Nigel and Myra were necessarily under these circumstances thrown much together. As time advanced he passed his evenings generally at the hall, for he was a proficient in the only game which interested Mr. Ferrars, and that was chess. Reading and writing all day, Mr. Ferrars required some remission of attention, and his relaxation was chess. Before the games, and between the games, and during delightful tea-time, and for the happy quarter of an hour new balance 1400 which ensued when the chief employment of the evening ceased, Nigel appealed much to Myra, and endeavoured to draw out her mind and feelings. He lent her books, and books that favoured, indirectly at least, his own peculiar views—volumes of divine poesy that had none of the twang of psalmody, tales of tender and sometimes wild and brilliant fancy, but ever full of symbolic truth. Chess-playing requires complete abstraction, and Nigel, though he was a double first, occasionally lost a game from a lapse in that condensed attention that secures triumph. The fact is, he was too frequently thinking of something else besides the moves on the board, and his ear was engaged while his eye wandered, if Myra chanced to rise from her seat or make the slightest observation. The woods were beginning to assume the first fair livery of autumn, when it is beautiful without decay. The lime and the larch had not yet dropped a golden leaf, and the burnished beeches flamed in the sun. Every now and then an occasional oak or elm rose, still as full of deep green foliage as if it were midsummer; while the dark verdure of the pines sprang up with effective contrast amid the gleaming and resplendent chestnuts. There was a glade at Hurstley, bounded on each side with masses of yew, their dark green forms now studded with crimson berries. Myra was walking one morning in this glade when she met Nigel, who was on one of his daily pilgrimages, and he turned round and walked by her sideI am sure I cannot give you news of your brother,he saidbut I have had a letter this morning from Endymion. He seems to take great interest in his debating clubI am so glad he has become a member of it,said MyraThat kind Mr. Trenchard, whom I shall never see to thank him for all his goodness to Endymion, proposed him. It occupies his evenings twice a week, and then it gives him subjects to think of and read up in the intervalYes; it is a good thing,said Nigel moodily;and if he is destined for public life, which perhaps he may be, no contemptible disciplineDear boy!said Myra, with a sighI do not see what public life he is destined to, except slaving at a desk. But sometimes one has dreamsYes; we all have dreams,said Nigel, with an air of abstractionIt is impossible to resist the fascination of a fine autumnal morn,said Myra;but give me the long days of summer and its rich leafy joys. I like to wander about, and dine at nine o’new balance 1300 clockDelightful, doubtless, with a sympathising companionEndymion was such a charming companion,said MyraBut he has left us,said Nigel;and you are aloneI am alone,said Myra;but I am used to solitude, and I can think of himWould I were Endymion,said Nigelto be thought of by you!Myra looked at him with something of a stare; but he continued— All seasons would be to me fascination, were I only by your side. Yes; I can no longer repress the irresistible confusion of my love. I am here, and I am here only, because I love you. I quitted Oxford and all its pride that I might have the occasional delight of being your companion. I was not presumptuous in my thoughts, and believed that would content me; but I can no longer resist the consummate spell, and I offer you my heart and my lifeI am amazed; I am a little overwhelmed,said MyraPardon me, dear Mr. Penruddock—dear Nigel—you speak of things of which I have not thoughtThink of them! I implore you to think of them, and now!“We are a fallen family,said Myraperhaps a doomed one. We are not people to connect yourself with. You have witnessed some of our sorrows, and soothed them. I shall be ever grateful to you for the past. But I sometimes feel our cup is not yet full, and I have long resolved to bear my cross alone. But, irrespective of all other considerations, I can never leave my fatherI have spoken to your father,said Nigeland he approved my suitWhile my father lives I shall not quit him,said Myra;but, let me not mislead you, I do not live for my father—I live for anotherFor another?inquired Nigel, with anxietyFor one you know. My life is devoted to Endymion. There is a mystic bond between us, originating, perhaps, in the circumstance of our birth; for we are twins. I never mean to embarrass him with a sister’s love, and perhaps hereafter may see less of him even than I see now; but I shall be in the world, whatever be my lot, high or low—the active, stirring world—working for him, thinking only of him. Yes; moulding events and circumstances in his favour;and she spoke with fiery animationI have brought myself, by long meditation, to the conviction that a human being with a settled purpose must accomplish it, and that nothing can resist a will that will stake even existence for its fulfilment.Chapter 27 Endymion had returned to his labours, after the new balance death of his mother, much dispirited. Though young and hopeful, his tender heart could not be insensible to the tragic end. There is anguish in the recollection that we have not adequately appreciated the affection of those whom we have loved and lost. It tortured him to feel that he had often accepted with carelessness or indifference the homage of a heart that had been to him ever faithful in its multiplied devotion. Then, though he was not of a melancholy and brooding nature, in this moment of bereavement he could not drive from his mind the consciousness that there had long been hanging over his home a dark lot, as it were, of progressive adversity. His family seemed always sinking, and he felt conscious how the sanguine spirit of his mother had sustained them in their trials. His father had already made him the depositary of his hopeless cares; and if anything happened to that father, old and worn out before his time, what would become of Myra? Nigel, who in their great calamity seemed to have thought of everything, and to have done everything, had written to the chief of his office, and also to Mr. Trenchard, explaining the cause of the absence of Endymion from his duties. There were no explanations, therefore, necessary when he reappeared; no complaints, but only sympathy and general kindness. In Warwick Street there was unaffected sorrow; Sylvia wept and went into the prettiest mourning for her patroness, and Mr. Rodney wore a crape on his hatI never saw her,said Imogenebut I am told she was heavenly.Waldershare was very kind to Endymion, and used to take him to the House of Commons on interesting evenings, and, if he succeeded in getting