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The Woman-Hater
by Charles Reade
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So he and Zoe went to the train. Neither said much on the way to Homburg; for they were both brooding. Vizard's good sense and right feeling were beginning to sting him a little for calling on the Klosking at all, and a great deal for using the enthusiasm of an inexperienced girl to obtain an introduction to a public singer. He sat moody in his corner, taking himself to task. Zoe's thoughts ran in quite another channel; but she was no easier in her mind. It really seemed as if Severne had given her the slip. Probably he would explain his conduct; but, then, that Fanny should foretell he would avoid her company, rather than call on Mademoiselle Klosking, and that Fanny should be right—this made the thing serious, and galled Zoe to the quick: she was angry with Fanny for prophesying truly; she was rather angry with Severne for not coming, and more angry with him for making good Fanny's prediction.

Zoe Vizard was a good girl and a generous girl, but she was not a humble girl: she had a great deal of pride, and her share of vanity, and here both were galled. Besides that, it seemed to her most strange and disheartening that Fanny, who did not love Severne, should be able to foretell his conduct better than she, who did love him: such foresight looked like greater insight. All this humiliated and also puzzled her strangely; and so she sat brooding as deeply as her brother.

As for Vizard, by the time they got to Homburg he had made up his mind. As they got out of the train, he said, "Look here, I am ashamed of myself. I have a right to play the fool alone; but I have no business to drag my sister into it. We will go somewhere else. There are lots of things to see. I give up the Klosking."

Zoe stared at him a moment, and then answered, with cold decision, "No, dear; you must allow me to call on her, now I am here. She won't bite me."

"Well, but it is a strange thing to do."

"What does that matter? We are abroad."

"Come, Zoe, I am much obliged to you; but give it up."

"No, dear."

Harrington smiled at her pretty peremptoriness, and misunderstood it. "This is carrying sisterly love a long way," said he. "I must try and rise to your level. I won't go with you."

"Then I shall go alone."

"What if I forbid you, miss?"

She tapped him on the cheek with her fingers. "Don't affect the tyrant, dear; you can't manage it. Fanny said something that has mortified me. I shall go. You can do as you like. But, stop; where does she live?"

"Suppose I decline to tell you? I am seized with a virtuous fit—a regular paroxysm."

"Then I shall go to the opera and inquire, dear. But" (coaxingly) "you will tell me, dear."

"There," said Harrington, "you wicked, tempting girl, my sham virtue has oozed away, and my real mania triumphs. She lives at 'The Golden Star.' I was weak enough to send Harris in last night to learn." Zoe smiled.

He hailed a conveyance; and they started at once for "The Golden Star."

"Zoe," said Harrington gravely, "something tells me I am going to meet my fate."

"All the better," said Zoe. "I wish you to meet your fate. My love for my brother is not selfish. I am sure she is a good woman. Perhaps I may find out something."

"About what?"

"Oh, never mind."



CHAPTER VIII.

ALL this time Ina Klosking was rehearsing at the theater, quite unconscious of the impending visit. A royal personage had commanded "Il Barbiere," the part of Rosina to be restored to the original key. It was written for a contralto, but transposed by the influence of Grisi.

Having no performance that night, they began to rehearse rather later than usual, and did not leave off till a quarter to four o'clock. Ina, who suffered a good deal at rehearsals from the inaccuracy and apathy of the people, went home fagged, and with her throat parched—so does a bad rehearsal affect all good and earnest artists.

She ordered a cutlet, with potato chips, and lay down on the sofa. While she was reposing, came Joseph Ashmead, to cheer her, with good photographs of her, taken the day before. She smiled gratefully at his zeal. He also reminded her that he had orders to take her to the Kursaal: he said the tables would be well filled from five o'clock till quite late, there being no other entertainment on foot that evening.

Ina thanked him, and said she would not miss going on any account; but she was rather fatigued and faint.

"Oh, I'll wait for you as long as you like," said Ashmead, kindly.

"No, my good comrade," said Ina. "I will ask you to go to the manager and get me a little money, and then to the Kursaal and secure me a place at the table in the largest room. There I will join you. If he is not there—and I am not so mad as to think he will be there—I shall risk a few pieces myself, to be nearer him in mind."

This amazed Ashmead; it was so unlike her. "You are joking," said he. "Why, if you lose five napoleons at play, it will be your death; you will grizzle so."

"Yes; but I shall not lose. I am too unlucky in love to lose at cards. I mean to play this afternoon; and never again in all my life. Sir, I am resolved."

"Oh, if you are resolved, there is no more to be said. I won't run my head against a brick wall."

Ina, being half a foreigner, thought this rather brusk. She looked at him askant, and said, quietly, "Others, besides me, can be stubborn, and get their own way, while speaking the language of submission. Not I invented volition."

With this flea in his ear, the faithful Joseph went off, chuckling, and obtained an advance from the manager, and then proceeded to the principal gaming-table, and, after waiting some time, secured a chair, which he kept for his chief.

An hour went by; an hour and a half. He was obliged, for very shame, to bet. This he did, five francs at a time; and his risk was so small, and his luck so even, that by degrees he was drawn into conversation with his neighbor, a young swell, who was watching the run of the colors, and betting in silver, and pricking a card, preparatory to going in for a great coup. Meantime he favored Mr. Ashmead with his theory of chances, and Ashmead listened very politely to every word; because he was rather proud of the other's notice: he was so handsome, well dressed, and well spoken.

Meantime Ina Klosking snatched a few minutes' sleep, as most artists can in the afternoon, and was awakened by the servant bringing in her frugal repast, a cutlet and a pint of Bordeaux.

On her plate he brought her a large card, on which was printed "Miss Zoe Vizard." This led to inquiries, and he told her a lady of superlative beauty had called and left that card. Ina asked for a description.

"Ah, madame," said Karl, "do not expect details from me. I was too dazzled, and struck by lightning, to make an inventory of her charms."

"At least you can tell me was she dark or fair."

"Madame, she was dark as night; but glorious as the sun. Her earthly abode is the Russie, at Frankfort; blest hotel!"

"Did she tell you so?"

"Indirectly. She wrote on the card with the smallest pencil I have hitherto witnessed: the letters are faint, the pencil being inferior to the case, which was golden. Nevertheless, as one is naturally curious to learn whence a bright vision has emerged, I permitted myself to decipher."

"Your curiosity was natural," said Ina, dryly. "I will detain you with no more questions."

She put the card carefully away, and eat her modest repast. Then she made her afternoon toilet, and walked, slowly and pensively, to the Kursaal.

Nothing there was new to her, except to be going to the table without the man on whom it was her misfortune to have wasted her heart of gold.

I think, therefore, it would be better for me to enter the place in company with our novices; and, indeed, we must, or we shall derange the true order of time and sequence of incidents; for, please observe, all the English ladies of our story met at the Kursaal while Ina was reposing on her sofa.

The first-comers were Zoe and Harrington. They entered the noble hall, inscribed their names, and, by that simple ceremony, were members of a club, compared with which the greatest clubs in London are petty things: a club with spacious dining-rooms, ball-rooms, concert-rooms, gambling-rooms, theater, and delicious gardens. The building, that combined so many rich treats, was colossal in size, and glorious with rich colors and gold laid on with Oriental profusion, and sometimes with Oriental taste.

Harrington took his sister through the drawing-rooms first; and she admired the unusual loftiness of the rooms, the blaze of white and gold, and of ce'ladon and gold, and the great Russian lusters, and the mighty mirrors. But when they got to the dining-room she was enchanted. That lofty and magnificent salon, with its daring mixture of red and black, and green and blue, all melted into harmony by the rivers of gold that ran boldly among them, went to her very heart. A Greek is half an Oriental; and Zoe had what may be called the courage of color. "Glorious!" she cried, and clasped her hands. "And see! what a background to the emerald grass outside and the ruby flowers. They seem to come into the room through those monster windows."

"Splendid!" said Harrington, to whom all this was literally Greek. "I'm so excited, I'll order dinner."

"Dinner!" said Zoe, disdainfully; and sat down and eyed the Moresque walls around her, and the beauties of nature outside, and brought them together in one picture.

Harrington was a long time in conclave with M. Chevet. Then Zoe became impatient.

"Oh, do leave off ordering dinner," said she, "and take me out to that other paradise."

The Chevet shrugged his shoulders with pity. Vizard shrugged his too, to soothe him; and, after a few more hurried words, took the lover of color into the garden. It was delicious, with green slopes, and rich foliage, and flowers, and enlivened by bright silk dresses, sparkling fitfully among the green leaves, or flaming out boldly in the sun; and, as luck would have it, before Zoe had taken ten steps upon the greensward, the band of fifty musicians struck up, and played as fifty men rarely play together out of Germany.

Zoe was enchanted. She walked on air, and beamed as bright as any flower in the place.

After her first ejaculation at the sudden music, she did not speak for a good while; her content was so great. At last she said, "And do they leave this paradise to gamble in a room?"

"Leave it? They shun it. The gamblers despise the flowers."

"How perverse people are! Excitement! Who wants any more than this?"

"Zoe," said Vizard, "innocent excitement can never compete with vicious."

"What, is it really wicked to play?"

"I don't know about wicked; you girls always run to the biggest word. But, if avarice is a vice, gambling cannot be virtuous; for the root of gambling is mere avarice, weak avarice. Come, my young friend, as we're quite alone, I'll drop Thersites, and talk sense to you, for once. Child, there are two roads to wealth; one is by the way of industry, skill, vigilance, and self-denial; and these are virtues, though sometimes they go with tricks of trade, hardness of heart, and taking advantage of misfortune, to buy cheap and sell dear. The other road to wealth is by bold speculation, with risk of proportionate loss; in short, by gambling with cards, or without them. Now, look into the mind of the gambler—he wants to make money, contrary to nature, and unjustly. He wants to be rewarded without merit, to make a fortune in a moment, and without industry, vigilance, true skill, or self-denial. 'A penny saved is a penny gained' does not enter his creed. Strip the thing of its disguise, it is avarice, sordid avarice; and I call it weak avarice, because the gambler relies on chance alone, yet accepts uneven chances, and hopes that Fortune will be as much in love with him as he is with himself. What silly egotism! You admire the Kursaal, and you are right; then do just ask yourself why is there nothing to pay for so many expensive enjoyments: and very little to pay for concerts and balls; low prices at the opera, which never pays its own expenses; even Chevet's dinners are reasonable, if you avoid his sham Johannisberg. All these cheap delights, the gold, the colors, the garden, the music, the lights, are paid for by the losses of feeble-minded Avarice. But, there—I said all this to Ned Severne, and I might as well have preached sense to the wind."

