|Chapter Number||1. I|
|Chapter Title||INTRODUCES VARIOUS CHARACTERS.|
|Newspaper Title||Evening Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1869 - 1912)|
|Trove Title||Whatsoever a Man Soweth|
BOOK, I.—WHEAT AND TARES.
CHAPTER I. IKTJKODUCES VABIOES CHARACTERS.
At an sarly hour of the evening Mrs. Silver mode's i«aoeptiou rooms were filled almost to overflovffag. The occasion was the coming of age of the only daughter of the hostess; and as it was also likely to be the last fashionable b all of tbe season no doubts had ever been entertained of tbe suooess of the festivities. Certainly the weather was growing a trifle warin for dancing, but what of that? Miss E&tial Silvermede was spoiled; she had had her.' own way from childhood upwards, and was it likely that she would be orossed on her b-'/rthday, and her twenty-first birthday of all o/bhers? No ! Miss Silvermede said that the 'sail was to be held—and it was held. Military and naval gentlemen, in all the wealth of gold and silver lacs, and rich uni- ' forms of Boarlet and blue, mingled with the crowd, and added to the brilliance of the aoene. Ladiet, yonng and old, plain and beantifnl, flitted here and there, flirted in outof-the-way oocners with favoured partners, laughed and ohatted, discussed the latest scandal together in whispers, and with many a wise shake of the head picked one another to piece* without the slightest compunobion, and, in faot, enjoyed themselves in the manner whioh best suited their inclinations. Solicitors, politicians, sheepfarmers, possessed of untold wealth, were here. The cream of Melbourne society had met beneath one roof, and that, the roef of Mrs. Silvermede's house
in Toorak. . To describe Mrs. Silvetmede fully would be a large undertaking, for without doubt Un. Silvermede was a large woman, in ; more ways than one. Her ideas were large —her bodily frame was even larger, but her kindness of heart was largest of alL She never worried, never get ill-tempered; she was always cheerful, obliging, and anxious to share with others the pleasures of life which her riohes enabled her to enjoy. She loved to be surrounded by the young and gay, whioh was natural, for she herself had been young not so very long ago. Her friends were nomarooB, but had been chosen with oare and discrimination, and she valued them highly. She made a oharining hostess, and was worthily assisted by her daughter Ethel, who was indeed a portrait of her mother, only in a modified form. Of Mr. Silvermede little was known, save that he was rich, gentlemanly, and a bookworm. He rarely went into society, having formed a world of his own amongst his books. But to-night he had forsaken his study, and moved amongst his guests with an ease and freedom which surprised even his wife, for Mr. Silvermede was usually grave, preoooupied, and indifferent to those about him. in honour of his daughter's birthday, however, he appeared to have shaken uff this air of reserve and his habit of cloaking himeelf, asit were, in his own thoughts. He made himself agreeable t3 the ladies, was oourteous and pleasant to tbe gentlemen, talked politics, art, and literature, and showed in all hiB aotions that he was a man of eduoation, oulture, and refinement. Mrs. Silvermede was delighted. She, psrhapa, understood her husband's real worth better than any one else, and it was her pet grievance that he ohose to shut himself up in his library—"dead to the world," as she termed it. She was proud of her husband, and she wished others to be proud of him too. She desired that her husband should be honoured; for in her opinion he deserved to be. And now, aB she saw with what ready taot he adapted his conversation to suit the tastes of those with whom he conversed ; how he ehsrmed all with whom he oame in contact, she felt that nothing was needed to oomplete her happiness ; save, she acknowledged to herself, the presence of one who oooupied in her esteem a place little lower than that of her husband ; and this was Reeoe Meadowsere. Bat he was far away, she thought; and there was Hilda Remersque, the boauty of the season, to fill his plaoe. She had nothing to complain of. A mazurka had just ended, and the dancers mingled together in groups; many perhaps to renew arguments commenced but a short time before, and broken off by the necessity