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The Lady of the Ice - A Novel
by James De Mille
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"Oh, Miss O'Halloran!" said I; "I love you—I adore-you—and—oh, Miss O'Halloran!—I—"

"Miss O'Halloran!" she cried, starting back as I advanced once more, and tried to take her hand.

"Nora, then," said I. "Dearest, sweetest! You cannot be indifferent. Oh, Nora!" and I grasped her hand.

But at that moment I was startled by a heavy footstep at the door. I dropped Nora's hand, which she herself snatched away, and turned.

IT WAS O'HALLORAN!!!!!

He stood for a moment looking at us, and then he burst out into a roar of laughter.

"Macrorie!" he cried—"Macrorie! May the divil saize me if I don't beleeve that ye're indulgin' in gallanthries."

Now, at that moment, his laughter sounded harsh and ominous; but I had done no wrong, and so, in conscious innocence, I said:

"Mr. O'Halloran, you are right in your conjecture; but I assure you that it was no mere gallantry; for, sir, I have a strong affection for Miss O'Halloran, and have just asked her for her hand."

"Miss O'Halloran!" cried he. "Miss O'Halloran! Sure, why didn't ye ask hersilf, thin, like a man?"

"Oh, dear!" cried Nora, taking O'Halloran's arm, and turning her beautiful, pleading face up to his—"oh, dear! It's all a dreadful, dreadful mistake. He doesn't know who I am. He thinks that I am Miss O'Halloran."

"You!" I cried. "You! Why, are you not? Of course, you are. Who else are you?"

"Oh, tell him, tell him!" cried Nora. "It's so dreadful! Such a horrid, horrid mistake to make!"

A bright light flashed all over O'Halloran's face. He looked at me, and then, at Nora; and then there came forth a peal of laughter which would have done honor to any of the gods at the Olympian table. This time the laughter was pure, and fresh, and joyous, and free.

"Miss O'Halloran!" he cried—"ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Miss O'Halloran! ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Miss O'Halloran! Oh, be the powers, it's me that'll nivir get over that same! Miss O'Halloran! An' givin' wee to sintimint—ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! an'askin' for riciproceetee av' tindir attachmint—ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! What in the woide wurruld ivir injuiced ye to think that me own little Nora was Miss O'Halloran?"

"Miss O'Halloran? Why," said I, "what else could I suppose? I recollect now, when you introduced me the other night, you didn't mention her name; and, if she isn't Miss O'Halloran, who is she? Let me know now, at least. But my sentiments remain the same," I concluded, "whatever name she has."

"The divull they do!" said O'Halloran, with a grin. "Well, thin, the quicker ye cheenge yer sintimints, the betther. Me own Nora—she's not Miss O'Halloran-an' lucky for me—she's somethin' betther—she's-MRS. O'HALLORAN!!!"

Let the curtain fall. There, reader, you have it. We won't attempt to enlarge—will we? We'll omit the exploding thunder-bolt-won't we? I will quietly put an end to this chapter, so as to give you leisure to meditate over the woes of Macrorie.



CHAPTER XXV.

RECOVERY FROM THE LAST GREAT SHOCK.—GENIALITY OF MINE HOST.—OFF AGAIN AMONG ANTIQUITIES.—THE FENIANS.—A STARTLING REVELATION BY ONE OF THE INNER CIRCLE.—POLITICS, POETRY, AND PATHOS.—FAR-REACHING PLANS AND DEEP-SEATED PURPOSES.

I was to dine with O'Halloran, and, though for some time I was overwhelmed, yet I rallied rapidly, and soon recovered. O'Halloran himself was full of fun. The event had apparently only excited his laughter, and appeared to him as affording material for nothing else than endless chaff and nonsense.

As for Nora, she had been so agitated that she did not come to dinner, nor did Marion make her appearance. This was the only thing that gave me discomfort. O'Halloran seemed to understand how natural my mistake was, and I supposed that he made every allowance, and all that.

We sat at table for a long tune. O'Halloran discoursed on his usual variety of subjects. Something occurred which suggested the Fenians, whereupon he suddenly stopped; and, looking earnestly at me, he said:

"Ye know I'm a Fenian?"

"Oh, yes."

"I make no saycrit of it," said he. "As a British officer, you're my mortal inimee in my capaceetee as a Fenian; but at this table, and in this house, we're nayther one thing nor the other. You're only Macrorie, and I'm only O'Halloran. Still I don't mind talking of the subject of Fenianism; it's an important one, and will one day take up a great speece in histhory. I don't intind to indulge in any offinsive objurgeetions ageenst the Saxon, nor will I mintion the wrongs of Oireland. I'll only enloighten you as to the purpose, the maining, and the attichood of the Fenian ordher."

With these words he rose from the table, and chatted on general subjects, while the servants brought in the spoons, glasses, tumblers, and several other things. Beneath the genial influence of these, O'Halloran soon grew eloquent, and resumed his remarks on the Fenians.

"The Fenian ordher," he began, "has two eems. One is abroad; the other is at home.

"The first is that which is kipt before the oyes of the mimbers of the outher circles. It manes the libereetion of Oireland, and perpitual inmity to England. This purpose has its maneefesteetion in the attacks which have alriddy been made on the inimy. Two inveesions have been made on Canada. Innumerable and multeefeerious small interproises have been set on fut in Oireland and in England; and these things serve the purpose of keeping before the moinds of the mimbers the prospict of some grand attack on the inimy, and of foirin' their ardhor.

"But there is an innermost circle, saycludhid from the vulgar oi, undher the chootelar prayiminence of min of janius, in whose moinds there is a very different eem. It is the second which I have mintioned. It is diricthid against America.

"Thus—

"In the American raypublic there are foive millions of Oirish vothers. Now, if these foive millions cud only be unoited in one homojaneous congreegeetion, for some one prayiminent objict, they cud aisly rule the counthree, an' dirict its policee intoirely, at home and abroad.

"This, thin, is the thrue and genuoine eem of the shuparior min of the intayrior circles. It is a grand an' comprayhinsive schayme to consoleedeete all the Oirish votes into one overwhilming mass which can conthrol all the ilictions. It is sweed by a few min of praysoiding moinds and shupayrior janius.

"And hince you bayhowld a systim roising within the boosom of the American raypublic, which will soon be greather thin the raypublic itself. At prisint, though, we do not number much over a million. But we are incraysing. We have hoighly-multifeerious raysourcis. All the hilps are in our pee. These are our spoys. They infarrum us of all the saycrit doings of the American payple. They bring constint accisions to our numbers. They meek us sure of our future.

"Oirishmin," he continued, "will nivir roise iffikeeciouslee in Oireland. They can only roise in Amirica. Here, in this counthry, is their only chance. And this chance we have sayzed, an', begorra, we'll follow it up till all Amirica is domeeneetid by the Oirish ilimint, and ruled by Oirish votes. This is the only Oirish raypublic for which we care."

"But you've been divided in your counsels," I suggested. "Did'nt this interfere with your prospects?"

"Oh," said he, "that was all our diplomeecee."

"And were you never really divided?"

"Nivir for a momint. Those were only thricks intindid to disave and schtoopeefy the Amirican and English governmints."

"So your true aim refers to America?"

"Yis. And we intind to saycure to Amirica a perpetual succession of Oirish prisidints."

"When will you be able to begin? At the next election?"

"No—not so soon. Not for two or three to come. By the third elicton though, all the Oirish populeetion will be riddy to vote, and thin we'll have our oun Oirish Prisidint. And afther that," said O'Halloran, in an oracular tone, and pausing to quaff the transparent draught— "afther that, Amirica will be simplee an Oirish republic. Then we'll cast our oys across the say. We'll cast there our arrums. We'll sind there our flates and armies. We'll take vingince out of the Saxon for the wrongs of foive cinturies. We'll adopt Ould Oireland into the fameelee of the Steetes, as the youngest, but the fairist and the broightist of thim all. We'll throw our laygions across the Oirish Channel into the land of the Saxon, and bring that counthry down to its proimayval insignifeecance. That," said O'Halloran, "is the one sehtoopindous eem of the Fenian Ordher."

O'Halloran showed deep emotion. Once more he quaffed the restoring draught.

"Yis, me boy," he said, looking tenderly at me. "I'll yit return to the owld land. Perhaps ye'll visit the eeged O'Halloran before he doise. Oi'll teek up me risidince at Dublin. Oi'll show ye Oircland—free— troiumphint, shuprame among the neetions. Oi'll show ye our noble pisintry, the foinist in the wurruld. Oi'll take ye to the Rotondo. Oi'll show ye the Blarney-stone. Oi'll show ye the ruins of Tara, where me oun ancisthors once reigned."

At this his emotion overcame him, and he was once more obliged to seek a restorative.

After this he volunteered to sing a song, and trolled off the following to a lively, rollicking air:

"'Ye choonfol Noine! Ye nymphs devoine, Shuprame in Jove's dominions! Assist me loyre, Whoile oi aspoire To cilibreet the Fenians.

"'Our ordher bowld All onconthrowled Injued with power, be dad, is To pleece in arrums The stalwart farrums Of half a million Paddies.

"'To Saxon laws For Oireland's cause Thim same did breok allaygiance, An' marched away In war's array To froighten the Canajians.

"'We soon intind Our wee to wind Across the woide Atlantic, Besaige the ports, Blow up the forts, An' droive the Saxon frantic.

"'An' thin in loine, Our hosts will join Beneath the Oirish pinnint, Till Dublin falls, An' on its walls We hang the lord-liftinnint.

"'The Saxon crew We'll thin purshoo Judiciously and calmly— On Windsor's plain We'll hang the Quane An' all the royal family.

"'An'thin-begob! No more they'll rob Ould Oireland of her taxes, An' Earth shall rowl From powl to powl More aisy on its axis.'"

