St. Julien

"YOU should handle your rapier thus, —so, — do yon see? It' you had, you would have lost neither your balance nor your weapon.”

“ I am at your mercy; insult me as you please; hut rather kill me at once than torture me in this refined fashion.”

“ No, not I, mon ami ! should never rest with rour life upon my conscience; besides, there is another, — your wife, — for whose sake I have no right to avail myself of the privilege of taking it. If you will permit me, I wall raise you.”

St. Julien extended his hand and bent over the foe whom his skill had disarmed and thrown upon the soft turf of the Bois de Boulogne. “ I forgive you,” he continued, smiling compassionately upon the stormy upturned face.

“ I refuse both your assistance and pardon. . If 1 rise, it will only he to renew a contest which must end with the death ot one ot us ; so while you have the advantage you had better use it.”

“ I refuse likewise peremptorily. When I fight, my adversary must he in his senses. You are far enough from that, I am convinced, since you prefer your present ignoble position to that I have given yon a chance to resume.”

“Honor forbids,” growled the prostrate disputant.

“ Bah! Then honor demands yon should perish with two or three inches of cold steel through you ! You are a poor duellist, unskilful with your own choice of weapons. I have practised for years with rapier, sword, and pistol. If we light again I shall come off conqueror. You are only bargaining, therefore, for your own end. Therefore I will not resume the contest.”

St. Julien turned away, sheathed his rapier, lighted a cigar, drew out his tablets, established himself comfortably against a tree, and smoked in silence.

His adversary watched furtively. Occasionally their eyes met, — St. Julien's glance calm and complacent, that of his opponent bitter and fiery.

“ What are you doing ? ” questioned the latter presently, rising upon his elbow.

“ Don’t stir, I pray you,” imperatively returned the other,

“ I will know. What are you doing ?

“Well, if you will know, I will explain. In addition to many other accomplishments, I am something of an artist. You remember that famous romance upon canvas, ‘ The Duel at Daybreak.’ The scene is in the Bois de Boulogne, our chosen spot; the time, tins very hour. I like that picture vastly. I am attempting a rival sketch. Although seconds are wanting, and our costumes are scarcely so picturesque, yet I think it will be as interesting. If you will he quite still, I promise you a life-like portrait.”

His companion sprang to his feet, picked up his rapier, and rushed forward with a fearful lunge at the reckless speaker. Endurance had lost its virtue, St. Julicn was prepared, however, and parried the stroke easily.

“ Child’s play,” said he, puffing out a cloud of smoke.’ “ But seriously, Chesney, what do you want to do ? Assassinate me and endanger your own neck ? I have advised you that I shall not take a single aggressive step. We have no witnesses; and, if I should be found here stark and cold, official inquisitiveness might follow very impertinently on your track.”

“ You are a coward,” sneered his vis-a-vis, “and this is but a subterfuge.”

“Spare yourself, Chesney; you cannot anger me out of my resolution. If I had at first refused to meet you. you might have believed me worthy of that epithet. It is your last resort, and quite a vain effort. By the way, my sketch, so unceremoniously interrupted, promised to he thrilling.”

“Bah! you are contemptible,” exclaimed Chesney, with a sudden change of thought, driving his weapon into its sheath.

“ Yes, — because I do not choose to make your wife a widow and your daughter fatherless ? Madame doubtless would thank me for my forbearance, and la chère fille, who by the last mail sent her love to you and her prayers for your safe return, — you who have lost yourself in the giddy circles of Baris, and are so desirous of quitting the world, leaving Madame and la chère fille, penniless. Chesney, when you and I became friends, I set myself the task of being your guardian angel.”

Chesney sneered bitterly. “You have done finely ; — ruined me, helped me to gamble madly, left me almost a beggar, and in this desperate strait you refuse me the boon of putting an end to my evil existence.”

“ Because Madame and la chère fille must not suffer for your excesses; you must retrieve their shattered fortunes. Your debt to me covers nearly all your resources, You did not scruple at the venture; yet, when fortune deserted you and smiled upon me, you assailed me with opprobrious epithets, accused me of fraud, and refused to be silent until I challenged you In addition to your other obligations I flatter myself you owe to me your very existence. Well, I can he generous. I will give you unlimited Credit, and even he your banker during your stay in Paris. In the coming years you may cancel your debt by instalments; in the mean time I will refrain from making any claim upon your property. You see I am determined to earn the right to your friendship. Give me your hand, and let us cancel old scores; then return to your rooms and try to recover your peace.”

Chesney repulsed the offered hand, and stood a moment as if lost in meditation ; then drew his cloak about his shoulders, turned abruptly, and without a glance departed towards the outskirts of the wood where the horses had been tied, as the gray dawn was softly breaking through the dense foliage. St. Julien smiled sadly, and watched him until he disappeared in the mists of the morning.

“ Worldly gratitude ! ” said he, as he prepared to follow, his charger bending its proud neck as he approached for the accustomed caress.

“ You and! will have to ride back alone,” he exclaimed, springing into the saddle and turning homeward.

St. Julien's apartments in the Faubourg St. Honore were princely in style and elegance. There was a display of almost feminine taste in their decoration, — rare pictures, pensive Madonnas, soft, rich landscapes, and lovely ideal fancies, — an exquisite harmony of colors, and a world of costly bijouterie. The air was redolent with fragrance, flowers drooping from chalices of alabaster; an inlaid harp leaned in an alcove of the main salon, the walls and ceiling of which were fretted with blue and silver, over which played the shadows, softened by draperies of azure silk.

Ten musical strokes announced the hour. Our jewel of magnanimity was breakfasting. A dainty repast was served upon Sevres china ; the side dishes were conserves of roses and violets. St. Julien, lounging in a wrapper of amber satin and slippers of velvet traced with delicate embroidery, looked little like the hero of a duel at dawn.

“A visitor,” said his valet, opening the door. “ Will Monsieur receive ? ”

St. Julien glanced at the card of his guest. “Admit him,” he returned.

The door reopened, and Chesney came in, pale, nervous, and confused. “ Forgive me,” exclaimed he, hurriedly advancing to the Other’s chair, “most generous of friends.”

“ Wherefore ? ” questioned St. Julien,coldly, rising from his seat, and motioning back his impetuous companion.

“ Upon mv return this morning I found a letter awaiting me. I recognized the handwriting at once as yours. Mv servant said it had arrived during my absence. In top fierce a temper to read it, tinseal remained unbroken until F had slept an hour anil breakfasted. Imagine my surprise at its contents: —

“‘MY DEAR CHESNEY, — I write, sign, seal, and give directions for the transmission of this letter, before setting out to meet you in the Bois de Boulogne. Now that our most desperate of engagements is over, I choose to pur. a quietus upon the raging animosity you entertain for me at this moment. We have arranged for our meeting to occur without witnesses, — my own suggestion, for which hear my motive. I intend it shall have a-humorous termination, not the deadly denouement for which you are thirsting, and which blinded you to care for your own safety or regard for law. The seconds that might otherwise have been chosen to officiate would doubtless have noised the particulars of our romance too loudly all over Paris to please my fastidious taste.

