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teacher of vocal music, the drawing-room itself was assigned. He was a prosperous and smiling Italian, who had a habit of bringing pieces of pink cream candy with him, and arranging them in a row on the piano for his own refreshment after each song. There was an atmosphere of perfume and mystery about Belzini. It was whispered that he knew the leading operasingers, even taking supper with them sometimes after the opera. The pupils exhausted their imaginations in picturing to each other the probable poetry and romance of these occasions. Belzini was a musical trick-master; but he was not ignorant. When Anne came to take her first lesson, he smiled effusively, as usual, took a piece of candy, and, while enjoying it, asked if she could read notes, and gave her the “Drinking Song” from Lucrezia Borgia as a trial. Anne sang it correctly without accompaniment, but slowly and solemnly as a dead march. It is probable that “Il Segreto” never heard itself so sung before or since. Belzini was walking up and down with his plump hands behind him. “You have never heard it sung Ž" he said. “No,” replied Anne. “Sing something else, then. thing you like yourself.” After a moment's hesitation, Anne sang an island ballad in the voyageur patois. “May I ask who has taught you, mademoiselle 7” “My father,” said the pupil, with a slight tremor in her voice. “He must be a cultivated musician, although of the German school,” said Belzini, seating himself at the piano and running his white fingers over the keys. “Try these scales.” It was soon understood that “the islander” could sing as well as study. Tolerance was therefore accorded to her. But not much more. It is only in “books for the young” that poorly clad girls are found leading whole schools by the mere power of intellectual or moral supremacy. The emotional type of boardingschool, also, is seldom seen in cities; its home is amid the dead lethargy of a winter-bound country village. The great event in the opening of Anne's school life was her first opera. Tante, not at all blinded by the country garb and silence of the new pupil, had written her name with her own hand upon the
opera list for the winter, without consulting Miss Vanhorn, who would, however, pay for it in the end, as she would also pay for the drawing and dancing lessons ordered by the same autocratic command. For it was one of Tante's rules to cultivate every talent of the purely agreeable and decorative order which her pupils possessed; she bathed them as the photographer bathes his shadowy plate, bringing out and “setting,” as it were, as deeply as possible, their colors, whatever they happened to be. Tante always attended the opera in person. Preceded by the usher, the old Frenchwoman glided down the awkward central aisle of the Academy of Music, with her inimitable step, clad in her narrow satin gown and all her laces, well aware that tongues in every direction were saying: “There is Madame Moreau at the head of her school, as usual. What a wonderful old lady she is s” While the pupils were filing into their places, Tante remained in the aisle fanning herself majestically, and surveying them with a benignant smile. When all were seated, with a graceful little bend she glided into her place at the end, the motion of sitting down and the bend fused into one in a manner known only to herself. Anne's strong idealism, shown in her vivid although mistaken conceptions of Shakspeare's women, was now turned into the channel of opera music. After hearing several operas, she threw herself into her Italian songs with so much fervor that Belzini sat aghast; this was not the manner in which demoiselles of private life should sing. Tante, passing one day (by the merest chance, of course) through the drawing-room while Anne was singing, paused a moment to listen. “Ma fille,” she said, when the song was ended, tapping Anne's shoulder affably, “give no more expression to the Italian words you sing than to the syllables of your scales. Interpretations are not required.” The old Frenchwoman always put down with iron hand what she called the predominant tendency toward too great freedom—sensationalism—in young girls. She spent her life in a constant struggle with the American “jeune fille.” During this time Rast wrote regularly; but his letters, not being authorized by Miss Vanhorn, Anne's guardian, passed first through the hands of one of the teachers, and the knowledge of this inspection naturally dulled the youth's pen. But Anne's letters to him passed the same ordeal without change in word or in spirit. Miss Lois and Dr. Gaston wrote once a week; Père Michaux contented himself with postscripts added to the long, badly spelled, but elaborately worded epistles with which Mademoiselle Tita favored her elder sister. It was evident to Anne that Miss Lois was having a severe winter. The second event in Anne's school life was the gaining of a friend. At first it was but a musical companion. Helen Lorrington lived not far from the school; she was one of Tante's old scholars, and this Napoleon of teachers especially liked this pupil, who was modelled after her own heart. Helen held what may be called a woman's most untrammelled position in life, namely, that of a young widow, protected but not controlled, rich, beautiful, and without children. She was also heir to the estate of an eccentric grandfather, who detested her, yet would not allow his money to go to any collateral branch. He detested her because her father was