“Why not?” responded she, with a resumption of cheerfulness. “I sha’n’t be gone but three months.”
So the conversation lingered along, until gradually the greater part of it was supported by Bressant, while Cornelia sat quiet and listened—a thing she had never done before. But the young man’s way of expressing himself was picturesque and piquant, keeping the attention thoroughly awake. His ideas and topics were original. He plunged into the midst of a subject and talked backward and forward at the same time, yet conveyed a marvelously clear idea of his meaning. Sometimes the last word was the key-note that rendered the whole intelligible. And he had the bearing of a man all unaccustomed to deal with women—ignorant of the traditional arts of entertainment which society practises upon itself. He talked to Cornelia as he might have done to a man, and yet his manner showed a subtle difference—a lack of assurance—a treading in a pleasant garden with fear of trespassing—the recognition of the woman. To Cornelia it had the effect of the most soothing and delicious flattery; had he been as worldly-wise as other men, he could not have been so delicate.
He, for his part, gave himself wholly up to be fascinated and absorbed by the lovely woman at his side. Did a thought of danger intrude, the whisper, “Only for to-night, only for to-night!” sufficed to banish it. Yet another day, and he would return to the old life once more.
EVERY LITTLE COUNTS.
Mr. William Reynolds arrived late, perhaps because he delayed too long over the niceties of his toilet. He was a country young man, fashioned upon a well-worn last. His occupation for several years past had been to attend to the furnishing and driving of a milk-cart, and, very likely, it was this which had hindered the proper development of his figure. At all events, he was stoutest where it is generally thought advisable to be lean, and narrow where popular prejudice demands breadth. His knees were more conspicuous than his legs, and his elbows than his arms. His face was striking, chiefly because an accident in early life had prostrated his nose; the expression, though lacking force, was in the main good-natured, the eyes were modestly veiled behind a pair of eye-glasses, which stayed on, as it were, by accident.
Mr. Reynolds was an admirer of Cornelia’s; a fact which was the occasion of much pleasant remark and easy witticism. More serious consequences were not likely to ensue, for such men as he seldom attain to be other than indirectly useful or mildly obnoxious to their fellow-creatures. But the strongest instincts he had were social; and it was touching to observe the earnestness with which they urged him to lumber the path of fashion and gay life. He nearly broke his own heart, and unseated his instructor’s reason, in his efforts to learn dancing; and, to secure