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The Woman-Hater
by Charles Reade
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The mind and body both get into habits—sometimes apart, sometimes in conjunction. Nowadays we seat the body to work the intellect, even in its lower form of mechanical labor: it is your clod that toddles about laboring. The Peripatetics did not endure: their method was not suited to man's microcosm. Bodily movements fritter mental attention. We sit at the feet of Gamaliel, or, as some call him, Tyndal; and we sit to Bacon and Adam Smith. But, when we are standing or walking, we love to take brains easy. If this delightful chatterbox had been taken down shorthand and printed, and Vizard had been set down to Severni Opuscula, ten volumes— and, mind you, Severne had talked all ten by this time—the Barfordshire squire and old Oxonian would have cried out for "more matter with less art," and perhaps have even fled for relief to some shorter treatise—Bacon's "Essays," Browne's "Religio Medici," or Buckle's "Civilization." But lounging in a balcony, and lazily breathing a cloud, he could have listened all day to his desultory, delightful friend, overflowing with little questions, little answers, little queries, little epigrams, little maxims 'a la Rochefoucauld, little histories, little anecdotes, little gossip, and little snapshots at every feather flying.

"Quicquid agunt homines, votum, timor, ira, voluptas, Gaudia, discursus, nostri farrago Severni."

But, alas! after an hour of touch-and-go, of superficiality and soft delight, the desultory charmer fell on a subject he had studied. So then he bored his companion for the first time in all the tour.

But, to tell the honest truth, Mr. Severne had hitherto been pleasing his friend with a cold-blooded purpose. His preliminary gossip, that made the time fly so agreeably, was intended to oil the way to lubricate the passage of a premeditated pill. As soon as he had got Vizard into perfect good humor, he said, apropos of nothing that had passed, "By-the-by, old fellow, that five hundred pounds you promised to lend me!"

Vizard was startled by this sudden turn of a conversation, hitherto agreeable.

"Why, you have had three hundred and lost it," said he. "Now, take my advice, and don't lose any more."

"I don't mean to. But I am determined to win back the three hundred, and a great deal more, before I leave this. I have discovered a system, an infallible one."

"I am sorry to hear it," said Harrington, gravely. "That is the second step on the road to ruin; the gambler with a system is the confirmed maniac."

"What! because other systems have been tried, and proved to be false? Mine is untried, and it is mere prejudice to condemn it unheard."

"Propound it, then," said Vizard. "Only please observe the bank has got its system; you forget that: and the bank's system is to take a positive advantage, which must win in the long run; therefore, all counter-systems must lose in the long run."

"But the bank is tied to a long run, the individual player is not."

This reply checked Vizard for a moment and the other followed up his advantage. "Now, Vizard, be reasonable. What would the trifling advantage the bank derives from an incident, which occurs only once in twenty-eight deals, avail against a player who could foresee at any given deal whether the card that was going to come up the nearest thirty would be on the red or black?"

"No avail at all. God Almighty could break the bank every afternoon. Apre's? as we say in France. Do you pretend to omniscience?"

"Not exactly."

"Well, but prescience of isolated events, preceded by no indicia, belongs only to omniscience. Did they not teach you that much at Oxford?"

"They taught me very little at Oxford."

"Fault of the place, eh? You taught them something, though; and the present conversation reminds me of it. In your second term, when every other man is still quizzed and kept down as a freshman, you, were already a leader; a chief of misrule. You founded a whist-club in Trinity, the primmest college of all. The Dons rooted you out in college; but you did not succumb; you fulfilled the saying of Sydney Smith, that 'Cribbage should be played in caverns, and sixpenny-whist in the howling wilderness.' Ha! ha! how well I remember riding across Bullington Green one fine afternoon, and finding four Oxford hacks haltered in a row, and the four undergraduates that had hired them on long tick, sitting cross-legged under the hedge like Turks or tailors, round a rude table with the legs sawed down to stumps. You had two packs, and a portable inkstand, and were so hard at it that I put my mare's nose right over the quartet before you saw either her or me. That hedge was like a drift of odoriferous snow the hawthorn bloom, and primroses sparkled on its bank like topazes. The birds chirruped, the sky smiled, the sun burned perfumes; and there sat my lord and his fellow-maniacs, snick-snack—pit-pat—cutting, dealing, playing, revoking, scoring, and exchanging I. O. U. 's not worth the paper."

"All true, but the revoking," said Severne, merrily. "Monster! by the memory of those youthful days, I demand a fair hearing." Then, gravely, "Hang it all, Vizard, I am not a fellow that is always intruding his affairs and his theories upon other men."

"No, no, no," said Vizard, hastily, and half apologetically; "go on."

"Well, then, of course I don't pretend to foreknowledge; but I do to experience, and you know experience teaches the wise."

"Not to fling five hundred after three. There—I beg pardon. Proceed, instructor of youth."

"Do listen, then: experience teaches us that luck has its laws; and I build my system on one of them. If two opposite accidents are sure to happen equally often in a total of fifty times, people, who have not observed, expect them to happen turn about, and bet accordingly. But they don't happen turn about; they make short runs, and sometimes long ones. They positively avoid alternation. Have you not observed this at trente et quarante?"

"No."

"Then you have not watched the cards."

"Not much. The faces of the gamblers were always my study. They are instructive."

"Well, then, I'll give you an example outside—for the principle runs through all equal chances—take the university boat-race: you have kept your eye on that?"

"Rather. Never missed one yet. Come all the way from Barfordshire to see it."

"Well, there's an example."

"Of chance? No, thank you. That goes by strength, skill, wind, endurance, chaste living, self-denial, and judicious training. Every winning boat is manned by virtues." His eye flashed, and he was as earnest all in a moment as he had been listless. A continental cynic had dubbed this insular cynic mad.

The professor of chances smiled superior. "Those things decide each individual race, and the best men win, because it happens to be the only race that is never sold. But go further back, and you find it is chance. It is pure chance that sends the best men up to Cambridge two or three years running, and then to Oxford. With this key, take the facts my system rests on. There are two. The first is that in thirty and odd races and matches, the university luck has come out equal on the river and at Lord's: the second is, the luck has seldom alternated. I don't say, never. But look at the list of events; it is published every March. You may see there the great truth that even chances shun direct alternation. In this, properly worked, lies a fortune at Homburg, where the play is square. Red gains once; you back red next time, and stop. You are on black, and win; you double. This is the game, if you have only a few pounds. But with five hundred pounds you can double more courageously, and work the short run hard; and that is how losses are averted and gains secured. Once at Wiesbaden I caught a croupier, out on a holiday. It was Good-Friday, you know. I gave him a stunning dinner. He was close as wax, at first—that might be the salt fish; but after the rognons 'a la brochette, and a bottle of champagne, he let out. I remember one thing he said: Monsieur, ce que fait la fortune de la banque ce n'est pas le petit avantage qu'elle tire du refait—quoique cela y est pour quelquechose—c'est la te'me'rite' de ceux qui perdent, et la timidite' de ceux qui gagnent.'"

"And," says Vizard, "there is a French proverb founded on experience:

"C'est encore rouge qui perd, Et encore noir. Mais toujours blanc qui gagne.'"

Severne, for the first time, looked angry and mortified; he turned his back and was silent. Vizard looked at him uneasily, hesitated a moment, then flung the remainder of his cigar away and seemed to rouse himself body and soul. He squared his shoulders, as if he were going to box the Demon of play for his friend, and he let out good sense right and left, and, indeed, was almost betrayed into eloquence. "What!" he cried, "you, who are so bright and keen and knowing in everything else, are you really so blinded by egotism and credulity as to believe that you can invent any method of betting at rouge et noir that has not been tried before you were born? Do you remember the first word in La Bruy'ere's famous work?"

"No," said Ned, sulkily. "Read nothing but newspapers."

"Good lad. Saves a deal of trouble. Well, he begins 'Tout est dit'—'everything has been said;' and I say that, in your business, 'Tout est fait'—'everything has been done.' Every move has been tried before you existed, and the result of all is that to bet against the bank, wildly or systematically, is to gamble against a rock. Si monumenta quoeris, circumspice. Use your eyes, man. Look at the Kursaal, its luxuries, its gardens, its gilding, its attractions, all of them cheap, except the one that pays for all; all these delights, and the rents, and the croupiers, and the servants, and the income and liveries of an unprincipled prince, who would otherwise be a poor but honest gentleman with one bonne, instead of thirty blazing lackeys, all come from the gains of the bank, which are the losses of the players, especially of those that have got a system."

Severne shot in, "A bank was broken last week."

"Was it? Then all it lost has returned to it, or will return to it to-night; for gamblers know no day of rest."

"Oh, yes, they do. It is shut on Good-Friday."

"You surprise me. Only three hundred and sixty-four days in the year! Brainless avarice is more reasonable than I thought. Severne, yours is a very serious case. You have reduced your income, that is clear; for an English gentleman does not stay years and years abroad unless he has out run the constable; and I feel sure gambling has done it. You had the fever from a boy. Bullington Green! 'As the twig's bent the tree's inclined.' Come, come, make a stand. We are friends. Let us help one another against our besetting foibles. Let us practice antique wisdom; let us 'know ourselves,' and leave Homburg to-morrow, instead of Tuesday."

Severne looked sullen, but said nothing; then Vizard gave him too hastily credit for some of that sterling friendship, bordering on love, which warmed his own faithful breast: under this delusion he made an extraordinary effort; he used an argument which, with himself, would have been irresistible. "Look here," said he, "I'll—won't you have a cigar?—there; now I'll tell you something: I have a mania as bad as yours; only mine is intermittent, thank Heaven! I'm told a million women are as good, or better, than a million men. It may be so. But when I, an individual, stake my heart on lovely woman, she always turns out unworthy. With me, the sex avoids alternation. Therefore I rail on it wholesale. It is not philosophical; but I don't do it to instruct mankind; it is to soothe my spleen. Well—would you believe it?—once in every three years, in spite of my experience, I am always bitten again. After my lucid interval has expired, I fall in with some woman, who seems not like the rest, but an angel. Then I, though I'm averse to the sex, fall an easy, an immediate victim to the individual."

