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[1049] ‘O, Mariana, do let me love you, and try to love me a little!’ But my idol snatched away her hand, and laughing wildly, ran into her room. After that day, her manner to me was not only cold, but repulsive, and I felt myself scorned.

Perhaps four months had passed thus, when, one afternoon, it became obvious that something more than common was brewing. Dismay and mystery were written in many faces of the older girls; much whispering was going on in corners.

In the evening, after prayers, the principal bade us stay; and, in a grave, sad voice, summoned forth Mariana to answer charges to be made against her.

Mariana stood up and leaned against the chimneypiece. Then eight of the older girls came forward, and preferred against her charges,— alas! too well founded, of calumny and falsehood.

At first, she defended herself with self-possession and eloquence. But when she found she could no more resist the truth, she suddenly threw herself down, dashing her head with all her force against the iron hearth, on which a fire was burning, and was taken up senseless.

The affright of those present was great. Now that they had perhaps killed her, they reflected it would have been as well if they had taken warning from the former occasion, and approached very carefully a nature so capable of any extreme. After a while she revived, with a faint groan, amid the sobs of her companions. I was on my knees by the bed, and held her cold hand. One of those most aggrieved took it from me, to beg her pardon, and say, it was impossible not to love her. She made no reply.

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