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sillian, with that gay, rebellious, moqueur air which was so pretty in her. "In the first place, I do not believe it, for there is no woman on the face of the earth who could attempt to rival a horse; and in the second, I should not thank you for it if I did, for compliments are only fit for empty heads to feed on."

"Meaning, you think yours the very reverse of empty ?" said De Vigne, quietly.


Certainly, it is not empty. I am not a boarding-school girl, monsieur," said Alma, indignantly. "I have filled it with what food I can get for it, and I know at least enough to feel that I know nothing-the first step to wisdom the sages say."

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"But if you dislike compliments you might at least accept homage," said Curly, smiling.

"Homage? Oh! yes, as much as you like. I should like to be worshipped by the world, and petted by a few."

"I dare say you would," said De Vigne, stroking her little black kitten, elaborately decorated by Alma in a collar of blue ribbon and gold beads. "I can't say your desires are characterised by great modesty."

"Well, I speak the truth," said Alma, naïvely. "A great deal of women's modest speeches are great falsehoods, on whose telling, however, society smiles as the thing.' I should like to be admired by the thousands, and loved just by one or two."

"You have only to be seen to have your first wish," said Curly, softly, "and only to be known to have much more than your second."

Alma turned away impatiently; she had a sad knack of showing when she was annoyed.

Really you are intolerable, Captain Brandling. You spoil conversation utterly. I say those things because I mean them, not to make you flatter me. I shall talk only to Sir Folko, to Major De Vigne, for he alone understands me, and answers me properly."

With which lecture to Curly the little lady twisted her low chair nearer to De Vigne, and looked up in his face, very much as spaniels look up in their master's, liking a kick from them better than a caress from a stranger.

Curly, sweet temper though he was, was a trifle irritated-he was so used to having it all his own way-a very carelessly conquering, lazy Young-England way, too-and was a little astonished at being so summarily put aside by this little Tressillian, whom he had come to see chiefly for the sake of her bright blue eyes-partly because she had puzzled him, partly (pardon, mademoiselle!-the best of us will think so of the best of you till we have tried you) because he thought he could say what he liked to her, frank, free, and unprotected as she was, and partly because he wanted to see how De Vigne really stood with her; a problem he did not make out any clearer now, for though Alma was certainly very fond of him, she was much too candid about it, Curly reasoned, for anything like love; and De Vigne's calm, amused, quizzical, yet guardian-like manner over her was still further removed by many miles from the grande passion.

But Curly was very sweet-tempered, and in a second he was all right again.

"You are cruelly unjust, Miss Tressillian," he said, playfully. "I was telling the truth-a thing you seem greatly to patronise-and you shut me up as abruptly as if I were committing a crime. You see it was impossible for me to know your tastes. De Vigne has an immense advantage over me in having known you before I did.”

Alma's eloquent eyes looked as if she thought De Vigne had immense advantages over him in many other respects, but she was too much of a lady to say so of course. She made him a pretty careless bow, as if she was tired of the subject, and turned to De Vigne :

"Have you seen Miss Molyneux lately?" She was rather jealous of Miss Molyneux, having ridden off on an idea that De Vigne saw a great deal of Violet and admired her exceedingly.

"Yes; and not long ago I heard Miss Molyneux envying you!"

"Me! Whatever for? I envy her, if you like!" cried Alma, brushing up the kitten's hair becomingly. "How does she know me! What has she heard about me? Who has told her anything of me?"

"Gently, gently, de grâce!" cried De Vigne. "I don't know that she has heard anything of you, or that anybody has told her anything about you; but she has seen something of yours, and admired it exceedingly." "My picture?" asked Alma, breathlessly.

"Your picture; and she said that whoever the artist might be who had painted the lovely face of the boy, she envied her, and wished that she could change places with her."

"She would not if she knew," said Alma, with that deep sadness which just now and then welled out of her gay, sunshiny nature, as if in evidence of what the passionate, and generous, and tender character would suffer when she came to the grief De Vigne had prophesied for her.

you, then ?"

"Did she go to the exhibition with "Yes; or rather I went with her." "How I hate her!" said Alma, with sufficient vehemence, tearing a bit of drawing-paper into strips.

"Et pourquoi ?" asked De Vigne, in surprise.

"Because you are always with her, and she is in your circle, and you go about with her, and admire her, and I am shut up here; I must wait till you choose to come and see me, and I have no society to shine in, and- -Oh! I hate her!" cried Alma energetically. I dare say she could have hated, not rancorously, but very hotly while it lasted, as most people can who love hotly also.