“ ‘ To have refused to fight would have branded me with cowardice, and I am sufiiciently a man of the world to object to that. I have no fear that you are more than a match for me, and no desire to hurry you out of the world ; in fact, I have been sufhciently sentimental to get up a strong attachment for you, the reasons for which I at present spare you.

“ ‘ Enough that it exists, and has been the secret of' my action. The fascinations of Paris confounded you, and you are not the first who has withstood temptation elsewhere only to succumb in this city of unequalled excess and dissipation. Your passion for gambling has ruined you. You play comparatively well, hut écarté is not your forte or fortune. I have studied that and roulette and rouge et noir, with various similar dangerous pastimes, to preserve myself from the horrors of ennui. I should scorn to put my knowledge to any fraudulent use. Possessing a yearly income of many thousand francs, you see there is no necessity of my turning a professional gambler or an adventurer for a living. I confess it is perilous for a man to he horn to riches and indolence, and, but for the remembrance of a mother’s counsel, my soul might long since have stranded upon evil shores.

“ ‘ Idle hands are wont to find mischievous employment; however, mine have saved yon from a more exacting creditor. It is in but one case out of ten that good advice finds a heedful listener; and, rather than waste words, I preferred to expose to you practically the hazardous nature of the experiment you were bent upon. Otherwise, some one less scrupulous might have accomplished the feat of defrauding you as remorselessly as myself, as another in my shoes in our coining duel might pick you off like a sparrow upon the point of his rapier.

"‘After my hint of my finances you will see that the payment of your imaginary indebtedness to me would be quite superfluous ; indeed, mon ami, I should he at a loss what use to make of it, and, by forcing its acceptance, you would only place me in as unfortunate a predicament as that of the miserable Oriental whose sovereign presented him with a white elephant. I scarcely expect you to forgive me for past amusement at your expense, but if ever you do, come and give me your assurance of it.

“ ‘ ST. JULIEN.’ ”

" Well,” said his auditor, calmly, almost haughtily, as Chesney ceased.

“ Well with you perhaps, but not with me. I have been possessed with an evil spirit, and have wilfully misunderstood you.”

“ One must get used to that, it is so common abroad.”

“ I insulted you grossly, provoked you into a challenge. Trust me, if you had not been the superior at arms, I should likewise have helped yon mercilessly to death.”

“ Perchance I merited some of the abuse for ray deception.”

“ A thousand times, no ; and, ray dear fellow, if you do not unbend a little from this cruel aspect, I shall fear the St. Julien of that letter and the St. Julien here are different individuals.”

His companion laughed. " Chesney, you were so graceless in the Bois de Boulogne, how can you wonder if I lost patience ?” He drew up a fauteuit for his guest, and resumed his own. “ There is one point upon which I am yet unappeased: you interrupted my sketch ; I have lost the inspiration - and who knows what fame ? — through your perversity.”

“ I am ready to make any amends.”

“Wait, — I have a further confession to make to you. I have been selfish in my friendship. I disdain duplicity; therefore, to account for my zeal in your behalf, let me tell you this.’ I love — irrevocably. It is the single love of a life,”

Chesney was silent in surprise.

“ A miniature,” continued St. Julien, a shade of crimson darkening his face. “ It is one of your possessions. I first saw it in your room, and made a copy of it.” He unclasped a small velvet case and passed it to his companion.

“My daughter! Infatuation! Do you know she is a mere child?”

St. Julian’s eyes were averted, and the red shadow still remained upon his check as he returned: “Yes, only fifteen, and I am twenty-seven. Have yon had any ideal in your day, — any haunting presence of which, it was quite impossible to divest yourself’,— a phantom whose eyes preserved you from temptation, the light of whose face paled all other loveliness, — a vague intangibility, fashioned of excellence and sweetness, tenderness and purity ? Has it ever hashed upon your fascinated vision, instinct With life,—no longer a dream, but a reality as beautiful i You did not pause to question? Enough that the shadow had taken substance. It exists, — all other sense is swallowed up in that one consciousness. Only a scoffer could dissect it for you. This face is my phantom. The promise it wears for the future is my fatal illusion. I have no other explanation to offer.”

“ My friend,” cried Chesney, carried away as usual by the vehemence of his emotions, “ I will betroth her to you. There is no hotter way to express my gratitude.”

“ Without her own consent? ”

“ St. Julien, the story of my indebtedness alone will make that certain.”

“A game of hap-hazard for happiness. The mode is popular in Paris, but I have a horror of mariages de convenance. Nothing would tempt me to it. Her whole future is at stake.”

“ Then you refuse ? ” said Chesney, flushing slightly at the reproof.

St. Julien arose and paced the floor. “ ‘ Refuse ' ? ” said he presently, pausing before his companion. “ You do not know how you tempt me, O Mephistopheles ! I hesitate not for my own sake, but for hers. Substance can wake from shadow, hut it can fade more easily, and leave but Dead Sea apples as the harvest of our sowing. The blessing of one existence might curse two, — hers, and mine through hers. Yet will 1 venture thus far. Betroth us, if you will, and the fact shall he your secret and mine, until we have met, and ray fair fiancee's own freewill affirms or annuls this contract. If the latter, — forever silence. Your own experience here must be equally a forbidden subject, lest the guise you might give it would prejudice her; but you can speak, (how, your own judgment can best suggest,) so that when we meet five years hence it shall not he as utter strangers.”

“ I pledge myself to your conditions,” responded Chesney.

“ And I to any you may propose in return.”

A month later, Chesney, having conducted the affairs that had summoned him to France, left Paris en route for New York.

Two gentlemen of leisure were idling away the morning at Frascati’s.

“ The fairest and loveliest are in despair,” said one, during a cross-fire of small talk.

The other elevated his eyebrows inquiringly.

“ Paris is minus Paul St. Julien. He sailed in the Huguenot for New York.”

“ A man of no heart,” was the brief response.

“ You mistake. — he is generosity itself, — the very embodiment of charity.”

“ That is not the point. I mean he lacks soul, sentiment, or whatever else you may choose to style: the appreciation of that divine passion which humanity in general conceives to be the most exquisite experience of existence.”

“ Yes, but despite his apathy and want of nerve, he has been fitted and caressed with smiles and glances any other would have perilled his life to win,—all for naught! The very statue of cool complacency, icily fascinating and fire-proof, he has deserted all with scarce a word of warning, and for a period of time quite indefinite. The air is heavy with the sighs wafted to his memory,

— sighs all the more hopeless because every one believes this adamantine individual to be possessed of some mysterious talisman rendering him impervious,”

“ Why has he gone westward ? ”

“ Who can tell, when no one knows ? ”

The long lapse of five years had left a gulf between the past and present which Chesney and St. Jalien had bridged across by an occasional letter, Chesncy’s communications were cordial and gossipy, but devoid of any important personal reference, save in one instance, — a single paragraph to this effect: “ I have one great sorrow at heart, man ami; my wife has become a confirmed invalid, which in her tender solicitude she regrets more for the sake of Nora (la chère fille, as you were wont to call her) than for her own.”

