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We did write, and tried to argue with her. She answered briefly, that nothing would alter her resolve. From time to time we exchanged letters, but at longer intervals, until at last she did not answer one of mine, and from that time years past before I again heard of Sophy Gregory.

Robert Gregory had cast himself sullenly into an arm chair, and sat with his elbows on the arms, and his chin resting on his hands. His face was flushed, his eyes wide open, and his lips set hard. A deadly sensation of despair was stealing over him, which he in vain strove against. Was it possible that, after all these years of scheming and watchfulness, his prize was to be snatched from him in the moment of success? He could not and would not believe it, and yet he had a hopeless feeling in him which told him that the will was either lost or destroyed, and that it would never be found or heard of again. When Mr. Petersfield said, "We can do no good herelet us return to the drawing-room," he rose, and followed the others mechanically.

Sophy tried in vain to point out to him that the will now seemed altogether lost, and that it would be better to start for abroad at once. But Robert said that he did not give it up yet, and that, as he was doing very well, he was in no hurry to start; but that if by the end of the next racing seasonthat was to say, in about eighteen monthsit was not found, he would give up his present work and go abroad, for by that time he should have made enough money to take them out comfortably, and to start them fairly in the new country.

I may here mention, with reference to Lady Desborough's remark about my being an heiress, that Clara Fairthorne had brought the news to school, when Mr. Harmer's intentions with respect to us were publicly announced, and from that time we were generally known there by the nickname of the "heiresses."

At a quarter after eleven the next day, Mr. Harmer and his solicitor alighted from a carriage at the lodge gates, and, sending the vehicle back to the town, entered the grounds.

The tanner repeated the words over, to be sure he had them right; he then, assisted by his wife, cut the clothes from Robert, so as to move him as little as possible; they placed him carefully in the bed; and the tanner gave his wife instructions to give him a little weak brandy-and-water from time to time, and a few spoonsful of broth in the middle of the day, if he could take it. He then collected the clothes that he had taken off Robert Gregory, carried them downstairs, and burned them piece by piece in the kitchen fire.

We were a silent party. Papa and Mr. Petersfield made an occasional remark, and Polly tried once or twice to enliven us, but it would not do. We all felt that we were engaged upon a serious business, and that the future of our lives depended upon its result.

"Upon what my conviction is founded I will presently inform you. My attempt failed, and I shall try no more, but leave the matter in His hands who is certain to bring the works of darkness to light in the end. You believe, Miss Harmer," and the girl's voice rose now, and became more firm and impressive, "that you are acting in the interests of God; believe me, He is strong enough to act for Himself. I have a strong, a sure conviction that some day it will be all made straight, and in the meantime I am content to trust my sister's life in His hands, and wait. If she die, it is His will; but I still hope that He will in some way or other make known to me where the will is placed."