Now all the time O'Halloran was talking and singing, I had scarcely heard a word that he said. Once I caught the general run of his remarks, and said a few words to make him think I was attending; but my thoughts soon wandered off, and I was quite unconscious that he was talking rank treason. How do I know so much about it now, it may be asked. To this I reply that after-circumstances gave me full information about was said and sung. And of this the above will give a general idea.

But my thoughts were on far other subjects than Fenianism. It was the Lady of the Ice that filled my heart and my mind. Lost and found, and lost again! With me it was nothing but—"O Nora! Nora! Wherefore art thou, Nora?"—and all that sort of thing, you know.

Lost and found! Lost and found! A capital title for a sensation novel, but a bad thing, my boy, to be ringing through a poor devil's brain. Now, through my brain there rang that identical refrain, and nothing else. And all my thoughts and words the melancholy burden bore of never—never more. How could I enjoy the occasion? What was conviviality to me, or I to conviviality? O'Halloran's words were unheeded and unheard. While Nora was near, he used to seem a brilliant being, but Nora was gone!

And why had she gone? Why had she been so cut up? I had said but little, and my mistake had been hushed up by O'Halloran's laughter. Why had she retired? And why, when I spoke to her of my love, had she showed such extraordinary agitation? Was it—oh, was it that she too loved, not wisely but too well? O Nora! Oh, my Lady of the Ice! Well did you say it was a dreadful mistake! Oh, mistake—irreparable, despairing! And could I never see her sweet face again?

By this, which is a pretty fair specimen of my thoughts, it will be plainly seen that I was in a very agitated frame of mind, and still clung as fondly and as frantically as ever to my one idea of the Lady of the Ice.

One thing came amid my thoughts like a flash of light into darkness, and that was that Jack, at least, was not crossing my path, nor was he a dog in my manger; Miss O'Halloran might be his, but she was nothing to me. Who Miss O'Halloran was, I now fully understood. It was Marion— Marion with the sombre, sad face, and the piercing, lustrous eyes.

Well, be she who she might, she was no longer standing between Jack and me. I could regain my lost friend at any rate, I could explain every thing to him. I could easily anticipate the wild shrieks of laughter with which he would greet my mistake, but that mattered not. I was determined to hunt him up. All my late bitter feeling against him vanished, and I began to feel a kind of longing for his great broad brow, his boyish carelessness, his never-ending blunders. So at an early hour I rose, and informed O'Halloran that I had an engagement at eleven o'clock, and would have to start.

"It's sorry I am," said he, "but I won't deteen ye."



CHAPTER XXVI.

A FEW PARTING WORDS WITH O'HALLORAN.—HIS TOUCHING PARENTAL TENDERNESS, HIGH CHIVALRIC SENTIMENT, AND LOFTY SENSE OF HONOR.—PISTOLS FOR TWO.— PLEASANT AND HARMONIOUS ARRANGEMENT.—"ME BOY, YE'RE AN HONOR TO YER SEX!"

"It's sorry I am," said O'Halloran, "but I won't deteen ye, for I always rispict an engeegemint."

He stopped and looked at me with a benevolent smile. I had risen from my chair, and was standing before him.

"Sit down a momint," said he. "There's a subjict I wish to mintion, the considhereetion of which I've postponed till now."

I resumed my seat in some surprise.

"Me boy," said he, in a tender and paternal voice, "it's now toime for me to speak to ye about the ayvint of which I was a casual oi-witniss. I refer to your addhrissis to me woife. Don't intherrupt me. I comprayhind the whole matter. The leedies are all fond of ye. So they are of me. Ye're a devvil of a fellow with them—an' so am I. We comprayhind one another. You see we must have a mayting."

"A meeting!"

"Yis—of coorse. A jool. There's nothing else to be done."

"You understand," said I, "of course, the nature of my awkward mistake, and the cause of it."

"Don't mintion it. Me ondherstand? Of coorse. Am I an owl? Be dad, I nivir laughed so much these tin years. Ondherstand! Every bit of it. But we won't have any expleeneetions about that. What concerns us is the code of honor, and the jewty of gintlemin. A rigid sinse of honor, and a shuprame reygard for the sancteties of loife, requoire that any voioleetion, howivir onintintional, be submitted and subjicted to the only tribunal of chivalry—the eencient and maydoayval orjil of the jool."

I confess I was affected, and deeply, by the lofty attitude which O'Halloran assumed. He hadn't the slightest hard feeling toward me. He wasn't in the smallest degree jealous. He was simply a calm adherent to a lofty and chivalrous code. His honor had been touched ignorantly, no doubt—yet still it had been touched, and he saw no other course to follow than the one laid down by chivalry.

"My friend," said I, enthusiastically, "I appreciate your delicacy, and your lofty sentiment. This is true chivalry. You surpass yourself. You are sublime!"

"I know I am," said O'Halloran, naively.

A tear trembled in his eye. He did net seek to conceal his generous emotion. That tear rolled over and dropped into his tumbler, and hallowed the draught therein.

"So then," said I, "we are to have a meeting—but where, and when?"

"Whinivir it shoots you, and wherivir. I'm afraid it'll take you out of your wee. We'll have to go off about twinty moiles. There's a moighty convaynient place there, I'm sorry it's not nayrer, but it can't be helped. I've had three or fower maytings there mesilf this last year. You'll be deloighted with it whin you once get there. There's good whiskey there too. The best in the country. We'll go there."

"And when?"

"Well, well—the seconds may areenge about that. How'll nixt Monday do?"

"Delightfully, if it suits you."

"Oh, I'll be shooted at any toime."

"What shall we meet with?" I asked.

"Sure that's for you to decoide."

"Pistols," I suggested.

O'Halloran nodded.

"I really have no preference. I'll leave it to you if you like," said I.

O'Halloran rose—a benevolent smile illumined his face. He pressed my hand.

"Me boy," said he, with the same paternal tone which he had thus far maintained, "don't mintion it. Aihter will do. We'll say pistols. Me boy, ye're as thrue as steel—" He paused, and then wringing my hand, he said in a voice tremulous with emotion—"Me boy, ye're an honor to yer sex!"



CHAPTER XXVII.

SENSATIONAL!—TERRIFIC!—TREMENDOUS!—I LEAVE THE HOUSE IN A STRANGE WHIRL.—A STORM.—THE DRIVING SLEET.—I WANDER ABOUT.—THE VOICES OF THE STORM, AND OF THE RIVER.—THE CLANGOR OF THE BELLS.—THE SHADOW IN THE DOORWAY.—THE MYSTERIOUS COMPANION.—A TERRIBLE WALK.—FAMILIAR VOICES.—SINKING INTO SENSELESSNESS.—THE LADY OF THE ICE IS REVEALED AT LAST AMID THE STORM!

As I left the house there came a blast of stinging sleet, which showed me that it was a wild night. It was not many days now since that memorable journey on the river; and the storm that was blowing seemed to be the counterpart and continuation of that. It had been overcast when I entered O'Halloran's; when I left it, the storm had gathered up into fury, and the wind howled around, and the furious sleet dashed itself fiercely against me. The street was deserted. None would go out on so wild a night. It was after eleven; half-past, perhaps.

For a moment I turned my back to the sleet, and then drew forth my cloud from my pocket, and bound it about my head.

Thus prepared, and thus armed, I was ready to encounter the fiercest sleet that ever blew. I went down the steps, took the sidewalk, and went off.

As I went on, my mind was filled with many thoughts. A duel was before me; but I gave that no consideration. The storm howled about and shrieked between the houses; but the storm was nothing. There was that in my heart and in my brain which made all these things trivial. It was the image of my Lady of the Ice, and the great longing after her, which, for the past few days, had steadily increased.

I had found her! I had lost her! Lost and found! Found and lost!

The wrath of the storm had only this one effect on me, that it brought before me with greater vividness the events of that memorable day on the river. Through such a storm we had forced our way. From such pitiless peltings of stinging sleet I had sheltered her fainting, drooping head. This was the hurricane that had howled about her as she lay prostrate, upheld in my arms, which hurled its wrathful showers on her white, upturned face. From this I had saved her, and from worse— from the grinding ice, the falling avalanche, the dark, deep, cold, freezing flood. I had brought her back to life through all these perils, and now—and now!—

Now, for that Lady of the Ice, whose image was brought up before me by the tempest and the storm, there arose within me a mighty and irrepressible yearning. She had become identified with Nora, but yet it was not Nora's face and Nora's image that dwelt within my mind. That smiling face, with its sparkling eyes and its witching smile, was another thing, and seemed to belong to another person. It was not Nora herself whom I had loved, but Nora as she stood the representative of my Lady of the Ice. Moreover, I had seen Nora in unfeigned distress; I had seen her wringing her hands and looking at me with piteous entreaty and despair; but even the power of these strong emotions had not given her the face that haunted me. Nora on the ice and Nora at home were so different, that they could not harmonize; nor could the never-to-be-forgotten lineaments of the one be traced in the other. And, could Nora now have been with me in this storm, I doubted whether her face could again assume that marble, statuesque beauty—that immortal sadness and despair, which I had once seen upon it. That face—the true face that I loved—could I ever see it again?

I breasted the storm and walked on I knew not where. At last I found myself on the Esplanade. Beneath lay the river, which could not now be seen through the blackness of the storm and of the night, but which, through that blackness, sent forth a voice from all its waves. And the wind wailed mournfully, mingling its voice with that of the river. So once before bad rushing, dashing water joined its uproar to the howl of pitiless winds, when I bore her over the river; only on that occasion there was joined in the horrid chorus the more fearful boom of the breaking icefields.

And now the voice of the river only increased and intensified that longing of which I have spoken. I could not go home. I thought of going back again to O'Halloran's house. There was my Lady of the Ice—Nora. I might see her shadow on the window—I might see a light from her room.