"Harrington, I will not play. I am much happier walking with my good brother—"

"Faute de mieux."

Zoe blushed, but would not hear—"And it is so good of you to make a friend of me, and talk sense. Oh! see—a lady with two blues! Come and look at her."

Before they had taken five steps, Zoe stopped short and said, "It is Fanny Dover, I declare. She has not seen us yet. She is short-sighted. Come here." And the impetuous maid dragged him off behind a tuft of foliage.

When she had got him there she said hotly that it was too bad.

"Oh, is it?" said he, very calmly. "What?"

"Why, don't you see what she has done? You, so sensible, to be so slow about women's ways; and you are always pretending to know them. Why, she has gone and bought that costume with the money you gave her to play with."

"Sensible girl!"

"Dishonest girl, I call her."

"There you go to your big words. No, no. A little money was given her for a bad purpose. She has used it for a frivolous one. That is 'a step in the right direction'—jargon of the day."

"But to receive money for one purpose, and apply it to another, is—what do you call it—chose?—de'tournement des fonds—what is the English word? I've been abroad till I've forgotten English. Oh, I know—embezzlement."

"Well, that is a big word for a small transaction; you have not dug in the mine of the vernacular for nothing."

"Harrington, if you don't mind, I do; so please come. I'll talk to her."

"Stop a moment," said Vizard, very gravely. "You will not say one word to her."

"And why not, pray?"

"Because it would be unworthy of us, and cruel to her; barbarously cruel. What! call her to account before that old woman and me?"

"Why not? She is flaunting her blues before you two, and plenty more."

"Feminine logic, Zoe. The point is this—she is poor. You must know that. This comes of poverty and love of dress; not of dishonesty and love of dress; and just ask yourself, is there a creature that ought to be pitied more and handled more delicately than a poor lady? Why, you would make her writhe with shame and distress! Well, I do think there is not a single wild animal so cruel to another wild animal as a woman is to a woman. You are cruel to one another by instinct. But I appeal to your reason—if you have any."

Zoe's eyes filled. "You are right," said she, humbly. "Thank you for thinking for me. I will not say a word to her before you."

"That is a good girl. But, come now, why say a word at all?"

"Oh, it is no use your demanding impossibilities, dear. I could no more help speaking to her than I could fly; and don't go fancying she will care a pin what I say, if I don't say it before a gentleman."

Having given him this piece of information, she left her ambush, and proceeded to meet the all-unconscious blue girl; but, even as they went, Vizard returned to his normal condition, and doled out, rather indolently, that they were out on pleasure, and might possibly miss the object of the excursion if they were to encourage a habit of getting into rages about nothing.

Zoe was better than her word. She met Fanny with open admiration: to be sure, she knew that apathy, or even tranquillity, on first meeting the blues, would be instantly set down to envy.

"And where did you get it, dear?"

"At quite a small shop."

"French?"

"Oh, no; I think she was an Austrian. This is not a French mixture: loud, discordant colors, that is the French taste."

"Here is heresy," said Vizard. "Why, I thought the French beat the world in dress."

"Yes, dear," said Zoe, "in form and pattern. But Fanny is right; they make mistakes in color. They are terribly afraid of scarlet; but they are afraid of nothing else: and many of their mixtures are as discordant to the eye as Wagner's music to the ear. Now, after all, scarlet is the king of colors; and there is no harm in King Scarlet, if you treat him with respect and put a modest subject next to him."

"Gypsy locks, for instance," suggested Fanny, slyly.

Miss Maitland owned herself puzzled. "In my day," said she, "no one ever thought of putting blue upon blue; but really, somehow, it looks well."

"May I tell you why, aunt?—because the dress-maker had a real eye, and has chosen the right tints of blue. It is all nonsense about one color not going with another. Nature defies that; and how? by choosing the very tints of each color that will go together. The sweetest room I ever saw was painted by a great artist; and, do you know, he had colored the ceiling blue and the walls green: and I assure you the effect was heavenly: but, then, he had chosen the exact tints of green and blue that would go together. The draperies were between crimson and maroon. But there's another thing in Fanny's dress; it is velvet. Now, blue velvet is blue to the mind; but it is not blue to the eye. You try and paint blue velvet; you will be surprised how much white you must lay on. The high lights of all velvets are white. This white helps to blend the two tints of blue."

"This is very instructive," said Vizard. "I was not aware I had a sister, youthful, but profound. Let us go in and dine."

Fanny demurred. She said she believed Miss Maitland wished to take one turn round the grounds first.

Miss Maitland stared, but assented in a mechanical way; and they commenced their promenade.

Zoe hung back and beckoned her brother. "Miss Maitland!" said she, with such an air. "She wants to show her blues to all the world and his wife."

"Very natural," said Vizard. "So would you, if you were in a scarlet gown, with a crimson cloak."

Zoe laughed heartily at this, and forgave Fanny her new dress: but she had a worse bone than that to pick with her.

It was a short but agreeable promenade to Zoe, for now they were alone, her brother, instead of sneering, complimented her.

"Never you mind my impertinence," said he; "the truth is, I am proud of you. You are an observer."

"Me? Oh—in color."

"Never mind: an observer is an observer; and genuine observation is not so common. Men see and hear with their prejudices and not their senses. Now we are going to those gaming-tables. At first, of course, you will play; but, as soon as ever you are cleaned out, observe! Let nothing escape that woman's eye of yours: and so we'll get something for our money."

"Harrington," said the girl proudly, "I will be all eye and ear."

Soon after this they went in to dinner. Zoe cast her eyes round for Severne, and was manifestly disappointed at his not meeting them even there.

As for Fanny, she had attracted wonderful attention in the garden, and was elated; her conscience did not prick her in the least, for such a trifle as de'tournement des fonds; and public admiration did not improve her: she was sprightly and talkative as usual; but now she was also a trifle brazen, and pert all round.

And so the dinner passed, and they proceeded to the gaming-tables.

Miss Maitland and Zoe led. Fanny and Harrington followed: for Miss Dover, elated by the blues—though, by-the-by, one hears of them as depressing—and encouraged by admiration and Chevet's violet-perfumed St. Peray, took Harrington's arm, really as if it belonged to her.

They went into the library first, and, after a careless inspection, came to the great attraction of the place. They entered one of the gambling-rooms.

The first impression was disappointing. There were two very long tables, rounded off at the ends: one for trente et quarante and one for roulette. At each table were seated a number of persons, and others standing behind them. Among the persons seated was the dealer, or, in roulette, the spinner. This official sat in the center, flanked on each side by croupiers with rakes; but at each end of the table there was also a croupier with his rake.

The rest were players or lookers-on; most of whom, by well-known gradations of curiosity and weakness, to describe which minutely would be to write a little comedy that others have already written, were drawn into playing at last. So fidgets the moth about the candle before he makes up what, no doubt, the poor little soul calls his mind.

Our little party stopped first at trente et quarante, and Zoe commenced her observations. Instead of the wild excitement she had heard of, there was a subdued air, a forced quiet, especially among the seated players. A stern etiquette presided, and the gamblers shrouded themselves in well-bred stoicism—losing without open distress or ire, winning without open exultation. The old hands, especially, began play with a padlock on the tongue and a mask upon the face. There are masks, however, that do not hide the eye; and Miss Vizard caught some flashes that escaped the masks even then at the commencement of the play. Still, external stoicism prevailed, on the whole, and had a fixed example in the tailleur and the croupiers. Playing many hours every day in the year but Good-Friday, and always with other people's money, these men had parted with passion, and almost with sensation; they had become skillful automata, chanting a stave, and raking up or scattering hay-cocks of gold, which to them were counters.

It was with the monotonous voice of an automaton they intoned:

"Faites le jeu, messieu, messieu."

Then, after a pause of ten seconds:

"Le jeu est fait, messien."

Then, after two seconds:

"Rien ne va plus."

Then mumble—mumble—mumble.

Then, "La' Rouge perd et couleur," or whatever might be the result.

Then the croupiers first raked in the players' losses with vast expedition; next, the croupiers in charge of the funds chucked the precise amount of the winnings on to each stake with unerring dexterity and the indifference of machines; and the chant recommenced, "Faites le jeu, messieu."

Pause, ten seconds.

"Le jeu est fait, messieu.

Pause, two seconds.

"Rien ne va plus."

The tailleur dealt, and the croupier intoned, "La'! Rouge gagne et couleur perd:" the mechanical raking and dexterous chucking followed.

This, with a low buzzing, and the deadened jingle of gold upon green cloth, and the light grating of the croupiers' rakes, was the first impression upon Zoe's senses; but the mere game did not monopolize her attention many seconds. There were other things better worth noting: the great varieties of human type that a single passion had brought together in a small German town. Her ear was regaled with such a polyglot murmur as she had read of in Genesis, but had never witnessed before.

Here were the sharp Tuscan and the mellow Roman; the sibilation of England, the brogue of Ireland, the shibboleth of the Minories, the twang of certain American States, the guttural expectoration of Germany, the nasal emphasis of France, and even the modulated Hindoostanee, and the sonorous Spanish, all mingling.

The types of face were as various as the tongues.

Here were the green-eyed Tartar, the black-eyed Italian, and the gray-eyed Saxon; faces all cheek-bones, and faces no cheek-bones; the red Arabian, the fair Dane, and the dark Hindoo.

Her woman's eye seized another phenomenon—the hands. Not nations only, but varieties of the animal kingdom were represented. Here were the white hands of fair women, and the red paws of obese shop-keepers, and the yellow, bird-like claws of old withered gamesters, all stretched out, side by side, in strange contrast, to place the stakes or scratch in the winnings; and often the winners put their palms or paws on their heap of gold, just as a dog does on a bone when other dogs are nigh.

