OUR NEW SERIAL

Between Two Thieves

Richard Dehan April 1 1913
OUR NEW SERIAL

Between Two Thieves

Richard Dehan April 1 1913

Between Two Thieves

OUR NEW SERIAL

Richard Dehan

XVI

The mental picture Dunoisse had formed of the surroundings of Miss Smithwick turned out to be pleasantly remote from the reality.

The Hospice for Sick Governesses was a tall, prim, pale-faced family mansion in Cavendish Street, London, West, whose neat white steps led to a dark green door with a bright brass plate and a gleaming brass knocker, through a wide hall hung with landscape-paintings of merit and fine old engravings in black frames, up a softly-carpeted staircase to an airy, cheerful bedroom on the second floor, where with birds and fragrant flowers, and many little luxuries about her to which poor Smithwick in her desperate battle with adversity had for long been a stranger, the simple gentlewoman, grown a frail, white-haired, aged woman, lay in a pretty chintz-curtained bed, whose shinign brasswork gave back the ruddy blaze of a bright wood fire, listening to the quiet voice of a capped, and caped, and aproned nurse, who sat on a low chair beside her, reading from a volume that lay upon her knee.

Dunoisse, from the doorway, to which he had been guided by an elderly woman, similarly capped, and caped, and aproned, and evidently prepared for the arrival he had announced by letter to iiis poor old friend, took in the scene before patient or nurse had become aware of his presence.

The voice that read was one of the

rare human organs that are gifted to make surpassing melody of common ordinary speech. Soft, but distinct, through the dull roar of London traffic in the street below, every syllable came clearly. And the shabby leather-bound volume with the tarnished gilt clasps brought back old memories of Dunoisse’s childhood. From its sacred

Êages he had been taught the noble Inglish of Tyndale, following the travelling crochet-hook of simple Smithwick from Gospel text to text; and the words that reached him now had thus been made familiar; and they told of Heavenly pity and love for sorrowful* earth-born, Divinely-endowed humanity, and counselled brave endurance of the sufferings and sorrows of this world, for the sake of One all-sinless, Who drank of its bitter cup and wore its crown of thorns long, long before our stumbling feet were set upon its stony ways. . . .

Dunoisse’s elderly guide had turned away at the urgent summons of a bell, after knocking at the partly-open door and signing to the visitor to step across the threshold. He had waited there, listening to the soft, melodious cadences of the voice that read, for some moments before his presence was perceived. Then, his poor old friend cried out his name in a tremulous flutter of delight and agitation, and Dunoisse crossed the soft carpets to her bedside, and took her thin hand, and kissed her wrinkled forehead between the scanty loops of her gyay hair. And the cap-

ed, and caped, and aproned nurse who ad been reading, and had risen and closed the Book, and laid it noiselessly aside upon a table at the first moment of Miss Smithwick’s recognition, said to him:

“The patient must not be over-excited, sir. You will kindly ring for assistance should she appear at all faint.”

Then she went, with an upright carriage and step that rather reminded the visitor of the free, graceful gait of Arab women, out of the room, soundlessly shutting the door behind her.

“I did not tell her you were coming. ... I so much wished that you should see her I . .. Dearest Hector ! My own sweet Madame Dunoisse’s beloved boy !” poor Smithwick twittered, and Hector kindly soothed her, being nervously mindful of the nurse’s warning, the while she held his strong, supple red hand in both her frail ones, and gazed into the man’s face, wistfully looking for the boy.

He was not conscious of the old uncomfortable shrinking from poor Smithwick. Her nose was not so cold; her little staccato, mouselike squeaks of emotion were missing. Most of her sentimentalities and all of her affections had fallen away from her with her obsolete velvet mantles and queer old trinkets, fallals of beads, and hair, and steel, and the front of brown curls that deceived nobody, and never even dreamed of trying to match the scanty knob behind. The honest, genuine, affectionate creature that she was and had always been, shone forth now. . . . For Death is a skilful diamond-cutter who grinds and slices flaws and blemishes away, and leaves, although reduced in size, a gem of pure unblemished lustre, worthy to be set in Heaven’s shining floor.

And now he was to learn the reason of her harsh dismissal, and to respect her worth yet more. She charged him with her affectionate humble duty to his father....

“Who, I trust, has long since pardoned me for what he well might deem presumption in venturing to judge his actions, and question his”—Smithwick

hemmed—“strict adherence to the — shall I call it compact? — made with your dear mother, at the time she conceived it her duty to resume the religious habit she had discarded under the influence of — of a passion. Hector, which has made many of my sex oblivious to the peculiar sacredness of vows.” She added, reading no > clear comprehension of her meaning in the brilliant black eyes that looked at her: “I refer to the Marshal’s unsuccessful attempt to obtain from His Serene Highness the Hereditary Prince of Widinitz recognition, and” — she hesitated — “acceptance of — yourself, dear boy, as the — in point of fact — the legitimate heir to his throne!”

“Can my father have conceived such a thing possible?’ said Dunoisse, doubting if he had heard aright. “Can he have courted insult, rebuff, contempt, by making such an approach? Think again, dear friend! Is it not possible you may be mistaken? No hint of any such proceeding on my father’s part has ever been breathed to me. I beg you, think again !”

Miss Smithwick shook her head and sighed, and said that there was no mistake at all about it. She had received her dismissal for—it might be presumptuously—venturing to expostulate, when the public prints made the matter a subject for discussion. It had been going on for some time previously; the comments of the principal newspapers of Widinitz, and of the leading Press organs of Munich and Berlin were largely quoted in the Paris journals which had enlightened Smithwick on the subject of her patron’s plans. The cuttings she had preserved. They were in her desk, there upon the little table. Hector might see them if lie would . . . Pier thin fingers hunted under the velvet-covered flaps of the absurd little old writing-box that her old pupil handed her; she followed the movements of the well-made manly figure in the loosely-fitting gray travelling-suit, with fond, admiring eyes. A blush made her old cheeks quite pink and young as she said:

“Forgive me, dear Hector ! — but you have grown so handsome. . . Has . . .

has no beautiful young lady told you so? With her eyes, at least, since verbally to commend the personal appearance of a gentleman would be unmaidenly and unrefined.”

“You have lived too long out of France to remember, dear friend,’ said Hector, showing his small, square white teeth in a laugh of heart-whole amusement, “that young ladies, with us, are not supposed to have eyes at all!”

He forgot meek Smithwick for a moment, remembering an Arab girl at Blidah who had seemed to love him .. . Adjmeh had been very pretty, with the great blue-black dewy eyes of a gazelle, and the hoarse cooing voice of a dove, despite the little indigo lilies and stars tattooed on her ripe nectarine-colored cheeks ; on the backs of her slender, red-tipped hands, and upon the insteps of her slim, arched feet, dyed also with henna; their ankles tinkling with little gold and silver coins and amulets, threaded on black silk strings similar to those bound about her tiny wrists, and plaited into the orthodox twenty-five tresses of her night-black

?oieu. IU cume . . . »V JIU"

might be telling her so at that particular moment? . . . Dunoisse wondered, and then the conjured-up perfumes of sandal and ambergris grew faint; the orange glow of the African sunset faded from the flat, terraced roof of the little house at Blidah, the tinkle of the Arab tambur was nothing but the ring of a London muffin-man’s bell — and Miss Smithwick was tendering him a little flat packet of yellowed clippings from the Monarchie, the National, the Presse, the Patrie. . . .

Taking these with a brief excuse, Dunoisse moved to the window, and the cold gray light of the February morning fell upon the face that — conscious of the mingled anger and humiliation written upon it — he was glad to hide from the invalid. Recollections were buzzing in his ears like angry wasps, roused by the poking of a stick into their habitation, and each one had its

separate sting. It is not agreeable to be compelled to despise one’s father, and the last shred of the son’s respect fell from him as he read.

The chief among the Paris newspapers from which the cuttings had been taken, bore the date of a day or two previous to that old boyish duel at the Technical School of Military Instruction. The conversation occurring between the Duke and his guests, which, as repeated by de Moulny, had produced ihe quarrel, had undoubtedly arisen through discussion of these.

Press organs of Imperial convictions upheld the action of the Marshal, denounced the policy of the reigning Prince of Widinitz, in rejecting the pretensions of his daughter’s son, as idiotic and unnatural in an elderly hereditary ruler otherwise destitute of an heir. Legitimist journals sneered. Revolutionary prints heaped scorn upon the man, sprung from homely Swiss peasant-stock, who sought to aggrandise

himself by degrading his son. The satirical prints had squibs and lampoons. . . . the Charivari published a fearful

temptingly above him, whilst the aureoled vision of Ste. Terese vainly expostulated with the would-be marauder from clouds of glory overhead. The Monarchie quoted at length an article from a leading Munich newspaper.

Judge whether or no the reader went hot and cold.

“We cannot sufficiently pity the son of the high-bred, misguided, repentant lady, doomed in the green bough of inexperienced youth to be the tool of an unprincipled and unscrupulous adventurer, the handful of mud flung in the face of a Bavarian Catholic State, whose rulers have for centuries rendered to Holy Mother Church the most profound respect, and the most duteous allegiance.”

.Nom d’un petit bonhomme! ...”

The old, boyish, absurd expletive hissed impotently on the glowing coals of the man’s fierce indignation, quenching

Sig. 2

them not at all. The writer continued :

“He who thought little of dragging the pallet from under the dying peasant, whose greed has locked and bolted the doors of the Carmelite House of Mercy in the faces of the sick and suffering poor, now lays desecrating hands upon the princely mantle, covets the hereditary and feudal sceptre for his base-born son, adding to the impudent dishonesty of the Swiss innkeeper the vulgar braggadocio and swaggering assurance of the paid hireling of the Corsican usurper, who dared to mount the sacred throne of St. Louis; who presumed to adulterate with the plebeian blood of a Beauharnais the patrician tide flowing in the veins of a daughter of the reigning House of Wittelsbach.”

Dunoisse’s face was not pleasant to see, as, perusal ended, he set his small white teeth viciously upon his lower lip, and, breathing vengeance upon unknown offenders through his thin, arched nostrils, scowled menacingly at the smug-faced, genteel houses on the opposite side of Cavendish Street. His father’s boast about the “blood royal” came back to him, and that “fine Serene Highness” the Marshal had promised those good people of Widinitz. Ah! what an infamy the whole thing had been! But at least one might count it buried ; forgotten like these perishing strips of discolored, brittle paper. That was something to be thankful for.

He cleared his forehead of its thunder-clouds, and turned back towards the bed, but something of the ordeal of shame he had passed through was written on his face for Smithwick, in spite of the smile with which he dressed it, as he silently laid the yellowed fold of cuttings on the coverlet near her hand.

“They—they have given you pain?” faltered the poor lady.

