It was very near Christmas, and there was snow on the ground, when she came slowly down one evening to see him. He sat alone in the prime salon, where the porcelain stove stood, with its handful of fire, looking gloomily out at the feathery flakes whirling through the leaden twilight. He turned round as she glided in, so unlike herself, so like a spirit, that his heart stood still.
“My love! my love!”
It was all he could say. He took her in his arms, so worn, so wasted, so sad; wan as the fluttering snow without. All his man’s heart overflowed with infinite love and pity as he held that frail form in his strong clasp.
“Dear Everard, I have been so ill and so lonely; I wanted you so much!”
He drew her to him as if he would never let her go again.
“If I could only be with you always, my darling. It is cruel to keep us apart for a year.”
“It was poor papa’s wish, Everard.”
Presently madame came in, and there were lights, and bustle, and separation. Mme. Hunsden must not remain too long, must not excite herself. Monsieur must go away, and come again to-morrow.
“I will let her see you every day, poor, homesick child, until she is well enough to go into the classe and commence her studies. Then, not so often. But monsieur will be gone long before that!”
“No,” Sir Everard said, distinctly. “I remain in Paris for the winter. I trust to madame’s kind heart to permit me to see Miss Hunsden often.”
“Often! Ah, mon Dieu! how you English are impetuous! so—how do you call him?—unreasonable! Monsieur may see mademoiselle in the salon every Saturday afternoon—not oftener.”
“It is better so, Everard. I want to study—Heaven knows I need it! and your frequent visits would distract me. Let once a week suffice.”
Sir Everard yielded to the inevitable with the best grace possible. He took his leave, raising Harriet’s hand to his lips.
Harrie lingered by the window for a moment, looking wistfully after the slender figure, and slow, graceful walk.
“If he only knew!” she murmured. “If he only knew the terrible secret that struck me down that night! But I dare not tell—I dare not, even if that voice from the dead had not forbidden me. I love him so dearly—so dearly! Ah, pitiful Lord! let him never know!”
THE BARONET’S BRIDE.
The winter months wore by. Spring came, and still that most devoted of lovers, Sir Everard Kingsland, lingered in Paris, near his gray-eyed divinity. His life was no dull one in the gayest capital of Europe. He had hosts of friends, the purse of Fortunatus, the youth and beauty of a demi-god. Brilliant Parisian belles, flashing in ancestral diamonds, with the blue blood of the old regime in their delicate veins, showered their brightest