But what Zoe's eye rested on longest were the costume and deportment of the ladies. A few were in good taste; others aimed at a greater variety of beautiful colors than the fair have, up to this date, succeeded in combining, without inflicting more pain on the beholders than a beneficent Creator—so far as we can judge by his own system of color—intended the cultivated eye to suffer. Example—as the old writers used to say—one lady fired the air in primrose satin, with red-velvet trimming. This mild mixture re-appeared on her head in a primrose hat with a red feather. A gold chain, so big that it would have done for a felon instead of a fool, encircled her neck, and was weighted with innumerable lockets, which in size and inventive taste resembled a poached egg, and betrayed the insular goldsmith. A train three yards long completed this gorgeous figure. She had commenced life a shrimp-girl, and pushed a dredge before her, instead of pulling a silken besom after her. Another stately queen (with an "a") heated the atmosphere with a burnous of that color the French call flamme d'enfer, and cooled it with a green bonnet. A third appeared to have been struck with the beauty of a painter's palette, and the skill with which its colors mix before the brush spoils them. Green body, violet skirts, rose-colored trimmings, purple sleeves, light green boots, lavender gloves. A shawl all gauze and gold, flounced like a petticoat; a bonnet so small, and red feather so enormous and all-predominant, that a peacock seemed to be sitting on a hedge sparrow's nest.

Zoe suspected these polychromatic ladies at a glance, and observed their manners, in a mistrustful spirit, carefully. She was little surprised, though a good deal shocked, to find that some of them seemed familiar, and almost jocular, with the croupiers; and that, although they did not talk loud, being kept in order by the general etiquette, they rustled and fidgeted and played in a devil-may-care sort of manner. This was in great measure accounted for by the circumstance that they were losing other people's money: at all events, they often turned their heads over their shoulders, and applied for fresh funds to their male companions.

Zoe blushed at all this, and said to Vizard, "I should like to see the other rooms." She whispered to Miss Maitland, "Surely they are not very select in this one."

"Lead on," said Vizard; "that is the way."

Fanny had not parted with his arm all this time. As they followed the others, he said, "But she will find it is all the same thing."

Fanny laughed in his face. "Don't you see? C'est la chasse au Severne qui commence."

"En voil'a un se'v'ere," replied he.

She was mute. She had not learned that sort of French in her finishing-school. I forgive it.

The next room was the same thing over again.

Zoe stood a moment and drank everything in, then turned to Vizard, blushed, and said, "May we play a little now?"

"Why, of course."

"Fanny!"

"No; you begin, dear. We will stand by and wish you success."

"You are a coward," said Zoe, loftily; and went to the table with more changes of color than veteran lancers betray in charging infantry. It was the roulette table she chose. That seems a law of her sex. The true solution is not so profound as some that have been offered. It is this: trente et quarante is not only unintelligible, but uninteresting. At roulette there is a pictorial object and dramatic incident; the board, the turning of the moulinet, and the swift revolutions of an ivory ball, its lowered speed, its irregular bounds, and its final settlement in one of the many holes, numbered and colored. Here the female understanding sees something it can grasp, and, above all, the female eye catches something pictorial and amusing outside the loss or gain; and so she goes, by her nature, to roulette, which is a greater swindle than the other.

Zoe staked five pounds on No. 21, for an excellent reason; she was in her twenty-first year. The ball was so illogical as to go into No. 3, and she lost. She stood by her number and lost again. She lost thirteen times in succession.

The fourteenth time the ball rolled into 21, and the croupier handed her thirty-five times her stake, and a lot more for color.

Her eye flashed, and her cheek flushed, and I suppose she was tempted to bet more heavily, for she said, "No. That will never happen to me again, I know;" and she rose, the richer by several napoleons, and said, "Now let us go to another."

"Humph!" said Vizard. "What an extraordinary girl! She will give the devil more trouble than most of you. Here's precocious prudence."

Fanny laughed in his face. "C'est la chasse qui recommence," said she.

I ought to explain that when she was in England she did not interlard her discourse with French scraps. She was not so ill-bred. But abroad she had got into a way of it, through being often compelled to speak French.

Vizard appreciated the sagacity of the remark, but he did not like the lady any the better for it. He meditated in silence. He remembered that, when they were in the garden. Zoe had hung behind, and interpreted Fanny ill-naturedly; and here was Fanny at the same game, literally backbiting, or back-nibbling, at all events. Said he to himself, "And these two are friends! female friends." And he nursed his misogyny in silence.

They came into a very noble room, the largest of all, with enormous mirrors down to the ground, and a ceiling blazing with gold, and the air glittering with lusters. Two very large tables, and a distinguished company at each, especially at the trente et quarante.

Before our little party had taken six steps into the room, Zoe stood like a pointer; and Fanny backed.

Should these terms seem disrespectful, let Fanny bear the blame. It is her application of the word "chasse" that drew down the simile.

Yes, there sat Ned Severne, talking familiarly to Joseph Ashmead, and preparing to "put the pot on," as he called it.

Now Zoe was so far gone that the very sight of Severne was a balsam to her. She had a little bone to pick with him; and when he was out of sight, the bone seemed pretty large. But when she saw his adorable face, unconscious, as it seemed, of wrong, the bone faded and the face shone.

Her own face cleared at the sight of him: she turned back to Fanny and Vizard, arch and smiling, and put her finger to her mouth, as much as to say, "Let us have some fun. We have caught our truant: let us watch him, unseen, a little, before we burst on him."

Vizard enjoyed this, and encouraged her with a nod.

The consequence was that Zoe dropped Miss Maitland's arm, who took that opportunity to turn up her nose, and began to creep up like a young cat after a bird; taking a step, and then pausing; then another step, and a long pause; and still with her eye fixed on Severne. He did not see her, nor her companions, partly because they were not in front of him, but approaching at a sharp angle, and also because he was just then beginning to bet heavily on his system. By this means, two progressive events went on contemporaneously: the arch but cat-like advance of Zoe, with pauses, and the betting of Severne, in which he gave himself the benefit of his system.

Noir having been the last to win, he went against the alternation and put fifty pounds on noir. Red won. Then, true to his system, he doubled on the winning color. One hundred pounds on red. Black won. He doubled on black, and red won; and there were four hundred pounds of his five hundred gone in five minutes.

On this proof that the likeliest thing to happen—viz., alternation of the color—does sometime happen, Severne lost heart.

He turned to Ashmead, with all the superstition of a gambler, "For God's sake, bet for me!" said he. He clutched his own hair convulsively, in a struggle with his mania, and prevailed so far as to thrust fifty pounds into his own pocket, to live on, and gave Ashmead five tens.

"Well, but," said Ashmead, "you must tell me what to do."

"No, no. Bet your own way, for me." He had hardly uttered these words, when he seemed to glare across the table at the great mirror, and, suddenly putting his handkerchief to his mouth, he made a bolt sidewise, plunged amid the bystanders, and emerged only to dash into a room at the side.

As he disappeared, a lady came slowly and pensively forward from the outer door; lifted her eyes as she neared the table, saw a vacant chair, and glided into it, revealing to Zoe Vizard and her party a noble face, not so splendid and animated as on the stage, for its expression was slumbering; still it was the face of Ina Klosking.



No transformation trick was ever done more neatly and smoothly than this, in which, nevertheless, the performers acted without concert.

Severne fled out, and the Klosking came slowly in; yet no one had time to take the seat, she glided into it so soon after Severne had vacated it.

Zoe Vizard and her friends stared after the flying Severne, then stared at the newcomer, and then turned round and stared at each other, in mutual amazement and inquiry.

What was the meaning of this double incident, that resembled a conjurer's trick? Having looked at her companions, and seen only her own surprise reflected, Zoe Vizard fixed her eyes, like burning-glasses, upon Ina Klosking.

Then that lady thickened the mystery. She seemed very familiar with the man Severne had been so familiar with.

That man contributed his share to the multiplying mystery. He had a muddy complexion, hair the color of dirt, a long nose, a hatchet face, mean little eyes, and was evidently not a gentleman. He wore a brown velveteen shooting-coat, with a magenta tie that gave Zoe a pain in the eye. She had already felt sorry to see her Severne was acquainted with such a man. He seemed to her the ne plus ultra of vulgarity; and now, behold, the artist, the woman she had so admired, was equally familiar with the same objectionable person.

To appreciate the hopeless puzzle of Zoe Vizard, the reader must be on his guard against his own knowledge. He knows that Severne and Ashmead were two Bohemians, who had struck up acquaintance, all in a minute, that very evening. But Zoe had not this knowledge, and she could not possibly divine it. The whole thing was presented to her senses thus: a vulgar man, with a brown velveteen shooting-coat and a red-hot tie was a mutual friend of the gentlemanly Severne and the dignified Klosking. Severne left the mutual friend; Mademoiselle Klosking joined the mutual friend; and there she sat, where Severne had sat a moment ago, by the side of their mutual friend.

All manner of thoughts and surmises thronged upon Zoe Vizard; but each way of accounting for the mystery contradicted some plain fact or other; so she was driven at last to a woman's remedy. She would wait, and watch. Severne would probably come back, and somehow furnish the key. Meantime her eye was not likely to leave the Klosking, nor her ear to miss a syllable the Klosking might utter.

She whispered to Vizard, in a very peculiar tone, "I will play at this table," and stepped up to it, with the word.

The duration of such beauty as Zoe's is proverbially limited; but the limit to its power, while it does last, has not yet been discovered. It is a fact that, as soon as she came close to the table two male gamblers looked up, saw her, wondered at her, and actually jumped up and offered their seats: she made a courteous inclination of the head, and installed Miss Maitland in one seat, without reserve. She put a little gold on the table, and asked Miss Maitland, in a whisper, to play for her. She herself had neither eye nor ear except for Ina Klosking. That lady was having a discussion, sotto voce, with Ashmead; and if she had been one of your mumblers whose name is legion, even Zoe's swift ear could have caught little or nothing. But when a voice has volume, and the great habit of articulation has been brought to perfection, the words travel surprisingly.

Zoe heard the lady say to Ashmead, scarcely above her breath, "Well, but if he requested you to bet for him, how can he blame you?"

Zoe could not catch Ashmead's reply, but it was accompanied by a shake of the head; so she understood him to object.

Then, after a little more discussion, Ina Klosking said, "What money have you of mine?"

Ashmead produced some notes.

"Very well," said the Klosking. "Now, I shall take my twenty-five pounds, and twenty-five pounds of his, and play. When he returns, we shall, at all events, have twenty-five pounds safe for him. I take the responsibility."

"Oh," thought Zoe; "then he is coming back. Ah, I shall see what all this means." She felt sick at heart.