“It is past and over, dear friend. These paragraphs have cleared up something that was obscure to me before,” said Dunoisse—“conveyed in a hint of his that was never again made. One cannot pretend to judge him. He has always been a law unto himself.”

The bitterness of the words, and the ironical smile that carved the speaker’s

Sig. 3

lips as he uttered them, were lost upon the simple worn ato who answered:

“I have always felt that. There are characters so highly elevated above the crowd of ordinary individuals, that one can hardly expect them to be influenced by the ordinary considerations, the commonplace principles that guide and govern the rest of us---”

“Fortunately for ourselves!” interpolated Dunoisse.

“—That, my dear, we who know ourselves their inferiors in intellect, as in personal advantages, cannot pretend to judge them,” finished the poor lady.

“And in proportion with the baseness of their motives and the mean selfishness of their aims,” said Dunoisse, “the admiration of their more moral and upright fellow-creatures would appear to be lavished upon them.”

“Too true, I fear, my dear Hector,” admitted Miss Smithwick, flushing inside the neat frills that bordered her cap. “But had you beheld your father in the splendor of his earlier years, you would”— she coughed—“have perhaps regarded the devotion with which it was his fate to inspire persons of the opposite sex, with greater leniency and tolerance.”

“How did his path cross my mother’s?” asked Dunoisse, amused, in spite of himself, at the unremitting diligence with which the Marshal’s faithful votary availed herself of every opportunity that presented itself, to spread a brushful of gilding on her battered idol. “I have often wondered, but never sough! to learn.”

“During the last years of the Emperor Napoleon’s sequestration at St. Helena, my dear, your father, chafing at the lack of public appreciation which his great talents should have commanded, and his distinguished martial career certainly had earned, found distraction and interest in travelling as a private gentleman through the various countries he had visited in a less peaceful character. And, during a visit to the country estate of a Bavarian nobleman, whose acquaintance he had made during—unless I err — the second campaign of Vienna, as the result of one of those accidents that so mould our af-

ter lives, Hector, that one cannot doubt that Destiny and Fate conspire to bring them about, he crossed your mother s path.”

“To her most bitter sorrow and her son’s abiding shame !” commented Dunoisse, but not aloud.

“There is, or was, in the neighborhood of Widinitz—I speak of the capital of the Bavarian Principality of that name,” went on Miss Smithwick, “a House of Mercy—under the management of nuns of the Carmelite Order, whose Convent adjoins the Hospital — now closed in consequence of the withdrawal from its Endowment Fund of a sum so large that the charitable institution was ruined by its loss.”

Hector knew well who had brought about the ruin. He sat listening, and kept his eyes upon the carpet, lest the fierce wrath and scathing contempt that burned in them should discompose the Marshal’s faithful partisan.

“One day in the autumn of 1820,” said Smithwick—“the Prince having ridden out early with all his Court and retinue to hunt—a gentleman was

brought to the Widinitz House of Mercy on a woodman’s cart. He had been struck upon the forehead and thrown from his saddle by an overhanging branch as he rode at full speed down a forest road. The Hunt swept on after the boarhounds — the insensible man was found by two peasants and conveyed to the Hospital, as I have said. The nun in charge of the Lesser Ward — chiefly reserved for the treatment of accidents, my dear, for there were many among the peasants and woodcutters, and quarrymen, and miners — and to meet their great need, the House of Mercy had been founded by a former Prioress of the Convent— the nun in charge was Sister Terese de Saint Francois. . .”

“My mother. Yes? . .”

Dunoisse had spoken in a whisper. His eyes shunned gentle Smithwick’s. He sat in his old, boyish attitude leaning forwards in his chair, his clasped hands thrust downwards between his knees; and those hands were so desperately knotted in the young man’s fierce, secret agony of shame and anger, that

the knuckles started, lividly white in color, against the rich red skin.

“There is no more to tell, my dear!” said Miss Smithwick. “You can conceive the rest?”

“Easily!” said Dunoisse. “Easily! And, knowing what followed, one is tempted to make paraphrase of the Scripture story. Had the Samaritans passed by and left the wounded man to what you have called Fate and Destiny, the cruses of oil and wine would not have been drained and broken, the House of Mercy would not have been ransacked and gutted : its virgin despoiled — its doors barred in the faces of the dying poor.” Pie laughed, and the jarring sound of his mirth made his meek hearer tremble. “It is a creditable story !” he said, “a capital story for one to hear who bears the name he so willingly makes stink in the nostrils of honorable men. For if I have Carmel in my blood — to quote his favorite gibe— I have also his. And it is a terrible inheritance !”

“Oh ! hush, my dear ! Remember that he is your father!” pleaded poor

Smithwick.

“I cannot forget it,” said Dunoisse, smiling with still', pale lips. “It is a relationship that will be constantly

brought home. When I see you lying here, and know what privations you must have endured before the charitable owners of this house opened its doors to you, and realize that his were shut because you strove to open his eyes to the precipice of shame towards which his greed and ambition were hurrying him, blindly, I ask myself whether, with such Judas-blood running in my own veins, and such a heritage of gross desires and selfish sensuality as it must bring with it!—whether it be possible for me, his son, to live a life of cleanliness and honor? And the answer is—”

“Oh! yes, my dear!” cried the poor creature tearfully. “With the good help of God ! And have you not been honorable and brave, Hector, in refusing any portion of—that money?” She added, meeting Dunoisse’s look of surprise: “Do you wonder how it is I know? Your father wrote and told me—it is now years ago—1 hope you will not blame

him !—though the letter was couched in terms of reproach that wounded me cruelly at the time. . . .” Smithwick felt under her pillow" for her handkerchief and dried her overflowing eyes.

“What charges did he bring against you?” Dunoisse asked, controlling as best he could the contempt and anger that burned in his black eyes, and vibrated in his voice.

“He said I had revenged myself for the withdrawal of his patronage, and my removal from his service,” gulped poor Smithwick, “bv poisoning _ the mind of his only child! He complained that you refused to touch a franc of his money—preferring to wrork your way upwards under heavy disadvantages, rather than accept from him, your father, any portion of the fortune he had always meant should be yours. And” — she put her handkerchief away and nodded her head in quite a determined manner—“I wrote back and told him, Hector—that I esteemed your course of conduct, though my counsels had not inspired it ; and that your mother, when she learned of your determination, would be proud of her noble son !”

Dunoisse would have spoken here, but Smithwack held up her thin hand and stopped him.

“For it seems to me, dear child of my dearest mistress, that to take what has been given to God, is the wray to call down the just judgment of Heaven upon the heads of those who are guilty of such deeds,” said Smithwick, nodding her mild grey head emphatically. “And rather than live in gilded affluence upon those funds, wrested from the coffers of the Carmelite House of Charity at Widinitz. I would infinitely prefer to carry on existence—as I have done, dear Hector—until my health failed me, in my attic room at Hampstead, on a penny roll a day. And she wmuld uphold me and agree with me.”

“Who is she, dear friend?” asked Hector, smiling, though his heart wras sore within him at the picture of dire need revealed in these utterances of the simple lady.

“I speak of our Ladv Superintendent. A remarkable personality, my dear Hector, if T may venture to sav so. . . .

It was she who, finding this benevolent charity suffering from mismanagement and lack of funds, endowed it with a portion of her large fortune, induced other wealthy persons to subscribe towards endowing the foundation writh a permanment income, and, finding no trustworthy person of sufficient capacity to fill the post, herself assumed the duties of Resident Matron. Imagine it, my dear!” said gentle Smithwick. “At her age—for she is still young—possibly your senior by a year or two, certainly not more—to forego Society and the giddy round of gilded pleasure to be found in London and dear, dear Paris! —for the humdrum routine of a Hospital; the training and management of nurses; the regulation of prescriptions, diets and accounts!”

“Indeed! A vocation, one would say!” commented Dunoisse.

“She would ask you.” returned Miss Smithwick, “must one necessarily be a nun to work for the good of others?” The words stirred a dim recollection in Dunoisse of having heard them before. Rut the image of the Lady Superintendent of the Hospice for Sick Governesses formed itself wdthin his mind. He saw" her as a plain, sensible, plump little spinster, w-ell advanced towards the thirties, resigned to exchange hopeless rivalries with other young women, not only rich, but pretty, for undivided rule and undisputed swav over a large household dependents. . . . preferring the ponderous compliments of Members of Visiting Committees to the assiduities of impecunious Guardsmen and money-hunting detrimentals. He said, as the picture faded:

“This lady w"ho has been so kind to

you-"

“ ‘Kind/ . . The word is feeble, my dear Hector, to express her unbounded goodness,” declared Miss Smithwick. “I can but say that in the midst of sickness, and dire poverty, and other distrseses that I will not further dwell on. she came upon me like an Angel from the Heaven in which T firmly believe. And when I lay down my head, never to lift it up again—and I think, my dear, the time is not far off now !—that great and solemn hour that comes to

all of us will be cheered and lightened, Hector, if she stands beside my pillow and holds my dying hand.”

The simple sincerity of the utterance brought tears into the listener’s eyes. He winked them back, and said:

“I pray the day you speak of may not dawn for years! My leave, procured with difficulty owing to three t^ned national disturbances which the Army may be employed in quelling, extends not beyond three days. I shall hope to see this lady, and thank her for her goodness to my friend before I go.”

“I trust she will permit it. She is very reticent—almost shrinking—in her desire to avoid recognition of her ...” Miss Smith wick broke off in the middle of her sentence. She leaned back upon her pillows, lividly pale, breathing hurriedly; her blue lips strove to say: “It is nothing. Don’t mind !”

Alarmed for her, repentant for having forgotten the nurse’s warning, Dunoisse grasped at the bell-rope by the fireplace, and sent an urgent summons clanging through the lower regions of the tall house. Within a moment, as it seemed, the door opened, admitting the capped, and caped, and aproned young woman who had been reading to the patient upon his arrival. A glance seemed to show her a condition of things not unexpected. She went swiftly to bedside, answering , as Dunoisse turned to her appealingly the words shaping themselves upon his lips that asked her: “Shall I go?”

“It will be best! . . . Wait at the end of the passage, near the window on the landing .... This looks alarming,” she answered—“but it will not last long.”

XVII

She had forgotten him before the still pure air of the sickroom had ceased to vibrate with her spoken words. She saw nothing but the patient in need of her, and had passed her arm beneath the pillow and was raising the gray head, and had reached a little vial and a measuring-glass from a stand that was beside the bed, before Dunoisse had gained the door. It might have been five minutes later, as he contemplated a

vista of grimy, leaded roofs, and cowled, smoke-vomiting chimney-pots, from the staircase-window at the passage-end, that he heard a light rustling of garments passing over the thick soft carpets, and she came to him, moving with the upright graceful carriage and the long, gliding step that had reminded him of the gait of the tall, supple Arab woman, whose slender, perfect proportions lend their movements such rhythmic grace. He said to her as she stopped at a few paces from him :

“Mademoiselle, you see one who is gravely to blame for forgetfulness of your wise warning. I beg you, hide nothing from me !... Is my dear old friend in danger? Her color was that of Death itself.”