"Love at first sight."

"Not a bit of it. If she is as beautiful as an angel, with the voice of a peacock or a guinea-hen—and, luckily for me, that is a frequent arrangement—she is no more to me than the fire-shovel. If she has a sweet voice and pale eyes, I'm safe. Indeed, I am safe against Juno, Venus, and Minerva for two years and several months after the last; but when two events coincide, when my time is up, and the lovely, melodious female comes, then I am lost. Before I have seen her and heard her five minutes, I know my fate, and I never resist it. I never can; that is a curious part of the mania. Then commences a little drama, all the acts of which are stale copies; yet each time they take me by surprise, as if they were new. In spite of past experience, I begin all confidence and trust: by-and-by come the subtle but well-known signs of deceit; so doubt is forced on me; and then I am all suspicion, and so darkly vigilant that soon all is certainty; for 'les fourberies des femmes' are diabolically subtle, but monotonous. They seem to vary only on the surface. One looks too gentle and sweet to give any creature pain; I cherish her like a tender plant; she deceives me for the coarsest fellow she can find. Another comes the frank and candid dodge; she is so off-handed she shows me it is not worth her while to betray. She deceives me, like the other, and with as little discrimination. The next has a face of beaming innocence, and a limpid eye that looks like transparent candor; she gazes long and calmly in my face, as if her eye loved to dwell on me, gazes with the eye of a gazelle or a young hare, and the baby lips below outlie the hoariest male fox in the Old Jewry. But, to complete the delusion, all my sweethearts and wives are romantic and poetical skin-deep—or they would not attract me—and all turn out vulgar to the core. By their lovers alone can you ever know them. By the men they can't love, and the men they do love, you find these creatures that imitate sentiment so divinely are hard, prosaic, vulgar little things, thinly gilt and double varnished."

"They are much better than we are; but you don't know how to take them," said Severne, with the calm superiority of success.

"No," replied Vizard, dryly, "curse me if I do. Well, I did hope I had outgrown my mania, as I have done the toothache; for this time I had passed the fatal period, the three years. It is nearly four years now since I went through the established process—as fixed beforehand as the dyer's or the cotton-weaver's—adored her, trusted her blindly, suspected her, watched her, detected her, left her. By-the-by, she was my wife, the last; but that made no difference; she was neither better nor worse than the rest, and her methods and idiotic motives of deceit identical. Well, Ned, I was mistaken. Yesterday night I met my Fate once more."

"Where? In Frankfort?"

"No: at Homburg; at the opera. You must give me your word not to tell a soul."

"I pledge you my word of honor."

"Well, the lady who sung the part of Siebel."

"Siebel?" muttered Severne.

"Yes," said Vizard, dejectedly.

Severne fixed his eyes on his friend with a strange expression of confusion and curiosity, as if he could not take it all in. But he said nothing, only looked very hard all the time.

Vizard burst out, "'O miserae hominum mentes, O pectora caeca!' There I sat, in the stalls, a happy man comparatively, because my heart, though full of scars, was at peace, and my reason, after periodical abdications, had resumed its throne, for good; so I, weak mortal, fancied. Siebel appeared; tall, easy, dignified, and walking like a wave; modest, fair, noble, great, dreamy, and, above all, divinely sad; the soul of womanhood and music poured from her honey lips; she conquered all my senses: I felt something like a bolt of ice run down my back. I ought to have jumped up and fled the theater. I wish I had. But I never do. I am incurable. The charm deepened; and when she had sung 'Le Parlate d'Amor' as no mortal ever sung and looked it, she left the stage and carried my heart and soul away with her. What chance had I? Here shone all the beauties that adorn the body, all the virtues and graces that embellish the soul; they were wedded to poetry and ravishing music, and gave and took enchantment. I saw my paragon glide away, like a goddess, past the scenery, and I did not see her meet her lover at the next step—a fellow with a wash-leather face, greasy locks in a sausage roll, and his hair shaved off his forehead—and snatch a pot of porter from his hands, and drain it to the dregs, and say, 'It is all right, Harry: that fetched 'em.' But I know, by experience, she did; so sauve qui peut. Dear friend and fellow-lunatic, for my sake and yours, leave Frankfort with me to-morrow."

Severne hung his head, and thought hard. Here was a new and wonderful turn. He felt all manner of strange things—a pang of jealousy, for one. He felt that, on every account, it would be wise to go, and, indeed, dangerous to stay. But a mania is a mania, and so he could not. "Look here, old fellow," he said, "if the opera were on to-morrow, I would leave my three hundred behind me and sacrifice myself to you, sooner than expose you to the fascinations of so captivating a woman as Ina Klosking."

"Ina Klosking? Is that her name? How do you know?"

"I—I—fancy I heard so."

"Why, she was not announced. Ina Klosking! It is a sweet name;" and he sighed.

"But you are quite safe from her for one day," continued Severne, "so you must be reasonable. I will go with you, Tuesday, as early as you like; but do be a good fellow, and let me have the five hundred, to try my system with to-morrow."

Vizard looked sad, and made no reply.

Severne got impatient. "Why, what is it to a rich fellow like you? If I had twelve thousand acres in a ring fence, no friend would ask me twice for such a trifling sum."

Vizard, for the first time, wore a supercilious smile at being so misunderstood, and did not deign a reply.

Severne went on mistaking his man: "I can give you bills for the money, and for the three hundred you did lend me."

Vizard did not receive this as expected. "Bills?" said he, gravely. "What, do you do that sort of thing as well?"

"Why not, pray? So long as I'm the holder, not the drawer, nor the acceptor. Besides, they are not accommodation bills, but good commercial paper."

"You are a merchant, then; are you?"

"Yes; in a small way. If you will allow me, I will explain."

He did so; and, to save comments, yet enable the reader to appreciate his explanation, the true part of it is printed in italics, the mendacious portion in ordinary type.

"My estate in Huntingdonshire is not very large; and there are mortgages on it, for the benefit of other members of my family. I was always desirous to pay off these mortgages; and took the best advice I could. I have got an uncle: he lives in the city. He put me on to a good thing. I bought a share in a trading vessel; she makes short trips, and turns her cargo often. She will take out paper to America, and bring back raw cotton: she will land that at Liverpool, and ship English hardware and cotton fabrics for the Mediterranean and Greece, and bring back currants from Zante and lemons from Portugal. She goes for the nimble shilling. Well, you know ships wear out: and if you varnish them rotten, and insure them high, and they go to glory, Mr. Plimsoll is down on you like a hammer. So, when she had paid my purchase-money three times over, some fellows in the city made an offer for The Rover—that was her name. My share came to twelve hundred, and my uncle said I was to take it. Now I always feel bound by what he decides. They gave me four bills, for four hundred, three hundred, three hundred, and two hundred. The four hundred was paid at maturity. The others are not due yet. I have only to send them to London, and I can get the money back by Thursday: but you want me to start on Tuesday."

"That is enough," said Vizard, wearily, "I will be your banker, and—"

"You are a good fellow!" said Severne warmly.

"No, no; I am a weak fellow, and an injudicious one. But it is the old story: when a friend asks you what he thinks a favor, the right thing is to grant it at once. He doesn't want your advice; he wants the one thing he asks for. There, get me the bills, and I'll draw a check on Muller: Herries advised him by Saturday's post; so we can draw on Monday."

"All right, old man," said Severne, and went away briskly for the bills.

When he got from the balcony into the room, his steps flagged a little; it struck him that ink takes time to dry, and more time to darken.

As The Rover, with her nimble cargoes, was first cousin to The Flying Dutchman, with his crew of ghosts, so the bills received by Severne, as purchase-money for his ship, necessarily partook of that ship's aerial character. Indeed they existed, as the schoolmen used to say, in posse, but not in esse. To be less pedantic and more exact, they existed as slips of blank paper, with a Government stamp. To give them a mercantile character for a time—viz., until presented for payment—they must be drawn by an imaginary ship-owner or a visionary merchant, and indorsed by at least one shadow, and a man of straw.

The man of straw sat down to inscribe self and shadows, and became a dishonest writer of fiction; for the art he now commenced appears to fall short of forgery proper, but to be still more distinct from justifiable fiction. The ingenious Mr. De Foe's certificate by an aeial justice of the peace to the truth of his ghostly narrative comes nearest to it, in my poor reading.

Qualms he had, but not deep. If the bills were drawn by Imagination, accepted by Fancy, and indorsed by Impudence, what did it matter to Ned Straw, since his system would enable him to redeem them at maturity? His only real concern was to conceal their recent origin. So he wrote them with a broad-nibbed pen, that they might be the blacker, and set them to dry in the sun.

He then proceeded to a change of toilet.

While thus employed, there was a sharp tap at his door and Vizard's voice outside. Severne started with terror, snapped up the three bills with the dexterity of a conjurer—the handle turned—he shoved them into a drawer—Vizard came in—he shut the drawer, and panted.

Vizard had followed the custom of Oxonians among themselves, which is to knock, and then come in, unless forbidden.

"Come," said he, cheerfully, "those bills. I'm in a hurry to cash them now, and end the only difference we have ever had, old fellow."

The blood left Severne's cheek and lips for a moment, and he thought swiftly and hard. The blood returned, along with his ready wit. "How good you are!" said he; "but no. It is Sunday."

"Sunday!" ejaculated Vizard. "What is that to you, a fellow who has been years abroad?"

"I can't help it," said Severne, apologetically. "I am superstitious—don't like to do business on a Sunday. I would not even shunt at the tables on a Sunday—I don't think."