of claiming or acknowledging the claims of partners. Some, no doubt, were looking forward expectantly to the next dance, whilst others had no end in view but tbe enjoyment of each moment as it passed. Those whose inclinations were of a sentimental nature either strolled off te the conservatories with tbe objeats of their choice, or else ensconced themselves in one of the many quiet nooks or recosses to bo met with round the room, and which appeared as if specially in tended for tbe reception of these who desired to indulge in what are commonly known as " innocent flirtations." - At one end of the room was a group of four —two ladies and swo gentlemen. Many eyeB were turned in this direction, for one of the group was Hilda Remersque. She was young, being yet barely nineteen, and this was her first season; but already she hod received numerous offers of marriage, and had rejected them all. She possessed little to recommend her save her beauty, but thiB was matchless; at least, eo her admirers deolsred. She was a brunette—tall, graceful, and perfectly proportioned. Her eyes were large and aluost black; her nose was rather small and of tbe Grecian type ; mouth curved like a Cupid's bow; forehead low, but fairly broad, whilst her head was crowned with a mass of rioh black hair, which, together with her erect and easy carriage, gave her a commanding appearance. But in spite of her beauty, whioh waB undeniable, there seemed to be a vague something in the expression of her eyeB whioh denoted insinoerity, or perhaps heartlessness. They were oLangaful, xhifting eye*; never glowing with tbe light of love or friendship, but still full of passion, a pasbiou whioh must be satis lied no matter what the cost might be to others. She was a woman who would have her way -a woman who believed in her beauty, and demanded adiiura' tion as her right. In strong contrast to Miss Remersque was the lady wh j sat by her side. This was Mrs. Hillton, a widow, young, and also possessed of no email claim to bsauty, although it wax of a different type to the dark, almost gipsylike, beauty of Hdda Remersque. Mrs. Hillton was a woman who had evidently made acquaintance with the sorrows as well as the pleasures of life. Her forehead expressed strong individuality, and she was capable of forming a very oorreot estimate of a person's oharaoter at a glance. It mav have been this very power oC reading the human heart and mind whioh had imprinted that look of suffering; upon her features. Of the gentlemen who oompleted the group, the elder of the two was a man in the prime of life; but his hair was thinning above the temples, and there were lines about bis eyes and mouth which told of a life of dissiDation. He was a man who spent the greater part of his time on a raoecourse, or in the oompany of jockeys, trainers, and owners of raoehorses. He appeared perfectly at home in a ballroom, however, save that perhaps his language occa- . sionally gave token of his horsey tendencies; and his admiration of Miss Remersque was a little too pronounced to be altogether pleasant to the one who had oalled it into play. Amongst his friends he was familiarly known as "Barney,"although, to be quite oorreot, his full name was Robert MoTinny. Why he had been termed and by whom the
name had first been used as applying to him, no one Beemed to know, and no one seemed to oare, MoTinny himself was the one most interested, and as he never objected to being addressed as " Barney" it would have been presumptuous for any one else to have suggested that the name was not altogether appropriate. Captain Jones, the last of the group, was a young fair - haired, unintelleotual - looking gentleman, whose chief, and in fact only, pleasure in life appeared to be derived from the harmless and useless occupation of fondling a few straggling haire whioh grew on that part of the features usually devoted to an appendage termed the " moustache." Captain Jones was in uniform and wore glasses—not spectacles, but glasses which fixed with a spring to the bridge of his nose. Why he wore them no one knew, for his sight was in no way impaired. Many regarded this weakness of his as a piece of affectation, and it is very probable that they were right. The Captain doubtless thought that the glasses gave him an air of distinction. And