a Spaniard, whose dark eyes had so reprehensibly fascinated his little Dutch daughter that she had unexpectedly plucked up courage to marry in spite of the paternal prohibition, and not only that, but to be very happy also during the short portion of life allotted to her afterward. The young Spanish husband, with an unaccountable indifference to the wealth for which he was supposed to have plotted so perseveringly, was pusillanimous enough to die soon afterward, leaving only one little pale-faced child, a puny girl, to inherit the money. The baby Helen had never possessed the dimples and rose tints that make the beauty of childhood; the girl Helen had not the rounded curves and peach-like bloom that Imake the beauty of youth. At seventeen she was what she was now; therefore at seventeen she was old. At twenty-seven she was what she was then; therefore at twenty-seven she was young. She was tall, and extremely, marvellously slender ; yet her bones were so small that there were no angles visible in all her graceful length. She was a long woman; her arms were long, her throat was long, her eyes and face were long. Her form, slight enough for a spirit, was as natural as the swaying grasses on a hillside. She was as flexible as a ribbon. Her beauties were a regally poised little head,
a delicately cut profile, and a remarkable length of hair; her peculiarities, the color of this hair, the color of her skin, and the narrowness of her eyes. The hue of her hair was called flaxen; but it was more than that. It was the color of bleached straw. There was not a trace of gold in it, nor did it ever shine, but hung, when unbound, a soft even mass straight down below the knee. It was very thick, but so fine that it was manageable ; it was never rough, because there were no short locks. The complexion which accompanied this hair was white, with an undertint of ivory. There are skins with under-tints of pink, of blue, and of brown; but this was different in that it shaded off into cream, without any indication of these hues. This soft ivory-color gave a shade of fuller richness to the slender straw-haired woman—an effect increased by the hue of the eyes, when visible under the long light lashes. For Helen's eyes were of a bright dark unexpected brown. The eyes were so long and narrow, however, that generally only a line of bright brown looked at you when you met their gaze. Small features, narrow cheeks, delicate lips, and little milk-white teeth, like a child's, completed this face which never had a red tint, even the lips being but faintly colored. There were many men who, seeing Helen Lorrington for the first time, thought her exquisitely beautiful; there were others who, seeing her for the first time, thought her singularly ugly. The second time, there was never a question. Her grandfather called her an albino; but he was nearly blind, and could only see the color of her hair. He could not see the strong brown light of her eyes, or the soft ivory complexion, which never changed in the wind, the heat, or the cold. Mrs. Lorrington was always dressed richly, but after a fashion of her own. Instead of disguising the slenderness of her form, she intensified it ; instead of contrasting hues, she often wore amber tints like her hair. Amid all her silks, jewels, and laces, there was always supreme her own personality, which reduced her costumes to what, after all, costumes should be, merely the subordinate coverings of a beautiful woman. Helen had a clear, flute-like voice, with few low notes, and a remarkably high range. She continued her lessons with Belzini whenever she was in the city, more in order that he might transpose her songs for her than for any instruction he could now bestow. She was an old pupil of his, and the sentimental Italian adored her; this adoration, however, did not prevent him from being very comfortable at home with his portly wife. One morning Helen, coming in for a moment to leave a new song, found Anne at the piano taking her lesson. Belzini, always anxious to please his fair-haired divinity, motioned to her to stay and listen. Anne's rich voice pleased her ears; but she had heard rich voices before. What held her attention now was the girl herself. For although Helen was a marvel of self-belief, although she made her own peculiar beauty an object of worship, and was so saturated with knowledge of herself that she could not take an attitude which did not become her, she yet possessed a comprehension of other types of beauty, and had, if not an admiration for, at least a curiosity about, them. In Anne she recognized at once what Tante had also recognized—unfolding beauty of an unfamiliar type, the curves of a nobly shaped form hidden under an ugly gown, above the round white throat a beautiful head, and a singularly young face shadowed by a thoughtfulness which was very grave and impersonal when compared with the usual light, self-centred expressions of young girls' faces. At once Helen's artistic eye had Anne before her, robed in fit attire; in imagination she dressed her slowly from head to foot as the song went on, and was considering the question of jewels when the music ceased, and Belzini was turning toward her. “I hope I may become better acquainted with this rich voice,” she said, coming back gracefully to the present. “May I introduce myself? I should like to try a duet with you, if you will allow me, Miss—” “Douglas,” said Belzini; “and this, mademoiselle, is Mrs. Lorrington.” Such was the beginning. In addition to Helen's fancy for Anne's fair grave face, the young girl's voice proved a firmer support for her high soprano than it had ever obtained. Her own circle in society and the music classes had been searched in vain more than once. For she needed a soprano, not a contralto. And as soprani are particularly human and jealous, there had never
