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   Chapter 2 No.2

A Woman-Hater By Charles Reade Characters: 37131

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:05


IN the Hotel Russie, at Frankfort, there was a grand apartment, lofty, spacious, and richly furnished, with a broad balcony overlooking the Platz, and roofed, so to speak, with colored sun-blinds, which softened the glare of the Rhineland sun to a rosy and mellow light.

In the veranda, a tall English gentleman was leaning over the balcony, smoking a cigar, and being courted by a fair young lady. Her light-gray eyes dwelt on him in a way to magnetize a man, and she purred pretty nothings at his ear, in a soft tone she reserved for males. Her voice was clear, loud, and rather high-pitched whenever she spoke to a person of her own sex; a comely English blonde, with pale eyelashes; a keen, sensible girl, and not a downright wicked one; only born artful. This was Fanny Dover; and the tall gentleman-whose relation she was, and whose wife she resolved to be in one year, three years, or ten, according to his power of resistance-was Harrington Vizard, a Barfordshire squire, with twelve thousand acres and a library.

As for Fanny, she had only two thousand pounds in all the world; so compensating Nature endowed her with a fair complexion, gray, mesmeric eyes, art, and resolution-qualities that often enable a poor girl to conquer landed estates, with their male incumbrances.

Beautiful and delicate-on the surface-as was Miss Dover's courtship of her first cousin once removed, it did not strike fire; it neither pleased nor annoyed him; it fell as dead as a lantern firing on an iceberg. Not that he disliked her by any means. But he was thirty-two, had seen the world, and had been unlucky with women. So he was now a divorce', and a declared woman-hater; railed on them, and kept them at arm's-length, Fanny Dover included. It was really comical to see with what perfect coolness and cynical apathy he parried the stealthy advances of this cat-like girl, a mistress in the art of pleasing-when she chose.

Inside the room, on a couch of crimson velvet, sat a young lady of rare and dazzling beauty. Her face was a long but perfect oval, pure forehead, straight nose, with exquisite nostrils; coral lips, and ivory teeth. But what first struck the beholder were her glorious dark eyes, and magnificent eyebrows as black as jet. Her hair was really like a raven's dark-purple wing.

These beauties, in a stern character, might have inspired awe; the more so as her form and limbs were grand and statuesque for her age; but all was softened down to sweet womanhood by long, silken lashes, often lowered, and a gracious face that blushed at a word, blushed little, blushed much, blushed pinky, blushed pink, blushed roseate, blushed rosy; and, I am sorry to say, blushed crimson, and even scarlet, in the course of those events I am about to record, as unblushing as turnip, and cool as cucumber. This scale of blushes arose not out of modesty alone, but out of the wide range of her sensibility. On hearing of a noble deed, she blushed warm approbation; at a worthy sentiment, she blushed heart-felt sympathy. If you said a thing at the fire that might hurt some person at the furthest window, she would blush for fear it should be overheard, and cause pain.

In short, it was her peculiarity to blush readily for matters quite outside herself, and to show the male observer (if any) the amazing sensibility, apart from egotism, that sometimes adorns a young, high-minded woman, not yet hardened by the world.

This young lady was Zoe Vizard, daughter of Harrington's father by a Greek mother, who died when she was twelve years of age. Her mixed origin showed itself curiously. In her figure and face she was all Greek, even to her hand, which was molded divinely, but as long and large as befitted her long, grand, antique arm; but her mind was Northern-not a grain of Greek subtlety in it. Indeed, she would have made a poor hand at dark deceit, with a transparent face and eloquent blood, that kept coursing from her heart to her cheeks and back again, and painting her thoughts upon her countenance.

