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The Europeans


very lowÑit was her only handsome feature; and she had a great abund-
ance of crisp dark hair, finely frizzled, which was always braided in a
manner that suggested some Southern or Eastern, some remotely for-
eign, woman. She had a large collection of ear-rings, and wore them in
alternation; and they seemed to give a point to her Oriental or exotic as-
pect. A compliment had once been paid her, which, being repeated to
her, gave her greater pleasure than anything she had ever heard. "A
pretty woman?" some one had said. "Why, her features are very bad." "I
don't know about her features," a very discerning observer had
answered; "but she carries her head like a pretty woman." You may ima-
gine whether, after this, she carried her head less becomingly.
She turned away from the window at last, pressing her hands to her
eyes. "It 's too horrible!" she exclaimed. "I shall go backÑI shall go back!"
And she flung herself into a chair before the fire.
"Wait a little, dear child," said the young man softly, sketching away at
his little scraps of paper.
The lady put out her foot; it was very small, and there was an im-
mense rosette on her slipper. She fixed her eyes for a while on this orna-
ment, and then she looked at the glowing bed of anthracite coal in the
grate. "Did you ever see anything so hideous as that fire?" she deman-
ded. "Did you ever see anything soÑso affreux asÑas everything?" She
spoke English with perfect purity; but she brought out this French epi-
thet in a manner that indicated that she was accustomed to using French
epithets.
"I think the fire is very pretty," said the young man, glancing at it a
moment. "Those little blue tongues, dancing on top of the crimson em-
bers, are extremely picturesque. They are like a fire in an alchemist's
laboratory."
"You are too good-natured, my dear," his companion declared.
The young man held out one of his drawings, with his head on one
side. His tongue was gently moving along his under-lip. "Good-
naturedÑyes. Too good-naturedÑno."
"You are irritating," said the lady, looking at her slipper.
He began to retouch his sketch. "I think you mean simply that you are
irritated."
"Ah, for that, yes!" said his companion, with a little bitter laugh. "It 's
the darkest day of my lifeÑand you know what that means."
"Wait till to-morrow," rejoined the young man.
"Yes, we have made a great mistake. If there is any doubt about it to-
day, there certainly will be none to-morrow. Ce sera clair, au moins!"
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