“There is always danger in cases of heart-disease.”

“Heart-disease. . . . She said no word to me upon the subject. But it is like her,” said Dunoisse, “to conceal her sufferings rather than distress her friends.”

“She has needed friends, and the help that prosperous friendship could have well afforded to bestow, believe me, sir, in these late years of uncomplaining want and hitter privation.”

The voice that spoke was sweet; Dunoisse had already recognized in it that quality. Barely raised above an undertone—presumably for the sake of other sufferers within the neighboring rooms that opened on the landing, from behind the shut doors of which came the murmur of voices, or the clinking of cups and saucers, or the sound of fires being poked,—this voice had in its clear distinctness the ring of crystal; and the fine edge of scorn in it cut to the sensitive quick of the listener. He started as he looked at her, meeting the calm and clear and steady regard of eyes that were blue-gray as the waters of her own English Channel and seemed as cold.

For they condemned him and judged him, the rich man’s son, who had left the old dependent to the charity of strangers. His shamed blood tingled under his red-brown skin, as he said with a resentful flash of his black eves :

“That this good woman, the faithful guardian of my motherless boyhood,

has suffered want, is to my bitter regret, to my abiding poignant sorrow, but not to my shame. A thousand times — no!”

He was so vivid and emphatic, as he stood speaking with his back to the window, that, with his foreign brilliancy of coloring, the slightness of form that masked his great muscular strength the supple eloquence of gesture that accompanied and emphasized his clear and cultivated utterance, he seemed to glow against the background of rimy February fog, and London roofs and chimney-pots, as a flashing ruby upon gray velvet ; as a South American orchid seen in relief aainst a neutral-tinted screen. Llis “No!’ had a convincing ring ; the lightning-flash of his black eyes was genuine fire, not theatrical : the woman who heard and saw had been born with the rare power of juding and reading men. Her broad white forehead cleared between the silken folds of her hair, pale nut-brown, with the gleam of autumn gold upon the edges of its thick waved tresses; the lowered arches of her brown eyebrows lifted and drew apart, smoothing out the fold between them; the regard of her blue-grav eyes ceased to chill; the delicate stern lines of her sensitive mouth relaxed. She knew he spoke the truth.

He saw a tall, slight, brown-haired woman in a plain and, according to the voluminous fashion of the time, rather scanty gown of Quakerish gray, protected by a bibbed white apron with pockets of accommodating size. A little cape of stuff similar to that of the gown covered her shoulders. Their beauty of line, like the beauty of the long rounded throat that rose above her collar of unadorned white cambric, the shapeliness of the arms that were covered by her plain tight sleeves, the slender rounded hips and long graceful proportions of the lower limbs, were enhanced rather than hidden by the simplicity of her dress ; as the admirable shape and poise of the small rounded head was undesignedlv set off lay the simple, close-fitting, white muslin cap, with its double frill and broad falling lappets.

Her calmness seemed immobility, her silence indifference to Dunoisse. Her hands were folded upon her apron, her bosom rose and fell to the time of her deep even breathing, her steady eyes regarded him as he poured himself out in passionate denial, fierce repudiation of the odious stigma of ingratitude, but she gave no sign of having heard. She looked at him, and considered, that was all. He said, galled and irritated by her unresponsiveness :

“I should ask pardon of you, Mademoiselle, for my vehemence, incomprehensible to you and out of place here. What I seek is a private audience of the lady who is Directress of this charitable house. Would she favor me by granting it? T would promise not to detain her. Could you graciously, Mademoiselle--”

She said, with her intent eyes still reading him:

“I should tell you it is the rule of this house that no attendant in it should be addressed as ‘Mademoiselle,’ ‘Miss,” or ‘Mrs.’ . . . ‘Nurse’ is the name to which we all answer, and we try to deserve it well.”

Her smile wrought a radiant, lovely change in her that evoked his unwilling admiration. The pearl-white teeth it revealed shone brilliant in the light of it. and the dark blue-grav eyes flashed and gleamed like sapphires between their narrowed lids. Dut the next moment she stood before him as pale and grave as she had seemed to him before, with her hands folded on her white apron.

“You do deserve that title, I am sure.” said Dunoisse, “if von minister to all vour patients as kindly and as skilfullv as to my poor friend there.” TTe added: “Forgive me, that I detain vou here, when you raav he needed by her bedside!”

He motioned towards the door of the room he had quitted, receiving answer:

“Do not he alarmed. Another nurse is with her. She was in the adjoining room : T called her to take charge before T came to you. And—you were desirous of an interview with our Superin‘ondent here. . . . She sees few people, the nature of her responsibilities per-

mitting little leisure. ... I cannot bring you any nearer to her than you are now. But if you could trust me with the message you desire to send, or the explanation you wish to make, I will give you my promise that your exact words shall be conveyed to her. Will that do?”

Dunoisse bowed and thanked her, with some shadow of doubt upon his square forehead, a lingering hesitation in his tone.

“If you were older, Mademoiselle—” he began, forgetful of her injunction, as he hesitated before her. She looked at him, and her lips curved into their lovely smile again, and her blue-gray eyes were mirthful as she said:

“I am older than you are, M. Dunoisse. Does not that fact give you confidence?’

“It should.” returned Dunoisse, “if it were possible of credence,”

“Compliments are a currency that does not pass within these doors,” she answered, with a fine slight accent of irony and a tincture of sarcasm in her smile. “Keep yours for Society smallchange in the. salons of Paris or the drawing-rooms of Belgravia. They are wasted here.”

“I know but little,” said Dunoisse, “of Tie salons of London or Paris. Cireumtances have conspired to shut the doors of Society, generally open to welcome rich men’s sons, as completely in my face as in that of any other ineligible. You will learn why, since you are so kind as to Undertake to convey a message from me to the Superintendent of this house. Tt shall be as brief as I can make it. I would not willingly waste your time.”

She bent her head, and the high-bred grace perceptible in the slight movement appealed to him as exquisite. But he was too earnest in his desire for justification to be turned aside.

“Say to this lady whose charitable hand has lifted mv dear old friend— from what depths of penury I only now begin to realize—that if she comprehends that I was a boy " at a Military School, and ignorant, thoughtless, and selfish as boys are wont to be, when ipy good old governess was driven from the house that had been for years her

home, and that her dismissal was so brought about that she seemed but to be leaving us upon a visit of condolence to a sick relative, she will judge me less harshly, regard me with lesscontempt than it may seem to her, now, I deserve !-”

His hearer stopped him :

“You should be told, M. Dunoisse, that all that can be said in your favor has been already said by Miss Smithwick herself. It never occurred to her to reproach you. Nor for her dismissal can you be blamed at all. But it has seemed to me that where there was ability to provide for one so tried and faithful, some effort should have been made in her behalf by you as you grew more mature, and the ample means that are placed at the disposal of a rich man’s son were yours to use. She never told you of her cruel need, I can guess that. But oh! M. Dunoisse! you might have read Hunger and Cold between the lines of the poor thing’s letters.”

There were tears in the great sorrowful blue eyes. Her calm voice shook a little.

“If you had seen her as she was when I was sent to her,” she said, “you would feel as I do. True, a letter with a remittance from you came when she was nearly past needing any of the help it contained for her. But long, long before, you might have read between the lines !”

“Ah !—in the Name of Heaven, Mademoiselle, I pray you hear me !” burst out Dunoisse, catching at the carved knob of the baluster at the stair-head, and wringing it in the energy of his earnestness. “All that you suppose is true ! Even before I came of age a large sum of money was placed at ray disposal by my father. Over a million of our francs, forty-five thousand of your English sovereigns, lie to my credit in the bank, have so lain for years. Mav the hour that sees me spend a sou of that accursed money be an hour of shame for me, and bitterness and humiliation ! And should ever a day draw near, that is to see me trick myself in dignities and honors stolen by a charlatan’s device, and usurp a power to which I have no more moral right than the meanest

Seasant of the State it rules-Hiefore its awning I pray that I may die ! and that those who come seeking a clod of mud to throw in the face of a Catholic principality, may find it lying in a coffin I” He had forgotten that he addressed himself to a stranger, so wholly had his passion carried him away. He awakened to her now, seeing her recoil from him as though repelled by his vehemence, and then conquer her impulse and turn to him again.

“Pardon !” He held up his hand to check her as she was about to speak. “I sneak, in my _ forgetfulness, of things incomprehensible to you. I employ names that are unmeaning. These have no part in the message I entreat you of your goodness to bear to the Superintendent of this house. Could it not be made clear to this lady, without baring to the vision of a stranger the disgrace of one whom I am bound to respect, and would that it were possible! Could it not be understood that this money was gained in a discreditable, vile, and shameful way? Could it not be understood that I shall never rest until it has been returned to the original source whence it was unjustly plundered and wrung? Could it not be made clear that while I was yet a boy I swore a solemn oath before Almighty God, at the instance of a friend—who afterwards cast me off and deserted me!—that this restitution should be made? . . . Might it not be explained that I have had nothing, since I took that oath, that was not earned by my own efforts? That I could take no holidays from the Technical School where I was a cadet, because I could not afford to buy civilian clothes, and that, until by good fortune I earned rewards and prizes and a period of free tuition at the Training Institute for Officers of the staff—that many of my comrades deserved better, I do not doubt ! — I was very, very poor, Mademoiselle! Would it not be possible?” “Yes, yes!’ she answered him, and her pale cheeks had grown rosy as apple-blossoms, and her great gray-blue eyes were full of kindness now. “It shall all be explained. You shall be no longer blamed where you are praiseworthy, and reproached where you

should be honored. And — two breaches of faith — a double perjury—are worse than one, though a lower standard of honor than yours would have taken your false friend’s desertion as a release. You have done well to keep your oath, M. Dunoisse, though he may have broken his.”

“I deserve no praise,” said Dunoisse, “and I desire none. I ask for justice—it is the right of every human soul; I beg you to repeat to this benevolent lady what I have said, and to tell her that I will be answerable for whatever charges she has been put to, for the medical attendance and support of my dear old friend, from to-day. It is a sacred duty which I will gladly take upon myself.”

“Forgive me,’ said the listener, and her voice was very soft, “but would not this be a heavy tax on your resources? —a heavy drain upon your slender means?”

He listened with his black eyes seeming to study an engraving that hung upon the staircase wall. She ended, and he looked at her again.

“It would be a tax, and a drain under ordinary circumstances, but I think I can insure a way to meet the difficulty. . . . . Is it possible that I may be permitted to say Adieu to my old friend before I leave this house? It will be necessary—now!—that I should return to France by the packet that sails tonight.”

