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XV.

"I have endeavored to teach her," Miss Dimpleton was about to say, but then she remembered that that was not strictly true, and she dexterously turned the halfuttered phrase and said:

"I have frequently regretted her susceptibility to flattery."

To her surprise, Mr. Bodill, instead of looking shocked, gave a low laugh as he said:

"To think of little Tita being courted and wooed, distributing judicious snubs and listening to tender nonsense. It is very amusing."

Mr. Bodill certainly was a very puzzling character, thought Miss Jessie, and he thought so himself, too, as he remembered how, only a moment ago, he had been devoured with jealousy of Tita's adorers, and had been well-nigh ready to join their ranks. himself. But the note of censure in Miss Dimpleton's voice had aroused all his old paternal tenderness, and made Tita again seem the child that needed his protection.

Margaret," she said to the maid, “leave us for a few moments."

Tita, quite exhausted with excitement and the incessant motion, had just retired to her room, where her maid was engaged in taking down and combing out her hair, when Miss Dimpleton entered, having first announced her intention with a knock.

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She seated herself with her usual deliberateness in a pink satin easy-chair (which seemed created for lotus-eating), pulled off her slippers (which were not created for walking), and, as a preliminary, let her eyes wander about the luxuriously furnished apartment.

"Tita," she said at last, rubbing her feet over the delicious nap of the tiger rug, "tell me now, honestly, whether you have any intention of returning to your former mode of life."

Tita, who was apparently engaged in disentangling the hearts which, in the course of the night, had got caught in the golden meshes of her hair, looked up with a startled glance, and was for a moment at a loss for

an answer.

"I have a very particular reason for asking," continued Miss Jessie. "I cannot look on with indifference when I see you coolly, and almost contemptuously, rejecting every chance which presents itself of providing for your future, and gaining an established position in society."

"Mr. Dibble has been making a confidant of you, I perceive," remarked Tita, with a hair-pin in her mouth, and letting a great golden wave roll down upon her bare shoulder.

"It matters little who has been making a confidant of me," retorted the other, sharply. "The question is, what you really mean by such unaccountable behavior."

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It was toward three o'clock in the morning when the last indefatigable dancers ceased to whirl in a ring, when the ladies ceased to wind through the fascinating figures of the German, and the musicians ceased to perspire over their violoncello, harp, and violins. The striped awning, constructed for the protection of delicate toilets, proved very useful to the departing" guests, who would otherwise have been drenched on their way to their carriages. For a south-west wind, accompanied with rain and sleet, had sprung up during the early part of the night, and was now whirling up the avenue, lashing the windowpanes and pulling vigorously at the few exposed shutters.

'My year will soon be up," said Tita, inspecting with much interest the ends of a yellow lock which apparently had some mysterious peculiarity, invisible to the uninitiated, "and, if you desire it, I am quite willing to take my leave at short notice. But I will not submit to dictation" (here the yellow lock was dropped and forgotten) from any one in regard to my choice of a husband, as that is a question which really concerns no one but myself and the unfortunate man who is rash enough to take me."

It was not my intention to dictate," answered Miss Dimpleton; "and I think it is very ungenerous in you to suspect me of such a sordid motive as you have just implied. I need hardly assure you that we shall be glad to keep you here as long as you are willing to stay. If I presumed to offer my advice in the question you refer to, it was only because, in such a matter, I distrust your judgment, and that of any one of your

use to

age, and imagine that my own knowledge | look upon marriage from a different point of the world might be of some you."

of view from what I do. Quint says that marriage is intended to bind two people. more closely together who love each other dearly. But I do not love Mr. Dibble, and I never shall love him."

"Mr. Bodil is an impractical enthusiast, whose advice in such a matter it would be very unsafe to follow."

Poor soft-hearted Tita felt immediately remorseful. She had been ungenerous; but it was only because she was so horribly tired that she could not think one rational, far less a generous, thought. If Miss Jessie would only forgive her, she would listen calmly and collectedly to all the matrimonial suggestions she might have to offer, although she would not promise beforehand that she would act on all of them.

"But husbands are such peculiar creatures, you know," she said, trying to coax her companion out of her severe mood. "I never could imagine what I should do with one. I don't dislike Mr. Dibble now, but if I couldn't escape from his society at pleasure, I know I should not be able to endure him."

"Tita, you are incorrigible," said Miss Jessie, relaxing a little from her rigid gravity. "What is ever to become of you, if you persist in taking a humorous view of every man that approaches you?"