St. Julien imitated his reserve, so that, no reference was made during this interval to the strange romance that had signalized Their companionship in Paris. For more than twelve months, accordingly, Chesney had speculated upon the theory that the bewildering whirl of Parisian life must have swept it from St. Julien's memory, or at least so weakened his peculiar infatuation that he remembered this only as a foolish dream, and he had almost convinced himself so by his own arguments. A little card put the fancy to flight,— a mere trifle of enamelled paper, inscribed thus : —

“PAUL ST. JULIEN,

N—— HOTEL.”

Chesney read and reread, intensely agitated, his face flushing and paling by turns, his breath coming hard and quick through his set. teeth, as if it had inspired him with a strange emotion.

“ Generous, chivalrie soul ! ” said he at length, with a gesture of despair; “ betrayed through five years of suspense by a vain sentiment! Yet stay,” — catching at a new and sudden thought, — “there is a chance that my guilty conscience may attach too much significance to his coming. He may design to cancel that romantic bond, and so chooses a personal interview for his purpose rather than a long discourse on paper. He shall not suspect yet. I will wait till I am assured of his own resolution.”

This resolve dictated the letter of welcome St. Julien received in response, — a genial greeting, with the suffix, “ Come, my dear St. Julien, without waiting for further ceremony, that I may extend to you every hospitality in my power.” No allusion to the past, nothing to betray his recent confusion, nothing to relieve doubt or expectancy on the forbidden subject; yet so all-sufficient in its tenor as to satisfy even the exacting taste of St. Julien.

“ The same impetuous, impulsive Chesney as of yore," he thought, smiling ever a host of freshened memories; “this evening he shall judge for himself of me.”

The intermediate hours oppressed him. Was he nervous ? That distressing trait he had steadily lived down and out of his character. There was a tremor even in his finger-tips. He lifted a pearl paper-knife from the mantel and balanced it upon his hand; it quivered, fell, and shivered to atoms. A strange fantasy possessed him. The lapse of years was present in visible form, — a tablet graven with weird caricatures, out of which chaos grew one word, — “ Ruins.” The clock chimed, suspense was almost ended, but his companion to his destination was the spirit of that mocking glamour. It was a positive relief to find the drawing-room into which he was ushered quite unoccupied, His critical eye studied its appointments, — a rare embodiment of luxury, set about with glimmering gold and crimson. Twice he paced its limits, the soft velvet of the carpet stilling the sound of his footfall', in an endeavor to regain composure.

“ What awaits me here ? he said at length, half aloud. “For five years a slave to a dream that in one little moment may miserably perish.” The silence was so painful he longed to have it broken, when he heard a slight rustling as of silken drapery. Turning, there was a dim veiling mist before his eyes, and then, like a rift of light through the cloud, dazzling his vision with its radiance, he saw the counterpart of that miniature he had copied years agone, ma tured into riper and more entrancing loveliness.

Nora Chesnev, a sylph in figure, her face like a blush-rose, so fair, so fresh and exquisitely tinted, a bloom of crimson upon the lips, eyes blue-purple like violets, and hair the pale soft gold of amber. Self-possession returned like a flash with the first few words of greeting. He was alert for the history of the past. It came, a conviction. The least shadow of embarrassment would have plunged him in doubt, but from her charming naivete he could deduce but this conclusion, — his identity was not utterly a myth, his coming had not been unheralded, and Chesney had faithfully complied with his conditions.

Thenceforth he parted with the keen and relentless criticism that had baffled the feminine wit of Paris. What mattered it since he had traced the shadow to its substance? Fascination never found a more willing victim, nor victim a more fascinating lure. The critics who had discussed him at Frascati's would have beheld with amazement the life that imbued the statue, the gushing of the genial tide that overwhelmed his cynicism. The soul and the sentiment had existed too deeply seated for their superficial glance.

Chesncy’s voice broke the spell. There was a long, silent grasp of hands, during which the eyes of the two men searched each other’s countenance as if penetrating to the soul. For a moment time, place, and presence were forgotten, and they were again as before their last parting.

“ You are not looking a day older,” said Chesney at length, surveying the lithe, graceful figure and handsome face.

“ I wish I could say the same,” replied St. Julien, half sadly. “You are changed outwardly more than I could have imagined.”

Chesney started as if the words troubled him. The waves of time surged over the past, and brought him with a shock to the present.

During the desultory conversation that followed, it cost him a bitter effort to keep down beneath the mask of frank cordiality the feverish anxiety that fretted every nerve. St. Julien remained happily unconscious. Chesney had drifted far out and beyond the mightier object, the haunting, perplexing hope, that now as for weeks upon weeks thereafter engrossed him,—“If she hut loves me! ”

For weeks the shadow darkened npon Chesney’s face. Even St. Julien at last observed its presence. He would as soon have suspected himself of concealment as his friend, and he therefore never for one moment entertained the remotest idea that he was in any way its cause. But he no longer cherished the thought that Chesney had the same reckless impetuosity that had amused and attracted him five years before. He was changed, not only physically, but mentally. His former natural and careless dash was only assumed to cover a reserve, polished, but frigid ns a sheet of snow. But for one tiling he might have put aside his own pride and made an effort to break down the iey wall which sundered them. This was a vague consciousness that a cloud enshrouded that household where he was a frequent and welcomed visitor. It rested upon Mrs. Chesney, whom he met hut seldom, owing to her constant invalidism, and upon Nora, whose eyes were often heavy with unshed tears at the mere mention of her father’s name. This made him silent. The secret of one might be the secret of both, and indiscreet inquiry result in exposing what delicacy had veiled.

At length Chesney himself ceased to present himself save upon rare occasions. A note of excuse or verbal apology transmit ted through his daughter invariably attended his absence, as if he could not hear to have St. Julien believe him dead to courtesy and appreciation. Once, blushing at her repetition of the old story, the ever ready excuse of pressing engagements, Nora had added with a sudden unusual impetuosity of manner, “ He has a strange circle of acquaintance you would never care to know, nor I to mention, to whom most of his time is devoted.”

The next moment she was pale, as if affrighted at her own audacity of speech. St. Julien had too much consideration to take advantage of it, but this one little admission gave him a clew to the mystery of Chesney’s uneasiness and Nora’s tearful eyes.

He had preferred retaining his rooms at the N-to accepting the residence offered him beneath his friend’s roof; and so it happened he was witness to a scene on the next morning which vividly recalled Nora’s expressive phrase.

He had lingered in the reading-room to talk with a friend. A group of loungers were gathered a few feet distant, whose presence he had ignored until there was a general movement nearer the window at which he was stationed.

“As I live, why that is Nora Chesney ! ” said one of the number.

St. Julicn’s gaze swept over the clustering heads quick and hashing as lightning, For an instant his pulses ceased to heat. He saw distinctly that they were examining a miniature; the sun-rays fell full upon it,— a little jewelled toy with a sotting of gold and pearls. There was an almost breathless pause when the speaker resumed, as he returned it to its owner, “ Stuyvesant, you are a lucky dog to have that in your keeping.”

