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And how are pearls made, Mr. Julian ?' As women's hearts are, Miss Isham.' • But how?'
Adrienne Isham looked curiously from out her violet eyes into Mr. Julian's face, as she sat in the sultry, slumberous serenity of the August noon-calm. It was in a long, low room ; there was Indian matting on the floor, and the couches and chairs and tables were of bamboo. The curtain-lace was filmy as sea-mist, and damp odors from jars of blossoms brooded and settled around. The diamond-drip of fountain-spray in an adjacent court trickled in rhythmical rillets through a marble canal, and kept the lilies fresh in a vase at Miss Isham's feet. A cloudily-colored vase of an antique shape, right royally wrought with figures in attitudes of an imperial, oriental calm, than which only Miss Isham's was less statuesque.
• But how?' she said.
Do n't you know? Pearls are an incarnation of an instinctive worship. Their dumb, senseless destiny is only an adoration and absorption. The motive of their being is a pain, their dream is of appropriation, their being is a reflection. They aspire to an essence as hearts to an ideal.'
The misty curtains shrank and swayed with the hot breath of the southwind, which stole in, lapping up the cool and fragrance of the apartment like a greedy tongue. The lily petals curled because there was a vulgar scent of field flowers on the breeze; the shells on the shelf murmured a low reproach ; there was a hush of harmony, a recoil, and a voiceless protest, but Adrienne leaned against the window and drank in the glare and blaze as if it helped her. Mr. Julian tapped his foot against the floor and watched his companion only because it seemed there was nothing else to claim his attention. The south-wind
the flowers fainted and missed its ripple. The excessive light and drought and heat glowered without like the dumb ferocity of brute eyes; the arid, panting stretch of pasture seemed to consume on the hill-side; the cattle huddled together, as if their common bulk would form a sheltering breadth of shadow; the threatening croak of the frogs ceased in the dry marsh, and the scorching sun-beams were moted with a marish exudence.
Mr. Julian picked up a broad palm-leaf fan, which Miss Isham had dropped, and swayed it patiently.
"You will be sick,' he said. “You had better come back and talk about pearls.
And then She turned and spoke in a sharp, agitated way. Oh! and then I shall continue my analogy, and I did not mean that
'Evidently, then, you could not waltz with Ernst to-night.' 'Do n't, Mr. Julian, do n't talk about him.' Her large eyes dilated supplicatingly; behind the supplication was tender
Mr. Julian saw through the veil he had seen before; it did not touch him. Adrienne left the window.
'I thought I could check your imprudence,' he said. There was a partial sneer in his tone, but that was common to him.
Adrienne walked up to him impulsively. She was very graceful and beautiful, almost any man would have felt a thrill of delight at her approach or touch, merely because she was so unconsciously lovely. She rested her pretty hand on the arm of Mr. Julian's chair. “You did not really think I cared for him ?' she asked softly, eagerly.
'Nonsense, Adrienne; and if you did ? Have n't I told you a woman must have a passion before she has a heart, just as the crude nacre must have light before it can be a pearl. What difference who excites the passion, so long as the heart is formed? It is never bestowed on him, any more than pearls merge in moon-light.'
“But I never did
*Very well, then, petite; you will find your heart at somebody else's expense
eh ?' "It is not true, Mr. Julian. I have a heart; just as much heart as I shall ever have
· Peut êtré !!
You are wicked and cruel Mignon !'
*I am not Mignon. I am not a play-thing, as you think; I'll not be talked to as a doll, because I have a heart and soul, and can feel and think, and
The stormy scintillance of Adrienne's face changed electrically, the crimson blood flushed her temples and cheeks, and the tears brimmed in her eyes. She straightened herself haughtily in a moment and moved to withdraw the hand which rested on Mr. Julian's chair. He laid his own upon it.
*Not Mignon ?' he said in a low tone, persuasive, enchaining as music which compels the response we seek to restrain.
"No,' she persisted, struggling to loose her hand, blushing and pouting in a way which women have of making 'No' mean “yes.'
