happy as she had probably anticipated when she jilted handsome Holman Blake for the old French Count. At all events so I interpreted the look of latent scorn that burned in her dark eyes, as she slowly turned her richly bejeweled head towards the corner where that gentleman stood, and meeting his eyes no doubt, bowed with a sudden loss of self-possession that not all the haughty carriage of her noble form, held doubly erect for the next few moments, could quite conceal or make forgotten.
"She still loves him," I inwardly commented and turned to see if the surprise had awakened any expression on his uncommunicative countenance.
Evidently not, for the tough old politician of the Fifteenth Ward was laughing, at one of his own jokes probably, and looking up in the face of Mr. Blake, whose back was turned to me, in a way that entirely precluded all thought of any tragic expression in that quarter. Somewhat disgusted, I withdrew and followed the lady.
I could not get very near. By this time the presence of a live countess in the assembly had become known, and I found her surrounded by a swarm of half-fledged youths. But I cared little for this; all I wanted to know was whether Mr. Blake would approach her or not during the evening. Tediously the moments passed; but a detective on duty, or on fancied duty, succumbs to no weariness. I had a woman before me worth studying and the time could not be thrown away. I learned to know her beauty; the poise of her head, the flush of her cheek, the curl of her lip, the glance—yes, the glance of her eye, though that was more difficult to understand, for she had a way of drooping her lids at times that, while exceedingly effective upon the poor wretch toward whom she might be directing that half-veiled shaft of light, was anything but conducive to my purposes.
At length with a restless shrug of her haughty shoulders she turned away from her crowd of adorers, her breast heaving under its robing of garnet velvet, and her whole face flaring with a light that might mean resolve and might mean simply love. I had no need to turn my head to see who was advancing towards her; her stately attitude as countess, her thrilling glance as woman, betrayed only too readily.
He was the more composed of the two. Bowing over her hand with a few words I could not hear, he drew back a step and began uttering the usual common-place sentiments of the occasion.
She did not respond. With a splendor of indifference not often seen even in the manner of our grandest ladies, she waited, opening and shutting her richly feathered fan, as one who would say, "I know all this has to be gone through with, therefore I will be patient." But as the moments passed, and his tone remained unchanged, I could detect a slight gleam of impatience flash in the depths of her dark eyes, and a change come into the conventional smile that had hitherto lighted, without illuminating her countenance. Drawing still further back from the crowd that was not to be awed from pressing upon her, she looked around as if seeking a refuge. Her glance fell upon a certain window, with a gleam of satisfaction. Seeing they would straightway withdraw there, I took advantage of the moment and made haste to conceal myself behind a curtain as near that vicinity as possible. In another instant I heard them approaching.
"You seem to be rather overwhelmed with attention to-night," were the first words I caught, uttered in Mr. Blake's calmest and most courteous tones.
"Do you think so?" was the slightly sarcastic reply. "I was just deciding to the contrary when you came up."
There was a pause. Taking out my knife, I ripped open a seam in the curtain hanging before me, and looked through. He was eyeing her intently, a firm look upon his face that made its reserve more marked than common. I saw him gaze at her handsome head piled with its midnight tresses amid which the jewels, doubtless of her dead lord, burned with a fierce and ominous glare, at her smooth