“Ye gods and little fishes, yes!” exclaimed another.

St. Julien felt the: blood rush in a tumultuous torrent to his face ; his scorching glance rested upon the individual addressed, its strange magnetic power drawing an answering gaze. Their eyes met,—his full of fierce, stern inquiry, the other’s consciously cold and defiant, as if he had recognized a rival. They were utter strangers. The countenance of the latter was ordinary, his attire extremely foppish, and his air stamped with an easy, ironic assurance such as springs from conscious influence and authority. One thought impressed St. Julien,—perhaps this was one of those associates Chesney’s daughter had deplored.

His impulse was to wrest the picture from the polluting contact of those hands which had subjected it to public comment; but the voice of reason checked him. Such interference might only result in gossip for the busy tongue of scandal.

He turned away, slipped his arm through that of his friend, and passed out of the room.

“ Do you know Guy Stuyvesant ? ” asked the latter, who had marvelled at the momentary stare between the two, when they were out of hearing.

“ No. What of him ? ”

“ Nothing,” said the other, with a slight shrug of his shoulders; "only what rumor whispers, — stories of a reckless, dissipated, mysterious life even wealth and fortune cannot silence.”

“ Rumor often tells idle tales.”

“Yes, hut I believe the old adage, that where there is so much smoke there must he some fire.”

Every word fell like molten lead upon St. Julien’s sensitive soul, and, like flic mimosa, it shivered and shrank at such rude contact. The approach of an acquaintance of his companion afforded him intense relief, as it ended the conversation. He resolved that the silence that had >o long reigned between Chesney and himself upon the subject of such vital interest to both should that day be broken. That afternoon he went to seek the requisite interview. Chesney was out, but the footman asked him into the library to await his return.

Upon the table lay a cluster of crimson roses, the setting sun falling like liquid gold across their velvet leaves. The ruddy glow seemed to sot the air in a flame, so that, turn where he would, that dash of ruby radiance was visible. Tempted by their fragrance, he bent over the flowers to inhale their perfumed breath, but the next moment started hack as if he had seen an adder among them. A card lay upturned amid the foliage. Its inscription, “ Guy Stuyvesant,” and in pencil beneath it “ To Nora,” was but too legible even in that brief, unsuspicious glance.

The name had haunted him since morning. The exhibition of the picture had thrilled him with anger, but the sight of this lioral gilt from a source lie instinctively despised awoke a dull, aching sense of doubt. He had fancied himself an accurate judge of human nature; that his eagle eye could penetrate even beyond the deceitful mask some faces wear to shield their hearts from scrutiny. In the power and fervor of his passion had he deceived himself, and was it but a dream in which he had lately revelled, that the magnetism of his love had awakened a return ? Here was a rival, unworthy', he believed, but perhaps favored. A selfish wish that he had never imposed such absolute silence upon Chesney lingered for one moment in his mind to be banished the next in contempt of himself. An enforced love had no charms; he would not Cage the bird to see it flutter and die in its gilded fetters; he had not calmly framed those conditions to relinquish them in a paroxysm of folly; he had not waited thus long to gather the golden wheat to be content with chaff. He would have entire the brightest, best, and holiest gift to man or none of it; less must sadly fail to satisfy his exacting spirit. It would cost him a terrible effort to give up the shining prize which half unconsciously had been the one star of hope throughout the artificial life of so many years, — how terrible no heart save his own could imagine, but for her sake he was ready for the sacrifice.

His fair fiancée should be free to choose, and from her own lips before appealing to Chesney he would learn his fate and abide by it. Not, however, in his present perturbed state of feeling. lie left the room, glad to escape the fragrance that oppressed him, and passed through the hall to the niche where the footman dozed in his chair.

“ I cannot wait longer,” he said; tell Miss Nora that I will return this evening,” and left the house.

The message was duly delivered, and Chesney likewise apprised of his visitor. The latter frowned at the intelligence, bit his lips, and without a word strode on to the library. The flowers upon the table first attracted his attention. He read the card attached to them, and threw it down with a gesture of disgust. “ lie. has been here,” he muttered with a gasp, “ and beheld this token that my respite is over ; perhaps mistaken in his unconsciousness for an offering of mere gallantry',— the sign that sets the seal upon my dishonor.”

He threw himself into a chair and buried his face in his hands in a crushed, heartbroken way pitiful to see. An hour of

motionless silence, an abrupt start, a hasty ring for lights; and a servant was despatched with the roses to his daughter’s dressing-room.

A simple bouquet of violets bad preceded them, accompanied by a brief note in bandwriting that had brought a scarlet tide TO Nora’s cheek. “ Wear these, and I shall be so presumptuous as to hope.” The smile and blush that had met and lingered upon her face since she read tied at the sight of Stuyvesanl’s name. With a mixture of surprise and contempt she tore the card into fragments, and threw the roses by' to wither in neglected loveliness.

St. Julien kept his appointment. All traces of his recent discomposure were banished, and he entered the drawing-room apparently as self-possessed as usual. Chesney, holding the library door ajar, had witnessed his arrival; the door slipped from his fingers and closed with a noise that drowned the sound of the bitter groan upon his lips; In it St. Julien heard nothing, saw nothing but Nora Chcsney standing tremulous and half reluctant in the centre of the room, with eyes averted and lips quivering so that he could scarcely distinguish her faint word of greeting. Half hidden by the golden waves of hair were the violets he had charged with such a weighty mission,— the revelation of his success or failure.

A glow radiant as sunlight chased away the shadow from his countenance. “ Look up,” he said, softly, yet in a tone that trade compliance. “ Do you know what hope you have encouraged by the wearing of those flowers ?

How could site doubt, when his glance, his smile, his lightest touch had long thrilled her with soft import, ? Her agitation was a silent, sweet confession.

lie raised her hands to his lips fondly and fervently. “ I have a story to tell yon,” drawing her to a seat upon the sofa, —“ the story of five long years of devotion and constancy.”

A moment’s pause, — St. Julien was thinking how best to relate the circumstance of that strange betrothal without betraying the motives which had chiefly influenced her father in proposing it. One moment of delicious re very ere the hand of destiny wrested them asunder! A low knock upon the door, distinctly audible in the stillness. St. Julien himself arose to open it. A domestic stood upon the threshold with a message to the effect that Mr. Chesney desired to see Mr. St. Julien immediately in the library. The stress upon the word ” immediately ” admitted no delay. “ Say that I will come,” he returned.

After the servant disappeared, he waited only long enough to explain his own idea of this peremptory summons. “ He has probably attached some particular weight to my visit this afternoon ; a few words will suffice for that, and then — ”

He broke off'abruptly, but his eyes spoke volumes of tenderness that needed no interpretatioa. During the sorrowful days that followed, that last look and tone haunted her like a hateful mockery.

