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"I am well assured of what you say,
father. I know I have been your favorite
child. I know you have intended to make me
happy. I have never blamed you, and I
never shall."

He took her outstretched hand, and
retained it in his.

"My dear, I have remained all night at
my table, pondering again and again on what
has so painfully passed between us. When
I consider your character; when I consider
that what has been known to me for hours,
has been concealed by you for years; when I
consider under what immediate pressure it
has been forced from you at last; I come to
the conclusion that I cannot but mistrust
myself."

He might have added more than all, when
he saw the face now looking at him. He did
add it in effect perhaps, as he softly moved
her scattered hair from her forehead with
his hand. Such little actions, slight in
another man, were very noticeable in him;
and his daughter received them as if they had
been words of contrition.

"But," said Mr. Gradgrind slowly, and
with hesitation, as well as with a wretched
sense of helplessness, "if I see reason to
mistrust myself for the past, Louisa, I should
also mistrust myself for the present and the
future. To speak unreservedly to you, I do.
I am far from feeling convinced now,
however differently I might have felt only this
time yesterday, that I am fit for the trust
you repose in me; that I know how to
respond to the appeal you have come home
to make to me; that I have the right instinct
supposing it for the moment to be some
quality of that naturehow to help you, and
to set you right, my child."

She had turned upon her pillow, and lay
with her face upon her arm, so that he could
not see it. All her wildness and passion had
subsided; but, though softened, she was not
in tears. Her father was changed in nothing
so much as in the respect that he would have
been glad to see her in tears.

"Some persons hold," he pursued, still
hesitating, "that there is a wisdom of the
Head, and that there is a wisdom of the
Heart. I have not supposed so; but, as I
have said, I mistrust myself now. I have
supposed the Head to be all-sufficient. It
may not be all-sufficient; how can I venture
this morning to say that it is! If that other
kind of wisdom should be what I have
neglected, and should be the instinct that is
wanted, Louisa——"

He suggested it very doubtfully, as if he
were half unwilling to admit it even now.
She made him no answer; lying before him
on her bed, still half-dressed, much as he had
seen her lying on the floor of his room last
night.

"Louisa," and his hand rested on her hair
again, "I have been absent from here, my
dear, a good deal of late; and though your
sister's training has been pursued according
tothe system," he appeared to come to that
word with great reluctance always, "it has
necessarily been modified by daily associations
begun, in her case, at an early age. I ask
youignorantly and humbly, my daughter
for the better, do you think?"

"Father," she replied, without  stirring, "if
any harmony has been awakened in her
young breast that was mute in mine until it
turned to discord, let her thank Heaven for it,
and go upon her happier way, taking it as
her greatest blessing that she has avoided my
way."

"O my child, my child!" he said, in a
forlorn manner, "I am an unhappy man to
see you thus! What avails it to me that you
do not reproach me, if I so bitterly reproach
myself!" He bent his head, and spoke low
to her. "Louisa, I have a misgiving that
some change may have been slowly working
about me in this house, by mere love and
gratitude; that what the Head had left
undone and could not do, the Heart may have
been doing silently. Can it be so?"

She made him no reply.

"I am not too proud to believe it, Louisa.
How could I be arrogant, and you before me!
Can it be so? Is it so, my dear?"

He looked upon her, once more, lying cast
away there; and without another word went
out of the room. He had not been long
gone, when she heard a light tread near the
door, and knew that some one stood beside
her.

She did not raise her head. A dull anger
that she should be seen in her distress, and
that the involuntary look she had so resented
should come to this fulfilment, smouldered
within her like an unwholesome fire. All
closely imprisoned forces rend and destroy.
The air that would be healthful to the earth,
the water that would enrich it, the heat that
would ripen it, tear it when caged up. So
in her bosom even now; the  strongest
qualities she possessed, long turned upon
themselves, became a heap of obduracy, that
rose against a friend.

It was well that soft touch came upon her
neck, and that she understood herself to be
supposed to have fallen asleep. The
sympathetic hand did not claim her resentment.
Let it lie there, let it lie.

So it lay there, warming into life a crowd
of gentler thoughts; and she lay still. As
she softened with the quiet, and the consciousness
of being so watched, some tears made
their way into her eyes. The face touched
hers, and she knew that there were tears
upon it too, and she the cause of them.

As Louisa feigned to rouse herself, and sat
up, Sissy retired, so that she stood placidly
near the bed-side.

"I hope I have not disturbed you. I have
come to ask if you will let me stay with
you."

"Why should you stay with me? My

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