He was more than ever like a slender ruddy flame as he glowed there against the dull background of marble-papered wall and foggy window-panes.. His virile energy, the hard clear ring of his voice, the keen flash of his black eyes won her rare approval, no less than his reticence and his delicacy. Her own eyes were more than kind, though in the respect of his seeing Miss Smithwick again that day her decision was prohibitory. He bowed to the decision.

“Then you shall say Adieu and Au revoir to her for me,” he said, and held out his hand with a smiling look and a quick, impulsive gesture. “And for yourself, Mademoiselle, accept my thanks.”

He added, retaining the hand she had placed in his :

“You will not fail of your promise to repeat to Madame the Superintendent all that I have confided to you?”

“You have my word,” she answered him. “But of one thing I must warn you—if you send any money, she will send it back !”

“Name of Heaven!—why?” exclaimed Dunoisse.

“Because,” she said, with a slight fold between her arched brown eyebrows, “your friend has been accepted by the Committee as a permanent inmate here, and there is no lack of funds. I must really go now if you will be so good as to release me 1”

Dunoisse was still gaoler of the hand she had given, and his grip, unconsciously strenuous, was responsible for that fold of pain betwen the nurse’s eyebrows. He released the hand with penitence and distress, saying:

“I entreat you to forgive me if I have hurt this kind hand, that has alleviated so much pain, and smoothed the pillows of so many death-beds.” But his lips, only shaded by the little upwardbrushed black moustache, had barely touched her fingers before she drew them gently from his, saying with a smile :

“There is no need for atonement, M. Dunoisse. As for this kiss upon my hand, I will transfer it with your message of farewell to your dear old governess. My good wishes will follow you with hers, wherever you may go !”

She was gone, moving along the passage and vanishing into a room halfway down its length before a bell rang somewhere in the lower regions of the house, a voice spoke to Dunoisse, and he brought back his eyes, that had been questing in search of another, to see the capped and caped and aproned elderly woman, who had a round, brown smiling face, somewhat lined and wrinkled, smooth gray hair, and pleasant eyes of soft dark hazel, waiting to lead him downstairs as she had guided him up. To her he said, as she opened the street-door upon the foggy vista of Cavendish Street :

“Be so good, Madame, as to tell me

the name of the Lady Superintendent here?”

The elderly attendant answered promptly :

“Merling, sir—Miss Ada Merling.” Where had Dunoisse heard that name before? He racked his brain even as he said, with the smile that showed his small, square white teeth and made his black eyes gleam more brightly:

“I must be once more troublesome, if you will allow me. What is the name of the lady to whom I was talking just now?”

The elderly attendant answered, in precisely the same form of words: “Merling, sir—Miss Ada Merling.”

XVIII

The front door of the Hospice for Sick Governesses in Cavendish Street had not long closed behind the retreating figure of a swarthy, black-eyed young foreign gentleman when the leasant-faced elderly woman whose uty it was to answer its bell brought to the Lady Superintendent a card upon a little inlaid tray. She took the card and smiled.

“Tell Mr. Bertram that I will come down in a few minutes. And I hope you did not call him ‘Master Robert’ this time, Husnuggle ?”

“I did, Miss Ada, love, as sure as my name’s a queer one, and him a Secretary of State at War.”

“He is not Secretary at War now, Husnuggle, though he may be again. Who can tell, when Governments are always changing and Cabinets being made and remade?”

“A-cabinet-making he went as a boy, and cut his fingers cruel, and the Wraye Abbey housekeeper fainted dead away at the sight of the blood, they said!— and the head-housemaid gave notice at being asked for cobwebs, which she vowed and declared not one were to be found in the place, though answer for attics how can you? And he had my name pat, Miss Ada, so soon as I answered the door. ‘Halloa, Husnuggle!’ he says ; ‘so you’ve come up from Peakshire to help nurse the sick governessses? And I says: ‘Yes, Master Robert, and

it’s like the good old times cpme back, to see your handsome, smiling face again.’ And you’ll come to him in a few minutes?”

“The minutes have passed, Ifusnuggle, while you have been talking. I am going down to Mr. Bertram now.”

She found in a little ground-floor parlor, sacred to acounts and the semiprivate interviews accorded by the Lady Superintendent to shabby-genteel visitors with hungry faces (growing still more wan as the tale of penury was told) and smartish visitors with impudent faces, apt to flush uncomfortably under the keen scrutiny of those bluegray eyes. It was plainly but comfortably furnished, and a red fire glowed in its grate of shining steel, and a plump and sleek and well-contented cat dozed happily upon its hearthrug.

You saw Bertram as a tall, lightlybuilt man of barely thirty, with a bright, spirited, handsome face and a frank, gay, cordial manner. No trace of the pompousness of the ex-Secretary of State either in his appearance, voice, or handshake : a warm and cordial grip was to be had from Bertram; or, in default of this, a brusque nod that said :

“You are objectionable, and I prefer to keep clean hands!”

He was striding lightly up and down the little parlor, with the loose ends of his black satin cravat—voluminous, according to the fashion of the time— floating behind him ; and each time he covered the distance from the hearthrug to the muslin-blinded window he would stop, look impatiently at his watch, and recommence his walk.

She said, standing in the doorway, watching him do this :

“You are not in a genuine hurry, or you would not be here at all.”

“Ada!” He turned with a look of glad relief, and as she noiselessly closed the door and came to meet^ him, he took both the womanly cordial hands she held out to him, and pressed them in his own. “It does one good to see you. It does one good even to know you are anchored here in Cavendish Street, and not_ flying from Berlin to Paris, from Paris to Rome, from Rome

to Ileaven-knows-where — comparing foreign systems of Hospital management and sanitation with our own, and finding ours everywhere to be hopelessly out of date, inferior, and wrong. . .”

“As it is!” she said—“And is it not time we knew it? so that we can prove those mistaken who say, ‘To be insular is to be strong, perhaps, but at the same time it is to be narrow-minded”

“Ah! Ada, Ada!” he said, and his sweet and mellow voice had sadness in it. “If we all lived up to your standard, the Millennium would have come, and Governments would cease from troubling, and War Secretaries would be at rest.”

“Are you not at rest just now?” she asked, and added, even before he shook his head: “But no! You are overworked; your face shows it.”

“Mary said so this morning,” he answered; “but if my looks pity me, as Peakshire folk would say, I feel fit and well.” t

“Where is my Mary?” she asked. “Why have you not brought her?” “Mary has flown down to Hayshire,” he said, “on the wings of the Portsmouth Express. One of the crippled children at the Home was to be operated on, under chloroform, for the removal of a portion of diseased hip-bone ; and though my wife shrank from the ordeal of seeing pain, even dulled by the anæsthetic, she felt it was her duty to be upon the spot.”

“Dear Mary!” she said, and if Dunoisse had seen her face he would no longer have thought it lacking in warmth and color: “True, good, noble woman:”

Bertham answered, with feeling in his own face and voice:

“The dearest, living! . . . the noblest I ever knew—but one, Ada!”

She passed the words as though she had not heard, and said, with the soft, clear laugh that had music in it for the ears of those who loved her, and this man was one of the many:

“Husnuggle was made so happy by vour not forgetting her, poor good soul!”

“Her face conjured up Wrave Rest,” he said, “and the yew-tree gateway be-

tween the park and the garden; and the green terraces with the apple-espaliers and the long borders of lavenderbushes; and Darth down at the bottom of the deep valley, foaming over her bed of limestone rock, and the steep paths down to the trout-pools that were easier to tread than the slippery ways of Diplomacy.”

“One can always go back!” she returned, though her sigh for all the distant sweetness had echoed his, “either to my dear Wraye Rest or your own peculiar Eden of Wraye Abbey.”

“Taking our respective loads of aims and ambitions and responsibilities with us,” said Bertham. “My badly-housed Military Invalid Pensioners for whom I want tight roofs, and dry walls, and comfortable beds. My Sandhurst Cadets, trussed up in absurd trappings, and harassed with rules as trumpery — hide-bound with conditions quite as detrimental to health as their eut-anddried discipline, and innumerable supererogatory belts, straps, and buckles. My Regimental Schools, where illiterate soldiers and their wives are to learn to read and write and cipher; and my Infants’ Classes, where the soldiers’ children may be taught as well. My Improved Married Quarters, which should —but do not, more’s the pity !—occupy a separate block in every Barracks in the Kingdom, where the women and their men may live in decent privacy, and not under conditions not at all distantly recalling—to our shame ! — and the Red Tapeism that preserves these conditions in their unadorned and ancient ugliness ought to blush the redder for it! — the primitive promiscuities of the Stone Age. With a distinct húis in. favor of that period !”

His handsome face was bitt c and dark with anger; his voice, though barely raised above the level of ordinarv fireside chat, rang and vibrated with passionate indignation.

“It has been borne in on me, Ada. in God knows how many hours of weariness and bitter disappointment, that our Peninsular triumphs—achieved in what we are accustomed to call the good old days—are a heavy clog upon our advancement as a nation now,

and a cloud upon our eyes. They were not good old days, Ada, as windbaggy orators like to call them ; they were bad old days, inhuman old days, cruel old days, when Napoleon Bonaparte possessed France upon a bridal bed of bloody corpses; and ragged, underfed, untaught, unsheltered soldiers upheld, in what neglect, what misery and suffering, you and I can barely realize, amidst Famine and Slaughter and Pestilence and. Devastation hideous and indescribable, the traditional glory of the British nation, the strength and fire and power of British Arms. Let us have done with the pride of those days! Let us cease to boast of them ! .Let us prove our advancement in Civilization, Humanity, and Science by no longer treating these our fellow-creatures as human pawns in a devilish game of chess, or as thoughtless children treat toy-soldiers; to be moved hither and thither at will, swept off the board when necessary, and jostled promiscuously into dark and stuffv boxes until we are pleased to call for them again! Since Great Britain owes so much to her Army and her Navy, let her treat the men who serve her by land and sea with respect, and decent consideration. And in so far as Governments and Administrations of the old days ignored their rights to honest. humane, and Christian usage, let us have done with those damned old (invs for ever, and while the life is red in us. hurry on the new!”

“They cannot come too quickly!” she said, giving back his earnest look. “Surely bv raising the moral tone, cultivating the mental faculties, and improving the social condition of the prívale soldier, he is nerved and tempered, not softened and unstrung.”

“As it is we owe him honor,” said Bertham, “that, with so many disadvantages as he labors under to-day, and in the face of the bad example too often set him as to moral conduct and neglect of dutv by his superiors, he is what we know him to be!”