Zoe Vizard was on the other side, but not opposite Mademoiselle Klosking; she was considerably to the right hand; and as the new-comer was much occupied, just at first, with Ashmead, who sat on her left, Zoe had time to dissect her, which she did without mercy. Well, her costume was beautifully made, and fitted on a symmetrical figure; but as to color, it was neutral—a warm French gray, and neither courted admiration nor risked censure: it was unpretending. Her lace collar was valuable, but not striking. Her hair was beautiful, both in gloss and color, and beautifully, but neatly, arranged. Her gloves and wristbands were perfect.

As every woman aims at appearance, openly or secretly, and every other woman knows she does, Zoe did not look at this meek dress with male simplicity, unsuspicious of design, but asked herself what was the leading motive; and the question was no sooner asked than answered. "She has dressed for her golden hair and her white throat. Her hair, her deep gray eyes, and her skin, are just like a flower: she has dressed herself as the modest stalk. She is an artist."

At the same table were a Russian princess, an English countess, and a Bavarian duchess—all well dressed, upon the whole. But their dresses showed off their dresses; the Klosking's showed off herself. And there was a native dignity, and, above all, a wonderful seemliness, about the Klosking that inspired respect. Dress and deportment were all of a piece—decent and deep.

While Zoe was picking her to pieces, Ina, having settled matters with Ashmead, looked up, and, of course, took in every other woman who was in sight at a single sweep. She recognized Zoe directly, with a flush of pleasure; a sweet, bright expression broke over her face, and she bowed to her with a respectful cordiality that was captivating.

Zoe yielded to the charm of manner, and bowed and smiled in return, though, till that moment, she had been knitting her black brows at her in wonder and vague suspicion.

Ina trifled with the game, at first. Ashmead was still talking to her of the young swell and his system. He explained it to her, and how it had failed. "Not but what," said he, "there is a great deal in it most evenings. But to-day there are no runs; it is all turn and turn about. If it would rain, now, you would see a change."

"Well," said Ina, "I will bet a few pounds on red, then on black, till these runs begin."

During the above conversation, of which Zoe caught little, because Ashmead was the chief speaker, she cast her eyes all round the table and saw a curious assemblage of figures.

There was a solemn Turk melting his piasters with admirable gravity; there was the Russian princess; and there was a lady, dressed in loud, incongruous colors, such as once drew from a horrified modiste the cry, "Ah, Dieu! quelle immoralite'!" and that's a fact. There was a Popish priest, looking sheepish as he staked his silver, and an Anglican rector, betting flyers, and as nonchalant, in the blest absence of his flock and the Baptist minister, as if he were playing at whist with the old Bishop of Norwich, who played a nightly rubber in my father's day—and a very bad one. There was a French count, nearly six feet high, to whom the word "old" would have been unjust: he was antique, and had turned into bones and leather; but the hair on that dilapidated trunk was its own; and Zoe preferred him much to the lusty old English beau beside him, with ivory teeth and ebon locks that cost a pretty penny.

There was a fat, livid Neapolitan betting heavily; there was a creole lady, with a fine oval face, rather sallow, and eyes and hair as black as Zoe's own. Indeed, the creole excelled her, by the addition of a little black fringe upon her upper lip that, prejudice apart, became her very well. Her front hair was confined by two gold threads a little way apart, on which were fixed a singular ornament, the vivid eyes of a peacock's tail set close together all round. It was glorious, regal. The hussy should have been the Queen of Sheba, receiving Solomon, and showing her peacock's eyes against his crown-jewels. Like the lilies of the field, these products of nature are bad to beat, as we say on Yorkshire turf.

Indeed that frontlet was so beautiful and well placed, it drew forth glances of marked disdain from every lady within sight of it, Zoe excepted. She was placable. This was a lesson in color; and she managed to forgive the teacher, in consideration of the lesson.

Amid the gaudier birds, there was a dove—a young lady, well dressed, with Quaker-like simplicity, in gray silk dress with no trimmings, a white silk bonnet and veil. Her face was full of virtues. Meeting her elsewhere, you would say "That is a good wife, a good daughter, and the making of a good mother." Her expression at the table was thoughtful and a little anxious; but every now and then she turned her head to look for her husband, and gave him so sweet a smile of conjugal sympathy and affection as made Zoe almost pray they might win. The husband was an officer, a veteran, with grizzled hair and mustache, a colonel who had commanded a brigade in action, but could only love and spoil his wife. He ought to have been her father, her friend, her commander, and marched her out of that "curse-all" to the top of Cader Idris, if need was. Instead of that, he stood behind her chair like her lackey all day: for his dove was as desperate a gambler as any in Europe. It was not that she bet very heavily, but that she bet every day and all day. She began in the afternoon, and played till midnight if there was a table going. She knew no day of religion—no day of rest. She won, and she lost: her own fortune and her husband's stood the money drain; but how about the golden hours? She was losing her youth and wasting her soul. Yet the administration gave her a warning; they did not allow the irretrievable hours to be stolen from her with a noiseless hand. At All Souls' College, Oxford, in the first quadrangle, grave, thoughtful men raised to the top story, two hundred years ago, a grand sundial, the largest, perhaps, and noblest in the kingdom. They set it on the face of the Quad, and wrote over the long pointer in large letters of gold, these words, "Pereunt et imputantur," which refer to the hours indicated below, and mean literally, "They perish, and go down to our account;" but really imply a little more, viz., that "they are wasted, and go to our debit." These are true words and big words—bigger than any royal commissioner has uttered up to date—and reach the mind through the senses, and have warned the scholars of many a generation not to throw away the seed-time of their youth, which never can come twice to any man. Well, the administration of the Kursaal conveyed to that lost English dove and others a note of warning which struck the senses, as does the immortal warning emblazoned on the fair brow of that beautiful college; only, in the Kursaal the warning struck the ear, not the eye. They provided French clocks with a singularly clear metallic striking tick; their blows upon the life of Time rang sharp above the chant, the mumble, and the jingle. These clocks seemed to cry aloud, and say of the hours, whose waste they recorded, "Pereunt - et - impu-tantur, pere - unt - et - imputantur."

Reckless of this protest, the waves of play rolled on, and ere long sucked all our characters but Vizard into the vortex. Zoe hazarded a sovereign on red, and won; then two on black, and won; then four on red, and won. She was launched, and Fanny too. They got excited, and bet higher; the croupiers pelted them with golden coins, and they began to pant and flush, and their eyes to gleam. The old gamblers' eyes seem to have lost this power—they have grown fishy; but the eyes of these female novices were a sight. Fanny's, being light gray, gleamed like a panther's whose prey is within leap. Zoe's dark orbs could not resemble any wild beast's; but they glowed with unholy fire; and, indeed, all down the table was now seen that which no painter can convey—for his beautiful but contracted art confines him to a moment of time—and writers have strangely neglected to notice, viz., the progress of the countenance under play. Many of the masks melted, as if they had been of wax, and the natural expressions forced their way; some got flushed with triumph, others wild and haggard with their losses. One ghastly, glaring loser sat quite quiet, when his all was gone, but clinched his hands so that the nails ran into the flesh, and blood trickled: discovering which, a friend dragged him off like something dead. Nobody minded.

The fat old beau got worried by his teeth and pulled them out in a pet and pocketed them.

Miss Maitland, who had begun with her gray hair in neat little curls, deranged one so with convulsive hand that it came all down her cheek, and looked most rakish and unbecoming. Even Zoe and Fanny had turned from lambs to leopardesses— patches of red on each cheek, and eyes like red-hot coals.

The colors had begun to run, and at first the players lost largely to the bank, with one exception.

Ina Klosking discerned the change, and backed the winning color, then doubled on it twice. She did this so luckily three or four times that, though her single stake was at first only forty pounds, gold seemed to grow around her, and even notes to rise and make a cushion. She, too, was excited, though not openly; her gloves were off, and her own lovely hand, the whitest in the room, placed the stakes. You might see a red spot on her cheek-bone, and a strange glint in her deep eye; but she could not do anything that was not seemly.

She played calmly, boldly, on the system that had cleared out Ned Severne, and she won heavily, because she was in luck. It was her hour and her vein.

By this time Zoe and Fanny were cleaned out; and looked in amazement at the Klosking, and wondered how she did it.

Miss Maitland, at her last sovereign, began to lean on the victorious Klosking, and bet as she did: her pile increased. The dove caught sight of her game, and backed her luck. The creole backed her heavily.

Presently there was an extraordinary run on black. Numbers were caught. The Klosking won three times, and lost three times; but the bets she won were double bets, and those she lost were single.

Then came a refait, and the bank swept off half her stake; but even here she was lucky. She had only forty pounds on.

By-and-by came the event of the night. Black had for some time appeared to rule the roost, and thrust red off the table, and the Klosking lost two hundred pounds.

The Klosking put two hundred pounds on red: it won. She doubled: red won. She doubled: there was a dead silence. The creole lady put the maximum on red, three hundred pounds: red won. Ina Klosking looked a little pale; but, driven by some unaccountable impulse, she doubled. So did the creole. Red won. The automata chucked sixteen hundred pounds to the Klosking, and six hundred pounds to the other lady. Ina bet forty pounds on black. Red won again. She put two hundred pounds on black: black won. She doubled: black won again. She doubled: black won. Doubled again: black won.

The creole and others stood with her in that last run, and the money was chucked. But the settlement was followed by a short whisper, and a croupier, in a voice as mechanical as ever, chanted that the sum set apart for that table was exhausted for that day.

The Klosking and her backers had broken the bank.



CHAPTER IX.

THERE was a buzzing, and a thronging round the victorious player.

Ina rose, and, with a delicate movement of her milk-white hand, turned the mountain of gold and column of notes toward Ashmead. "Make haste, please," she whispered; then put on her gloves deliberately, while Ashmead shoved the gold and the notes anyhow into the inner pockets of his shooting-jacket, and buttoned it well up.

"Allons," said she, calmly, and took his arm; but, as she moved away, she saw Zoe Vizard passing on the other side of the table. Their eyes met: she dropped Ashmead's arm and made her a sweeping courtesy full of polite consideration, and a sort of courteous respect for the person saluted, coupled with a certain dignity, and then she looked wistfully at her a moment. I believe she would have spoken to her if she had been alone; but Miss Maitland and Fanny Dover had, both of them, a trick of putting on noli-me-tangere faces among strangers. It did not mean much; it is an unfortunate English habit. But it repels foreigners: they neither do it nor understand it.

Those two faces, not downright forbidding, but uninviting, turned the scale; and the Klosking, who was not a forward woman, did not yield to her inclination and speak to Zoe. She took Ashmead's arm again and moved away.

