George Streynsham Master.

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mentary, but well-intentioned sentences, pull-
ing his beard and fixing his eyes on the
door-knob— an implement which presently
turned in his manly fist, as he opened the
door for his companion to withdraw.
Blanche wenf away in a flutter of ejacula-
tions and protestations which left our three
friends in Mrs. Vivian's little drawing-room
standing looking at one another as the door
dosed behind her.

"It certainly would have been better
taste in him to tell her," said Bernard,
frowning, " and not let other people see
how little communication there is between
them. It has mortified her."

" Poor Mr. Wright had his reasons," Mrs.
Vivian suggested, and then she ventured to
explain : " He still cares for Angela, and
it was painful to him to talk about her mar-
rying some one else."

This had been Bernard's own reflection,
and it was no more agreeable as Mrs. Viv-
ian presented it; though Angela herself
seemed indifferent to it — seemed, indeed,
not to hear it, as if she were thinking of
something else.

" We must simply marry as soon as pos-
sible — to-morrow, if necessary," said Ber-
nard, with some causticity. "That's the
best thing we can do for every one. When
once Angela is married, Gordon will stop
thinking of her. He will never permit his
imagination to hover about a married wom-
an; I am very sure of that He doesn't
approve of that sort of thing, and he has
the same law for himself as for other peo-

" It doesn't matter," said Angela, simply.

" How do you mean, my daughter, it
doesn't matter ? "

" I don't feel obliged to fed so sorry for
him now."

" Now ? ' Pray, what has happened ? I
am more sorry than ever, since I have
heard poor Blanche's dreadful tone about

The girl was silent a moment ; then she
shook her head, lightly.

" Her tone — her tone ? Dearest mother,
don't you see ? She is intensely in love with

This observation struck Bernard as ex-

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tremely ingenious and worthy of his mis-
tress's fine intelligence ; he greeted it with
enthusiasm, and thought of it for the next
twelve hours. The more he thought of it
the more felicitous it seemed to him, and he
went to Mrs. Vivian's the next day almost
for the express purpose of saying to Angela
that, decidedly, she was right. He was ad-
mitted by his old friend, the \\XX\.tfemme de
chambre, who had long since bestowed upon
him, definitively, her confidence ; and as, in
the ante-chamber he heard the voice of a
gentleman raised and talking with some
emphasis, come to him fix>m the saion^ he
paused a moment, looking at her with an
interrogative eye.

**Yes," said Mrs. Vivian's attendant, "I
must tell Monsieur firankly that another
gentleman is there. Moreover, what does
it matter ? Monsieur would perceive it for

" Has he been here long? " asked Bernard.

" A quarter of an hour. It probably
doesn't seem long to the gentleman ! "

" Is he alone with mademoiselle ? "

" He asked for mademoiselle only, I
introduced him into the saloriy and made-
moiselle, after conversing a little while with
madame, consented to receive him. They
have been alone together, as I have told
monsieur, since about three o'clock. Mad-
ame is in her own apartment. The position
of monsieur," added this discriminating
woman, '< certainly justifies him in entering
the saion:'

Bernard was quite of this opinion, and in
a moment more he had crossed the thresh-
old of the little drawing-room and closed
the door behind him.

Angela sat there on a sofa, leaning back
with her hands clasped in her lap and her
eyes fixed upon Gordon Wright, who stood
square before her as if he had been mak-
ing her a resolute speech. Her face wore
a look of distress, almost of alarm ; she kept
her place, but her eyes gave Bernard a mute
welcome. Gordon tiuned and looked at
him slowly fit>m head to foot. Bernard
remembered, with a good deal of vividness,
the last look his friend had given him in the
Champs ]£lys6es the day before; and he
saw with some satisfaction that this was
not exactly a repetition of that expression
of cold horror. It was a question, however,
whether the horror was changed for the
better. Poor Gordon looked intensely
sad and grievously wronged. The keen
resentment had faded fi-om his face, but an
immense reproach was there — a heavy, help-

less, appealing reproach. Bernard saw that
he had not a scene of violence to dread —
and yet, when he perceived what was com-
ing, he would almost have preferred violence.
Gordon did not offer him his hand, and
before Bernard had had time to say any-
thing, began to speak again, as if he were
going on with what he had been saying to