He understood her well enough, but he let go her wrist and looked piqued. She was pained and perplexed. She had no power whereby to oppose Mr. Julian's skeptical subtilty, no power, in fact, but that which includes impotency, the power of a restless, resistless love.
• Mr. Julian, do n't be angry.'
* Adrienne, you can be nothing but a doll and a play-thing while you give way to this silly sensitiveness. You must be more womanly.'
'I will, Mr. Julian, I will try; only I can't bear to see you look so vexed,' said Adrienne, the tears gathering.
He smiled and held out his hand toward her. She looked so chidden and
child-like, with her flushed face, and he so much graver and older, that it was no wonder she gave him the hand she had so pettishly wrenched away and let him draw her to a seat right beside him and pinch her taper finger-tips, holding her hand after she was seated.
' Did you think I was vexed, Adrienne ?'
The drooped lids unclosed with a surprised, startled look, and meeting the pleading of Mr. Julian's eyes, the innate mischief-love came back to Adrienne's. “No,' she said coquettishly, 'I suppose not; you are too indifferent to be even vexed.'
He did not answer as she hoped. There was a moment's pause. It is very sultry,' said Mr. Julian.
Adrienne sighed low, like the wind which was springing up as the sun sank westward.
‘Shall we go to-night ?'
Why! Don't you want to?'
Mrs. Tenour's cool-colored; organdie rustled through the hall, and made Adrienne start guiltily, while Mr. Julian calmly released her hand at his sister's approach.
* And not dressed yet! And have had no nap? : 0 Adrienne ! these long August days are only fit to drowse through. Your father will scold me for your pale cheeks if I let you exhaust your strength so imprudently. Here, take my vinaigrette, and do n't look so faint.'
'Is it late? I must dress.'
Mrs. Tenour darkened the room again. 'Come, Julian,' she said to her brother, 'let us go to the east portico; there will be a breeze.'
'I have been in a breeze, Clara, for the last hour,' he said, laughing and following her.
Mrs. Tenour was like her brother, calm, conventional in manner ; tall, dark, elegant in person. Her face never betrayed how little escaped her observation, never, in fact, betrayed her at all. She looked up without any change of manner, and asked, when they reached the portico.
‘Julian, are you making love to Miss Isham ?'
'I do n't want you to trifle with Adrienne,' Mrs. Tenour said rather sternly. She is very young; and such things often make a girl unhappy for years. O you men! women ought to be petrified to compete with you.'.
* Miss Isham's youth is her protection, if she needs any. What does a girl of seventeen know of love? What does love mean to her but a penchant for any agreeable man, who says soft nothings to her ? It is when women's intellects and emotions are matured, when they have been
tutored in feeling and suffering, that they are capable of love that they love and do not forget.'
“You are mistaken. Hearts get hardened ; early impressions sink deep; late ones are the surface prints.'
· Mistaken! I who have studied women these ten years ?'
No matter for theories, Julian. If you do n't care for Adrienne, let her alone.'
Care for her ! — love her, do you mean? Love a baby. Let me see: it is August now; well, by Christmas she would laugh and say she had a grandfather for a lover in the country last summer. Do you know, Clara, I am thirty next month ?'
Mrs. Tenour stood musingly for a while without replying to her brother. There was a shade of care on her face. “Then, Julian,' she said rezolutely, as if she had revolved the subject, you must not be so much together.'
* Reserve your fiat, Clara, till you have seen Adrienne and Mr. Ernst flirt to-night.'
* Flirt! do they? Ernst is a good match. But Adrienne need not marry yet; she has beauty enough to indulge in torturing lovers for five or six years to come.'
* And that is your recommendation ?'
Mr. Julian stepped from the portico and walked down the path leading from the house. In a moment he was hidden by the laburnums. He strolled along the path, winding in and out the shrubbery, shaking the white dust of the blossoms of the flowering groundsel and getting powdered with their flaky bloom. His sister's words had their effect upon him, in spite of his assumption; they forced him into thoughtfulness concerning his position with Miss Isham. Mr. Julian prided himself upon his honor — cold, cynical, skeptical, his honor was the court of appeal to which all cases of policy, morality and emotion were duly brought and judged. He cited and summed the present case.