Then Zoe turned back and beckoned Vizard. He joined her. "There she is," said Zoe; "shall I speak to her?"

Would you believe it? He thought a moment, and then said, gloomily, "Well, no. Half cured now. Seen the lover in time." So that opportunity was frittered away.

Before the English party left the Kursaal, Zoe asked, timidly, if they ought not to make some inquiry about Mr. Severne. He had been taken ill again.

"Ay, taken ill, and gone to be cured at another table," said Vizard, ironically. "I'll make the tour, and collar him."

He went off in a hurry; Miss Maitland faced a glass and proceeded to arrange her curl.

Fanny, though she had offered no opposition to Vizard's going, now seized Zoe's arm with unusual energy, and almost dragged her aside. "The idea of sending Harrington on that fool's errand!" said she, peevishly. "Why, Zoe! where are your eyes?"

Zoe showed her by opening them wide. "What do you mean?"

"What—do—I—mean? No matter. Mr. Severne is not in this building, and you know it."

"How can I know? All is so mysterious," faltered Zoe. "How do you know?"

"Because—there—least said is soonest mended."

"Fanny, you are older than me, and ever so much cleverer. Tell me, or you are not my friend."

"Wait till you get home, then. Here he is."

Vizard told them he had been through all the rooms; the only chance now was the dining-room. "No," said Fanny, "we wish to get home; we are rather tired."

They went to the rail, and at first Vizard was rather talkative, making his comments on the players; but the ladies were taciturn, and brought him to a stand. "Ah," thought he, "nothing interests them now; Adonis is not here." So he retired within himself.

When they reached the Russie, he ordered a petit souper in an hour, and invited the ladies. Meantime they retired—Miss Maitland to her room, and Fanny, with Zoe, to hers. By this time Miss Dover had lost her alacrity, and would, I verily believe, have shunned a te'te-'a-te'te if she could; but there was a slight paleness in Zoe's cheek, and a compression of the lips, which told her plainly that young lady meant to have it out with her. They both knew so well what was coming, that Zoe merely waved her to a chair and leaned herself against the bed, and said, "Now, Fanny." So Fanny was brought to bay.

"Dear me," said she piteously, "I don't know what to do, between you and Aunt Maitland. If I say all I think, I suppose you will hate me; and if I don't, I shall be told I'm wicked, and don't warn an orphan girl. She flew at me like a bull-dog before your brother: she said I was twenty-five, and I only own to twenty-three. And, after all, what could I say? for I do feel I ought to give you the benefit of my experience, and make myself as disagreeable as she does. And I have given you a hint, and a pretty broad one, but you want such plain speaking."

"I do," said Zoe. "So please speak plainly, if you can."

"Ah, you say that."

"And I mean it. Never mind consequences; tell me the truth."

"Like a man, eh? and get hated."

"Men are well worth imitating, in some things. Tell me the truth, pleasant or not, and I shall always respect you."

"Bother respect. I am like the rest of us; I want to be loved a little bit. But there—I'm in for it. I have said too much, or too little. I know that. Well, Zoe, the long and the short is—you have a rival."

Zoe turned rather pale, but was not so much shaken as Fanny expected.

She received the blow in silence. But after a while she said, with some firmness, "Mademoiselle Klosking?"

"Oh, you are not quite blind, then."

"And pray which does he prefer?" asked Zoe, a little proudly.

"It is plain he likes you the best. But why does he fear her so? This is where you seem all in the dark. He flew out of the opera, lest she should see him."

"Oh! Absurd!"

"He cut you and Vizard, rather than call upon her with you."

"And so he did."

"He flew from the gambling-table the moment she entered the room."

"Behind him. She came in behind him."

"There was a large mirror in front of him."

"Oh, Fanny! oh!" and Zoe clasped her hands piteously. But she recovered herself, and said, "After all, appearances are deceitful."

"Not so deceitful as men," said Fanny, sharply.

But Zoe clung to her straw. "Might not two things happen together? He is subject to bleeding at the nose. It is strange it should occur twice so, but it is possible"

"Zoe," said Fanny, gravely, "he is not subject to bleeding at the nose."

"Oh, then—but how can you know that? What right have you to say that?"

"I'll show you," said Fanny, and left the room.

She soon came back, holding something behind her back. Even at the last moment she was half unwilling. However, she looked down, and said, in a very peculiar tone, "Here is the handkerchief he put before his face at the opera; there!" and she threw it into Zoe's lap.

Zoe's nature revolted against evidence so obtained. She did not even take up the handkerchief. "What!" she cried; "you took it out of his pocket?"

"No."

"Then you have been in his room and got it."

"Nothing of the kind! I sent Rosa."

"My maid!"

"Mine, for that job. I gave her half a crown to borrow it for a pattern."

Zoe seized the handkerchief and ran her eye over it in a moment. There was no trace of blood on it, and there were his initials, "E. S.," in the corner. Her woman's eye fastened instantly on these. "Silk?" said she, and held it up to the light. "No. Hair!—golden hair. It is hers!" And she flung the handkerchief from her as if it were a viper, and even when on the ground eyed it with dilating orbs and a hostile horror.

"La!" said Fanny; "fancy that! You are not blind now. You have seen more than I. I made sure it was yellow silk."

But this frivolous speech never even entered Zoe's ear. She was too deeply shocked. She went, feebly, and sat down in a chair, and covered her face with her hands.

Fanny eyed her with pity. "There!" said she, almost crying, "I never tell the truth but I bitterly repent it."

Zoe took no notice of this droll apothegm. Her hands began to work. "What shall I do!" she said. "What shall I do!"

"Oh, don't go on like that, Zoe!" cried Fanny. "After all, it is you he prefers. He ran away from her."

"Ah, yes. But why?—why? What has he done?"

"Jilted her. I suppose. Aunt Maitland thinks he is after money; and, you know, you have got money."

"Have I nothing else?" said the proud beauty, and lifted her bowed head for a moment.

"You have everything. But you should look things in the face. Is that singer an unattractive woman?"

"Oh, no. But she is not poor. Her kind of talent is paid enormously."

"That is true," said Fanny. "But perhaps she wastes it. She is a gambler, like himself."

"Let him go to her," said Zoe, wildly; "I will share no man's heart."

"He will never go to her, unless—well, unless we tell him that she has broken the bank with his money."

"If you think so badly of him, tell him, then, and let him go. Oh, I am wretched—I am wretched!" She lifted her hands in despair, and began to cry and sob bitterly.

Fanny was melted at her distress, and knelt to her, and cried with her.

Not being a girl of steady principle, she went round with the wind. "Dear Zoe," said she, "it is deeper than I thought. La! if you love him, why torment yourself?"

"No," said Zoe; "it is deceit and mystery that torment me. Oh, what shall I do! what shall I do!"

Fanny interpreted this vague exclamation of sorrow as asking advice, and said, "I dare not advise you; I can only tell you what I should do in your place. I should make up my mind at once whether I loved the man, or only liked him. If I only liked him, I would turn him up at once."

"Turn him up! What is that?"

"Turn him off, then. If I loved him, I would not let any other woman have the least little bit of a chance to get him. For instance, I would not let him know this old sweetheart of his has won three thousand pounds at least, for I noted her winnings. Diamond cut diamond, my dear. He is concealing from you something or other about him and this Klosking; hide you this one little thing about the Klosking from him, till you get my gentleman safe to England."

"And this is love! I call it warfare."

"And love is warfare, three times out of four. Anyway, it is for you to decide, Zoe. I do wish you had never seen the man. He is not what he seems. He is a poor adventurer, and a bundle of deceit."

"You are very hard on him. You don't know all."

"No, nor a quarter; and you know less. There, dear, dry your eyes and fight against it. After all, you know you are mistress of the situation. I'll settle it for you, which way you like."

"You will? Oh, Fanny, you are very good!"

"Say indulgent, please. I'm not good, and never will be, if I can possibly help. I despise good people; they are as weak as water. But I do like you, Zoe Vizard, better than any other woman in the world. That is not saying very much; my taste is for men. I think them gods and devils compared with us; and I do admire gods and devils. No matter, dear. Kiss me, and say, 'Fanny, act for me,' and I'll do it."

Zoe kissed her, and then, by a truly virginal impulse, hid her burning face in her hands, and said nothing at all.

Fanny gave her plenty of time, and then said, kindly, "Well, dear?"

Then Zoe murmured, scarce audibly, "Act—as if—I loved him."

And still she kept her face covered with her hands. Fanny was anything but surprised at this conclusion of the struggle. She said, with a certain alacrity, "Very well, I will: so now bathe your eyes and come in to supper."

"No, no; please go and make an excuse for me."

"I shall do nothing of the kind. I won't be told by-and-by I have done wrong. I will do your business, but it shall be in your hearing. Then you can interfere, if you choose. Only you had better not put your word in till you see what I am driving at."

With a little more encouragement, Zoe was prevailed on to sponge her tearful eyes and compose herself, and join Harrington at supper.

Miss Maitland soon retired, pleading fatigue and packing; and she had not been gone long, when Fanny gave her friend a glance and began upon Harrington.

"You are very fond of Mr. Severne, are you not?" said she.

"I am," said Vizard, stoutly, preparing for battle. "You are not, perhaps."

Fanny laughed at this prompt pugnacity. "Oh, yes, I am," said she; "devoted. But he has a weakness, you must own. He is rather fond of gambling."

"He is, I am sorry to say. It is his one fault. Most of us have two or three."

"Don't you think it would be a pity if he were to refuse to go with us tomorrow—were to prefer to stay here and gamble?"

"No fear of that: he has given me his word of honor."

"Still, I think it would be hardly safe to tempt him. If you go and tell him that friend of his won such a lot of money, he will want to stop; and if he does not stop, he will go away miserable. You know they began betting with his money, though they went on with their own."

"Oh, did they? What was his own money?"

"How much was it, Zoe?"

"Fifty pounds."

"Well," said Vizard, "you must admit it is hard he should lose his own money. And yet I own I am most anxious to get him away from this place. Indeed, I have a project; I want him to rusticate a few months at our place, while I set my lawyer to look into his affairs and see if his estate cannot be cleared. I'll be bound the farms are underlet. What does the Admirable Crichton know about such trifles?"

Fanny looked at Zoe, whose color was rising high at all this. "Well!" said she, "when you gentlemen fall in love with each other, you certainly are faithful creatures."