De Vigne laughed; he was used to Alma's enthusiastic expressions, and set them down to her Southern blood, attaching no importance to them.

"Amiable, I must say, Miss Tressillian, and not very grateful; for Violet Molyneux is prepared to be devoted to you, if she could know you, for having painted that exquisite picture, as she thinks it."

"Ah! my picture!" cried Alma, joyously, her hate and her wrongs passing away like summer shadows off a sunny landscape. "What has been said about it? Has it been liked? Who has seen it? Do the papers mention it? Have the—”

"One question at a time, please, then perhaps I may contrive to answer them," said De Vigne, smiling; "though the best answer to them all will be for you to read these. Here, see how you like that!"

He took a critique by a well-known Art-critic out of his pocket, and gave it to her, pointing out, among many condemnatory notices of other works, the few brief laudatory words in praise of her own, worth more than whole pages of warmer laudation but less discriminating criticism.

"How delightful! how glad I am! Oh, this is beautiful!-this is something like the realisation of my dreams!" cried Alma, rapturously, her eyes beaming, and her whole face in a rose flush of ecstatic delight. "Wait a minute; reserve your raptures," said De Vigne, putting the Times, the Atlas, and other papers before her. "If the first review sends you into such a state of exultation, we shall lose sight of you altogether over these."

"Oh, they make me so happy!" exclaimed Alma, when she had read them, with none of the dignity and tranquil pride becoming to a successful artist, but with a wild, gleeful, triumphant delight most amusing, De Vigne told me, to behold. "You won't quite forget me for Miss Molyneux now; she hasn't her name in the papers, has she? I am so delighted. I used to think my pictures would be liked if people saw them; but I never hoped they would be admired like this; and the beauty of it is, that it is all owing to you; without you I should never have had it!"


Indeed you would, though. I have done nothing. Your picture was clever; it has been seen, and has had its due appreciation, as all clever things have, sooner or later. You have nothing to thank me for, I can assure you."

"I have!" repeated Alma, resolutely. "You knew how I could exhibit it; you did it all for me; but for you my picture would now be hanging here, unnoticed and unpraised. You were the first person who admired it, and you know well enough that your few words are of more value to me than all these!" With which Alma tossed over the table, with contemptuous energy, the reviews which had charmed her so intensely a minute or two before.

Very unwise," said De Vigne, dryly. "These will make your fame and your money; my words can do you no good whatever." "They do me the best good," said Alma, indignantly. "Do you suppose, if you did not like my pictures, that I should care for anybody else's praise ?'


"I should say so; I don't see why you shouldn't," said De Vigne. He took a most malicious pleasure in teasing her, in making her eyes grow dark and flash, and the colour come into her cheeks in her vehement and demonstrative vexation.

She didn't vouchsafe him any words now, though, but twisted herself away from him with one of her rapid, un-English movements.

"How courteous he is! You are very forbearing, Miss Tressillian, to put up with him!" said Curly, who had been listening, half amusedly, half irritably, to this conversation, which excluded him.

Alma was angry with De Vigne herself, but she was not going to let any one else be so too.

"Forbearing? What do you mean? I should be very ungrateful if I were not thankful for such a friend."

"Now that is too bad," said Curly, plaintively. "I, who really admire your most marvellous talent, only get tabooed for being a flatterer, while he is thought perfection, and pleases by being most abominably rude."

"You had better not measure yourself with him, Captain Brandling," said Alma, with that mischievous impudence which sat well upon her, though no other woman, I believe, could have had it with such impunity."

"Vous me piquez, mademoiselle," said Curly, a great deal too sweet a disposition to be annoyed by pre-eminence given to another, especially to De Vigne, for whom he retained some of the old feeling of Frestonhills vassalage, yet sufficiently taken with the fascinating Little Tressillian to be vexed not to be higher in her good graces. "You will tempt me by your very prohibition to enter the lists with him. I should not care to dispute the belt with him in most things, but for such a prize

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"What nonsense are you talking, Curly," said De Vigne, with that certain chill hauteur now so customary to him, but which Alma had never yet seen in him. "A prize to be fought for must be disputed. Don't bring hot-pressed compliments here to spoil the atmosphere."

"That's right, take my part," interrupted Alma, not understanding his speech as Curly understood it. "You see, Captain Brandling, that sort of high-flown flattery is no compliment; if the man mean it, it says little for his intellect, for we are none of us angels without wings, as you call us; and if he do not mean it, it says little for ours, for it is easy to tell when a man is really liking or only laughing at us."