“Ah, that is true—most true!” she answered, breaking the silence in which she had sat listening to the silvery voice of which even Bertham’s enemies admitted the singular charm. “May the

day soon dawn when we shall see him what we hoDe he will become I”

“There will be a dark night before its dawning,” Bertham returned, and his smile had sadness in its very brilliancy. “For England must lose much to win that more, be assured.”

He added as his look met hers, seeing the slight bewildered knitting of her eyebrows :

“There is a grand old white head nodding at the upper end of the green Council Board at the War Office, or soundly sleeping, in the inner sanctum at the covered passage-end that has always been known as the office of the Commander-in-Chief, — that Britain, in her gratitude and loyal regard and tender reverence for its great owner, — and God forbid that I should rob him of one jot or tittle of what has been so gloriously won!—has left there longyears since the brain within it became incapable, by the natural and inevitable decay of its once splendid faculties, of planning and carrying out any wholesome, needful reform in our Army’s organization — even of listening to those who have suggestions to offer, or plans to submit, with anything but an old man’s testy impatience of what seems new. This is deplored by personages nominally subordinate, really wielding absolute power. ‘Sad, sad!’ they say, ‘but the nation would have it so.’ Yet little more than a year ago, when, as by a miracle, the strength and vigor of the old warrior’s prime seemed, if only for an instant, to have returned to him —when the dim fires of the gray eagleglance blazed out again, and the trembling hand, strung to vigor for the nonce, penned that most electrifying letter, — published a few weeks back by what the New England party regard as a wise stroke of policy, and Officialdom as an unpardonable indiscretion, — that letter declaring the country’s defences to be beggarly and inadequate, its naval arsenals neglected, its dockyards undermanned, its forts not half-garrisoned.

. . What sort of criticism did it evoke? Those who were openly antagonistic declared it to be preposterous ; those who were loyal treated its utterances with contemptuous, galling indulgence. . . .

To me it was as though a prophetic voice had spoken in warning from the tomb! And even before the graven stone sinks down over the weary old white head, Ada, and the laurel are withered that lie above, the country he loved and served so grandly may be doing penance in dust and ashes for that warning it despised!”

“And if the War-call sounded to-morrow,’ she said, with her intent look upon him, and her long white fingers knitted about her knee, “and the need arose—as it would arise—for a man of swift decision and vigorous action to lead us in the field — upon whom would we rely? Who would step into the breach, and wield the baton?”

“A man,” returned Bertham, “ sixty -six years old, who served on the Duke’s staff and lost his left arm at Waterloo; who has never held any command or had any experience of directing troops in War, and wffiose life, for forty years or so, has been spent in the discharge of the duties, onerous but not active, devolving upon a Military Secretary. The whole question as to fitness or not fitness turns upon an ‘if.’ ”

The speaker spread his hands and shrugged his shoulders slightly, and a whimsical spark of humor gleaned in the look he turned upon the listener, as a star might shine through the wild blue twilight of a day of gale and storm, as he resumed:

“If the possession of the Wellingtonian manner, -— combined with an empty sleeve — all honor to the brave arm that used to be inside it! — a manner full of urbanity and courtesy — nicely graduated and calculated according to the rank and standing of the person addressed; an admirable command of two Continental languages, and a discreet but distinct appreciation of high company and good living, unite to make an ideal Commander-in-Chief, why, Dalgan will be the man of men ! .”

“But surely we need something more,’ she said, meeting Bertham’s glance with doubt and questioning.

“Something indeed!” he returned drily. “But be kind to me, and let me forget my bogies for a little in hearing of all the good that you have done and

mean to do. . . . Tell me of your experiences at Kaiserswerke amongst the Lutheran Deaconesses — tell me about your visit to the Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul at the Hospital of the Charité, or your sojourn with the dames .religieuses of St. Augustine at the Hôtel Dieu. Or tell me about your ancient, superannuated, used-up governesses. I should like to know something of them, poor old souls! ...”

“They are not all old,” she explained, “though many of them are used-up, and all, or nearly all, are incapable ; and Bertham, with a very few exceptions, sensible and ladylike as most of them are, they are so grossly ignorant of the elementary principles of education that one wonders how the poor pretence of teaching was kept up at all? And how it was that common honesty did not lead them to take service as house-maids? and how the parents of their pupils — Heaven help them ! — could have been blind enough to confide the training of their children to such feeble, incompetent hands?”

“It is a crying evil,” said Bertham, “or, rather, a whimpering one, and needs to be dealt with. One day we will change all that. ... As to these sick and sorrowful women, the generation that will rise up to take their places will be qualified, I hope, to teach, by having learned ; and the quality of their teaching will, I hope, again, be guaranteed by a University diploma. And, superior knowledge having ceased to mean the temporary possession of the lesson-book, children will learn to treat their teachers with respect, and we shall hear fewer tales of the despised governess.”

She returned, glancing at Berthams handsome, resolute face, and noting the many fine lines beginning to draw themselves about the corners of the eves and mouth, the worn hollows of the temples and cheekbones, and the deepening caves from which the brilliant eyes looked out in scorn, or irony, or appealing, ingratiating gentleness.

“All governesses are not despised or despicable. There are many instances, Robert, where the integrity and conscientiousness of the poor dependent

gentlewoman has held up a standard of conduct for the pupil, well or ill taught, to follow which has borne good fruit in after-years. We have a worthy lady here, a governess long resident in Paris, against whose exquisite French I polish up my own when I have time — a rather scarce commodity in this house! . . . Miss Caroline Smithwick has been cast on the mercy of the world in her old age, after many years of faithful service, because she dared to tell her wealthy employer that a claim he pursued and pressed was dishonest and base. The man’s son thinks with her, and has chosen to be poor rather than profit by riches — and, I gather, rank — so gained. It is a wholesome story;” she said, “and when he told me to-day of his intention to support the gentle old soul who was so true to him, out of his pay as an officer of the French Army, — I could have clapped my hands and cried aloud — but I did not, — for the Superintendent of a Governesses’ Home must be, above all, discreet; — ‘Bravo, M. Hector Dunoisse!* ”

“Dunoisse, Dunoisse?” He turned the name upon his tongue several times over, as though its flavor were in some measure familiar to him. “Dunoisse... Can it be a son of the dyed and painted and padded old lion, with false claws and teeth and a mane from the wigmaker’s, who was Bonaparte’s: aide at Marengo and cut a dashing figure at the Tuileries in 1804? The Emperor created him Field-Marshal after Austerlitz, and small blame to him !... He ran away with a Bavarian Princess after the Restoration—a Princess who happened to be a professed nun, and somewhere about 1828, when the son of their ^ union may have been seven or eight years old, — when the Throne of St. Louis was rocking under that cumbersome old wooden puppet Charles X.,—when the tricolor was on the point of breaking out at the top of every national flagstaff in France, — when you got a whiff of violets from the buttonhole of every* Imperialist who passed you in the street,—when the Catholic religion was about to be once more deprived of State protection and popular support, Marshal Dunoisse,

swashbuckling old Bonapartist that he is, reclaimed the lady’s large dowry from her Convent, and with the aid of De Martignac, Head of the Ministry of that date, succeeded in getting it.”

“It is the son of the very man you describe,” she told him; “who visited his old governess here to-day.”

Bertham shrugged his shoulders, and, leaning down silently stroked the sleek cat, white-pawed and whiskered, and coated in Quaker gray, that lay outstretched at ease upon the hearthrug. But his eyes were on the woman’s face the while.

“So that was it!” she said, leaning back in the low fireside chair she had taken when Bertham wheeled it forwards. Her musing eyes were fixed upon the red coals glowing in the oldworld grate of polished steel. Perhaps the vivid face with the black eyes burning under their level brows rose up before her; and it might have been that she heard Dunoisse’s voice saying, through the purring of the cat upon the hearthrug and the subdued noises of the street :

“May the hour that sees me spend a sou of that accursed money be an hour of shame for me, and bitterness and humiliation! And should ever a day draw near that is to see me trick myself in dignities and honors stolen by a charlatan’s device and assume a power to which I have no more moral right than the meanest peasant of the State it rules —before its dawning I pray that I may die! and that those who come seeking a clod of mud to throw in the face of a Catholic State may find it lying in a coffin.”

XIX.

She must have remembered the words for she shivered a little, and when Bertham asked her: “Of what are you thinking?” she answered:

“Of young Mr. Dunoisse, and the struggle that is before him. He is courageous. . . . He means so well. . . . He is so earnest and sincere and high-minded and generous. . . But one cannot foret that he has not been tried, or that ercer tests of his determination and

endurance will come as the years unfold, and-”

“lie will—supposing him a man of iiesh and blood like other men!” said Bertham — “find his resolution — if it be one? — put, very shortly, very thoroughly to the proof. For—the Berlin papers of last Wednesday deal voluminously with the subject, and the Paris papers of a later date have even condescended to dwell upon it at some length —his grandfather, the Hereditary Prince of Widinitz, who practically has been dead for years, is at last dead enough for burying ; and the question of Succession having cropped up, it may occur to the Catholic subjects of the Principality that they would prefer a Catholic Prince—even with a bar-sinister, badly erased, upon his ’scutcheon— to being governed by a Lutheran Regent. And that is all I know at present.”

“It is a curious, almost a romantic story,” she said, with her'grave eyes upon the glowing fire, and a long, fine, slender hand propping her cheek, “that provokes one to wonder how it will end?”

“It will end, dear Ada,” smiled Bertham, “in this young fellow’s putting his Quixotic scruples in his pocket, taking the goods the gods have sent him— with the Hereditary diadem, when it is offered on a cushion!—marrying some blonde Princess-cousin, with the requisite number of armorial quarterings ; and providing,—in the shortest possible time, the largest possible nuinber of legitimate heirs to the throne. I lay no claim to the prophetic gift; but I do possess some knowledge of my fellowmen. And—if your prejudice against gaming does not preclude a bet, I will wager you a pair of gloves, or half a dozen pairs, against the daguerreotype of you that Mary and 1 are always begging for and never get;—that M. Dunoisse’s scruples and objections will be overcome in the long run, and that the whole thing will end as I have prophesied.”

She listened with a little fold between her eyebrows and her thoughtful eyes upon the speaker’s face.

“I fear you may be right. But I shall

be glad if you m ove wrong, Bertham. One thinks ho . bravely he has borne the pinch of poverty, and the dearth of the pleasantnesses and luxuries that mean so much to young men of his age-”

“ ‘Of his age?’ . . . You talk as though you were a sere and withered spinster, separated from the world of young men and young women by a veritable gulf of years!” cried Bertham, vexed.

She did not hear. She was looking at the fire, leaning forwards in her low chair with her beautiful head pensively bent, and her slender strong hands clasped about the knee that was a little lifted by the resting of one fine arched foot—as beautiful in its stocking of Quakerish gray and its plain, unbuckled leather slipper as though it had been covered with silk, and shod with embroidered kid or velvet—upon the high steel fender.

