[ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.] [ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.] THE DARK HOUSE BY THE POND. BY C. J. HAMILTON, Author of A Poisoned Life," Cut to thelIeart," A Flash of Youth," tfcc. dec. CHAPTER XVIII. j MRS. WALTON'S LETTER. I IN three months' time things had fallen into their old grooves. Susan went to her work at the Savings Bank Department of the Post Office, and I—well, I did type-writing when I got it to do, and wrote short articles and paragraphs for the Weekly Listener, which were sometimes taken and sometimes declined with thanks." It takes anawfully long time to get your foot well on the ladder," said one of our neighbours at Bouverie Mansions, a rising young journalist, who was known as O.P." —the initials of his name, Oliver Prender- gast." Yes, I suppose it does. How did you get your foot on ? Oh, I got sheaves and sheaves of pro- vincial papers, and culled out little bits of news and strung them together neatly, with remarks of my own. Then I sent them out. That's howl got into the St. George's Gazette. It took years before I was taken on the staff. I tell you what I'll do, Miss Bailie, I'll send you in a me of papers, and you can mark out the choice bits with a pencil. There's generally a man killed by a bull, or a tramp taken up by the police or, better still, a breach of promise case. Well managed, these little things make first-rate copy. London editors like them, they often coma in handy to fill up a vacant space." "O.P's." advice was good, I knew that, and when Lhe file of papers was sent down from No. 13, I went through them carefully, marking anything that was startling, which could be served up with sauce. I found some scraps that seemed suitable, and put them aside. One of the last papers I looked at was a Welsh one. As I turned it over, I was met by the following We are i n a position to state that the num- ber of our Welsh novelists will shortly be augmented by the addition of Mrs. Mon- taubon, of Caer Newydd (ned Selina Griffith). She h; the widow of Colonel Mon taubon, who met such a tragic death in his own grounds a shoit time ago. Mrs. Montaubon has the manuscript of a novel nearly ready for the press. It has the attractive title, 'Which shall it be? or the Earl's Bride,' and is likely to be in great demand at the libraries." I threw down the paper in amazement. Could it really be true that Mrs. Montaubon was going to bring out her manuscript, the manuscript which I had buried under the fir trees ? As I was wondering about it, a letter was dropped into the box. It wall from Mrs. Walton and I eagerly tore it open and read: "LLANBIYN, January 15th. ''MY DEAR MARGARET, "You told me to call you Margaret, and 1 do so with great pleasure. I have been in- tending to write to you for some time, but you know what a bad correspondent I am and just at Christmas, I was terribly busy, practising carols with the school-children. Then our organist got the influenza, so I had to take his place, which gave me lots to do and think of. However, it is all over now, and I have time to breathe, and to write and tell you all the news, as I promised to do, when we parted in October. "To begin, then, Caer Newydd is covered with bills, 'To be Let or Sold.' No one seems inclined to take it, for a report has got about that it is haunted. The poor, dear colonel's death owing to falling into that horrid pond has also set people against it, and it seems likely to be shut up for some time longer. There is a caretaker to look after it, deaf Peggy and her husband, and all the furniture is just as it was when you left it. Selina Montaubon and Bell have gone off, goodness knows where, to Brighton or Southsea or some of those places where people wlio have nothing to do go to amuse themselves and kill time. 'Kill time!' forsooth, when there is such a lot of work to be done in the world. I know I never have an idle moment—but some people are different from me-worse luck. A very odd thing happened just before Selina Montaubon went away. The workmen were cutting down some trees in the fir plantation, when they rooted up a mahogany box. Of course, they thought it was full of gold, but when they broke it open, there was nothing in it but that manuscript that you had so much to do with! Well, they showed it to me, and ] said i would bring it straight to Selina, and so I did. I thought she would be horror- stricken at the sight of it, for you remember fioor Sydney had it in his hand when he was ound but no not at all, she only said: 'Ah that stupid girl, Miss Bailie, I gave it to her to put away, and I never knew what. she had done with it. What made