"Ah, you are not quite sure of that. There is a limit to your superstition! Well, will you listen to a story on a Sunday?"

"Rather!"

"Then, once on a time there was a Scotch farmer who had a bonny cow; and another farmer coveted her honestly. One Sunday they went home together from kirk and there was the cow grazing. Farmer Two stopped, eyed her, and said to Farmer One, 'Gien it were Monday, as it is the Sabba' day, what would ye tak' for your coow?' The other said the price would be nine pounds, if it were Monday. And so they kept the Sabbath; and the cow changed hands, though, to the naked eye, she grazed on in situ. Our negotiation is just as complete. So what does it matter whether the actual exchange of bills and cash takes place to-day or to-morrow?"

"Do you really mean to say it does not matter to you?" asked Severne.

"Not one straw."

"Then, as it does not matter to you, and does to me, give me my foolish way, like a dear good fellow."

"Now, that is smart," said Vizard—"very smart;" then, with a look of parental admiration, "he gets his own way in everything. He will have your money—he won't have your money. I wonder whether he will consent to walk those girls out, and disburden me of their too profitable discourse."

"That I will, with pleasure."

"Well, they are at luncheon—with their bonnets on."

"I will join them in five minutes."



After luncheon, Miss Vizard, Miss Dover, and Mr. Severne started for a stroll.

Miss Maitland suggested that Vizard should accompany them.

"Couldn't think of deserting you," said he dryly.

The young ladies giggled, because these two rarely opened their mouths to agree, one being a professed woman-hater, and the other a man-hater, in words.

Says Misander, in a sourish way, "Since you value my conversation so, perhaps you will be good enough not to smoke for the next ten minutes."

Misogyn consented, but sighed. That sigh went unpitied, and the lady wasted no time.

"Do you see what is going on between your sister and that young man?"

"Yes; a little flirtation."

"A great deal more than that. I caught them, in this very room, making love."

"You alarm me," said Vizard, with marked tranquillity.

"I saw him—kiss—her—hand."

"You relieve me," said Vizard, as calmly as he had been alarmed. "There's no harm in that. I've kissed the queen's hand, and the nation did not rise upon me. However, I object to it. The superior sex should not play the spaniel. I will tell him to drop that. But, permit me to say, all this is in your department, not mine.

"But what can I do against three of them, unless you support me? There you have let them go out together."

"Together with Fanny Dover, you mean?"

"Yes; and if Fanny had any designs on him, Zoe would be safe—"

"And poor Ned torn in two."

"But Fanny, I am grieved to say, seems inclined to assist this young man with Zoe; that is, because it does not matter to her. She has other views—serious ones."

"Serious! What? A nunnery? Then I pity my lady abbess."

"Her views are plain enough to anybody but you."

"Are they? Then make me as wise as my neighbors."

"Well, then, she means to marry you."

"What! Oh, come!—that is too good a joke!"

"It is sober earnest. Ask Zoe—ask your friend, Mr. Severne—ask the chambermaids—ask any creature with an eye in its head. Oh, the blindness of you men!"

The Misogyn was struck dumb. When he recovered, it was to repine at the lot of man.

"Even my own familiar cousin—once removed—in whom I trusted! I depute you to inform her that I think her adorable, and that matrimony is no longer a habit of mine. Set her on to poor Severne; he is a ladies' man, and 'the more the merrier' is his creed."

"Such a girl as Fanny is not to be diverted from a purpose of that sort. Besides, she has too much sense to plunge into the Severne and—pauperism! She is bent on a rich husband, not a needy adventurer."

"Madam, in my friend's name, I thank you."

"You are very welcome, sir—it is only the truth." Then, with a swift return to her original topic: "No; I know perfectly well what Fanny Dover will do this afternoon. She sketches."

"It is too true," said Vizard dolefully: "showed me a ship in full sail, and I praised it in my way. I said, 'That rock is rather well done.' "

"Well, she will be seized with a desire to sketch. She will sit down apart, and say, 'Please don't watch me—it makes me nervous.' The other two will take the hint and make love a good way off; and Zoe will go greater lengths, with another woman in sight—but only just in sight, and slyly encouraging her—than if she were quite alone with her mauvais sujet."

Vizard was pleased with the old lady. "This is sagacious," said he, "and shows an eye for detail. I recognize in your picture the foxy sex. But, at this moment, who can foretell which way the wind will blow? You are not aware, perhaps, that Zoe and Fanny have had a quarrel. They don't speak. Now, in women, you know, vices are controlled by vices— see Pope. The conspiracy you dread will be averted by the other faults of their character, their jealousy and their petulant tempers. Take my word for it, they are sparring at this moment; and that poor, silly Severne meditating and moderating, and getting scratched on both sides for trying to be just."

At this moment the door opened, and Fanny Dover glittered on the threshold in Cambridge blue.

"There," said Vizard; "did not I tell you? They are come home."

"Only me," said Fanny gayly.

"Where are the others?" inquired Miss Maitland sharply.

"Not far off—only by the riverside."

"And you left those two alone!"

"Now, don't be cross, aunt," cried Fanny, and limped up to her. "These new boots are so tight that I really couldn't bear them any longer. I believe I shall be lame, as it is."

"You ought to be ashamed of yourself. What will the people say?"

"La! aunt, it is abroad. One does what one likes—out of England."

"Here's a code of morals!" said Vizard, who must have his slap.

"Nonsense," said Miss Maitland: "she will be sure to meet somebody. All England is on the Rhine at this time of the year; and, whether or no, is it for you to expose that child to familiarity with a person nobody knows, nor his family either? You are twenty-five years old; you know the world; you have as poor an opinion of the man as I have, or you would have set your own cap at him—you know you would—and you have let out things to me when you were off your guard. Fanny Dover, you are behaving wickedly; you are a false friend to that poor girl."

Upon this, lo! the pert Fanny, hitherto so ready with her answers, began to cry bitterly. The words really pricked her conscience, and to be scolded is one thing, to be severely and solemnly reproached is another; and before a man!

The official woman-hater was melted in a moment by the saucy girl's tears. "There—there," said he, kindly, "have a little mercy. Hang it all! Don't make a mountain of a mole-hill."

The official man-hater never moved a muscle. "It is no use her crying to me: she must give me a proof she is sorry. Fanny, if you are a respectable girl, and have any idea of being my heir, go you this moment and bring them home."

"Yes, aunt," said Fanny, eagerly; and went off with wonderful alacrity.

It was a very long apartment, full forty feet; and while Fanny bustled down it, Miss Maitland extended a skinny finger, like one of Macbeth's witches, and directed Vizard's eye to the receding figure so pointedly that he put up his spyglass the better to see the phenomenon.

As Fanny skipped out and closed the door, Miss Maitland turned to Vizard, with lean finger still pointing after Fanny, and uttered a monosyllable:

"LAME!"

Vizard burst out laughing. "La fourbe!" said he. "Miss Maitland, accept my compliments; you possess the key to a sex no fellow can unlock. And, now I have found an interpreter, I begin to be interested in this little comedy. The first act is just over. There will be half an hour's wait till the simulatrix of infirmity comes running back with the pilgrims of the Rhine. Are they 'the pilgrims of the Rhine' or 'the pilgrims of Love?' Time will show. Play to recommence with a verbal encounter; you will be one against three; for all that, I don't envy the greater number."

"Three to one? No. Surely you will be on the right side for once.

"Well, you see, I am the audience. We can't be all dramatis personae, and no spectator. During the wait, I wonder whether the audience, having nothing better to do, may be permitted to smoke a cigar."

"So long a lucid interval is irksome, of course. Well, the balcony is your smoking-room. You will see them coming; please tap at my door the moment you do."

Half an hour elapsed, an hour, and the personages required to continue the comedy did not return.

Vizard, having nothing better to do, fell to thinking of Ina Klosking, and that was not good for him. Solitude and ennui fed his mania, and at last it took the form of action. He rang, and ordered up his man Harris, a close, discreet personage, and directed him to go over to Homburg, and bring back all the information he could about the new singer; her address in Homburg, married or single, prude or coquette. Should information be withheld, Harris was to fee the porter at the opera-house, the waiter at her hotel, and all the human commodities that knew anything about her. Having dismissed Harris, he lighted his seventh cigar, and said to himself, "It is all Ned Severne's fault. I wanted to leave for England to-day."

The day had been overcast for some time and now a few big drops fell, by way of warning. Then it turned cool: then came a light drizzling rain, and, in the middle of this, Fanny Dover appeared, almost flying home.

Vizard went and tapped at Miss Maitland's door. She came out.

"Here's Miss Dover coming, but she is alone."

The next moment Fanny bounced into the room, and started a little at the picture of the pair ready to receive her. She did not wait to be taken to task, but proceeded to avert censure by volubility and self-praise. "Aunt, I went down to the river, where I left them, and looked all along it, and they were not in sight. Then I went to the cathedral, because that seemed the next likeliest place. Oh, I have had such a race!"

"Why did you come back before you had found them?"

"Aunt, it was going to rain; and it is raining now, hard."

"She does not mind that."

"Zoe? Oh, she has got nothing on!"

"Bless me!" cried Vizard. "Godiva rediviva."

"Now, Harrington, don't! Of course, I mean nothing to spoil; only her purple alpaca, and that is two years old. But my blue silk, I can't afford to ruin it. Nobody would give me another, I know."

"What a heartless world!" said Vizard dryly.

"It is past a jest, the whole thing," objected Miss Maitland; "and, now we are together, please tell me, if you can, either of you, who is this man? What are his means? I know 'The Peerage,' 'The Baronetage,' and 'The Landed Gentry,' but not Severne. That is a river, not a family."

"Oh," said Vizard, "family names taken from rivers are never parvenues. But we can't all be down in Burke. Ned is of a good stock, the old English yeoman, the country's pride."

