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“ Indeed, sir, I've told you nothing but the truth.”
Yes. She had told the truth, but unhappily not the whole truth. And yet how she longed to kneel at his feet and confess all! Various motives withheld her. She was not quite sure how he had received her antislavery confessions. He might be a friend of Mr. Ratcliff. There was dismay in the very possibility. And finally a certain pride or prudence restrained her from throwing herself on the protection of a stranger not of her own sex.
And so the golden opportunity was allowed to escape !
Vance lingered for a moment holding her hand, as if, to invite her to a further confidence; but she said nothing, and he left the room. Clara opened the music-book at Schubert's piece, and commenced playing. Vance stopped on the stairs and listened, keeping time approvingly. “Good !” he said. Then telling the little landlady not to interrupt Miss Brown's studies, he quitted the house, walking in the direction of the hotel.
Clara practised till she could play from memory the charming composition commended by Vance. Then she threw herself on the bed and fell asleep. She had not remained thus an hour when there was a knock. Dinner! Mr. Bernard had come in ; a dapper little man, so remarkably well satisfied with himself, his wife, and his bill of fare, that he repeatedly had to lay down knife and fork and rub his hands
you related to Mr. Vance?” he asked Clara. “ Not at all. He saw me in the street, weary and distressed. The truth is, I had left my home for a good reason.
I have no parents, you must consider. He asked me in here. From his looks I judged he was a man to trust. I gladly accepted his invitation."
“ Truly he's a friend in need, Mademoiselle. I saw him do another kind thing to-day.”
• What was it?”
“It happened only an hour ago in Carondelet Street. A ragged fellow was haranguing a crowd. He spoke on the wrong side, — in short, in favor of the old flag. Some laughed, some hissed, some applauded. Suddenly a party of men, armed with swords and muskets, pushed through the crowd, and seized the speaker. They formed a court, Judge Lynch presiding, under a palmetto. They decided that the vagabond should be hung. He had already been badly pricked in the flank with a bayonet. And now a table was brought out, he was placed on it, and a rope put round his neck and tied to a bough. Decidedly they were going to string him up."
“ Good heavens !” cried Clara, who, as the story proceeded, had turned pale and thrust away the plate of food from before her. “ Did you make no effort to save him ?”
“ What could I do? They would merely have got another rope, and made me keep him company. Well, the mob were expecting an entertainment. They were about to knock away the table, when Monsieur Vance pushed through the crowd, hauled off the hangman, and, jumping on the table, cut the rope, and lifted the prisoner faint and bleeding to the ground. What a yell from Judge Lynch and the court! Monsieur Vance, his coat and vest all bloody from contact with
“ What a shame!” interposed Mrs. Bernard. “ A coat and vest he must have put on clean this morning! So nicely ironed and starched!”
“But my story agitates you, Mademoiselle," said the typesetter. “ You look pale.” And the little man, not regarding the inappropriateness of the act, rubbed his hands.
“ Go on,” replied Clara ; and she sipped from a tumbler of cold water.
“ There's little more to say, Mademoiselle. Messieurs, the bullies, drew their swords on Monsieur Vance. He showed a revolver, and they fell back. Then he talked to them till they · cooled down, gave him three cheers, and went off. I and old Mr. Winslow helped him to find a carriage. We put the wounded man into it. He was driven to the hospital, and his wound attended to. 'Tis serious, I believe.”
And Bernard again rubbed his hands. “ And was that the last you saw of Mr. Vance?” asked Clara.
“ The last. Shall I help you to some pine-apple, Mademoiselle?”
“ No, thank you. I've finished my dinner. You will excuse me."
And she returned to the little room assigned to her use.
WILL YOU WALK INTO MY PARLOR?
“ Sing again the song you sung
When we were together young ;
George William Curtis.
ANCE passed on through the streets, wondering what
could be the mystery which had driven his new acquaintance forth into the wide world without a protector. Should he speak of her to Miss Tremaine? Perhaps. But not unless he could do it without betrayal of confidence.
There was something in Perdita that reminded him of Estelle. Had a pressure of similar circumstances wrought the peculiarity which awakened the association? Yet he missed in Perdita that diaphanous simplicity, that uncalculating candor, which seemed to lead Estelle to unveil her whole nature before him. But Perdita had not wholly failed in frankness. Had she not glorified the old flag in her music? And had she not been outspoken on the one forbidden theme?
