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CHAPTER III.

HALCYON DAYS.

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V

DOLORES POWER was a very pretty

child-pouting, caressing, rebellious, pleading by turns; sunshiny and stormy in a breath—a most bewitching plaything, but, like a kitten, a plaything one tires of in time. She was very sweet in her innocence and guilelessness, very loveable, although she was frivolous and wanting in common sense, only one felt that, unless some great change came over her, she would never grow into a companion, never satisfy that craving for sympathy that a man feels who comes world-worn and weary

to the caressing arms and tender heart of the woman who loves him. As yet all was shallow on the surface with Dolores ; life meant nothing more for her than was contained in the little outside round of daily events. She had no deep, unsatisfied longings, no curiosity of the soul, no ardent desire to be anything nobler, better, more spiritual than she was.

A walk on the quay, a saunter past the shops, a new dress or ribbon, a cake from the confectioner's, these were Dolores's aspirations, Dolores's pleasures, beyond which she had no formed thoughts or ideas. Living in an ancient city like Rouen, in which each street, each house almost, has its own separate chronicle of interest, one would have imagined that her young mindwould be full of curiosity concerning all those legends and traditions generally so dear to youth.

But Dolores never troubled her pretty

little head with vain speculations about the past, she had not the remotest interest in or veneration for antiquity and historical fame; she would have gone fifty times through the Place de la Pucelle without wanting to know who Joan of Arc was, or what she did for France, or why she was burnt. It did not interest her in the least that Corneille or Fontenelle were born in Rouen, any more than she was interested in its beautiful architecture or historical renown, any more than she bestowed a thought on the grand old Norman dukes or the lovely women once owning sway there, but long since mouldered into a driblet of dust. She came sometimes to the Cathedral, but in a vague, unspeculative way.

It seemed dull and gloomy in her eyes. The perfection of elegance in its each minute detail made no harmony to her by its

perfection; the grandeur and antiquity stamped on every column and carving in. spired no reverence in her mind; roused in her no reflections upon the nothingness and vanity of all that belongs to poor mortality ; made no strange compassion swell in her heart to remember that all which remained of the puissant men who held the fate of kingdoms in their hands was a few grains of dust.

She flitted here and there with a sort of half curiosity, tripped after the old beadle to ask him a question now and then, looked indifferently at the pictures, cast longer glances at the magnificent stained windows, listened with a yawn to his eulogiums on the carving of the Archbishop's tombs, and ran away shuddering when he pointed out Goujon's wonderful statue of Louis de Brézés, cast after death. It was too horrid, she declared, and if Diane de Poictiers was like

the kneeling figure on the tomb, she had certainly never been beautiful.

So Dolores lived her hitherto uneventful, untroubled life up in the white house above Rouen. Her mother, silent and melancholy, spent most of the day in her room, and the girl was thrown for society and companionship upon kind-hearted, cheerful Mar. celline.

Mrs. Power had been called suddenly to England a week previous to the date at which my story commences, leaving Rouen the first time for fifteen years. · Sir Guy returned even before the hour, and was ushered by Marcelline into the salon. It was a long, narrow room, with four windows draped by red curtains. The floor was of polished wood, having in the centre a thick square carpet; there were chairs and sofas of crimson velvet, and a marble mantelpiece, decorated with the

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