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than Vere, and no man seemed less vain or sensible of that power than he; and even now, as he spoke, there was in the face of her who listened her own peculiar smile, the nameless and indescribable charm that won the admiration, if not the love, of all who looked on her.

Though occupied with Gertrude, and Gertrude alone, Vere politely strove to insure himself a few dances on Maud's card, which she accorded him graciously enough, as his good dancing and fine figure made him always an acceptable partner; but, up to the moment he addressed her, Maud, through a tiny eyeglass, had been scanning, with cool and insufferable insouciance, many of those guests who had been invited as local notorieties or local necessities, from policy, in connection with the estate, the locality, and the future political interests of the family, but chiefly those, of course, of the young lord her brother.

Vere then approached Rosamund, but her card was full already. Vere could perceive that Kyrle Desborough's name appeared thereon far too often, and he thought that, under all the circumstances, 'it was a downright shame of Kyrle.' But Rosamund saw not the clouds of the future, and when Desborough addressed her the girl's heart swelled with happiness and joy.

After securing himself partners with those to whom he was bound by duty or courtesy, Vere again turned to Gertrude, gave his arm, and led her to the other room, as their dance had begun; and aware that the eyes of Maud, of Derinzy, and most assuredly of Lady Templeton, were upon her and Vere, the manner of Gertrude to the latter, even amid the crowded room, was, in spite of herself, painfully constrained, even nervous.

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The noble dancing-room, with its elaborately-painted ceiling, every panel of which was decorated with heraldic blazonry, fruits, or flowers, the waxen lights, the perfume of rare exotics in jardinières between the draped oriels, the pictures and statuary, barely won a glance from Vere, whose mind was full of her whose hand rested in his, and whose slender waist he clasped as they glided away over the polished floor among the flying waltzers.

In the intoxication of the flying dance and the brilliant yet familiar music of his own regimental band Herbert Vere half forgot his troubles and fears, but not the joy of having his arm round the floating figure of Gertrude, her hand in his, her breath upon his cheek.

Many of his brother officers were present, and more were coming, as they were in great repute as good round-dancing men, and Desborough had secured the attendance of the band, in obedience to a note from Lady Templeton; moreover, he was president of the band committee.

His first waltz over with Gertrude, Vere hastened to fulfil an engagement with the terrible Maud, whom he was most solicitous to please, and who, in the intervals of

the dance, indulged her spirit of satire or ill nature, first in quizzing unmercifully a flirtation in an oriel between young Prior of the Eighth Prior of the Eighth and a girl of sixteen-two chits that, be they ever so much in love, could not marry for the next ten years; and then an engaged couple, whom she was sure would be bored to death in less than a week.

Another couple, who sat somewhat apart, she informed Vere, had been married for some time; but the gentleman who was hovering behind the lady's chair had been her first love, and now sought sedulously to be platonically her third love-but most platonically, of course.

Vere looked with some surprise at the handsome woman who permitted her tongue to run on in this sharp fashion, and regretted that she was a sister of Gertrude; but now Sir Ayling Aldwinkle, who still indulged in square dances, claimed her for the Lancers, and led her away with a somewhat tremulous hand.

The baronet was a tall, thin old man, with snow-white hair, which he had not the bad taste to attempt to dye. His figure had already begun to droop, but his well-lined face was delicate, refined, and eminently aristocratic; his nose was high and thin; his teeth were good, for they were of the newest fashion from Paris; and his watery gray eyes had still, it was owned, a wicked look' in them; for though his chin was pendulous, his shoulders round, and his thin and delicate hands a little shaky, it was still-by mere force of habit perhaps his desire to be thought rather a sad dog' yet, and not without designs upon the weaker vessels.


And now Vere had to fill up his time with another partner, as Gertrude was engaged with his espe

cial bête noire, Colonel Jocelyn Derinzy, late of the Guards, now unattached and on the camp divisional staff.

How didoo, Vere?' he lisped, in his most languid and lisping manner, as he led his partner off, and nodded superciliously; hot, isn't -aw-aw!'

Big Jocelyn, as he was named, was handsome, decidedly fashionable and distingué in bearing, with a kind of Life Guardsman look that was undeniable. He was nearly six feet in height; his hair, light brown and thick, was parted faultlessly, like a girl's, over a lineless forehead, that never was guilty of exhibiting thought or reflection; he had full, dreamy, and yet insipid, blue eyes; a bright, yet ever vapid, smile; a splendid moustache, which was darker than his hair, and sedulously cherished, and under which he showed at times a brilliant set of teeth, that, unlike those of Sir Ayling, were naturally his own; and only that he was too lazy, his chest, shoulders, and limbs would have declared him an athlete.