Having installed herself, with feminine instinct, in a crimson couch that framed her to perfection, Zoe Vizard was at work embroidering. She had some flowers, and their leaves, lying near her on a little table, and, with colored silks, chenille, etc., she imitated each flower and its leaf very adroitly without a pattern. This was clever, and, indeed, rather a rare talent; but she lowered her head over this work with a demure, beaming complacency embroidery alone never yet excited without external assistance. Accordingly, on a large stool, or little ottoman, at her feet, but at a respectful distance, sat a young man, almost her match in beauty, though in quite another style. In height about five feet ten, broad-shouldered, clean-built, a model of strength, agility, and grace. His face fair, fresh, and healthy-looking; his large eyes hazel; the crisp curling hair on his shapely head a wonderful brown in the mass, but with one thin streak of gold above the forehead, and all the loose hairs glittering golden. A short clipped mustache saved him from looking too feminine, yet did not hide his expressive mouth. He had white hands, as soft and supple as a woman's, a mellow voice, and a winning tongue. This dangerous young gentleman was gazing softly on Zoe Vizard and purring in her ear; and she was conscious of his gaze without looking at him, and was sipping the honey, and showed it, by seeming more absorbed in her work than girls ever really are.

Matters, however, had not gone openly very far. She was still on her defense: so, after imbibing his flatteries demurely a long time, she discovered, all in one moment, that they were objectionable. "Dear me, Mr. Severne," said she, "you do nothing but pay compliments."

"How can I help it, sitting here?" inquired he.

"There-there," said she: then, quietly, "Does it never occur to you that only foolish people are pleased with flatteries?"

"I have heard that; but I don't believe it. I know it makes me awfully happy whenever you say a kind word of me."

"That is far from proving your wisdom," said Zoe; "and, instead of dwelling on my perfections, which do not exist, I wish you would tell me things."

"What things?"

"How can I tell till I hear them? Well, then, things about yourself."

"That is a poor subject."

"Let me be the judge."

"Oh, there are lots of fellows who are always talking about themselves: let me be an exception."

This answer puzzled Zoe, and she was silent, and put on a cold look. She was not accustomed to be refused anything reasonable.

Severne examined her closely, and saw he was expected to obey her. He then resolved to prepare, in a day or two, an autobiography full of details that should satisfy Zoe's curiosity, and win her admiration and her love. But he could not do it all in a moment, because his memory of his real life obstructed his fancy. Meantime he operated a diversion. He said, "Set a poor fellow an example. Tell me something about yourself-since I have the bad taste, and the presumption, to be interested in you, and can't help it. Did you spring from the foam of the Archipelago? or are you descended from Bacchus and Ariadne?"

"If you want sensible answers, ask sensible questions," said Zoe, trying to frown him down with her black brows; but her sweet cheek would tint itself, and her sweet mouth smile and expose much intercoral ivory.

"Well, then," said he, "I will ask you a prosaic question, and I only hope you won't think it impertinent. How-ever-did such a strangely assorted party as yours come to travel together? And if Vizard has turned woman-hater, as he pretends, how comes he to be at the head of a female party who are not all of them-" he hesitated.

"Go on, Mr. Severne; not all of them what?" said Zoe, prepared to stand up for her sex.

"Not perfect?"

"That is a very cautious statement, and-there-you are as slippery as an eel; there is no getting hold of you. Well, never mind, I will set you an example of communicativeness, and reveal this mystery hidden as yet from mankind."

"Speak, dread queen; thy servant heareth."

"Ha! ha! ha! Mr. Severne, you amuse me."

"You only interest me," was the soft reply.

Zoe blushed pink, but turned it off. "Then why do you not attend to my interesting narrative, instead of-Well, then, it began with my asking the dear fellow to take me a tour, especially to Rome."

"You wanted to see the statues of your ancestors, and shame them."

"Much obliged; I was not quite such a goose. I wanted to see the Tiber, and the Colosseum, and Trajan's Pillar, and the Tarpeian Rock, and the one everlasting city that binds ancient and modern history together."

She flashed her great eyes on him, and he was dumb. She had risen above the region of his ideas. Having silenced her commentator, she returned to her story, "Well, dear Harrington said 'yes' directly. So then I told Fanny, and she said, 'Oh, do take me with you?' Now, of course I was only too glad to have Fanny; she is my relation, and my friend."

"Happy girl!"

"Be quiet, please. So I asked Harrington to let me have Fanny with us, and you should have seen his face. What, he travel with a couple of us! He-I don't see why I should tell you what the monster said."