“One would like to be near him sometimes unseen—in one of those moments of temptation that will come to him — temptations to be false to his vow, and take the price of dishonor, for the devil will fight hard, Bertham, for that man’s soul ! -Just to be able to give a pull here, or a push in that direction, according as circumstances seek to mould or sway him, to say, ‘Do this! or ‘Do not do that!’ at the crucial moment, would be worth while! ...”

“ ‘Faith, my dear Ada,” Bertham said lightly, “the role of guardian angel is one you were cut out for, and suits you very well. But be content, one begs of you, to play it nearer home !... I know a worthy young man, at present in a situation in a large business-house at Westminster, who would very much benefit by a push here and a pull there from a hand invisible or visible—visible preferred! And to be told ‘Do this!’ or ‘Don’t do that!’ in a moment of doubt or at a crisis of indecision, would spare the Member for West Wealdshire a great many sleepless nights.”

They laughed together; then she said, with the rose-flush fading out of her pale cheeks and the light of merriment in her blue-gray eyes subdued again to clear soft radiance :

“I do not like those sleepless nights. Can nothing be done for them?”

“They are my only chance,” he answered, “of getting any acquaintance with the works of modern novelists.” “You do not take Sir Walter Scott, or Mr. Thackeray, or Mr. Dickens, or the author of Jane Eyre, as sleeping-

draughts?”

“No,” returned Bertham, “for the credit of my good taste. But there are others whose works Cleopatra might have called for instead of mandragora. As regards the newspapers, if* it be not exactly agreeable or encouraging to know exactly how far Misrepresentation can go without being absolute Mendacity—it is salutary and wholesome, I suppose, to be told when one has fallen short of winning even appreciation for one’s honest endeavor to do one’s duty —or what one conceives to be one’s duty — tolerably well?”

He rose, pushing his chair aside, and took a turn in the room that carried him to the window.

“One has made mistakes,” he said, keeping his face turned from her soft kind look; “but so have other fellows, without being pilloried and pelted for them ! And two years back, when the office of Secretary At War seemed to have been created for the purpose of affording His Grace the Secretary For War and other high officials, unlimited opportunities of pulling down what the first-named built up and of building up what he, with hopes of doing good, had., pulled down, the pelting bruised. But —Jove! if that part of my life were mine to live over again, with Experience added to my youthful enthusiasms, I might reasonably hope to achieve much! Happy you”—he came and stood beside her chair, looking down at the calm profile arid plainly-parted, faintly-rippling brown hair with a certain wistfulness—“most happy are you, dear Ada, who have so noblv fulfilled the high promise of your girlhood, and. have no need to join in useless regrets with me !”

She smiled, and lifted her warm, womanly hand to him, and said, as he enclosed it for a second in his own :

“Wrong leads and false ideals are the

lot of all of us. And you were of so much use in your high office, Robert, and wielded your power so much for others’ good; you strive so chivalrously now, in thankless, unpopular causes; you make your duty so paramount above your ambition in all things, -— that I am tempted to paraphrase your words to me, and tell you that you have gloriously contradicted the promise of your Eton boyhood, when everything that was not Football, or Boating, or Cricket, wTas ‘bad form.’ ”

“To my cousin de Moulny’s annoyance and disgust unspeakable,” he returned, with a lighter tone and a lighter look, though he had glowed and kindled at the praise from her. “I did indulge—at those periods when he was staying at Wrave Abbey — in a good deal of that sort of bosh. But — quite wrongly, I dare say !—he seemed to me a high-faintin’, pompous young French donkey; and it became a point of importance not to lose an opportunity of taking him down. By the way, I heard from him quite lately. He gave up the idea of entering the Roman Catholic priesthood after some clash or collision with the Rules of the Fathers Directors, and is now an Under-Secretary at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.”

“He should have a notable career before him!” she commented.

“The Legitimist Party, at this present juncture, possess not one featherweight in the scale of popularity or influence. France is on the eve,” said Bertham, “or so it seems to me. of shedding her skin, and whether the new one will be of one color or of Three, White it will not be; I’ll bet mv hat on that! So possibly it may be fortunate for de Moulnv that the harness he pulls in has an Imperial Crown upon it. I need hardly say a pretty hand is upon the rein.”

Lier laugh made soft music in the cosy, homely parlor, and amusement danced on her sweet firelit eyes. . .

“Whose is the hand?”

“It appertains, phvsicallv. to a certain Comtesse de Roux, and legally to a purple-haired, fiercelv-whiskered, fiervfeatured Colonel Comte de Roux — by whose original creation Comte is a little

uncertain—but a brave find distinguished officer, commanding the 999th of the Line.”

She said, with a memory stirring in her face:

“That is the regiment—according to his old governess, for he did not tell me—to which M. Hector Dunoisse is attached.”

Bertham might not have heard. He

said :

“I regret not having met Madame de Roux. One would like to see de Moulny’s reigning goddess.”

“She is most beautiful in person and countenance. Your term of ‘goddess’ is not inappropriate. She walks as though on clouds.”

Her ungrudging admiration of another woman’s beauty was a trait in her that always pleased him.

“Where did you meet?”

“I saw her in Paris a twelvemonth back, on the steps that lead to the vestibule of the Theatre Francais, one night when Rachel was to play in ‘Phèdre.’ ” “I thought you had forsworn all public entertainments, theatres included?” “If I had I should not have endangered my oath by seeing Madame de Roux pass from her carriage and walk up the steps leading to the vestibule.”

“You were not in the streets of Paris alone, and on foot, at night?”

She answered simply, looking directly at him:

“I was in the Paris streets that evening, on foot, certainly, but not alone. Sister Saint Bernard was with me.” “Who is Sister Saint Bernard?”

“She is a nun of the Order of St. Vincent de Paul. You know, the nursing-community. I stayed some time with them at their Convent at Paris, studying their good, wise, enlightened methods, visiting their hospitals with them, helping to tend their sick. We were returning with a patient that night 1 saw Madame de Roux. It was a case of brain-fever, a young girl, an attendant at one of the gaudy, disreputable restaurants of the Palais-Royal, delirious and desperately ill. No conveyance could be got to take her to the Charité; the Sisters’ van was otherwise engaged.

We hired a vegetable truck from a street fruitseller, on the understanding that it should be white-washed before being returned to him, wrapped the poor girl in blankets, and wheeled her to the Hospital ourselves.”

“By—George!” said Bertham softly and distinctly. His forehead was thunderous, and his lips were compressed. She went on as though she had not heard :

“And so, as we went through the Rue de Richelieu, and Sister Saint Bernard and I, and the truck, were passing the Theatre Francais, into which all fashionable Paris was crowding to see the great actress play ‘Phèdre,’ a beautiful woman alighted from a carriage and went in, leaning on the arm of a stoutshort man in uniform, with some decorations. ... I pointed his companion out to Sister Saint Bernard. ‘Tiens,’ she said, ‘voila Madame la Comtesse de Roux. And that is how I came to know M. de Moulny’s enchantress by sight. ... I wonder whether M. Dunoisse has met her?”

“It is more than probable, seeing that the lady is his Colonel’s wife. And,” said Bertham, “if he has not yet had the honor of being presented, he will enjoy it very soon. An Hereditary Prince of Widinitz is a personage, even out of Bavaria. And whether the son of the Princess Marie Bathilde and old Nap’s aide-de-camp likes his title, or whether he does not, it is his birthright, like the tail of the dog. He can’t get away from that!”

“He does look,” said Ada Merling, with a smile, “a little like what a schoolgirl’s ideal of a Prince would be,” “Apropos of that, a Prince who is not in the least like a schoolgirl’s ideal of the character dines with us at Wra-ye House on Tuesday. The Stratclyffes are coming, and the French Embassador, with Madame de Berny.”

He added, naming the all-powerful Secretary for Foreign Affairs, with a lightness and indifference that were overdone :

“And Lord Walmerston,”

“Lord Walmerston ! . . .”

Her look was one of surprise, chang-

ing to doubtful comprehension. He did not meet it. He was saying:

“It was his wish to come. His friendship for Mary dates from her schoolroom-days, and she cherishes the old loyal affection for her father’s friend in one of her heart’s warmest corners. He is charming to her, always. . . . and I have hopes of his weight in the balance for my Improved Married Quarters ; and he really sees the advantage of the Regimental Schools. . . . But it is not to bore you with shop that I propose you should make one of us at dinner!” His voice was coaxing. “Do! and give Mary and me a happy evening !”

She shook her head with decision, though regret was in her face. *

“I cannot leave my post. Remember, this is not only a Home. ... It is also a Hospital. And what it pleases me to call my Staff”—she smiled—“are not experienced. They are willing and earnest, but they must be constantly supervised. And their training for this, the noblest profession that is open to women—as noble as any, were women equally free to follow all—is not the least of my responsibilities. We have lectures and classes here for their instruction in elementary anatomy, surgical dressing and bandaging, sanitation, the proper use of the thermometer and temperature-chart, and so on, almost daily. Mr. Alnwright and Professor Tayleur”—she named a famous surgeon and a celebrated physiologist — “are good enough to give their services, gratuitiously ; and I must be present at all times to assist them in their demonstrations. So you will understand, there is more to do here than you would have supposed.”

“Good gracious!” rejoined Bertham; “I should say so! And your band of trained attendants who are to supersede —and may it be soon!—the gin-sodden harridans and smiling, civil Incompetents who add to the discomforts and miseries of sickness, and lend to Death another terror—are they-;I sup-

pose some of them are ladies?”

“The ideal nurse ought to be a lady,” she answered him, “in the true sense of

the word. Many of these girls are well born and well bred, if that is—and of course it is—the meaning of your question. Some of them are frivolous and selfish and untrustworthy, and these must be weeded out. But the majority are earnest, honest,. and sincere; and many of them are noble and high-minded, unselfish, devoted, and brave. . .

i)

There was a stately print of the Sistine Madonna of Raffaelle hanging above the fireplace. She lifted her face to the pure, spotless womanhood of the Face that looked out from the frame, and said:

“I try to keep up with these last-named ones, though often they put me to the blush.”

“You put to the blush ! Don’t tell me that!” He spoke and looked increduous-

lv.

“They have to learn to save their strength of mind and body, and not put out too much, even in the Christ-blessed service of the sick and suffering,” she said, “lest thev should find themselves bankrupt, with no power of .giving more. And sometimes the more ardent among them rebel against my rules, which enforce regular exercise, observance of precautions for the preservation of their own health, even the relaxation and amusement which should break the monotony of routine; and then T long to kiss them, Robert, even when I am most severe !”

There were tears in the man’s bright eyes as he looked at her. Her own eves were on the Raffaelle print : she had forgotten him.