Now Nora had not at all come up to my ideal of the Lady of the Ice, and yet there was no other representative. I might be mad in love with an image, a shadow, an idea; but if that image existed anywhere in real life, it could exist only in Nora. And thus Nora gained from my image an attractiveness, which she never could have had in her own right. It was her identity with that haunting image of loveliness that gave her such a charm. The charm was an imaginary one. Had I never found her on the river and idealized her, the might have gained my admiration; but she would never have thrown over me such a spell. But now, whatever she was in herself, she was so merged in that ideal, that in my longing for my love I turned my steps backward and wandered toward O'Halloran's, with the frantic hope of seeing her shadow on the window, or a ray of light from her room. For I could find no other way than this of satisfying those insatiable longings that had sprung up within me.

So back I went through the storm, which seemed still to increase in fury, and through the sleet, which swept in long horizontal lines down the street, and whirled round the corner, and froze fast to the houses. As I went on, the violence of the storm did not at all weaken my purpose. I had my one idea, and that one idea I was bent on carrying out.

Under such circumstances I approached the house of O'Halloran. I don't know what I expected, or whether I expected, any thing or not. I know what I wanted. I wanted the Lady of the Ice, and in search of her I ha thus wandered back to that house in which lived the one with whom she had been identified. A vague idea of seeing her shadow on the window still possessed me, and so I kept along on the opposite sidewalk, and looked up to see if there was any light or any shadow.

There was no light at all.

I stood still and gazed.

Was there a shadow? Or what was it? There was something moving there—a dark, dusky shadow, in a niche of the gateway, by the corner of the house—a dark shadow, dimly revealed in this gloom—the shadowy outline of a woman's form.

I do not know what mad idea possessed me. I looked, while my heart beat fast and painfully. A wild idea of the Lady of the Ice coming to me again, amid the storm, to be again my companion through the storm, flashed like lightning through my brain.

Suddenly, wild and clear and clanging, there came the toll of a bell from a neighboring tower, as it began to strike the hour of midnight. For a moment I paused in a sort of superstitious terror, and then, before the third stroke had rung out, I rushed across the street.

The figure had been watching me.

As I came, she started. She hurried forward, and met me at the curb. With a wild rush of joy and exultation, I caught her in my arms. I felt her frame tremble. At length she disengaged herself and caught my arm with a convulsive clasp, and drew me away. Mechanically, and with no fixed idea of any kind, I walked off.

She walked slowly. In that fierce gale, rapid progress was not possible. She, however, was well protected from the blast. A cloud was wrapped around her head, and kept her face from the storm.

We walked on, and I felt my heart throb to suffocation, while my brain reeled with a thousand new and wild fancies. Amid these, something of my late superstition still lingered.

"Who is she?" I wondered; "Who is she? How did she happen to wait for me here? Is it my Lady of the Ice? Am I a haunted man? Will she always thus come to me in the storm, and leave me when the storm is over? Where am I going? Whither is she leading me? Is she taking me back to the dark river from which I saved her?"

Then I struggled against the superstitious fancy, and rallied and tried to think calmly about it.

"Yes. It's Nora," I thought; "it's herself. She loves me. This was the cause of her distress. And that distress has overmastered her. She has been unable to endure my departure. She has been convinced that I would return, and hag waited for me.

"Nora! Yes, Nora! Nora! But, Nora! what is this that I am doing? This Nora can never be mine. She belongs to another. She was mine only through my mistake. How can she hope to be mine, or how can I hope to be hers? And why is it that I can dare thus to take her to ruin? Can I have the heart to?"

I paused involuntarily, as the full horror of this idea burst upon me. For, divested of all sentiment, the bald idea that burst upon my whirling brain was simply this, that I was running away with the wife of another man, and that man the very one who had lately given me his hospitality, and called me his friend. And even so whirling a brain as mine then was, could not avoid being penetrated by an idea that was so shocking to every sentiment of honor, and loyalty, and chivalry, and duty.

But as I paused, my companion forced me on. She had not said a single word. Her head was bent down to meet the storm. She walked like one bent on some desperate purpose, and that purpose was manifestly too strong and too absorbing to be checked by any thing so feeble as my fitful and uncertain irresolution. She walked on like some fate that had gained possession of me. I surrendered to the power that thus held me. I ceased even to think of pausing.

At length we came to where there was a large house with lights streaming from all the windows. It was Colonel Berton's—I knew it well. A ball had been going on, and the guests were departing. Down came the sleighs as they carried off the guests, the jangle of the bells Bounding shrilly in the stormy night. Thus far in my wanderings all had been still, and this sudden noise produced a startling effect.

One sleigh was still at the door, and as we approached nearer we could see that none others were there. It was probably waiting for the last guest. At length we reached the house, and were walking immediately under the bright light of the drawing-room windows, when suddenly the door of the house opened, and a familiar voice sounded, speaking in loud, eager, hilarious tones.

At the sound of that voice my companion stopped, and staggered back, and then stood rigid with, her head thrust forward.

It was Jack's voice.

"Thanks," he said. "Ha! ha! ha! You're awfully kind, you know. Oh, yes. I'll be here to-morrow night. Good-by. Good-by."

He rushed down the steps. The door closed. He sprang into the sleigh. It started ahead in an opposite direction, and away it went, till the jangle of the bells died out in the distance, amid the storm.

All was still. The street was deserted. The storm had full possession. The lights of the house flashed out upon the snowdrifts, and upon the glittering, frozen sleet.

For a moment my companion stood rooted to the spot. Then snatching her arm from mine, she flung up her hand with a sudden gesture, and tore my cloud down from off my face. The lights from the windows shone upon me, revealing my features to her.

The next instant her arms fell. She staggered back, and with a low moan of heart-broken anguish, she sank down prostrate into the snow.

Now hitherto there had been on my mind a current of superstitious feeling which had animated most of my wild fancies. It had been heightened by the events of my wanderings. The bowl of the storm, the voice of the dark river, the clangor of the midnight bell, the shadowy figure at the doorway—all these circumstances had combined to stimulate my imagination and disorder my brain. But now, on my arrival at this house, these feelings had passed away. These signs of commonplace life—the jangling sleigh-bells, the lighted windows, the departing company—had roused me, and brought me to myself. Finally, there came the sound of Jack's voice, hearty, robust, healthy, strong— at the sound of which the dark shadows of my mind were dispelled. And it was at this moment, when all these phantasms had vanished, that my companion fell senseless in the snow at my feet.

I stooped down full of wonder, and full too of pity. I raised her in my arms. I supported her head on my shoulder. The storm beat pitilessly; the stinging sleet pelted my now uncovered face; the lights of the house shone out upon the form of my companion. All the street was deserted. No one in the house saw us. I, for my part, did not think whether I was seen or not. All my thoughts were turned to the one whom I held in my arms.

I took the cloud which was wrapped around her head, and tenderly and delicately drew it down from her face.

Oh, Heavens! what was this that I saw?

The lights flashed out, and revealed it unmistakably. There—then— resting on my shoulder—under my gaze—now fully revealed—there lay the face that had haunted me—the face for which I had longed, and yearned, and craved! There it lay—that never-to-be-forgotten face— with the marble features, the white lips, the closed eyes, the stony calm—there it lay—the face of her whom alone I loved—the Lady of the Ice!

What was this? I felt my old mood returning. Was this real? Was it not a vision? How was it that she came to me again through the storm, again to sink down, and again to rest her senseless form in my arms, and her head upon my breast?

For a few moments I looked at her in utter bewilderment. All the wild fancies which I had just been having now came back. I had wandered through the storm in search of her, and she had come. Here she was— here, in my arms!

Around us the storm raged as once before; and again, as before, the fierce sleet dashed upon that white face; and again, as before, I shielded it from its fury.

As I looked upon her I could now recognize her fully and plainly; and at that recognition the last vestige of my wild, superstitious feeling died out utterly, for she whom I held in my arms was no phantom, nor was she Nora. I had been in some way intentionally deceived, but all the time my own instinct had been true; for, now, when the Lady of the lee again lay in my arms, I recognized her, and I saw that she was no other than Marion.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

MY LADY OF THE ICE.—SNOW AND SLEET.—REAWAKENING.—A DESPERATE SITUATION.—SAVED A SECOND TIME.—SNATCHED FROM A WORSE FATE.—BORNE IN MY ARMS ONCE MORE.—THE OPEN DOOR.

So there she lay before me—the Lady of the Ice, discovered, at last, and identified with Marion. And she lay there reclining on my arms as once before, and in the snow, with the pitiless blast beating upon her. And the first question that arose was, "What can I do?"

Ay—that was the question. What could I do?

I leave to the reader to try and imagine the unparalleled embarrassment of such a situation. For there was I, in an agony of eagerness to save her—to do something—and yet it was simply impossible to think of any one place to which I could take her.

Could I take her into Colonel Berton's? That was my first impulse. The lights from his windows were flashing brightly out into the gloom close beside us. But how could I take her there? With what story? Or if I trumped up some story—which I easily could do—would she not betray herself by her own incoherencies as she recovered from her faint? No, not Colonel Berton's. Where, then? Could I take her anywhere? To an hotel? No. To any friends? Certainly not. To her own home?—But she had fled, and it was locked against her. Where—where could I take her?

For I had to do something. I could not let her lie here—she would perish. I had to take her somewhere, and yet save her from that ruin and shame to which her rashness and Jack's perfidy had exposed her. Too plain it all seemed now. Jack had urged her to fly—beyond a doubt—she had consented, and he had not come for her.

I raised her up in my arms, and carried her on. Once before I had thus carried her in my arms—thus, as I saved her from death; and now, as I thus bore her, I felt that I was trying to save her from a fate far worse—from scandal, from evil speaking—from a dishonored name—from a father's curse. And could I but save her from this—could I but bear her a second time from this darker fate back to light, and life, and safety; then I felt assured that my Lady of the Ice could not so soon forget this second service.

I raised her up and carried her thus I knew not where. There was not a soul in the streets. The lamps gave but a feeble light in the wild storm. The beating of the sleet and the howling of the tempest increased at every step. My lady was senseless in my arms. I did not know where I was going, nor where I could go; but breasted the storm, and shielded my burden from it as well as I could; and so toiled on, in utter bewilderment and desperation.

