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                      CHAPTER XVIII.

I AM about to make a very original observation.
I hope its truth may equal its originality.
It is, that the man who has never had a sister,
is, at his first entrance into life, far more the
slave of feminine captivations, than he who has
been brought up in a "house full of girls."
"Oh, for shame, Mr. Potts! Is this the
gallantry we have heard so much of? Is this the
spirit of that chivalrous devotion you have been
incessantly impressing upon us?" Wait a
moment, fair creature; give me one half-minute
for an explanation. He who has not had sisters,
has had no experiences of the behind-scene life
of the female world; he has never heard one
syllable about the plans, and schemes, and
devices by which hearts are snared. He fancies
Mary stuck that moss-rose in her hair in a
moment of childish caprice; that Kate ran after
her little sister and showed the prettiest of
ankles in doing it, out of the irrepressible gaiety
of her buoyant spirits. In a word, he is one
who only sees the play when the house is fully
lighted, and all the actors in their grand
costume; he has never witnessed a rehearsal, and
has not the very vaguest suspicion of a prompter.

To him, therefore, who has only experienced
the rough companionship of brothersor worse
still, has lived entirely alonethe first
acquaintanceship with the young-lady world is
such a fascination as no words can describe.
The gentle look, the graceful gestures, the
silvery voices, all the play and action of natures
so infinitely more refined than any he has ever
witnessed, are inexpressibly captivating. It is
not alone the occupations of their hours, light,
graceful, and picturesque as they are, but all
their topics, their thoughts, seem to soar out of
that common-place world he has lived in, and
rise to ideal realms of poetry and beauty. I say
it advisedly: I do not know of anything so truly
Elysian in life as our firstour very first
experiences of this kind.

Werther's passion for Charlotte received a
powerful impulse from watching her as she cut
bread-and-butter for the children. There are
vulgar natures who will smile at this; who
cannot enter into the intense far-sightedness of
that poetic conception; that could in one trait
of simplicity embody a whole lifetime with its
ennobling duties, its cheerful sacrifices, its
gracefully borne cares. Let him, therefore, who
could sneer at Werther, scoff at Potts, as he
owns that he never felt his heart so powerfully
drawn to Kate Herbert as when he watched her
making tea for breakfast. Dressed in a muslin
that represented mourning, her rich hair plainly
enclosed in a net, with a noiseless motion,
she glided about, an ideal of gentle sadness,
more fascinating than I can tell. If she bore
any unpleasant memory of our little difference,
she did not show it; her manner was calm and
even kind. She felt, perhaps, that some
compensation was due to me for the rudeness of
that old woman, and was not unwilling to
make it.

"You know we are to rest here to-day?"
said she, as she busied herself at the table.

"I heard it by a mere chance, and from the
courier," said I, peevishly. "I am not quite
certain in what capacity Mrs. Keats
condescends to regard me, that I am treated with
such scant courtesy. Probably you would be
kind enough to ascertain this point for me?"

"I shall assuredly not ask," said she, with a

"I certainly promised her brotherI could
not do less for a colleague, not to say something
morethat I'd see this old lady safe over the
Alps. They are looking out for me anxiously
enough at Constantinople all this while; in fact,
I suspect there will be a nice confusion there
through my delay, and I'd not be a bit surprised
if they begin to believe that stupid story in the
Nord. I suppose you saw it?"

"No. What is it about?"

"It is about your humble servant, Miss
Herbert, and hints that he has received one
hundred purses from the sheiks of the Lebanon
not to reach the Golden Horn before they have
made their peace with the Grand Vizier."

"And is of course untrue?"

"Of course, every word of it is a falsehood;
but there are "gobemouches" will believe
anything. Mark my words, and see if this allegation
be not heard in the House of Commons, and some
Tower Hamlets member start up to ask if the
Foreign Secretary will lay on the table copies
of the instructions given to a certain person,
and supposed to be credentials of a nature to
supersede the functions of our ambassador at
the Porte. In confidence, between ourselves,
Miss Herbert, so they are! I am entrusted