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ining her past, and to think how unsatisfying her life had been, how void of one real bliss - of but one; she started to confess it. It was a long while since she had thought about those things. "Summer 's parted, glories gone,' she rehearsed with a bitter smile. And if the past was empty, what of the future? When her youth was gone — her youth! Miss Isham was already twenty-five. She remembered when she had thought she might as well be a hundred as twenty-five; it had seemed so old. And what ailed her life? How was it different from other lives? Do all get wrecked ? love-wrecked ? Do all even love? How many love happily? And what was it people married for? The girls whom she knew that year, who were at Mrs. McConnell's ball, the night she had ivy in her hair, how long ago it seemed; they were wives now and mothers, all of them, but Miss McNeil, who was dead — to be dead, what a mystery that seemed! She remembered her father's saying once, when she asked, “Why rule ?'- she remembered he said, almost scornfully,
Why rule ? --- why live ?' as though to parallel the probable absurdity of the former, by the evident absurdity of the latter question. And yet, why live? Miss Isham wondered what she was living for. For herself ? No. For others ? Still less. And here came her father's step in the porch, and in a moment he was entering the room.
‘How late you are,' spoke Adrienne, and how tired you look. I will ring for tea.'
Never mind, Ada. I cannot eat.' • Are you sick, papa ? ' 'No, no; I dined late. You are alone, I see.' 'Yes; they have all gone to the island.' Did you expect Mr. Steinheim ?' No, papa.'
'Oh! I thought perhaps that was why you staid home. I was going to tell you I had seen him.'
Adrienne looked coldly surprised. What possible interest had she in her father having seen Mr. Steinheim ? Mr. Isham folded his hands behind him, and paced the floor, as Adrienne had done before.
'Adrienne,' he said at last abruptly, 'you had better marry Steinheim.' · Mr. Steinheim!' ‘Yes ; do you dislike him ?' 'Do I dislike him!' 'Do n't answer me like an echo, girl. You understood me, did you not ?' 'No, Sir.
'I said then, that it is best that you should marry Mr. Steinheim. He has proposed for you this afternoon.'
* And why?' • Adrienne, do not torture me. God knows, if it was not for you, it might
Are you in trouble, papa ?' “No; the trouble is over. I am ruined.' Adrienne breathed hard. She was worldly. She knew what that meant.
'I was a fool. If I had not trusted men, and what I called the nobility of their natures, this would not have been. Now that it is too late, I can have the sweet consolation of never trusting again.'
Mr. Isham sat down, and leaned his face in his hands. Adrienne was paralyzed by this undreamt-of blow. She did not speak one word. Presently her father raised his head.
• You may as well listen,' he said. "Mr. Steinheim is my creditor. I am at his mercy. He admires you; he desires to marry you. He can restore to you what I have lost. He is rich; it is my wish that you marry him. I have given him my consent; tomorrow he will ask yours.' He looked anxiously, inquiringly at Adrienne, but her features did not change.
"Very well,' she said stonily after a long pause. She took a candle from the shelf : 'Good night, papa,' she continued, speaking just as usual.
Mr. Isham's eyes followed her, as she left the room. Great drops of agony started from his forehead, and the searing tears of tortured manhood rolled down his cheeks. She had gone, he supposed, to reproach him; to reflect that the fortune which her mother left her, might have been spared for her at least. His child, his Adrienne, had not one word of sympathy for him, for his sufferings; again he bent his face down, and said, that his agony was greater than he could bear. Far in the moon-lit night, when the merry noisy beech-party had returned, and dispersed to their rooms, Mr. Isham left the heated parlor, and went out into the road, toward the shore. The light in Adrienne's room was burning still; and through the thin, flowing curtains, he saw her immobile form, crouched in an attitude of supplication, like a thwarted Fate.