St. Julien had nearly reached the library, when a gentleman came out thence, brushed past him with a haughty, supercilious stare, flung open the street door without waiting for The footman's service, and disappeared. It closed after his retreating figure with a dismal clang. In tins unceremonious visitor St. Julien had recognized Guy Stuyvesant. A sudden chill pervaded every nerve ns he hurried on to the library.

Chesney was restlessly pacing to and fro. Stuyvesant’s appearance had conjured tip a vivid recollection of the picture scene of the morning, his companion s comment upon his character, and Nora’s hasty, thoughtless admission of the cause for the avoidance of himself, which had now become marked. His lips were sealed by the bitterness of such unwelcome remembrance, and without a word he closed the door and advanced to the front of the grate, that glowed with ruddy coals.

Chesney preserved a moody silence.

“ You sent for me,” at. length remarked St. Julien, as he thought of his waiting love.

His companion paused in his rapid walk. “Yes,” returned he, excitedly ; “draw up a chair and sit down.”

Pardonnez-moi, mais la chere fille awaits me. Am I right in supposing you desired to see me respecting this afternoon’s visit in your absence ? It is so seldom I ask for you particularly, that you may have imagined some cause of consequence

Chesney winced slightly, then said doggedly, “ No, you are wrong; it is for a purpose of my own ; and quite a pity that you had not said adieu to Nora, for you must hear me.”

“ Courtesy demands; then, that I should follow your advice, and make explanation of my engagement.”

“ It is unnecessary.”

St. Julien lifted his eyebrows in surprise. “ I insist,” he said, calmly.

“And I command that you do not,” cried Chesney, striking hard upon the table.

St. julien’s lip curled contemptuously despite his uneasiness. His glance arrested that of his companion, and for the first time he noticed that it was wavering and uncertain, half guilty and half deadened by some obstinate resolution, A suspicion of the truth suddenly occurred to him. He took a cursory view of the apartment: a wine stand with decanters, sparkling with the fiery scintillations of their contents, two or three cobweb-draped bottles, and half a dozen glasses stood upon a side-table. The discovery satislied him with ins suspicion that Chesney had been reckless in his draughts, but he scarcely surmised the truth that his over-indulgence had been to fortify himself for this very interview. He had well calculated the amount requisite to leave him in possession of clear speech and a keen consciousness of action, while blunting all fine sensibility and reducing him to that point where he could be selfish, cruel, unreasonable, and doggedly determined, with no pang of remorse. Once, in Paris, St. Julien had witnessed this phenomenon ; and now, as then, his anger melted into a kind of scornful pity fur such unpardonable weakness. In the devoutness of his love, his sole object now was to spare Nora any exhibition of the turbulence that would be sure to ensue, should he refuse to comply.

“Be it so,” he returned, with every outward symptom of composure. “ What have you to say ? ”

“ Be seated first.”

He took a chair in silence, and Chesney threw himself into another, shading ins eyes with his hand as if from the firelight.

Another pause.

“ Well,” said St. Julicn presently, wearied of his vigil.

“I have a little explanation to make to you which circumstances render imperatively necessary, — that is all.”

“ I listen,” replied his auditor composedly.

“A little more than live years ago—”

St. julien’s wandering glance at these words fastened upon the speaker.

“A little more than five years ago, you may remember, by my hot-headed rashness and impetuosity, I was so unfortunate as to place first my fortune and then my life in your power. Pur your own part in those, transactions you then plausibly accounted. Whether or not you had any motive for sparing what you might have easily taken, other than you professed, of course I could not know.”

St. Julien sat calm and unmoved.

“ Possibly von might have connived at the ultimate result that preceded my departure from Paris, or had at least a vague hope you might succeed in effecting it by the course you adopted. You confessed to me at the moment of reconciliation that you were in love—-your own words—with a miniature, that of my daughter, then a child, and I, in a moment of romantic, sentimental gratitude betrothed her to you.”

“I recollect perfectly,” said St. Julien. “You mean to imply that I might have had that end in view throughout our acquaintance. Do you remember the conditions upon which I accepted such an agreement ? ”

“Yes. In my cooler moments I reflected that you were a'man of the world, influenced by a strange infatuation fur a pretty lave, and that, fearing for the success of your scheme with the object of it, for the mishapand chances of time, you had interposed them as a security, perhaps for your own precious self.”

“ Go on,” responded St. Juiicn, lowering his face upon his hand.

“ Yon were the older by twelve full years.”

“Did von then consider this difference or age such an obstacle ? ”

“ No, I must confess ; but I was blinded by my impulsive feeling.”

“ Well.”

Chesney did not immediately respond; when he did, las tone was lower and hard with some desperate resolution. “ In those cooler moments that ensued, I believed you would forget so nonsensical a farce.”

“ I have a better memory than you were disposed to give me credit for. I did not forget it : but do not suffer me to interrupt you.”

“ Since my return home, I have become again involved, — even more deeply than when in Paris. You see, my friend, you would have done me a greater favor if you had finished me at once that day in the. Unis do Boulogne when I was at your mercy, than to have spared me for this.” He laughed bitterly at his own suggestion. “ The demon of evil was rooted in ray soul. It was not only the fascinations of Paris that were potent to tempt me, but elsewhere the spirit found food for its morbid cravings. Gambling has proved my rock of destruction. This time my opponent, less compassionate than yourself, has not relinquished me so easily. He demands a price. I have conceded rather than suffer the disgrace that must follow my refusal.”

“ What price ? ” asked St. Julien, without looking up.

“ Nora’s hand in marriage,” returned Chesney, defiantly.

St. Jilien started to his feet, every pulse throbbing as if it would hurst its bounds. Hiss stern, steadfast gaze measured his vis-avis from head to lout. Chesney’s glance fell. It could not encounter the eagle eye that seemed to scorch into his very soul.

You prated to me. once of honor,’’ slowly ejaculated a voice frosty and cutting with sarcasm ; ‘‘yon, when I refused to cross arms with you in the Bois de Boulogne for sake of your unprotected wife and child, put up the plea that the life I offered you was unacceptable because of the scruples of honor it cost you. What a byword and reproach that little word has become! Honest men should hesitate to use it. I suppose you base this new phase of character upon principles of honor. Tell live, what is the extent of your liabilities ; and because you are Nora’s father I will buy off the hound, miscreant enough to make such a treaty the price of your safety.”

“ Money cannot cover them.”

“ Why not

,-it is even so! I have gone beyond that. I do not fear to trust you with this confession.”

“ And I do not feel honored by being made the recipient of such a confidence; but tell me the name of your friend, and I will volunteer to bring him to terms. Oh, I could almost slay you as you stand for having regarded the hand of my affianced wife as a piece of merchandise, to be bartered as you pleased. Hear me in my turn : I love Nora, Chesney, and I believe that the main condition that was to seal the compact of betrothal between us is verified.”

“Vain talking. The man, if you must know him, is Guy Stuyvesant, — inflexible and determined as a fiend.”

St. Julien shuddered ; this wretched story accounted for the scene of the morning mid the bouquet of roses.