With all his Guard's air, in mufti he looked like what he was-less a soldier than a blasé indolent man about town, famous for the cut of his coat, the fitting of his spotless gloves, and wonderful boots. Vere and Derinzy felt each other to be rivals and enemies, for the latter had contrived, by a confusion of orders, to 'make a figure' of the former lately, during a sham fight in the Long Valley; and in the general bearing of the staff colonel there was a quiet air of property and assumed personal interest in Gertrude that was intensely galling to Vere, as it seemed to corroborate the club rumours; and even when he yielded her up to him, when their dance was over, it was done in a way as if 'it didn't matter.' And after the dance was ended, poor Ger

trude, with her mother's icy and inquiring eyes fixed on her, could only urge feebly to Maud that 'Herbert Vere was very unlike the men she usually met.'

No exact opportunity had occurred for Vere having the coveted few words apart with Gertrude; and meanwhile Rosamund, the heedless youngest, oblivious of mamma and every one, was enjoying herself thoroughly with Desborough, and 'going the pace,' as Toby Finch of ours phrased it.

Kyrle Desborough, in his thirtieth year, seemed almost middleaged to the debutante of eighteenyet he was the 'god of her idolatry' -and as a schoolboy when compared with Sir Ayling, with whose name Maud would so odiously insist upon coupling hers; and now, in a pause of the galop, she was listening to an opinion of Kyrle's on something, as she hung flushed and palpitating on his arm, and hanging too on his words, eye to eye; and he did this more than was right under the circumstances, as he simply meant-nothing.

'Why have you not on your medals and the V.C.?' she asked, in a low voice.

'We don't sport these toys in


'It is a mistake,' said she, turning aside for a moment.

'Weak ?'

'Yes, and and young-lady-like.' 'The latter indeed you are. We can't be all men, unfortunately, but Nature could never make another like you.'

Rosamund coloured at words which he would never have addressed to Maud; but to her Desborough was the beau idéal of all that a man and a lover should be. His winning manner, his handsome person, the softness of his dark Irish eyes, and his mellow voicesubdued when addressing all women-his V.C., and the story of how he won it, fighting against fabulous odds to rescue Toby Finch,-made her feel that she was in the presence of a master spirit, who could rule and guide her for good or evil, happiness or misery; how much, she little foresaw then!

Yet Rosamund felt intuitively that he did not love, though he might admire her. Could he but have looked into her heart, and seen how she loved him! She knew that to love thus was forbidden her; but surely she might have friendship warm and tender, elevated and spiritual; and so the charming little sophist argued in her heart of hearts, if such a phrase may be permitted.

It did, however, often occur to her that she had surely lost proper

'Don't play with the poor girl,' pride, feeling, and spirit, to love in whispered Vere.

'What the deuce can I do? I should not have come at all,' responded Kyrle, in a low voice, and looking as much as to say, 'Girls in her set have neither hearts to lose nor break.'

'And you won the V.C. at-at -where was it?' asked the bright face, turning again to his.

'Fighting against the hill-tribes in Bengal.'

'How weak you must think me, Captain Desborough, you who have seen so much!'


secret a man who cared nothing for her; yet not so secretly either, for Maud could read her thoughts, and by many a quiet but stinging remark could turn her into stone, as it were.

'There are men who are worth dying for, I have been told,' she once ventured to urge in reply; 'and surely Kyrle Desborough is one of these men? How strange that he is one of those whom all women love! and if so, why should I be an exception?'

'Don't be a romantic goose, and


don't fret over your own fancies,' would be Maud's cold rejoinder.

And now he was translating for her freely and for his own amusement the Chinese characters on her ivory fan, with a facility that would have startled a Civil Service examiner, till the terms of the pretended love-letter-for such he averred it to be-grew a little apropos, and she suddenly said,

'Please pick up my glove-where is it ?'

· In my hand. Such an absurdly tiny glove it is! May I keep it ?' he whispered.

'Till to-morrow.'

He took it, and from that moment forgot all about it; but his arm went round her again, and she whirled away in the waltz with him, her eyes half closed and her whole soul in a dreamy state of uncalculating happiness;' while the baronet, senile as he was, and as an old man doting too, had not the bad taste to hover about the almost unsuspecting girl, or to follow her, save enviously, perhaps angrily, with his wicked old eyes. And yet there were good-natured friends in Ringwood Hall that night, who averred that some of the brilliants then sparkling on the white neck and arms of Rosamund were the gifts of Sir Ayling Aldwinkle-to Lady Templeton, added others, but in past times.

