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By MABEL COLLINS, Author of “An Innocent Sinner," &c.

Continued from Vol. I., page 697.

taken Ernestine's breath away; she

had allowed Laura to leave her, IN PRACTICE.

and had said no further word. ERNESTINE had now a two-fold But now, strengthened by her purpose in pursuing the labours of sojourn by the sea, she had reher profession with all her native turned with a burning resolution ardour.

in her heart. She did not underFirst came her grand enthusiasm stand what conditions Laura had for healing—that love of the art to fulfil. She turned her mind itself by which the true artist is from the subject, for she could see known.

no course of action which she could And then came a second motive adopt with regard to it. But a which grew stronger day by day. resolve burned strongly within her

Laura's revelation of the net. that she would not personally add work of money difficulties in which to Dr. Doldy's expenses—that she she and her uncle stood, and her would not be dependent on him. statement-vague indeed, but none The thought stung too deeply that, the less alarming because so vague by allowing herself to be main. -that certain conditions had to be tained in his household, she would fulfilled before her fortune could make herself one of those whose bring them freedom, filled Ernes- hopes and fears hung upon the tine's soul with a personal horror. obtaining of Laura's fortune. When Laura told her these things So she set herself vigorously to she had already put on her wed. work. She took Dr. Doldy's houseding-ring; and she realised, as she hold in hand, and applied her sat in the fernery in her wedding. intellectual abilities to the curtailrobe, that, unless she speedily ing of unnecessary expenses : she obtained some profitable practice visited some few patients who had of her own, she too would be already attached themselves to her; dependent upon Laura's inheri. she obtained permission to attend tance.

at certain operations performed by “Doubtless," she had said to eminent surgeons, in order to carry herself, “ Laura calculates upon on her observations; and between this : she expects me to become her whiles she was fond of frequenting tool because she holds the key to the little ante-chamber which divi. my husband's ruin or success in ded her husband's consulting room her hands."

from her own. At first this pleased This thought bad figuratively him very much: it was so charm.

ingly new. It was so deliciously un- and so truly womanly in her daily like the solitariness of his past life to life: his wildest hopes of happi. rise from his chair whenever his room ness were being realised. was empty, and have the chance, His professional duties had beby just looking through a door, of come so easy to him by long habit seeing a face which, as he believed that, though he returned to take was the most lovely that had ever up the routine of work, yet, with come from the Creator's hand. Ernestine performing so admirably Sometimes he would find it difficult all the part he desired her to his to convince himself that this dreamland was unbroken. chance really existed; and then, But Ernestine's nature was kept if he called her, and there was no alive by stings of which he knew answer-or if he rose and looked nothing. The desire to obtain into her room, and found it empty some foothold in her profession was -he was deeply disappointed ; so deeper than he supposed, because that Ernestine's hoverings on the she had more reasons than he knew margin of his room were very of to aim at a success of her own. welcome, and he was merely She lived from day to day in a amused when she assured him, out certain dread of her first meeting of the simplicity of her heart, that with Laura alone ; her practical she only came there to try and efforts in the household were catch his manner-not for the prompted by something very diffepleasure of being near him. He rent from that desire to please him did not believe her, of course—what to which he attributed them. And man would ?

the feeling that her actions must Often when he looked into her often be misunderstood by him room-that room which he had so made her sensitive to the last carefully furnished and filled with degree. There was but little his love-if she sat there, as he dreamland for her. Her mind, sometimes found her, alone, he indeed, was unnaturally wakeful; would pause and marvel at the and it was only when quite alone picture; for to him the commence- with him that, in realising how ment of their home life was more completely he was still enwrapped filled with romance than any other in the glamour of their love, she part of their connection. The herself became conscious of the atmosphere of his existence received refreshment she found in it. a different colour when he found But, when she sat in her consultthat this woman, whose intelli- ing room, or haunted the little gence he admired and whose beauty ante-chamber, it was not to realise he worshipped, really took up a the near presence of one she loved. peaceful and domesticated life by To him that nearness was a conhis side. It was so delightful a tinual delight, and the least sound surprise to him to find Ernestine which reached his ears would call giving orders to the cook and his mind from the most difficult looking after the household, that and absorbing diagnosis ; and the he began to think his idea that she patient, if chancing to gaze into his would speedily surrender any face, would wonder at the faint ambition in her profession and smile that passed over it. His mind settle down as his wife, was being had momentarily turned aside from already proved true.

