, contrasted with Carrington's single word:
Perfect!

Nor was this the worst. Carrington was not the first man who had
thought her perfect. To hear this word suddenly used again, which
had never been uttered to her before except by lips now dead and
gone, made her brain reel. She seemed to hear her husband once
more telling her that she was perfect. Yet against this torture, she
had a better defence. She had long since hardened herself to bear
these recollections, and they steadied and strengthened her.

She had been called perfect before now, and what had come of it?
Two graves, and a broken life! She drew herself up with a face
now grown quite pale and rigid. In reply to Carrington, she said
not a word, but only shook her head slightly without looking at
him.

He went on: "After all, it is not my own happiness I am thinking of
but yours. I never was vain enough to think that I was worth your
love, or that I could ever win it. Your happiness is another thing. I
care so much for that as to make me dread going away, for fear
that you may yet find yourself entangled in this wretched political
life here, when, perhaps if I stayed, I might be of some use."

"Do you really think, then, that I am going to fall a victim to Mr.

Ratcliffe?" asked Madeleine, with a cold smile.

"Why not?" replied Carrington, in a similar tone. "He can put
forward a strong claim to your sympathy and help, if not to your
love. He can offer you a great field of usefulness which you want.
He has been very faithful to you. Are you quite sure that even now
you can refuse him without his complaining that you have trifled
with him?"

"And are you quite sure," added Mrs. Lee, evasively, "that you
have not been judging him much too harshly? I think I know him
better than you. He has many good qualities, and some high ones.
What harm can he do me? Supposing even that he did succeed in
persuading me that my life could be best used in helping his, why
should I be afraid of it?"

"You and I," said Carrington, "are wide apart in our estimates of
Mr.

Ratcliffe. To you, of course, he shows his best side. He is on his
good behaviour, and knows that any false step will ruin him. I see
in him only a coarse, selfish, unprincipled politician, who would
either drag you down to his own level, or, what is more likely,
would very soon disgust you and make your life a wretched
self-immolation before his vulgar ambition, or compel you to leave
him. In either case you would be the victim. You cannot afford to
make another false start in life. Reject me! I have not a word to say
against it. But be on your guard against giving your existence up to
him."

"Why do you think so ill of Mr. Ratcliffe?" asked Madeleine; "he
always speaks highly of you. Do you know anything against him
that the world does not?"

"His public acts are enough to satisfy me," replied Carrington,
evading a part of the question. "You know that I have never had
but one opinion about him."

There was a pause in the conversation. Both parties felt that as yet
no good had come of it. At length Madeleine asked, "What would
you have me do? Is it a pledge you want that I will under no
circumstances marry Mr. Ratcliffe?"

"Certainly not," was the answer; "you know me better than to think
I would ask that. I only want you to take time and keep out of his
influence until your mind is fairly made up. A year hence I feel
certain that you will think of him as I do."

"Then you will allow me to marry him if I find that you are
mistaken," said Mrs. Lee, with a marked tone of sarcasm.

Carrington looked annoyed, but he answered quietly, "What I fear
is his influence here and now. What I would like to see you do is
this: go north a month earlier than you intended, and without
giving him time to act. If I were sure you were safely in Newport, I
should feel no anxiety."

"You seem to have as bad an opinion of Washington as Mr. Gore,"
said Madeleine, with a contemptuous smile. "He gave me the same
advice, though he was afraid to tell me why. I am not a child. I am
thirty years old, and have seen something of the world. I am not
afraid, like Mr. Gore, of Washington malaria, or, like you, of Mr.
Ratcliffe's influence. If I fall a victim I shall deserve my fate, and
certainly I shall have no cause to complain of my friends. They
have given me advice enough for a lifetime."

Carrington's face darkened with a deeper shade of regret. The turn
which the conversation had taken was precisely what he had
expected, and both Sybil and he had agreed that Madeleine would
probably answer just in this way.

Nevertheless, he could not but feel acutely the harm he was doing
to his own interests, and it was only by a sheer effort of the will
that he forced himself to a last and more earnest attack.

"I know it is an impertinence," he said; "I wish it were in my
power to show how much it costs me to offend you. This is the
first time you ever had occasion to be offended. If I were to yield
to the fear of your anger and were to hold my tongue now, and by
any chance you were to wreck your life on this rock, I should never
forgive myself the cowardice. I should always think I might have
done something to prevent it. This is probably the last time I shall
have the chance to talk openly with you, and I implore you to
listen to me. I want nothing for myself If I knew I should never see
you again, I would still say the same thing. Leave Washington!
Leave it now!