The moon-light sickened and died, the dark shifted into the cold gray of early dawn; there were pencil-streaks of light in the orient, and the sun rose with pomp. The waves were burnished, and the tide flowed in with an echoing
Adrienne shook down her damp hair, and let the breeze and sunshine in about her. She loosened her dress, and thought she breathed freer; and, throwing herself on the bed, in the utter prostration of a vigil, she fell into a heavy sleep. There came some strange steps, after a while, in the court below, which woke her; a cold perspiration started on her forehead, and with an effort, she recalled the cause of the night-mare weight upon her heart. She dressed slowly, and did not call her maid. It was late, she knew by the sun; Mr. Steinheim had probably arrived; she heard voices and much confusion below, but kept her curtains drawn close, to shut out all she could of the merriment. When there was a knock at her door, it was to say, that her father had sent for her. She went without a struggle, or a moment's delay - straight on; she could have walked just so to have met death or judgment. She was facing the Inevitable, it mattered but little what was the nature of the decree.
Mr. Steinheim and Mr. Isham were closeted together : the latter opened the door at his daughter's knock, and let her in, with far more agitation than Adrienne herself evinced. It was a formal, business-like interview, with no perceptible change or display of emotion, on either side. At the end of halfan-hour, or so, Mr. Steinheim escorted Miss Isham to the study-door, kissed her extended hand, and regretted that business must occupy any portion of
the day which it might else be his happiness to devote to her. Adrienne made but one stipulation — that they should not be married during August; every thing else was immaterial.
When it was over, she tied a light scarf about her, fastened on her broadbrimmed hat, and, avoiding every one, took an unfrequented road to the beach. A long, long stretch of sand lay before her; smooth and glittering, monotonous and seemingly illimitable. There was a fresh breeeze blowing inland ; the waters were blue, and the dash of spray through the sunny air, was like the sparkle of shattered gems. Adrienne hurried along with a burst of unspeakable gratitude, for the relief of rapid motion. Along, along, it must have been for miles;
she wished it were forever. She was leaving radiance and freshness behind; the light grew ablaze, the breeze veered, the sand was scorching. She saw the sails of vessels flapping idly, and heard the shouts of the crews; saw indistinctly, as in a dream, a yacht ahead, grounded on the beach, while the occupants sprang ashore, and ran up the steep sand-banks, in search of some hospitable shade. Yet she hurried on. If she met any one, they must be strangers ; and the only faces she feared were those which knew and would question hers.
The first impulses of her agony were exhausted in her fatigue, and she became conscious of incidentals; of the locality ; perceiving in surprise how far she had come -- miles, five, eight, perhaps. The heat was intolerable ; she felt faint and giddy, and had no strength look for shelter. A vain search, any how, upon a boundless stretch of scorching sand. She had come close upon the deserted yacht; and spite of her exhaustion, her long experience in sea-shore life had so familiarized her with the details of boating, that she stopped to admire its proportions. It was a daintily-modeled thing; trim, yet with a treacherous lack of depth in the hold, which she casually noticed. It was past noon; so the sail, flapping to the lee-ward, cast a shadow on the shore; Adrienne, weary and uncalculating, crept into it, and drawing her hat over her face, and lulled by the lapping of the waves, fell asleep; just such an old, child-like sleep, as she slept one August long ago, and dreamt false dreams. The tide came in, and wet her hair, which was loose, and floated out like sea
the boat rocked, and the sun sank westward, before she awoke, chilled and wet, startled at her strange position, and alarmed at her distance from home. As she roused herself, she read on the side of the strange yacht, which had sheltered her, a name which she had vainly looked for upon the
it was delicately enamelled, and bending curiously, she read with a start, “ Adrienne. Scarcely recovered from her surprise, she saw a party of gentlemen making a rather tumultuous descent of the sand-bank she had seen them climb some hours before.
A moment of conflicting motives and embarrassment could scarcely elapse, before she must necessarily encounter them. She thought of her loose, wet hair, and soiled dress, of the ludicrousness of her position, and turned haughtily to offer such explanation and apology as she might.
‘My mistrusted craft is happily safe for the future, since its patron-saint vouchsafes a benediction,' said a voice laughingly.
Was Adrienne sleeping still? Was all this trouble and doubt but a linked chain of August dreams ? She looked around bewildered, and forgot her explanation.