"You have done me a great wrong —
you have done me a cruel wrong. I have
been telling it to Miss Vivian ; I came on
purpose to tell her. I can't really tell her ;
I can't tell her the details; it's too painful!
But you know what I mean! I couldn't
stand it any longer. I thought of going
away — ^but I couldn't do that I must
come and say what I feel. I can't bear it

This outbreak of a passionate sense of injury
in a man habitually so undemonstrative, so
little disposed to call attention to himself,
had in it something at once of the touching
and the terrible. Bernard, for an instant,
felt almost bewildered; he asked himself
whether he had not, af^er all, been a mon-
ster of duplicity. He was guilty of the
weakness of taking refuge in what is called,
I believe, in legal phrase, a side-issue.

" Don't say all this before Angela," he
exclaimed, with a kind of artificial energy.
" You know she is not in the least at fault,
and that it can only give her pain. The
thing is between ourselves."

AjQgela was sitting there, looking up at
both &e men.

" I like to hear it," she said.

"You have a singular taste!" Bernard

"I know it's between ourselves," cried
Cyordon, " and that Miss Vivian is not at
fault. She is only too lovely, too wise, too
good ! It is you and I that are at fault —
horribly at fault ! You see I admit it, and
you don't. I never dreamed that I should
live to say such things as this to you ; but
I never dreamed you would do what you
have done! It's horrible, most horrible,
that such a difference as this should come
between two men who believed themselves
^-or whom I believed, at least — the best
friends in the world. For it is a difference
— it's a great gulf, and nothing will ever
fill it up. I must say so ; I can't help it
You know I don't express myself easily ; so,
if I break out this way, you may know what
I feel. I know it is a pain to Miss Vivian,
and I beg her to forgive me. She has so
much to forgive that she can forgive that,

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too. I can't pretend to accept it ; I can't
sit down and let it pass. And then, it isn't
only my feelings; it's the right; it's the
justice. I must say to her that you have
no right to marry her ; and beg of her to
listen to me and let you go."

" My dear Gordon, are you crazy ? "
Bernard demanded, with an energy which,
this time at least, was sufficiently real.

"Very likely I am crazy. I am crazy
with disappointment and the bitterness of
what I have lost. Add to that the wretch-
edness of what I have found."

" Ah, don't say that, Mr. Wright," said

He stood for an instant looking at her,
but not heeding her words.

" Will you listen to me again ? Will youfor-
get the wrong I did you ? — my stupidity and
folly and unworthiness ? Will you blot out
the past and let me begin again. I see you
as clearly now as the light of that window.
Will you give me another chance ? "

Angela turned away her eyes and covered
her face with her hands.

"You do pain me ? " she murmured.

"You go too far," said Bernard. "To
what position does your extraordinary pro-
posal relegate your wife ?"

Gordon turned his pleading eyes on his
old friend without a ray of concession ; but
for a moment he hesitated.

"Don't speak to me of my wife. I have
no wife."

" Ah, poor girl 1 " said Angela, springing
up from the sofa.

" I am perfectly serious," Gordon went
on, addressing himself again to her. " No,
after all, I am not crazy; I see only too
dearly — I see what should be ; when peo-
ple are that, you call them crazy. Bernard
has no right — ^he must give you up. If you
really care for him, you should help him.
He is in a very false position ; you shouldn't
wish to see him in such a position. I can't
explain to you — if it were even for my own
sake. But Bernard must have told you ; it
is not possible that he has not told you ?"

" I have told Angela everything, Gordon,"
said Bernard.

" I don't know what you mean by yourhav-
ing done me a wrong ! " the girl exclaimed.

" If he has told you, then — I may say it I
— ^in listening to him, in believing him."

"But you didn't believe me?" Bernard
exclaimed, "since you immediately went
and offered yourself to Miss Vivian ? "

"I believed you all the same! When
^^^ I ever not believe you ? "

" The last words I ever heard from Mr.
Wright were words of the deepest kindness/'
said Angela.

She spoke with such a serious, tender
grace, that Gordon seemed stirred to his
depths again.

"Ah, give me another chance!" he

The poor girl couldn't help her tone, and
it was in the same tone that she continued :

" If you think so well of me, try and be

Gordon looked at her, slowly shaking his

" Reasonable — reasonable. Yes, you have
a right to say that, for you are full of rea-
son. But so am I. What I ask is within
reasonable limits."