“ Besides,” continued Chesney, “I have solemnly pledged myself to this, and I will not break my oath. Money would be powerless to tempt him. He has doubtless gulled me into his lingers with the full intent of receiving this price for his mercy. He is rich and of good caste; Nora will not have much. to complain of.”

He reached over as he finished speaking, and, filling two glasses from one of the decanters, moved one toward his companion and took the other himself.

St. Julien. stayed his hand with the emphatic command, “ Not until this conference is ended.”

“As you please,” he responded uneasily; “but hear me, St. Julien ; once and for all time I decline any intervention of yours in my behalf. I will not recognize it.. I do not choose to place myself under any further indebtedness. The conference, as you term it, is upon my part, ended.”

St. Julien walked hack and forth before him once or twice, and then stopped with the query: “ Again, am I to understand nothing can move you ? ”

“ Nothing, — I swear it. It would he useless for you to attempt a compromise with Stuyvesant, if such be your intention, for my determination to refuse your assistance is final; and 'i it were not, Stuyvesant could not be bought off.”

St. Junen made a motion before his eyes as if to clear away mists that had settled there.

“ Does Nora know anything of this ? ” he inquired, at length.

“ No, but to-night I shall apprise her of some of my adventures. I have not a doubt but that she will consent rather than see me fall. Even the love you boast, if it does indeed exist, will lie rendered up a sacrifice.”

How might she not be tempted by this shadow of impending infamy? Had she the superhuman courage to resist the appeal to her sense of filial duty, — the fortitude of soul to hear unmoved the evil pleader,— to endure the reproach, — to see him sink into the pit of disgrace ? The anxious questioner dared not trust himself to think, — he was too indignant to ask the particulars of the desperate misdeeds at which his companion so darkly hinted. Evidently, from the terms he employed in connection with them, they were no common misdemeanors. At all hazards, he was bent upon procuring a respite, a brief delay of the explanation to Nora, hoping that he could perfect a plan by morning to surmount the difficulty.

“ Not to-night,” he urged; “ spare her at least a few more hours of happy unconsciousness,” Chesney caught eagerly at this avenue to a point he was most desirous to make.

“ Not to-night, provided you promise me to seek no interview with her after you leave me."

“ I promise.” As he spoke St. Julien drew a card from his case, hurriedly pencilled a few words upon its surface, took an envelope from the portfolio upon the table, sealed the card within, and directed it to Nora.

“ I trust you have still pride, I will not say honor, enough left in the downfall you confuss, to deliver that unopened; it contains no treason, you have my assurance, which I hardly think you will doubt.'’

Chesney took the envelope in silence, which St. Julien accepted as consent, and without another word, save the coldest salutation, left the room. The door of the drawing-room was closed when he passed as he had left it, hut the sound of his footsteps fell upon the watchful, beating heart within. A tremulous expectation, a sigh that suspense was over at last, when the heavy jar of the front door struck like a knell upon her listening car. He was gone,—gone without one word of excuse or farewell. And doubts, apprehensions, vague, distracting phantoms, loomed up at the bitter thought.

Chesney heard his guest’s departure with a sigh of relief. Without a moment’s delay he tore open the envelope intrusted with such sacred confidence to his care.

“Fool,” he muttered, “to trust me, fallen as I am. It is hard to convince him of the depth into which I have plunged my olden self. If I had intended this should ever reach her, I should have had pride enough to deliver it unopened ; hut as I do not — ”

He paused to read the sentence upon the card: —

“ The story I would have told you is unavoidably postponed, — but trust me, only for a brief interval.

“ Sr. J.”

Chesney tossed the card into the fire.

“ Story,— umph! — what story, I wonder ? What a troublesome gnawing worm this titude is!” said he, draining the glass visitor had declined. I could not owe that man another debt of such kind. Better to endure the remorse of conscious treachery ! Better to lose my right hand and to murder at once all remnants of shame and integrity, than to owe him another favor when I have so ill requited the first. To-night, while conscience is dead, I must finish this work. Nora must arid shall save me from scorn and pity. I can bear to suffer in secret, hut the disgrace that would follow the exposure Stuyvesant has power to make, — never, never ! St. Julien, you might have known, keenly perceptive as you are, that, having once stooped so low in the mire of degradation, the successive steps come lightly to the branded soul.”

He rang the boll. “Send Miss Nora here.” She came, disquieted and anxious.

He had nerved himself to he dead to all pity, to all regret and entreaty. Without waiting to he questioned, he clashed off in a hard, reckless, desperate way his confession of the vice that hail wrecked his life and fortune, the temptations of evil advisers, (the associates she had so often condemned,) and worldly pride that had led him to conceal and make up the loss of the latter by frauds for which the laws of the land would mete out ignominious punishindnt, the galling truth that Stuyvesant possessed the knowledge which would prove these facts to society, and the price he claimed as recompense for his silence.

Of his earlier life, the story of his sojourn abroad and acquaintance with St. Julien, and the romance of that eventful morning, he was too wary to reveal even the slightest hint. What necessity, he asked his cowardly heart, was there to rake up a past the knowledge of which might only embarrass her decision and perhaps defeat his end ? It was St. Julien himself who had first enjoined him to a secrecy which he would preserve now from choice. He believed St. Julien would be too proud to press a suit he had so summarily and insultingly dismissed, and that Nora’s promise once gained would never he broken.

As she listened in horror to his guilty narrative, one thought rose uppermost in her mind,—he had made St. Julien also a confidant of his dreadful confession ; this was why he had left her in anguish and doubt without the solace of even a cold conventional adieu. Her whole soul rose in arms against submission to what her father had prescribed as the sole course to save him from his well-merited deserts. Not if the heavens fell would she so sacrifice herself. She would he content to toil in the poorest hovel, in want and obscurity, for support, hut never to become the price of his release from suck a bondage. A fierce passion gathered upon Chesney’s face, — he stormed and threatened, but she stood unmoved, — a rock against which his fury was vain,— a terrible reproach to his abasement. For a. moment he was staggered; the next, goaded by despair, he grew wild, and curses hung upon his irreverent lips.

Up and down, up and down, ceaseless in his restless pacing, like a caged lion furious at capture.

Suddenly there was a heavy fall; the harsh utterances ceased, and in their stead came a low, hollow moan. Nora lifted her face from her hands, and gazed in an agony of terror. He lay at full length upon the floor, every feature set in strange pallid composure, his blue lips flecked with white foam. Physicians and attendants failed, and before the morning Clement Chesney was a shrouded corpse.

Two proud, sensitive, desolate hearts — mother and daughter—departed from that house forever, whither none knew, so soon as the lifeless clay had been consigned to kindred dust, because of the fatal legacy he had left them, — his best beloved hut so deeply sinned against.

“ There will be many to wonder, perhaps, hut none to regret,” sighed one, looking hack with wistful eyes.

“ St. Jalien/* ventured the other.