Miss Isham was a young, beautiful woman; he, a brilliant, agreeable man. They had been a month in the country together. A riding, boating, flowergathering, poem-reading month. How natural that they should ride and boat and gather flowers and read poetry together. How natural that Mr. Julian's fine artistic sense should revel in a study of Miss Isham's moods; that his vanity should delight in the unconcealed homage of her admiration; that he should amuse himself with her, and that she should fall in love with him!
Mr. Julian himself had no faith in love, a fact for which he thus accounted satisfactorily to himself. Not in that of a girl of seventeen, and neither, as a rule, in that of older women, His habitual system of doubt established the premise, and he reasoned that with the maturity of the capacity for loving came also that of the capacity for feigning. He discredited the love of one epoch, because he feared it fickle, that of the other because he doubted it genuine. A possible passion he indeed believed in, and held himself ready to reciprocate even with a certain yearning for its revelation. Such a passion as should prove its completeness by a sacrifice which involved no indiscretion; its fitness for his return by a combination of congenial intellectual elements; its womanliness by an entire submission ; its power to retain its sway by the superiority of her in whom it should be awakened. Miss Isham, he thought, was an ardent, impulsive child, whose preference (if it existed) the first frost would blight -a thing to be put away with the late roses, and danced out of recollection with early redowas. That she could suffer in consequence of this amusement of his, any more than his dumb yacht or his saddle-horse, did not occur to him. He had flirted with plenty of women through summers before, but had always had the pleasure of sending them cake-knives and congratulations in the course of a year or so, and of seeing them as fair and complacent through bridal illusion as when he whispered his flatteries, and got the flattery of their blushes in return. Was Adrienne Isham any different from these? And why was his sister so solicitous ? A little more naïve than the rest, she touched his somewhat satiated fancy more ; but had she different, deeper feelings? He doubted it. They amused each other ; what was the harm ? Mr. Julian recognized Miss McNeil's voice in the adjacent walk, and turned on his heel to avoid the meeting. Unconscious, abstracted, he pursued the path which led him back to the house. He went through the hall to the room where he had spent the afternoon; he threw back the blinds, and the light breeze shrouded him in the curtain-folds.
Adrienne dressed carelessly; weary, spiritless, she gathered her profuse, rippling hair into a net of gold thread, and exchanging her India mull-dress for another, went languidly down-stairs. The house seemed deserted; neither guest nor hostess were visible. She saw her face casually in a mirror; it was pale, and there were dark shadows around her eyes. She did not mind; she only felt that she was dissatisfied and unhappy, résults which she vaguely connected with Mr. Julian as the cause, and thinking of him, she wandered on into the room where they had been together, and sank into the chair where he so lately had sat beside her. What a happy summer! She recalled every thing that had occurred since she came. Those dewy, bloomy mornings when he had rapped at her door at day-break to waken her, and she had hurried to join him on the piazza, while every thing was so still and cool; she knew how the sleepy flowers trembled with rapture at the birth of the light, and made new covenants with grace through baptisms of dew; she heard the echo of their steps on the gravel through the early stillness and the lapse of the waters of the lake on the yellow sand of the shore; she felt the swaying motion of the boat ere they were fairly afloat; she seemed again to trace her hand through the slumberous translucence of the wave, and to feel the shattered drops of spray on overhanging boughs as the boat darted beneath them. This was the going dearer to remember than the return; yet even that, yet even all the days and hours, when they sat in the odorous dark and listened to delicious music; when they found coverts of rank, damp grass densely shaded through the heat of the noon; when Mr. Julian lifted her into her saddle as the shadows lengthened, and she came back late, tired and happy - inexplicably happy. The same enrapturing weariness came over her. As she had felt the rest, she felt her head sink on the pillow, her eye-lids droop, her soul lifted in the bliss