this group, incongruous though it was, attraoted great attention. Miss Remersque and Mr. MoTinny were engaged in a seemingly interesting conversation. Mrs. Hillton fanned herself leisurely, and sat silent. Captain Jones was also silent. He stood ereot, one band laid lovingly on his sword, the other caressing his npper lip. He admired Miss Remersque ; he was in love with her—passionately ; but be didn't care to make a fuss about it—ae could afford to take things easily, he thought. Miss Remersque was engaged to him for the next dance, and really it was too hot for conversation, so he waited for the danoe to open, calmly—even indifferently. At length the first strains ef a waltz floated through the room, and Captain Jones, with a smile and bow, offered his arm to the beautiful Miss Remersque, who aocepted it with a faint inclination of the head. She considered the Captain to be usually a bore; but then—but then, he was amusing BomecioneB ; and besides, he proved ueeCul and was eo devoted. Mc Tinny gazed aft6r them as they promenaded round the room; "a preliminary oanter," he termed it; and evidently it gave him every satisfaction, for he muttered half aloud— Gad! superb creature — magnificent aotion!" " Do you refer to Miss Remersque? or are you chinking of a racehorse?" asked Mrs. Hillton. " My observations were private," said Mo- Tinny, laughing, "but certainly I was speaking of Miss Remersque. Don't you consider her a fine upstanding woman?" "She is very handsome, undoubtedly, but I hardly fancy ehe would be flattered if your remarks reached her ears." "No? Well, of course, tastes differ. But, excuse me, are you engaged for this dance, Mrs. Hillton?" "Yos, I believe so." ' " Your partner isn't up to time; suppose we try a spin together ?" "Areyou quite sure that you haven't a partner waiting somewhere ?" " 11 (Jpon my soul, I don't remember." " Perhaps I may have been mistaken; but I was under the impression that these were your initials," and Mrs. Hillton held up her programme for iaspeotion. "Gad! so they are!" exclaimed McTinny, not one whit abashed. " fhen you are engaged to me for this waltz?" "It appears so." "Now, that's strange, isn't it?" "What is strange?" said Mrs. Hillton, coldly. " Why, that Jones and I should have hit npon our partners like this, instead of having to hunt aU over the room for them." "le&e nothing strange in it. Captain Jones, I suppose, claimed Mies Remersque as she sat down at the oonolusion of the laso dance. Of course, how you found your way here is best known to yourself." "Ah! jealous," said MoTinny to himself. But jealousy was by no means one of Mrs. Hilltou's oharaoteristica. "Shall we danoe, or do you prefer to sit it out?" be asked. "Thank you, I think I will rest for a few moments longer." '•'Certainly. By the way, did I tell you that Stornhill was ooming over in a day or two?" "No," replied Mrs. Hiliton in a hard voice,
but her fingers closed tightly over her fan, and she turned away her face. " Can't make head or tail of her,"muttered McTinny below his breath, " I'll swear she oares for him; but she is as close as an oyster." "Yes,"heoontinued aloud, "I beard from him yesterday. He wiil be here at the end of the week." " He has missed the best of the season," observed Mrs. Hillton indifferently. " Yes ; and I'll swear a woman has been at the bjttom of it. Nothing but a member of the gentler sex could reconcile Stornhill to loafing about in the oountry for more than a week or so." "And now he has grown tired of her, I suppose," said Mrs. Hillton, with a shade of contempt in her voice. " Very likely. I never knew him to remain faithful to any woman for very long.'? Mrs. Hillton rose. "I think," abe said, as if anxious to end the disouseion. " I will danoe now, Mr. MoTinny." MoTinny politely esoorted his partner into the midBt of tbe whirlpool with the remark— " Tbe course seems a bit orowaed, but we'll be at the finish for a certainty." A curious analogy existed between these two handsome women and their respective partners. Mrs. Hillton regarded Robert MoTinny with comparative indifference, and yet she usuaily treated him in a friendly way. The reason was not far to seek. Mrs. Hillton had long ago given her love to Stephen stornhill, and now, although she knew his utter unworthiness, she was unable to