"Oh, yes, please do."

"You won't go telling anybody else, then?"

"Not a living soul, upon my honor."

"Well, then," he said-she began to blush like a rose-"that he looked on me as a mere female in embryo; I had not yet developed the vices of my sex. But Fanny Dover was a ripe flirt, and she would set me flirting, and how could he manage the pair? In short, sir, he refused to take us, and gave his reasons, such as they were, poor dear! Then I had to tell Fanny. Then she began to cry, and told me to go without her. But I would not do that, when I had once asked her. Then she clung round my neck, and kissed me, and begged me to be cross and sullen, and tire out dear Harrington."

"That is like her."

"How do you know?" said Zoe sharply.

"Oh, I have studied her character."

"When, pray?" said Zoe, ironically, yet blushing a little, because her secret meaning was, "You are always at my apron strings, and have no time to fathom Fanny."

"When I have nothing better to do-when you are out of the room."

"Well, I shall be out of the room very soon, if you say another word."

"And serve me right, too. I am a fool to talk when you allow me to listen."

"He is incorrigible!" said Zoe, pathetically. "Well, then, I refused to pout at Harrington. It is not as if he had no reason to distrust women, poor dear darling. I invited Fanny to stay a month with us; and, when once she was in the house, she soon got over me, and persuaded me to play sad, and showed me how to do it. So we wore long faces, and sweet resignation, and were never cross, but kept turning tearful eyes upon our victim."

"Ha! ha! How absurd of Vizard to tell you that two women would be too much for one man."

"No, it was the truth; and girls are artful creatures, especially when they put their heads together. But hear the end of all our cunning. One day, after dinner, Harrington asked us to sit opposite him; so we did, and felt guilty. He surveyed us in silence a little while, and then he said, 'My young friends, you have played your little game pretty well, especially you, Zoe, that are a novice in the fine arts compared with Miss Dover.' Histrionic talent ought to be rewarded; he would relent, and take us abroad, on one condition: there must be a chaperone. 'All the better,' said we hypocrites, eagerly; 'and who?'"

"'Oh, a person equal to the occasion-an old maid as bitter against men as ever grapes were sour. She would follow us upstairs, downstairs, and into my lady's chamber. She would have an eye at the key-hole by day, and an ear by night, when we went up to bed and talked over the events of our frivolous day.' In short, he enumerated our duenna's perfections till our blood ran cold; and it was ever so long before he would tell us who it was-Aunt Maitland. We screamed with surprise. They are like cat and dog, and never agree, except to differ. We sought an explanation of this strange choice. He obliged us. It was not for his gratification he took the old cat; it was for us. She would relieve him of a vast responsibility. The vices of her character would prove too strong for the little faults of ours, which were only volatility, frivolity, flirtation-I will not tell you what he said."

"I seem to hear Harrington talking," said Severne. "What on earth makes him so hard upon women? Would you mind telling me that?"

"Never ask me that question again," said Zoe, with sudden gravity.

"Well, I won't; I'll get it out of him."

"If you say a word to him about it, I shall be shocked and offended."

She was pale and red by turns; but Severne bowed his head with a respectful submission that disarmed her directly. She turned her head away, and Severne, watching her, saw her eyes fill.

"How is it," said she thoughtfully, and looking away from him, "that men leave out their sisters when they sum up womankind? Are not we women too? My poor brother quite forgets he has one woman who will never, never desert nor deceive him; dear, darling fellow!" and with these three last words she rose and kissed the tips of her fingers, and waved the kiss to Vizard with that free magnitude of gesture which belonged to antiquity: it struck the Anglo-Saxon flirt at her feet with amazement. Not having good enough under his skin to sympathize with that pious impulse, he first stagnated a little while; and then, not to be silent altogether, made his little, stale, commonplace comment on what she had told him. "Why, it is like a novel."

"A very unromantic one," replied Zoe.

"I don't know that. I have read very interesting novels with fewer new characters than this: there's a dark beauty, and a fair, and a duenna with an eagle eye and an aquiline nose."

"Hush!" said Zoe: "that is her room;" and pointed to a chamber door that opened into the apartment.