Now I beg leave to ask the reader if this situation of mine was not as embarrassing a one as any that he ever heard of. For I thus found forced upon me the safety, the honor, and the life of the very Lady of the Ice for whom I had already risked my life—whose life I had already saved; and about whom I had been raving ever since. But now that she had thus been thrown upon me, with her life, and her honor, it was an utterly impossible thing to see how I could extricate her from this frightful difficulty; though so fervent was my longing to do this, that, if my life could have done it, I would have laid it down for her on the spot.

At last, to my inexpressible relief, I heard from her a low moan. I put her down on the door-step of a house close by, and sat by her side supporting her. A lamp was burning not far away.

She drew a long breath, and then raised herself suddenly, and looked all around. Gradually the truth of her position returned to her. She drew herself away from me, and buried her face in her hands, and sat in silence for a long time. I waited in patience and anxiety for her to speak, and feared that the excitement and the anguish which she had undergone might have affected her mind.

Suddenly she started, and looked at me with staring eyes.

"Did he send you?" she gasped, in a strange, hoarse, choking voice.

Her face, her tone, and the emphasis of her words, all showed the full nature of the dark suspicion that had flung itself over her mind.

"He! Me!" I cried, indignantly. "Never! never! Can you have the heart to suspect me? Have I deserved this?"

"It looks like it," said she, coldly.

"Oh, listen!" I cried; "listen! I will explain my coming. It was a mistake, an accident. I swear to you, ever since that day on the ice, I've been haunted by your face—"

She made an impatient gesture.

"Well, not your face, then. I did not know it was yours. I called it the Lady of the Ice."

"I do not care to hear," said she, coldly.

"Oh, listen!" I said. "I want to clear myself from your horrid suspicion. I was at your house this evening. After leaving, I wandered wildly about. I couldn't go home. It was half madness and superstition. I went to the Esplanade, and there seemed voices in the storm. I wandered back again to your house, with a vague and half-crazy idea that the Lady of the Ice was calling me. As I came up to the house, I saw a shadowy figure on the other side. I thought it was the Lady of the Ice, and crossed over, not knowing what I was doing. The figure came and took my arm. I walked on, frozen into a sort of superstitious silence. I swear to you, it happened exactly in this way, and that for a time I really thought it was the Lady of the Ice who had come to meet me in the storm. I held back once or twice, but to no avail. I swear to you that I never had the remotest idea that it was you, till the moment when you fell, and I saw that you yourself were the Lady of the Ice. I did not recognize you before; but, when your face was pale, with suffering and fear upon it, then you became the same one whom I have never forgotten."

"He did not send you, then?" said she again.

"He? No. I swear he didn't; but all is just as I have said. Besides, we have quarrelled, and I have neither seen nor heard of him for two days."

She said nothing in reply, but again buried her face in her hands, and sat crouching on the door-step. The storm howled about us with tremendous fury. All the houses in the street were dark, and the street itself showed no living forms but ours. A lamp, not far off, threw a feeble light upon us.

"Come," said I at last; "I have saved you once from death, and, I doubt not, I have been sent by Fate to save you once again. If you stay here any longer, you must perish. You must rouse yourself."

I spoke vehemently and quickly, and in the tone of one who would listen to no refusal. I was roused now, at last, from all irresolution by the very sight of her suffering. I saw that to remain here much longer would be little else than death for her.

"Oh, what shall I do?" she moaned.

"Tell me of some place where I can take you."

"There is no place. How could I dare to go to any of my friends?"

"Why should you not?"

"I cannot—I cannot."

"You can easily make up some story for the occasion. Tell me the name of some one, and I will take you."

"No," said she.

"Then," said I, "you must go home."

"Home! home!" she gasped.

"Yes," said I, firmly, "home. Home you must go, and nowhere else."

"I cannot."

"You must."

"I will not; I will die first."

"You shall not die!" I cried, passionately. "You shall not die while I am near you. I have saved your life before, and I will not let it end in this. No, you shall not die—I swear by all that's holy! I myself will carry you home."

"I cannot," she murmured, feebly.

"You must," said I. "This is not a question of death—it's a question of dishonor. Home is the only haven where you can find escape from that, and to that home I will take you."

"Oh, my God!" she wailed; "how can I meet my father?"

She buried her face in her hands again, and sobbed convulsively.

"Do not be afraid," said I. "I will meet him, and explain all. Or say— answer me this," I added, in fervid, vehement tones—"I can do more than this. I will tell him it was all my doing. I will accept his anger. I'll tell him I was half mad, and repented. I'll tell any thing —any thing you like. I'll shield you so that all his fury shall fall on me, and he will have nothing for you but pity."

"Stop," said she, solemnly, rising to her feet, and looking at me with her white face—"stop! You must not talk so. I owe my life to you already. Do not overwhelm me. You have now deliberately offered to accept dishonor for my sake. It is too much. If my gratitude is worth having, I assure you I am grateful beyond words. But your offer is impossible. Never would I permit it."

"Will you go home, then?" I asked, as she paused.

"Yes," said she, slowly.

I offered my arm, and she took it, leaning heavily upon me. Our progress was slow, for the storm was fierce, and she was very weak.

"I think," said she, "that in my haste I left the back door unlocked. If so, I may get in without being observed."

"I pray Heaven it may be so," said I, "for in that case all trouble will be avoided."

We walked on a little farther. She leaned more and more heavily upon me, and walked more and more slowly. At last she stopped.

I knew what was the matter. She was utterly exhausted, and to go farther was impossible. I did not question her at all. I said nothing. I stooped, and raised her in my arms without a word, and walked vigorously onward. She murmured a few words of complaint, and struggled feebly; but I took no notice whatever of her words or her struggles. But her weakness was too great even for words. She rested on me like a dead weight, and I would have been sure that she had fainted again, had I not felt the convulsive shudders that from time to time passed through her frame, and heard her frequent heavy sighs and sobbings.

So I walked on through the roaring storm, beaten by the furious sleet, bearing my burden in my arms, as I had done once before. And it was the same burden, under the same circumstances—my Lady of the Ice, whom I thus again uplifted in my arms amid the storm, and snatched from a cruel fate, and carried back to life and safety and home. And I knew that this salvation which she now received from me was far more precious than that other one; for that was a rescue from death, but this was a rescue from dishonor.

We reached the house at last. The gate which led into the yard was not fastened. I carried her in, and put her down by the back door. I tried it. It opened.

The sight of that open door gave her fresh life and strength. She put one foot on the threshold.

Then she turned.

"Oh, sir," said she, in a low, thrilling voice, "I pray God that it may ever be in my power to do something for you—some day—in return—for all this. God bless you! you have saved me—"

And with these words she entered the house. The door closed between us —she was gone.

I stood and listened for a long time. All was still.

"Thank Heaven!" I murmured, as I turned away. "The family have not been alarmed. She is safe."

I went home, but did not sleep that night My brain was in a whirl from the excitement of this new adventure. In that adventure every circumstance was one of the most impressive character; and at the same time every thing was contradictory and bewildering to such an extent that I did not know whether to congratulate myself or not, whether to rejoice or lament. I might rejoice at finding the Lady of the Ice; but my joy was modified by the thought that I found her meditating flight with another man. I had saved her; but then I was very well aware that, if I had not come, she might never have left her home, and might never have been in a position to need help. Jack had, no doubt, neglected to meet her. Over some things, however, I found myself exulting—first, that, after all, I had saved her, and, secondly, that she had found out Jack.

As for Jack, my feelings to him underwent a rapid and decisive change. My excitement and irritation died away. I saw that we had both been under a mistake. I might perhaps have blamed him for his treachery toward Marion in urging her to a rash and ruinous elopement; but any blame which I threw on him was largely modified by a certain satisfaction which I felt in knowing that his failure to meet her, fortunate as it was for her, and fortunate as it was also for himself would change her former love for him into scorn and contempt. His influence over her was henceforth at an end, and the only obstacle that I saw in the way of my love was suddenly and effectually removed.



CHAPTER XXIX.

PUZZLING QUESTIONS WHICH CANNOT BE ANSWERED AS YET.—A STEP TOWARD RECONCILIATION.—REUNION OF A BROKEN FRIENDSHIP.—PIECES ALL COLLECTED AND JOINED.—JOY OF JACK.—SOLEMN DEBATES OVER THE GREAT PUZZLE OF THE PERIOD.—FRIENDLY CONFERENCES AND CONFIDENCES.—AN IMPORTANT COMMUNICATION.

The night passed, and the morning came, and the impression of these Recent events grew more and more vivid. The very circumstances under which I found my Lady of the Ice were not such as are generally chosen by the novelist for an encounter between the hero and heroine of his novel. Of that I am well aware; but then I'm not a novelist, and I'm not a hero, and the Lady of the Ice isn't a heroine—so what have you got to say to that? The fact is, I'm talking about myself. I found Marion running away, or trying to run away, with my intimate friend. The elopement, however, did not come off. She was thrown into my way in an amazing manner, and I identified her with my Lady, after whom I longed and pined with a consuming passion. Did the discovery of the Lady of the Ice under such circumstances change my affections? Not at all. They only grew all the stronger. The Lady was the same as ever. I had not loved Nora, but the Lady of the Ice; and now that I found out who she was, I loved Marion. This happens to be the actual state of the case; and, whether it is artistic or not, does not enter into my mind for a single moment.

Having thus explained my feelings concerning Marion, it will easily be seen that any resentment which I might have felt against Jack for causing her grief, was more than counterbalanced by the prospect I now had that she would give him up forever. Besides, our quarrel was on the subject of Nora, and this had to be explained. Then, again, my duel was on the tapis, and I wanted Jack for a second. I therefore determined to hunt him up as soon as possible.