completely oocquer her passion. She, however, succeeded in hiding it from the eyes of the world, and partly from Stornhill himself. So completely did she understand the character of tbe man who had gained possession of her regard that she would never have married biui, even had he desired it. She despised herself for loving bim, but at the same time she realized her helplessness, and thought that, to the end of her life, Stephen Stornhill would exert an influence over her which, struggle as she might, could not be shaken off. Now MoTinny was Stornhill's greatest friend, and Mrs. Hillton tolerated him aooorainely. It was from him she learnt of •Stornhili's movements, which interested her in spite of herself; but MoTinny was far from guessing that such was the oase, even though he suspected,- from words let fall by Stornhill, that in the past these two had not been altogether indifferent to each other. Several reasons have already been mentioned to account for the iutimacy of Miss Remersque and Captain Jouei. it may further be added that Miss Remersque considered the Captain a "fool," to use her own term. But then he aras a "rich fool,"and this, in her eyes, made a difference. She was sureof him too, and could keep bim fast in her toils for an indefinite period by exercising a little diplomacy, and this was a great consideration, for wealthy young men with no minds of their own w^re not to be met with so often that they could be treated with indifferenoe by needy ladies in search of husbands. And eo Cap'ain Jones was held enslaved uutil a more eligible suitor presented himself. Just at the present moment the captain and his fair partner had come into violent collision with an elderly gentleman and a lady of unusual dimensions. Tbis, of course, had necessitated mutkial explanations and apologies. It was but fair that the Captain, who was the unlucky cause of the accident, should have suffered most. He had sustained a serious loss, for his glasses, although not shattered to pieces, were still damaged to suuh an extent as to be no longer presentable. The Cabtain was not a master of the art of dancing by any means. His sword had an unlucky habit of tripping him up, and occasionally his spurs became entangled with the train of some lady's dress, and naturally this caused a little annoyance. On this particular evening Captain Jones had been even more clumsy than usual, but had hitherto avoided any serious catastrophe, and Miss Remersque had controlled her temper admirably. Now, however, her wrath burst forth upon the head of the devbted Captain, who appeared ro confused and dumbfounded at the suddenness of the shock and possibly at the injury to his glasses that he was unable to utter a word in selfdefence. To eay the least of it, the beautiful Miss Remerfque was placed in rather a humiliating position; if there was one thing she dialikad more than another it was beiDg made to look ridiau'ous. Her eyes flashed ominously, and in a suppressed voice of passion she bade the Captain escort her to a seat. He timidly ventured to suggest that they should retire to the conservatory, but being met with a most decided negative led hiB partner to the seat she had vaoated but a short time before. Miss Remersque sat in haughty silenoe, and Captain Jone?, confused and ashamed, was also silent. But anger quickly roused as quickly coois, at leaBt in many oases, and Miss Remersque became aware that there was a humorous side to the situation. She went over the scene in her imagination, and found that there was much to laugh at. She remembered, however, several expressions she had mtde use of towards her partner which were neither kind nor just, and tbase caused her regret. They had been given vent to in the heat ot passion, and she now endeavoured to atone for them. This was an easy matter, for the Captain bor* no malice, and peace was at once restored. Miss Remersque was oareful, however, that the waltz should not be recommenced. She gazed about the brilliantly lighted room with an easy indifference, and criticised freely the variouE guests who passed near to her. Suddenly she became aware of the presence of a gentleman who stood near the main entrance of the ballroom, and her attention wob attraoted towards him for several reasons. He was a total stranger to her for one thing.