Oh, marvelous female instinct! The duenna in charge was at that moment behind that very door, and her eye and her ear at the key-hole, turn about.

Severne continued his remarks, but in a lower voice.

"Then there's a woman-hater and a man-hater: good for dialogue."

Now this banter did not please Zoe; so she fixed her eyes upon Severne, and said, "You forget the principal figure-a mysterious young gentleman who looks nineteen, and is twenty-nine, and was lost sight of in England nine years ago. He has been traveling ever since, and where-ever he went he flirted; we gather so much from his accomplishment in the art; fluent, not to say voluble at times, but no egotist, for he never tells you anything about himself, nor even about his family, still less about the numerous affaires de coeur in which he has been engaged. Perhaps he is reserving it all for the third volume."

The attack was strong and sudden, but it failed. Severne, within the limits of his experience, was a consummate artist, and this situation was not new to him. He cast one gently reproachful glance on her, then lowered his eyes to the carpet, and kept them there. "Do you think," said he, in a low, dejected voice, "it can be any pleasure to a man to relate the follies of an idle, aimless life? and to you, who have given me higher aspirations, and made me awfully sorry, I cannot live my whole life over again. I can't bear to think of the years I have wasted," said he; "and how can I talk to you, whom I reverence, of the past follies I despise? No, pray don't ask me to risk your esteem. It is so dear to me."

Then this artist put in practice a little maneuver he had learned of compressing his muscles and forcing a little unwilling water into his eyes. So, at the end of his pretty little speech, he raised two gentle, imploring eyes, with half a tear in each of them. To be sure, Nature assisted his art for once; he did bitterly regret, but out of pure egotism, the years he had wasted, and wished with all his heart he had never known any woman but Zoe Vizard.

The combination of art and sincerity was too much for the guileless and inexperienced Zoe. She was grieved at the pain she had given, and rose to retire, for she felt they were both on dangerous ground; but, as she turned away, she made a little, deprecating gesture, and said, softly, "Forgive me."

That soft tone gave Severne courage, and that gesture gave him an opportunity. He seized her hand, murmured, "Angel of goodness!" and bestowed a long, loving kiss on her hand that made it quiver under his lips.

"Oh!" cried Miss Maitland, bursting into the room at the nick of time, yet feigning amazement.

Fanny heard the ejaculations, and whipped away from Harrington into the window. Zoe, with no motive but her own coyness, had already snatched her hand away from Severne.

But both young ladies were one moment too late. The eagle eye of a terrible old maid had embraced the entire situation, and they saw it had.

Harrington Vizard, Esq., smoked on, with his back to the group. But the rest were a picture-the mutinous face and keen eyes of Fanny Dover, bristling with defense, at the window; Zoe blushing crimson, and newly started away from her too-enterprising wooer; and the tall, thin, grim old maid, standing stiff, as sentinel, at the bedroom door, and gimleting both her charges alternately with steel-gray orbs; she seemed like an owl, all eyes and beak.

When the chaperon had fixed the situation thoroughly, she stalked erect into the room, and said, very expressively, "I am afraid I disturb you."

Zoe, from crimson, blushed scarlet, and hung her head; but Fanny was ready.

"La! aunt," said she, ironically, and with pertness infinite, "you know you are always welcome. Where ever have you been all this time? We were afraid we had lost you."

Aunt fired her pistol in reply: "I was not far off-most fortunately."

Zoe, finding that, even under crushing circumstances, Fanny had fight in her, glided instantly to her side, and Aunt Maitland opened battle all round.

"May I ask, sir," said she to Severne, with a horrible smile, "what you were doing when I came in?"

Zoe clutched Fanny, and both awaited Mr. Severne's reply for one moment with keen anxiety.

"My dear Miss Maitland," said that able young man, very respectfully, yet with a sort of cheerful readiness, as if he were delighted at her deigning to question him, "to

tell you the truth, I was admiring Miss Vizard's diamond ring."

Fanny tittered; Zoe blushed again at such a fib and such aplomb.

