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CHAPTER XI.

THE LOVERS.

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We must now go to another scene, viz., the work-room of a straw-hat manufacturer in the South Bridge, for there we have to introduce to our reader another

personage of

our story-one whom he has not yet seen, but who is destined, nevertheless, to create a great interest in his breast. Just step up this rather dark stair. There we are at length in the midst of a busy scene, and a very brilliant company of young girls, stitching with busy fingers long lines of plaited straw. Many pretty faces are before us, and sparkling eyes glance up at us from all directions; but, however fascinating it might be to describe the various complexions and styles of beauty, we must go straight up to the girl of whom we are in search, and fix our intention entirely on her. Ah! you start, and look with earnest gaze. No wonder, many have started and looked just like you, when they came into this room,

and beheld the same form and figure. She is a very young girl, but bas a look beyond her years. There is deep thought and deeper feeling in that beautiful face. You see at once she is not like the girls around her. There is a pensiveness approaching to melancholy resting on her countenance; and yet hers is not a temperament naturally gloomy. On the contrary, nature intended her to be a bright-eyed, cheerful being; and had she been thrown into the midst of common circumstances, she would, doubtless, have been a laughing, romping, affectionate creature. But she has long had something serious to think about; and as she had no one to confide her thoughts to, she shut herself up within her own mind, and, with the habit of silent, solitary reflection, has acquired a solid and matured character. In early youth, when nature. had full swing, she would be a wild, rosy little cherub; for the nature originally given to her, was one allied to flowers and sunbeams. But care and anxiety seem to have come upon her young heart; and the giddiness of youth, instead of merging into the mellow cheerfulness of maidenhood, has been succeeded by a thoughtfulness, which ought to have been the growth of many years. It is not deep

poignant sorrow, that effects her: it is rather a settled gravity, produced by a sense of the painful subject of her thoughts, giving her an appearance of superiority and self-possession quite uncommon at her age,

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grief, or

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She was a universal favourite in the work-room, having well: earned the position by her good temper, kind gentle manner, and affectionate heart. All the other girls looked up to her, so strongly does mental and moral power gain obedience and respect. No one. thought of disputing her opinion, though it was advanced in any thing but a dogmatic spirit: for it came from lips which seldom uttered frivolous thoughts, and was spoken with a quiet dignity and cheerful gravity, which always impressed, and often convinced. Her companions had unbounded faith in her goodness and the purity of her moral character. She moved amongst them stainless, and almost perfect. Her intelligence, sweetness, and self-possessed manner, secured her the love and esteem of all; and no one would willingly wound or vex her. She was iovariably the peace-maker in all their little girlish disputes; and however bitter a quarrel had become ere it was brought to her arbitration, she never failed to remove the angry feelings, and unite the broken links in the chain of friendship.

The day's work was done, and, at the sound of a bell, the girls rose joyfully to go to their several homes. On issuing from the entry into the street, they divided themselves into groups, according to the direction in which they were going--some proceeding towards Nicolson Street, and others northward along the Bridge.

At the Tron Church, the girl we have described, after shaking the rest warmly by the hand, took her way alone up the High Street. She was rather tall, and graceful in her movements, these partaking in a great degree the dignity and maturity of her character. Hardly had she crossed the opening to Hunter Square, when a young man, who was coming up Blair Street, caught sight of her, and immediately quickened his steps.

It was the slender youth we noticed in the King's House; and, now that we see him on the open street, his handsome form is seen to greater advantage. His step is light and buoyant, his large eye is kindled with intelligence, and his countenance is lighted up with a flush of animation.

He turned the corner into the High Street, and beheld the girl a few yards before him, walking leisurely up, and, as it seemed, plunged in deep abstraction; for her head was bent forward, and her eyes were fixed on the pavement.

The young man followed immediately behind, while a smile played upon his features; but, apparently growing impatient of his unknown position, he lifted his hand, and laid it lightly on her shoulder.

She started, and turned suddenly round. “Henry!” she exclaimed, while a bright smile rushed to her face.

“Just Henry,” answered the youth, regarding her with a tender, gratified look. “ I thought we would have a walk this beautiful

" What young

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night; and, instead of going home with Mr Everly, have followed you all the way. I saw you come from the Tron Church. But tell me what you were studying so deeply when I made bold to interrupt you?"

That is not a fair question," answered the girl, gaily, though a remnant of sadness lurked in her brightening eyes. lady," she added, with mock dignity, “likes to give an account of her thoughts to a gay, giddy young gentleman?"

“ Thank you for the compliment, miss," said Henry, in the same assumed tone; then, a little more seriously, he continued, “But brothers are privileged to know them, and you know you have often told me that you look upon me as a brother.”

“ And so I do," was the reply, while she put her arm confidingly within his. “ But brothers must not be too inquisitive, for they can neither understand nor appreciate many of their sisters' thoughts ; and why should they seek to pry into them?

“ You are determined to baffle me, I see," rejoined Henry, goodhumouredly, as he drew her closer to his side. 66 Well, well, ! must submit. But here we are at St James' Court; and I must enforce on you the necessity of despatch, for I mean that we shall have a long ramble--mayhap as far as Corstorphine.” “But you will come up with me, won't you?” asked the girl

, kindly." You have not been home, and have therefore got no supper.

Do
come,

and share mine. Andrew will have it all ready, know.'

“ I will go up, but not to eat, for I am not hungry," said Henry, bestowing a beaming look upon her, and closely following as she tripped lightly up the stair.

And he spoke truly, for he had that upon his mind to-night which effectually prevented him from partaking of food. Indeed, his companion noticed that he was more than usually excited, and in her own mind wondered what might be the cause, though she instinctively refrained from asking him, under the idea, probably, that it would come out in the anticipated walk.