‘Miss Isham has forgotten me?' said Mr. Julian, coming forward and speaking interrogatively.
'Miss Isham has many causes for recollecting Mr. Julian,' she answered with instinctive ease, nerving herself desperately.
* And among others, that his yacht is her name-sake ?' * And that she has been asleep all the afternoon in its shade.' Miss Isham keeps her former fancy then, for braying the glare of August
‘And falling asleep afterward. I am probably not more changed, Mr. Julian, than eight years commonly changes people, so we won't rehearse particulars.'
* At least not now,' he said softly. “May I introduce you to my friends ?'
“Upon one condition,' she laughed turning toward the two remaining gentlemen, who had played spectators to this brief melo-drama.
"That they are not so devoted to tableaux vivants that they will insist on my playing Ariadne here on the shore, while they sail away for the enchantment of a distant view.'
The gentlemen protested, that no view of Miss Isham could be so enchanting as a near one, while she explained how unintentionally she had wandered so far from home; and begged a passage in the yacht, whose name proved her so unexpectedly remembered by its owner.
'So unexpectedly? Does Miss Isham judge others by herself?'
“What Trinity do I include, Mr. Julian, that you persist in making me a third person ?'
"You have been first to me so long, it is only a natural reaction.'
Adrienne looked up quickly into Mr. Julian's face. For the first time in eight long years, these two gazed down each other's eyes, and read the records of time. A long look, longer and less passionate than that under the midnight moon, on the unrippled lake.
“What?' said Adrienne to the questioning of his eyes.
may not,' she said in a hollow tone.
His companions called him to aid in managing the boat. The sea ran high, and there was no more said. The yacht skimmed the waves, like a bird, and ran down the five miles of distance rapidly. Adrienne could have wished it fifty. The anguish which languor and excitement had alternately numbed, returned with double keenness for its short suspension. She recalled from what she had instinctively fled; to what she was returning. It was a bitter thought.
The heroes of Adrienne's fortunate rencounter were on a summer-tour; coasting, fishing, making stops at will. They were content with Mr. Julian's proposition, stay for a week at near which Mr. Isham had rented the cottage he was occupying for the summer. And again Adrienne contemplated a daily association with the man who had been her destiny, and under circumstances which made such an association unwarrantable. She experienced a tumult of emotions. Must she tell Mr. Julian at once ? Impossible. He was no longer either lover or friend; a casual acquaintance like the rest, whose own conventional equilibre would be disturbed by any such disclosures. She could not herself realize her engagement to Mr. Steinheim. In spite of the ring she wore, and his nightly return with her father from the city, she warded off the conviction of what the future must bring; and hoped against hope in some undefined reprieve from this fatal fiat.
It was not needed to tell Mr. Julian; he saw all. And the obstacle in the way of a passion, which had lain long in his heart, and been held too sacred for the light of disclosure, almost maddened him.
My life, Adrienne,' he said, “has been, since I saw you, one long, unrelenting study of myself. An unworthy end, you may say, but for what good can a man work with self-mistrust at the core ? I determined to know myself.'
• And do you ?'
My love-theories ? yes — no. I have more faith in all, and yet a lingering fondness for those I cherished then. To have been loved, I dream, by a perfect woman: by you, Adrienne, let me imagine; to have been loved by you eight years ago, when you were a child merely, and the preference must have been genuine and untrammelled; for that love to have been felt, yet unavowed, and treasured through years; held isolated from every other influence, an unexplained motive among the life-powers, while the capacities ripened, and the feelings matured; for it to have grown with your woman's growth, and become identified with all your impuļses ; and then to have possessed it. Do not start, Miss Isham. I have only pictured in words what all my life I have pictured with ideas.'
"Your picturings culminate more happily than mine. My dreams are always dark.'
"Were they that August afternoon, when
‘Right! You talk of wrong and right, Miss Isham, as though it was for you to judge ; you were right, you say, in answering so, that night. Do you know if you had answered otherwise —