her bury it in the plantation? The idea, of such a thing. Here, give it to me, and I will put it in the cupboard at the top of the house. I shall see about getting it published. I have no doubt it will be a great success yet.' "That was the way she took it! She is so changeable, one never knows when to have her. I have no doubt you only did what she asked you to do at the time. But, she chooses to forget it. And now I must say a word about Reginald. He is very much altered since you were here, all his good spirits are gone, and he is quite silent and depressed. Of course, he feels the death of his brother very much, but I fancy there is something more than this, which he tells no one. Can you account for it? I can't. It makes me quite j sad to see him. No more now from Your affectionate old friend, Î "LOUISA ELLEN WALTON." What was the cause of Mr. Moutaubon's depression? Ah! if I only knew. He had been to me for a lover too unkind, too lov- ing for a friend." As I remembered his Words and looks, mv heart failed and I burst into tears. And just then, I heard ring at the bell, be had come for his papers. I could not bear him to see that I had been crying, for I have, as a rule, a perfect horror of tears.^ though I gathered up the papers, and tried to divert his attention from me to them, it was no use, he laid his hand on mine and said gently "Is anything iJie matter? Are you work- ing too hard ? I would give the world to be able to comfort you, Margaret." "Yes, you are very kind, but please don't mind me, it is nothing. I am alone, and I have just bad a I a good old lady who made friends with me in Wales, that's all." i "But why should you be alone? Why can't we work together side by side, as so Inany do? Why can't you be my wife my true, noble, loving wife who would do me so touch good." "No, no, I wish it could be, but it can't." There is someone else, then ? "Yes, there is someone else. Don't think of me. Forget me." I sba'n't be able to do that, Margaret. I Shall always love you." As he took the papers, I caught sight of his face by the fast fading light. There was such a grieved look on it, that I felt half sorry for sending him from me. Yet all the same, Mr. Montaubon's words rang in my ears "Can you trust me Margaret, trust T III spite of everything ? I had trusted him, I would trust him, and yet and yet--how hard it was I CHAPTER XIX. A TRANSFORMATION. "IT'S no use, Susan. You are really not fit to go on with your Post Office work any longer. You had better give up, and have a month's rest. You know you can take your holiday now instead of later on." Yes, I believe you are right. I certainly am rather done up." Susan was lying on the sofa in our sitting- room on a fine evening towards the end of May. She looked white and worried, with black circles under her eyes. Never very strong, the winter had been more than usually trying. Getting up early in the dark foggy mornings, hurrying to catch an omnibus to the city, writing in a close office from nine till six, and often staying over- time of her own accord, had told on her. As I looked at her again, I said even more decidedly: "You really must have a change, we shall have to go away somewhere. The sea-side places will not be so expensive now as in July. Which of them shall we choose?" We discussed them all, and ended by choosing Bournemouth. A friend had given us the address of a large boarciiiig-liouse there, and the manager would probably take us at the off season on our own terms. At any rate, we would write and enquire. A reply came from Stansbury Hall to say that Mr. and Mrs. Harwood-Price enclosed a card of their terms, which were five guineas a week, but as we were friends of Mrs. Dacre's, they would take us for thirty shillings a week, if we went at once. As Susan had succeeded in getting her holiday, there was no difficulty about that, and on Saturday, the 1st of June, we started together. I was rather dismayed, when we arrived, to see the large hotels and the red-brick villas, they looked so very new, and so smart. Stansbury Hall was one of the newest—it stood by itself in its own grounds," as the advertisement set forth. It was very trim, with bay windows jutting out on all sides, and a large porch before which our cab stopped, and we got out. We heard that Mrs. Harwood-Price was expecting us, and that afternoon tea was waiting. We were ready for it. We found Mrs. Harwood-Price in a little alcove, presiding over a well-spread tea-table. She was a large, fat woman with a broad, round face. There was a circle of wicker chairs in the bow window, and she waved her hand towards them. "Will you kindly sit there, Miss