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PECULIAR.

CHAPTER I.

A GLANCE IN THE MIRROR.

“Wed not for wealth, Emily, without love, — 't is gaudy slavery; nor for love without competence, — 't is twofold misery.” Colman's Poor Gentleman.

IT

T is a small and somewhat faded room in an unpretending

brick house in one of the streets that intersect Broadway, somewhere between Canal Street and the Park. A woman sits at a writing-table, with the fingers of her left hand thrust through her hair and supporting her forehead, while in her right hand she holds a pen with which she listlessly draws figures, crosses, circles and triangles, faces and trees, on the blotting-paper that partly

covers a letter which she has been inditing.

A window near by is open at the top. March, having come in like a lion, is going out like a lamb. A canary-bird, intoxicated with the ambrosial breath and subduing sunshine of the first mild day of spring, is pouring forth such a Te Deum laudamus as Mozart himself would have despaired of rivalling. Yesterday's rain-storm purified the atmosphere, swept clean the streets, and deodorized the open gutters, that in warm weather poison with their effluvium the air of the great American metropolis.

On the wall, in front of the lady at the table, hangs a mirror. Look, now, and you will catch in it the reflection of her face. Forty? Not far from it. Perhaps four or five years on the sunny side. Fair ? Many persons would call her still beautiful. The features, though somewhat thin, show their fine

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Grecian outline. The hair is of a rich flaxen, the eyes blue and mild, the mouth delicately drawn, showing Cupid's bow in the curve of the upper lip, and disclosing, not too ostentatiously, the whitest teeth.

Her dress is significant of past rather than present familiarity with a fashionable wardrobe. If she ever wore jewels, she has parted with all of them, for there is not even a plain gold ring on her forefinger. Her robe is a simple brown cashmere, not so distended by crinoline as to disguise her natural figure, which is erect, of the average height, and harmoniously rounded. We detect this the better as she rises, looks a moment sorrowfully in the glass, and sighs to herself, “ Fading ! fading !”

There is a gentle knock at the door, and to her “ Come in," an old black man enters.

“ Good morning, Toussaint,” says the lady ; “what have you there?

‘Only a few grapes for Madame. They are Black Hamburgs, and very sweet. I hope Madame will relish them. They will do her good. Will she try some of them now ?"

“They are excellent, Toussaint. And what a beautiful basket

you have brought them in! You must have paid high for all this fruit, so early in the season. , Indeed, you must not run into such extravagances on my account.”

“ Does Madame find her cough any better ? ”

“ Thank you, Toussaint, I do not notice much change in it as yet. Perhaps a few more mild days like this will benefit

How is Juliette ? " Passablement bien. Pretty well. May I ask ahem ! Madame will excuse the question — but does her husband treat her with any more consideration now that she is ill ?”

“My good Toussaint, I grieve to say that Mr. Charlton is not so much softened as irritated by my illness. It threatens to be expensive, you see.”

“ Ah! but that sad, — sad! I wish Madame were in my house. Such care as Juliette and I would take of her! You look so much like your mother, Madame! I knew her before her first marriage. I dressed her hair the day of her wedding. People used to call her proud. But she was always kind to

me.

“I was

me, very kind. And you look like her so much! As I grow old I think all the more of my old and early friends, the first I had when I came to New York from St. Domingo. Most of them are dead, but I find out their children if I can; and if they are sick I amuse myself by carrying them a few grapes or flowers. They are very good to indulge me by accepting such trifles.”

“ Toussaint, the goodness is all on your side. These grapes are no trifle, and you ought to know it. · I thank you for them heartily. Let me give you back the basket.”

“ No, please don't. Keep it. Good morning, Madame! Be cheerful. Le bon temps reviendra. All shall be well. Bon jour! Au revoir, Madame!”

He hurries out of the room, but instantly returns, and, taking a leaf of fresh lettuce out of his pocket, reaches up on tiptoe and puts it between the bars of the bird-cage. nigh forgetting the lettuce for the bird,” says he. “Madame will excuse my gaucherie.And, bowing low, he again disappears.

The story of Emily Bute Charlton may be briefly told. Her mother, Mrs. Danby, was descended from that John Bradshaw who was president of the court which tried Charles the First, and who opposed a spirited resistance to the usurpation of Cromwell in dissolving the Parliament. Mrs. Danby was proud of her family tree. In her twentieth year she was left a widow, beautiful, ambitious, and poor, with one child, a daughter, who afterwards had in Emily a half-sister. This first daughter had been educated carefully, but she had hardly reached her seventeenth year when she accepted the addresses of a poor man, some fifteen years her senior, of the name of Berwick. The mother, with characteristic energy, opposed the match, but it was of no use. The daughter was incurably in love ; she married, and the mother cast her off.

Time brought about its revenges. Mr. Berwick had inherited ten acres of land on the island of Manhattan. He tried to sell it, but was so fortunate as to find nobody to buy. So he held on t' the land, and by hard scratching managed to pay the taxes on it. In ten years the city had crept up so near to his dirty acres that he sold half of them for a hundred thousand

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