"Because we can count on fidelity in return," said Vizard. He thought a little, and said, "Well, as to the other thing—you leave it to me. Let us understand one another. Nothing we saw at the gambling-table is to be mentioned by us."

"No."

"Crichton is to be taken to England for his good."

"Yes."

"And I am to be grateful to you for your co-operation in this."

"You can, if you like."

"And you will secure an agreeable companion for the rest of the tour, eh?—my diplomatic cousin and my silent sister."

"Yes; but it is too bad of you to see through a poor girl, and her little game, like that. I own he is a charming companion."

Fanny's cunning eyes twinkled, and Zoe blushed crimson to see her noble brother manipulated by this artful minx and then flattered for his perspicacity.

From that moment a revulsion took place in her mind, and pride fought furiously with love—for a time.

This was soon made apparent to Fanny Dover. When they retired, Zoe looked very gloomy; so Fanny asked, rather sharply, "Well, what is the matter now? Didn't I do it cleverly?"

"Yes, yes, too cleverly. Oh, Fanny, I begin to revolt against myself."

"This is nice!" said Fanny. "Go on, dear. It is just what I ought to have expected. You were there. You had only to interfere. You didn't. And now you are discontented."

"Not with you. Spare me. You are not to blame, and I am very unhappy. I am losing my self-respect. Oh, if this goes on, I shall hate him!"

"Yes, dear—for five minutes, and then love him double. Come, don't deceive yourself, and don't torment yourself. All your trouble, we shall leave it behind us to-morrow, and every hour will take us further from it."

With this practical view of matters, she kissed Zoe and hurried to bed.

But Zoe scarcely closed her eyes all night.

Severne did not reach the hotel till past eleven o'clock, and went straight to his own room.



CHAPTER X.

ASHMEAD accompanied Mademoiselle Klosking to her apartment. It was lighted, and the cloth laid for supper under the chandelier, a snow-white Hamburg damask. Ashmead took the winnings out of his pocket, and proudly piled the gold and crumpled notes in one prodigious mass upon the linen, that shone like satin, and made the gold look doubly inviting. Then he drew back and gloated on it. The Klosking, too, stood and eyed the pile of wealth with amazement and a certain reverence. "Let me count it," said Ashmead. He did so, and it came to four thousand nine hundred and eighty-one pounds, English money. "And to think," said he, "if you had taken my advice you would not have a penny of this!"

"I'll take your advice now," said she. "I will never gamble again."

"Well, take my advice, and lock up the swag before a creature sees it. Homburg is full of thieves."

She complied, and took away the money in a napkin.

Ashmead called after her to know might he order supper.

"If you will be so kind."

Ashmead rejoiced at this unguarded permission, and ordered a supper that made Karl stare.

The Klosking returned in about half an hour, clad in a crisp peignoir.

Ashmead confronted her. "I have ordered a bottle of champagne," said he. Her answer surprised him. "You have done well. We must now begin to prove the truth of the old proverb, 'Ce qui vient de la flute s'en va au tambour.'"

At supper Mr. Ashmead was the chief drinker, and, by a natural consequence, the chief speaker: he held out brilliant prospects; he favored the Klosking with a discourse on advertising. No talent availed without it; large posters, pictures, window-cards, etc.; but as her talent was superlative, he must now endeavor to keep up with it by invention in his line—the puff circumstantial, the puff poetic, the puff anecdotal, the puff controversial, all tending to blow the fame of the Klosking in every eye, and ring it in every ear. "You take my advice," said he, "and devote this money, every penny of it, to Publicity. Don't you touch a single shiner for anything that does not return a hundred per cent. Publicity does, when the article is prime."

"You forget," said she, "this money does not all belong to me. Another can claim half; the gentleman with whom we are in partnership."

Ashmead looked literally blue. "Nonsense!" said he, roughly. "He can only claim his fifty pounds."

"Nay, my friend. I took two equal sums: one was his, one mine."

"That has nothing to do with it. He told me to bet for him. I didn't; and I shall take him back his fifty pounds and say so. I know where to find him."

"Where?"

"That is my business. Don't you go mad now, and break my heart."

"Well, my friend, we will talk of it tomorrow morning. It certainly is not very clear; and perhaps, after I have prayed and slept, I may see more plainly what is right."

Ashmead observed she was pale, and asked her, with concern, if she was ill.

"No, not ill," said she, "but worn out. My friend, I knew not at the time how great was my excitement; but now I am conscious that this afternoon I have lived a week. My very knees give way under me."

Upon this admission, Ashmead hurried her to bed.

She slept soundly for some hours; but, having once awakened, she fell into a half-sleepless state, and was full of dreams and fancies. These preyed on her so, that she rose and dispatched a servant to Ashmead, with a line in pencil begging him to take an early breakfast with her, at nine o'clock.

As soon as ever he came she began upon the topic of last night. She had thought it over, and said, frankly, she was not without hopes the gentleman, if he was really a gentleman, might be contented with something less than half. But she really did not see how she could refuse him some share of her winnings, should he demand it. "Think of it," said she. "The poor man loses—four hundred pounds, I think you said. Then he says, 'Bet you for me,' and goes away, trusting to your honor. His luck changes in my hands. Is he to lose all when he loses, and win nothing when he wins, merely because I am so fortunate as to win much? However, we shall hear what he says. You gave him your address."

"I said I was at 'The Golden Star,' " growled Ashmead, in a tone that plainly showed he was vexed with himself for being so communicative.

"Then he will pay us a visit as soon as he hears: so I need give myself no further trouble."

"Why should you? Wait till he comes," said crafty Ashmead.

Ina Klosking colored. She felt her friend was tempting her, and felt she was not quite beyond the power of temptation.

"What was he like?" said she, to turn the conversation.

"The handsomest young fellow I ever saw."

"Young, of course?"

"Yes, quite a boy. At least, he looked a boy. To be sure, his talk was not like a boy's; very precocious, I should say."

"What a pity, to begin gambling so young!"

"Oh, he is all right. If he loses every farthing of his own, he will marry money. Any woman would have him. You never saw such a curled darling."

"Dark or fair?"

"Fair. Pink-and-white, like a girl; a hand like a lady."

"Indeed. Fine eyes?"

"Splendid!"

"What color?"

"I don't know. Lord bless you, a man does not examine another man's eyes, like you ladies. However, now I think of it, there was one curious thing I should know him by anywhere."

"And what was that?"

"Well, you see, his hair was brown; but just above the forehead he had got one lock that was like your own—gold itself."

While he said this, the Klosking's face underwent the most rapid and striking changes, and at last she sat looking at him wildly.

It was some time before he noticed her, and then he was quite alarmed at her strange expression. "What is the matter?" said he. "Are you ill?"

"No, no, no. Only a little—astonished. Such a thing as that is very rare."

"That it is. I never saw a case before."

"Not one, in all your life?" asked she, eagerly.

"Well, no; not that I remember."

"Excuse me a minute," said Ina Klosking, and went hurriedly from the room.

Ashmead thought her manner very strange, but concluded she was a little unhinged by yesterday's excitement. Moreover, there faced him an omelet of enormous size, and savory. He thought this worthy to divide a man's attention even with the great creature's tantrums. He devoted himself to it, and it occupied him so agreeably that he did not observe the conduct of Mademoiselle Klosking on her return. She placed three photographs softly on the table, not very far from him, and then resumed her seat; but her eye never left him: and she gave monosyllabic and almost impatient replies to everything he mumbled with his mouth full of omelet.

When he had done his omelet, he noticed the photographs. They were all colored. He took one up. It was an elderly woman, sweet, venerable, and fair-haired. He looked at Ina, and at the photograph, and said, "This is your mother."

"It is."

"It is angelic—as might be expected."

He took up another.

"This is your brother, I suppose. Stop. Haloo!—what is this? Are my eyes making a fool of me?"

He held out the photograph at arm's length, and stared from it to her. "Why, madam," said he, in an awestruck voice, "this is the gentleman—the player—I'd swear to him."

Ina started from her seat while he spoke. "Ah!" she cried, "I thought so—my Edward!" and sat down, trembling violently.

Ashmead ran to her, and sprinkled water in her face, for she seemed ready to faint: but she murmured, "No, no!" and soon the color rushed into her face, and she clasped her hands together, and cried, "I have found him!" and soon the storm of varying emotions ended in tears that gave her relief.

It was a long time before she spoke; but when she did, her spirit and her natural strength of character took the upper hand.

"Where is he?" said she, firmly.

"He told me he was at the 'Russie.' "

"We will go there at once. When is the next train?"

Ashmead looked at his watch. "In ten minutes. We can hardly do it."

"Yes, we can. Order a carriage this instant. I will be ready in one minute."

They caught the train, and started.

As they glided along, Ashmead begged her not to act too hurriedly, and expose herself to insult.

"Who will dare insult me?"

"Nobody, I hope. Still, I cannot bear you to go into a strange hotel hunting this man. It is monstrous; but I am afraid you will not be welcome. Something has just occurred to me; the reason he ran off so suddenly was, he saw you coming. There was a mirror opposite. Ah, we need not have feared he would come back for his winnings. Idiot—villain!"

"You stab me to the heart," said Ina. "He ran away at sight of me? Ah, Jesu, pity me! What have I done to him?"

Honest Ashmead had much ado not to blubber at this patient cry of anguish, though the woman herself shed no tear just then. But his judgment was undimmed by passion, and he gave her the benefit. "Take my advice," said he, "and work it this way. Come in a close carriage to the side street that is nearest the Russie. I'll go in to the hotel and ask for him by his name—what is his name?"

"Mr. Edward Severne."

"And say that I was afraid to stake his money, but a friend of mine, that is a bold player, undertook it, and had a great run of luck. 'There is money owing you,' says I, 'and my friend has brought it.' Then he is sure to come. You will have your veil down, I'll open the carriage-door, and tell him to jump in, and, when you have got him you must make him hear reason. I'll give you a good chance—I'll shut the carriage-door."

Ina smiled at his ingenuity—her first smile that day. "You are indeed a friend," said she. "He fears reproaches, but, when he finds he is welcome, he will stay with me; and he shall have money to play with, and amuse himself how he likes. I kept too tight a rein on him, poor fellow! My good mother taught me prudence."