"Oh, indeed," said Miss Maitland; "you were admiring it very close, sir."

"It is like herself-it will bear inspection."

This was wormwood to Miss Maitland. "Even in our ashes live their wonted fires;" and, though she was sixty, she disliked to hear a young woman praised. She bridled, then returned to the attack.

"Next time you wish to inspect it, you had better ask her to take it off, and show you."

"May I, Miss Maitland?" inquired the ingenuous youth. "She would not think that a liberty?"

His mild effrontery staggered her for a moment, and she glared at him, speechless, but soon recovered, and said, bitterly, "Evidently not." With this she turned her back on him rather ungraciously, and opened fire on her own sex.

"Zoe!" (sharply).

"Yes, aunt." (faintly)

"Tell your brother-if he can leave off smoking-I wish to speak to him."

Zoe hung her head, and was in no hurry to bring about the proposed conference.

While she deliberated, says Fanny, with vast alacrity, "I'll tell him, aunt."

"Oh, Fanny!" murmured Zoe, in a reproachful whisper.

"All right!" whispered Fanny in reply, and whipped out on to the balcony. "Here's Aunt Maitland wants to know if you ever leave off smoking;" and she threw a most aggressive manner into the query.

The big man replied, composedly, "Tell her I do-at meals and prayers; but I always sleep with a pipe in my mouth-heavily insured!"

"Well, then, you mustn't; for she has something very particular to say to you when you've done smoking."

"Something particular! That means something disagreeable. Tell her I shall be smoking all day to-day."

Fanny danced into the room and said, "He says he shall be smoking all day, under the circumstances."

Miss Maitland gave this faithful messenger the look of a basilisk, and flounced to her own room. The young ladies instantly stepped out on the balcony, and got one on each side of Harrington, with the feminine instinct of propitiation; for they felt sure the enemy would tell, soon or late.

"What does the old cat want to talk to me about?" said Harrington, lazily, to Fanny.

It was Zoe who replied:

"Can't you guess, dear?" said she, tenderly-"our misconduct." Then she put her head on his shoulder, as much as to say, "But we have a more lenient judge here."

"As if I could not see that without her assistance!" said Harrington Vizard. (Puff!) At which comfortable reply Zoe looked very rueful, and Fanny burst out laughing.

Soon after this Fanny gave Zoe a look, and they retired to their rooms; and Zoe said she would never come out again, and Fanny must stay with her. Fanny felt sure ennui would thaw that resolve in a few hours; so she submitted, but declared it was absurd, and the very way to give a perfect trifle importance.

"Kiss your hand!" said she, disdainfully-"that is nothing. If I was the man, I'd have kissed both your cheeks long before this."

"And I should have boxed your ears and made you cry," said Zoe, with calm superiority.

So she had her way, and the deserted Severne felt dull, but was too good a general to show it. He bestowed his welcome company on Mr. Vizard, walked with him, talked with him, and made himself so agreeable, that Vizard, who admired him greatly, said to him, "What a good fellow you are, to bestow your sunshine on me. I began to be afraid those girls had got you, and tied you to their apron-strings altogether."

"Oh, no!" said Severne: "they are charming; but, after all, one can't do without a male friend: there are so few things that interest ladies. Unless you can talk red-hot religion, you are bound to flirt with them a little. To be sure, they look shy, if you do, but if you don't-"

"They are bored; whereas they only looked shy. I know 'em. Call another subject, please."

"Well, I will; but perhaps it may not be so agreeable a one."

"That is very unlikely," said the woman-hater, dryly.

"Well, it is Tin. I'm rather short. You see, when I fell in with you at Monaco, I had no idea of coming this way; but, meeting with an old college friend-what a tie college is, isn't it? There is nothing like it; when you have been at college with a man, you seem never to wear him out, as you do the acquaintances you make afterward."

"That is very true," said Vizard warmly.

"Isn't it? Now, for instance, if I had only known you of late years, I should feel awfully shy of borrowing a few hundreds of you-for a month or two."

"I don't know why you should, old fellow."

"I should, though. But having been at college together makes all the difference. I don't mind telling you that I have never been at Homburg without taking a turn at the table, and I am grizzling awfully now at not having sent to my man of business for funds."