"Indeed!" said Curly. "I wish we were as clear when ladies were liking or laughing at us; it would save us a good many disappointments, when enchanting forms of life and light, who have softly murmured tenderest words when they stole our hearts away in tulle illusion at a hunt ball, bow to us as chillily as to a first introduction when we meet them afterwards en Amazone in the Ride, with old Lord Adolphus Fitzpoodle, as rich as he is gouty, on their off-side."

"Serve you right for being so credulous," said De Vigne, tickling the kitten with the end of his riding-whip. "Women are either actresses or fools; if they are amiable they are stupid, and if they are clever they are artful."

"Like Thackeray's heroines," suggested Curly.

"Exactly; shows how well the man knows life as it is not as it should be, for I always hold that the wiser the mind the better ought to be the heart. But the first thing the world teaches a clever woman is to banish her feelings. Women may thrive on talent, they are certain to go to rack and ruin on feeling; few enough of them have any, and a good thing for them, too."

"I don't agree with you," said Alma, looking up, ready for a combat. "Don't you, petite ?" laughed De Vigne. "I think you will when you have a few more years over your head, and have seen the world a little."

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No, I do not agree with you," returned the Little Tressillian, decidedly, "that life's first lesson is to crush down your feelings both to men and women. I believe that in proportion as you feel so do you suffer; but I deny that all talented women are actresses. Where will you go for all your noblest actions but to women of intellect and mind? Sappho's heart inspired the genius which has come down to us through such lengthened ages. Was it not heart which has immortalised Héloïse? Was it not intellect, joined to their passionate love for their country, which have placed the deeds of Polycrita, Hortensia, Hersillia, Made

moiselle de la Rochefoucauld among the records of patriotism? One of the fondest loves we have heard of was the love of Vittoria Colonna for Pescara, of the woman who ranks only second to Petrarch, the friend of Cardinal Pope, and Bembo, and Catarini, the adored of Michael Angelo, the admired of Ariosto! Oh, you are very wrong; where you find the glowing imagination, there, too, will you find as ardent affections; where there is expansive intellect, there, and there only, will be charity, tolerance, clear perception, just discrimination; with a large brain, a large heart, the more cultured the intelligence, the more sensitive the susceptibilities. Lucy Edgermond would make your tea for you tolerably, and head your table respectably, and blush where she ought, and say Yes and No like a well-bred woman, but in Corinne alone will you find passion to beat with your own, intellect to match with your own, sympathy, comprehension, elevation, all that a woman should give to the man she loves!"

A Corinne in her own way I can fancy she looked, too, with her blue eyes scintillating like two stars in her earnestness, all her own intelligence and talent stamped on her high arched brow and on her mobile lips; her little silver-toned voice rising and falling in impassioned vehemence, accompanied with her vivacious and unconscious gesticulation, a trick, probably, of her foreign blood. Curly listened to her with amazement and delight, this was something quite new to him; it was not so new to De Vigne, but it touched him with something deeper, more like regret than amusement. A glimpse of the golden land is great pain when we know the door is locked, and the key irrevocably lost. It brought over him again his old sarcasm and gloom.

"Do you suppose, petite," he said, with a bitter smile, "that if there were Corinnes in the land men would be such fools as to go and take the Lucys of modern society in their stead? Heaven knows, if there were women like what you describe we might be better men; more earnest in our lives, more faithful in our loves. But you draw from the ideal, I from the real, two altitudes very far wide apart; as far apart, my child, as dawn and midnight."

His tone checked and saddened Alma's bright and enthusiastic but very impressionable nature. She gave a deep, heavy sigh.

"It is midnight with you, I am afraid, and I do so want it to be I wish you would believe in me, at least."


He answered with a laugh, not a real one.

"Too much to promise; I will believe in you as soon as I do in anybody; and as for its being midnight with me, if it is, it is like midnight at a bal d'Opéra, with plenty of gaslights, transparencies, music, and amusement enough to send the sun jealous, and making believe the day has dawned."

"But then don't the gaslights, and transparencies, and all the rest of your bal d'Opéra look tawdry and garish when the day is really up and on them?"

"We never let the daylight in," laughed De Vigne; "and won't remember that we ever had any brighter light than our coloured lamps. Why should we? They do well enough for all intents and purposes." Alma shook her head:

"They won't content you always." Dec.-VOL. CXXIII. NO. CCCCXCII.

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