After ascending three or four stairs, they entered a neat chamber, where an old man sat by the fire toasting bread.

“Wha's that wi' ye the nicht, Diamond?” he inquired, without turning round.

“But I needna ask, for I think I ken Henry's fitstep.'

“ You have guessed truly, old friend,” said Henry, stepping forward. “ How are you to-night? How are your rheumatisms?" “ A guid dale better since the saft wather gaed awa'.

But I doot I'll never be able to pull anither proof in the King's Hoose.”

« Nonsense,” exclaimed Henry, hopefully. “I trust you will do a good spell of work there yet."

Na, na. . My workiu' days are ower, or I'm sair mista'en.

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tearful eyes.

What wi' the pains and auld age thegither, I find I maun lie aside like a worn-not frisket."

"Dear Andrew, do not despond," said the girl, whom we now know to be named Diamond, kneeling beside him, and throwing her arms round his neck.

“ Despond, hinnie!" echoed Andrew, looking at her fondly, and stroking aside her glossy curls. “ And what maks ye think I'm despondin'? If Providence sees tite to keep me to the fireside till He's pleased to tak' me frae the warld a' thegither, what for sud I murmur? I've had a lang, a healthy, and a prosperous life, far ayont my deservin’8~~a life built up wi' mony blessings, and marked wi' muckle ingratitude and what for wad I murmur? Na, na, lassie; though I find the feebleness o' age comin' upon me, and ken that my strength will ebb awa' till my last hour comes, I dinna regret it. It's the common road, which thoosands hae gaen afore me, and thoosands mair will tread ahint me--you yoursel, my bonny pet, if ye live, which I trust in Providence

ye

will." " But you are not old, Andrew," said the beautiful girl, laying her hand on his breast, and looking wistfully into his face with her

“ You are not old, and you must not grieve us all with such words as these.”

“I'm just on the verge o' the Psalmist's threescore and ten, though,” said Andrew, shaking his head. But, losh me, lassie, I wad be laith to grieve ye; for if Heaven wulls, I may live oot a lang evening beside ye. My health is guid, though I'm gettin' frail. There, there, dinna greet. Dry yer een, like a guid lassie, and let us sit doon to oor supper."

So saying, the old man rose and lighted the lamp, which showed a little table spread for tea.

" And, Henry lad," he added, looking at the youth, “ye'll sit doon alang wi' us, for I'll wager ye hinna been hame yet."

"Well, I will sit down, for form's sake," said Henry, drawing forward a chair, and seating himself opposite to Diamond, when the business of the meal seriously commenced.

you
be
angry

if I take Diamond from you for an hour or two to-night?” asked the young man, looking to Andrew,

Andrew's eye twinkled, and a half smile formed itself on his face. "I fancy it mak's little odds whether I'll be angry or no; for it's likely ye'll tak yer ain wulls," he said, banteringly. “Hooever, I hae nae objections ava. Baith Diamond and yoursel' hae muckle need o' the fresh air, after bein' steekit up a' day in close rooms; and I ken she is under guid protection when she's in your company, so le aff wi' ye, and mak yersel's as happy as ye can."

They needed no second bidding, but in a few minutes were ready to set out, aud the old man watched them with an eye of pride as they left the room arm-in-arm.

“ Will

1

“I hope I'm richt,” he murmured to himself, when the door
closed and he was left alone. “O, richt, to be shure I am. The
thing canna be ony ither way. They were just made for ane
anither; and it's lang since they were in love, though maybe they
didna ken. But Henry will find it oot by-and-by; and whan he
does mak' bold to speak his mind, she's no the lassie I tak her
for if she refuse him. Happy and glad will I be to see them
joined, for he's the only lad in Edinburgh that's guid enough for
her. Yes, yes; ance my auld een see her into the protection o'bim
as her husband, I'll be content to close them for ever."

Ere the old man had terminated his soliloquy, Henry and
Diamond had reached the Grassmarket, and bent their way up the
West Port.

“I thought you said we were going the Corstorphine road," said
the girl, looking at Henry with a half smile lurking in her eye;
for eyes do smile, and often as unmistakably as lips.

“ j think it will be more quiet and retired by the banks of the
Canal," answered Henry, with grave composure.

“Ah! but may I trust myself with you there?” she said, play-
fully.
He replied only with a fond smile, and they passed on.

At length they found themselves by the dark, leaden waters of
the Canal, out from among houses, and quite free from human pre-

They had now the peculiar feeling that they were alone, and, in spite of themselves, grew silent and nervous.

It was a fine fresh night overhead, and thousands of stars kept watch in the moonless sky, and the confined water rippled gently against ita

“ You are very silent to-night, Diamond,” said Henry at length, and very abruptly, as if a sudden boldness had come upon bim.

« The very thing I was thinking of you,” rejoined Diamond, laughing

• Ah! well, very likely I am; but the subject of my thoughts is so very important to me, that I cannot speak

upon any other matter. Do you wish to know what it is that makes me so taciturn?

“If you are in any difficulty, you know how anxious I would be to relieve you, if it is in my power, or at least to give you my warmest sympathy,” answered the girl, earnestly, as she gazed through the darkness into his face.

“ Yes; I know you are as affectionate towards me as any sister can be. You have nobly and faithfully kept the vow you swore to me long ago, to call me brother, and treat me as such. But this relationship no longer satisfies me.

I want you to be something Diamond started, and paused. “What am I to understand by this ?” she faltered, in a tone of amazement.

sence,

prison wall.

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nearer and dearer.

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