Honor Edgeworth, sitting alone in the cosy enclosures of a cushioned fauteuil, thought out the queer circumstance that had visited her to-night; never noticing how fast time flitted by, never heeding the stillness of advancing night, until Mr. Rayne's late arrival roused her from her reverie, and brought her suddenly back from the sunlight of her dreams to the grim darkness of the reality.

Rayne's doings, for had he not interfered, the same cold mysterious distance would still have been between them; but there was no sacrifice too great where he was concerned, and it was purely for his sake the young people dispensed with the formality of their early acquaintance. And yet, how superficial this familiarity was on both sides!

The whole adventure mystified and bewildered me. It was a mystery which, however, before long, was to be increased a hundredfold. Alas! that I should sit here and put down my guilt upon paper! One morning I called at Rayne's luxurious chambers in Half Moon Street, when he expressed himself most delighted at the result of our visit to Paris.

"We shall get rid of them to old Heydenryck, who is arriving presently." "Who is he?" "A Dutch dealer who lives here in Paris. He's always open to buy good stuff, but he won't look at any stones that are set. Rayne's idea was to sell them, just as they were, to a dealer named Steffensen, who buys stuff here and smuggles it over to New York and San Francisco, where it is not likely to be traced.

He had managed that no one heard the joke besides Apley and themselves, but she looked more to be pitied over it than any sea-sick maiden she blushed and stammered, and got confused by turns, until Vivian artfully shifted the topic and asked her for the pleasure of the next dance. The night sped on, and the Christmas festivities at Mr. Rayne's came to a close.

A little more rattling of plates and cutlery, a few more clouds of steam from the rich coffee, a series of disconnected gay sentences and ejaculations and the meal was over. The grave tones of Mr. Rayne's voice filled the room in a prayer of thanksgiving, and with the last echo of the "Amen," Honor and her guardian came out from the dining-room into the library arm in arm.

Then we proceeded by the night express to Madrid. Mr. Lloyd insisted that I should stay with them at the Ritz, but, compelled to obey Rayne's instructions, I was forced to excuse myself on the plea that two of Rayne's co-directors were to stay at the Hôtel de la Paix, and Rayne had wished me to stay with them for certain business reasons.

When they reached Mr. Rayne's house, and separated at the gate, the masks fell immediately, and each went his way laughing at the absurd mockeries of life, by which, we cheat one another face to face, at those ridiculous attempts at veneering, through which it is as easy to see, as through a pane of polished glass, and yet, to which we have constant recourse, as though the human heart were more presentable in its mean disguises of truth and honesty, than when laid bare, in the actual existing state, of diplomacy, selfishness, and deceit.

Rayne's house were crowded with a fashionable and merry throng. Young faces beamed with gladness as they glided under the "mistletoe" with their partners, to the strains of dreamy waltzes. The programmes were all filled by now, and the evening's pleasures fully started.

She could scarcely get accustomed to the idea that she was the same Honor Edgeworth, that had come a short time ago, alone and friendless to Mr. Rayne's house.