As these thoughts flitted through his mind, excluding for the moment those graver interests, involving a people's doom, he heard the shouts of a crowd, and saw a man, pale and bloody, standing on a table under a tree, from a branch of which a rope was dangling. Vance comprehended the meaning of it all in an instant. He darted toward the spot, gliding swift, agile, and flexuous through the compacted crowd. Yes! The victim was the same man to whom he had given the gold-piece, some days before. Vance put a summary stop to Judge Lynch's proceedings, breaking up the court precisely as Bernard had related. The wounded man was conveyed to the hospital. Here Vance saw his wound dressed, hired an extra attendant to nurse him, and then, in tones of warmest sympathy, asked the sufferer what more he could do for him.
The man opened his eyes. A swarthy, filthy, uncombed, unshaven wretch. He had been so blinded by blood that he had not recognized Vance. But now, seeing him, he started, and strove to raise himself on his elbow.
Vance and the surgeon prevented the movement. The patient stared, and said: “You've done it agin, have yer? What's yer name?”
“ This is Mr. Vance," replied the surgeon.
“ Vance! Vance !” said the patient, as if trying to force his memory to some particular point. Then he added : “ Can't do it! And yit I've seen him afore somewhar.”
“Well, my poor fellow, I must leave you. Good by.”
“ Why, this hand is small and white as a woman's !” said the patient, touching Vance's fingers carefully as he might have touched some fragile flower. “ Yer 'll come agin to see me, woan't yer?” “ Yes, I 'll not forget it.”.
66 Call to-morrow, “ Yes, if I'm alive I'll call.” “ Thahnk
yer, strannger. Good by.”
Giving a few dollars to the surgeon for the patient's benefit, Vance quitted the hospital. An hour afterwards, in his room at the St. Charles, he penned and sent this note :
“To PERDITA : I shall not be able to see you again today. Content yourself as well as you can in the company of Mozart and Beethoven, Bellini and Donizetti, Irving and Dickens, Tennyson and Longfellow. The company is not large, but you will find it select. Unless some very serious engagement should prevent, I will see you to-morrow.
VANCE.” This little note was read and re-read by Clara, till the darkness of night came on. She studied the forms of the letters, the curves and flourishes, all the peculiarities of the chirography, as if she could derive from them some new hints for her incipient hero-worship. Then, lighting the gas, she acted on the advice of the letter, by devoting herself to the performance of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.
Vance meanwhile, after a frugal dinner, eliminated from
luxurious viands, rang the bell, and sent his card to Miss Tremaine. Laura's mother was an invalid, and Laura herself, relieved from maternal restraint, had been lately in the habit of receiving and entertaining company, much to her own satisfaction, as she now had an enlarged field for indulging a propensity not uncommon among young women who have been much admired and much indulged.
Laura was a predestined flirt. Had she been brought up between the walls of a nunnery, where the profane presence of a man had never been known, she would instinctively have launched into coquetry the first time the bishop or the gardener made his appearance.
Having heard Madame Brugière, the fashionable widow, speak of Mr. Vance as the handsomest man in New Orleans, Laura was possessed with the desire of bringing him into her circle of admirers. So, one day after dinner, she begged her father to stroll with her through a certain corridor of the hotel. She calculated that Vance would pass there on his way to his room. She was right. “ Is that Mr. Vance, papa ?” Yes,
“O, do introduce him. They say he's such a superb musician. We must have him to try our new piano.”
“I'm but slightly acquainted with him.” “ No matter. He goes into the best society, you know.” (The father did n't know it, neither did the daughter,- but he took it for granted she spoke by authority.) “He's very rich, too,” added Laura. This was enough to satisfy the paternal conscience. “ Good evening, Mr. Vance! Lively times these! Let me make you acquainted with my daughter, Miss Laura. We shall be happy to see you in our parlor, Mr. Vance." Vance bowed, and complimented the lady on a tea-rose she held in her hand. “ Did you ever see anything more beautiful ? she asked. “ Never till now," he replied.
6 Ah! The rose is yours. You've fairly won it, Mr. Vance; but there's a condition attached : you must promise to call and try my new piano.”—“Agreed. I'll call at an early day.” He bowed, and passed on. “A very charming person,” said Laura. “ Yes, a gentleman evidently,” said the father. 66 And he is n't redolent of cigar-smoke and whiskey, as nine tenths of you illsmelling men are," added Laura. 66 Tut! Don't abuse your