"Yes, but," said Ashmead, "you must promise me one thing: not to let him know how much money you have won, and not to go, like a goose, and give him a lot at once. It never pays to part with power in this wicked world. You give him twenty pounds a day to play with whenever he is cleaned out. Then the money will last your time, and he will never leave you."

"Oh, how cold-hearted and wise you are!" said she. "But such a humiliating position for him!"

"Don't you be silly. You won't keep him any other way."

"I will be as wise as I can," sighed Ina. "I have had a bitter lesson. Only bring him to me, and then, who knows? I am a change: my love may revive his, and none of these pitiable precautions may be needed. They would lower us both."

Ashmead groaned aloud. "I see," said he. "He'll soon clean you out. Ah, well! he can't rob you of your voice, and he can't rob you of your Ashmead."

They soon reached Frankfort. Ashmead put her into a carriage as agreed, and went to the Russie.

Ina sat, with her veil down, in the carriage, and waited Ashmead's return with Severne. He was a long time coming. She began to doubt, and then to fear, and wonder why he was so long.

At last he came in sight.

He was alone.

As he drew nearer she saw his face was thoroughly downcast.

"My dear friend," he faltered, "you are out of luck to-day."

"He will not come with you?"

"Oh, he would come fast enough, if he was there; but he is gone."

"Gone! To Homburg?"

"No. Unfortunately, he is gone to England. Went off, by the fast train, an hour ago."

Ina fell back in silence, just as if she had been struck in the face.

"He is traveling with an English family, and they have gone straight home. Here are their names. I looked in the visitors' book, and talked to the servant, and all. Mr. Vizard, Miss Vizard—"

"Vizard?"

"Yes—Miss Maitland, Miss Dover. See, I wrote them all down."

"Oh, I am unfortunate! Why was I ever born?"

"Don't say that, don't say that. It is annoying: but we shall be able to trace him now; and, besides, I see other ways of getting hold of him."

Ina broke in upon his talk. "Take me to the nearest church," she cried. "Man's words are vain. Ah, Jesu, let me cry to thee!"

He took her to the nearest church. She went in, and prayed for full two hours. She came out, pale and listless, and Ashmead got her home how he could. Her very body seemed all crushed and limp. Ashmead left her, sad at heart himself.

So long as she was in sight Ashmead could think only of her misery: but the moment she was out of sight, he remembered the theater. She was announced for Rosina that very night. He saw trouble of all sorts before him. He ran to the theater, in great alarm, and told the manager she had been taken very ill. He must change the bill.

"Impossible!" was the reply. "If she can't sing, I close."

Ashmead went back to "The Star."

Ina was in her bedroom.

He sent in a line, "Can you sing tonight? If not he says he must close."

The reply came back in rather a trembling hand. "I suffer too much by falsehood to break faith myself. I shall pray till night: and then I shall sing. If I die on the stage, all the better for me."

Was not this a great soul?



CHAPTER XI.

THAT same morning our English party snatched a hasty breakfast in traveling attire. Severne was not there; but sent word to Vizard he should be there in time.

This filled the cup. Zoe's wounded pride had been rising higher and higher all the night, and she came down rather pale, from broken rest, and sternly resolved. She had a few serious words with Fanny, and sketched her out a little map of conduct, which showed that she had thought the matter well over.

But her plan bid fair to be deranged: Severne was not at the station: then came a change. Zoe was restless, and cast anxious glances.

But at the second bell he darted into the carriage, as if he had just dispatched some wonderful business to get there in time. While the train was starting, he busied himself in arranging his things; but, once started, he put on his sunny look and prepared to be, as usual, the life and soul of the party.

But, for once, he met a frost. Zoe was wrapped in impenetrable hauteur, and Fanny in polite indifference. Never was loss of favor more ably marked without the least ill-breeding, and no good handle given to seek an explanation.

No doubt a straightforward man, with justice on his side, would have asked them plumply whether he had been so unfortunate as to offend, and how; and this was what Zoe secretly wished, however she might seem to repel it. But Severne was too crafty for that. He had learned the art of waiting.

After a few efforts at conversation and smooth rebuffs, he put on a surprised, mortified, and sorrowful air, and awaited the attack, which he felt would come soon or late.

This skillful inertia baffled the fair, in a man; in a woman, they might have expected it; and, after a few hours, Zoe's patience began to wear out.

The train stopped for twenty minutes, and, even while they were snatching a little refreshment, the dark locks and the blonde came very close together; and Zoe, exasperated by her own wounded pride and the sullen torpor of her lover, gave Fanny fresh instructions, which nobody was better qualified to carry out than that young lady, as nobody was better able to baffle female strategy than the gentleman.

This time, however, the ladies had certain advantages, to balance his subtlety and his habit of stating anything, true or false, that suited his immediate purpose.

They opened very cat-like. Fanny affected to be outgrowing her ill-humor, and volunteered a civil word or two to Severne. Thereupon Zoe turned sharply away from Fanny, as if she disapproved her conduct, and took a book. This was pretty sly, and done, I suppose, to remove all idea of concert between the fair assailants; whereas it was a secret signal for the concert to come into operation, it being Fanny's part to play upon Severne, and Zoe's to watch, from her corner, every lineament of his face under fire.

"By-the-way, Mr. Severne," said Fanny, apropos of a church on a hill they were admiring, "did you get your winnings?"

"My winnings! You are sarcastical."

"Am I? Really I did not intend to be."

"No, no; forgive me; but that did seem a little cruel. Miss Dover, I was a heavy loser."

"Not while we were there. The lady and gentleman who played with your money won, oh, such a deal!"

"The devil they did!"

"Yes. Did you not stay behind, last night, to get it? We never saw you at the Russie."

"I was very ill."

"Bleeding at the nose?"

"No. That always relieves me when it comes. I am subject to fainting fits: once I lay insensible so long they were going to bury me. Now, do pray tell me what makes you fancy anybody won a lot with my money."

"Well, I will. You know you left fifty pounds for a friend to bet with."

Severne stared; but was too eager for information to question her how she knew this. "Yes, I did," said he.

"And you really don't know what followed?"

"Good heavens! how can I?"

"Well, then, as you ran out—to faint, Mademoiselle Klosking came in, just as she did at the opera, you know, the time before, when you ran out—to bleed. She slipped into your chair, the very moment you left it; and your friend with the flaming neck-tie told her you had set him to bet with your money. By-the-by, Mr. Severne, how on earth do you and Mademoiselle Klosking, who have both so much taste in dress, come to have a mutual friend, vulgarity in person, with a velveteen coat and an impossible neck-tie?"

"What are you talking about, Miss Dover? I do just know Mademoiselle Klosking; I met her in society in Vienna, two years ago: but that cad I commissioned to bet for me I never saw before in my life. You are keeping me on tenter-hooks. My money—my money—my money! If you have a heart in your bosom, tell me what became of my money."

He was violent, for the first time since they had known him, and his eyes flashed fire.

"Well," said Fanny, beginning to be puzzled and rather frightened, "this man, who you say was a new acquaintance—"

"Whom I say? Do you mean to tell me I am a liar?" He fumbled eagerly in his breast-pocket, and produced a card. "There," said he, "this is the card he gave me, 'Mr. Joseph Ashmead.' Now, may this train dash over the next viaduct, and take you and Miss Vizard to heaven, and me to hell, if I ever saw Mr. Joseph Ashmead's face before. THE MONEY!—THE MONEY!"

He uttered this furiously, and, it is a curious fact; but Zoe turned red, and Fanny pale. It was really in quite a cowed voice Miss Dover went on to say, "La! don't fly out like that. Well, then, the man refused to bet with your money; so then Mademoiselle Klosking said she would; and she played—oh, how she did play! She doubled, and doubled, and doubled, hundreds upon hundreds. She made a mountain of gold and a pyramid of bank-notes; and she never stopped till she broke the bank—there!"

"With my money?" gasped Severne.

"Yes; with your money. Your friend with the loud tie pocketed it; I beg your pardon, not your friend—only hers. Harrington says he is her cher ami."

"The money is mine!" he shrieked. "I don't care who played with it, it is mine. And the fellow had the impudence to send me back my fifty pounds to the Russie."

"What! you gave him your address?" this with an involuntary glance of surprise at Zoe.

"Of course. Do you think I leave a man fifty pounds to play with, and don't give him my address? He has won thousands with my money, and sent me back my fifty, for a blind, the thief!"

"Well, really it is too bad," said Fanny. "But, there—I'm afraid you must make the best of it. Of course, their sending back your fifty pounds shows they mean to keep their winnings."

"You talk like a woman," said he; then, grinding his teeth, and stretching out a long muscular arm, he said, "I'll take the blackguard by the throat and tear it out of him, though I tear his life out along with it."

All this time Zoe had been looking at him with concern, and even with admiration. He seemed more beautiful than ever, to her, under the influence of passion, and more of a man.

"Mr. Severne," said she, "be calm. Fanny has misled you, without intending it. She did not hear all that passed between those two; I did. The velveteen and neck-tie man refused to bet with your money. It was Mademoiselle Klosking who bet, and with her own money. She took twenty-five pounds of her own, and twenty-five pounds of yours, and won two or three hundred in a few moments. Surely, as a gentleman, you cannot ask a lady to do more than repay you your twenty-five pounds."

Severne was a little cowed by Zoe' s interference. He stood his ground; but sullenly, instead of violently.

"Miss Vizard, if I were weak enough to trust a lady with my money at a gambling table, I should expect foul play; for I never knew a lady yet who would not cheat at cards, if she could. I trusted my money to a tradesman to bet with. If he takes a female partner, that is no business of mine; he is responsible all the same, and I'll have my money."

He jumped up at the word, and looked out at the window; he even fumbled with the door, and tried to open it.

"You had better jump out," said Fanny.

"And then they would keep my money for good. No;" said he, "I'll wait for the nearest station." He sunk back into his seat, looking unutterable things.

Fanny looked rather rueful at first; then she said, spitefully, "You must be very sure of your influence with your old sweetheart. You forget she has got another now—a tradesman, too. He will stick to the money, and make her stick to it. Their sending the fifty pounds shows that."

Zoe's eyes were on him with microscopic power, and, with all his self-command, she saw him wince and change color, and give other signs that this shaft had told in many ways.

He shut his countenance the next moment; but it had opened, and Zoe was on fire with jealousy and suspicion.