"But, to be honest, now, don't you think yourself that men are ridiculous, always, of course, excepting Quint ?"

The question was asked with such evident sincerity that it certainly deserved a sincere answer; but Miss Jessie, for reasons sufficient to herself, could not very well express her cordial agreement with Tita's sentiments, and as she was strictly conscientious when a direct question of right and wrong was at issue, she resorted to her inconvenient habit of silence. Tita felt once more rebuffed, and resumed her occupation with her hair.

"What I came to ask you," began Miss Dimpleton, after having gazed for a while into the fire in the grate, "is whether your refusal of Mr. Dibble is really final. As you know, he is a man of great wealth and of irreproachable character. He would treat you well, supply lavishly all your wants, and undoubtedly make you as happy as women have any right to aspire to be."

Tita looked absently at the reflection of her beautiful self in the glass, then flung herself back in the chair and contemplated the frescoed Cupids in the ceiling.

"I am so tired, so very tired," she sighed. "Why do you insist upon tormenting me at this unearthly hour?"

"Then I am to understand that you have not made up your mind definitely?"

"No, you are not to understand that. I have made up my mind once for all. You

Tita sprang up as if something had stung her. The least implication of disrespect to Quintus always roused her as nothing else.

"No," she cried, "Quint is not an impractical enthusiast; and his advice is always good and noble as he is himself."

On Miss Jessie this violent partisanship for Bodill had at this moment a very irritating effect. It proved to her that all her labor had been in vain. And was she, who had been accustomed nearly from her cradle to rule, who felt herself the intellectual equal of the first men in the city, was she to be thwarted in her carefully laid plans by the caprices of this insignificant doll of a girl? Her first line of tactics had failed, but she had another in reserve.

"Have you ever reflected, Tita," she said, after another long pause, "upon your position as an inmate of Mr. Bodill's house? You are no longer a child, but a grownup woman, and as such you can hardly, for your own sake, continue to live on such familiar terms with a young bachelor of thirty-one or two. He is not your father nor your brother, and the world will naturally ask, What is your relation to him? And, for your own sake, as well as for his, you must heed what the world says."

A sweetly perplexed look had settled upon Tita's features as Miss Dimpleton commenced this speech, but gradually she grew pale, and suddenly grasped at the back of the chair for support.

"I don't understand-what you mean," she gasped, and in the next instant looked as if a scarlet veil had been flung over her face.

"I mean," Miss Jessie went on, pitilessly, "that your remaining with Mr. Bodill or returning to him is an impossibility. You may not have been aware what an amount of trouble you already have caused him. When he was discharged, or, if you choose, was forced to resign his position in my father's firm, it was on your account. We had been told that you were his daughter, and as he had informed me that he was not married and never had been, my father naturally took offense. The situation is

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Miss Jessie had wrought herself into a frenzy of eloquence; she hardly meant to be as cruel as she was, but she was determined to bring out her last reserves and to use her heaviest artillery. But while she was yet in the midst of her tirade, something half a sob and half a stifled groan burst from Tita's bosom, and flinging her arms above her head, she rushed toward the door and was gone. Miss Dimpleton, eager to finish her arraignment, leaned back in her chair, expecting that she would presently return; but a minute or more passed, and a current of cold air swept up through the halls and shook the doors. The windows, too, rattled sympathetically, and the pictures moved on the wall. Just then the wind drove the rain against the large panes with a sound as of a handful of pebbles; Miss Dimpleton shivered. More minutes passed; the bronze clock sounded four distinct, melodious strokes. Miss Dimpleton rose and rang for the maid.

"Is any

"How cold it is," she said. thing the matter with the furnace ? "No," answered the maid, "but the front door was open. I just closed it."

Then the truth flashed upon her; she heard for a moment only the blood pulsing in her ears, and that vague oppression which follows the first consciousness of a calamity stole over her.

XVI.

"Call father quickly," she said, as soon as she could catch her breath, “and order the horses."

TITA had acted under an impulse too strong to admit of reflection. She felt outraged and insulted by the suspicion cast upon her birth, and still more by the cruel insinuation which, in her innocence, had never once occurred to her. She had always been with Quintus, and it was proper and natural that she should be with no one but Quintus. Heedless of her attire, she had hastened down the stairs and out through the door, desiring only to hide herself, to escape humiliation, to get as far away as possible from Miss Dimpleton, who could think such base thoughts and inflict deep wounds so pitilessly. She had not even remembered the rain, nor had she

thought where she was going. It was not until she was several blocks away, and the driving sleet had benumbed the tender skin of her neck and face, that she slackened her speed and began to consider whither her feet were carrying her. To go back to Quint-that was out of the question. Had she not been a perpetual burden to him from the hour when he first pressed her to his warm and faithful heart? But where could she go, if she did not go to Quintus? He was her only friend, her only comfort and refuge in all the wide world.