"Yeoman!" said the Maitland, with sovereign contempt.

Vizard resisted. "Is this the place to sneer at an English yeoman, where you see an unprincely prince living by a gambling-table? What says the old stave?

"'A German prince, a marquis of France, And a laird o' the North Countrie; A yeoman o' Kent, with his yearly rent, Would ding 'em out, all three."'

"Then," said Misander, with a good deal of malicious, intent, "you are quite sure your yeoman is not a—pauper—an adventurer—"

"Positive."

"And a gambler."

"No; I am not at all sure of that. But nobody is all-wise. I am not, for one. He is a fine fellow; as good as gold; as true as steel. Always polite, always genial; and never speaks ill of any of you behind your backs."

Miss Maitland bridled at that. "What I have said is not out of dislike to the young man. I am warning a brother to take a little more care of his sister, that is all. However, after your sneer, I shall say no more behind Mr. Severne's back, but to his face—that is, if we ever see his face again, or Zoe's either."

"Oh, aunt!" said Fanny, reproachfully. "It is only the rain. La! poor things, they will be wet to the skin. Just see how it is pouring!"

"That it is: and let me tell you there is nothing so dangerous as a te'te-'a-te'te in the rain."

"A thunder-storm is worse, aunt," said Fanny, eagerly; "because then she is frightened to death, and clings to him—if he is nice."

Having galloped into this revelation, through speaking first and thinking afterward, Fanny pulled up short the moment the words were out, and turned red, and looked askant, under her pale lashes at Vizard. Observing several twinkles in his eyes, she got up hastily and said she really must go and dry her gown.

"Yes," said Miss Maitland; "come into my room, dear."

Fanny complied, with rather a rueful face, not doubting that the public "dear" was to get it rather hot in private.

Her uneasiness was not lessened when the old maid said to her, grimly, "Now, sit you down there, and never mind your dress."

However, it came rather mildly, after all. "Fanny, you are not a bad girl, and you have shown you were sorry; so I am not going to be hard on you: only you must be a good girl now, and help me to undo the mischief, and then I will forgive you."

"Aunt," said Fanny, piteously, "I am older than she is, and I know I have done rather wrong, and I won't do it any more; but pray, pray, don't ask me to be unkind to her to-day; it is brooch-day."

Miss Maitland only stared at this obscure announcement: so Fanny had to explain that Zoe and she had tiffed, and made it up, and Zoe had given her a brooch. Hereupon she went for it, and both ladies forgot the topic they were on, and every other, to examine the brooch.

"Aunt," says Fanny, handling the brooch, and eyeing it, "you were a poor girl, like me, before grandpapa left you the money, and you know it is just as well to have a tiff now and then with a rich one, because, when you kiss and make it up, you always get some reconciliation-thing or other."

Miss Maitland dived into the past and nodded approval.

Thus encouraged, Fanny proceeded to more modern rules. She let Miss Maitland know it was always understood at her school that on these occasions of tiff, reconciliation, and present, the girl who received the present was to side in everything with the girl who gave it, for that one day. "That is the real reason I put on my tight boots—to earn my brooch. Isn't it a duck?"

"Are they tight, then?"

"Awfully. See—new on to-day."

"But you could shake off your lameness in a moment."

"La, aunt, you know one can fight with that sort of thing, or fight against it. It is like colds, and headaches, and fevers, and all that. You are in bed, too ill to see anybody you don't much care for. Night comes, and then you jump up and dress, and go to a ball, and leave your cold and your fever behind you, because the ball won't wait till you are well, and the bores will. So don't ask me to be unkind to Zoe, brooch-day," said Fanny, skipping back to her first position with singular pertinacity.

"Now, Fanny," said Miss Maitland, "who wants you to be unkind to her? But you must and shall promise me not to lend her any more downright encouragement, and to watch the man well."

"I promise that faithfully," said Fanny —an adroit concession, since she had been watching him like a cat a mouse for many days.

"Then you are a good girl; and, to reward you, I will tell you in confidence all the strange stories I have discovered today."

"Oh, do, aunt!" cried Fanny; and now her eyes began to sparkle with curiosity.

Miss Maitland then bid her observe that the bedroom window was not a French casement, but a double-sash window—closed at present because of the rain; but it had been wide open at the top all the time.

"Those two were smoking, and talking secrets; and, child," said the old lady, very impressively, "if you—want—to—know—what gentlemen really are, you must be out of sight, and listen to them, smoking. When I was a girl, the gentlemen came out in their true colors over their wine. Now they are as close as wax, drinking; and even when they are tipsy they keep their secrets. But once let them get by themselves and smoke, the very air is soon filled with scandalous secrets none of the ladies in the house ever dreamed of. Their real characters, their true histories, and their genuine sentiments, are locked up like that genius in 'The Arabian Nights,' and come out in smoke as he did." The old lady chuckled at her own wit, and the young one laughed to humor her. "Well, my dear, those two smoked, and revealed themselves—their real selves; and I listened and heard every word on the top of those drawers."

Fanny looked at the drawers. They were high.

"La, aunt! how ever did you get up there?"

"By a chair."

"Oh, fancy you perched up there, listening, at your age!"

"You need not keep throwing my age in my teeth. I am not so very old. Only I don't paint and whiten and wear false hair. There are plenty of coquettes about, ever so much older than I am. I have a great mind not to tell you; and then much you will ever know about either of these men!"

"Oh, aunt, don't be cruel! I am dying to hear it."

As aunt was equally dying to tell it, she passed over the skit upon her age, though she did not forget nor forgive it; and repeated the whole conversation of Vizard and Severne with rare fidelity; but as I abhor what the evangelist calls "battology," and Shakespeare "damnable iteration," I must draw upon the intelligence of the reader (if any), and he must be pleased to imagine the whole dialogue of those two unguarded smokers repeated to Fanny, and interrupted, commented on at every salient point, scrutinized, sifted, dissected, and taken to pieces by two keen women, sharp by nature, and sharper now by collision of their heads. No candor, no tolerance, no allowance for human weakness, blunted the scalpel in their dexterous hands.

Oh, Gossip! delight of ordinary souls, and more delightful still when you furnish food for detraction!

To Fanny, in particular, it was exciting, ravishing, and the time flew by so unheeded that presently there came a sharp knock and an impatient voice cried, "Chatter! chatter! chatter! How long are we to be kept waiting for dinner, all of us?"



CHAPTER VI.

AT the very commencement of the confabulation, so barbarously interrupted before it had lasted two hours and a half, the Misogyn rang the bell, and asked for Rosa, Zoe's maid.

She came, and he ordered her to have up a basket of wood, and light a roaring fire in her mistress's room, and put out garments to air. He also inquired the number of Zoe's bedroom. The girl said it was "No. 74."

The Misogyn waited half an hour, and then visited "No. 74." He found the fire burned down to one log, and some things airing at the fire, as domestics air their employers' things, but not their own, you may be sure. There was a chemise carefully folded into the smallest possible compass, and doubled over a horse at a good distance from the cold fire. There were other garments and supplementaries, all treated in the same way.

The Misogyn looked, and remarked as follows, "Idiots! at everything but taking in the men."

Having relieved his spleen with this courteous and comprehensive observation, he piled log upon log till the fire was half up the chimney. Then he got all the chairs and made a semi-circle, and spread out the various garments to the genial heat; and so close that, had a spark flown, they would have been warmed with a vengeance, and the superiority of the male intellect demonstrated. This done, he retired, with a guilty air; for he did not want to be caught meddling in such frivolities by Miss Dover or Miss Maitland. However, he was quite safe; those superior spirits were wholly occupied with the loftier things of the mind, especially the characters of their neighbors.

I must now go for these truants that are giving everybody so much trouble.

When Fanny fell lame and said she was very sorry, but she must go home and change her boots, Zoe was for going home too. But Fanny, doubting her sincerity, was peremptory, and said they had only to stroll slowly on, and then turn; she should meet them coming back. Zoe colored high, suspecting they had seen the last of this ingenious young lady.

"What a good girl!" cried Severne.

"I am afraid she is a very naughty girl," said Zoe, faintly; and the first effect of Fanny's retreat was to make her a great deal more reserved and less sprightly.

Severne observed, and understood, and saw he must give her time. He was so respectful, as well as tender, that, by degrees, she came out again, and beamed with youth and happiness.

They strolled very slowly by the fair river, and the pretty little nothings they said to each other began to be mere vehicles for those soft tones and looks, in which love is made, far more than by the words themselves.

When they started on this walk, Severne had no distinct nor serious views on Zoe. But he had been playing with fire for some time, and so now he got well burned.

Walking slowly by his side, and conscious of being wooed, whatever the words might be, Zoe was lovelier than ever. Those lowered lashes, that mantling cheek, those soft, tender murmurs, told him he was dear, and thrilled his heart, though a cold one compared with hers.

He was in love; as much as he could be, and more than he had ever been before. He never even asked himself whether permanent happiness was likely to spring from this love: he was self-indulgent, reckless, and in love.

He looked at her, wished he could recall his whole life, and sighed.

"Why do you sigh?" said she, gently.

"I don't know. Yes, I do. Because I am not happy."

"Not happy?" said she. "You ought to be; and I am sure you deserve to be."

"I don't know that. However, I think I shall be happier in a few minutes, or else very unhappy indeed. That depends on you."

"On me, Mr. Severne?" and she blushed crimson, and her bosom began to heave. His words led her to expect a declaration and a proposal of marriage.

He saw her mistake; and her emotion spoke so plainly and sweetly, and tried him so, that it cost him a great effort not to clasp her in his arms. But that was not his cue at present. He lowered his eyes, to give her time, and said, sadly, "I cannot help seeing that, somehow, there is suspicion in the air about me. Miss Maitland puts questions, and drops hints. Miss Dover watches me like a lynx. Even you gave me a hint the other day that I never talk to you about my relations, and my past life."

