1. The Millionaire's Daughter
The rays of the September sun flooded the great halls of the old chateau of the Dukes of
Charmerace, lighting up with their mellow glow the spoils of so many ages and many lands,
jumbled together with the execrable taste which so often afflicts those whose only standard of
value is money. The golden light warmed the panelled walls and old furniture to a dull lustre,
and gave back to he fading gilt of the First Empire chairs and couches something of its old
brightness. It illumined the long line of pictures on the walls, pictures of dead and gone
Charmeraces, the stern or debonair faces of the men, soldiers, statesmen, dandies, the gentle or
imperious faces of beautiful women. It flashed back from armour of brightly polished steel,
and drew dull gleams from armour of bronze. The hues of rare porcelain, of the rich inlays of
Oriental or Renaissance cabinets, mingled with the hues of the pictures, the tapestry, the
Persian rugs about the polished floor to fill the hall with a rich glow of colour.
But of all the beautiful and precious things which the sun-rays warmed to a clearer beauty, the
face of the girl who sat writing at a table in front of the long windows, which opened on to the
centuries-old turf of the broad terrace, was the most beautiful and the most precious.
It was a delicate, almost frail, beauty. Her skin was clear with the transparent lustre of old
porcelain, and her pale cheeks were only tinted with the pink of the faintest roses. Her straight
nose was delicately cut, her rounded chin admirably moulded. A lover of beauty would have
been at a loss whether more to admire her clear, germander eyes, so melting and so adorable,
or the sensitive mouth, with its rather full lips, inviting all the kisses. But assuredly he would
have been grieved by the perpetual air of sadness which rested on the beautiful face--the
wistful melancholy of the Slav, deepened by something of personal misfortune and suffering.
Her face was framed by a mass of soft fair hair, shot with strands of gold where the sunlight
fell on it; and little curls, rebellious to the comb, strayed over her white forehead, tiny feathers
She was addressing envelopes, and a long list of names lay on her left hand. When she had
addressed an envelope, she slipped into it a wedding-card. On each was printed:
"M. Gournay-Martin has the honour to inform
you of the marriage of his daughter
Germaine to the Duke of Charmerace."
She wrote steadily on, adding envelope after envelope to the pile ready for the post, which rose
in front of her. But now and again, when the flushed and laughing girls who were playing
lawn-tennis on the terrace, raised their voices higher than usual as they called the score, and
distracted her attention from her work, her gaze strayed through the open window and lingered
on them wistfully; and as her eyes came back to her task she sighed with so faint a wistfulness
that she hardly knew she sighed. Then a voice from the terrace cried, "Sonia! Sonia!"
"Yes. Mlle. Germaine?" answered the writing girl.
"Tea! Order tea, will you?" cried the voice, a petulant voice, rather harsh to the ear.
"Very well, Mlle. Germaine," said Sonia; and having finished addressing the envelope under
her pen, she laid it on the pile ready to be posted, and, crossing the room to the old, wide
fireplace, she rang the bell.
She stood by the fireplace a moment, restoring to its place a rose which had fallen from a vase
on the mantelpiece; and her attitude, as with arms upraised she arranged the flowers, displayed