but it was chiefly the appearance oE the man whioh roused her cariosity. He was rather above the usual height, and stood perfectly ereot with his hands clasped behind his back. His face was a handsome and manly one. The square, firmly set chin gave evidence of great will-power and determination, and the forehead, broad and lofty, showed mental capacity of no mean order. The expression of the faoe at first sight appeared somewhat stern, but his smile of welcome as he greeted old friends was pleasant, although of a slightly melancholy character. The eyes were dark and dreamy-Iookiug, belonging evidently to a man whose life was given up more to thought than to speech. Miss Remersque crazed at tbe stranger fixedly—so fixedly indeed that Captain Jones, struck by her show of indifference to his remarks, turned to see who it was that olaimed her attention. "ByJove,"he muttered, "that looks like Meadowsere," and involuntarily he felt for his glasses, only to remember the sad accident which had befallen them. " Meadowsere!" repeated Miss Remersque, " What a strange name." "Strange," exclaimed the Captain, "'Pon my word, I call it outlandieh." _ Miss Remersque put her fan to her face to bide a smile, the worthy Captain's antipathy to nncominon names was well known. Indeed it had taken him some time to conquer his aversion to the name " Remersque," and then it had only been the great beauty uf Miss Remersque herself which had won him over. Secretly he bemoaned the aooident of birth that had saddled him for life with the common cognomen "Jones," and he envied those who were more fortunate. If he had oome into the world a "Smith" even, it would have been more bearable. He oould easily have changed it to "Smithe." or "Smythe." But Jones! Bah! Nothing oould be done with such a name. He had onoe ventured to use the prefix *'da," thus making it "de Jones;"but this only served to create amusement for his friends, and they twisted it into such a variety of shapes that the worthy Captain was soon only too glad to resort again to the much ill-used name which nature had bequeathed him. "But who is Mr. Meadowsere?" asked Miss Remersque, with another long glanoe at that gentlemen. " Who is he?" said the Captain, twirling his moustache. "Weil, 'pon my soul, I can't say." "But surely you know something about him, Captain !" exclaimed his companion. " Oh, yet. He doesn't do much, I fanoy. Sort of a literary fellow, you know. Writes for the papers; goes in for poetry and that sort of trash," in a tone of contempt. "I see! Not at all an important oersonage, then?" "Oh, dear, no. Rather a snob take him all round, and as poor as a Bank clerk," observed the Captain, failing to see tbe oleverly veiled sarcasm underlying Miss Remersque's remark. "He oan't go into society a great deal," she said, curiously. " Uutil to.night I had never seen him." "He has been away on a trip somewhere for several months. Writing articles for one of tbe dailies, I believe. He is rather clever at that, I've heard," eaid the Captain, patronisingly. " How fortunate that he is clever at something. One meets so many persons nowadays who really oau't do anything at all, that" "Ha! ha! ha!" interrupted the Captain. "That'safaot, Miss Remersque.' Pon my soul! I've met them myself." " Have you?" "Yes—I have—really. Lots of'em." "Indeed!" " Yes. Ha' ha! But would you believe it, Miss Remersque, this Meadowsere is one of the cleverest men upon earth, according to Mrs. Silvermede. Oh! I assure you, she thinks there's no one like him. To tell you the truth," said the Captain, lowering his voice, " I believe she wants to make a matoh between Meadowsere and her daughter. Jolly good thing too—fo^ Meadowsere, beoause he would get money at any rate; and, 'pon my eoul! money is the ohief thing—next to beauty, of course,"he added, hurriedly, as he remembered that his fair partner eould boast of little else. But. strange to say, this suggestion of the Captain's seemed to cauee Mies Remersque some annoyance. She tapped her foot irritably upon the floor, and stole covert glaneea