Bailie? Allow me to introduce you and your sister to Mrs. Clayton. She is the only one of our lady visitors who has not gone to the after- noon concert at the Winter Gardens." A small, thin, grey-haired woman, in a black bonnet, made an inclination in our direction, and murmured: "Glad to make your acquaintance. Did you find it very hot in London ? "Just now," continued Mrs. Harwood- Price, with her hand on the tea-pot, "we have not so many in the house as usual. Ten is much below our usual number, isn't it, Mrs. Clayton, dear?" "Oh! yes," exclaimed Mrs. Clayton. Bournemouth never fills up till July and August, but we have a very pleasant little coterie all the same, and the Austrian Barou —Baron von Erdmann—is a great addition. He came last week." "Yes," said Mrs. Harwood-Price. "You see lie has an attraction here," and she gave a meaning look at her friend. Mrs. Clayton was one of those women whose dearest delight is to talk—no matter what they talk about, so long as their tongues are going. As I was next to her, she opened out at me. "Have you ever been at Bournemouth before? No? Ah! you have a great deal to see. There are delightful excursions to the New Forest, to Lyndhurst and Brocken- hurst, and to Swanage. Oh! Of course you must go to Swanage, the steamer starts every morning. The Baron went yesterday, and came back quite delighted. I don't know where he has gone to-day. He gener- ally goes somewhere." "Oh! To the Winter Garden Concert," said Mrs. Harwood-Price. He couldii'.t let the ladies go alone. We have a rich widow staying in the house, Miss Bailie, you must know. Some people admire her very much." Yes" put in Mrs. Clayton. We call her 'The Heliotrope Widow.' When I was a widow, I did not wear colours for two years after the death of my dear first husband, but things are changed since my time." "Ah! indeed, they are," exclaimed Mrs. Harwood-Price. Deep mourning is not considered fashionable, though our late dear Queen used to cling very much to crape. But, hush I think I hear steps in the hall, perhaps some of our Winter Garden party are returning early before the concert is quite over." The curtain which hung over the alcove was pushed aside, and some people entered. The first two were strangers, then came a small woman, with a white veil fastened over a tiny black jet toque, which had an up-standing heliotrope aigrette. Her skirts rustled as she moved. I looked at her again and recognised Mrs. Montaubon! But how completely she was transformed! The last time I had seen her, she wore the deepest black crape of a widow, now her rich satin dress glistened with jet, jet sparkled on the front and in the sleeves, and her gloves were the palest shade of lavender. There was no grey in her hair now, it was dyed a bright yellow, and her cheeks were rouged. She stared at me for a moment, then putting out two fingers, she said carelessly: "Who would have thought of seeing you here, Miss Bailie ? How did you come? "From London, by the 12.30 train." "Oh 2 yes, I know, but I thought you had work to do." "So I have, but even the hardest workers get holidays sometimes." "Baron," cried Mrs. Harwood-Price, to a thick-set, black-beared man, who had just come into the room, will you hand Mrs. Montaubon her tea ? I am afraid it is rather cold, but if it is, I will get some more made directly." "Oh! don't mind," drawled Mrs. Mon- taubon languidly, we had tea at the Winter Gardens." "Did you enjoy the music? It was classical this afternoon, wasn't it ?" "It was very loud," said Mrs. Montaubon. It made my head ache." We had the Abendstem, from Tannhau- ser," remarked the Baron, and in the over- ture from Siegfried one man played very. well the violin. But, ah I you should hear Waguer in my country. Have you been at Bayreuth?" he asked, turning to me. "There you have in music all that is most delightful—so "No, of course she has not been at Bay- reuth," cried Mrs. Montaubon, restlessly. How can you ask such stupid questions ? Then she got up and went out of the room, rustling her silk skirts as she went. We soon followed. So that is Mrs. Montaubon! crie-" Susan, when were alone in our room. "She is just what I expected from her hand- writing. You know I toidyou her character the first time she wrote to you." Well, she isn't the least little bit like what she was at Caer Newydd. Still, I should always know that shifty expression in her eyes. Oh Susan, is illy pink silk blouse good enough to wear this evening at diiiiier.d "To be sure it is. That chatty little woman in the black bonnet says that no one dresses much here, except Mrs. Montaubon. I She is evidently making up to that Austrian baron." Or