Clarence clutched her hand tighter as she finished, so tight indeed, that she gave a little scream of pain and looked frightened at him. “What is the matter?” she inquired; “your hand is like ice, and you are paler than ever. You haven’t let that trifling dream affect you so? It is nothing.”
“I am superstitious in regard to dreams,” said Clarence, wiping the perspiration from his forehead. “Go,” he asked, faintly, “play me an air, love,—something quick and lively to dispel this. I wish you had not told me.”
“But you begged me to,” said she, pouting, as she took her seat at the instrument.
“How ominous,” muttered he,—“became covered with black spots; that is a foreshadowing. How can I tell her,” he thought. “It seems like wilfully destroying my own happiness.” And he sat struggling with himself to obtain the necessary courage to fulfil the purpose of his visit, and became so deeply engrossed with his own reflections as to scarcely even hear the sound of the instrument.
“It is too bad,” she cried, as she ceased playing: “here I have performed some of your favourite airs, and that too without eliciting a word of commendation. You are inexpressibly dull to-night; nothing seems to enliven you. What is the matter?”
“Oh,” rejoined he, abstractedly, “am I? I was not aware of it.”
“Yes, you are,” said Little Birdie, pettishly; “nothing seems to engage your attention.” And, skipping off to the table, she took up the newspaper, and exclaimed,—“Let me read you something very curious.”
“No, no, Anne dear,” interrupted he; “sit here by me. I want to say something serious to you—something of moment to us both.”
“Then it’s something very grave and dull, I know,” she remarked; “for that is the way people always begin. Now I don’t want to hear anything serious to-night; I want to be merry. You look serious enough; and if you begin to talk seriously you’ll be perfectly unbearable. So you must hear what I am going to read to you first.” And the little tyrant put her finger on his lip, and looked so bewitching, that he could not refuse her. And the important secret hung on his lips, but was not spoken.
“Listen,” said she, spreading out the paper before her and running her tiny finger down the column. “Ah, I have it,” she exclaimed at last, and began:—
“’We learn from unimpeachable authority that the Hon. —— ——, who represents a district of our city in the State legislature, was yesterday united to the Quateroon daughter of the late Gustave Almont. She is said to be possessed of a large fortune, inherited from her father; and they purpose going to France to reside,—a sensible determination; as, after such a mesalliance, the honourable gentleman can no longer expect to retain his former social position in our midst.—New Orleans Watchman.’”
“Isn’t it singular,” she remarked, “that a man in his position should make such a choice?”