its work to realise the happiness And it brought an additional which filled his heart. tinge of rose-colour to his existence E rnestine in her present state to find Ernestine so little assertive was incapable of any such tempo. rary oblivion of work. She followed into her room as the patient left out his cases with an intense keen his. ness, throwing upon each the light He found her sitting on a low of her recent studies and the expe- chair in the window, through which rience gained from observations the sunlight streamed upon her which she was daily making under bright hair and face so full of the guidance of the most skilful strong life. The contrast between operators and physicians.

her and the woman who had just She hardly ever mentioned medi. left him struck him strangely at cal or professional matters to him; the moment. very occasionally she would ask “I am often in wonder” he said, him for an explanation of some standing and looking down upon symptom in one of her own patients, her, “what makes you so different but she never made any remark from other women ; is it intellectual upon his. Only once did she break activity which gives you such a this rule. A lady of title had just vividness of life, or is it the natural left his consulting room, and possession of that life which Ernestine had been partly amused enables you to sustain the intellecand partly disgusted with the inter- tual activity ?” view. The lady told him how ill,. “You know,” she answered, how very ill she was; she hinted at “which I believe in. “To think is domestic troubles which had over to live' once said a man who was whelmed her delicate organisation. almost wise. But don't talk of that Dr. Doldy with some difficulty ex- now; my intellectual activity tracted her symptoms from her and demands to know, just at present, made rapid notes of them; and why you, an honest man, should tell while actually engaged in writing that lady that her nerves are these and mentally reviewing the shattered?” case, he, by a double brain action “Because it was medicinally which Ernestine marvelled at, was good for her : it pleased and soothed able to lean a little forward towards her.” the afflicted lady and say in deli. His tone had changed. Ernescately respectful tones “Madam, tine looked questioningly up at your nerves are shattered-abso- him. She said nothing farther for lutely shattered-absolutely shat a moment, and then put an inquiry tered!”

in a voice from which she had ex. - Ah!” was the reply, in a deep- tracted all the brightness. drawn voice of self-admiration, "I “What is the matter with her?” knew it. Oh, Doctor, is it possible “Nothing !” replied Dr. Doldy; to restore me to anything like and, walking to another window, health ?”

looked out. “If you take the greatest care of “I thought, at least, she must yourself, I believe it will be possible. have had heart disease,” she said. But you must remember, Madam, For about a minute there was that your constitution is extremely silence, and then Dr. Doldy came

to You must treat yourself and sat down by her side and began as you would a rare Venetian vase ; to talk of something else. He was you must be preserved from any much too deeply in love to be contact too rough or sudden.” driven from the sunshine of her

Ernestine had overheard many society by unspoken disapproval. consultations not unlike this, and Ernestine said no more ; but she had made no remark ; but to-day treasured these things up in her Dr. Doldy had come straight beart. She began to understand

how great a work it is to become a Dorothy knew it; but she was popular doctor.

quite in the dark as to what it But in their leisure hours Ernes- meant in this case, although it was tine put these perplexities aside, her own words that had produced and revelled in the broad stream of it. sunshine that lay upon their lives, It was Dorothy's nature and and was yet scarce chequered with Dorothy's business to know everyshade. She allowed a child-like thing. She was not a scandal. capacity for enjoyment which she monger; but she certainly was a possessed to appear and to be grati. purveyor of choice bits of gossip. fied. Dr. Doldy's strong maturity Ernestine learned more of the of manhood seemed suddenly to ways and doings of the world have taken a step back into hilari. around her in a few minutes' chatter ous youthfulness; and with his with Dorothy than in a week of beautiful wife by his side he her own observations. She passed entered upon all manner of foolish through life absorbed in the conexcursions, and heartily delighted templation of certain aspects of it. in small pleasures; and continually She was not able, at the same time, he would look at her, as, with true to grasp all the petty incidents good comradeship, she followed which befell her fellow passengers. him into any amusement or enter- But Dorothy was all eyes and prise which pleased him at the ears; she heard and saw and remoment; and at such times he felt tailed all manner of small spicy that any social position was worth things. sacrificing for the possession of such This afternoon, when Ernestine a comrade.

had spent a brief tranquil halfBut, as yet, society had looked hour in her drawing-room, she had kindly upon them. Ernestine being chattered thus about all sorts of very quiet and eminently unmas- people whom they both knew; and culine, the grand old ladies had she innocently enough made the not taken much offence at her door- following remark: plate.