at Mr. Meadowsere, whose position Btill remained unchanged. He looked deep in thought, and utterly oblivious to the gay scene before him. But occasionally he would glanoe quietly round the room, and onoe he surprised Miss Remersque in the act of—not staring— for Miss Remersque never desoended to anything so unladylike—but still it was very like it. For a moment their eyes met; then Meadowsere, with calm indifference, glanced away; but Mies Remersque felt her cheeks burn, and bit her lips angrily. "What right had he to look at me so oontemptuouBly ?" ehy thought; and she turned to the much-negleoted Captain with the intention of taking np. farther notice of the man who she had been informed was a "snob." Captain Jones proposed that they should stroll round the room, aud his oompanicn readily assented. They had gone but a shore distance, however, when Miss Remer«que pleaded fatigue, and they eat down »_u r aiu. Curiously, she chose a spat very near the entrance of the ballroom. The dance was just concluded, and Mr. Meadowsere made a step forward to meet Mrs. Silvermede, who approached with a pleasant smile of welcome. " Why, Reeoe !" she exclaimed, " I was only wishing a few minutes ago chat you could be with us." "Then I am not altogether an intruder? although yeu sent me no invitatioo,"observed Medowsere, as he shook hands warmly with the hoetess. "You are always welcome, and I know Ethel will be more tlian pleased that you have not forgotten bar birthday. But here eto is to epe^k for herself." Miss Silvermede showed by the wariuth of her greeting that hor mother's remark was not at all exaggerated. She was evidently delighted at Meadowsere's presence. "A fearful flirt," muttered Miss Remersque to herself; but it was racher surprising how many months it had taken her to come to this conclusion. " When did you return ?" asked Miss Silvermede. ' 'Only this morning, "aus wered Meadowsere. "I remembered that it your birthday, and determined to drop in if I could. Aud now," he added, taking her programme, " what dances am I to have ? Why ! your programme is full." "I didn't know you were coming, Reece. But nevermind, i shall manage to aud au exert, or two, and you shall have them," said Miss Silvermede, with a frank smile. " Thank you," Reeoe said gratefully ; " I came eo late that I hardly destrve such good fortune; but it would have been very hard indeed had I been unablo to secure a dance with you, especially as the ball is give" solely in honour of your birthday, aud we are su'ja old friends. Pray accept my sincere congratulations, lithei, and also the congratulations of my mother, who charged me to convey tii you her lore and best wishes fcr your future happiness." Ethel thanked him with flushed face and downcast eyes, which did noc est;2.pa M.Us Remersque's attention. " How is your mother?" asked Mrs. Silvermede. "lias her health improved during your travels ?" Meadowsere'u face fell, and he looked troubled. "I can's eay," he answered sadly. "Sametimes I fanoy she is ^rowing stronger; but then again I bsgiu to fuar that I have been mistaken.' She is very pleaded to be home ajf&in, aad says that nothing .vill induce her to undertake another journey. Perhaps you will be able to oorni and dee her shortly, Mrs. Silvermeda." " Ethel and I will call to-morrow afternoon, if it will be convenient to your mother." "I am sure she would be very glad if you did," answered iloadowsere gratefully. "Bat I am keeping you standing, with my usual thoughtlessness," and he otf&red his arm. Miss Silvermede had already disappeared, having bean olaimed by an impatient partner. As they turned to find a seat Mrs. Silvermede observed the Captain and Miss Remersque, "Ah, Reece!" the said, "here is a lady whom you have never met, I think. Mr. Meadowsere—Miss Remersque. The Captain, of oourse, you know." The introduction was so nuexpected that Miss Remersque bowed in some confusion, aud coloured slightly. She soon regained her oompOBure, however, ana looked up, expecting to find M&adowsere'B eyes fixed upon her with an admiring gaze. But Meadovrsere, whatever may have been his thoughts, looked at her quietly and gravely. As for tbe Captain, he was simply vouchsafed a slight bow. Miss Remersque felt piqued. She was not accustomed to such indifference. All men admired her, she imagined^ and they did cot attempt to hide the fact. And yet here was a man upon whom her marvellous bnau'jy had not the slightest outward effect. Shemi^ht as wfill have oeen tbe plainest; woman in Che room for all the notice he took of her. A few commonplaces were exchanged, and Meadowsere asked for the pleasure of a dance. "I am very sorry," answered Miss Remersque, "but I am fully engaged." Surely, she thought, he will show some disappointment. But no! Meadowsere smiled, and said—" I appear to be very unfortuuace this evening. I mast oome earlier in future." " I hardly fanov that you care much whether you dance or not," observed Mrs. Silvermede. " I like a dance oacasionally," he answered. But Miss Rsmersque bad already repented her haBty reply. "One of my partners," she said with a very besoming blush, "has been oalled away, and is sot likely to return, bo that I shall be disengaged for that number." "Then may I venture to claim itasked Meadowsere. "Certainly !" and she handed him her programme. "The danoe is number tea."
