It was terrible that a young man who had it in his power to do so much good or so much evil should have had nothing to bind him to the better course! There was the motto of his house, and the promises which he had made to his uncle persuading him to that which was respectable and as he thought dull; and opposed to those influences there was an unconquerable feeling on his own part that he was altogether unfitted for the kind of life that was expected of him. Joined to this there was the fact of that unfortunate connection in Ireland from which he knew that it would be base to fly, and which, as it seemed to him, made any attempt at respectability impossible to him.

Early on the following morning, as he was preparing to start, his aunt again sent for him. She came out to him in the sitting-room adjoining her bedroom and there embraced him. Her eyes were red with weeping, and her face wan with care. "Fred," she said; "dear Fred."

"Good-bye, aunt. The last word I have to say is that I implore you not to leave Scroope as long as you are comfortable here."

"You will come back?"

"I cannot say anything certain about that."

She still had hold of him with both hands and was looking into his face with loving, frightened, wistful eyes. "I know," she said, "that you will be thinking of what passed between us yesterday."

"Certainly I shall remember it."

"I have been praying for you, Fred; and now I tell you to look to your Father which is in Heaven for guidance, and not to take it from any poor frail sinful human being. Ask Him to keep your feet steady in the path, and your heart pure, and your thoughts free from wickedness. Oh, Fred, keep your mind and body clear before Him, and if you will kneel to Him for protection, He will show you a way through all difficulties." It was thus that she intended to tell him that his promise to her, made on the previous day, was to count for nought, and that he was to marry the girl if by no other way he could release himself from vice. But she could not bring herself to declare to him in plain terms that he had better marry Kate O'Hara, and bring his new Countess to Scroope in order that she might be fitly received by her predecessor. It might be that the Lord would still show him a way out of the two evils.

But his brother was more clear of purpose with him, as they walked together out to the yard in which the young Earl was to get into his carriage. "Upon the whole, Fred, if I were you I should marry that girl." This he said quite abruptly. The young lord shook his head. "It may be that I do not know all the circumstances. If they be as I have heard them from you, I should marry her. Good-bye. Let me hear from you, when you have settled as to going anywhere."

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