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      "She is just a little too gentle for my taste," replied Alicia, who usually took upon herself all expression of opinion, while Belinda fanned herself languidly, in an ?sthetic[Pg 137] attitude, feeling that her chief mission in this life was to sit still and look like la belle dame sans merci. "She is just as much too quiet as Miss Leland is too boisterous. I have no liking for pensive young women who cast down their eyelids at the slightest provocation, and are only animated when they are flirting."

      When Norman looked from that face to the hole, something went thrilling warmly through all his veins.

      He laughed again.

      Tabitha was in the window, working with scissors and sponge at one of the flower-boxes. Never an aphid was allowed to rest on Tabitha's roses or geraniums. She gave a little cry of mixed alarm and delight as she saw that stalwart figure come between her and the sunshine."My dear Mrs. Crowther, what nonsense," cried Isola, growing crimson at this motherly officiousness. "I have never been out of health, or in the least likely to go into a decline. One cannot always look like a dairy-maid."

      Three Star Camp was not exactly the place in which a tender parent or a careful guardian would have chosen to bring up a child, though it was no better and no worse than any other Australian gold camp. The men were rough and rowdy, but there were very few really bad ones among them, and there were a great many whose roughness hid very excellent[13] qualities. In no place on earth do you meet with such a variety of the human species as in a camp such as Three Star.


      Bergan left the church that day, not only with a deeper sense of his own mortality, and consequent weakness, than ever before; but also with a modified view of life's work and duty. In one sense, it was a narrower view,with that narrowness which feels the need of some true, fixed centre, from which to work outward, with any degree of safety and system, and, consequently, of success. He began to see that he who would influence others for good, and through them the world, must first be certain of the point where his influence begins, and that toward which it tends.


      "Truth is life, and falsehood is death," answered the priest, firmly. "You must choose your own course, Mrs. Disney; but there is one argument I may urge as a man of the world rather than as a priest. Nothing is ever hidden for very long in this life. There is no secret so closely kept that some one has not an inkling of it. Better your husband should hear the truth from you, in humble self-accusation, than that he should learn it laterperhaps after he has mourned you for yearsfrom a stranger's lips."


      She had made a score of sketches on the same spot, but there were always new details to jot down, new effects and ideas, on that vast level which frames the grandeur of Rome. Yonder the long line of the aqueduct; here the living beauty of broad-fronted oxen moving with stately paces along the dusty way, the incarnation of strength and majesty, patience and labour.