“I hear Sir Percy Flaxen is pay. Life was so englamoured with ing great attention to Laura Doldy. rose-colour, and so rich in sweet. I suppose she will soon be engaged ness to Dr. Doldy, that when one again. Sir Percy is considered day Ernestine spoke to him with a rather a catch; but so is Laura. knitted brow and a very serious If they do become engaged they voice, he stood aghast.

will be an excellent match; both She had just returned from are very attractive to the opposite Mrs. Silburn's house; and, sex, both are rich, and I should strangely enough, her visit there think at the outside they can't have had brought a deep line upon her more than one idea between them.” forehead a straight one, down- Dorothy's talk, like a wandering wards, between her eyes. When rivulet, had branched far away that appeared on Ernestine's brow from Laura and Sir Percy Flaxen it meant sore perplexity within. It when Ernestine interrupted her. was a signal of distress.

“Engaged again. I think you But the signal was not one to be said ? Has Laura Doldy, then, understood by Dr. Doldy. He had been already once engaged?" studied her face narrowly, but he “Didn't you know it?” exhad not known her long enough to claimed Dorothy. “ She has been know the meaning of that line of talked about with half-a-dozen care.

men, and once definitely engaged,

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She herself announced it to me; she had some bright remark to but it was immediately contra- make, or some piece of news which dicted.”

was too good to keep. He was only “To whom was she engaged ?” too glad to refresh himself now asked Ernestine.

and again in her sunny atmos“A horrid little Spaniard, whom phere. I believe Dr. Doldy hated. Pro. But when he turned, he saw her bably that is why he has never absorbed and frowning: a cloud mentioned the affair to you. He on her brow, and no smile on her never could mention Yriarte's name lips. with a cheerful expression of coun He stood aghast. tenance."

“Why, Ernestine," he ex“And she is being talked about claimed, “what is it?” again ?" said Ernestine, with an “Glaucoma," was her reply. effort at an ordinary tone of voice; At first he thought her mind was but the deep line had come upon wandering; but a second after he her forehead.

laughed. “Yes; that is only to be ex “Nonesnse!” he said, "the pected. She will marry soon, of man's bilious. I meant, what is course."

the matter with you?” Ernestine did not like to ask “Is it not Mr. Richy, the artist, any more. She knew so much and who is with you ?” was Ernestine's so little of Laura's affairs, that she apparently irrelevant answer. “I was afraid lest in speaking she should like to see him.” might either show her ignorance or “Very well,” said Dr. Doldy suggest her knowledge. She soon cheerfully, speaking from the level went home, leaving Dorothy de. of a shelf, where he was looking for bating within herself what there something. “I will bring him to could be distressing in the pro- the drawing-room. But I didn't bability of Laura's engagement. know he was any favourite of And Ernestine had walked home yours.” deep in thought, and entered her own room. She sat down near the

CHAPTER XXVI. door, and, from where she sat, could hear something of what

GLAUCOMA. passed in Dr. Doldy's consulting ERNESTINE approached her husroom. A patient had just come in, band, and laid her hand on his and, after a little while, his words arm. seemed to enter her mind, and “Arthur," she said, “I don't awaken its interest; for she arose, want to see him in the drawingand stepped into the little ante room; I want to see him profeschamber.

sionally." In the midst of a long interview, Dr. Doldy paused an instant Dr. Doldy rose and came to the before he replied; but his answer ante-chamber where she stood, to had a little irritation in its tone for fetch something which he required; all that. and there he found her. She gene- “Now, Ernestine, don't talk rally retreated under such circum nonsense.” stances, for she held a thinking “I am not talking nonsense,” man sacred; but now she stayed she said, the straight downward where she was.

line in her brow growing more Seeing that she remained, he defiant as she spoke. “I cannot turned towards her, expecting that help thinking you are making a

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