"Number ten ! Thank you!" He crew a line through the initials opposite the number, substituted his own, and, returning the programme with a grave bow, led his hostess to a seat without further remark. The danoe was a waltz, and had been promised to Robert McTinny. After this little episode, Miss Remersque appeared to derive little pleasure from the homage which was accorded her by the various gentlemen present; and it was not until the conclusion of the lancers, which marked the ninth number of the programme, that she recovered her usual spirits. She looked round anxiously for Meadowsere, but he had disappeared. Fortunately McTinny was not visible either ; and it was not until the band had struck up the waltz that she espied them approaching from opposite sides of the room. She half rose, and turned towards Meadowsere, who now hastened to her, and at once offered his arm, which ehe as readily aooepted. " Excuse me!" exclaimed MoTinny hurriedly, "but you are engaged to me for this danoe, Miss Remersque." Meadowsere looked surprised, and, thinking that Mies Rsmeraqae's former partner had returned, he was about to withdraw. Bat Miss Remersque proved equal to the oocasion, and turning to MoTinny, said with a smile, "You are evidently mistaken, Mr. McTinny, I am engaged to Mr. Meadowsere," and MoTinny was left to make the best of the situation. " By the Lard Harry," he - muttered, "that's a devlish nasty slap in the eye, that is. Never mind, my lady, we'll be quits yet," and he gazed after her with an ugly aoowl upon hie face. But Miss Remersque quickly forgot Robert MoTinny, and her treatment of him and its probable oonsequences troubled her not at all. In Reece Meadowsere she had met a man who interested her strangely. Perhaps it was the very faot that he proved indifferent to her various oharms, for she was a woman who would brook no opposition to her will, aud the desire to extract from Meadowsere some acknowledgment of admiration was strong within her. They made a remarkably handsome couple, and excited no little attention. Both were accomplished wa'tzers, and as Miss Remetsque was whirled round and round she felt a deep thrill of exultation pass through her. Her passionate nature was stirred to the very utmost, and instead of subjecting Meadowsere to the power of her wiil she felt that she herself was the one most in danger, and closing her eyes she abandoned herself to tbe sweel; intoxioation of tbe moment. At length the music oeated, and Misb Remersque, with a deep sigh, looked up at the man who stood beside her. His dark eyes were fixed upon her intently, and as their glances met he emiled pleasantly and said— "You must be tired, Miss Remersque; shall we go into the conservatory ?" She bowed assent, and the} passed through the doorway and found themselves alone. All around were rare tropical flowers and plants, amongst which were arranged a number of fairy lamps of many shapes and oeloura. The air was redolent with perfume, and if the ballroom, with its musio and brilliant lights, had been oonduoive to a sentimental mood— the semi-gloom of the conservatory was eminently more so. Meadowsere and his oompanion seated themselves in' the shade ef a large fern; and a Etranger observing them would naturally have concluded that they were a pair of lovers who had been only too glad to hide themselves in the secluded spot, and thus escape from the observation of the crowd. But such thoughts were far from themind of Reeoe Meadowsere. He waB one of nature's gentlemen; and in proposing tbis visit to the conservatory he had been actuated solely by a desire to lead Mb partner from the hot, olose atmosphere of the ballroom to some cool spot where she oould at least rest quietly. The idea of flirting had never oocurrod to him. It was not so with Miss Remersque, however. She was a woman with strong passions, and her chief object was to enjoy herself, even if it were at the cost of others. And to-night she was in a particularly graoious mood. If Meadowsere were inclined towards lovemaking, she was quite willing to give him every enoauragement. But so far Meadowsere had given no sign of any euch intention. He sat staring straight before him, with his dark dreamy eyes fixed on vacancy. He appeared to have forgotten his oompanion, and this was not at all to Miss Remersqne's liking. She