been any lasting co-operation. Anne, however, cheerfully sang whatever Belzini put before her, remained admiringly silent while Helen executed the rapid runs and trills with which she always decorated her part, and then, when the mezzo was needed again, gave her full voice willingly, supporting the other as the notes of an organ meet and support a flute after its solo. Belzini was in ecstasies; he sat up all night to copy music for them. He said, anxiously, to Helen: “And the young girl? You like her, do you not? Such a voice for you!” “But I can not exactly buy young girls, can I?” said Mrs. Lorrington, smiling. More and more, however, each day she liked “the young girl” for herself alone. She was an original, of course; almost an aboriginal; for she told the truth exactly upon all occasions, appropriate or inappropriate, and she had convictions. She was not aware, apparently, of the old-fashioned and cumbrous appearance of these lastnamed articles of mental furniture. But the real secret of Helen's liking lay in the fact that Anne admired her, and was at the same time neither envious nor jealous, and from her youth she had been troubled by the sure development of these two feelings, sooner or later, in all her girl companions. In truth, Helen's lot was enviable; and also, whether consciously or unconsciously, she had a skill in provoking jealousy. She was the spoiled child of fortune. It was no wonder, therefore, that those of her own sex and age seldom enjoyed being with her: the contrast was too great. Helen was, besides, the very queen of Whim. The queen of Whim By nature; which means that she had a highly developed imagination. By the life she had led, having never, save for the six short months of her husband's adoring rule, been under the control, or even advice, of any man. For whim can be thoroughly developed only in feminine households: it is essentially feminine. And Helen had been brought up by a maiden aunt, who lived alone. A man, however mild, demands in a home at least a pretense of fixed hours and regularity; only a household of women is capable of no regularity at all, of changing the serious dinner hour capriciously, and even giving up dinner altogether. Only a household of women has sudden inspirations as to journeys and departures within the hour; brings forth sudden ideas as to changes of route while actually on the way, and a going southward instead of westward, with a total indifference to supper. Helen's present whim was Anne. “I want you to spend part of the holidays with me,” she said, a few days before Christmas. “Come on Monday, and stay over New-Year's Day.” “Oh, I can not,” said Anne, startled. “Why not? Tante will consent if I ask her; she always does. Do you love this crowded house so much that you can not leave it?” “It is not that. But—” “But you are shy. But Miss Vanhorn might not like it. You do not know Aunt Margaretta. You have no silk gown. Now let me talk. I will write to Miss Vanhorn. Aunt Margaretta is as gentle as a dove. I am bold enough for two. And the silk dress shall come from me.” “I could not take that, Mrs. Lorrington.” “Because you are proud 7" “No; but because I would rather not. It would be too great an obligation.” “You repay me by your voice a thousandfold, Anne. I have never had the right voice for mine until now; and therefore the obligation is on my side. I do not speak of the pleasure your visit will give me, because I hope to make that mutual. But say no more. I intend to have my way.” And she had her way. “I have always detested Miss Vanhorn, with her caraway seeds, and her malice,” she explained to Tante. “Much as I like Anne for herself alone, it will be delicious also to annoy the old dragon by bringing into notice this unknown niece whom she is hiding here so carefully. Now confess, Tante, that it will be delicious.” Tante shook her head reprovingly. But she herself was in her heart by no means fond of Miss Vanhorn; she had had more than one battle royal with that venerable Knickerbocker, which had tested even her celebrated suavity. Helen's note was as follows:
“DEAR Miss VANHoRN,-I very much wish to persuade your charming niece, Miss Douglas, to spend a portion of the holidays with me. Her voice is marvellously sweet, and Aunt Margaretta is most anxious to hear it; while I am desirous to have her in my own home, even
if but for a few days, in order that I may learn more of her truly admirable qualities, which she inherits, no doubt, from your family. “I trust you will add your consent to Tante's, already willingly bestowed, and make me thereby still more your obliged friend, “HELEN ROOSBROECK LORRINGTON.”
The obliged friend had the following anSWer:
“Miss Vanhorn presents her compliments to Mrs. Lorrington, with thanks for her note, which, however, was an unnecessary attention, Miss Vanhorn claiming no authority over the movements of Anne Douglas (whose relationship to her is remote), beyond a due respect for the rules of the institution where she has been placed. Miss Vanhorn is gratified to learn that Miss Douglas's voice is already of practical use to her, and has the honor of remaining Mrs. Lorrington's obliged and humble servant.
“MADISON SQUARE, Tuesday.”