But in the course of the various meditations which had filled the hours of the night, one thing puzzled me extremely, and that was the pretension of Nora to be my Lady of the Ice. Why had she done so? Why did Marion let her? Why did O'Halloran announce his own wife to me as the lady whom I had saved? No doubt Nora and Marion had some reason. But what, and why? And what motive had O'Halloran for deceiving me? Clearly none. It was evident that he believed Nora to be the lady. It was also evident that on the first night of the reading of the advertisement, and nay story, he did not know that the companion of that adventure of mine was a member of his family. The ladies knew it, but he didn't. It was, therefore, a secret of theirs, which they were keeping from him. But why? And what possible reason had Marion for denying it, and Nora for coming forward and owning up to a false character to O'Halloran?

All these were perplexing and utterly bewildering mysteries, of which. I could make nothing.

At length I cut short the whole bother by going off to Jack's.

He was just finishing his breakfast.

The moment he saw me, he started to his feet, and gave a spring toward me. Then he grasped my hand in both of his, while his face grew radiant with delight.

"Macrorie! old boy!" he cried. "What a perfect trump! I'll be hanged if I wasn't going straight over to you! Couldn't stand this sort of thing any longer.—What's the use of all this beastly row? I haven't had a moment's peace since it begun. Yes, Macrorie," he continued, wringing my hand hard, "I'll be hanged if I wouldn't give up every one of the women—I was just thinking that I'd give them all for a sight of your old face again—except, perhaps, poor little Louie—" he added. "But, come, sit down, load up, and fumigate."

And he brought out all his pipes, and drew up all his chairs, and showed such unfeigned delight at seeing me, that all my old feelings of friendship came back, and resumed their places.

"Well, old fellow," said I, "do you know in the first place—our row— You know—"

"Oh, bother the row!"

"Well, it was all a mistake."

"A mistake?"

"Yes. We mistook the women."

"How's that? I'm in the dark."

"Why, there are two ladies at O'Halloran's."

"Two?"

"Yes, and they weren't introduced, and, as they're both young, I thought they were both his daughters."

"Two women! and young? By Jove!" cried Jack—"and who's the other?"

"His wife!"

"His wife? and young?" The idea seemed to overwhelm Jack.

"Yes," said I, "his wife, and young, and beautiful as an angel."

"Young, and beautiful as an angel!" repeated Jack. "Good Lord, Macrorie!"

"Well, you know, I thought his wife was Miss O'Halloran, and the other Miss Marion."

"What's that? his wife? You thought she was Miss O'Halloran?"

"Yes, and the one I saved on the ice, you know—"

"Well, all I can say is, old fellow, I'm confoundedly sorry for your sake that she's a married woman. That rather knocks your little game. At the same time it's a very queer thing that I didn't know any thing about it. Still, I wasn't at the house much, and Mrs. O'Halloran might have been out of town. I didn't know any thing about their family affairs, and never heard them mentioned. I thought there was only a daughter in the family. Never dreamed of there being a wife."

"Well, there is a wife—a Mrs. O'Halloran—so young and beautiful that I took her for the old man's daughter; and Jack, my boy, I'm in a scrape."

"A scrape?"

"Yes—a duel. Will you be my second?"

"A duel!" cried Jack, and gave a long whistle.

"Fact," said I, "and it all arose out of my mistaking a man's wife for His daughter."

"Mistaking her?" cried Jack, with a roar of laughter. "So you did. Oh, Macrorie! how awfully spooney you were about her, you know—ready to fight with your best friend about her, and all that, you know. And how did it go on? What happened? Come, now, don't do the reticent. Out with it, man. Every bit of it. A duel! And about a man's wife! Good Lord Macrorie, you'll have to leave the regiment. An affair like this will rouse the whole town. These infernal newspapers will give exaggerated accounts of every thing, you know. And then you'll get it. By Jove, Macrorie, I begin to think your scrape is worse than mine."

"By-the-way, Jack, how are you doing?"

"Confound it man, what do you take me for? Do you think I'm a stalk or a stone. No, by Jove, I'm a man, and I'm crazy to hear about your affair. What happened? What did you do? What did you say? Something must have taken place, you know. You must have been awfully sweet on her. By Jove! And did the old fellow see you at it? Did he notice any thing? A duel! Something must have happened. Oh, by Jove! don't I know the old rascal! Not boisterous, not noisy, but keen, sir, as a razor, and every word a dagger. The most savage, cynical, cutting, insulting old scoundrel of an Irishman that I ever met with. By Heaven, Macrorie, I'd like to be principal in the duel instead of second. By Jove, how that old villain did walk into me that last time I called there!

"Well, you see," I began, "when I went to his house he introduced me, And didn't introduce her."

"Yes."

"Well, I talked with her several times, but for various reasons, unnecessary to state, I never mentioned her name. I just chatted with her, you know, the way a fellow generally does."

"Was the old fellow by?"

"Oh, yes, but you know yesterday I went there and found her alone."

"Well?"

"Well—you know—you were so determined at the time of our row, that I resolved to be beforehand, so I at once made a rush for the prize, and —and—"

"And, what?"

"Why—did the spooney—you know—told her my feelings—and all that sort of thing, you know."

I then went on and gave Jack a full account of that memorable scene, The embarrassment of Nora, and the arrival of O'Halloran, together with our evening afterward, and the challenge.

To all this Jack listened with intense eagerness, and occasional bursts Of uncontrollable laughter.

I concluded my narrative with my departure from the house. Of my return, my wanderings with Marion, my sight of him at Berton's, and all those other circumstances, I did not say a word. Those things were not the sort that I chose to reveal to anybody, much less to Jack.

Suddenly, and in the midst of his laughter and nonsense, Jack's face changed. He grew serious. He thrust his hand in his pocket with something like consternation, and then drew forth—



CHAPTER XXX.

A LETTER!—STRANGE HESITATION.—GLOOMY FOREBODINGS.—JACK DOWN DEEP IN THE DUMPS.—FRESH CONFESSIONS.—WHY HE MISSED THE TRYST.—REMORSE AND REVENGE.—JACK'S VOWS OF VENGEANCE.—A VERY SINGULAR AND UNACCOUNTABLE CHARACTER.—JACK'S GLOOMY MENACES.

"By Jove!" he exclaimed, "I'll be hanged if I haven't forgot all about it. It's been in my pocket ever since yesterday morning."

Saying this, he held up the letter, and looked at it for some time Without opening it, and with a strange mixture of embarrassment and ruefulness in his expression.

"What's that?" said I, carelessly. "A letter? Who's it from, Jack?"

Jack did not give any immediate answer. He turned the letter over and over, looking at it on the front and on the back.

"You seem hit hard, old man," said I, "about something. Is it a secret?"

"Oh, no," said Jack, with a sigh.

"Well, what's the matter?"

"OH, only this," said he, with another sigh.

"What, that letter?"

"Yes."

"It don't look like a dun, old chap—so, why fret?"

"Oh, no," said Jack, with a groan.

"What's the reason you don't open it?"

Jack shook his head.

"I've a pretty good idea of what's in it," said he. "There are some letters you can read without opening them, old boy, and this is one of them. You know the general nature of the contents, and you don't feel altogether inclined to go over all the small details."

"You don't mean to say that you're not going to open it?"

"Oh, I'll open it," said Jack, more dolefully than ever.

"Then, why don't you open it now?"

"Oh, there's no hurry—there's plenty of time."

"It must be something very unimportant. You say you've had it lying in Your pocket ever Since the day before yesterday. So, what's the use of getting so tragic all of a sudden?"

"Macrorie, old chap," said Jack, in a tone of hollow despair.

"Well?"

"Do you see that letter?" and he held it up in his hand.

"Yes."

"Well, in that I am to read a convincing proof that I am a scoundrel!"

"A what? Scoundrel? Pooh, nonsense! What's up now? Come, now, old boy, no melodrama. Out with it. But, first of all, read the letter."

Jack laid the unopened letter on the table, filled his pipe, lighted it, and then, throwing himself back in his chair, sat staring at the ceiling, and sending forth great clouds of smoke that gathered in dense folds and soon hung overhead in a dark canopy.

I watched him in silence for some time. I suspected what that letter might be, but did not in any way let my suspicion appear.

"Jack," said I, at last, "I've seen you several times in trouble during the last few days, but it is now my solemn conviction, made up from a long observation of your character, your manner, your general style, and your facial expression, that on this present occasion you are hit harder than ever you've been since I had the pleasure of your acquaintance."

"That's a fact," said Jack, earnestly and solemnly.

"It isn't a secret, you said?"

"No, not from you. I'll tell you presently. I need one pipe, at least, to soothe my nerves."

He relapsed into silence, and, as I saw that he intended to tell me of his own accord, I questioned him no further, but sat waiting patiently till he found strength to begin the confession of his woes.

At length he reached forward, and once more raised the letter from the table.

"Macrorie, my boy."

"Well?"

"Do you see this letter?"

"Yes."

"Whom do you think it's from?"

"How do I know?"

"Well," said Jack, "this letter is the sequel to that conversation you and I had, which ended in our row."

"The sequel?"

"Yes. You remember that I left threatening that Number Three should be mine."

"Oh, yes; but don't bother about that now," said I.

"Bother about it? Man alive, that's the very thing that I have to do! The bother, as you call it, has just begun. This letter is from Number Three."

"Number Three? Marion!"

"Yes, Marion, Miss O'Halloran, the one I swore should be mine. Ha, ha!" laughed Jack, wildly; "a precious mess I've made of it! Mine? By Jove! What's the end of it? To her a broken heart—to me dishonor and infamy!"

"My dear boy," said I, "doesn't it strike you that your language partakes, to a slight extent, of the melodramatic? Don't get stagy, dear boy."

"Stagy? Good Lord, Macrorie! Wait till you see that letter."

"That letter! Why, confound it, you haven't seen it yourself yet."

"Oh, I know, I know. No need for me to open it. Look here, Macrorie, will you promise not to throw me over after I tell you about this?"

"Throw you over?"

"Yes. You'll stick by a fellow still—"

"Stick by you? Of course, through thick and thin, my boy."