“What T should like best would be to endure long enough to see them outstripping and outdoing the poor examole of their humble fellow-student and teacher, developing nursing as a higher Art, and spreading the knowledge of the proper treatment of the sick, until not one of the poorest and the roughest women of what we are content to call the Lower Classes, shall bo destitute of some smattering of the knowledge that will save the lives of those she loves best in bitter time of need.”

Her face was rapt. She went on in a

clear, low, even tone: “I should like to live to be very old, so old that T was quite forgotten, and sit quietly in some pleasant corner of a peaceful English home seeing the movement grow. For it will grow, and spread and increase, Robert, until it reaches every corner of the world! And to that end every penny that I possess; every ounce of strength that is mine; every drop of blood in my veins, would be cheerfully spent and given. ... Do I say would? . . . Will be ! if it please God !” Her eyes left the picture and went to Bertham’s absorbed face. “I have been holding forth at merciless length, have I not?” she said. “But you and I, with Mary, constitute a Mutual Society for the talking-over of plans; and, though I sometimes tax your patience, I am always ready to lend ear. As for your dinner, it is a delightful temptation which I must resist. Beg Mary to tell me all about it afterwards!”

“Your would-be host and hostess will not be the only disappointed ones,” Bertham said, and rose as though to take leave. “Lord Walmerston is one of your admirers, and”—there was a gleam of mischief in the hazel eyes— “Prince Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte was urgent for an opportunity of meeting you again.”

“Indeed ! I am very much honored.” Her calm eyes and composed face told nothing. But her tone had a clear frosty ring of something colder than mere indifference, and the curve of her lips was a little ironical. Seeing that touch of scorn, the twinkle in Bertham’s eyes became more mischievous. He said:

“The Prince’s lucky star might shine on such a meeting, Ada. A beautiful, wealthy, and wise Princess would be the making of the man.”

“That man !” she said, and a shudder rippled through her slight body, and her calm, unruffled forehead lost its smoothness in a frown of repulsion and disgust. She rose as though escaping from actual physical contact with some repellent personality suddenlv presented before her. and stood beside Bertham on the hearthrug, as tall as he, and

with the same look of high-bred elegance and distinction that characterized and marked out her companion. The spark of mischief still danced in his bright eyes. His handsome mouth twitched with the laughter he repressed as he said:

“So you do not covet the Crown Imperial of France, and tame eagles do not please you? Yet the opportunities an Empress enjoys for doing good must be practically unrivalled.”

Tier blue-gray eyes were disdainful now. She said:

“The position of a plain gentlewoman is surely more enviable and honorable than would be hers who should share the throne of a crowned and sceptred adventurer.”

Said Bertham:

“You do not call the First Napoleon that?”

“There was a terrible grandeur,” she returned, “about that bloodstained, unrelenting, icy, ambitious despot ; a halo of old, great martial deeds surrounds his name that blinds the eyes to his rapacity and meanness, his selfishness, sensuality, and greed. But this son of Hortense! this nephew, if he be a nephew? —this charlatan trailing in the mire the sumptuous rags of the Imperial purple; this gentlemanly, silken-mannered creature, with phrases of ingratiating flattery upon his tongue, and hatred glimmering between the half-drawn blinds of those sick, sluggish eyes. . .

. . God grant, for England’s sake, that he may never mount the throne of St. Louis!”

“Ah! Ada—Ada!” Bertham said again, and laughed, awkwardly for one whose mirth was so melodious and graceful as a rule. For the little dinner at Wrave House, at which the Secretary for Foreign Affairs and the French Ambassador were to meet the Pretender to the Imperial Throne of France, was really a diplomatic meeting of somewhat serious political importance, in view of certain changes and upheavals taking place in that restless country on the other side of the Channel, and divers signs and tokens, indicative to an experienced eye, that the White Flag,

for eighteen years displayed above the Central Pavilion of the palace of the Tuileries, might shortly be expected to come down.

XX.

HOWEVER, being a skilful diplomat, Bertham gave no sign : though Lord Walmerston, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and the Pretender to the Throne-Imperial of France, were to spend in the Persian smoking-room over the ground-floor billiard-room of Wraye House—a half-hour that would change every card in the poor hand held by that last-named gamester to a trump.

“Who is good enough for yiou, Ada?” he said, with his hazel glance softening as he turned it upon her, and sincerity in his sweet, courtly tones. “No one Ï ever met!”

Lier rare and lovely smile illuminated her.

“Has it never struck you, Robert, how curious it is that the demand for entire possession of a woman’s hand, fortune and person, should invariably be prefaced by the candid statement that the suitor is not good enough to tie her shoes? As for being good for me, any man would be, provided he were honest, sincere, chivalrous in word and deed-”

“And not the present Head of the House of Bonaparte?” ended Bertham.

“You are right,” she said quickly. “Were I compelled to make choice between them. I should infinitely prefer the butcher!”

“ ‘The butcher!’ ” Bertham’s face of utter consternation mingled with incredulity drew her laugh from her. And it was so round and sweet and mellow that the crystal lustres of the Sevres and ormolu candlesticks upon the mantel-shelf rang a little tinkling echo when it had stopped.

“The butcher who supplies us here,” she explained.

Bertham said, speaking between his teeth and with the knuckles showing white in the strong slender hand he

clenched and shook at an imaginary vendor of chops and sirloins:

“What consummate and confounded insolence I”

“No, no!” she cried, for his tall, slight, athletic figure was striding up and down the little parlor, and the fierce grind of his heel each time he turned within the limit of the hearthrug threatened the cat’s repose. “You shall not fume, and say hard things of him ! He knows nothing of me except that I am the matron here. And he thinks that I should be better off in the sitting-room behind his shop in Oxford Street, keeping his books of accounts and ‘ordering any nice little delicate joint’ I ‘happened to fancy for dinner. . . .’ And

possibly I should be better off, from his point of view?”

Bertham’s heel came sharply down upon the hearthrug. The outraged cat rent the air with a feline squall, and sought refuge under the sofa.

“Come out, Mr. Bright!” coaxed his mistress, kneeling by the injured one’s retreat. “He is very sorry ! He didn’t mean it! He will never do it again!” She added, rising, with Mr. Bright, already soothed and purring, in her arms, “And he is going away now, regretful as we are to have to send him. For it is my night on duty, Bertham, and I must rest.”

“You will always send me away,” said he, “when you choose. And I shall always come back again, until you show me that I am not wanted.”

“That will be never, dear friend!”

She gave him her true, pure hand, and he stooped and left a reverent kiss upon it, and said, as he lifted a brighter face :

“Do you remember three years ago, before you went to Kaiserwerke—when you sent me away, and forbade me to come back until I had sought and found my Fate in Mary?”

“A beautiful and loving Fate, dear Robert.”

“She is, God bless her!” he answered, with a warm flush upon his face and a thrill of tenderness in the charming voice that so many men and women loved him for.

She went with him into the hall then, and said as he threw on his long dark cloak lined with Russian sables:

“Those Berlin and Paris papers of Wednesday last. ... It would interest me to glance through them in a spare moment, if you did not object to lend?”

“One of my ‘liveried menials with buttons on his crests,’ as a denuciatory Chartist orator put it the other day— shall bring them to you within an hour. I wish you had asked me for something less easy to give you, Ada!”

# She answered with her gentle eyes on his, as her hand drew back the latch of the hall door:

“Give me assurance you will never help to forge the link that shall unite Great Britain’s interests with her enemy’s.”

“Why, that of course!” He answered without heartiness, and his eyes did not meet hers. “I am not the master blacksmith, dear Ada. There are other hands more cunning in the welding-craft than mine!”

He bent his handsome head to her and threw on his hat and passed out into the rimy February fog. But he walked slowly, pondering as he went, and Lord Walmerston’s influence and weight upon that pressing question, separate accommodation for married soldiers, and Military Schools for the men and their wives and children, was not to be had for nothing, he well knew.

She shut the door, and then the teabell rang, and she passed on to the dining-room, and took her place before the capacious trav at the matron’s end of the long, plainly-appointed, wholesomely-furnished table.

She had declined to dine in the society of a Prince because she doubted his motives and disapproved of his character. She played the hostess now to her staff of nurses and probationers, dispensing the household tea from the stout family teapot with a liberal hand, and leading the conversation with a gentle grace and an infectious gaiety that drew sparks from the homeliest

minds about the board and made bright wits shine brighter.

The Berlin and Baris papers came by Bertham’s servant as she went to her room to prepare, by some hours of rest, for the night-watch by a dying patient. She gave half-an-hour of the time to reading the articles and paragraphs Bertham had considerately marked in red ink for her.

When she set about preparing for repose; came a gentle knock at her door, and in answer to her soft “Come in!” the gray-haired, olive-skinned, pleasantfaced woman, who had admitted Dunoisse and shown him out again, appeared, saying:

“You never rang, Miss Ada, love, but I made bold to come.” . . . She added in tones of dismay, “And to find you brushing your beautiful hair yourself when your old Husnuggle’s in the house and asking nothing better than to do it for youl . . .”

“'Thank you, dear!” She surrendered the brush, and sat down and submitted to the deft hands that set about their accustomed task, as though it were soothing to be so ministered to. Even as she said: “For this once, kind Husnuggle, but you must not do it again !” “Don’t say that, Miss Ada! when night’s the only time of all the livelong day that I get my Wraye Rest talk with you.”

Entreated thus, she reached up a hand and patted the plump matronly cheek of the good soul, and said, with soft, considerate gentleness:

“Let it be so, since it will make you happy. But those who have chosen for their life’s task the duty of serving others should do without service themselves. Try to understand!”

The woman kissed the hand with a fervor contrasting incongruously with her staid demeanor and homely simple face, as she answered:

“I’ll try, my dear. Though to see you in this bare, plainly-furnished room, with scarce a bit of comfort in it beyond the fire in the grate, and not a stick of furniture beyond the bed and the wardrobe, and washstand and bath, and the chintz-covered armchair you’re

sitting in, and a bookshelf of grave books, scalds my heart—that it do! And your sitting-room nigh as skimping. When either at Wraye Rest or at Oakenwode, or at the house in Park Lane, you have everything beautiful about you, as you ought; with paintings and statues and music, and carpets like velvet for you to tread upon, and flowers everywhere for you that love them so to take pleasure in them, and your dogs and horses, and cats and birds! . . . Eh! deary me! But I

promised I’d never breathe a murmur, not if you let me come, and here I am forgetting! . . .”

