amours, which put their permanent stamp upon his inner
But at sight of my respectful form standing with bent head in the doorway, she hurriedly thrust the letter into a book and took up the placque. As she did so I marked her well and almost started at the change I observed in her since that evening at the Academy. It was not only that she was dressed in some sort of loose dishabille that was in eminent contrast to the sweeping silks and satins in which I had hitherto beheld her adorned; or that she was laboring under some physical disability that robbed her dark cheek of the bloom that was its chiefest charm. The change I observed went deeper than that; it was more as if a light had been extinguished in her countenance. It was the same woman I had beheld standing like a glowing column of will and strength before the melancholy form of Mr. Blake, but with the will and strength gone, and with them all the glow.
"She no longer hopes," thought I, and already felt repaid for my trouble.
"This is a very pretty article you have brought me," said she with something of the unrestrained love of art which she undoubtedly possessed, showing itself through all her languor. "Where did it come from, and what recommendations have you, to prove it is an honest sale you offer me?"
"None," returned I, ignoring with a reassuring smile the first question, "except that I should not be afraid if all the police in New York knew I was here with this fine placque for sale."
She gave a shrug of her proud shoulder that bespoke the French Countess and softly ran her finger round the edge of the placque.
"I don't need anything more of this kind," said she languidly; "besides," and she set it down with a fretful air, "I am in no mood to buy this afternoon." Then shortly, "What do you ask for it?"
She started and cast me a keen glance. "You had better take it to some one else; I have no money to throw away."
With a hesitating hand I lifted the placque towards the basket. "I would very much like to sell it to you," said I. " Perhaps--"
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