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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 626 pages of information about The Young Step-Mother.

‘You have never known,’ said Sophy.

’No; our number has never yet been broken; but for this little man, I trust that the sense of duty may be deepened, and with it his love to you all; and surely that is not what will quench the blithe temper.’

‘May it be so!’ said Sophy.  ’He may have enough of his mother in him to be happy.’

’I must think that the recollection of so loving a brother, and his pride in him for a hero, may make the stream flow more deeply, but not more darkly.’

‘There never was a cloud between them,’ said Sophy.

’Clouds are all past and gone now between those who can with him “take part in that thanksgiving lay,"’ answered Ulick, kindly.

‘Yes,’ said Sophy.  ’My uncle says it was peace at last!  Oh! if humbleness and penitence could win it, one might be sure it would be his.’

‘True,’ said Ulick.  ’It was a beautiful thing to find the loving sweetness and kindness refined into self-devotion and patience, and growing into something brighter and purer as it came near the last.  It will be a precious recollection.’

‘To those who have no self-reproach,’ sighed Sophy; and after a pause she abruptly resumed, ’You once blamed me for being hard with him.  Nothing was more true.’

‘Impossible—­when could I have presumed?’

‘When?  You remember.  After Oxford.’

’Oh! you should not have let what I said dwell with you.  I was a very raw Irishman then, and thought it barbarity to look cold on a little indiscretion, but I have learnt to think differently,’ and he sighed.  ’The severity that leads to repentance is truer affection than is shown by making light of foolishness.’

‘If it had been affection and not wounded pride.’

‘The dross has been refined away, if there were any,’ said Ulick.  ‘You will be able to love him better now than ever you did in life.’

His comprehension met her half way, and gave her more relief and soothing than anything she had experienced for months.  There was that response and intercommunion of spirit for which her nature had yearned the more because of the inability to express the craving; the very turn of the dark blue eyes, and the inflexions of the voice, did not merely convey pity, but an entering into the very core of her sorrow, namely, that she had never loved her brother enough, nor forgiven him for not being his fellow-twin.  Whatever he said tended to reveal to her that there had been more justice, rectitude, sisterly feeling, and wholesome training than she had given herself credit for, and, above all, that Gilbert had loved her all the time.  She was induced to dwell on the exalting and touching circumstances of his last redeeming year, and her tears streamed calmly and softly, not with the harshness that had hitherto marred her grief.  Neither could have believed that there had been so long and marked a separation in feeling, or that Ulick O’More

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