the Austrian baron is making up to her. Poor Colonel Montaubon, he seems quite forgotten, and yet he is not dead eight months YeF-; The evening was a very lively one. The two people that excited most attention were certainly Mrs. Montaubon and the Baron. Everyone was watching them, remarking her dress and wondering what he was saying to her, as they sat in the place of honour at the top of the table. Her tea-gown was something marvellous pale heliotrope velvet, with tiny black butterfly bows, and round her neck was the new silver necklace that Colonel Montaubon had brought her from India. How many, many of these wundershon things you have! I heard the Baron saying to her, as we were in the drawing-room after dinner. Yes, a great many," she answered, care- lessly. "But these are nothing to what I* have at my place in Wales—nothing I have a beautiful set of sapphires and dia- monds, but I did not bring it with me when I came away, as I was in too deep mourning to wear it." "But now," said the baron, with an amorous look, "now you may." "Ah! yes, now, it would be different. perhaps, I may go to Caer Newydd some day and get my pretty things to show you, Baron." The vision of Colonel Montaubon, as I had seen him last, rose before my eyes again. Do what I would, I could not shut it out! I CHAPTER XX. I CAER NEWYDD AGAIN. AFTER the first evening, Mrs. Montaubon grew more friendly, and even confided some of her grievances to me. Only think," she began, that ungrateful Bell has left me Very soon after I went away from Caer Newydd, she said she could not stay any longer in my service, and now I am told that she is going to make a fool of herself, and marry the Colonel's Indian servant, that man Ali, whom I always dis- liked so much, He is years younger than she is. Of course, he is only taking her because she has some money for him to spend." Mrs. Montaubon stopped to take breath. It never seemed to occur to her that this was exactly what people were saying about her and the German Baron. Yes, I have got another maid," she went on, "a French woman, Desir<Se Duclos. She is ever so much cleverer at hairdressing and all that sort of thing than Bell was but the worst of it is, that she doesn't understand English, so I can't send her messages. It is so tiresome. There are some boxes at Caer Newydd that I want to have overhauled. My best ornaments are packed up in them, and I can't get hold of them unless I go my- self. It is a good thing that horrid Sabina is not in the neighbourhood now. She has beeen sent away to another doctor's, so I don't so much mind going to get my jewels." "You seem to have plenty of ornaments here." Only silver things. The fact is there is going to be a large fancy ball at the Winter Gardens. The Baron is going as a trouba- dour, and he wants me to go with him as Mary Queen of Scots. I have seen the most lovely dress, all white satin and black velvet, half- mourning you know, so it just suits me. All I want is my sapphire and diamond set, and I really must try and get it." "Will you go to Caer Newydd?" I don't like to go, but I am afraid there is no other way. Would you-would you mind, very much, coming with me ? She spoke so appealingly, that I did not like to refuse. Still, I hesitated before giving a decided answer. "You may as well go, Margaret," said Susan, when I asked her advice. "If you don't, she will only be doing something out- rageously foolish." But there was another reason that kept me from consenting. What-, about Mr. Mon- taubon ? I had heard nothing of him, and he might perhaps think I was going to Caer Newydd to see nim. It almost seemed as if Mrs. Montaubon had guessed what was in my mind, for she said I would not ask you to come if Reginald were at home, but he is away spending his holiday in Norway. I always thought he treated you very badly, paying you such marked attention, and then leLting you leave without even saying 'good-bye.' But I don't attempt to defend him, lie is always horrid to me, and always has been since I married into the family. I never am surprised at anything disagreeable that he does." There was a sinister look in her face as she spoke, that made me doubt her. I suppose," she added, lowering her voice, "that I may as well tell you that I am engaged to be married to Baron von Erdmann—he really would not take No for an answer. So when the year is up, the event is to come off. We do not want to announce it publicly till I have left off my mourning. It will be nice to be a Baroness—Madame la Baronne von Erdmann. Does it not sound well? I always wished to have a title. And then there is my novel. I intend it to come out in the autumn, under