--at once! --without giving more than twenty-four hours' notice!
Leave it without letting Mr. Ratcliffe see you again in private!
Come back next winter if you please, and then accept him if you
think proper. I only pray you to think long about it and decide
when you are not here."

Madeleine's eyes flashed, and she threw aside her embroidery with
an impatient gesture: "No! Mr. Carrington! I will not be dictated
to! I will carry out my own plans! I do not mean to marry Mr.
Ratcliffe. If I had meant it, I should have done it before now. But I
will not run away from him or from myself. It would be
unladylike, undignified, cowardly."

Carrington could say no more. He had come to the end of his
lesson. A long silence ensued and then he rose to go. "Are you
angry with me?" said she in a softer tone.

"I ought to ask that question," said he. "Can you forgive me? I am
afraid not. No man can say to a woman what I have said to you,
and be quite forgiven. You will never think of me again as you
would have done if I had not spoken. I knew that before I did it. As
for me, I can only go on with my old life. It is not gay, and will not
be the gayer for our talk to-night."

Madeleine relented a little: "Friendships like ours are not so easily
broken," she said. "Do not do me another injustice. You will see
me again before you go?"

He assented and bade good-night. Mrs. Lee, weary and disturbed in
mind, hastened to her room. "When Miss Sybil comes in, tell her
that I am not very well, and have gone to bed," were her
instructions to her maid, and Sybil thought she knew the cause of
this headache.

But before Carrington's departure he had one more ride with Sybil,
and reported to her the result of the interview, at which both of
them confessed themselves much depressed. Carrington expressed
some hope that Madeleine meant, after a sort, to give a kind of
pledge by saying that she had no intention of marrying Mr.
Ratcliffe, but Sybil shook her head emphatically:

"How can a woman tell whether she is going to accept a man until
she is asked?" said she with entire confidence, as though she were
stating the simplest fact in the world. Carrington looked puzzled,
and ventured to ask whether women did not generally make up
their minds beforehand on such an interesting point; but Sybil
overwhelmed him with contempt: "What good will they do by
making up their minds, I should like to know? of course they
would go and do the opposite. Sensible women don't pretend to
make up their minds, Mr. Carrington. But you men are so stupid,
and you can't understand in the least."

Carrington gave it up, and went back to his stale question: Could
Sybil suggest any other resource? and Sybil sadly confessed that
she could not. So far as she could see, they must trust to luck, and
she thought it was cruel tor Mr. Carrington to go away and leave
her alone without help. He had promised to prevent the marriage.

"One thing more I mean to do," said Carrington: "and here
everything will depend on your courage and nerve. You may
depend upon it that Mr. Ratcliffe will offer himself before you go
north. He does not suspect you of making trouble, and he will not
think about you in any way if you let him alone and keep quiet.
When he does offer himself you will know it; at least your sister
will tell you if she has accepted him. If she refuses him point
blank, you will have nothing to do but to keep her steady. If you
see her hesitating, you must break in at any cost, and use all your
influence to stop her. Be bold, then, and do your best. If everything
fails and she still clings to him, I must play my last card, or rather
you must play it for me.

I shall leave with you a sealed letter which you are to give her if
everything else fails. Do it before she sees Ratcliffe a second time.
See that she reads it and, if necessary, make her read it, no matter
when or where. No one else must know that it exists, and you must
take as much care of it as though it were a diamond. You are not to
know what is in it; it must be a complete secret. Do you
understand?"

Sybil thought she did, but her heart sank. "When shall you give me
this letter?" she asked.

"The evening before I start, when I come to bid good-bye; probably
next Sunday. This letter is our last hope. If, after reading that, she
does not give him up, you will have to pack your trunk, my dear
Sybil, and find a new home, for you can never live with them."

He had never before called her by her first name, and it pleased her
to hear it now, though she generally had a strong objection to such
familiarities.

"Oh, I wish you were not going!" she exclaimed tearfully. "What
shall I do when you are gone?"

At this pitiful appeal, Carrington felt a sudden pang. He found that
he was not so old as he had thought. Certainly he had grown to like
her frank honesty and sound common sense, and he had at length
discovered that she was handsome, with a very pretty figure. Was
it not something like a flirtation he had been carrying on with this
young person for the last month? A glimmering of suspicion
crossed his mind, though he got rid of it as quickly as possible. For
a man of his age and sobriety to be in love with two sisters at once
was impossible; still more impossible that Sybil should care for
him.

