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young girl was walking, slowly and alone. She looked very much at home there, and had good right to be at home, for she was the only daughter of the owner of the Hall, Geoffrey Tyndal, known in the village of Winstead as the Squire.
It was the fashion in the neighbourhood to wonder over the odd name which Squire Tyndal had chosen to give to his only child. The fact was, she had been born upon the day of a certain Royal marriage, and the Squire had been determined that something in her name should mark the date. And looking through the list of names borne by the family of the Lady who is some day to be our queen, he selected Dagmar as most uncommon and most in accordance with his taste. So Dagmar she was christened, despite the remonstrances of all her female relatives, and was never heard, as she grew up, to regret the name, unusual though it was.
Some one, when she was a child, took to calling her Day, and the name was so fitting and appropriato that it was soon generally adopted. A further attempt was naturally made to soften it to Daisy; but this would not carry itself out. Day she was, and Day she seemed likely to remain.
She was a tall well-grown girl, but she looked strangely young for her nineteen years. Her figure, though good, was youthful and undeveloped, with a graceful awkwardness common to young things that take much exercise and grow fast and freely.
Her face had in it the same promise of beauty to come, a fair yet rich complexion, ripe flexible lips, large eyes of clear blue-grey, and nose not worth mentioning as yet. Her hair was dark-brown, wavy, and long, and she wore it plaited in a childish fashion that accorded with the extreme simplicity of her dress. She was charming to look upon, and yet the common opinion of her looks was not, `How beautiful she is !' but, . What a magnificent creature she will be. Only those who loved her would have been well content if she could have remained as she was, more child than woman, for ever.
She was sauntering slowly along in the gathering dusk, with eyes sometimes bent upon the ground, sometimes raised to the reddening sky that showed between the thick oak-branches. Her hands were sometimes hanging beside her, sometimes clasped behind her head, and her mobile face was grave and full of dreams-more childishlooking so, perhaps, than when it was awake and full of life.
Every now and then she lifted her head and broke forth into soft half-uttered song, most often only a couplet or a single line, thrown out with all the careless ease of one who had a bird-soul, and found song as easy and as natural as speech. Her's was one of those voices which do not require much cultivation, neither greatly repay it. It was of moderate compass, and no notes in it would ever have brought down an admiring house ; but it was very reasonably powerful, and every note in it was full, pure, and musical, fit for the expression of any emotion. And she sang as the birds do, wild wood notes that leapt into being with the feeling of the moment and died with it-music that seemed to be born of the quaint words she sang, and to have no existence apart from them.
She sang, indeed, fully as much as she spoke, and often expressed feelings in that way, which she could never have put into spoken words.
What was she thinking of as she moved along with careless freedom beneath the cool tree-shadows, solacing her solitude with snatches of song? It would be hard to say. The scents of spring flowers are not more fugitive and indefinable than the thoughts of one so young in soul as she, one for whom The Story' is not yet begun.
Thoughts of yesterday's small dainty enjoyments, which to-day were like dead rose-leaves ; butterfly hopes for the future, which reached forward to all pleasant things, and in spirit possessed them already; and beneath and beyond all, a dim undefined longing for The Story to begin. The Story of Life, of that vague, unknown future for which we wait-knowing not whether it shall be of joy or sorrow-equally anxious for it to come, whether we hope for the one or fear the other.
It would not be said of Dagmar Tyndal that she either hoped or feared. She knew, by a prophetic instinct, that she should drink deep of joy, and she was by no means unwilling to taste of sorrow as well. She might even have been a little disappointed could some fortune-teller have assured her that she should go from the cradle to the grave without one sip of sorrow's strong rough wine. What life is complete without what that magic draught alone can teach ?-and her courageous young spirit was anxious above all things to live, not so much to enjoy life, as to know the depths of all its mysteries.