" Granting your happiness were lost,"
said Bernard, — " I say that only for the ar-
gument, — is that a ground for your wishing
to deprive me of mine ? "

" It is not yours — ^it is mine, that you
have taken! You put me off my guard,
and then you took it I Yours is elsewhere,
and you are welcome to it ! "

" Ah," murmiured Bernard, giving him a
long look and turning away, " it is well for
you that I am willing still to regard you as
my best friend ! "

Gordon went on, more passionately, to

" He put me off my guard — I can't call it
anything else. I know I gave him a great
chance — I encouraged him, lu-ged him,
tempted him. But when once he had
spoken, he should have stood to it. He
shouldn't have had two opinions— one for
me, and one for himself! He put me off
my guard. It was because I still resisted
him that I went to you again, that last
rime. But I was still afraid of you, and in
my heart I believed him. As I say, I al-
ways believed him; it was his great influ-
ence upon me. He is the cleverest, the
most mtelligent, the most brilliant of men.
I don't think that a grain less than I evo"
thought it," he continued, turning again to
Bernard. " I think it only the more, and I
don't wonder that you find a woman to be-
lieve it. But what have you done but
deceive me ? It was just my belief in your
intelligence that re-assured me. When Miss
Vivian refused me a second time, and I left
Baden, it was at first with a sort of relieC
But there came back a better feeling — a
feeling faint compared to this feeling of to-
day, but strong enough to make me uneasy
and to fill me with regret To quench my

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regret, I kept thinking of what you had
said, and it kept me quiet. Your word had
such weight with me."

" How many times more would you have
wished to be refused, and how many refus-
als would have been required to give me
ray liberty?" asked Bernard.

" That question means nothing, because
you never knew that I had again offered
myself to Miss Vivian."

" No ; you told me very little, considering
all that you made me tell you."

" I told you beforehand that I should do
exactly as I chose."

" You should have allowed me the same

" Liberty !" cried Gordon. " Hadn't you
liberty to range the whole world over?
Couldn't he have found a thousand other
women ? "

"It is not for me to think so," said An-
gela, smiling a little.

Gordon looked at her a moment.

" Ah, you cared for him from the first I "
he cried.

" I had seen him before I ever saw you,"
said the girl.

Bernard suppressed an exclamation. There
seemed to flash through these words a sort
of retrospective confession which told him
something that she had never directiy told him.
She blushed as soon as she had spoken, and
Bernard found a beauty in this of which the
brightness blinded him to the awkward as-
pect of the fact she had just presented to Gor-
don. At this fact Gordon stood staring;
then at last he apprehended it— largely.

" Ah, then, it had been a plot between
you ! " he cried out.

Bernard and Angela exchanged a glance
of pity.

" We had met for five minutes, and had
exchanged a few words before I came to
Baden. It was in Italy — at Siena. It was
a simple accident that I never told you,"
Bernard explained.

" I wished that nothing should be said
about it," said Angela.

"Ah, you loved him!" Gordon ex-

Angela turned away. She went to the
window. Bernard followed her for three
seconds with his eyes; then he went on —

" If it were so, I had no reason to sup-
pose it You have accused me of deceiv-
ing you, but I deceived only myself. You
say I put you off your guard, but you should
rather say you put me on mine. It was
thanks to that that I fell into the most

senseless, the most brutal of delusions. The
delusion passed away — it had contained the
germ of better things. I saw my error, and
I bitterly repented of it ; and on the day
you were married I felt fi^e."

" Ah, yes, I have no doubt you waited
for that I " cried Gordon. " It may interest
you to know that my marriage b a misera-
ble failure."

" I am sorry to hear it — ^but I can't help

" You have seen it with your own eyes.
You know all about it, and I needn't tell

" My dear Mr. Wright," said Angela,
pleadingly, turning roimd, "in heaven's
name, don't say that!"