“We will overlook it this time. And I will help you to understand why I am happier here, and more at peace than at Wraye or Oakenwode, or at the Park Lane house, dear to me as all three are. It is because, wherever I am, and whether I am walking or sleeping, I seem to hear voices that call to me for help. Chiefly the voices of women, weak, and faint, and imploring. . . . And they appeal to me, not because I am any wiser, or better, or stronger than others of my sex, but because I am able, through circumstances—and have the wish and the will to aid them, I humbly believe, from God! And if I stayed at home and yielded to the desire for pleasant, easy, delightful ways of living, and bathed my eyes and ears in lovely sights and sounds, I should hear those voices over all, and see with the eyes of my mind the pale, wan, wist-, ful faces that belong to them. And I should know no peace! . . . But

here, even if the work I do be insignificant and ineffective, I am working for and with my poor sisters, sick and well. And on the day when I turn back and leave my plough in the furrow, then those voices will have a right to cry to me without ceasing: ‘Oh, woman! why have you deserted us?—You who might have done so much!”

She ceased, but the rush and thrill of the words as they had come pouring from her, vibrated yet on the quiet atmosphere of the room.

“You had a pleasant talk, Miss Ada. with Master Robert?” the woman asked

her, turning down the snowy sheet from the pillows, and preparing to leave the room.

“A long, grave talk, Husnuggle, even a little sad in places, but pleasant nevertheless. Now go down to supper, for it is eight o’clock.”

Husnuggle went, having bound up the wealth of her hair into a great silken twist, and her mistress knelt at a prie-Dieu beneath an ebony and olivewood crucifix that hung upon the wall, and said her prayers, and sought her rest. When she slept, less easily and less soundly than usual, she dreamed; and the figure and face of the slight, ruddy-skinned, black-eyed man who had visited the Hospice that day, moved with others across the stage of her vision, and his voice echoed with other voices in the chambers of her sleeping brain.

The Havre packet had not sailed that evening, by reason of a boisterous gale and a great sea, and Dunoisse was spending the evening dismally enough at the T. R. Southampton, where “As you Like It” was being given for the benefit of Miss Arabella Smallsopp, advertised as of the “principal London theatres,” upon the last night of a Stock Season which had been “a supreme artistic success.”

Mr. Hawkington Bulph and a Full Company—which collectively and individualfy looked anything but that— supported the star; and to the fatal sprightliness of the hapless Smallsopp, disguised as the immortal page, in a lace collar, drop-earrings, and a short green cotton-velvet ulster, dadoed with catskin, and adorned down the front with rows of brass buttons not distantly resembling coffin-nails (worn in combination with a Spanish hair-comb and yellow leather top-boots), must be ascribed the violent distaste which one member of the audience did then and there conceive for England’s immortal Bard. But erelong his attention strayed from the dingy, ill-lit Forest Scene, with a cork-and-quill nightingale warbling away in the flies, as Mis? Smallsopp interpolated the pleasing ditty. “O Sing Again, Sweet Bird of Eve !” and he

ceased to see the dirty boards, where underpaid, underfed, and illiterate actors gesticulated and strutted, and he went back in thought to Ada Merling, and her pure earnest face rose up before his mental vision, and the very sound of her crystal voice was in his ears.

Even as in her troubled dreams, she saw Hector Dunoisse standing before her, with that swift play of his emotions vividly passing in his face; and heard him passionately saying that the hour that saw him broach those tainted stored-up thousands should be for him an hour of branding shame; and that he prayed the dawning of the day that should break upon his completed barter of Honor for Wealth, and Rank and Power, might find him lying in his coffin.

And then he yielded—or so it seemed

to her, and took the shining money, and the princely diadem offered him by smooth strangers with persuasive courtly voices, and she saw the fateful gold scattered from his reckless hands like yellow dust of pollen from the ripe mimosa-bloom when the thorny trees are bowed and shaken by the gusty winds of Spring.

And then she saw him going to his Coronation, and no nobler or more stately figure moved onwards in the solemn procession of Powers and Dignities, accompanying him through laurelarched and flower-wreathed and flagbedecked streets to the Cathedral, where vested and coped and mitred prelates waited to anoint and crown him Prince. And where, amidst the solemn strains of the great organ, the chanting of many voices, and the pealing of silver trumpets, the ceremony had nearly reached its stately close, when the jewelled circlet that should have crowned his temples slipped from the aged Archbi-hop’s venerable, trembling hands and rolled upon the inlaid pavement, shedding diamonds and pearls like dewdrops or teal’s. . . . And then she

saw him lying, amidst wreaths of {lowers and tall burning tapers, in a black-draped coffin in the black-hung nave. And a tall man and a beautiful

woman leaned over the death-white face with the sealed, sunk eyes, smiling lustfully in each other’s. And she awakened at the chime of her silver clock in her quiet room; and it was dark, and the lamp-lighter was kindling the street-lamps, and she must rise and prepare for her night’s vigil.

It taxed her, for her dream-fraught sleep had not refreshed. But she ministered to her fevered, pain-racked patient with gentle unwearying patience and swift, noiseless tenderness, through the hours that moved in slow procession on to the throning of another day. .

Her patient slept at last, and wmke as the dawm was breaking, and the watcher refreshed the parched lips with tea, and stirred the banked-up fire to a bright flame, and went to the window and drew up the blinds.

Drab London was mantled white with snow that had fallen in the night-time. And above her roofs and chimneys, wrapped in swansdown mantles, glittering with icicles, the dawn came up all livid and wild and bloody, with tattered banners streaming through the shining lances of a blizzard from the East that shook the window-panes like a desperate charge of cavalry, and screamed as wounded horses do, frenzied with pain and terror amidst the sounds and sights of dreadful War.

XXI.

BETWEEN Dullingstoke Junction and the village town of Market Drowsing in Sloughshire, lay some ten miles of hard, level highway, engineered and made in the stark days of old by stalwart Romans who, ignorant of steam-rollers and road-engines as they were, knew as little of the meaning of the word Impossibility.

One of those ancient road-making warriors might have approved the fine height and shapely form of a soldier who marched at ease along the highway, wearing, with a smart and gallant air, the blue, white-faced full-dress uniform of a trooper in Her Majesty’s Hundreth Regiment of Lancers, without the sword

and the plumed head-dress of blue cloth and shiny black leather, which a forage-cap—of the muffin pattern more recently approved by Government—replaced.

He walked at a brisk marching pace, and, in spite of the tightness of his clothes, broke into a run at times to quicken his circulation. For, though greatcoats were supplied at the public expense to Great Britain’s martial sons; so many penalties, pains, and stoppages attended on the slightest damage to the sacred garment, that in nine cases out of ten the soldier of the era preferred to go without. Therefore, the short, tight coatee of blue cloth, with the white plaston and facings, being inadequate to keep out the piercing cold of the frosty February day, this soldier beat his elbows against his sides, as he ran, and thumped his arms upon a broad chest needing no padding. But even as he did this he whistled a cheery tune, and his bright eyes looked ahead as though something pleasant lay waiting at the end of the bleak, cold journey from the military depot town of Spurham, thirty miles away; and the handsome mouth under the soldierly moustache, that was, like its owner’s abundant curly hair, of strong, dark red, and curled up on either side towards such a pair of sidewhiskers as few women, at that hirsute period, could look upon unmoved— wore a smile that was very pleasant.

“It’s not a pretty view !” he said aloud, breaking off in the middle of “Vilikins and his Dinah” to criticize the landscape. “A man would need have queer taste to call it even cheerful, particularly in the winter-time! and yet I wouldn’t swop it for the Bay o’ Naples, with a volcano spurting fire, and dancing villagers a-banging tambourines— or anything else you could offer me out of a Panorama. For why, damme if I know !”

Perhaps the simple reason was that this homely spread of wood and field and fallow stretching away into the hazy distance, its trees still leafy in the sheltered hollows, bare where the fierce winds of winter had wreaked their bitter will, had been familiar to the soldier

from his earliest years. Upon his left hand, uplands whereon the ploughteams were already moving, climbed to a cold sky of speedwell-blue; and couchfires burned before the fanning wind, their slanting columns of pungentsmelling smoke clinging to the brown furrows before they rose and thinned and vanished in the upper atmosphere. Sparrows, starlings, jackdaws, finches and rooks followed the travelling plough-share, settled in flocks or rose in bevies, their shrill cries mingling with the jingle of the harness or the crack of the ploughman’s whip. And upon the right hand of the man to whom these sights and sounds were dear and 'welcome, rolled, the Drowse; often unseen; returning into vision through recurring gaps in hedges; glimpsed between breasting slopes of park-land, silently flowing through its deep muddy channel between immemorial woods where England’s Alfred hunted the boar, speared the wolf, and slew the red deer.

. . . Silverv-blue in summer, turbidly brown in autumn, in winter leadengray, in spring jade-green, as now: when, although the floods of February had in some degree abated, wide, shallow, ice-bordered pools remained upon the low-lying river-meadows, and rows of knee-deep willows, marking the course of unseen banks, lifted bristling hands to the chillv skies, while cornrieks on the upper levels were so honeycombed with holes of rats that had abandoned their submerged dwellings, that in contemplation of them the tramping soldier ceased to whistle, and pushed along in silence for at least a Quarter of a mile before his whistle. “Vilikins and bis Dinah,” got the upper hand, and broke out again.

The popular melody was in full blast when the piercing screech of a distant train, accompanied by a clatter that .grew upon the ear. stopped short, began again after a pause, and thinned

out into silence; told the wayfarer that the London down-train had entered the junction he had left behind him, disembarked its load of passengers, and gone upon its way.

And presently, with a rattle and clatter of iron-shod hoofs, and a jingle of silver-mounted harness, a scarlet mailphaeton of the most expensive and showy description, attached to a pair of high-stepping showy blacks, overtook the military pedestrian, bowled past; and suddenly pulled up at the roadside, at an order from a burly, red-faced, turn-up nosed, grey-haired and whiskered elderly man. topped with a lowcrowned, curly-brimmed, shiny beaver, and enveloped in a vast and shaggy greacoat. who sat beside the smug-faced, liveried groom who drove, and whom von are to recognize as Thompson .Towell.

“Now then, Josh TTorrotian, my fine fellow!” The great Contractor, being in a genial mood, was pleased to bend from his high pedestal and condescend, with this mere being of common clav. even to jesting. “How goes the world with you? And how far have you got. young man, on the road that ends in a crimson «ilk sash and a pair o’ goldlace epaulettes?”

“Why. not yet so far. Mr. Jowell, sir,” returned the cavalryman with cheerful equanimity, “that I can show you even a Corporal’s stripe upon my sleeve.”

“And damme! young Josh, you take it uncommonly coollv!” said Thompson Jowell. puffing out his large cheeks over the unturned collar of the shaggy coat, and frowning magisterially. “Where’s your proper pride, hey? Where’s your ambition? What’s become of vour enthusiasm, and eagerness, and ardor for a British soldier’s glorious career9 T’m ashamed of von. Horrotian! What the devil do you mean?”

“Between Two Thieves” will be continued in the May issue of MacLean’s Magazine.