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in finding out who she was; yet sometimes I thought that the attraction was mutual. Mademoiselle Marie, you know what a charm mystery has for us men; there was about this woman enough of the mysterious to complete the spell to which I was yielding so fast.' 'You do not even know her name?'

'No, I never was able to discover even that. I suppose she will for ever remain an unsolved enigma to me; but I christened her the "Princess of Tulle," for want of a better name, as she generally dressed in tulle, and went about with a prince.'

Marie became strangely agitated. 'Mon Dieu!' she exclaimed, 'do you know the French meaning of that name?'

'No; has it a particular meaning? Do tell me ; I know so little French.'

'Oh, it is only a slang expression. I won't translate it; it will perhaps disenchant you with your mysterious beauty.'

'That it never could, for she was so remarkably like you.'

Again she turned pale and winced.

'Nothing is more dangerous than to tell a woman that she resembles another,' she remarked, trying her best to look calm, but biting her lips. We are all so profoundly satisfied as to our own charms, that the mere suspicion of sharing them with any other woman is galling to

us.'

'If you had seen this Princess of Tulle, I think you would have found it hard to take offence, though I must confess that, notwithstanding all her diamonds and tulle dresses, she was but a poor portrait of you, in spite of the remarkable likeness there is between you. Ah, Marie, can there be in the whole world a woman as beautiful as you?'

At that moment the door of the room opened, and Lady Laura returned, bringing with her the family papers, in the perusal of which she seemed so interested. She cast a suspicious look towards the pair on entering, but said nothing, and sitting down near the fire to read her papers, prevented Frank from saying anything more.

Frank had written to his father soon after his return to Inganess, telling him all about Marie, and begging of him to give his consent to their marriage-a letter which he had shown to Lady Laura, who had again begged of him not to commit himself until he received a reply ; but he could control his feelings no longer. He was of age and a free agent, why should he wait for his father's answer?

Nothing that his father might say could change his mind, so why should he forbear any longer from declaring his love?

One afternoon, two days after the conversation which Lady Laura had so successfully interrupted, he again found himself alone with Marie in the drawing-room; he was determined that this time nothing should prevent him from at last relieving his heart of the weight which so heavily oppressed it.

'I fear Lord Inganess is waiting for me; I generally give him his French lesson about this time,' she faltered, anxious to get away-perhaps conscious of what was coming, and dreading its results.

'The boy can wait; it seems such a sin that a girl like you, so beautiful, so superior in every way, should pass her days teaching children their lessons-you, who seem born to shine in society, and to be a princess among women.' 'O, monsieur !'

Her voice had that true Southern ring, that liquid penetrating tone, which renders the smallest word musical beyond description.

'Marie, I can no longer hide my feelings towards you-I love you !'

She gave a low cry, that resembled a moan of despair, and buried her face in her hands.

'Yes, from the first moment I saw you I loved you. You seem displeased,' and his fair handsome face became livid, and his rich manly voice sank to a whisper. 'Ah, I do not know how to make love, I am so little used to these things; for you, Marie, are the first woman, upon my honour, to whom I have ever spoken thus. I suppose a French lover would go down on his knees-'

'No, no! Reymond leave me, for God's sake! I am not what you suppose. I am an honest woman, believe me. Oh, speak not thus to me!'

Leave me, Monsieur

And she shrank away from him. At this moment, strange to say, her thoughts are not with this man, who so devotedly loves her-whom she, in spite of herself, loves so tenderly. Two pictures, widely different, yet linked together by some subtle shade of colour, moral or physical-two pictures, which she would fain have banished from her memory long ago, rise before Marie's vision.

The first is of an elegantly furnished room in a house in Paris. Rich silks and Aubussons, and gilding that dazzle the eye, surround her on all sides; before her stands a middle-aged man, handsome still, though wrinkles, not wholly due to age, are visible in his face; his eyes are sunken, and his hair is beginning to get gray. He takes her hand in his, and in a soft tender voice whispers: Marie, I love you; will you be the mistress of this house?' The words still vibrate in her ears. Did she love this man? She thought so at the time. Alas, she has already lived long enough, in spite of her youth, to curse his name!

The second scene is a gay place of amusement, brilliantly lighted. A dense crowd surrounds her, yet she feels lonely and sad amidst all this gaiety. Is she thinking of the man with the sunken eyes? A handsome young man approaches her, stands close to her, as Frank does at this moment; his breath warms her cheeks, his arm steals round her form. I love you!' he mutters; 'will you be mine? I will make you rich, happy. Come with me.' Did she love this man? No, she did not; and yet she has had occasion to curse his name!