The wind boomed through the long, solitary streets, and the little satin slippers were soon as wet as so much paper. Her costly garments swept over the muddy sidewalks, and having become thoroughly drenched, clogged her limbs in their flurried and precipitate motion. Her hair felt like a cold, wet lump on her neck, and sent repeated shuddering chills through her frame. Her step, too, was becoming feebler, and though she bore up bravely, she knew that her strength would soon be exhausted. It was a dim consciousness of this which arrested her flight. She leaned against a lamp-post for support, and gazed up at the great dark front of a fine residence, where only a single room was lighted. She suddenly recognized the house-it was Mr. Dibble's. It was only two weeks since she was there at a luncheon party with Mr. and Miss Dimpleton. As she stood there, numb and ready to faint with weariness, the demon woke in Tita's heart, and she could not but listen to the thoughts which he whispered to her. Was not comfort like this-soft, warm, and luxurious-worth all the abstractions of love, honor, and duty? Who would blame her if, from mere powerlessness to resist any longer, she yielded to the importunities of her adorer, and satisfied herself with the common sordid lot of common sordid humanity? She was a very small woman, and a colossal heroism could hardly be expected of her. There was evidently nothing for her to do but to return to Miss Dimpleton and meekly beg her pardon for the commotion she had occasioned.

Out of the depths of darkness came the sound of chimes, striking the quarter hour. By some strange association of sound or thought, this clear, mellow tone brought up Quintus's face vividly before her; and a rush of feeling, quite as indefinable, brought back the sweet memories which that face

suggested. She remembered what he had taught her, year after year, through the long winter nights, and she yearned with all her soul to throw herself upon his neck and weep repentant tears upon his bosom. The temptation to go back to her recent life was gone; and turning her face resolutely away from the house, she gathered her strength and trudged on. Farther down the avenue she found an empty cab, and ordered the driver to take her at once to Jersey City.

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About this time Miss Dimpleton and her father were also driving through the storm and the darkness, and, after a vain search, went to police head-quarters and gave notice of Tita's disappearance.

On his return home from the Dimpleton party, Quintus had found a fire drowsing in the fire-place in his study, and, thinking that it was a pity to have it waste its genial warmth, he had seated himself in his accustomed chair and taken down a volume of Emerson containing the essay on Fate. This Olympic meditation had never yet failed to inspire him with a sense of serene superiority to all the petty annoyances of life, which not even a transcendental philosopher can escape. From the upper ether of his Emersonian mood, where the large expanses of time and space spread out gloriously around him, he could view even his love for Tita as an affair of small moment, which would not perceptibly affect the destiny of the race, and which in a hundred years would presumably be forgotten. The agitation of the ball was still tingling in his nerves, detached bits of Strauss waltzes were humming in his brain, and the pang of jealousy was yet nestling, like a dull pain, somewhere about his heartroots. But the mighty thoughts of the sage, like solemn organ-tones, marched through the sounding eternities, on either hand, and lifted him with their strong upward impulse. The small emotions were soothed into a troubled calm, and life seemed once more dignified and noble.

While Bodill was thus holding discourse with the universe, he seemed distinctly to hear some one calling his name; but, as he was frequently subject to this illusion, and sometimes had started up to answer when no one was near, he only turned about in his chair and smiled at the vividness of his imagination.

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if limitation is power that shall be," he went on reading, "if calamities, oppositions, and weights are means and wings

But surely that was the sound of a voice in distress, and the voice was familiar. His blood ran cold with terror, as he rushed to the window and strove to raise it. His strength had almost deserted him. With a second effort, however, he succeeded. The blinding sleet beat against his face, and a gust of wind swept in and whirled the sparks and ashes of the fire about the room. Under the lamp-post he discerned dimly a woman, who was gazing up toward his window.

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"Oh, Quint, Quint!" she cried, "open the door quickly! It is I-Tita."