" Why shouldn't I say it ? I came here
on purpose to say it. I came here with an
intention — with a plan. You know what
Blanche is — you needn't pretend, for kind-
ness to me, that you don't You know
what a precious, what an inestimable wife
she must make me — ^how devoted, how sym-
pathetic she must be, and what a house-
hold blessing at every hour of the day!
Bernard can tell you all about us — ^he has
seen us in the sanctity of our home." Gor-
don gave a bitter laugh and went on, with
the same strange, serious air of explaining
his plan. " She despises me, she hates me,
she cares no more for me than for the button
on her glove, by which I mean that she
doesn't care a hundredth part as much. You
may say that it serves me right, and that I
have got what I deserve. I married her be-
cause she was silly. I wanted a silly wife; I
had an idea you were too wise. Oh, yes, that's
what I thought of you! Blanche knew
why I picked her out, and undertook to
supply the article required. Heaven forgive
her! She has certainly kept her engage-
ment. But you can imagine how it must
have made her like me — ^knowing why I
picked her out. She has disappointed me
all the same. I thought she had a heart;
but that was a mistake. It doesn't matter,
though, because everything is over between

" What do you mean, everything is
over?" Bernard demanded.

" Ever)rthing will be over in a few weeks.
Then I can speak to Miss Vivian seriously."

"Ah! I am glad to hear this is not
serious," said Bernard.

" Miss Vivian, wait a few weeks," Gor-
don went on. " Give me another chance
then. Then it will be perfectly right ; I shall
be firee."

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" You speak as if you were going to put
an end to your wife ! "

" She is rapidly putting an end to herself.
She means to leave me."

" Poor, unhappy man, do you know what
you are saying ? " Angela murmured.

" Perfectly. I came here to say it. She
means to leave me, and I mean to offer her
every facility. She is dying to take a lover,
and she has got an excellent one waiting
for her. Bernard knows whom I mean ; I
don't know whether you do. She was ready
to take one three months after our mar-
riage. It is really very good of her to have
waited all this time ; but I don't think she
can go more than a week or two longer.
She is recommended a southern climate,
and I am pretty sure that in the course of
another ten days I may count upon their
starting together for the shores of the Med-
iterranean. The shores of the Mediter-
ranean, you know, are lovely, and I hope
they will do her a world of good. As soon
as they have left Paris I will let you know ;
and then you will of course admit that, vir-
tually, I am free."

" I don't understand you."

" I suppose you are aware,", said Gordon,
"that we have the advantage of being
natives of a country in which marriages may
be legally dissolved."

Angela stared ; then, sofdy —

" Are you speaking of a divorce ? "

" I believe that is what they call it," Gor-
don answered, gazing back at her with his
densely clouded blue eyes. " The lawyers
do it for you ; and if she goes away with
Lovelock, nothing will be more simple than
for me to have it arranged."

Angela stared, I say; and Bernard was
staring, too. Then the latter, turning away,
broke out into a tremendous, irrepressible

Gordon looked at him a moment ; then
he said to Angela, with a deeper tremor in
his voice :

" He was my dearest friend."

" I never felt more devoted to you than
at this moment ! " Bernard declared, smiling

Gordon had fixed his somber eyes upon
Angela again.

" Do you understand me now ? "

Angela looked back at him for some

" Yes," she murmured at last.

" And will you wait, and give me another
chance ? "

^es," she said, in the same tone.

Bernard uttered a quick exclamation, but
Angela checked him with a glance, and
Gordon looked from one of them to the

" Can I trust you ? " Gordon asked.

" I will make you happy," said Angela.

Bernard wondered what under the sun
she meant; but he thought he might safely

" I will abide by her choice."

Gordon actually began to smile.

" It wont be long, I think ; two or three

Angela made no answer to this ; she fixed
her eyes a little on the floor.

" I shall see Blanche as often as possi-
ble," she presendy said.

" By all means ! The more you see her
the better you will understand me."

" I understand you very well now. But
you have shaken me very much, and you
must leave me. I shall see you also —

Gordon took up his hat and stick; he
saw that Bernard did not do the same.

" And Bernard ? " he exclaimed.

"I shall ask him to leave Paris," said

" Will you go ? "

" I will do what Angela requests," said

" You have heard what she requests ; it's
for you to come now."

" Ah, you must at least allow me to take
leave I " cried Bernard

Gordon went to the door, and when he
had opened it he stood for a while, holding
it and looking at his companions. Then —

" I assure you she wont be long ! " he
said to Angela, and rapidly passed out.

The others stood silent till they heard the
outer door of the apartment close behind

" And now please to elucidate ! " said
Bernard, folding his arms.

Angela gave no answer for some mo-
ments ; then she turned upon him a smile
which appeared incongruous, but which
her words presently helped to explain.

