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CHAPTER XVII.

ITALY—A HAPPY CATASTROPHE—THE LAST APPEAR

ANCE OF THE ROSE TREES.

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OUR years later, in a beautiful villa in Italy, the two sisters were staying with their mother. Every advantage that wealth could obtain was theirs, and Daisy now lived in the happy consciousness that all the hard work she had done

was bearing fruit, and that the painting which she loved so passionately would really ere long deserve the fame that her teachers foretold. Lily was still unable to walk, but in other respects was better. Her constant confinement to a sofa, and, when Daisy was at work, often to solitude, had made her a great reader; and but few girls of her age had the varied information which she had patiently gleaned from the excellent library her mother had supplied them with. They were to return to England the spring following this November

(which they were trying to realize as] November, amid the flowers and sunshine of beautiful Italy.)

Mrs Morton was working, and Daisy had just come in for a chat, saying that she must leave her studio for half an hour, as she had nearly lost her temper while painting a little cherub who would not come right. She was standing in the middle of the spacious room, half-way between her mother and Lily, talking gaily to both, when Lily observed with terror that a heavy chandelier above Daisy's head slightly moved. She could never after recall distinctly what followed, but certain it was that with a wild cry of

Daisy !” the long helpless Lily sprang from her sofa, and dragged aside her sister, just as a tremendous crash came, and the chandelier fell where she had been standing Mrs Morton started up in terror, but the sight that met her eyes left her speechless! Lily was standing with her arms about her sister, and they were sobbing with joy in each other's arms!

Yes, the shock had given back her strength—and with trembling voices the happy mother and daughters gave thanks to God for His unspeakable mercy,

Some workmen were repairing the floor of the room above, and had accidentally loosened the hold of the large hook to which the chandelier was attached; as she looked on the broken remains, Daisy said

"Dear old chandelier ! how I love you! but for you, Lily would never, perhaps, have stood again.

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Don't sit down, Lily! I'm so afraid you'll not get up again !”

“Yes, I will,” said Lily, smiling, “but I do think you are a little taller than me, Daisy! We'll

, measure.”

And Maria and the other servants came in and gazed in amazement on the two sisters standing side by side before a looking-glass, and the broken chandelier on the floor!

“You'll have to grow now, Lily,” said Daisy, pouting comically, “you must make up that half-inch.”

“Never fear, miss !” said Maria, delightedly, "she'll grow fast enough now.”

“We must write our happy tidings at once to Hadwell Grange,” said Mrs Morton, “and they will send to the cottage, and tell Ralph Mellor, and I think, children, we can ask Uncle Gerald to have the building hurried on at the cottage, for we will go home as soon as it is completed.”

"Do, mama!" cried Daisy, “it will be so happy to be amongst them all again; won't it, Lily?”

“I would like to go home," said Lily, dreamily looking over the fair view in front of the verandah they had entered. In her face there was such deep thankfulness, such pure joy, that only now did her mother and sister know what a trial her helplessness had been to the patient young girl. Now she might roam about with Daisy, and actively share in the pleasures she had so unselfishly tried to share in

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thought. Now, when they went home, she would be able to visit the poor and comfort them as she had longed to do, when helplessness had made her think of the many sufferers who live on uncheered by love or sympathy. Yes, in her heart now she thanked God for her four years' trial, and prayed that she might never forget its lessons.

And so it came about that before Easter the cottage, which had grown so big as to be scarcely recognizable, was bright with welcome for the travellers; and such warm expressions of delight at Lily's recovery came from every one, that she could scarcely speak to thank them.

“And now you've come back to live, haven't you?” asked Gerty, earnestly.

“Yes, Gerty,” said Daisy, “and we are to have a governess for a year, and during our holidays we shall be able to see ever so much of each other. How glad I am to see your face again!” and Daisy gave another hug to her bright young cousin.

It was no use to ask for the boys—such an inquiry would have been decidedly impertinent, if it referred to the two distinguished looking young men who walked over in the evening, followed by a bevy of dogs. The latter were left howling dismally outside the cottage gate, as Ralph Mellor “couldn't abear" dogs to run over his borders, and in the garden he was master.

And, Lily,” cried Daisy, in delight, “our rose trees are all right, and I love them again.”

“Didn't you always love them?” asked Lily, as she bent tenderly over the plants on the window sill of their new and spacious bed-room.

“No," said Daisy, and her voice became low and hushed as she put her arm round her sister's neck, “dear Lily, you know you were trying to save the rose trees when you saw—the fire! and after that, when you were ill, I did not water them, and couldn't bear to see them."

“ It is all happiness now, darling Daisy,” said Lily, with a soft smile ; “let us love our rose trees till they die!”

And the moonlight shed its radiance over the two young girls as they stood, and a light that was brighter still shone in their hearts, which were filled with thankfulness and contentment, too deep for words.

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