Vagrant and dreamy as her thoughts must have been, they seemed to make her forget the flight of time. The heavy autumn dew was falling, the shadows deepening under the gnarled oak-branches ; it was past six o'clock, and seven was the dinner hour at the Hall, and still she did not turn. She was by far too young to value her dinner as many people do, though she had a very healthy, unromantic appetite. Perhaps she would have liked best to have had a large piece of bread (or cake, since she had by no means outgrown her childish tastes), and to have stayed out there in the woodlands till the bats and owls were all abroad and stirring, and the great round harvest moon rose slowly above the tree-tops. But there are some rules of the household which even the petted and spoiled child of the house is not allowed to break; and when presently the great dressing-bell clanged out behind her, Dagmar startled and turned as at an imperative summons.
Noiselessly and swiftly, like a pale-blue ghost, she' flitted up the long avenue, unlatched the gate at the upper end, and came out into the large, old-fashioned garden, where the air was heavy with the scent of late mignonette, and the lingering roses and scarlet geraniums were mere blotches of milky white and intense blackness.
The Hall was a large, rather imposing-looking place, with fine stone-mullioned windows, rooms fairly sized, though rather low, and a beautiful deep stone porch leading into a large stone-paved hall. It had quite a festive appearance to-night, since every door and window was left open to admit the pleasant evening air, and the lamp-light streamed forth into the twilight, and seemed suddenly to deepen it into night.
A boy was standing on the door-step, a slip of a fellow of about twelve or thirteen, with a slender graceful figure, tall for his years, with regular features, and fair tumbled hair. As the light from the open door fell upon Dagmar's approaching form, he darted out to meet her.
• Day, Day, you'll be late for dinner!' he cried, exultingly. And didn't you know? Raymond's come !!
• Raymond ? Oh !-Raymond !' she said, with a queer mingling in her tone of scorn, amusement, and a flavour of pleasant excitement. • Raymond's come, is he?'—and she suddenly caught the boy by his two hands, and whirled him off to the smooth-shaven grass-plot in front of the house, upon which the two young creatures performed a most peculiar and ghostly kind of war-dance-very graceful to look upon, if the amazed spectator could divest himself of the idea that they were both mad. In a few minutes they came back to the house, panting slightly, the boy's arm round the girl's waist, their two faces looking strangely alike, both full of the same light of merriment and mischief.
In the hall Day caught sight of the clock, and started. Dick, you're dressed, I do believe, and it's high time I was. Let me go, there's a good lad,' and she slipped from bis arm, sprang upstairs, and fled swiftly along a wide passage with a polished floor. She reached her own door, however, less quickly than her rate of progress promised, for under the swinging lamp in the midst of the passage she met some one whom she paused to look at, in complete oblivion both of her haste, and the need of it.
Dagmar was an only child, but she had the advantage of being on very intimate terms with many of her relations. The boy Dick, whom she had left below stairs, was her cousin, brought up with her, and more to her than many brothers are to their sisters, and here was another cousin who stood to her in the relation of an elder sister, though she did not spend all her time at the Hall.
Agnes Morrison was no longer in her first youth ; she was eightand-twenty, and she looked more. Some people were inclined to credit her with a former love trouble, to account at once for her being still unmarried, and for the slightly worn look of her face. Her hair was no longer so thick as it used to be, her cheeks were a little hollow, and there were permanent shadows beneath her fine brown eyes.
But if a love trouble was in truth the cause of this, many people would cheerfully undergo the same; if so they might be sure of the same result in all respects.
Agnes Morrison was more popular nowadays than ever she had been before, especially with the other sex-more popular, and even more admired. She had a beautiful figure, and she understood the art of dressing perfectly. She understood the art of conversation likewise, and could talk upon any subject to any person with an easy indifferent graco that left it to be supposed that she did not care greatly for anything on her own account, but was prepared to take an intelligent interest in it on account of others.
She stood now beneath the hanging lamp, in her faultless evening dress, with every adjunct perfect of its kind, and looked at Dagmar with a loving, amused smile.
