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“The horse which drags his halter has not quite escaped.”

The pursuit of Grace Herbert was the present business of
Horace Copley's life; he had set upon it the force of an unbending
and relentless will. But there were interesting
episodes in this pursuit; bowery and fragrant nooks on a
perplexed and obstructed road. He had turned toward one
of these one bright morning, when he was disappointed by
finding Grace “not at home,” and vexed, by learning she
had gone on some “charity scout,” as he termed it, with his
cousin Julia Travers. He had urgent motives for deprecating
her intimacy with Miss Travers. Mrs. Tallis was at
home. He was shown into her boudoir, arranged with the
luxury and taste that lend a charm and refinement to idleness.

The lady of the bower soon appeared in a white merino
morning-dress, with a border of embroidered violets, and a
cap trimmed with clusters of violets, beautiful, but exhaling
no perfume, no divine essence—so much the truer emblem
for Mrs. Tallis' boudoir. No one excelled Mrs. Tallis in
those coquetries of the toilet which our pretty young women
bring home from Paris, if, alas! they bring nothing else!
Her little girl Elise followed her importunately to the door;
she kissed her, and sent her back to the nursery.

“That is a lovely child of yours, Augusta!” said Copley.


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“Lovely, indeed! She is to me the dearest thing in

“Dearest? perhaps—perhaps she is, Augusta; but—she
ought not to be.”

“Ought not! and why, pray?”

“The dearest love should be bestowed where it can be
returned in kind.”

“Should be given to my husband, you mean!” Augusta
Tallis probably knew he did not mean her husband; “you
would be quite right if there were any ought in love,”
she added, with a sigh. Copley answered only by his
eyes. They glistened like a serpent's. Mrs. Tallis blushed
through and around a slight tinge of rouge on her cheek.
“I never loved my husband, as you very well know, and
therefore I may say it—if I had, I should have loved him to
the end.”

“Your's is not an uncommon case, Augusta; few women
marry for love.”

“Oh, there you are wrong! Girls usually believe that
they are in love when they marry.”

“Pshaw, Augusta! How women hug their delusions.
Just look around upon our acquaintance. Take out those
who have married for an establishment, or to escape single
life, or to marry before their cotemporaries, or for the éclât
of an engagement, a trousseau and a bridal, and how many
will remain?”

“Ah, Copley, you men of the world always talk in this
way—you all hold women in contempt.”

“Pardon me—not all women.” Mrs. Tallis smiled; her
vanity naturally made herself the exception, as Copley meant
it should. His thought had flown off to one whom he felt
that no mean motive could make to “stoop from her pride
of place.” “But, Augusta,” he proceeded, “truly I am
surprised to hear you say that you did not marry for love.


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I knew it was a transient madness. How was it? You, of
all women, would be governed by your feelings, which, I
allow, do govern all loveable women. Tallis' fortune could
not have influenced you, Augusta?”

“It did not—truly it did not. I married him because my
father would not permit me to marry the man I did love. I
have once truly loved.”

“But once, Augusta!”

Mrs. Tallis made no reply to this exclamation; she did
not even raise her downcast eyes, but proceeded—“My
father did not compel me to marry Rupert—no, he petted me
into consenting to what he called the dearest wish of his
heart. Rupert was in love—I really believe he is yet—poor
fellow! He deserved a woman that could love him. He
knew I did not—I told him so. After being crossed in my
only preference, I was indifferent to the rest. Girls must
marry before they lose the freshness of novelty; so I pleased
my father, and married Tallis.” She paused for a moment,
and then added, “and I waked from the excitement of a
magnificent trousseau and a brilliant wedding to a vacant
aching heart.” A shade of real sadness passed over Augusta
Tallis' beautiful face. If she had looked in Copley's, she
would have seen a faint, derisive smile, but no more emotion
than is excited by reading a common-place novel.

“Truly,” he said, “we do these things almost as well
here as they do them in the old world. But, Augusta,” he
asked in a low, significant voice, “has nothing filled that aching

“Yes, yes, indeed. My child came and filled it—thank

“Filled it! A child satisfy all the cravings of a woman's
heart—that is simply impossible. Your maternal instincts
are strong, but—” He paused, looked in Mrs. Tallis' eyes,
walked across the room, returned, and unrolled a little


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parcel he had been playing with, and held out an exquisitely
carved ivory box, containing cigarettes—“I got this for
you,” he said, “do you like it?”

“Like it! it's lovely; but why did you break off in the
midst of your sentence?”

“Shall I finish it?”

“Of course—why not?”

“What simplicity! Do you say `why not' in earnest?”

“Certainly I do.”

“Well, Augusta, to me the right to a reciprocal, equal
love seems the dearest right you possess. No man has a
right to deprive you of it, be he father or husband.
Augusta!” he took her hand, she withdrew it, rose hastily,
half turned from him, and said—not firmly—“Don't talk to
me in this way, Copley!”

“I will not if you bid me not. I can be silent, I can
command my tongue, if I can not my feelings. Sit down,
dear Augusta; take a cigarette—a cigarette becomes your
lips. Your lips become every thing. Shall I light it?”

“No, Copley; take them away. My husband has forbidden

Forbidden! Is not the promise to obey as void as the
promise to love?”

“No, no—I can obey. If I were to be married over
again, I would leave out `love,' and promise to `obey' at

“And let love go whither it would?”

“I did not say that, Horace.”

“But—could you help it?”

“Oh, don't ask me such questions. I promised Elise to
come back to her. I must go—you must excuse me.”

“No, no—not yet. There she is going through the entry
with her nurse.”

