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Through Strange Wags.|


Through Strange Wags. BY THE REV. H. ELWYN THOMAS, NEWPORT MON. Author Of" I Fyny," "Miss Uniquedc., &c. Trw7*7 Y profession is that of a humble 2 %y/l p journalist. I had made up my mind to spend a fortnight in the country. It was not holiday time, therefore there were many empty compartments in the train. I entered one with the hope of being- left its sole occupant for at least the first half of my two hours' journey. I had kicked the foot-warmer to the other end, put my "topper" and Gladstone bag on the rack, adjus- ted a new cap on my head, a rug round my knees, and with a volume in my hand was waiting for the train to start. The guard blew his whistle and waved his green flag, the engine responded, and the train moved. Thank But I was too hasty. In less than half a minute the door was opened and a young lady jumped in with such ease and gracefulness as if she had been practising for such a feat during the last ten years. Another stood outside laughing. Good-bye," she said .as she ran alongside of us, "and mind that you plunge the dagger right through his heart before I see you again." Then both laughed gaily, kissed hands to each other and we were steaming rapidly out of the station. I felt very uncomfortable. What could my travell- ing companion be ? Could I have heard her partner's words aright ? If so, she was an in- tending murderess I shrank into my corner and tried to think how I could defend myself in case of an attack. Then I took stock of her, and thought that never since Madame Charlotte Corday had there been another such beautiful murderess. But was she a murderess ? Could that smile-wreathed face, that rosebud mouth, those delicately shaped hands belong to a murderess ? As I gazed upon the beautiful creature before me, I felt just then that I had done her a great wrong by cherishing such an idea in regard to her for a moment. Again I heard the words of her companion, the sound of whose voice still lingered in my ears,- "plunge the dagger through his heart." There could be no two meanings to such plain words. I shuddered as I pictured those taper- ing fingers grasping a dagger, and that finely rounded arm being uplifted to strike a mur- derous blow. For full ten minutes after we left the station, she was so absorbed in reflecting upon the parting words of her friend that she seemed quite oblivious fo her surroundings. Mastered by an unaccountable impulse to know more about her, I asked her if she would like the foot-warmer brought nearer to where she sat. I shall never forget the smile with which she declined my offer. I felt like one who had seen a glimpse of heaven, a strange thrill of delight passed through my being which set my heart throbbing and my pulses beating as if some deeper chord of my soul had been touched which had never been touched before. For a full minute life appeared in the rosiest colours, and I was possessed by one of the sweetest sensations I had ever known. What was it ? Could the girl be a witch as well as an intending murderess ? I gazed at her again as if I would read her soul. She must have felt that I was trying to look inside her life, for just then she blushed and looked un- easy, and without lifting an eyelid, or moving a muscle, she made me so ashamed of myself that I wished it possible to push my back through the division and disappear into the adjoining compartment. For the next half hour I steadily fixed my eyes on the book I pretended to read. But I could no more read than I could stop the train. That soul penetrat- ing smile flitted so persistently between the lines, and that light form and sunny presence so absorbed my thoughts that I had no choice but to yield to the spell she had thrown over me. Before I knew it, I had looked at her again. She was now busily sketching some- thing in a portfolio she had taken out of her bag. Another quarter of an hour and she was folding her things ready for leaving the train. The train stopped. She looked out and recog- nised someone. In another second the door was opened by a tall young fellow of striking appearance, who lifted her bodily on to the platform, kissed her repeatedly, and then marched her off into a phaeton waiting outside the station. I was in a tumult of excitement. I thought of "the dagger." Had she met someone in whose presence she would be shy and reserved, I might have interpreted the terrible words as conveying an instruction to win some young fellow's heart. But the young fellow she met seemed to be hers already. The mystery deepened the more I thought of it. I wished I hadn't witnessed that kissing. The sight haunted me for days, as did also the memory of those awful words at the other station. I hunted the columns of the morning papers for the next fortnight to see if they contained an account of any murder such as I thought this girl might be tempted to commit. But either she had not followed the instructions given her, or she had not yet been found out. The situation was so far satisfying—had I not seen that kissing. This was my first meeting with that strange girl. (To be continued).


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