Fluctuating Fanny regretted the turn things had taken. She did not want to lose a pleasant male companion, and she felt sure Zoe would be unhappy, and cross to her, if he went. "Surely, Mr. Severne," she said, "you will not desert us and go back for so small a chance. Why, we are a hundred and fifty miles from Homburg, and all the nearer to dear old England. There, there—we must be kinder to you, and make you forget this misfortune."

Thus spoke the trimmer. The reply took her by surprise.

"And whose fault is it that I am obliged to get out a hundred and fifty miles from Homburg? You knew all this. You could have got me a delay of a few hours to go and get my due. You know I am a poor man. With all your cleverness, you don't know what made me poor, or you would feel some remorse, perhaps; but you know I am poor when most I could wish I were rich. You have heard that old woman there fling my poverty in my teeth; yet you could keep this from me—just to assist a cheat and play upon the feelings of a friend. Now, what good has that done you, to inflict misery on me in sport, on a man who never gave you a moment's pain if he could help it?"

Fanny looked ruefully this way and that, her face began to work, and she laid down her arms, if a lady can be said to do that who lays down a strong weapon and takes up a stronger; in other words, she burst out crying, and said no more. You see, she was poor herself.

Severne took no notice of her; he was accustomed to make women cry. He thrust his head out of the window in hopes of seeing a station near, and his whole being was restless as if he would like to jump out.

While he was in this condition of mind and body, the hand he had once kissed so tenderly, and shocked Miss Maitland, passed an envelope over his shoulder, with two lines written on it in pencil:

"If you GO BACK TO HOMBURG, oblige ME BY REMAINING there."



This demands an explanation; but it shall be brief.

Fanny's shrewd hint, that the money could only be obtained from Mdlle. Klosking, had pierced Zoe through and through. Her mind grasped all that had happened, all that impended, and, wisely declining to try and account for, or reconcile, all the jarring details, she settled, with a woman's broad instinct, that, somehow or other, his going back to Homburg meant going back to Mademoiselle Klosking. Whether that lady would buy him or not, she did not know. But going back to her meant going a journey to see a rival, with consequences illimitable.

She had courage; she had pride; she had jealousy. She resolved to lose her lover, or have him all to herself. Share him she would not, nor even endure the torture of the doubt.

She took an envelope out of her satchel, and with the pencil attached to her chatelaine wrote the fatal words, "If you go back to Homburg, oblige me by remaining there."

At this moment she was not goaded by pique or any petty feeling. Indeed, his reproach to Fanny had touched her a little, and it was with the tear in her eye she came to the resolution, and handed him that line, which told him she knew her value, and, cost what it might, would part with any man forever rather than share him with the Klosking or any other woman.

Severne took the line, eyed it, realized it, fell back from the window, and dropped into his seat. This gave Zoe a consoling sense of power. She had seen her lover raging and restless, and wanting to jump out, yet now beheld him literally felled with a word from her hand.

He leaned his head in his hand in a sort of broken-down, collapsed, dogged way that moved her pity, though hardly her respect.

By-and-by it struck her as a very grave thing that he did not reply by word, nor even by look. He could decide with a glance, and why did he hesitate? Was he really balancing her against Mademoiselle Klosking weighted with a share of his winnings?

This doubt was wormwood to her pride and self-respect; but his crushed attitude allayed in some degree the mere irritation his doubt caused.

The minutes passed and the miles: still that broken figure sat before her, with his face hidden by his white hand.

Zoe's courage began to falter. Misgivings seized her. She had made that a matter of love which, after all, to a man, might be a mere matter of business. He was poor, too, and she had thrust her jealousy between him and money. He might have his pride too, and rebel against her affront.

As for his thoughts, under that crushed exterior, which he put on for a blind, they were so deliberate and calculating that I shall not mix them on this page with that pure and generous creature's. Another time will do to reveal his sordid arithmetic. As for Zoe, she settled down into wishing, with all her heart, she had not submitted her lover so imperiously to a test, the severity of which she now saw she had underrated.

Presently the speed of the train began to slacken—all too soon. She now dreaded to learn her fate. Was she, or was she not, worth a few thousand pounds ready money?

A signal-post was past, proving that they were about to enter a station. Yet another. Now the wheels were hardly turning. Now the platform was visible. Yet he never moved his white, delicate, womanish fingers from his forehead, but remained still absorbed, and looked undecided.

At last the motion entirely ceased. Then, as she turned her head to glean, if possible, the name of the place, he stole a furtive glance at her. She was pallid, agitated. He resolved upon his course.

As soon as the train stopped, he opened the door and jumped out, without a word to Zoe, or even a look.

Zoe turned pale as death. "I have lost him," said she.

"No, no," cried Fanny. "See, he has not taken his cane and umbrella."

"They will not keep him from flying to his money and her," moaned Zoe. "Did you not see? He never once looked at me. He could not. I am sick at heart."

This set Fanny fluttering. "There, let me out to speak to him."

"Sit quiet," said Zoe, sternly.

"No; no. If you love him—"

"I do love him—passionately. And therefore I'll die rather than share him with any one."

"But it is dreadful to be fixed here, and not allowed to move hand or foot."

"It is the lot of women. Let me feel the hand of a friend, that is all; for I am sick at heart."

Fanny gave her her hand, and all the sympathy her shallow nature had to bestow.

Zoe sat motionless, gripping her friend's hand almost convulsively, a statue of female fortitude.

This suspense could not last long. The officials ordered the travelers to the carriages; doors were opened and slammed; the engine gave a snort, and only at that moment did Mr. Edward Severne tear the door open and bolt into the carriage.

Oh, it was pitiable, but lovely, to see the blood rush into Zoe's face, and the fire into her eye, and the sweet mouth expand in a smile of joy and triumph!

She sat a moment, almost paralyzed with pleasure, and then cast her eyes down, lest their fire should proclaim her feelings too plainly.

As for Severne, he only glanced at her as he came in, and then shunned her eye. He presented to her the grave, resolved countenance of a man who has been forced to a decision, but means to abide by it.

In reality he was delighted at the turn things had taken. The money was not necessarily lost, since he knew where it was; and Zoe had compromised herself beyond retreating. He intended to wear this anxious face a long while. But his artificial snow had to melt, so real a sun shone full on it. The moment he looked full at Zoe, she repaid him with such a point-blank beam of glorious tenderness and gratitude as made him thrill with passion as well as triumph. He felt her whole heart was his, and from that hour his poverty would never be allowed to weigh with her. He cleared up, and left off acting, because it was superfluous; he had now only to bask in sunshine. Zoe, always tender, but coy till this moment, made love to him like a young goddess. Even Fanny yielded to the solid proof of sincerity he had given, and was downright affectionate.

He was king. And from one gradation to another, they entered Cologne with Severne seated between the two girls, each with a hand in his, and a great disposition to pet him and spoil him; more than once, indeed, a delicate head just grazed each of his square shoulders; but candor compels me to own that their fatigue and the yawing of the carriage at the time were more to blame than the tired girls; for at the enormity there was a prompt retirement to a distance. Miss Maitland had been a long time in the land of Nod; and Vizard, from the first, had preferred male companions and tobacco.

At Cologne they visited the pride of Germany, that mighty cathedral which the Middle Ages projected, commenced, and left to decay of old age before completion, and our enterprising age will finish; but they departed on the same day.

Before they reached England, the love-making between Severne and Zoe, though it never passed the bounds of good taste, was so apparent to any female eye that Miss Maitland remonstrated severely with Fanny.

But the trimmer was now won to the other side. She would not offend Aunt Maitland by owning her conversion. She said, hypocritically, "I am afraid it is no use objecting at present, aunt. The attachment is too strong on both sides. And, whether he is poor or not, he has sacrificed his money to her feelings, and so, now, she feels bound in honor. I know her; she won't listen to a word now, aunt: why irritate her? She would quarrel with both of us in a moment."

"Poor girl!" said Miss Maitland; and took the hint. She had still an arrow in her quiver—Vizard.

In mid-channel, ten miles south of Dover, she caught him in a lucid interval of non-smoke. She reminded, him he had promised her to give Mr. Severne a hint about Zoe.

"So I did," said he.

"And have you?"

"Well, no; to tell the truth, I forgot."

"Then please do it now; for they are going on worse than ever."

"I'll warn the fool," said he.

He did warn him, and in the following terms:

"Look here, old fellow. I hear you are getting awfully sweet on my sister Zoe."

No answer. Severne on his guard.

"Now, you had better mind your eye. She is a very pretty girl, and you may find yourself entangled before you know where you are."

Severne hung his head. "Of course, I know it is great presumption in me."

"Presumption? fiddlestick! Such a man as you are ought not to be tied to any woman, or, if you must be, you ought not to go cheap. Mind, Zoe is a poor girl; only ten thousand in the world. Flirt with whom you like—there is no harm in that; but don't get seriously entangled with any of them. Good sisters, and good daughters, and good flirts make bad wives."

"Oh, then," said Severne, "it is only on my account you object."

"Well, principally. And I don't exactly object. I warn. In the first place, as soon as ever we get into Barfordshire, she will most likely jilt you. You may be only her Continental lover. How can I tell, or you either? And if not, and you were to be weak enough to marry her, she would develop unexpected vices directly—they all do. And you are not rich enough to live in a house of your own; you would have to live in mine—a fine fate for a rising blade like you."

"What a terrible prospect—to be tied to the best friend in England as well as the loveliest woman!"

"Oh, if that is the view you take," said Vizard, beaming with delight, "it is no use talking reason to you."

When they reached London, Vizard gave Miss Maitland an outline of this conversation; and, so far from seeing the humor of it, which, nevertheless, was pretty strong and characteristic of the man and his one foible, she took the huff, and would not even stay to dinner at the hotel. She would go into her own county by the next train, bag and baggage.

Mr. Severne was the only one who offered to accompany her to the Great Western Railway. She declined. He insisted; went with her; got her ticket, numbered and arranged her packages, and saw her safely off, with an air of profound respect and admirably feigned regret.

That she was the dupe of his art, may be doubted: that he lost nothing by it, is certain. Men are not ruined by civility. As soon as she was seated, she said, "I beg, sir, you will waste no more time with me. Mr. Severne, you have behaved to me like a gentleman, and that is very unusual in a man of your age nowadays. I cannot alter my opinion about my niece and you: but I am sorry you are a poor gentleman—much too poor to marry her, and I wish I could make you a rich one; but I cannot. There is my hand."

You should have seen the air of tender veneration with which the young Machiavel bowed over her hand, and even imprinted a light touch on it with his velvet lips.

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