A Menial Struggle. g^^g
your father ?" she goes on with angry reproach. " How
have you found a voice to speak at all -apon this matter ?
—you, who might have saved him by putting forth
your hand. Yet you would not! Had you married
" Hush, Olivia ! " Interposes Sir Hugh, hastily. " We
have had enough of It; I will hear no more. Thinking
it all over of late, I cannot see what just reason we had
for expecting Imogen to sacrifice herself for her family.
It was a miserably selfish Idea. If I am to be beggared
in my old age "—with a wretched attempt at a smile—-
" the sooner it comes to pass the better. I have heard it
is not altogether so unbearable as one might imagine,
living in one of those French to-wns, or In Brussels, or
His head droops upon his breast. Pie seems to have
grown in one moment greyer, more feeble. His assumed
bravery altogether deserts him. His attitude Is suggestive
of nothing but the very deepest despair.
" Ah, Hugh, do not give way like this! " exclaims Lady
Olivia, miserably. She throws her arms round him, and
clings to him with all the love of her youth that never
yet has grown cold. To her at this unhappy moment
he is not the old man, the father of her children, but onco
again the husband of her girlhood—her gay, handsome,
gallant young lover. To see him now so crushed and
broken is terrible to her. She lays her head upon his
shoulder and begins to cry softly but very piteously.
Imogen has fallen back from them. It seems to her
that no longer has she a place with them They have
forgotten her in their grief, their love. A terrible pain
grows within her heart until it reaches gigantic propor¬
tions, and threatens to overcome her. Is she. Indeed, the
cause of all this cruel suffering ? Is it through that one
act of hers that sorrow has fallen like a cloud upon the
declining years of her father, her mother ?
The agony Is getting too great to be borne. At length
it conquers her. She flings from her all hope, all self-
respect, all freedom In one wild Instant, and going to her
mother's side falls upon her knees before her.