· How nice! Oh, how nice you look!' said Dagmar, looking her over from head to foot, and walking round her with elaborate caution. * I never saw that dress before. I took a flower to your room; have you got it?'
Agnes pointed to her hair, and her cousin nodded approvingly, slipped a hand into her arm, and sauntered with her down the passage.
My dear Day,' said the elder cousin, “you will most certainly be late for dinner.
But Dagmar, with head turned over her shoulder, was studying the sweep of the other's long black lace train, and turned a deaf ear. Suddenly, on the broader landing at the head of the stairs, they came upon a young man, coming full-dressed out of his room.
His back was towards them, and the elder lady made no sign; but Dagmar cried out in her clear voice, “Raymond, what a hurry you are in! How do you do?'
The young man started and turned round, showing a face less youthful than his figure lad seemed—a face that could hardly belong to a man of less than five-and-thirty-rather handsome, but thin and lined, as if with a restless, active life. His dark moustache was thick and heavy, but his dark hair was wearing rather thin, and his eyes had lines round them that were perilously like crows-feet.
"Ah! Day, I beg your pardon,' he cried ; and Agnes, too! How are you both?'
They stood still together, greeting him smilingly; and he, beneath his gay careless greeting, was studying them both, struck, perhaps, by the contrast between them.
They were of nearly the same height, but in other respects the contrast was sharp enough. Agnes' beauty was set off by every advantage of dress—a pleasure to the well-trained eye from the topmost glossy thread of her hair to the toe of her dainty shoe. Dagmar looked as childish as even she could look, her hair hanging limp and damp with dew, and her simple cotton frock in the same predicament. The freshness of the night was on her cheeks and lips— something of the wonder and mystery of the night in the depths of her clear grey eyes. There was nothing about her to please the well-trained eye-only a strange, elvish charm that made Raymond Dayrell, who studied German, and had some poetical fancies, think somehow of the Erl-king's youngest daughter.
He turned to Agnes with an air of quiet satisfaction, as if they had been old friends, as indeed they were.
'It is very long since I saw you,' he said ; 'and my uncle did not tell me that you were here. This is an unexpected pleasure.'
She flushed slightly, and laughed a little clear laugh that had not one false note in it, and yet was not natural.
My uncle told me that he had asked you to come and see me! I taxed him with having told a white fib, and he could not deny itupon which I deputed Dick and Day to punish him. Shall we go downstairs ?'
The young man bowed, and they went down together, talking and smiling with an air that seemed to be saying to the spectators who were not there, See how friendly we are !!
And Dagmar darted back down her passage, singing as she went, so clearly and saucily, that they paused to listen. What did the foolish child mean?
I have a house upon yon moor
(Lass, gin ye love me, tell me noo), Three sparrows may dance upon the floor
(And I canna come ilka day to woo)!' She banged her bedroom door upon the last word, and her two unseen auditors went on downstairs without looking at each other any more.
In the drawing-room the rest of the family were assembled : the ingenuous Dick, and the master and mistress of the household.
Geoffrey Tyndal was not tall enough for the typical English squire, but he was stout and comfortable-looking, grey-haired and brisk and lively; with brains enough to carry him comfortably through all the business of every-day life, and an amusing faculty for making blunders, and doing one thing while thinking of another.
His wife was a silent, somewhat grave woman, in looking at whom one might see from whence Dagmar got her promise of beauty; whose mission in life seemed to be to smile quietly over her husband's mistakes, and set them right, and to do kind actions for everybody.
She should have been a member of a working Sisterhood, instead of a rich man's wife, and possibly in that case she might have been an even happier woman, though such an idea would never have entered her brain.
Dick and his uncle were talking together with an eagerness and interest which showed that the elderly man had still the light warm heart of a boy. Miss Morrison went to Mrs. Tyndal's side, and so did