Tears sprang to Anne's eyes when Helen showed her this note. “Why do you care 2 She was always a dragon ; forget her. Now, Anne, remember that it is all understood, and the carriage will come for you on Monday.” Then, seeing the face before her still irresolute, she added: “If you are to have pupils, some of them may be like me. You ought, therefore, to learn how to manage me, you know.” “You are right,” said Anne, seriously. “It is strange how little confidence I feel.” Helen, looking at her as she stood there in her island gown, coarse shoes, and oldfashioned collar, did not think it strange at all, but wondered, as she had wondered a hundred times before, why it was that this girl did not think of herself and her own appearance. “And you must let me have my way, too, about something for you to wear,” she added. “It shall be as you wish, Helen. It can not be otherwise, I suppose, if I go to you. But—I hope the time will come when I can do something for you.” “Never fear; it will. I feel it instinctively. You will either save my life or take it—one or the other ; but I am not sure which.” Monday came ; and after her lonely Christmas, Anne was glad to step into Miss Teller's carriage, and be taken to the home on the Avenue. The cordial welcome she received there was delightful to her, the luxury novel. She enjoyed everything simply and sincerely, from the late breakfast in the small warm breakfast-room, from which the raw light of the winter morning was carefully excluded, to the chat with Helen over the dressing-room fire late at night, when all the house was still. Helen's aunt, Miss Teller, was a thin, light-eyed person of fiftyfive years of age. Richly dressed, very tall, with a back as immovable and erect as though made of steel, a majestic Roman nose, and a tower of blonde lace on her head, she was a personage of imposing aspect, but in reality as mild as a sheep. “Yes, my dear,” she said, when Anne noticed the tinted light in the breakfastroom ; “I take great care about light, which I consider an influence in our households too much neglected. The hideous white glare in most American breakfast-rooms on snowy winter mornings has often made me shudder when I have been visiting my friends; only the extremely vigorous can enjoy this sharp contact with the new day. Then the aesthetic effect: children are always homely when the teeth are changing and the shoulder-blades prominent; and who wishes to see, besides, each freckle and imperfection upon the countenances of those he loves 7 I have observed, too, that even morning prayer, as a family observance, fails to counteract the influence of this painful light. For if as you kneel you cover your face with your hands, the glare will be doubly unbearable when you remove them; and if you do not cover your brow, you will inevitably blink. Those who do not close their eyes at all are the most comfortable, but I trust we would all prefer to suffer rather than be guilty of such irreverence.” “Now that is Aunt Gretta exactly,” said Helen, as Miss Teller left the room. “When you are once accustomed to her height and blonde caps, you will find her soft as a down coverlet.” Here Miss Teller returned. “My dear,” she said, anxiously, addressing Anne, “as to soap for the hands—what kind do you prefer 3" “Anne's hands are beautiful, and she will have the white soap in the second box on the first shelf of the store-room—the rose; not the heliotrope, which is mine,”
said Helen, taking one of the young girl's hands, and spreading out the firm taper fingers. “See her wrists! Now my wrists are small too, but then there is nothing but wrist all the way up.” “My dear, your arms have been much admired,” said Miss Margaretta, with a shade of bewilderment in her voice. “Yes, because I choose they shall be. But when I spoke of Anne's hands, I spoke artistically, aunt.” “Do you expect Mr. Blum to-day?” said Miss Teller. “Oh no,” said Helen, smiling. “Mr. Blum, Anne, is a poor artist whom Aunt Gretta is cruel enough to dislike.” “Not on account of his poverty,’” said Miss Margaretta, “but on account of my having half-brothers, with large families, all with weak lungs, taking cold, I may say, at a breath—a mere breath; and Mr. Blum insists upon coming here without overshoes when there has been a thaw, and sitting all the evening in wet boots (which naturally makes me think of my brothers' weak families), to say nothing of the damp and wrinkled condition in which his hose must necessarily be.” “Well, Mr. Blum is not coming. Mr. Heathcote is.” “Ah.” “And Mr. Dexter may.” “I am always glad to see Mr. Dexter,” said Aunt Margaretta. Mr. Heathcote did not come; Mr. Dexter did. But Anne was driving with Miss Teller, and missed the visit. “A remarkable man,” said the elder lady, as they sat at the dinner table in the soft radiance of wax lights. “You mean Mr. Blum ?” said Helen. “This straw-colored jelly exactly matches me, Anne.” “I mean Mr. Dexter,” said Miss Teller, nodding her Roman head impressively. “Sent through college by the bounty of a relative (who died immediately afterward, in the most reprehensible way, leaving him absolutely nothing), Gregory Dexter, at thirty-eight, is to-day a man of modern and distinct importance. Handsome— you do not contradict me there, Helen #" “No, aunt.” “Handsome,” repeated Miss Teller, triumphantly, “successful, moral, kind-hearted, and rich—what would you have more ? I ask you, Miss Douglas, what would you have more ?” “Nothing,” said Helen.