Jack gave a sigh of relief. "Well, old chap," said he, "you see, after I left you, I was bent on nothing but Marion. The idea of her slipping out of my hands altogether was intolerable. I was as jealous of you as fury, and all that sort of thing. The widow and Miss Phillips were forgotten. Even little Louie was given up. So I wrote a long letter to Marion."

Jack paused, and looked hard at me.

"Well," said I.

"Well," said he, "you know her last letter to me was full of reproaches about the widow and Miss Phillips. She even alluded to Louie, though how under heaven she had heard about her is more than I can imagine. Well, you know, I determined to write her a letter that would settle all these difficulties, and at the same time gain her for myself, for good and all. You see I had sworn to get her from you, and I could think of nothing but that oath. So I wrote—but, oh, Macrorie, Macrorie, why, in Heaven's name, did you make that mistake about Mrs. O'Halloran, and force that infernal oath out of me? Why did that confounded old blockhead forget to introduce her to you? That's the cause of all my woes. But I won't bore you, old fellow; I'll go on. So, you see, in my determination to get her, I stuck at nothing. First of all, instead of attempting to explain away her reproaches, I turned them all back upon her. I was an infatuated fool, Macrorie, when I wrote that letter, but I was not a villain. I wrote it with an earnest desire that it should be effective. Well, I told her that she should not blame me for my gallantries, but herself for forcing me to them. I reproached her for refusing to elope with me when I offered, and told her she cared far more for her father's ease and comfort than she did for my happiness. I swore that I loved her better than any of them, or all of them put together, and I'll be hanged if I didn't, Macrorie, when I wrote it. Finally, I told her there was yet time to save me, and, if she had a particle of that love which she professed, I implored her now to fly with me. I besought her to name some time convenient to her, and suggested—oh, Macrorie, I suggested—swear at me—curse me—do something or other—Macrorie, I suggested last night -midnight—I did, by Heaven!"

And, saying this, Jack looked at me for some minutes in silence, with a wild expression that I had never before seen on his face.

"Last night, Macrorie!" he repeated "midnight! Think of that, Why don't you say something?"

"Say?" said I. "Why, hang it, man, what can I say? It's a case beyond words. If you've made such an appointment, and broken it, you've—well, there's nothing to say."

"That's true," said Jack, in a sepulchral tone. "That's true. I made the appointment, and, Macrorie—I was not there."

"Well, of course, I gathered as much from the way you go on about it —but that's what I should like to understand, if it isn't a secret."

"Oh, no. I'll make no secret about any thing connected with this business. Well, then, I put the letter in the post-office, and strolled off to call on Miss Phillips. Will you believe it, she was 'not at home?' At that, I swear I felt so savage that I forgot all about Marion and my proposal. It was a desperate cut. I don't know any thing that has ever made me feel so savage. And I feel savage yet. If she had any thing against me, why couldn't she have seen me, and had it out with me, fair and square? It cut deep. By Jove! Well, then, I could think of nothing else but paying her off. So I organized a sleighing-party, and took out the Bertons and some other girls. I had Louie, you know, and we drove to Montmorency. Fun, no end. Great spirits. Louie teasing all the way. We got back so late that I couldn't call on the widow. That evening I was at Chelmsford's—a ball, you know—I was the only one of ours that went. Yesterday, didn't call on Miss Phillips, but took out Louie. On my way I got this letter from the office, and carelessly stuffed it into my pocket. It's been there ever since. I forgot all about it. Last evening there were a few of us at Berton's, and the time passed like lightning. My head was whirling with a cram of all sorts of things. There was my anger at Miss Phillips, there was a long story Louie had to tell about the widow, and then there was Louie herself, who drove every other thought away. And so, Macrorie, Marion and my letter to her, and the letter in my pocket, and the proposed elopement, never once entered into my head. I swear they had all passed out of my mind as completely as though it had all been some confounded dream."

Jack stopped, and again relapsed into moody silence.

"I'll tell you what it is, old fellow," said he, after a pause. "It's devilish hard to put up with."

"What is?" I asked.

"This 'not-at-home' style of thing. Never mind—I'll pay her up!"

Now here was a specimen of rattle-brainishness—of levity—and of childishness; so desperate, that I began to doubt whether this absurd Jack ought to be regarded as a responsible being. It seemed simply impossible for him to concentrate his impulsive mind on any thing. He flings himself one day furiously into an elopement scheme—the next day, at a slight, he forgets all about the elopement, and, in a towering rage against Miss Phillips, devotes himself desperately to Louie. And now when the elopement scheme has been brought before him, even in the midst of his remorse—remorse, too, which will not allow him to open her letter—the thought of Miss Phillips once more drives away all recollection of Marion, even while he has before him the unopened letter of that wronged and injured girl. Jack's brain was certainly of a harum-scarum order, such as is not often found—he was a creature of whim and impulse—he was a rattle-brain, a scatter-brain —formed to win the love of all—both men and women—formed, too, to fall into endless difficulties—formed also with a native buoyancy of spirit which enabled him to float where others would sink. By those who knew him, he would always be judged lightly—by those who knew him not, he would not fail to be judged harshly. Louie knew him, and laughed at him—Marion knew him not, and so she had received a stroke of anguish. Jack was a boy—no, a child—or, better yet, a great big baby. What in the world could I say to him or do with him? I alone knew the fullness of the agony which he had inflicted, and yet I could not judge him as I would judge another man.

"I'll pay her up!" reiterated Jack, shaking his head fiercely.

"But before paying her up, Jack," said I, "wouldn't it be well to read that letter?"

Jack gave a sigh.

"You read it, Macrorie," said he; "I know all about it."

"Well," said I, "that is the most astonishing proposal that I ever heard even from you. To read a letter like that!—Why, such a letter should be sacred."

Jack's face flushed. He seized the letter, tore it open, and read. The flush on his face deepened. As he finished, he crushed it in his hand, and then relapsed into his sombre fit.

"It's just as I said, Macrorie," said he. "She promised to meet me at the time I mentioned. And she was there. And I was not. And now she'll consider me a scoundrel."

In a few moments Jack opened out the crushed note, and read it again.

"After all," said he, "she isn't so awfully affectionate."

"Affectionate!"

"No—she seems afraid, and talks a great deal too much of her father, and of her anguish of soul—yes, that's her expression—her anguish of soul in sacrificing him to me. By Jove!—sacrifice! Think of that! And she says she only comes because I reproach her with being the cause of grief—heavens and earth! and she says that she doesn't expect any happiness, but only remorse. By Jove! See here, Macrorie—did you ever in your life imagine that a woman, who loved a fellow well enough to make a runaway match with him, could write him in such a way? Why, hang it! she might have known that, before our honeymoon was over, that confounded old Irish scoundrel of a father of hers would have been after us, insisting on doing the heavy father of the comedy, and giving us his blessing in the strongest of brogues. And, what's more, he'd have been borrowing money of me, the beggar! Borrowing money! of meme—without a penny myself and head over heels in debt. Confound his impudence!"

And Jack, who had begun this with remorse about Marion, ended with this burst of indignation at Marion's father, consequent upon a purely imaginary but very vivid scene, in which the latter was supposed to be extorting money from him. And he looked at me with a face that craved sympathy for such unmerited wrongs, and showed still more plainly the baby that was in him.

I made no answer. His quotations from Marion's letter showed me plainly how she had been moved, and what a struggle of soul this resolve had cost her. Now I could understand the full meaning of that sombre face which I had seen in O'Halloran's parlor, and also could see why it was that she had absented herself on that last evening. Did this letter change my sentiments about her? How could it, after what I already knew? It only elevated her, for it showed that at such a time her soul was racked and torn by the claims of filial duty. Under her hallucination, and under the glamour which Jack had thrown over her, she had done a deep wrong—but I alone knew how fearful was her disenchantment, and how keen was the mental anguish that followed.

"She'll never forgive me," said Jack, after a long silence.

"Who?" said I, with some bitterness, which came forth in spite of my new-found conviction of Jack's utter babyhood.—"Who, Miss Phillips?"

"Oh, no," said Jack—"Marion."

"Forgive you!" I ejaculated.

"Of course not. It's bosh to use the word in such a connection. She'll hate and scorn me till her dying day."

"No, Jack," said I, somewhat solemnly, "I think from what little I know of her, that if she gets over this, she'll feel neither hate nor scorn."

"Yes, she will," said Jack, pettishly.

"No," said I.

"You don't know her, my boy. She's not the one to forget this."

"No, she'll never forget it—but her feelings about you will be different from hate and scorn. She will simply find that she has been under a glamour about you, and will think of you with nothing but perfect indifference—and a feeling of wonder at her own infatuation."

Jack looked vexed.

"To a woman who don't know you, Jack, my boy—you become idealized, and heroic; but to one who does, you are nothing of the kind. So very impressible a fellow as you are, cannot inspire a very deep passion. When a woman finds the fellow she admires falling in love right and left, she soon gets over her fancy. If it were some one other woman that had robbed her of your affection, she would be jealous; but when she knows that all others are equally charming, she will become utterly indifferent."

"See here, old boy, don't get to be so infernally oracular. What the mischief does a fellow like you know about that sort of thing? I consider your remarks as a personal insult, and, if I didn't feel so confoundedly cut up, I'd resent it. But as it is, I only feel bored, and, on the whole, I should wish it to be with Marion as you say it's going to be. If I could think it would be so, I'd be a deuced sight easier in my mind about her. If it weren't for my own abominable conduct, I'd feel glad that this sort of thing had been stopped—only I don't like to think of Marion being disappointed, you know—or hurt —and that sort of thing, you know. The fact is, I have no business to get married just now—no—not even to the angel Gabriel—and this would have been so precious hard on poor little Louie."

"Louie—why," said I, "you speak confidently about her."

"Oh, never fear about her," said Jack. "She's able, to take care of herself. She does nothing but laugh at me—no end."

"Nothing new, then, in that quarter?" I asked, feeling desirous now of turning away from the subject of Marion, which was undergoing the same treatment from Jack which a fine and delicate watch would receive at the hands of a big baby. "No fresh, proposals?"

