“Such a queer story, Mollie! And such an odd bride—undersized, very slender, golden ringlets—name, Mary! My pretty Cricket, I think I know where you passed that mysterious fortnight!”
A MIDNIGHT TETE-A-TETE.
Mollie Dane sat alone in her pretty room. A bright fire burned in the grate. Old Mme. Walraven liked coal-fires, and would have them throughout the house. It was very late—past midnight—but the gas burned full flare, its garish flame subdued by globes of tinted glass, and Mollie, on a low stool before the fire, was still in all the splendor of her pink silk dinner-dress, her laces, her pearls.
Mollie’s considering-cap was on, and Mollie’s dainty brows were contracted, and the rosebud month ominously puckered. Miss Dane was doing what she did not often do—thinking—and the thoughts chasing one another through her flighty brain were evidently the reverse of pleasant.
“So I’m really married,” mused the young lady—“really and truly married!—and I’ve been thinking all along it was only a sham ceremony.”
She lifted up her left hand and looked at the shining wedding-ring.
“Ernest! Such a pretty name! And that’s all I know about him. Oh, who is he, among all the men I know—who? It’s not Doctor Oleander—I’m certain it’s not, although the height and shape are the same; and I don’t think it’s Sardonyx, and I know it’s not Hugh Ingelow—handsome Hugh!—because he hasn’t the pluck, and he’s a great deal too lazy. If it’s the lawyer or the doctor, I’ll have a divorce, certain. If it were the artist—more’s the pity it’s not—I—well, I shouldn’t ask for a divorce. I do like Hugh! I like him more and more every day, and I almost wish I hadn’t played that shameful trick upon him. I know he loves me dearly—poor little, mad-headed me! And I—oh! how could I think to marry Sir Roger Trajenna, knowing in my heart I loved Hugh? Dear, dear! it’s such a pity I can’t be good, and take to love-making, and marriage, and shirt-buttons, like other girls! But I can’t; it’s not in me. I was born a rattle-pate, and I don’t see how any one can blame me for letting ‘nater caper.’”
She rose up impatiently and began pacing the room—always her first impulse in moments of perplexity.
“I’m a mystery and a puzzle to myself and to everybody else. I don’t know who I am, nor what my real name may be—if I have any right to a name! I don’t know what I am to this Mr. Walraven, and I don’t know who that mysterious woman, Miriam, is. I don’t know anything. I have a husband, and I don’t know him—shouldn’t recognize him if I met him face to face this instant. I’m like the mysterious orphans in the story-books, and I expect it will turn out I have a duke for a father, somewhere or other.”
Miss Dane walked to the window, drew the curtain, and looked out.
The full April moon, round and white, shone down in silvery radiance upon the deserted avenue; the sky was aglitter with myriad stars; the rattling of belated vehicles came, faint and far off, on the windless night.