Nora averted her lace; the cup of bitterness was full to overflowing. “ Has deserted ns as all the rest will do when the veil is riven and the hideous truth no longer remains a secret. This only is left us, to flee ere the busy tongue of gossip shall give the story of infamy to the winds. Nothing that is there is ours. I have only taken a few articles of my own and a simple wardrobe even the law would not deny us. Luxury and silence, purchased at such a woful cost as that which offers us our only alternative, are without charms. In honest poverty there is at least no shame.

Gone, — without a word, a sign, a clew by which they might he traced. O, pitiful return for live long years of waiting ! Lost, when almost found, — perhaps forever !

St. Julien, stunned at this dreary reality, found consolation in his steadfast faith.

“ There is some mystery, some baneful seeret! Be still, O heart! and take up again thy lesson of patience until destiny and time will unravel all. Nora, beloved, though I have all the world to seek, yet will I find thee.”

“ Lodgings.”

Time was when the aristocratic, eyes of Mrs Chesney would have shrunk from sight of the gilt-lettered sign sparkling in the March sunshine upon the door before which the close hired carriage that had served them in their flight drove up and stopped after that long, weary ride.

The house was neat and plain, and the street clean and retired, without the slightest claim to wealth or fashion. „

“It is the best we can do for the present, said Nora, deprecatingly, with a sigh of relief that no remonstrance met her announcement.

“Our old housekeeper, Mrs. Gates, lived here before she died, with the little French woman who lets the rooms. I came to see her several times ; and I think Madame Paix will at least remember ray face, so that we shall escape the inquisitive questions strangers would ask us. I will go first, and see if she will take us.”

Mrs. Chesney offered no objection, The sorrows of her “later life had eradicated the prejudices of former years. Pliancy and amiability were exaggerated almost to a fault in her temperament. An infusion or the good old-fashioned leaven of sell-will and energy might have saved her husband, while her occasional reproach had been too slight to restrain his rash and headstrong nature. In Nora the two dispositions so blended as to form exquisite harmony.

Early as it was, a pair of benevolent black eyes chanced to he peering out of one of the upper windows just in time to witness the arrival.

Mon Dieu ! ” cried their owner, starting back. “ How lucky if these should be the lodgers I’ve been wishing for. The second floor suite has been empty for a week. I will go down myself.”

“Madame Paix!” said Nora, as the black eyes flashed upon her from the doorwav.

Ma foi! the little lady who came to see poor Madame Gates. Come in, Mam'selle.

I am delighted, — I am honored!” dashed out the sprightly widow with French volubility. Mrs. Chesney, watching anxiously, saw" them disappear together in the hall.

A few moments of suspense, and Madame herself came to assist the invalid to alight. Nora’s application had been successful, and that day Madame Paix’s second floor suite was tenanted anew.

Mon Dieu, how pale and sad they are ! sighed she, charting at dinner with Miss Griffin, her lodger of the third story back.

“ I shall send meals up at present till they get used to the change.”

“Wictims of misfortin ?” queried Miss Griffin, gravely.

Oui, my friend ; my old lodger, Madame Gates, lived housekeeper with them once upon a time, and you should have heard her flue stories to believe what a difference tins is.” .

“Such things have been in my family, although perhaps you would n t think it, responded the Griffin majestically.

“Perhaps; but these wear the airs and graces one cannot doubt, you know. But the saddest part of all, Mam’selle said to me this morning, ‘I must earn my living, so as to make the little we have saved out of the general wreck last as long as possible.

I can paint and draw and play. I could teach very well; hut I do not think I could go out among strangers as yet,’ — you see the pauvre petite is sensitive, and must get hardened to it, — ‘ and if there should be tiny other way open for me, I should prefer it. Can you give me any advice, Madame Paix ? ’ Now, la diene, she is like a flower, and I couldn’t help looking at the little white hands upon her lap, and wondering what else but painting and drawing ami such pretty works they could do. Besides, she cannot think of leaving Madame la were to go out in the day, for Madame is an invalide. I said, ‘ You must give me a little time to think, Mam’selle, and I will ask Miss Griffin, too.’”

Miss Griffin flushed with conscious pride at being thus appealed to. Poor sallow spinster, bereft of kith and kin, it was seldom she found herself of so much consequence to any one. Madame Paix had a warm corner in her heart for the lonely woman who had outlived, one by one, the hopes and loves and sympathies of her

“ Griffin is my best counsellor,” chirruped she, smiling to" see the flush deepen upon the thin cheek, worn by many a sorrowful tear.

“ Well, not to set too much store by one’s self, but I think as my experience of ups nnd downs deserves some consideration. I advises for the best always.”

“ So you do, you good soul, and Mam’selle is already prepared to believe it.”

“And if she wouldn’t mind comin’ up so far us the third story back, we might have a talk about it.”

“ I ’ll mention it to-morrow.”

Nora was glad to accept this offer to assist her in arriving at some feasible plan by which to eke out their comparatively small fund. Not only this, however, hut the keen sense of the desperate necessity of keeping herself employed to dispel the haunting gloom that darkened and closed about her, threatening distraction. The avenues that her accomplishments might have opened were closed by the harrowing circumstances that had impelled that flight, with which secret not even her benevolent hostess was intrusted. The fear of discovery, while the story was yet fresh in those circles where they had been so widely known, withheld her. There was another not loss galling. The dread of meeting St. Julien by some unhappy chance. At the mere thought, the sense of a bitter heart-break welled up chokingly. A few short hours spanned the happiest and the direst of her life-experience. The miserable torturing spectre of the past was sufficient torment. Accordingly the next day the third story back received a visitor.

No wonder Miss Griffin softened and melted at once at sight of that wan, fair, spiritual Is face, and her tone involuntarily borrowed some of the honey with which Madame Paix sweetened her sternest sentences.

“ I applaud your resolution,” said she, after their brief interchange of courtesies, humanely divining that the best way to relieve Nora’s embarrassment would be to open at once the great subject of the interview. “ Trust me, when one is in sorrow, there’s nothin’ like work as a cure for’t. Keep the hands busy, is my advice, which, the Lord knows, I've well learned by more occasions nor one. I’ve had my troubles, and was n’t always as lonely and miser’ble as I am now.”

Her guest swallowed a rising sob.

“ I know just how it is, my dear,” she went on, pretending not to see the emotion her words had called up. “ Madame explained all about it, — your mother’s weakness which keeps you from resortin’ to anything for which your eddication might lit; but there are other ways just as.good. Tor instance, I ’ve supported myself ever since I was left entirely alone in the world when brother James died more’n eighteen months ago.”

“ How ? ” asked Nora, her attention fixed at last.

“ By sewing.”

“ Sewing! ”

O, vision of drudgery! Shades of everlasting toil! Sad requiem of Hood ! — the eternal “ Stitch, stitch, stitch,” that writes itself as in characters of living fire upon the weary brain of hapless sempstresses.

Miss Griffin detected Nora’s involuntary gesture of aversion.