"Pray do not confound me with other people," said Zoe proudly. "If I am curious, it is because I know you must have done many good things and clever things; but you have too little vanity, or too much pride, to tell them even to one who—esteems you, and could appreciate."

"I know you are as generous and noble as most people are narrow-minded," said Severne, enthusiastically; "and I have determined to tell you all about myself."

Zoe's cheeks beamed with gratified pride and her eyes sparkled.

"Only, as I would not tell it to anybody but you, I must stipulate that you will receive it in sacred confidence, and not repeat it to a living soul."

"Not even to my brother, who loves you so?"

"Not even to him."

This alarmed the instinctive delicacy and modesty of a truly virgin soul.

"I am not experienced," said she. "But I feel I ought not to yield to curiosity and hear from you anything I am forbidden to tell my brother. You might as well say I must not tell my mother; for dear Harrington is all the mother I have; and I am sure he is a true friend to you" (this last a little reproachfully).

But for Severne's habitual self-command, he would have treated this delicacy as ridiculous prudery; but he was equal to greater difficulties.

"You are right, by instinct, in everything. Well, then, I shall tell you, and you shall see at once whether it ought to be repeated, or to remain a sacred deposit between me and the only creature I have the courage to tell it to."

Zoe lowered her eyes, and marked the sand with her parasol. She was a little puzzled now, and half conscious that, somehow, he was tying her to secrecy with silk instead of rope; but she never suspected the deliberate art and dexterity with which it was done.

Severne then made the revelation which he had been preparing for a day or two past; and, to avoid eternal comments by the author, I must once more call in the artful aid of the printers. The true part of Mr. Severne's revelation is in italics; the false in ordinary type.

"When my father died, I inherited an estate in Huntingdonshire. It was not so large as Vizard's, but it was clear. Not a mortgage nor incumbrance on it. I had a younger brother; a fellow with charming manners, and very accomplished. These were his ruin: he got into high society in London; but high society is not always good society. He became connected with a fast lot, some of the young nobility. Of course he could not vie with them. He got deeply in debt. Not but what they were in debt too, every one of them. He used to send to me for money oftener than I liked; but I never suspected the rate he was going at. I was anxious, too, about him; but I said to myself he was just sowing his wild oats, like other fellows. Well, it went on, until—to his misfortune and mine—he got entangled in some disgraceful transactions; the general features are known to all the world. I dare say you have heard of one or two young noblemen who committed forgeries on their relations and friends some years ago. One of them, the son of an earl, took his sister's whole fortune out of her bank, with a single forged check. I believe the sum total of his forgeries was over one hundred thousand pounds. His father could not find half the money. A number of the nobility had to combine to repurchase the documents; many of them were in the hands of the Jews; and I believe a composition was effected, with the help of a very powerful barrister, an M. P. He went out of his line on this occasion, and mediated between the parties. What will you think when I tell you that my brother, the son of my father and my mother, was one of these forgers—a criminal?"

"My poor friend!" cried Zoe, clasping her innocent hands.

"It was a thunder-clap. I had a great mind to wash my hands of it, and let him go to prison. But how could I? The struggle ended in my doing like the rest. Only poor, I had no noble kinsmen with long purses to help me, and no solicitor-general to mediate sub rosa. The total amount would have swamped my family acres. I got them down to sixty per cent, and that only crippled my estate forever. As for my brother, he fell on his knees to me. But I could not forgive him. He left the country with a hundred pounds I gave him. He is in Canada; and only known there as a most respectable farmer. He talks of paying me back. That I shall believe when I see it. All I know for certain is that his crime has mortgaged my estate, and left me poor—and suspected."

While Severne related this, there passed a somewhat notable thing in the world of mind. The inventor of this history did not understand it; the hearer did, and accompanied it with innocent sympathetic sighs. Her imagination, more powerful and precise than the inventor's, pictured the horror of the high-minded brother, his agony, his shame, his respect for law and honesty, his pity for his own flesh and blood, his struggle, and the final triumph of fraternal affection. Every line of the figment was alive to her, and she realized the tale. Severne only repeated it.

At the last touch of his cold art, the warm-hearted girl could contain no longer.

"Oh, poor Mr. Severne!" she cried; "poor Mr. Severne!" And the tears ran down her cheeks.

He looked at her first with a little astonishment—fancy taking his little narrative to heart like that—then with compunction, and then with a momentary horror at himself, and terror at the impassable gulf fixed between them, by her rare goodness and his depravity.

Then for a moment he felt, and felt all manner of things at once. "Oh, don't cry," he blurted out, and began to blubber himself at having made her cry at all, and so unfairly. It was his lucky hour; this hysterical effusion, undignified by a single grain of active contrition, or even penitent resolve, told in his favor. They mingled their tears; and hearts cannot hold aloof when tears come together. Yes, they mingled their tears, and the crocodile tears were the male's, if you please, and the woman's tears were pure holy drops, that angels might have gathered and carried them to God for pearls of the human soul.

After they had cried together over the cool figment, Zoe said: "I do not repent my curiosity now. You did well to tell me. Oh, no, you were right, and I will never tell anybody. People are narrow-minded. They shall never cast your brother's crime in your teeth, nor your own losses I esteem you for—oh, so much more than ever! I wonder you could tell me."

"You would not wonder if you knew how superior you are to all the world: how noble, how generous, and how I—"

"Oh, Mr. Severne, it is going to rain! We must get home as fast as ever we can."

They turned, and Zoe, with true virgin coyness, and elastic limbs, made the coming rain an excuse for such swift walking that Severne could not make tender love to her. To be sure, Apollo ran after Daphne, with his little proposals; but, I take it, he ran mute—till he found he couldn't catch her. Indeed, it was as much as Severne could do to keep up with her "fair heel and toe." But I ascribe this to her not wearing high heels ever since Fanny told her she was just a little too tall, and she was novice enough to believe her.

She would not stop for the drizzle; but at last it came down with such a vengeance that she was persuaded to leave the path and run for a cattle-shed at some distance. Here she and Severne were imprisoned. Luckily for them "the kye had not come hame," and the shed was empty. They got into the farthest corner of it; for it was all open toward the river; and the rain pattered on the roof as if it would break it.

Thus driven together, was it wonderful that soon her hand was in his, and that, as they purred together, and murmured soft nothings, more than once she was surprised into returning the soft pressure which he gave it so often?

The plump declaration she had fled from, and now seemed deliciously resigned to, did not actually come. But he did what she valued more, he resumed his confidences: told her he had vices; was fond of gambling. Excused it on the score of his loss by his brother; said he hoped soon to hear good news from Canada; didn't despair; was happy now, in spite of all; had been happy ever since he had met her. What declaration was needed? The understanding was complete. Neither doubted the other's love; and Zoe would have thought herself a faithless, wicked girl, if, after this, she had gone and accepted any other man.

But presently she had a misgiving, and looked at her watch. Yes, it wanted but one hour to dinner. Now, her brother was rather a Tartar about punctuality at dinner. She felt she was already in danger of censure for her long te'te-'a-te'te with Severne, though the rain was the culprit. She could not afford to draw every eye upon her by being late for dinner along with him.

She told Severne they must go home now, rain or no rain, and she walked resolutely out into the weather.

Severne did not like it at all, but he was wise enough to deplore it only on her account; and indeed her light alpaca was soon drenched, and began to cling to her. But the spirited girl only laughed at his condolences, as she hurried on. "Why, it is only warm water," said she; "this is no more than a bath in the summer sea. Bathing is getting wet through in blue flannel. Well, I am bathing in blue alpaca."

"But it will ruin your dress."

"My dress! Why, it is as old as the hills. When I get home I'll give it to Rosa, ready washed—ha-ha!"

The rain pelted and poured, and long before they reached the inn, Zoe's dress had become an external cuticle, an alpaca skin.

But innocence is sometimes very bold. She did not care a bit; and, to tell the truth, she had little need to care. Beauty so positive as hers is indomitable. The petty accidents that are the terrors of homely charms seem to enhance Queen Beauty. Disheveled hair adorns it: close bound hair adorns it. Simplicity adorns it. Diamonds adorn it. Everything seems to adorn it, because, the truth is, it adorns everything. And so Zoe, drenched with rain, and her dress a bathing-gown, was only a Greek goddess tinted blue, her bust and shoulders and her molded figure covered, yet revealed. What was she to an artist's eye? Just the Townly Venus with her sculptor's cunning draperies, and Juno's gait.

"Et vera incessa patuit Dea."

When she got to the hotel she held up her finger to Severne with a pretty peremptoriness. She had shown him so much tenderness, she felt she had a right to order him now: "I must beg of you," said she, "to go straight to your rooms and dress very quickly, and present yourself to Harrington five minutes before dinner at least."

"I will obey," said he, obsequiously.

That pleased her, and she kissed her hand to him and scudded to her own room.

At sight of the blazing fire and provident preparations, she started, and said, aloud, "Oh, how nice of them!" and, all dripping as she was, she stood there with her young heart in a double glow.

Such a nature as hers has too little egotism and low-bred vanity to undervalue worthy love. The infinite heart of a Zoe Vizard can love but one with passion, yet ever so many more with warm and tender affection.

She gave Aunt Maitland credit for this provident affection. It was out of the sprightly Fanny's line; and she said to herself, "Dear old thing! there, I thought she was bottling up a lecture for me, and all the time her real anxiety was lest I should be wet through." Thereupon she settled in her mind to begin loving Aunt Maitland from that hour. She did not ring for her maid till she was nearly dressed, and, when Rosa came and exclaimed at the condition of her cast-off robes, she laughed and told her it was nothing—the Rhine was nice and warm—pretending she had been in it. She ordered her to dry the dress, and iron it.

"Why, la, miss; you'll never wear it again, to be sure?" said Rosa, demurely.

