Chapter XXV.
 
            "One sacred oath has tied
    Our loves; one destiny our life shall guide,
    Nor wild, nor deep, our common way divide."
                                    --Prior.

Edward sat at the open window of his wife's boudoir enjoying the beauties of the landscape--the verdant lawn and shrubberies, the smiling fields and wooded hills beyond--the sweet morning breeze and the matin songs of the birds, while Zoe in the adjoining room put the finishing touches to her toilet.

She came to him presently, very simply dressed in white, looking sweet and fresh as a rose just washed with dew, and seated herself upon his knee.

"Darling!" he said, low and tenderly, putting his arm about her slender waist and imprinting a kiss upon the rosy cheek.

"My dear, dear husband! what could I ever do without you; how desolate I should be this day, if I hadn't you to love and care for me!" she said with a sob, stealing an arm around his neck and laying her cheek to his. "You know--you cannot have forgotten--that it is just one year to-day since dear papa died."

"Think what a blessed year it has been to him, love; think what a happy meeting with him in that blessed land you may look forward to. There, death-divided friends will meet never to part again, free from sin and sorrow, pain and care, and to be 'forever with the Lord.'

"No; I have not forgotten what this day one year ago took from you, or what it gave to me--my heart's best treasure."

He drew her closer, and again touched his lips to her cheek.

Smiling through her tears, she offered her lips.

"Oh, I'm very, very happy!" she said. "It has been a happy year in spite of my grief for my dear, dear father, except when--O Ned, we won't ever be cross to one another again, will we?"

"I trust not, my darling," he said. "It is too sharp a pain to be at variance with one's other half," he added, with playful tenderness. "Is it not, love!"

"Indeed, indeed it is!" she cried.

"See! this is to prove to you that I have not forgotten what a treasure I secured a year ago," he said, reaching for an open jewel case that stood on a table near at hand, and laying it in her lap.

"Pearls! Oh, how lovely! the most magnificent set I ever saw. Many, many thanks, dear Ned!" she exclaimed in delight. "I shall wear them this evening in honor of the day.

"But what shall I give you? I'm afraid I have nothing but--what I gave you a year ago--myself."

"The most priceless treasure earth can afford!" he responded, clasping her close to his heart.

"And your love," she said softly, her arm stealing round his neck again, her shining eyes gazing fondly into his, "is more to me than all its gold and jewels."