“ No, no,” resumed she, with a smile and shake of the head; “nut the tiresome drivin’ of the needle you’re thinkin’ of. Why, you might sew your life, away at that rate, and never he any the better off for it. O no, Rachel Griffin’d never advise you to that. I never sew with these, my dear,” stiffly erecting her ten digits by way of emphasis. “ Here’s the friend that docs that part of the work for me,” turning slightly and tapping upon a prettily ornamented table Nora had nut noticed hitherto. “ And a great deal better and faster than my poor stiff joints could do it, I can tell you.”

“ A sewing machine ! ” exclaimed Nora, comprehending at a glance. “ I never once thought of it.”

“I dare say, my dear. Perhaps you never did your own sewing before — ”

Miss Griffin paused; her guest hastily filled the blank, —" Not much of it: embroidery or needlework sometimes for pleasure, — that was all.”

“ Well, Miss, the finest lady in the land might find a kind, o’ captivation in doing her own sewin’ if she knew as much about tins little treasure as some folks. But first she must get right, — know which is which, as I often say to Madame. Make that a p’int at the beginnin’. Now mine is perfection ! It’s the ginuine lock-stitch,—none of your single-thread humbugs for me,— and ’sides the lock, it makes three others jest as firm and Strong as you can imagine. Here’s speciments, my dear, bow it works, — hero’s a seam I’ve Stitched and felled, — can anything beat that?” Miss Griffin nervously displayed a piece from the pile of work that lay near by upon a chair. “ Or this with the hem and tucks; it hems wide or narrow as I please, and sews jest as well from a fine handkereh’ef down to the heftiest cloth. And now examine this rafflin'; it ain’t gathered and sewed on separately, you see, but gauged and put on the band all to once, makin’ an awful savin’ of time when a body’s in a hurry. O, you can try it, if you like, ’t wont rip very easily. I s’posa you don’t know anything about sewin’ machines, — don’t know anything about feeds and tensions and sich like ? ”

“ Not the least.”

“ Now mine has partickclar adwantages in that line. The feed is what moves the work under the needle, and mine has a reversible arrangement, as they call it, so that the work will go either way I want it; then about this tension” (Miss Griffin flew up to illustrate her argument), “it’s the nicest thing you ever see, — never snarls or lets the under thread git out of order. There! you see how smooth and easy it goes ; almost noiseless, too! But bless me, I never told von its name ! Here you ’ll find it!”

“ ‘ The Florence Loek-Stiteli Sewing Machine,’ ” read Kora.

“Yes, that’s it, as plain as print can make it.” ,

“lam delighted with it, even upon this short acquaintance.”

Miss Gritlin was in ecstasies. ‘ And you ’ll like it better and better every day.

It has a deal more virtues I haven’t mentioned. Work seems almostlike pleasure.

It gets along so sure and steady, I need n t he busy more 'n a lew hours a day. I get enough lino nice work for two of us now-adays, and if you ’re a mind M try it I’ll teach you the rudiments.” The novelty was a strong temptation, — a relief from the burdensome monotony tilled up with bitter thought. „

“ I do not like to encroach upon you.

“Not a bit, my dear; jest try it awhile for variation, and it you like it you can get one for yourself. ” ,

So Nora became a pupil of Madame Paix s third-story back lodger.

“If Monsieur can spare me,” ventured Alain, valet and protégé of St. Julicn. as the latter stood pale and abstracted, gazing fixedly into vacancy.

“ Certainly, — go.”

A bustle, a fluster at the curtains, a moment to fold up the journals scattered over the centre-tahle, and* Alain retreated ; hut paused at the door with his hand upon the knob,

“O, if Monsieur would only get back to Paris!”

“ Homesick ? ”

“No, but Monsieur is so triste, so solemn, and Paris is a cure for melancholy.”

He went out, softly closing the door.

“Not till I have found her,” said St. Jnlien to the sombre stillness that succeeded. And this, though many long, weary days since the stroke had fallen had vanished in vain search and inquiry. The golden hours of the afternoon were lost in re very until the twilight, when Alain, with his cheery face and volatile tongue, burst in like a flash upon the gloaming.

“Monsieur, I have it at last, — tne sentiment — for the first since we last looked upon la belle France. It is a mystery, —a delightful énigme. Will you hear it? Oui? Then I shall commence. I had a letter yesterday from home to my aunt, — she that came several years ago to America.. I went to-day to take it to her. Madame, is a widow, poor, and keeps lodgers lor support. There has been a new arrival lately, — the second floor, Monsieur. A widow and daughter. Think of May violets and shy primroses. ‘ Sweets to the sweet,’ as you used to sing. The daughter, of course, Monsieur. I had one little glimpse, — my heart melts, —I dream of poetry, —of sweet palefaced Madonnas. I say to Madame, my aunt, 41 shall adore her.' Hut Madame, my aunt, shook her head and said softly, ‘ Only at a distance, Alain.’ I knew by her -way there was some secret, so I teased her for it. Ah Ciel, Monsieur! Mademoiselle has had adversity, lost riches, and come to poverty. She toils for herself and the mother, who is helpless.” .

“ But one little glimpse, Alain ? said his auditor, suddenly interrupting the narration.

“ That was all, hut to-morrow, to-morrow, Monsieur, fills all my hopes. ‘ To-morrow, at three, Mademoiselle is going out to purchase a Florence sewing machine at No. 505 Broadway,’ so said Madame, my aunt. What easier, you see, than for me to linger near by accident ? Ah, those eves of blue, that face like the lilies, and hair of gold ! Mademoiselle may drop a glove or handkerchief,— I shall have at least a glance, a word. Ah, Monsieur, if it was only in Paris ! ”

“ Alain! ” said St. Julien, so sternly that the color fled from the youth’s cheek.

“What name?”

“ Mademoiselle’s, yon mean ? I heard but one, — Nora.”

St. Julien sat as if stunned. There might he twenty of that name to answer that description,*— he thought but of one. A moment and he answered calmly, “ I will go in your stead.”

Alain had never questioned. It was too late to begin now, however much this sudden determination might surprise him. So at three upon the morrow, master instead of servant waited for the second-story lodger.

She came quietly, unconscious of the presence that watched near by, yet hidden, to whom step and air at once betrayed her, despite the closely veiled face. St. Julien saw her enter and traverse the large and dainty salesroom, filled with fresh subjects for Miss Griffin’s eulogitmis.

He counted the time that elapsed before her reappearance by heart-beats. At last, and what a weary age seemed blotted out of existence now that they had met again !

Frascati’s, — morning, and the gossips upon the qui vive.

“ What is the latest ? ” said one, saluting a new-comer whose face was brimful of news.

“ Do you know, mes amis, Paul St. Julien has returned ' ” A chorus of voices took up the cry.

“ Listen ! hear the rest. I have the secret of his journey. He has come, — not alone, — hut married.”

“ Married ? Who has seen her ? What is she like ? ” asked all in a breath.

Moi! Ah, juste ciel, what a superb creature! like a snowdrop, a Northern lily, the Borgian hair, and eyes like heaven.”

“ Who is she? what is she? and what name?”

“ American. Une petite belle! Nora. St. Julien, née Chesney, I know nothing more, — Paris knows nothing more ! ”