"How much do you want? That is the only question."

"Glad to hear it," thought Severne. "Well, let me see, you can't back your luck with less than five hundred."

"Well, but we have been out two months; I am afraid I haven't so much left. Just let me see." He took out his pocket-book, and examined his letter of credit. "Do you want it to-day?"

"Why, yes; I do."

"Well, then, I am afraid you can only have three hundred. But I will telegraph Herries, and funds will be here to-morrow afternoon."

"All right," said Severne.

Vizard took him to the bank, and exhausted his letter of credit: then to the telegraph-office, and telegraphed Herries to enlarge his credit at once. He handed Severne the three hundred pounds. The young man's eye flashed, and it cost him an effort not to snatch them and wave them over his head with joy: but he controlled himself, and took them like two-pence-halfpenny. "Thank you, old fellow," said he. Then, still more carelessly, "Like my I O U?"

"As you please," said Vizard, with similar indifference; only real.

After he had got the money, Severne's conversational powers relaxed-short answers-long reveries.

Vizard observed, stopped short, and eyed him. "I remember something at Oxford, and I am afraid you are a gambler; if you are, you won't be good for much till you have lost that three hundred. It will be a dull evening for me without you: I know what I'll do-I'll take my hen-party to the opera at Homburg. There are stalls to be got here. I'll get one for you, on the chance of your dropping in."

The stalls were purchased, and the friends returned at once to the hotel, to give the ladies timely intimation. They found Fanny and Zoe seated, rather disconsolate, in the apartment Zoe had formally renounced: at sight of the stall tickets, the pair uttered joyful cries, looked at each other, and vanished.

"You won't see them any more till dinner-time," said Vizard. "They will be discussing dress, selecting dress, trying dresses, and changing dresses, for the next three hours." He turned round while speaking, and there was Severne slipping away to his own bedroom.

Thus deserted on all sides, he stepped into the balcony and lighted a cigar. While he was smoking it, he observed an English gentleman, with a stalwart figure and a beautiful brown beard, standing on the steps of the hotel. "Halloo!" said he, and hailed him. "Hi, Uxmoor! is that you?"

Lord Uxmoor looked up, and knew him. He entered the hotel, and the next minute the waiter ushered him into Vizard's sitting-room.

Lord Uxmoor, like Mr. Vizard, was a landed proprietor in Barfordshire. The county is large, and they lived too many miles apart to visit; but they met, and agreed, at elections and county business, and had a respect for each other.

Meeting at Frankfort, these two found plenty to say to each other about home; and as Lord Uxmoor was alone, Vizard asked him to dine. "You will balance us," said he: "we are terribly overpetticoated, and one of them is an old maid. We generally dine at the table-d'hote, but I have ordered dinner here to-day: we are going to the opera at Homburg. You are not obliged to do that, you know. You are in for a bad dinner, that is all."

"To tell the truth," said Lord Uxmoor, "I don't care for music."

"Then you deserve a statue for not pretending to love it. I adore it, for my part, and I wish I was going alone, for my hens will be sure to cackle mal 'a propos, and spoil some famous melody with talking about it, and who sung it in London, instead of listening to it, and thanking God for it in deep silence."

Lord Uxmoor stared a little at this sudden sally, for he was unacquainted with Vizard's one eccentricity, having met him only on county business, at which he was extra rational, and passed for a great scholar. He really did suck good books as well as cigars.

After a few more words, they parted till dinner-time.

Lord Uxmoor came to his appointment, and found his host and Miss Maitland, whom he knew; and he was in languid conversation with them, when a side-door opened, and in walked Fanny Dover, fair and bright, in Cambridge blue, her hair well dressed by Zoe's maid in the style of the day. Lord Uxmoor rose, and received his fair country-woman with respectful zeal; he had met her once before. She, too, sparkled with pleasure at meeting a Barfordshire squire with a long pedigree, purse, and beard-three things she admired greatly.

