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into the fulness of orbed perfection. The life that was lived without love-technically so called-may be found to have been fullest of that divine Charity, who holds both the life that now is and that which is to come in her soft embrace, greatest of "these three," in their abiding upon earth, and sole survivor of them in the ages of endless fruition and perfect knowing! The point which I wish to impress upon you being, that all material which God gives us,-not love, nor talents, nor influence, nor successes alone, but all things, losses, failures, hindrances, disappointments, impoverishments, may be so wrought into our life-temple by patient labor and fervent faith, that the completed structure shall show no deficiency, no incongruity, no want of fair proportion and costly adornment; but every stone shall seem chosen and fitted for its place; and all shall be polished into the similitude of that diviner temple "eternal in the heavens." Human love may be one of its carved and gilded capitals; or a lofty, illuminated arch; or a great, rich glory of an altar-window, many hued, and crowded with luminous blazonry of sacred symbolism; or only a blood-incrusted, ebony cross; or its absence may make room for a more minute and delicate finish of all the parts, a softer, chaster, more mellow and harmonious diffusion and exquisiteness of beauty!

And yet there is a certain sense in which Love is an ef ficient element of moral training; everywhere felt, but dimly discerned, and therefore vaguely expressed. But that efficiency grows out of its infirmity, its faithlessness, its carthliness, the very qualities, you observe, which most surely detract from the sum of human happiness, and which each one most earnestly deprecates, in his own experience. Yet, like our Lord, we 'must needs be made. perfect through suffering. And to most hearts no suf fering like that which comes from the affections !-none penetrates so deep, nor rankles so long, nor is so little susceptible of earthly consolation. But, in the black depths

of that bitterest of sorrows, the soul often finds the pearl of divine love, and struggles up with it to the fair shore of Peace. Out of the loneliness of bereavement or desertion is first born that deep, tender, spiritual yearning for the visible presence of its Lord-"My soul thirsteth for Thee, my flesh also longeth after Thee, in a barren and dry land, where no water is!" And thus we reap a richer harvest from Love's losses than ever we could have gathered in from its increase. Out of its barrenness, or its ashes, its divine sister rises winged, and we are alone no more forever!

All this-and much more-said Bona softly to me over Uncle True's empty chair, from which Mala had flown discomfited. A wonderful touchstone is it by which to try earthly experiences and possessions. Worldly balances undergo strange transformations in its light; debt and credit, profit and loss, change places. And daily it recalls and points the good old man's last comfortable assurance, "Take my word for't, Miss Frost, the time'll come when you'll thank the Lord more for that cross than for all the pleasant things that ever He poured into your bosom."

And sometimes, Francesca, it seems to me that that time, if not yet come, is swiftly coming-is near at hand.

So near, at least, that I can now bear to set down how the cross came and of what material it was wrought. Now, you shall know all the strange, sad story of the two months that intervened between that joy-cry sent you from the fulness of a happy heart, "Paul has told me that he loves me; count us one forevermore!" and that brief, bitter sentence, wrung from the depths of a crushed, exhausted spirit, "Paul and I are two; never mention his name to me again!"

XLII.

THE TREACHEROUS FLOWER.

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EVER till now, Francesca, could I have borne to rake out and sift these ashes of my heart; thank you for awaiting the process so patiently. It is not every friend that knows how to be at once sympathetic and silent, tender without exaction, and interested without inquisitiveness.

But first, how the love was told; for that is essential to a clear understanding of the rest. i It so happened that we were all in the drawing-room, on that March morning-Flora; Sylvia Gay, a friend of hers; Marcia Bodley, a friend of mine; Winnie Frost, a friend of yours-when Paul was shown in. It chanced, too, that I was sitting near the door, so I heard him say to the servant in the hall, with marked emphasis, "Miss Winnie Frost, mind;" saw the slight start of surprise and brief expres sion of chagrin with which he caught sight of our party; and felt my cheek flush with a sudden, shy consciousness of what these things might bode. Recovering his equa nimity immediately, however, he drew a chair into our circle; and Sylvia, with her wonted, free, dashing manner toward gentlemen, made him acquainted with the subject in hand.

"You are just in time, Mr. Venner. I am taking counsel, and 'in a multitude,' and so forth, there is wisdom. The uncomfortable truth is, that I cannot afford a new dress for Mrs. Bizarre's grand reception to-night, and there must be

a rentrée of some one of the stock in hand. I am halting between two opinions-supposing one opinion to represent my white moire, and the other, my pink tarlatan. You have seen me in both-which are you longing to behold me in again?"

"Miss Gay looks so well in both, as to leave me no ground for a choice," he returned, bowing somewhat listlessly. "Nor is it likely that I shall have the pleasure of seeing her in either to-night. I am suddenly called to New Orleans, on important business. I must take the three o'clock train in the morning, and I have scant time, for all that must be done beforehand; it was with difficulty that I could find a moment to come and bid you good-bye." His gesture comprehended the party, but his eyes rested full

on me.

There was a chorus of regrets and deprecations from the three girls. Sylvia's were loudest and longest. "Prepos terous!" she exclaimed, "why, this is to be the affair of the season. Besides, you cannot do any business this evening." "There is to be a consultation of the firm at my uncle's, and I must be present.'

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"And your uncle's is on the same block as the Bizarre's. You can certainly look in when the consultation is over."

He sat looking at her absently, meditatively.

"Don't stare at me in that Mrs. Jellyby fashion," she went on, saucily, "Come back from the left bank of the Nile, and tell me you will look in at the Bizarre's to-night, and see how brilliant we all are."

"Well, possibly I may."

"Good!" she returned, in excellent humor at the concession. "And now for your vote on the dress question, don't think to escape with a compliment. Which shall it be, pink or white?"

There was the faintest possible curl of the lip, I thought, accompanying the reply. "If I might presume to recom

mend either, it would be the white moire, because it is going to be a chilly night."

"How absurd!" laughed Sylvia. "As if it mattered in the least what temperature is outside of a crowded reception! You see the kind of criticism your tulle is to encounter, Flora,"

To my unspeakable amazement, Paul suddenly roused to an appearance of interest in the subject. Looking at

Marcia, he said:

“And in what, may I ask, is Miss Bodley to be beautiful to-night?"

"In pink silk and white roses," she replied, with mock seriousness. "I hope they meet your approval."

"Entirely," with a grave bow. "And Miss Winniehow am I to find her in the crowd?"

"By your lack of any toilet-data to guide you," answered I, quietly, for the tone of the conversation had jarred upon me a little.

"How disobliging!" exclaimed Sylvia. "I will tell you, Mr. Venner; she is to wear blue silk and dignity! Which becoming trimming will be visible-and unmistak able--at any distance!"

"Thank you," replied Paul, gravely; "I have now all the information I require." And very soon he took his leave.

At dusk, a box and a letter were left at the door for me. In the box, rich, creamy, odorous, saffrona rosebuds; in the letter, a man's love, strong, tender, true—at least, I thought so then!

"If there is any feeling in your heart which answers to mine," the letter concluded, "wear these rosebuds to-night. Seeing them in your hair, on your bosom, I shall understand-what it would be very sweet to hear you say! Seeing them not, I shall understand, not less plainly-what it will be very hard to bear!"

Ah! Francesca, how exquisitely, girlishly, exuberantly happy I was! Impossible to shut it all within my own

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