"No," said Jack, dolefully, "nothing but chaff."

"And Miss Phillips?"

"Affairs in that quarter are in statu quo," said Jack. "She's chosen to not-at-home me, and how it's going to turn out is more than I can tell. But I'll be even with her yet. I'll pay her off!"

"Perhaps you won't find it so easy as you imagine."

"Won't I?" said Jack, mysteriously; "you'll see."

"Perhaps she's organizing a plan to pay you off."

"That's more than she can do."

"By-the-way—what about the widow?"

"Well," said Jack, seriously, "whatever danger is impending over me, maybe looked for chiefly in that quarter."

"Have you seen her lately?"

"No—not since the evening I took the chaplain there."

"You must have heard something."

"Yes," said Jack, moodily.

"What?"

"Well, I heard from Louie, who keeps well up in my affairs, you know. She had gathered something about the widow."

"Such as what?"

"Well, you know—she wouldn't tell."

"Wouldn't tell?"

"No—wouldn't tell—chaffed me—no end, but wouldn't go into particulars."

"But could you find out whether it affected you or not?"

"Oh, of course, I took that for granted. That was the point of the whole joke, you know. Louie's chaff consisted altogether of allusions to some mysterious plan, of the widow's, by which she would have full, ample, perfect, complete, and entire vengeance on me."

"That's bad."

"It is."

"A widow's a dangerous thing."

"Too true, my boy," said Jack, with a sigh; "nobody knows that better than I do."

"I wonder you don't try to disarm her."

"Disarm her?"

"Yes—why don't you call on her?"

"Well, confound it, I did call only a day or two ago, you know. The last two or three days I've been engaged."

"Yes, but such an engagement will only make the widow more furious."

"But, confound it, man, it's been simply impossible to do any thing else than what I have been doing."

"I'll tell you what it is, Jack," said I, solemnly, "the widow's your chief danger. She'll ruin you. There's only one thing for you to do, and that is what I've already advised you to do, and Louie, too, for that matter. You must fly."

"Oh, bosh!—how can I?"

"Leave of absence—sell out—any thing."

Jack shook his head, and gave a heavy sigh.



CHAPTER XXXI.

A FRIENDLY CALL.—PRELIMINARIES OF THE DUEL NEATLY ARRANGED.—A DAMP JOURNEY, AND DEPRESSED SPIRITS.—A SECLUDED SPOT.—DIFFICULTIES WHICH ATTEND A DUEL IN A CANADIAN SPRING.—A MASTERLY DECISION. —DEBATES ABOUT THE NICETIES OF THE CODE OF HONOR.—WHO SHALL HAVE THE FIRST SHOT, STRUGGLE FOR PRECEDENCE.—A VERY SINGULAR AND OBSTINATE DISPUTE.—I SAVE O'HALLORAN FROM DEATH BY RHEUMATISM.

Before the close of the day a gentleman called on me from O'Halloran, whom I referred to Jack, and these two made arrangements for the duel. It was to take place in a certain locality, which I do not intend to mention, and which was no matter how many miles out of town.

We left at an early hour, and the doctor accompanied us. Jack had sufficient foresight to fill the sleigh with all the refreshments that might be needed on such an occasion. We drove to O'Halloran's house, where we found his sleigh waiting, with himself and a friend all ready to start. They led the way, and we followed.

It was a nasty time, the roads were terrible. They were neither one thing nor the other. There was nothing but a general mixture of ice heaps, slush, thawing snowdrifts, bare ground, and soft mud. Over this our progress was extremely slow. Added to this, the weather was abominable. It was warm, soft, slimy, and muggy. The atmosphere had changed into a universal drizzle, and was close and oppressive. At first O'Halloran's face was often turned back to hail us with some jovial remark, to which we responded in a similar manner; but after a time silence settled on the party, and the closeness, and the damp, and the slow progress, reduced us one and all to a general state of sulkiness.

At length we came to a little settlement consisting of a half-dozen houses, one of which bore a sign on which we read the words Hotel de France. We kept on without stopping, and O'Halloran soon turned to the right, into a narrow track which went into the woods. In about half an hour we reached our destination. The sleighs drew up, and their occupants prepared for business.

It was a small cleared space in the middle of the woods. The forest-trees arose all around, dim, gloomy, and dripping. The ground was dotted with decayed stumps, and covered with snow in a state of semi-liquefaction. Beneath all was wet; around all was wet; and above all was wet. The place with its surroundings was certainly the most dismal that I had ever seen, and the dank, dark, and dripping trees threw an additional gloom about it.

We had left Quebec before seven. It was after twelve when we reached this place.

"Well, me boy," said O'Halloran to me, with a gentle smile, "it's an onsaisonable toime of year for a jool, but it can't be helped—an' it's a moighty uncomfortable pleece, so it is."

"We might have had it out in the road in a quiet way," said I, "without the trouble of coming here."

"The road!" exclaimed O'Halloran. "Be the powers, I'd have been deloighted to have had it in me oun parrulor. But what can we do? Sure it's the barbarous legisleetin of this counthry, that throis to stoifle and raypriss the sintimints of honor, and the code of chivalry. Sure it's a bad pleece intoirely. But you ought to see it in the summer. It's the most sayquisthered localeetee that ye could wish to see."

Saying this, O'Halloran turned to his friend and then to us.

"Gintlemin," said he, "allow me to inthrojuice to ye me very particular friend, Mr. Murtagh McGinty."

Mr. Murtagh McGinty rose and bowed, while we did the same, and disclosed the form of a tall, elderly, and rather dilapidated Irishman.

All this time we had remained in our sleighs. The surrounding scene had impressed us all very forcibly, and there was a general disinclination to get out. The expanse of snow, in its half-melted condition, was enough to deter any reasonable being. To get out was to plunge into an abyss of freezing slush.

A long discussion followed as to what ought to be done. Jack suggested trying the road; McGinty thought we might drive on farther. The doctor did not say any thing. At last O'Halloran solved the difficulty.

He proposed that we should all remain in the sleighs, and that we should make a circuit so as to bring the backs of the sleighs at the requisite distance from one another.

It was a brilliant suggestion; and no sooner was it made, than it was adopted by all. So the horses were started, and the sleighs were turned in the deep slush until their backs were presented to one another. To settle the exact distance was a matter of some difficulty, and it had to be decided by the seconds. Jack and McGinty soon got into an altercation, in which Jack appealed to the light of reason, and McGinty to a past that was full of experience. He overwhelmed Jack with so many precedents for his view of the case, that at last the latter was compelled to yield. Then we drove forward, and then backward; now we were too far away, again we were too near, and there didn't appear to be any prospect of a settlement.

At last O'Halloran suggested that we should back the sleighs toward one another till they touched, and then his sleigh would move forward twelve paces.

"But who's to pace them?" asked Jack.

"Why the horse, of course," said O'Halloran. "Sure it's a regular pacer he is, and bred up to it, so he is."

To this Jack had nothing to say.

So the horses backed and the sleighs touched one another.

"Wait a minute McGinty, me boy," said O'Halloran—putting his hand on his friend's arm—"let's all take somethin' warrum. Me system is slowly conjaylin, an' such a steete of things is moighty onwholeaome."

This proposition was received with the same unanimity which had greeted O'Halloran's other propositions. Flasks were brought out; and some minutes were passed in a general, a couvivial, and a very affectionate interchange of courtesies.

"Me boy," said O'Halloran to me, affectionately, "ye haven't had so much ixpayrieence as I have, so I'll teek the liberty to give ye a small bit of instherruction. Whin ye foire, eem low! Moind that, now —ye'll be sure to hit."

"Thank you," said I.

He wrung my hand heartily; and then motioning to McGinty, his sleigh started off, and advanced a few paces from ours, a little farther than the usual distance on such an occasion. With this he seemed to be satisfied, and, as nobody made any objection, we prepared for the business of the day.

O'Halloran and I stood up in the sleighs, while the seconds kept their seats. Jack and the doctor sat in the front seat of our sleigh. McGinty sat beside O'Halloran as he stood up. I stood in the after-seat of our sleigh.

"Shall I give the word?" said Jack.

"No," said McGinty. "I've had more exparience. I've been sicond at elivin jools—an' hope to assist an as minny more."

"Shure we won't throuble ayiher of ye," said O'Halloran. "It's me that's fought more jools than you've been sicond at. Me friend Macrorie and I'll manage it to shoot oursilves—so we will."

"Ye can't give the word yersilves," said McGinty.

"An' what do we want of a word, thin?" said O'Halloran.

"To foire by," said McGinty.

"There's a peculeeareetee," said O'Halloran, loftily, "in the prisint occeesion that obveeates the nicissitee of such prosaydings, and inables us to dispinse with any worrd of command. Macrorie, me boy —frind of me sowl—I addhriss you as the Oirish addhrissed the English at Fontenoy: 'Fire first!'"

And saying this, O'Halloran bowed and then stood erect, facing me with a grave countenance.

"Fire first?" said I "Indeed, Mr. O'Halloran, I'll do nothing of the kind."

"Indade and you shall," said he, with a laugh. "I insist upon it!"

"Well, if it comes to that," said I, "what's to prevent me from insisting that you shall fire the first shot?"

"Shure and ye wouldn't dayproive me of the plisure of giving you the prasaydince," said he.

"Then, really," said I, "you will force me to insist upon your having the precedence. You're an older man than I am, and ought to have the first place. So, Mr. O'Halloran—fire first!"

"Thank you," said he, with a bow, "but really, me boy, you must excuse me if I insist upon it."

"Oh, no," said I. "If it were any other occasion, I would cheerfully give you the precedence, and so I give it to you here."

"But, you see," said O'Halloran, "you must considher me in the loight of an intertainer. Ye're my guest to a certain ixtint. I must give up all the honors to you. So foire awee, me boy, and eem low."

"No," said I, "I really couldn't think of it."