"I don't know," said the young lady, archly; "but I mean to take great care of it," and burst out laughing like a peal of silver bells, because she was in high spirits, and saw what Rosa would be at.

Give away the gown she had been wooed and wet through in—no, thank you! Such gowns as these be landmarks, my masters.

Vizard, unconscious of her arrival, was walking up and down the room, fidgeting more and more, when in came Zoe, dressed high in black silk and white lace, looking ever so cozy, and blooming like a rose.

"What!" said he; "in, and dressed." He took her by the shoulders and gave her a great kiss. "You young monkey!" said he, "I was afraid you were washed away."

Zoe suggested that would only have been a woman obliterated.

"That is true," said he, with an air of hearty conviction. "I forgot that."

He then inquired if she had had a nice walk.

"Oh, beautiful! Imprisoned half the time in a cow-shed, and then drenched. But I'll have a nice walk with you, dear, up and down the room."

"Come on, then."

So she put her right hand on his left shoulder, and gave him her left hand, and they walked up and down the room, Zoe beaming with happiness and affection for everybody and walking at a graceful bend.

Severne came in, dressed as perfect as though just taken out of a bandbox. He sat down at a little table, and read a little journal unobtrusively. It was his cue to divest his late te'te-'a-te'te of public importance.

Then came dinner, and two of the party absent. Vizard heard their voices going like mill-clacks at this sacred hour, and summoned them rather roughly, as stated above. His back was to Zoe, and she rubbed her hands gayly to Severne, and sent him a flying whisper: "Oh, what fun! We are the culprits, and they are the ones scolded."

Dinner waited ten minutes, and then the defaulters appeared. Nothing was said, but Vizard looked rather glum; and Aunt Maitland cast a vicious look at Severne and Zoe: they had made a forced march, and outflanked her. She sat down, and bided her time, like a fowler waiting till the ducks come within shot.

But the conversation was commonplace, inconsecutive, shifty, and vague, and it was two hours before anything came within shot: all this time not a soul suspected the ambushed fowler.

At last, Vizard, having thrown out one of his hints that the fair sex are imperfect, Fanny, being under the influence of Miss Maitland's revelations, ventured to suggest that they had no more faults than men, and certainly were not more deceitful.

"Indeed?" said Vizard. "Not—more—deceitful! Do you speak from experience?"

"Oh, no, no," said Fanny, getting rather frightened. "I only think so, somehow."

"Well, but you must have a reason. May I respectfully inquire whether more men have jilted you than you have jilted?"

'You may inquire as respectfully as you like; but I shan't tell you."

"That is right, Miss Dover," said Severne; "don't you put up with his nonsense. He knows nothing about it: women are angels, compared with men. The wonder is, how they can waste so much truth and constancy and beauty upon the foul sex. To my mind, there is only one thing we beat you in; we do stick by each other rather better than you do. You are truer to us. We are a little truer to each other."

"Not a little," suggested Vizard, dryly.

"For my part," said Zoe, blushing pink at her boldness in advancing an opinion on so large a matter, "I think these comparisons are rather narrow-minded. What have we to do with bad people, male or female? A good man is good, and a good woman is good. Still, I do think that women have greater hearts to love, and men, perhaps, greater hearts for friendship:" then, blushing roseate, "even in the short time we have been here we have seen two gentlemen give up pleasure for self-denying friendship. Lord Uxmoor gave us all up for a sick friend. Mr. Severne did more, perhaps; for he lost that divine singer. You will never hear her now, Mr. Severne."

The Maitland gun went off: "A sick friend! Mr. Severne? Ha, ha, ha! You silly girl, he has got no sick friend. He was at the gaming-table. That was his sick friend."

It was an effective discharge. It winged a duck or two. It killed, as follows: the tranquillity—the good humor—and the content of the little party.

Severne started, and stared, and lost color, and then cast at Vizard a venomous look never seen on his face before; for he naturally concluded that Vizard had betrayed him.

Zoe was amazed, looked instantly at Severne, saw it was true, and turned pale at his evident discomfiture. Her lover had been guilty of deceit—mean and rather heartless deceit.

Even Fanny winced at the pointblank denunciation of a young man, who was himself polite to everybody. She would have done it in a very different way—insinuations, innuendo, etc.

"They have found you out, old fellow," said Vizard, merrily; "but you need not look as if you had robbed a church. Hang it all! a fellow has got a right to gamble, if he chooses. Anyway, he paid for his whistle; for he lost three hundred pounds."

"Three hundred pounds!" cried the terrible old maid. "Where ever did he get them to lose?"

Severne divined that he had nothing to gain by fiction here; so he said, sullenly, "I got them from Vizard; but I gave him value for them."

"You need not publish our private transactions, Ned," said Vizard. "Miss Maitland, this is really not in your department."

"Oh, yes, it is," said she; "and so you'll find."

This pertinacity looked like defiance. Vizard rose from his chair, bowed ironically, with the air of a man not disposed for a hot argument.

"In that case—with permission—I'll withdraw to my veranda and, in that [he struck a light] peaceful—[here he took a suck] shade—"

"You will meditate on the charms of Ina Klosking."

Vizard received this poisoned arrow in the small of the back, as he was sauntering out. He turned like a shot, as if a man had struck him, and, for a single moment, he looked downright terrible and wonderfully unlike the easy-going Harrington Vizard. But he soon recovered himself. "What! you listen, do you?" said he; and turned contemptuously on his heel without another word.

There was an uneasy, chilling pause. Miss Maitland would have given something to withdraw her last shot. Fanny was very uncomfortable and fixed her eyes on the table. Zoe, deeply shocked at Severne's deceit, was now amazed and puzzled about her brother. "Ina Klosking!" inquired she; "who is that?"

"Ask Mr. Severne," said Miss Maitland, sturdily.

Now Mr. Severne was sitting silent, but with restless eyes, meditating how he should get over that figment of his about the sick friend.

Zoe turned round on him, fixed her glorious eyes full upon his face, and said, rather imperiously, "Mr. Severne, who is Ina Klosking?"

Mr. Severne looked up blankly in her face, and said nothing.

She colored at not being answered, and repeated her question (all this time Fanny's eyes were fixed on the young man even more keenly than Zoe's), "Who—and what—is Ina Klosking?"

"She is a public singer."

"Do you know her?"

"Yes; I heard her sing at Vienna."

"Yes, yes; but do you know her to speak to?"

He considered half a moment, and then said he had not that honor. "But," said he, rather hurriedly, "somebody or other told me she had come out at the opera here and made a hit."

"What in—Siebel?"

"I don't know. But I saw large bills out with her name. She made her de'but in Gounod's 'Faust.'"

"It is my Siebel!" cried Zoe, rapturously. "Why, aunt, no wonder Harrington admires her. For my part, I adore her."

"You, child! That is quite a different matter."

"No, it is not. He is like me; he has only seen her once, as I have, and on the stage."

"Fiddle-dee-dee. I tell you he is in love with her, over head and ears. He is wonderfully inflammable for a woman-hater. Ask Mr. Severne: he knows."

"Mr. Severne, is my brother in love with that lady?"

Severne's turn had come; that able young man saw his chance, and did as good a bit of acting as ever was extemporized even by an Italian mime.

"Miss Vizard," said he, fixing his hazel eyes on her for the first time, in a way that made her feel his power, "what passed in confidence between two friends ought to be sacred. Don't—you—think so?" (The girl quivered, remembering the secret he had confessed to her.) "Miss Maitland has done your brother and me the honor to listen to our secrets. She shall repeat them, if she thinks it delicate; but I shall not, without Vizard's consent; and, more than that, the conversation seems to me to be taking the turn of casting blame and ridicule and I don't know what on the best-hearted, kindest-hearted, truest-hearted, noblest, and manliest man I know. I decline to take any further share in it."

With these last words in his mouth, he stuck his hands defiantly into his pockets and stalked out into the veranda, looking every inch a man.

Zoe folded her arms and gazed after him with undisguised admiration. How well everything he did became him; his firing up—his brusquerie—the very movements of his body, all so piquant, charming, and unwomanly! As he vanished from her admiring eyes, she turned, with flaming cheeks, on Miss Maitland, and said, "Well, aunt, you have driven them both out at the window; now, say something pretty to Fanny and me, and drive us out at the door."

Miss Maitland hung her head; she saw she had them all against her but Fanny, and Fanny was a trimmer. She said, sorrowfully, "No, Zoe. I feel how unattractive I have made the room. I have driven away the gods of your idolatry—they are only idols of clay; but that you can't believe. I will banish nobody else, except a cross-grained, but respectable old woman, who is too experienced, and too much soured by it, to please young people when things are going wrong."

With this she took her bed-candle, and retired.

Zoe had an inward struggle. As Miss Maitland opened her bedroom door, she called to her: "Aunt! one word. Was it you that ordered the fire in my bedroom?"

Now, if she had received the answer she expected, she meant to say, "Then please let me forget everything else you have said or done to-day." But Miss Maitland stared a little, and said, "Fire in your bedroom? no."

"Oh! Then I have nothing to thank you for this day," said Zoe, with all the hardness of youth; though, as a general rule, she had not her share of it.

The old lady winced visibly, but she made a creditable answer. "Then, my dear, you shall have my prayers this night; and it does not matter much whether you thank me for them or not."

As she disappeared, Zoe flung herself wearily on a couch, and very soon began to cry. Fanny ran to her and nestled close to her, and the two had a rock together, Zoe crying, and Fanny coaxing and comforting.

"Ah!" sighed Zoe, "this was the happiest day of my life; and see how it ends. Quarreling; and deceit! the one I hate, the other I despise. No, never again, until I have said my prayers, and am just going to sleep, will I cry 'O giorno felice!' as I did this afternoon, when the rain was pouring on me, but my heart was all in a glow."