" He is intensely in love with his wife I "


This statement was very effective, but it
might well have seemed at first to do more
credit to her satiric powers than to her
faculty of observation. This was the light
in which it presented itself to Bernard ; but,
littie by little, as she amplified the text, he

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grew to think well of it, and at last he was
quite ready to place it, as a triumph of
sagacity, on a level with that other discovery
which she had made the evening before, and
with regard to which his especial errand to
day had been to congratulate her afresh. It
brought him, however, less satisfaction than
it appeared to bring to his clever com-
panion; for, as he observed plausibly enough,
Gordon was quite out of his head, and, this
being the case, of what importance was the
secret of his heart ?

" The secret of his heart and the condition
of his head are one and the same thing,"
said Angela. " He is turned upside down
by the complete misunderstanding that he
has got into with his wife. She has treated
him badly, but he has treated her wrongly.
They are in love with each other, and yet
they both do nothing but hide it. He is
not in the least in love with poor me — ^not
to-day any more than he was three years
ago. He thinks he is, because he is full
of sorrow and bitterness, and because the
news of our engagement has given him a
shock. But that's only a pretext — a chance
to pour out the grief and pain which have
been accumulating in his heart under a
sense of his estrangement from Blanche.
He is too proud to attribute his feelings to
that cause, even to himself; but he wanted
to cry out and say he was htut, to demand
justice for a wrong, and the revelation of
the state of things between you and me —
which of course strikes him as incongruous ;
we roust allow largely for that*-<:ame to
him as a sudden opportunity. No, no,*'
the girl went on, with a generous ardor in
in her face, following further the train of her
argument, which she appeared to find ex-
tremely attractive, " I know what you are
going to say and I deny it. I am not fanci-
ful, or sophistical, or irrational, and I know
perfectly what I am about. Men are so
stupid ; it's only women that have real dis-
cernment. Leave me alone, and I shall do
something. Blanche is silly, yes, very silly ,
but she is not so bad as her husband ac-
cused her of being, in those dreadful words
which he will live to repent of. She is wise
enough to care for him, greatly, at bottom,
and to feel her little heart filled with rage
and shame that he doesn't appear to care
for her. If he would take her a little more
seriously — ^it's an immense pity he married
her because she was silly! — she would be
flattered by it, and she would try and de-
serve it. No, no, no ! she doesn't, in reality,
care a straw for Captain Lovelock, I assure

you, I promise you she doesn't. A woman
can tell. She's in danger, possibly, and if
her present situation, as regards her hus-
band, lasts, she might do something as hor-
rid as he said. But she would do it out of
spite — ^not out of aflfection for the captain,
who must be got immediately out of the
way. She only keeps him to torment her
husband and make Gordon come back to
her. She would drop him forever to-mor-
row." Angela paused a moment, reflecting,
with a kindled eye. " And she shall ! "

Bernard looked incredulous.

" How will that be. Miss Solomon ? "

** You shall see when you come back."

" When I come back ? Pray, where am
I going ? "

** You will leave Paris for a fortnight — as
I promised our poor friend."

Bernard gave an irate laugh.

" My dear girl, you are ridiculous !
Your promising it was almost as childish as
his asking it."

"To play with a child you must be
childish. Just see the effect of this abomi-
nable passion of love, which you have been
crying up to me so ! By its operation Gor-
don Wright, the most sensible man of our
acquaintance, is reduced to the level of
infancy ! If you will only go away, I will
manage him."

" You certainly manage me ! Pray, where
shall I go ? "

" Wherever you choose. I will write to
you every day."

" That will be an inducement," said Ber-
nard. " You know I have never received
a letter firom you."

"I write the most delightful ones!"
Angela exclaimed; and she succeeded in
mid^ing him promise to start that night for

He had just done so when Mrs. Vivian
presented herself, and the good lady was
not a little astonished at being informed of
his intention.

" You surely are not going to give up my
daughter to oblige Mr. Wright?" she oIh

" Upon my word, I feel as if I were ! "
said Bemj'jd.

" I will explain it, dear mamma," said
Angela. "It is very interesting. Mr.
Wright has made a most fearful scene ; the
state of things between him and Blanche is

Mrs. Vivian opened her clear eyes.

" You really speak as if you liked it ! "

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