'Why do you shrink from me?' the passionate Frank exclaims, and his voice recalls her from the past to the present. Ah, perhaps you dislike me! Oh, say not that— say not that! If you knew how I love you, I am sure you would try to like me, if it were only for pity's sake.'

'Ah, holy Virgin, save mesave me! Do not let me sink again under temptation!' she mutters to herself, still recoiling from him.

'Ah, Marie! dearest Marie! do not scorn me. Believe me, the dearest wish of my life is that you should be my wife. I shall never -never be able to love another woman !'

'Your wife!' The words sound strange in her ears-can she still be dreaming?

'I love you with all my heart and soul! Ah, would to God I could express all I feel for you! But I am not a poet; I am only a poor fellow madly in love. I won't ask you for any binding promise just yet; but will you not let me open my heart to you, and at some future time-a long way off-permit me to ask you to become my wife ?'

Marie's face underwent a won

drous change. Your wife-your wife she kept repeating to herself.

'Yes, my wife! my own dearest wife! Ah, I do not want you to promise to marry me at once-I am not so selfish as all that-but some day, when you know me better, when you have learnt how much I love you, perhaps you will not shrink from the thought of becoming my wife as much as you do now.'

She looked up with a startled glance of sudden joy in her large expressive eyes, and put out her hand to him.

'Do you really mean what you say?' she murmured. 'Do you really mean that you would make me your wife?'

Frank looked at her, astonished at the strange and sudden change in her voice.

'Yes, my own beloved wife.' Ah, it is impossible! Impossible! I am not worthy of you.' 'The difference in our station is an untoward accident, my love for you an unalterable necessity of my life; shall necessity give way before accident ?'

'Ah, but if you knew who I am, if you knew what sort of woman you are proposing to!'

A cloud came over her eyes; she looked as if she would have fainted had Frank not sustained her with a strong arm. Her lips trembled; once, twice, even thrice, words came to her lips which she would fain have uttered, but each time the loving look in his face stopped them; at last she passed her hand over her eyes, as if she were trying to disperse her sad thoughts, and then she said,

The past is past! Tell me, will you always love me as you do now? Will nothing ever change your love for me?'

'Of course not, dearest. And you will try to love me?'

She looked at him in silence for a second or two with a strange, wistful, earnest look; his soft eyes were upon her, and she could not resist their pleading expression. His fine manly form towered high beside her; his handsome fair face was flushed and excited, and she could feel the beating of his heart as he drew her towards him. Ah, she could deceive herself no longer-she loved him as much as he loved her!

'You will try to love me, Marie ?'

'Alas, François !' she cried, pronouncing his Christian name, that sounded like sweet music on her lips, for the first time in her life— 'alas, François, I love you already!'

'Oh, joy! I knew my heart could not deceive me and he pressed her with passionate rapture to his breast.

Two hours later he entered the library with his arm round Marie's still trembling figure, where Lady Laura was sitting quietly reading, and, with a radiant face, he presented the poor French governess to her as his betrothed wife.

A look of surprise and dismay passed over that proud aristocratic face, and she cast a stern look of displeasure upon him.

"You have broken your promise to me then, Mr. Reymond?' she said; but on seeing how disappointed he looked she had not the heart to say more, and, rising from her chair, she kissed Marie on both cheeks, and congratulated her warmly on her engagement.

Frank could not control himself; he threw his arms round her, and implanted a brother's kiss on her flushed cheek.

'You are the dearest kindest woman I know-save one,' he said. 'I was sure that you would be pleased to know of my happiness.

You see, Marie, she is not angry as you expected, but very happy that things should have turned out so well. Ah, how happy we shall all be now!'

Lady Laura could say no more. In spite of her warnings, Frank had proposed to Marie, and engaged himself to her. It was too late now to remonstrate. Besides, what business was it of hers ? What right could she have to try to keep asunder two hearts that loved so ardently? And, very much against her own feelings of right, she suddenly found herself the confidante and protector of the two lovers.

No, I am not angry,' she said later on, when Frank noticed how very silent she had been during dinner; 'I am not angry-I sympathise with you. Ah, it must be indeed happiness to love and be loved, as in your case! But this engagement must be kept a secret until Lord Rollingford's letter arrives. You must not mention it to any one, and be careful how you behave before the children. Inganess is a sharp little fellow, and if he guesses anything will, perhaps, spoil all. I leave you now; I suppose you have yet many things to confide to each other. are all alike!'

