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TO BE, OR NOT TO BE ?
For years, a measureless ill,
The sun was just setting over the Palatinate plain, and in the distance there was that peculiar line of misty light which awakens, we know not why, feelings of longing and of melancholy, and a vague sense of the infinity that lies beyond our vision. Newton had come into the garden after dinner, and the fine sunset had rather harmonized with his moody feelings. Nesta had been at dinner, and the sight of her, and Dick's presence at
dessert, had made him feel uncomfortable, for he was not sure what Dick's revelations might be ; and whenever the morning walk or Mässinger's mill came on the carpet, he managed to turn the conversation.
'I had some of Lisette's kuchen, do you know, papa, and we all drank her health didn't we?' and Dick looked towards Mr. Newton to verify his assertions.
Newton knew it was of no use giving Dick a sign to be silent, and he was all the more fidgetty because Dick, remembering his promise, made a great many peculiar distortions of face across the table, all implying that he knew what he was about, and that he was not going to tell anyone. Alice laughed at Dick's contortions, and asked him what he was doing, and the amusement having become a matter of giggling between the two children, Newton was for once relieved from his perilous position, and began to talk eagerly with his host upon English politics.
Mrs. Stanley soon after left the room, and Nesta with her. Dick was still brimfull of his
secret, and out of Mr. Newton's presence, he found it more difficult than ever to keep it.
Minette and I saw them drinking healths this morning,' he muttered to himself. · Minette and I were eating up the kuchen ; Minette was greedy and wanted it all. Do you know, I drank Lisette's health, Aunt Nesta, but I did'nt drink — oh! you would never guess,' exclaimed Dick, scarcely able to contain himself.
"Guess what? ' said Nesta, gravely. She had no idea what the secret was, or perhaps she would have preferred remaining in ignorance.
“It's a secret, Aunt Nesta, I promised not to tell ; I must not tell. Couldn't you guess?' he said, as the burden of keeping it once more overwhelmed him.
"I don't know what I am to guess,' said Nesta.
"Oh! it's something about drinking healths; it wasn't Lisette, and it wasn't Rosa, nor Frau Mässinger, nor anyone there — '
At that moment a shot was heard. It was the first fired on Lisette's entering the village
with her bridegroom; and Dick, forgetting his secret and everything else, rushed forward to the edge of the garden that overhung the road, where the two gentlemen were standing, waving their handkerchiefs. There was nothing much to be seen in the road below; there was no procession of friends, no gala dresses, nor merry music; it was only Lisette and her bridegroom walking down to the pastor's house. Otto Mittler had been at his work all day, and he was too thrifty and careful to make it the occasion of a holiday, and it was six o'clock before he had reached the mill from which they were to start together. They did not look much like lovers as they turned out of the gate and, crossing the little bridge over the mill-stream, took their way down the valley. Lisette looked very much as she always did ; her face wore the same uniform and complacent smile, as she shuffled along in her short black silk dress, with a wreath of white flowers surmounting her broad sunburnt face. Otto Mittler did not walk by her side, but kept the middle of the road; he was in his Sunday clothes, but they both looked as if the business before them was one indifferent to them, and neither pleasant nor the reverse. They cast a glance at the Villa as they passed it, and Lisette shook her unfolded handkerchief in reply to the wavings with which she was greeted.
• It is an odd form,' said Newton, as he watched them out of sight.
They will come back betrothed,' said Stanley; "they declare in the pastor's presence that they wish to be man and wife, and he asks a few questions, signs sundry papers, and makes them a long oration, and then it is all over, and they can be married in the church any day they think proper.'
'I suppose it will be Heinrich's turn next, said Newton ; 'I have a fancy that it will not be long before he is betrothed with that pretty girl they have up at the Mill.'
I doubt it; Mässinger's wife loves money too much to allow that.'
They walked down the slope of the