my new name. That is another thing that I want to get at Caer Newydd—the manuscript. I locked it up just before I came away. Fancy, how nice it will be to be a baroness and an authoress the same year!" Mrs. Montaubon's vanity was almost, childish. She gained her point, however, for I agreed to go with her, and we started one fine morning in June. During the early part of the journey, she never ceased talking about the Baron and her trousseau and the t, coming fancy ball, but when we approached LlaÙfairfechan, she became more silent, and several times, she twisted and untwisted her fingers, and murmured as if to herself, "I wish I had not to come back here. How I wish Bell had stayed with me Perhaps she and that. horrid Ali are making up some plot between them. I would have given any- thing not to be obliged to come back." It was five o'clock when we reached Llan- fairfechan. A carriaee ha.d been sent to meet us, and we drove rapidly to the well- remembered dark house, which looked now more dark and gloomy than ever. The shut- ters were closed in all the upper windows. As I looked up at them, they seemed to me like the closed eyes of a stiffened corpse. There was no sound of a dog's bark—poor, gay little Tag had died six months ago. A .flock of rooks were cawing amongst the dark trees, but this only made the silence appea.r more weird and more intense. Large plac- ards, "To be Let or Sold," were everywhere —on the windows, and on the pailings. Deaf old Peggy opened the door, and brought us into the dining-room. It smelt of damp and mildew, as if it had not been opened for months. Mrs. Montaubon hardly waited to swallow a cup of tea, she seemed in feverish haste to do her business, and to escape as soon as possible from this haunted spot. "By the first train to-morrow morning," she said, we leave this. I am quite 'deter- mined not to remain an hour longer than J can help. Peggy, get me a lamp at once, I want to go up to "the top of the house, to look over my boxes. It is so dark there, I must have a light. Quick, quick, how slow you are!" Peggy returned in a few minutes with a paraffin lamp. Mrs. Montaubon took it from her, and made for the staircase door, which led out of the hall. "I shall be some time," she said, turning round, before the door had quite swung bacl< on its hinges. You can go out-, a,nd a.mue yourself as you like, Miss Bailie. I don't want any help; I know exactly where to look for my things." I started out to the garden and picked what flowers I found there. They were nearly all choked with weeds. Snap-dragons and roses were interlaced with gigantic thistles and bushy nettles, lavender bushes were covered with trailing white wild con- volvulus. and crroundsel trrew over the beds which used to be a mass of mignonette. It was a picture of neglect, deplorable to see. Even the garden gates were green with moss. I started once or twice at the sound of my own footsteps. Not a human being was in sight. The sun was veering towards the west in a glory of crimson and amber. When the twilight began to fall, how un- Z, speakably dreary it would be I I moved on slowly towards the pond. Tht rooks had ceased cawing, not even a thrush stirred amongst the shrubs. It seemed as if a spell had fallen on the spot. And now, I stood on the borders of that dark mysterious sheet of water, round which so many memories were bound up. It was as still as glass, the round leaves of the water lilies floated on it, and one or two buds lifted up their wan, waxen heads, like ghosts of the past. The sun dis- appeared, a ball of ruby fire; the air grew cool; the sky took pale reflections of rose and daffodil; a. faint wind stirred the poplars, and a sense of waiting, of expectation brooded over the silent world. What would come ? What was coming ? Suddenly, as I glanced towards the house, I saw a bright light in one of the upper windows. It shot up higher and higher And then came a piercing scream, not an ordinary scream, but a scream of agony, of terror, that made my heart beat fast, and my blood leap in my veins. What had hap- pened ? Through a gap in the trees, I saw something that looked like a globe of flame. Nearer and nearer it came the flames flying up, and all the time, lial f-suffocateci shrieksrang through the air. Fanned by the wind, the fierce, red blaze seemed to be intensified every minute, and through it, I saw (what did I see, was it a vision or was it a reality?) the distorted face of Mrs. Montaubon! Her white eye-balls glared out, starting from her head. They seemed to be face to face with Death, staring at death, unable to get awa y from him—close in his grip. Fascinated with terror, I ran to meet her. I tore off my cloak and flung it over her, it fell on the ground, blazing like a lucifer match. Uttering a choked scream of "Water! Water!" she rushed towards the pond. The pain had driven her frantic, the flames were eating into her flesh. Her one thought was water-to cool her tortured body, to put out the devouring fire that was swallowing her. With one last awful cry, the globe of fire-for she was nothing else now—vanished in the pond. There was a loud hissing noise as the water closed over her, a flaring light, and then an awful, awful silence, a deeper silence than before. Nemesis had fallen!