As for her, however, there was no doubt about the matter. She had
grown to depend upon him, and she did it with all the blind
confidence of youth. To lose him was a serious disaster. She had
never before felt the sensation, and she thought it most
disagreeable. Her youthful diplomatists and admirers could not at
all fill Carrington's place. They danced and chirruped cheerfully on
the hollow crust of society, but they were wholly useless when one
suddenly fell through and found oneself struggling in the darkness
and dangers beneath. Young women, too, are apt to be flattered by
the confidences of older men; they have a keen palate for whatever
savours of experience and adventure. For the first time in her life,
Sybil had found a man who gave some play to her imagination;
one who had been a rebel, and had grown used to the shocks of
fate, so as to walk with calmness into the face of death, and to
command or obey with equal indifference. She felt that he would
tell her what to do when the earthquake came, and would be at
hand to consult, which is in a woman's eyes the great object of
men's existence, when trouble comes. She suddenly conceived that
Washington would be intolerable without him, and that she should
never get the courage to fight Mr. Ratcliffe alone, or, if she did,
she should make some fatal mistake.

They finished their ride very soberly. She began to show a new
interest in all that concerned him, and asked many questions about
his sisters and their plantation. She wanted to ask him whether she
could not do something to help them, but this seemed too
awkward. On his part he made her promise to write him faithfully
all that took place, and this request pleased her, though she knew
his interest was all on her sister's account.

The following Sunday evening when he came to bid good-bye, it
was still worse. There was no chance for private talk. Ratcliffe was
there, and several diplomatists, including old Jacobi, who had eyes
like a cat and saw every motion of one's face. Victoria Dare was
on the sofa, chattering with Lord Dunbeg; Sybil would rather have
had any ordinary illness, even to the extent of a light case of
scarlet fever or small-pox than let her know what was the matter.
Carrington found means to get Sybil into another room for a
moment and to give her the letter he had promised. Then he bade
her good-bye, and in doing so he reminded her of her promise to
write, pressing her hand and looking into her eyes with an
earnestness that made her heart beat faster, although she said to
herself that his interest was all about her sister; as it was--mostly.
The thought did not raise her spirits, but she went through with her
performance like a heroine. Perhaps she was a little pleased to see
that he parted from Madeleine with much less apparent feeling.
One would have said that they were two good friends who had no
troublesome sentiment to worry them. But then every eye in the
room was watching this farewell, and speculating about it.
Ratcliffe looked on with particular interest and was a little
perplexed to account for this too fraternal cordiality. Could he
have made a miscalculation? or was there something behind? He
himself insisted upon shaking hands genially with Carrington and
wished him a pleasant journey and a successful one.

That night, for the first time since she was a child, Sybil actually
cried a little after she went to bed, although it is true that her
sentiment did not keep her awake. She felt lonely and weighed
down by a great responsibility.

For a day or two afterwards she was nervous and restless. She
would not ride, or make calls, or see guests. She tried to sing a
little, and found it tiresome. She went out and sat for hours in the
Square, where the spring sun was shining warm and bright on the
prancing horse of the great Andrew Jackson. She was a little cross,
too, and absent, and spoke so often about Carrington that at last
Madeleine was struck by sudden suspicion, and began to watch her
with anxious care.

Tuesday night, after this had gone on for two days, Sybil was in
Madeleine's room, where she often stayed to talk while her sister
was at her toilet.

This evening she threw herself listlessly on the couch, and within
five minutes again quoted Carrington. Madeleine turned from the
glass before which she was sitting, and looked her steadily in the
face.

"Sybil," said she, "this is the twenty-fourth time you have
mentioned Mr.

Carrington since we sat down to dinner. I have waited for the
round number to decide whether I should take any notice of it or
not? what does it mean, my child? Do you care for Mr.
Carrington?"

"Oh, Maude!" exclaimed Sybil reproachfully, flushing so violently
that, even by that dim light, her sister could not but see it.

Mrs. Lee rose and, crossing the room, sat down by Sybil who was
lying on the couch and turned her face away. Madeleine put her
arms round her neck and kissed her.

"My poor--poor child!" said she pityingly. "I never dreamed of
this! What a fool I have been! How could I have been so
thoughtless! Tell me!" she added, with a little hesitation; "has
he--does he care for you?"

"No! no!" cried Sybil, fairly breaking down into a burst of tears;
"no! he loves you! nobody but you! he never gave a thought to me.
I don't care for him so very much," she continued, drying her tears;
"only it seems so lonely now he is gone."

Mrs. Lee remained on the couch, with her arm round her sister's
neck, silent, gazing into vacancy, the picture of perplexity and
consternation.

The situation was getting beyond her control.


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