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that he loved her--a frank, blustering fellow without guile enough
to conceal his feelings, and no desire to do so. For two weeks past
he had sought her society eagerly and persistently. She was
confidently waiting for him to declare himself and she meant to
accept him. The rather insignificant and unattractive Brantain was
enormously rich; and she liked and required the entourage which
wealth could give her.
During one of the pauses between their talk of the last tea
and the next reception the door opened and a young man
entered whom Brantain knew quite well. The girl turned her
face toward him. A stride or two brought him to her side, and
bending over her chair--before she could suspect his intention,
for she did not realize that he had not seen her visitor--he pressed
an ardent, lingering kiss upon her lips.
Brantain slowly arose; so did the girl arise, but quickly, and
the newcomer stood between them, a little amusement and some
defiance struggling with the confusion in his face.
"I believe," stammered Brantain, "I see that I have stayed too long.
I--I had no idea--that is, I must wish you good-by." He was clutching
his hat with both hands, and probably did not perceive that she was
extending her hand to him, her presence of mind had not completely
deserted her; but she could not have trusted herself to speak.
"Hang me if I saw him sitting there, Nattie! I know it's
deuced awkward for you. But I hope you'll forgive me this
once--this very first break. Why, what's the matter?"
"Don't touch me; don't come near me," she returned angrily.
"What do you mean by entering the house without ringing?"
"I came in with your brother, as I often do," he answered
coldly, in self-justification. "We came in the side way. He went
upstairs and I came in here hoping to find you. The explanation is
simple enough and ought to satisfy you that the misadventure was
unavoidable. But do say that you forgive me, Nathalie," he
"Forgive you! You don't know what you are talking about. Let
me pass. It depends upon--a good deal whether I ever forgive you."
At that next reception which she and Brantain had been talking
about she approached the young man with a delicious frankness of