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[429] were to represent narrative conversation, she thought this mode of composing them would give them a more natural air, and whenever her sister's pen hesitated, she altered the word at once. ‘So,’ said she, ‘all that turned out right, and I was very glad of it for Lucy's sake as well as my own.’

‘Taking for Granted,’ she told me, was sketched very roughly about fifteen years ago, and she is now employed in working it entirely over again, and bringing it out. She was curious to know what instances I had ever witnessed of persons suffering from ‘taking for granted’ what proved false, and desired me quite earnestly, and many times, to write to her about it; ‘for,’ she added, ‘you would be surprised if you knew how much I pick up in this way.’ ‘The story,’ she said, ‘must begin lightly, and the early instances of mistake might be comic, but it must end tragically.’ I told her I was sorry for it. ‘Well,’ said she, ‘I can't help it, it must be so. The best I can do for you is, to leave it quite uncertain whether it is possible the man who is to be my victim can ever be happy again or not.’

But neither ‘Helen’ nor ‘Taking for Granted,’ she said, is the subject she should be glad to write about, and write about with the most interest. It is something connected with the religious and political parties that are ruining Ireland, ‘my poor Ireland.’ ‘But,’ she went on, ‘ it won't do. Few would listen, and those that would listen would do it to serve their own purposes. It won't do, and I am sorry for it, very sorry.’

But though she talked thus freely about herself and her works, she never introduced the subject, and never seemed glad to continue it. She talked quite as well, and with quite as much interest, on everything else. Indeed, though I watched carefully for it, I could not detect, on the one side, any of the mystification of authorship, nor, on the other, any of its vanity. . . . . The sustained tone of conversation, however, with her unquenchable vivacity, was, I think,—continued as it was through so long a day,—a little fatiguing to her. She was just the same to the last moment,—just as quick in repartee, and just as gay in her allusions and remarks,—but her countenance showed that her physical strength was hardly equal to it. Indeed, she is of a feeble constitution naturally, though for the last two years she has gained strength. It was, therefore, something of a trial to talk so brilliantly and variously as she did, from nine in the morning till past eleven at night.

Sunday, August 23.—To-day was more quiet; not less interesting

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