Her voice broke in the last words with a pitiful hoarseness which cut him to the heart. In an instant he was down the stairs, had torn the front door open, and clasped the trembling form in his embrace. Her bare arms felt like ice as they clung about his neck, and the congealed sleet hung unmelted in her hair. She made no attempt to speak, but lay listless in his arms, as he bore her up the creaking stairs and entered the old, well-known study. But, as he placed her upon the lounge and pushed it up before the fire, she drew his head close down to her mouth, and whispered:

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TITA lay ill for a long, long time, and her life was often despaired of. It was not until the spring was well advanced that the color began to return to her cheeks; then the old merry sparkle was again kindled in her eyes, though at first feebly and pathetically flickering, and the old hearty ring sometimes stole into her laughter. At the least such sign of reviving strength, Quint's face would beam as he sat drawing meditative little. puffs from the glowing depths of the Eastern Question. It was one evening while they were thus seated together before the fire, she occupied with some feminine handiwork, and he reading aloud from Browning, that an incident of vital importance to both occurred. The poem which was engaging Quintus's attention, and which he stopped every now and then to discuss with Tita, was appropriately entitled "By the Fireside," and in it was a stanza which moved him deeply:

"Oh, I must feel your brain prompt mine,
Your heart anticipate my heart,
You must be just before, in fine,
See and make me see, for your part,
New depths of the Divine."

"Now, that is my idea of what a marriage should be," said Quint, putting the book, face downward, on his knee.

"It is very beautiful," remarked Tita, without looking up.

"But there is only one heart," he went

THE END.

MISS ASIA'S MATCH.

"BUT what would ever become of us if -" began Miss Asia Demonde, with an excitement that ran a majestic thrill through the lavender plume in her hair.

For a rare thing with Miss Asia, the remainder of the sentence dropped, but only to rise again and exhale through the quick mist of solicitude gathering in her eyes. It was just as well understood, however, in one form as another, for to know Miss Asia was to recognize three short words as the power behind the throne. "Prove all things" had stood as first counselor since the memory of her earliest friend, and "what would ever become of us if they shouldn't prove to be safe," was the sentence just finished by her eyes.

A low, sweet laugh answered from the reclining-chair on which the eyes were bent, but the lavender plume only shook with a more serious quiver than before, and its wearer turned for a second reading of the letter in her hand. It read:

on, quite naturally, " which could anticipate mine, and one sweet face which is to me a daily revelation of the Divine."

"I can't imagine what face that can be," observed Tita, looking up with roguish, tearfilled eyes.

"But I can," cried Quint, taking the face in question between his palms, and gazing ardently at it. "Tita, dear, why should we hesitate to take the step which will prevent our ever being parted again?” Tita smiled. She could not see why.

"King will never be herself again until she is thoroughly surprised. There is just one medicine for people who are no longer sick but wont get well, and that is, an entirely new set of sensations. If you will let her go with us in June, we'll promise to bring back soul, brain, eyes, and cheeks alive with the old-time glow. The steamers are new, and starting direct from here,-the first trip to be made this week, they will run the excursion two or three times, and then be transferred. Think of touching at every port we've ever dreamed of on that blue old sea! And oh, ye isles of Greece ! Ye figs of Smyrna and ye Syrian shores!

PHIL.

"P. S. We can have a chance at the Nile if we wish."

Miss Asia laid down the letter; the plume was not even nodding now, and her

mind was made up. Very suddenly, it might seem; but there really had been no need of the second reading, except to cover a little gain of time. The tinge of vanished color that had swept back into King's cheeks at the first one had decided it. She must go. New sensations were evidently the thing, and where was even one such remedy to be found at home?

Miss Asia gave a swift glance around the room. She was not fond of new sensations for her own part, and the only one she had ever really welcomed had been King herself Otherwise everything under the stately roof stood very much as it had on the day when her eldest brother had been christened Europe, to be followed in the same ceremonial the next year by Miss Asia herself, Africa and Americus Vespucius in time completing the list,-a method of family quartering original with the branch. There were the same old mirrors with gilt balls up and down the sides, the same carved balusters with the tall clock chiming half-way up; the same stern, high-backed chairs, and the same low cross-beams running overhead. King had carved German mottoes in the beams, and dropped dashes of color here and there, dainty vases and a work-basket with a thimble no bigger than a bee; but the very front door stood ajar on the old stone porch just as it had twenty years before, when Vespucius stepped in with a tiny bundle in his arms. "Will take her?" he said. "Her you mother is gone."

Miss Asia devoured him with her eyes, and then opened her arms with a low cry. "For my own? Oh, Ves! If it should really prove to be true!"

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