These pretty little lamentations of youth were interrupted by Mr. Severne slipping away from his friend, to try and recover lost ground.

He was coolly received by Zoe; then he looked dismayed, but affected not to understand; then Zoe pinched Fanny, which meant "I don't choose to put him on his defense; but I am dying to hear if he has anything to say." Thereupon Fanny obeyed that significant pinch, and said, "Mr. Severne, my cousin is not a woman of the world; she is a country girl, with old-fashioned romantic notions that a man should be above telling fibs. I have known her longer than you, and I see she can't understand your passing off the gambling-table for a sick friend."

"Why, I never did," said he, as bold as brass.

"Mr. Severne!"

"Miss Dover, my sick friend was at 'The Golden Star.' That's a small hotel in a different direction from the Kursaal. I was there from seven o'clock till nine. You ask the waiter, if you don't believe me."

Fanny giggled at this inadvertent speech; but Zoe's feelings were too deeply engaged to shoot fun flying. "Fanny" cried she, eagerly, "I heard him tell the coachman to drive him to that very place, 'The Golden Star.'"

"Really?" said Fanny, mystified.

"Indeed I did, dear. I remember 'The Golden Star' distinctly.

"Ladies, I was there till nine o'clock. Then I started for the theater. Unfortunately the theater is attached to the Kursaal. I thought I would just look in for a few minutes. In fact, I don't think I was there half an hour. But Miss Maitland is quite right in one thing. I lost more than two hundred pounds, all through playing on a false system. Of course, I know I had no business to go there at all, when I might have been by your side."

"And heard La Klosking."

"It was devilish bad taste, and you may well be surprised and offended."

"No, no; not at that," said Zoe.

"But hang it all, don't make a fellow worse than he is! Why should I invent a sick friend? I suppose I have a right to go to the Kursaal if I choose. At any rate, I mean to go to-morrow afternoon, and win a pot of money. Hinder me who can."

Zoe beamed with pleasure. "That spiteful old woman! I am ashamed of myself. Of course you have. It becomes a man to say je veux; and it becomes a woman to yield. Forgive our unworthy doubts. We will all go to the Kursaal to-morrow."



The reconciliation was complete; and, to add to Zoe's happiness, she made a little discovery. Rosa came in to see if she wanted anything. That, you must know, was Rosa's way of saying, "It is very late. I'm tired; so the sooner you go to bed, the better." And Zoe was by nature so considerate that she often went to bed more for Rosa's convenience than her own inclination.

But this time she said, sharply, "Yes, I do. I want to know who had my fire lighted for me in the middle of summer."

"Why, squire, to be sure," said Rosa.

"What—my brother!"

"Yes, miss; and seen to it all hisself: leastways, I found the things properly muddled. 'Twas to be seen a man had been at 'em."

Rosa retired, leaving Zoe's face a picture.

Just then Vizard put his head cautiously in at the window, and said, in a comic whisper, "Is she gone?"

"Yes, she is gone," cried Zoe, "and you are wanted in her place." She ran to meet him. "Who ordered a fire in my room, and muddled all my things?" said she, severely.

"I did. What of that?"

"Oh, nothing. Only now I know who is my friend. Young people, here's a lesson for you. When a lady is out in the rain, don't prepare a lecture for her, like Aunt Maitland, but light her fire, like this dear old duck of a woman-hating impostor. Kiss me!" (violently).

"There—pest!"

"That is not enough, nor half. There, and there, and there, and there, and there, and there."

"Now look here, my young friend, " said Vizard, holding her lovely head by both ears, "you are exciting yourself about nothing, and that will end in one of your headaches. So, just take your candle, and go to bed, like a good little girl."

"Must I? Well, then, I will. Goodby, tyrant dear. Oh, how I love you! Come, Fanny."

She gave her hand shyly to Severne, and soon they were both in Zoe's room.

Rosa was dismissed, and they had their chat; but it was nearly all on one side. Fanny had plenty to say, but did not say it. She had not the heart to cloud that beaming face again so soon; she temporized: Zoe pressed her with questions too; but she slurred things, Zoe asked her why Miss Maitland was so bitter against Mr. Severne. Fanny said, in an off-hand way, "Oh, it is only on your account she objects to him."

"And what are her objections?"

"Oh, only grammatical ones, dear. She says his antecedents are obscure, and his relatives unknown, ha! ha! ha!" Fanny laughed, but Zoe did not see the fun. Then Fanny stroked her down.

"Never mind that old woman. I shall interfere properly, if I see you in danger. It was monstrous her making an esclandre at the very dinner-table, and spoiling your happy day."

"But she hasn't!" cried Zoe, eagerly. "'All's well that ends well.' I am happy—oh, so happy! You love me. Harrington loves me. He loves me. What more can any woman ask for than to be ambata bene?"

This was the last word between Zoe and Fanny upon St. Brooch's day.

As Fanny went to her own room, the vigilant Maitland opened her door that looked upon the corridor and beckoned her in. "Well," said she, "did you speak to Zoe?"

"Just a word before dinner. Aunt, she came in wet, to the skin, and in higher spirits than Rosa ever knew her."

Aunt groaned.

"And what do you think? Her spoiled dress, she ordered it to be ironed and put by. It is a case."



Next day they all met at a late breakfast, and good humor was the order of the day. This encouraged Zoe to throw out a feeler about the gambling-tables. Then Fanny said it must be nice to gamble, because it was so naughty. "In a long experience," said Miss Dover, with a sigh, "I have found that whatever is nice is naughty, and whatever is naughty is nice."

"There's a short code of morals," observed Vizard, "for the use of seminaries. Now let us hear Severne; he knows all the defenses of gambling lunacy has discovered."

Severne, thus appealed to, said play was like other things, bad only when carried to excess. "At Homburg, where the play is fair, what harm can there be in devoting two or three hours of a long day to trente et quarante? The play exercises memory, judgment, sangfroid, and other good qualities of the mind. Above all, it is on the square. Now, buying and selling shares without delivery, bulling, and bearing, and rigging, and Stock Exchange speculations in general, are just as much gambling; but with cards all marked, and dice loaded, and the fair player has no chance. The world," said this youthful philosopher, "is taken in by words. The truth is, that gambling with cards is fair, and gambling without cards a swindle."

"He is hard upon the City," said the Vizard; "but no matter. Proceed, young man. Develop your code of morals for the amusement of mankind, while duller spirits inflict instruction."

"You have got my opinion," said Severne. "Oblige us with yours."

"No; mine would not be popular just now: I reserve it till we are there, and can see the lunatics at work."

"Oh, then we are to go," cried Fanny. "Oh, be joyful!"

"That depends on Miss Maitland. It is not in my department."

Instantly four bright eyes were turned piteously on the awful Maitland.

"Oh, aunt," said Zoe, pleadingly, "do you think there would be any great harm in our—just for once in a way?"

"My dear," said Miss Maitland, solemnly, "I cannot say that I approve of public gambling in general. But at Homburg the company is select. I have seen a German prince, a Russian prince, and two English countesses, the very e'lite of London society, seated at the same table in the Kursaal. I think, therefore, there can be no harm in your going, under the conduct of older persons—myself, for example, and your brother."

"Code three," suggested Vizard—"the chaperonian code."

"And a very good one, too," said Zoe. "But, aunt, must we look on, or may we play just a little, little?"

"My dear, there can be no great harm in playing a little, in good company—if you play with your own money." She must have one dig at Severne.

"I shan't play very deep, then," said Fanny; "for I have got no money hardly."

Vizard came to the front, like a man. "No more should I," said he, "but for Herries & Co. As it is, I am a Croesus, and I shall stand one hundred pounds, which you three ladies must divide; and between you, no doubt, you will break the bank."

Acclamations greeted this piece of misogyny. When they had subsided, Severne was called on to explain the game, and show the young ladies how to win a fortune with thirty-three pounds six shillings and eight pence.

The table was partly cleared, two packs of cards sent for, and the professor lectured.

"This," said he, "is the cream of the game. Six packs are properly shuffled, and properly cut; the players put their money on black or red, which is the main event, and is settled thus: The dealer deals the cards in two rows. He deals the first row for black, and stops the moment the cards pass thirty. That deal determines how near noir can get to thirty-one."

Severne then dealt for noir, and the cards came as follows:

Queen of hearts—four of clubs—ten of spades—nine of diamonds: total, thirty-three."

He then dealt for red:

Knave of clubs—ace of diamonds—two of spades—king of spades—nine of hearts: total, thirty-two.

"Red wins, because the cards dealt for red come nearer thirty-one. Besides that," said he, "you can bet on the color, or against it. The actual color of the first card the player turns up on the black line must be black or red. Whichever happens to be it is called 'the color.' Say it is red; then, if the black line of cards wins, color loses. Now, I will deal again for both events.

"I deal for noir."

"Nine of diamonds. Red, then, is the actual color turned up on the black line. Do you bet for it, or against it?"

"I bet for it," cried Zoe. "It's my favorite color."

"And what do you say on the main event?"

"Oh, red on that too."

"Very good. I go on dealing for noir. Queen of diamonds, three of spades, knave of hearts—nine of spades: thirty-two. That looks ugly for your two events, black coming so near as thirty-two. Now for red. Four of hearts, knave of spades, seven of diamonds, queen of clubs—thirty-one, by Jove! Rouge gagne, et couleur. There is nothing like courage. You have won both events."

"Oh, what a nice game!" cried Zoe.

He then continued to deal, and they all bet on the main event and the color, staking fabulous sums, till at last both numbers came up thirty-one.

Thereupon Severne informed them that half the stakes belonged to him. That was the trifling advantage accorded to the bank.

"Which trifling advantage," said Vizard, "has enriched the man-eating company, and their prince, and built the Kursaal, and will clean you all out, if you play long enough."

