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      "Nearly a year and a half; ever since my marriage, with just one interval on the Continent before Martin went to India."

      Whats wonderful? she asked.

      Let three or four of the men go and bring the woman here.Disney smiled at the stern condition of a year's probation which Allegra had imposed upon her lover.

      "Don'tcareabout Dickens!"

      Doctor Remy stood for a moment irresolute, with an unwonted flush of shame rising to his brow. The climax had not only come sooner than he anticipated, but in an unexpectedly embarrassing shape,a shape that gave him a sudden, startling perception of the vileness of the task which he had set himself to do. Naturally, he was inclined to be angry with Astra for the action to which he owed this moment of self-recognition; yet, on the whole, it was the most bewitching thing that he had ever seen her do. Never had she attracted him so strongly as while she thus stood pointing him to the door. Her free and noble attitude, the wonderful vividness of her expression, the maidenly dignity of her tacit refusal to descend for one moment to his level, and discuss with him the points that he had raised, thrilled him with involuntary admiration. It irked him to think that he must needs give her up. Was there really no way to keep her, and at the same time win Bergan Hall? He sent his thoughts back over the road which they had trodden so often, during the past fortnight, and decided once more that the risk was too great. He must persevere in the course upon which he had entered. Nor did a little present mortification matter, in comparison with hopeful progress. Astra was only helping him forward in the way that he wished to go. How easily the affections and passions of others became the puppets of his will!Mrs. Bergan shook her head. "I really don't know; I was so taken with her face, that I forgot to ask her name. She said that she was a friend of Astra Lyte's, and ofBergan's."


      The night was no longer dark. Here and there, a star looked through the broken clouds, and lighted him to the river's bank, down which he walked slowly; torturing himself, as he went, with that weary after-birth of doubts and questions, which often follows hard upon the accomplishment of a cherished purpose. Had he done well in wedding Carice to the doctor? Had he not done wrong in refusing to listen to Bergan, at least with courtesy and calmness? Was it barely possible that there could have been some small grain of truth at the bottom of the young man's turbid story? What was the meaning of that odd, wild look in Carice's eyes? Had he been thrusting himself, as it were, into the awful place of Providence, only, by reason of his human short-sightedness, to work irremediable ruin?



      A singular scene was presented to his eyes. Prostrate on the floor lay Doctor Remy, with an exceedingly black and discomfited face; while Hubert was standing over him like a young gladiator. On one side, stood Dick Causton pouring forth a volley of utterly incoherent proverbs and entreaties, addressed to his "dear young friend Mr. Bergan;" and, on the other, stood the barkeeper, so bewildered, apparently, by this sudden and unaccountable fracas, as to be undecided which side or what tone to take. At sight of Bergan, Dick reeled backward, and looked completely confounded; Doctor Remy set his teeth hard, and his face grew blacker than ever.