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CHAPTER I.On the morning in which the last strange conversation had taken place between the ladies of Rus Templar^s family and Mr. Wilton, the former was seated in his study, ruminating on the many recent events, and, more than all, on the proposal for Ga-briella^s hand, which he had received the previous evening from young Laurence.Bus had a sincere affection for the girl, whatever the tie was which bound him to her, and he would willingly have accorded his consent to her marriage, had it been with one she ought to, and did love. As it was, the offer for her hand from young Laurence was so completely a mere point of honour with the young man, that even as he gave his consent, a painful duty, he sighed to think that the wooing of a girl like her, which should have beendone with all the ardour of a young heart, was a mere case of necessity, forced upon an honourable man. I do not tell you that I love Miss Lorn/^ Laurence had said) with a cold shudder of almost dislike creeping over him, * but I shall be proud of her as my wife, and no effort shall be wanting to make her happy/ Tis a cruel necessity,^ fell from Rus—for he felt that it was one among a chain of fatal events, which had attached themselves to him, and all connected with hira—a cruel necessity- and yet her honour demands it. I unwittingly compromised her, Laurence continued, ^in taking her to my barrack-room- yet what could I do ? I feared leaving her alone in an hotel. Your conduct was manly, generous, and honourable, Mr. Laurence, I can only say that I shall feel proud in giving the unfortunate girl so worthy a husband- yet, at the same time, I would rather she should suffer all the world may inflict, than be the wife of one who might despise her.** I shall be proud of Miss Lorn for my wife, fell coldly from the young man. A man may well be so, whom she consents to marry. I am not certain that her reply may be in the affirmative.A gleam of hope and joy shot from Laurences eye, but he was looking down, and Bus did not notice it.