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All sounds suddenly died away as the
curtain rose upon the new heath scenery that
had been painted, regardless of expense, for
the present occasion. The witches
prophesied; the Thanes did everything that was
expected of them; but Mr. Swete had
neither eyes nor ears for them.

A room within Macbeth's castle at
Inverness. A pause, wherein you might have
heard a pin drop, and then a roar of applause
which shook the house. Nina Hotham was
in the centre of the stage, magnificent,
majestic; the object upon which the eyes of
thousands were concentrated. The letter
from Macbeth was in her hand, from which
she ought to have already spoken the first
sentence. Another roar of applause. Still
Nina spoke not one single syllable, nor was
she fated to speak: her faculties were numbed;
her tongue powerless; her limbs
immovable. She was paralysed by stage-fright.
Applause, mingled with disapprobation,
succeeded: then disapprobation only. Finally,
the curtain descended upon the voiceless Lady
Macbeth in a perfect storm of hisses.

Even Cecil Hotham knew that Nina's
chance as a favourite of the public was
now gone for ever. The final opportunity,
thus lost, had costwith the previous
expenses upon her accountnearly all their
fortune. Nevertheless, not a word of sorrow,
and far less of reproach, did he ever utter.
After paying every farthing that they owed,
he left his expensive residence, and removed
with her to a suburban lodging; their Brentfell
house having been sold. A room was
appropriated in their humble home for the vast
assemblage of theatrical properties which now
seemed to form her sole comfort. It was
her melancholy delight to catalogue these
relics of what she was wont to consider her
palmy time; to array herself in the most
gorgeous mimic vestments; to represent to
her own satisfaction still the characters
which she was never destined to perform
before others.

The Hothams courted obscurity; and, like
all who have got through their property, and
lived only for themselves or for each other,
they easily obtained it. Only one visitor was
ever seen to enter their door. The Reverend
Applepy Swete came to place his heart at the
disposal of Nina, in spite of all that had come
and gone. She received him very kindly, and
indeed with a greater appearance of affection
than she had at any time exhibited towards
him; but it was only to dismiss him for
ever. Anxiety, disappointment, and, more
than all, disgrace, had undermined the poor
girl's constitution to an extent that no
physician could remedy. She had only a few
months in which to live,—and she knew it.
She told him this, with an earnestness against
which he did not dare to hope.

She found it much harder to persuade her
brotheralways anxious to believe pleasant
things about herthat her case was indeed
so bad; but, at last, even he was brought to
believe it.

"If I had years and years to live, dear Cecil,"
cried she, one day when she had grown very
weak and ill, "they would be all too short to
prove how grateful my heart feels to you: it
has been a selfish, foolish, blinded heart, all
along, I fear."

"Hush, hush!" he whispered, fondly. "I
have done nothing which my judgment has
not approved. To me you are as great as you
are dear. We have done with all that now,
but only yesterday, when you spoke those
noble words as a queen should speak them,
and looked every inch a queen, and felt—"

"Hush, hush, dear brother," she
murmured, "no more of this. I will act no part
with my own Cecil again. You have been
deceived, and I have deceived myself. We
two have both been wrong: you through love,
and I through shameful vanity. I am no
actress, and no genius; have no wisdom,
power, nor truth. I am a poor, weak, sinful
girl, who has ruined the kindest brother the
world ever saw."

Yet, when Nina died, her brother missed
not only Nina, but a being of infinite
radiance, knowledge, skill. He never lost
his faith in her, dead or alive. And, when
he died himselfwhich was not long
afterwardsthe effects belonging to him which
were found most religiously preserved, tied
up and sealed, were certain monstrous boxes
filled with theatrical gewgaws.

MOSSES.

MOSSES, although not the most useful, are
certainly one of the most interesting, groups
in the vegetable world; and winter is the
time to study them. They belong to the
class Cryptogamia, or Hide-flowers, and vary
in size from a foot to an eighth of an inch,
and in colour from a pure white, through
intermediate shades of grey, yellow, light green,
and dark green, to a jet black. These plants
are generally evergreen, and able to grow in
much colder climates and situations than most
other vegetables. In the dreary country of
Spitzbergen, the rocks, which rise out of
everlasting masses of ice, are thickly clothed
with mosses; and a botanist named Crantz,
who travelled in Greenland, is said to have
counted about twenty different species,
without moving from a rock where he was
seated.

Of the use of mosses in the economy of
Nature very little is known, except that they
are often the necessary precursors of a
higher order of vegetables; for which they
prepare a soil, by retaining amongst their
matted branches the drifting sand and dust
in places which would otherwise remain bare
and sterile. They afford refuge in winter,
and food as well as lodging in summer, to
innumerable insects. They overspread the
trunks and roots of trees, and, in winter

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