In the midst of this, in glided Zoe, and seemed to extinguish everybody, and even to pale the lights, with her dark yet sunlike beauty. She was dressed in a creamy-white satin that glinted like mother-of-pearl, its sheen and glory unfrittered with a single idiotic trimming; on her breast a large diamond cross. Her head was an Athenian sculpture-no chignon, but the tight coils of antiquity; at their side, one diamond star sparkled vivid flame, by its contrast with those polished ebon snakes.

Lord Uxmoor was dazzled, transfixed, at the vision, and bowed very low when Vizard introduced him in an off-hand way, saying, "My sister, Miss Vizard; but I dare say you have met her at the county balls."

"I have never been so fortunate," said Uxmoor, humbly.

"I have," said Zoe; "that is, I saw you waltzing with Lady Betty Gore at the race ball two years ago."

"What!" said Vizard, alarmed. "Uxmoor, were you waltzing with Lady Betty Gore?"

"You have it on too high an authority for me to contradict."

Finding Zoe was to be trusted as a county chronicle, Vizard turned sharply to her, and said, "And was he flirting with her?"

Zoe colored a little, and said, "Now, Harrington, how can I tell?"

"You little hypocrite," said Vizard, "who can tell better?"

At this retort Zoe blushed high, and the water came into her eyes.

Nobody minded that but Uxmoor, and Vizard went on to explain, "That Lady Betty Gore is as heartless a coquette as any in the county; and don't you flirt with her, or you will get entangled."

"You disapprove her," said Uxmoor, coolly; "then I give her up forever." He looked at Zoe while he said this, and felt how easy it would be to resign Lady Betty and a great many more for this peerless creature. He did not mean her to understand what was passing in his mind; he did not know how subtle and observant the most innocent girl is in such matters. Zoe blushed, and drew away from him. Just then Ned Severne came in, and Vizard introduced him to Uxmoor with great geniality and pride. The charming young man was in a black surtout, with a blue scarf, the very tint for his complexion.

The girls looked at one another, and in a moment Fanny was elected Zoe's agent. She signaled Severne, and when he came to her she said, for Zoe, "Don't you know we are going to the opera at Homburg?"

"Yes, I know," said he, "and I hope you will have a pleasanter evening than I shall."

"You are not coming with us?"

"No," said he, sorrowfully.

"You had better," said Fanny, with a deal of quiet point, more, indeed, than Zoe's pride approved.

"Not if Mr. Severne has something more attractive," said she, turning palish and pinkish by turns.

All this went on sotto voce, and Uxmoor, out of good-breeding, entered into conversation with Miss Maitland and Vizard. Severne availed himself of this diversion, and fixed his eyes on Zoe with an air of gentle reproach, then took a letter out of his pocket, and handed it to Fanny. She read it, and gave it to Zoe.

It was dated from "The Golden Star," Homburg.

"DEAR NED-I am worse to-day, and all alone. Now and then I almost fear I may not pull through. But perhaps that is through being so hipped. Do come and spend this evening with me like a good, kind fellow.

"Telegraph reply.

"S. T."

"Poor fellow," said Ned; "my heart bleeds for him."

Zoe was affected by this, and turned liquid and loving eyes on "dear Ned." But Fanny stood her ground. "Go to 'S. T.' to-morrow morning, but don't desert 'Z. V.' and 'F. D.' to-night." Zoe smiled.

"But I have telegraphed!" objected Ned.

"Then telegraph again-not," said Fanny firmly.

Now, this was unexpected. Severne had set his heart upon rouge et noir, but still he was afraid of offending Zoe; and, besides, he saw Uxmoor, with his noble beard and brown eyes, casting rapturous glances at her. "Let Miss Vizard decide," said he. "Don't let me be so unhappy as to offend her twice in one day."

Zoe's pride and goodness dictated her answer, in spite of her wishes. She said, in a low voice, "Go to your sick friend."

"There," said Severne.

"I hear," said Fanny. "She means 'go;' but you shall repent it."

"I mean what I say," said Zoe, with real dignity. "It is my habit." And the next moment she quietly left the room.