"I know nothing more absurd,' Maud heard the baronet say to the latter, as the young lady in question went floating past, 'nothing indeed, or more insolent in fact, than for a man without-aw-aw-a social position, attempting to engage the affections of one who may -nay, might-engage herself with undoubted advantage and honour to another. Don't you think So, Lady Templeton ?'

'Think so? of course I do, Sir

remarks, and smiled one of her own malevolent smiles as the words of a writer occurred to her, 'Hoodwinking is not pleasant even when performed by a mistress in the art of falconry; but it is still more aggravating to be blindfolded by a mere chit, who ought to be busy with her embroidery-frame, instead of meddling with lures and jesses.'

But there was certainly no effort at hoodwinking so far as the happy Rosamund and indifferent Desborough were concerned.

'How dare he?' was the thought of the haughty Maud, as she watched the half self-satisfied and wholly amused expression and bearing of Desborough towards her thoughtless sister. This playing at lovemaking seemed genteel comedy, that might end in melodrama, and irritated her intensely. At last she suddenly missed them from amid the glittering maze of dancers, and still more would she have been irritated had she known all that was passing.

For coolness, they had wandered into the picture-gallery. And now Rosamund's gloveless hand was in that of Desborough, though it leant upon his arm, and they were talking, the girl scarcely knew of what, but supposed it was the pictures, as they paused before one, a full-length of a fair and handsome young girl attired richly, but in the studied negligence, the elegant dishabille, of the days of Charles II. Her golden hair, adorned by a single rose, escaped from a bandeau of pearls and fell upon a neck of


'An ancestress, I presume?' said Desborough.

'Yes, a few generations back,' replied Rosamund.

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You are wonderfully like her.' 'I would I were half so lovely!' said Rosamund, looking up with her brightest expression, yet coyly, Maud knew the drift of these into the face of Desborough, for


this effort of Lely's pencil was famous for its loveliness; 'it was she who, when the Duke of York passed this way to Southampton, wearing his buff coat and velvetcovered steel cap (just as he is described by Mr. Pepys), gave his highness a kiss, as a bribe to beat the Dutch; whereat my Lord Templeton was much amazed, as were my Lords Churchill and Sandwich, who stood by.'

'Akiss! Well, it leaves no mark, externally at least.'

Now Kyrle Desborough was very wrong, and we suppose we must say he was; but mistakes will occur in a hurry and shock;' and so, somehow, very unjustifiably under all the circumstances, he kissed Rosamund Templeton. Her little mouth was so near, what could he do? The girl trembled and grew pale, but not with anger.

So passed the first-would it be the last?-kiss between those lips that might have clung to each other for a lifetime. We shall see.

A few minutes-only three perhaps were passed in that shady picture-gallery; yet in that brief time were sown seeds that, as they took root, sprouted and budded, bore with them sleepless nights, and days of aching and sorrow, doubt, anger, and perhaps hate!

Meanwhile Vere of ours had recaptured Gertrude, and had the Honourable Maud been less occupied in watching Rosamund and her handsome partner, she might have missed her too.

The night was far advanced by this time even the first hour of morning was nearly past; the guests were all crowded into the old-fashioned dining-hall, where supper was laid, and these two, for whom somehow there was no space amid the crush around the tables, and who more probably made no effort to find it, took refuge, as if by tacit consent, in the long and

half-lit conservatory, which lay between the hall and the now empty dancing-room; and Vere led his companion to a sofa, in a place where her light dress would be less conspicuous amid the greenery which surrounded her.

Vere was no coxcomb, but as Gertrude seated herself and looked up their eyes met, and he knew that now had come the time so long wished for, and yet so dreaded, though both in that glance felt that the moment was one of those that do not occur often in a lifetime, when the interpretation of the tongue becomes weak as compared with the silent sympathy of the eye; and through a long time of weary sorrow, separation, and doubt the glance of that moment was forgotten by neither. If engaged to Derinzy, why does she look at me thus?' thought Vere; and with that thought the avowal that trembled on his lips died away. And yet unconsciously she led up to it, by asking,

'What do those curious letters, p.s.c., after your name in the Army List, signify?'

His heart quickened; she had been looking at his name. Then she added,

'I asked Derinzy, and he made me some jocular answer.'

'It means, passed the Staff College.'

For what-a staff appointment?' 'Yes.'


'Oh, in the Colonies, or anywhere.'

'Surely you have formed this resolution abruptly.'

'No, far from it,' replied Vere, whom her mention of Derinzy's name had piqued; and he thought the glance he had read must be fancy, as her eye was calm and steady now, though her white bosom heaved under the fan which she pressed against it.

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