coughed slightly, and Meadowsere gave a start. " I beg your pardon, "he said apologetically. " My thoughts were wandering." " What a oonfession to make !"she answered with a light laugh. " My company must be very interesting." "I mustceafeas to having forgotten you for a moment," was the candid reply : " but eo much of my time is spent alone that I have unfortunately fallen into a habit of allowing my thoughts to take their own course." "That's very pleasant for me," thought Miss Remersque ; but, aloud, she asked— " Do you then not go into society a great deal ?" "No. Aa a rule I avoid it." — " What a vast amount of pleasure you miss," she esolciioed. "Do you think so?" said Meadowsere, with a smile. " Yes. But I suppose you are fond of dancing?" "No." " But you dance so well!" waB the astonished reiuinder. You flatter me," said Meadowsere, dryly. Miss Remersque bit ber lip with vexation. Truly ehe was not progressing very rapidly. " If you dislike dancing, mfty I ask why yon have come tu-night, Mr. Meadowsere? I thought this was a ball, para and simple." "So it is; but it is a birthday ball, and I wished to congratulate Mies Silvermede on attaining her majority. Besides," added Meadovrsere with some sarcasm, "one does not oome to a ball merely for the sake of dancing." "Oh, no! There are other things to be considered no doubt. Still,.! should assuredly give dancing she first place." " And quite right, too. For my own part, however, when I go to a ball it is generally for instruction." "Instruction!" exolaimed MiiB Meadowsere, amazed. "Yns. Thnre is a cood deal to be learned in a ballroom." "I hardly understand yoc, Mr. Meadowsere. " "No? Then lot me exolain. You are perhaps not aware that I am engaged in literary work." "I was given to understand that such was the oasc," aaid Miss Remersque, smiling at the recollection of Captain Jones'd description of H»adow£6re : s profession. "Well," continued Meadowsere, "to be at all eaocossful as » writer one must study hiiiasn nature iu all its aspects; and a scene euch as we have here to-niehc presents a rich field of observation. There are so many different types of character to be met witb, and although they one nad alf strive to appear to the bast advantage it is usually easy to distinguish tbe falso iron the true, and even to some litOe insight into the workiDg of each individual mind. Little dramas are eiif.cted on every hand. Many of thorn ate ludicrous, some repulsive, others again are sad and full of parhos. All around is gaiety, U'j;?ht=>r, enjoyment; but has it never struck you, Miaa liBinersque, that there is often a want of reality about it? Much of it is assumed I have heard it said that ' All men wear a mask,'and I believe this to be true. But at times the mask is dropped, and more than ono has bBen dropped co-niglit, only for a moment psrbaps, but in that moment much is revealed." "And so, whilst others are making merry you are summing them up and weighing their good qualities against their bad. Is that it?" " Not exaotly! but etill, something of the sort," said Meadowsere smiling. " Don't you tbiuk tbati is taking rather a moan advantsge?" " Not at all.. People come to dances to see aud be seen. Thi>y lay themselves open to criticism, and beside?, we are all .it liberty to study the persons with whom we come in contact, and when we critieiso wo should do is impartially, or our opinions are hardly likely to be oorreet." "I hope you haven't boen studying me," said Miss Remersque in mock dismay. "You are well worth studying," replied Meadowsere gravely. '•Is that intended for a compliment ?" she asked ccquettishly. "Now, really, this is too bad of you. Hiss Remersque,"aaid a voice behind her. "Our danoe commenced some time ago, and 1 have been rushing all over the place iu search of ycu. Some of my friends began to imagine that I had quite taken leave of my senses." " How very unkind of them," Baid Miss RnciPrsque, sarcastically. She was bitterly anuoyed at the interruption. The con vernation was just beginning to grow interesting, and it was with verybad graoethatfihe cook her partner's proffered arm and left the conservatory. For a little while Resce Meadowsere sat buried in thought. Then he rose and reentered the ballroom. The hour was growing late, and he was tired of the brilliant scene and anxious to be gone. But he had still to dance with Hiss Silvermede, and. choosing a retired *eac, he waited patiently for the extra which had boen promised him. As soou as thi* was concluded he quietly took hie leave. Miss Remersque, strangely enough, departed shortly after, leaving many engagements unfulfilled. This was the SrBt time ehe had ever been known to quit a ballroom before the last dance had concluded, and the comments upon her aotion were many and various.