She sat down in her bedroom, mortified and alarmed. What! Had it come to this, that she felt her heart turn cold just because that young man said he could not accompany her-on a single evening! Then first she discovered that it was for him she had dressed, and had, for once, beautified her beauty-for him; that with Fanny she had dwelt upon the delights of the music, but had secretly thought of appearing publicly on his arm, and dazzling people by their united and contrasted beauty.

She rose, all of a sudden, and looked keenly at herself in the glass, to see if she had not somehow overrated her attractions. But the glass was reassuring. It told her not one man in a million could go to a sick friend that night, when he might pass the evening by her side, and visit his friend early in the morning. Best loved is best served. Tears of mortified vanity were in her eyes; but she smiled through them at the glass; then dried them carefully, and went back to the dining-room radiant, to all appearance.

Dinner was just served, and her brother, to do honor to the new-comer, waved his sister to a seat by Lord Uxmoor. He looked charmed at the arrangement, and showed a great desire to please her, but at first was unable to find good topics. After several timid overtures on his part, she assisted him, out of good-nature, She knew by report that he was a very benevolent young man, bent on improving the home, habits, wages, and comforts of the agricultural poor. She led him to this, and his eyes sparkled with pleasure, and his homely but manly face lighted, and was elevated by the sympathy she expressed in these worthy objects. He could not help thinking: "What a Lady Uxmoor this would make! She and I and her brother might leaven the county."

And all this time she would not even bestow a glance on Severne. She was not an angel. She had said, "Go to your sick friend;" but she had not said, "I will smart alone if you do."

Severne sat by Fanny, and seemed dejected, but, as usual, polite and charming. She was smilingly cruel; regaled him with Lord Uxmoor's wealth and virtues, and said he was an excellent match, and all she-Barfordshire pulling caps for him. Severne only sighed; he offered no resistance; and at last she could not go on nagging a handsome fellow, who only sighed, so she said, "Well, there; I advise you to join us before the opera is over, that is all."

"I will, I will!" said he, eagerly. "Oh, thank you."

Dinner was dispatched rather rapidly, because of the opera.

When the ladies got their cloaks and lace scarfs, to put over their heads coming home, the party proved to be only three, and the tickets five; for Miss Maitland pleaded headache.

On this, Lord Uxmoor said, rather timidly, he should like to go.

"Why, you said you hated music," said Vizard.

Lord Uxmoor colored. "I recant," said he, bluntly; and everybody saw what had operated his conversion. That is a pun.

It is half an hour, by rail, from Frankfort to Homburg, and the party could not be seated together. Vizard bestowed Zoe and Lord Uxmoor in one carriage, Fanny and Severne in another, and himself and a cigar in the third. Severne sat gazing piteously on Fanny Dover, but never said a word. She sat and eyed him satirically for a good while, and then she said, cheerfully, "Well, Mr. Severne, how do you like the turn things are taking?"

"Miss Dover, I am very unhappy."

"Serves you right."

"Oh, pray don't say that. It is on you I depend."

"On me, sir! What have I to do with your flirtations?"

"No; but you are so clever, and so good. If for once you will take a poor fellow's part with Miss Vizard, behind my back; oh, please do-pray do," and, in the ardor of entreaty, he caught Fanny's white hand and kissed it with warm but respectful devotion. Indeed, he held it and kissed it again and again, till Fanny, though she minded it no more than marble, was going to ask him satirically whether he had not almost done with it, when at last he contrived to squeeze out one of his little hysterical tears, and drop it on her hand.

Now, the girl was not butter, like some of her sex; far from it: but neither was she wood-indeed, she was not old enough for that-so this crocodile tear won her for the time being. "There-there," said she; "don't be a baby. I'll be on your side tonight; only, if you care for her, come and look after her yourself. Beautiful women with money won't stand neglect, Mr. Severne; and why should they? They are not like poor me; they have got the game in their hands." The train stopped. Vizard's party drove to the opera, and Severne ordered a cab to The Golden Star, meaning to stop it and get out; but, looking at his watch, he found it wanted half an hour to gambling time, so he settled to have a cup of coffee first, and a cigar. With this view he let the man drive him to The Golden Star.

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