Why did the soft accents of her child's voice and the


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tread of her little feet sound like a call to her mother? Why
did the shutting of the hall-door seem to bode her evil and
self-reproach? Heaven sends more monitions than are

Copley opened the piano—“Come, come, Augusta,” he
said, emphatically, “give me music, if you will give me nothing

She sat down to the instrument, and he sat beside her.
He turned over a music-book to a favorite Italian air. She
began playing, but played falteringly. He hummed an
accompaniment. She felt his arm stealing around her—and
she permitted it.

At this moment her husband, whom she believed to be a
hundred miles out of the city, entered the boudoir, and was
close to them before they heard him. Both, startled by his
exclamation, rose and faced him. Before either spoke, he
gave Copley a blow that sent him reeling against the sharp
corner of the mantel. He staggered into a chair. The
blood flowed from his head. He was deadly pale, and fainting.
“You have killed him, Rupert!” said Mrs. Tallis, too
much terrified to think of any thing but Copley's condition.
She supported his head, and endeavored to staunch the
blood with her handkerchief. Tallis stood with his arms
folded, looking fiercely at both. In a few moments, that
seemed endless to the husband and wife, Copley showed
signs of consciousness. Tallis rang the bell, and ordered a
servant to call a carriage, and to send one of the maids with
water, bandages, etc., saying coolly, that “Mr. Copley had
hurt himself.”

Augusta Tallis, pale with fright and dread, her morning
dress dabbled with blood, withdrew. She heard her husband
walking the room adjoining hers. She heard a carriage;
she saw Copley, assisted by her servant, get into it, and
drive away. She knew that she had provoked her husband's


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jealousy, and she felt that she deserved his deep displeasure;
but she was not far enough sunken in wrong to
brook disgrace, and after a short deliberation, she opened
the door into his room and told him truly, without the suppression
or extenuation of a word, every particular of her
interview with Copley. He believed her. She was naturally
straightforward and courageous. Through her life of
folly she had preserved her truth—kept intact this one saving

Rupert Tallis was a sagacious man, and, after the insanity
of passion had passed, a just one, he had a bitter consciousness
that his wife had never loved him, and he felt his right
to reproach her much abated by this fact.

“I ask nothing, for I deserve nothing for my own sake,
Rupert,” she said; “but for Elise—poor dear little Elise—
forgive what is past. You are not deceived—I am not false.
For the sake of our child, let us maintain friendly relations,
and live decently in the world's eye.”

“Oh, Augusta, I loved you—you know I loved you.”

“Yes, Rupert, and I believe you love me still. That does
not help the matter; but we have one common interest, one
inalienable bond—consider it.”

Tallis was amazed at his wife's coolness, and he was
touched by her appeal to his love for their child. He was
surprised by the strength of character that seemed so suddenly
developed. A woman driven to the wall can use all
the strength she possesses. While he was still silent and
perplexed what to do, and what to say, “I intreat you, my
husband,” his wife urged, “to put your just anger, and all
selfish considerations aside, and to act for our child!”

“And if I could,” he at last answered, “if you would be
discreet, and I forbearing, how are you to be saved from
scandal? Copley must challenge me.”


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“You must refuse to fight; you have far more than
avenged any wrong you have received.”

“But Copley is a fighting man—he can not pocket a

“He must. He shall not expose me to an infamy I do not
deserve—nor shall the life of my child's father be put in
peril by my folly.”

Her last words, more than any thing she had said before,
touched and mollified her husband. He was still a lover, as
his wife had truly said; and he deserved to be a happy married
man! Mrs. Tallis heard her little girl mounting the
stairs, and singing as she came. She opened the door and
called her, and the child rushed into the room, fresh and exultant,
as if love, and innocence, and gladness filled the
world. Her mother sat her on her father's knee.

“Sit close by us, mamma,” she said; “here is one arm
for you, and one for father,” and she stretched an arm
around each, saying with childish fondness, “so I tie you
together.” The tears gushed from the father's eyes.

“She is our all—the—world,” said the mother. “Let us
forget ourselves, and live for her!” There was a tap at the
door. Elise sprang forward and opened it, and brought her
father a note. Mrs. Tallis recognized Copley's hand.

Tallis ran his eye over the few scrawled and blotted lines.
“You are right, Augusta,” he said; “and we shall go on
in our own wretched way—it is a wretched world! There,
read the note.”

“Appearances were against me,” it said, “and I forgive the
blow you gave me. I declare, upon my honor, your wife is
blameless. For God's sake, give no handle to the gossiping
world against her. I shall not speak of the unfortunate mistakes
of the morning. In justice to your wife, you will not.

“H. C.”

There is a certain kind of honor recognized among every


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species of thieves. So thought Tallis, as he took Copley at
his word. And so this day passed without any apparent
consequences; but the clouds settled down to Rupert Tallis's
horizon—he could not see a beam of promise for a better

For the rest, it was as if it had never been, except—except,
that with all the other days of all our lives, this was
noted in the book of great account.

We do not like to obtain our moral by any process of distillation;
but we can not help asking, if a parent does not
yet make his child pass through the fire to Moloch, when,
for the love of money—for stripped bare it is that—he
wrests from her the best and happiest uses of life.

Augusta Tallis, at eighteen, loved a young artist. He
had no fortune, and no expectation of fortune, for an artist
nobly surrenders that, on the threshold of life, for a higher
prize. She was willing to live frugally, if she might live
happily. Her father willed otherwise. And so the good
seed sown abundantly in her heart lay dormant; and vanity
and levity, the bad weeds of frivolous society, sprang up,
and grew apace.