This friendly altercation went on for some time, while the others sat listening in amazement.

McGinty was the first to interrupt.

"It's in defoiuce of all the joolin code," said he, starting up. "I must inter my protest."

"So say I," cried Jack. "I say let the usual word be given—or else if one must have the first shot, let them draw for it."

O'Halloran looked upon them both with a smile of benevolent pity.

"McGinty," said he.

"Well."

"Ye know me?"

"Sure an' I do."

"And how many jools I've fought?"

"Meself does."

"Am I a choild at it? Will ye be koind enough to mintion any one that has any cleem to considher himself the shupayrior of Phaylim O'Halloran in the noiceties and the dilicacies of the jooling code? Will ye be so good as to infarrum me what there is lift for me to lerrun?"

At this appeal Mr. Murtagh McGinty subsided into silence, and sat down again, shaking his head.

Jack still insisted that the word of command should be given; but O'Halloran silenced him effectually by asking him if he had ever fought a duel.

"No," said Jack.

"Have ye ivir been second at one before?"

"No," said Jack, again.

"So this is your first time out?"

"Yes," said Jack, who looked deeply humiliated.

"Will, thin," said O'Halloran, loftily, "allow me to infarrum you, sir, that this is the thirty-seventh toime that I've had the plisure of taking part in a jool, ayther as principal or sicond."

Whereupon Jack was suppressed.

In all this the doctor took no part He looked cold, wet, uncomfortable, and unhappy.

And now O'Halloran turned to me again.

"Me boy," said he, "if ye'll not grant me this as a feevor, I'll cleem it as a roight."

"A right?" said I.

"Yis," said O'Halloran, solemnly, "a roight!"

"I don't know what you mean," I said, in some perplexity.

"I'll expleen. I'm undher a debt of obleegeetion to you that I nivir can repee. Ye've seeved the loife of me daughter, me choild, me Marion —that's one debt—then ye've seeved my loife, me own. But for you, I'd have been tarrun in payces by a howling mob, so I would. Me oun loife is yours. Jewty, and the cleems of gratichood, and the code of honor, all inspoire me with a desoire to meek some rayturrun for what ye've done for me.

"On the other hand," he continued, "ye've made a misteek of an onplisint nature about Mrs. O'H. Ye didn't main any harrum; but the dade's done, and there it is. It necissitates a jool. We must feece one another to satisfy offindid honor. But at the seem toime, while this jool is thus necissiteeted be the code of honor, jewty and gratichood must be considhered. It's a moighty noice case," he continued, meditatively, "and I don't think such a case ivir came within my ixpayrience; but that ixtinsive ixpayrience which I've had rinders me the best judge of what may be the most shootable course on the prisint occasion. But the ulteemeete tindincy of all me mideeteetions on the subjict is this—that I must allow you to fire the first shot."

"Well," said I, "if you insist on looking at it in that light, and if you persist in feeling obligation, that sense of obligation ought to make you yield to my wishes, and, if I don't want to fire first, you ought not to insist upon it."

"No, me boy," said O'Halloran; "that's all oidle casuisthree an' imply mitaphysics. There's no process of ratiosheeneetion that'll be iver eeble to overturrun the sintimints of jewty and dilicacy that spring spontaneous in the brist. So blaze away."

"Excuse me, but I insist on your firing first."

"Be the powers, thin! and I insist on your taking the lade."

"Pardon me, but you must."

"I'm inkeepeble of such a lack, of common cevileetee," said he. "I must still insist."

"And so must I."

This singular and very original altercation went on for some time. At last O'Halloran took the cushions off the seat, and deliberately sat down, facing me, with his legs dangling over the back of the sleigh. Seeing that our argument was to be continued for some time, and that he was thus making himself comfortable, I did the same. We thus sat facing one another.

The seconds here again interposed, but were again baffled by O'Halloran, who explained the whole situation to them in so forcible a manner that they did not know how to answer him. For my part, I was firm in my resolve, and was not going to fire unless we both fired together. True, I might have fired in the air; but I knew O'Halloran so well by this time that I was convinced, if I did such a thing, he would reproach me for it, and insist on my firing again. And in that case it would all have to be commenced afresh.

So there we sat, with our legs dangling over the backs of our respective sleighs, facing one another, pistol in hand, and occasionally renewing the discussion. He was obstinate, I was equally so, and the time began to pass away, and the situation gradually grew more and more tedious to our companions. Still they could not say any thing. It was a punctilio of honor which they could not argue down, and behind all the argument which might be used there arose the very impressive accumulation of O'Halloran's past experience in the field of honor. So all that they could do was to make the best of the situation.

The situation! It was, at best, a dismal one. Overhead was a leaden sky; underneath, the thawing snow, which every hour assumed a more watery appearance; in the distance arose the dreary, gloomy, melancholy forest-trees; while all around was a thin, fine drizzle, which enveloped us, saturating and soaking us with watery vapor. We all became limp and bedraggled, in soul as well as body. The most determined buoyancy of spirit could not withstand the influence of that drizzle, and, one by one, we all sank beneath it.

But not without a struggle. For, at first, as O'Halloran and I thus sat facing one another, we did not forget the ordinary civilities of life, nor were we satisfied with sitting and staring at one another. On the contrary, we sought to beguile the time with an interchange of courtesy on both sides. I took my flask and drank to the health of O'Halloran. O'Halloran responded. The seconds followed. Then O'Halloran drank to the health of Jack and the doctor. Then I drank to the health of McGinty. Then Jack and the doctor drank to the health of O'Halloran, and McGinty pledged me.

Two hours passed, and found each of us sitting there in the same position. Jack and the doctor made a doleful attempt at a game of euchre, but soon gave it up. McGinty sat refreshing himself with his flask, defying the weather, laughing, joking, and singing. Then we all smoked. From time to time the seconds would make fresh efforts to shake our resolve. They proposed once more that we should toss up for it, or drive home now, and come out again—in fact, any thing rather than sit here amid this cold, and drizzle, and wet, and dismal gloom, and miserable, rheumatic atmosphere. But all these proposals were declined, and O'Halloran was immovable in his purpose; while I, on the other hand, was equally resolved that I would not fire first.

Thus time passed, and neither of us would yield. At length, the doctor settled himself down into the bottom of the sleigh, and drew the buffalo-robes over him. After a final expostulation, accompanied with a threat to drive off, Jack imitated his example. McGinty, seeing this, proceeded to make himself comfortable in the same way. The poor horses had the worst time of it. The cold snow was up to their knees; and, as they stood there, they moved uneasily, tramping it down, till a pool of icy water lay beneath, in which they had to stand. I mentioned this to O'Halloran; but he only turned it against me, and made use of it as a fresh argument to shake my decision.

At last I saw that O'Halloran's face and attitude had undergone a change. For my part, I was wet to the skin, and chilled to my very bones; but I was young and strong, and could stand even that. With O'Halloran, however, it was different. A man of sixty cannot sit with impunity, inactive, and exposed to a cold, slimy drizzle, such as this was, without feeling very serious effects, and anticipating worse. This he soon experienced. I saw his figure crouching down, and an expression of pain coming over his face. In the midst of his pain he still maintained his punctilious resolution; but how much did that cost him! It was his own fault, of course. It was all brought on by his impracticability, his whimsicality, his eccentricity, and his punctiliousness. Nevertheless, there was in him that which excited my deepest commiseration. The wretchedness and the pain of his face, and the suffering which was visible in his attitude, all touched me. He sat crouched down, shivering, shuddering, his teeth chattering, and presented a deplorable picture of one who struggled vainly against an overmastering pain.

My resolution was shaken by this. I rose to my feet.

"Mr. O'Halloran," said I, "pardon me. I see that I am subjecting you to very great suffering. If you sit there any longer, exposed to this damp, you'll never get over it. It would be but poor courtesy to subject you to that any longer. And so I don't see what better I can do than allow you to have your own way. I'll have to give up my scruples, I suppose. I can't sit here any longer, and see you suffer. And so —here goes!—I'm willing to fire as you wish."

At this O'Halloran rose to his feet with a cry of joy.

"The first shot!" he exclaimed.

"Yes," said I, "the first. I'll fire, if you insist on it."

"And that's just what I do," said he, shivering.

At this I took aim.

Bang! went the shot. I afterward found that it passed through his hat.

O'Halloran now raised his pistol, and levelled it at me. But the pleasure of his triumph had excited him; and, besides, he was shivering from head to foot, and his teeth were chattering. An accurate aim was impossible. His hand could scarcely hold the pistol, and his benumbed finger could scarcely pull the trigger. He fired, and the bullet passed through the sleeve of my coat, and close to the doctor's head.

"Me boy," he cried, flinging down the pistol, "there's no ind to the obleegeetions you put me under! I owe ye me loife a second toime. Ye've seeved me from death by fraizing."



CHAPTER XXXII.

HOME AGAIN.—THE GROWLS OF A CONFIRMED GROWLER.—HOSPITALITY.—THE WELL-KNOWN ROOM.—VISION OF A LADY.—ALONE WITH MARION.—INTERCHANGE OF THOUGHT AND SENTIMENT.—TWO BEAUTIFUL WOMEN.—AN EVENING TO BE REMEMBERED.—THE CONVIVIALITY OF O'HALLORAN.—THE HUMORS OF O'HALLORAN, AND HIS BACCHIC JOY.

We all hurried away from the ground as rapidly as possible, and soon reached the Hotel de France. It was small, stuffy, and rather close, but, to people in our half-frozen condition, the big Canadian stove was a blessing beyond words. O'Halloran seemed like an habitue of the place, judging by the way he button-holed the landlord, and by the success with which he obtained "somethin' warrum" for the company. But the Hotel de France was not a place where one might linger; and so, after waiting long enough to allow the heat of the Canadian stove to penetrate us, aided by the blended power of "somethin' warrum" —and long enough also to give oats to the horses, which, after all, must have had the worst of it—poor devils!—we started and dragged on to the town.

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