"That," said Severne, "I deny. It is more than balanced by the right the players have of doubling, till they gain, and by the maturity of the chances: I will explain this to the ladies. You see experience proves that neither red nor black can come up more than nine times running. When, therefore, either color has come up four times, you can put a moderate stake on the other color, and double on it till it must come, by the laws of nature. Say red has turned four times. You put a napoleon on black; red gains. You lose a napoleon. You don't remove it, but double on it. The chances are now five to one you gain: but if you lose, you double on the same, and, when you have got to sixteen napoleons, the color must change; uniformity has reached its physical limit. That is called the maturity of the chances. Begin as unluckily as possible with five francs, and lose. If you have to double eight times before you win, it only comes to twelve hundred and eighty francs. Given, therefore, a man to whom fifty napoleons are no more than five francs to us, he can never lose if he doubles, like a Trojan, till the chances are mature. This is called 'the Martingale:' but, observe, it only secures against loss. Heavy gains are made by doubling judiciously on the winning color, or by simply betting on short runs of it. When red comes up, back red, and double twice on it. Thus you profit by the remarkable and observed fact that colors do not, as a rule, alternate, but reach ultimate equality by avoiding alternation, and making short runs, with occasional long runs; the latter are rare, and must be watched with a view to the balancing run of the other color. This is my system."

"And you really think you have invented it?" asked Vizard.

"I am not so conceited. My system was communicated to me, in the Kursaal itself—by an old gentleman."

"An old gentleman, or the—?"

"Oh, Harrington," cried Zoe, "fie!"

"My wit is appreciated at its value. Proceed, Ned."

Severne told him, a little defiantly, it was an old gentleman, with a noble head, a silvery beard, and the most benevolent countenance he ever saw.

"Curious place for his reverence to be in," hazarded Vizard.

"He saw me betting, first on the black, then on the red, till I was cleaned out, and then he beckoned me."

"Not a man of premature advice anyway."

"He told me he had observed my play. I had been relying on the alternations of the colors, which alternation chance persistently avoids, and arrives at equality by runs. He then gave me a better system."

"And, having expounded his system, he illustrated it? Tell the truth now; he sat down and lost the coat off his back? It followed his family acres."

"You are quite wrong again. He never plays. He has heart-disease, and his physician has forbidden him all excitement."

"His nation?"

"Humph! French."

"Ah! the nation that produced 'Le philosophe sans le savoir.' And now it has added, 'Le philosophe sans le vouloir,' and you have stumbled on him. What a life for an aged man! Fortunatus ille senex qui ludicola vivit. Tantalus handcuffed and glowering over a gambling-table; a hell in a hell."

"Oh, Harrington!—"

"Exclamations not allowed in sober argument, Zoe."

"Come, Ned, it is not heart-disease, it is purse disease. Just do me a favor. Here are five sovereigns; give those to the old beggar, and let him risk them."

"I could hardly take such a liberty with an old gentleman of his age and appearance—a man of honor too, and high sentiments. Why, I'd bet seven to four he is one of Napoleon's old soldiers."

The ladies sided unanimously with Severne. "What! offer a vieux de l'Empire five pounds? Oh, fie!"

"Fiddle-dee-dee!" said the indomitable Vizard. "Besides, he will do it with his usual grace. He will approach the son of Mars with that feigned humility which sits so well on youth, and ask him, as a personal favor, to invest five pounds for him at rouge-et-noir. The old soldier will stiffen into double dignity at first, then give him a low wink, and end by sitting down and gambling. He will be cautious at starting, as one who opens trenches for the siege of Mammon; but soon the veteran will get heated, and give battle; he will fancy himself at Jena, since the croupiers are Prussians. If he loses, you cut him dead, being a humdrum Englishman; and if he wins, he cuts you, and pockets the cash, being a Frenchman that talks sentiment."

This sally provoked a laugh, in which Severne joined, and said, "Really, for a landed proprietor, you know a thing or two." He consented at last, with some reluctance, to take the money; and none of the persons present doubted that he would execute the commission with a grace and delicacy all his own. Nevertheless, to run forward a little with the narrative, I must tell you that he never did hand that five pound to the venerable sire; a little thing prevented him—the old man wasn't born yet.

"And now," said Vizard, "it is our last day in Homburg. You are all going to gratify your mania—lunacy is contagious. Suppose I gratify mine."

"Do dear," said Zoe; "and what is it?"

"I like your asking that; when it was publicly announced last night, and I fled discomfited to my balcony, and, in my confusion, lighted a cigar. My mania is—the Klosking."

"That is not a mania; it is good taste. She is admirable."

"Yes, in an opera; but I want to know how she looks and talks in a room; and that is insane of me."

"Then so you shall, insane or not. I will call on her this morning, and take you in my hand."

"What an ample palm! and what juvenile audacity! Zoe, you take my breath away."

"No audacity at all. I am sure of my welcome. How often must I tell you that we have mesmerized each other, that lady and I, and only waiting an opportunity to rush into each other's arms. It began with her singling me out at the opera. But I dare say that was owing, at first, only to my being in full dress.

"No, no; to your being, like Agamemnon, a head taller than all the other Greeks."

"Harrington! I am not a Greek. I am a thorough English girl at heart, though I am as black as a coal."

"No apology needed in our present frame. You are all the more like the ace of spades."

"Do you want me to take you to the Klosking, sir? Then you had better not make fun of me. I tell you she sung to me, and smiled on me, and courtesied to me; and, now you have put it into my head, I mean to call upon her, and I will take you with me. What I shall do, I shall send in my card. I shall be admitted, and you will wait outside. As soon as she sees me, she will run to me with both hands out, and say, in excellent French, I hope, 'How, mademoiselle! you have deigned to remember me, and to honor me with a visit.' Then I shall say, in school-French, 'Yes, madame; excuse the intrusion, but I was so charmed with your performance. We leave Homburg to-morrow, and as, unfortunately for myself, I cannot have the pleasure of seeing you again upon the stage—' then I shall stop, for her to interrupt me. Then she will interrupt me, and say charming things, as only foreigners can; and then I shall say, still in school-French, 'Madame, I am not alone. I have my brother with me. He adores music, and was as fascinated with your Siebel as myself. May I present him?' Then she will say, 'Oh, yes, by all means;' and I shall introduce you. Then you can make love to her. That will be droll. Fanny, I'll tell you every word he says."

"Make love to her!" cried Vizard. "Is this your estimate of a brother's motives. My object in visiting this lady is, not to feed my mania, but to cure it. I have seen her on the stage, looking like the incarnation of a poet's dream. I am extasie' with her. Now let me catch her en de'shabille, with her porter on one side, and her lover on the other: and so to Devonshire, relieved of a fatal illusion."

"If that is your view, I'll go by myself; for I know she is a noble woman, and as much a lady off the stage as on it. My only fear is she will talk that dreadful guttural German, with its 'oches' and its 'aches,' and then where shall we all be? We must ask Mr. Severne to go with us."

"A good idea. No—a vile one. He is abominably handsome, and has the gift of the gab—in German, and other languages. He is sure to cut me out, the villain! Look him up, somebody, till we come back."

"Now, Harrington, don't be absurd. He must, and shall, be of the party. I have my reasons. Mr. Severne," said she, turning on him with a blush and a divine smile, "you will oblige me, I am sure."

Severne's face turned as blank as a doll's, and he said nothing, one way or other.



It was settled that they should all meet at the Kursaal at four, to dine and play. But Zoe and her party would go on ahead by the one-o'clock train; and so she retired to put on her bonnet—a technical expression, which implies a good deal.

Fanny went with her, and, as events more exciting than the usual routine of their young lives were ahead, their tongues went a rare pace. But the only thing worth presenting to the reader came at the end, after the said business of the toilet had been dispatched.

Zoe said, "I must go now, or I shall keep them waiting."

"Only one, dear," said Fanny dryly.

"Why only one?"

"Mr. Severne will not go."

"That he will: I made a point of it."

"You did, dear? but still he will not go."

There was something in this, and in Fanny's tone, that startled Zoe, and puzzled her sorely. She turned round upon her with flashing eye, and said, "No mysteries, please, dear. Why won't he go with me wherever I ask him to go? or, rather, what makes you think he won't?"

Said Fanny, thoughtfully: "I could not tell you, all in a moment, why I feel so positive. One puts little things together that are nothing apart: one observes faces; I do, at least. You don't seem, to me, to be so quick at that as most girls. But, Zoe dear, you know very well one often knows a thing for certain, yet one doesn't know exactly what makes one know it."

Now Zoe's amour propre was wounded by Fanny's suggestion that Severne would not go to Homburg, or, indeed, to the world's end with her; so she drew herself up in her grand way, and folded her arms and said, a little haughtily, "Then tell me what is it you know about him and me, without knowing how on earth you know it."

The supercilious tone and grand manner nettled Fanny, and it wasn't "brooch day;" she stood up to her lofty cousin like a little game-cock. "I know this," said she, with heightened cheek, and flashing eyes and a voice of steel, "you will never get Mr. Edward Severne into one room with Zoe Vizard and Ina Klosking."



Zoe Vizard turned very pale, but her eyes flashed defiance on her friend.

"That I'll know!" said she, in a deep voice, with a little gasp, but a world of pride and resolution.



CHAPTER VII.

THE ladies went down together, and found Vizard ready. Mr. Severne was not in the room. Zoe inquired after him.

"Gone to get a sun-shade," said Vizard.

"There!" said Zoe to Fanny, in a triumphant whisper. "What is that for but to go with us?"

Fanny made no reply.

They waited some time for Severne and his sun-shade.

At last Vizard looked at his watch, and said they had only five minutes to spare. "Come down, and look after him. He must be somewhere about."

They went down and looked for him all over the Platz. He was not to be seen. At last Vizard took out his watch, and said, "It is some misunderstanding: we can't wait any longer."

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