Ah, lovers

CHAPTER XVIII.

LOVERS.

FRANK had never before been so happy. Love is such a delightful thing when we are but two-andtwenty, know nothing of the miseries of life, and a sweet loving girl of twenty birthdays colours and trembles when we embrace her as if she were a bud opening her heart with wondering rapture to the first rays of the morning sun of her life.

Everything seems so joyful and fresh-like the first breeze of

spring-time. Alas, who knows what sort of autumn will follow this sweet promising spring, and what fruits this budding love will produce!

Frank was a lucky young fellow. Nature had endowed him with many worldly and personal advantages, and had also given him an ardent, loving, and lovable heart; and now, as a crowning blessing that was to perpetuate for ever all the other blessings, she had given him a beautiful and fascinating woman, with a temperament as gentle and lovable as his own, to fill the void left by the insufficiency of earthly pleasures to satisfy that passionate heart with all the joys of divine rapture.

But no happiness can be quite complete in this world; even the intoxicating cup of love must have its bitter dregs. Frank was perfectly happy; but at times he thought that his Marie was not quite as happy as he was, and the idea of her having cause for sadness rendered him at times miserable, in spite of all his joy.

Sometimes he would detect in that fair face, whose every change of expression, however rapid, he watched so anxiously, a passing melancholy, overspreading it as a stray thundercloud sweeping over a clear pure sky will cast at times a momentary darkness over the loveliest and brightest of landscapes. Her smiling face was now often clouded, as if some trouble were weighing upon her mind, and yet at other times she seemed so joyful, so full of life and vivacity. Could it be that her young heart was heavy when her happiness seemed so complete?

One day, after dinner, Frank complained openly for the first time of the hardness of the stiffbacked old-fashioned chairs in the drawing-room-he felt quite at home now at Inganess.

'I am sure, Marie, you must be tired of sitting in that confounded armchair, that looks as if it had been made for a man in armour. Hang it all, there is not a comfortable chair in this house!'

'I know that,' said Lady Laura; 'but it is so difficult to obtain anything out of the ordinary routine of things at Westra. Papa does not care for any modern improvements, and says that what was good enough for our grandfathers must be good enough for us. For the last two years I have been wanting to subscribe to a circulating library -one knows so little of what is going on in the world out here, and the winter evenings are so long and dreary - but, somehow or other, I have never been able to manage it. Even a simple thing like that seems such a business in this island.'

'Oh, I will write to Mudie's for you to-morrow if you like. I will soon get you all the novels you like, Lady Laura; why didn't you mention it before ?'

'Oh, yes, François, that will be so nice!' exclaimed Marie. 'I am so fond of reading; you can get us all the latest works of Balzac and Belot and Georges Sand.'

'What do you know of Balzac and Belot, Marie?' he asked, surprised; I thought French girls never read such books.'

She looked confused, and her face flushed for a moment. 'Oh, I have never read any of them, but I have heard so much about them. There is a novel (I forget who it is by), Delilah; I should so like to read it.'

'Delilah! Oh, I am sure you would not care for it at all. I have read it-it is a most wicked book. The heroine, a fascinating girl, with whom every one falls in love, marries a man without telling him how wicked her past life had been, and then betrays him, like that

woman in the Bible from whom her name is taken, who betrayed Samson to the Philistines.'

Marie felt that his words gave her a new insight into her lover's nature. She gazed at him with burning eyes.

'François,' she said presently, 'would you ever forgive a person who did you an injury?'

'I cannot tell. Why do you ask me?'

'Oh, nothing; only you spoke about that book with such horror. I am sure that if you loved a woman you would not have the heart to abandon her, even if she deceived you.'

A dark shade immediately passed over his fair countenance, generally so bright and joyful.

I hope I shall never be tried like the poor man in the book we were speaking about,' he said, after a moment's hesitation.

'But if she loved you? Supposing, for instance, if a woman loved you as I love you, and, to insure your happiness, her love prompted her to hide something from you, don't you think you would forgive her?' There was sadness in her voice, her heart was heavy, and she felt ready to burst into tears.

'What nonsense you are talking, Marie! he exclaimed, with a merry laugh that only made her heart the heavier. As if I could ever love any other woman but you, or as if you could ever deceive me-you, who are truth and sincerity itself! Do not let us speak of such subjects again.'

He went on talking light-heartedly enough after this, but Marie was some time before she could recover her spirits. It was evident that she had a secret from him, a secret which weighed heavily on her mind, but of which she could not bring herself to speak.

For some days after this she was

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