—had fallen indeed! Half an hour later, a mass of charred and calcined bones lay on the grass. Scraps of clothing still clung to them, and fragments of blackened flesh, terrible and sickening to behold. With a ghastly mockery, round what had once been the neck of the unfor- tunate woman, gleamed and glittered a sapphire and diamond necklace. Round the poor charred arms were costly bracelets, and on the blackened bones of the hands were still the rings that she had been so proud of. It was a gruesome spectacle, enough to make the heart faint and the brain reel. I turned away. Alas, alas, how quickly the end had come 1 (To be continued.)
RETURN OF THE BLAKE. HEROISM IN THE STOKEHOLD. His Majesty's ship Blake, on board of which an explosion occurred off Madeira on August 7, re- sulting in three men being killed and five arrived in Plymouth Sound on Saturday night. The Blake, with other vessels of X Fleet, to which she was attached, had been steaming at 17-1 knots an hour. Notwithstand- ing that she is a comparatively old ship, the Blake tvas in the leading line, leaving some of the new four-funnel cruisers in the rear. When off the north coast of Madeira orders were given to the vessels to steam at full speed towards Funchal, keeping close under the laud, in order to escape the observation of the cruisers of the enemy's fleet. The ship's company lud just had dinner, and most of them were on deck. proud of the performance of their ship, and the men were commenting upon the inferior steaming of some of the larger cruisers. Suddenly an explosion was heard, there was a tremendous rush of steam through the ventilators, and cries of anguish came from the stokehold. Engine-room ratings at the same time ran on deck and reported that one of the stokeholds was on fire. It was. however, ascer- tained that the crown of the combustion chamber had fallen in. With the collapse of the cover steam and boiling water burst out, filling the stokehold with steam and driving the fire out of the furnaces so fiercely that tongues of flames were leaping across the stokehold. Those who were at work in the vicinity and who were not able te immediately escape were scalded and injured. Conspicuous courage was displayed by both officers and men below, and the disaster gave an opportunity for the display of thosa deeds of heroism of which the annals of the Navy are so rich. As soon as the explosion occurred Chief Stoker Gee, who was on duty in the engine-room, plunged into the stokehold, which by that time was converted into a veritable cauldron. Though almost blinded by the scalding steam he fought his way to the seat of danger, and brought out Chief Stoker Ball, who was in a terribly scalded condi- tion. Descending into the stokehold again, Gee brought out the body of Stoker Hobbs, who was frightfully burned all over the body, and apparently had been instantaneously killed. For the third time Gee entered the stokehold and suc- ceeded in rescuing an able seaman named Herass. Then, overcome with exhaustion and badly scalded, Gee collapsed, and had to be taken to the sick bay. Another deed of great gallantry was performed by the engineer sub-lieutenant, who immediately the explosion occurred endeavoured to close the stop valve, but the deadly rush of steam and boiling water drove him back. Nothing daunted; he crawled up a ladder, and set in motion the steam fan, which, for a moment, sent the steam and smoke back into the boiler. He then made another effort, and succeeded in closing the valve, thereby averting what would undoubtedly have been a disaster doubly appalling compared with the actual results. By this time the Blake had stopped, and the re- mainder of the fleet were nearly out of sight. As already reported. Hobbs was buried at Funchal, ond Seaman Nutting and Stoker Reginald Ball, I dangerously Injured, were sent ashore to the hospital at that place. Both have since died.
I WOMAN'S WORLD. CLEANING LACE. .0 An old-fashioned way of washing lace deserves consideration. Cover an ordinary wine bottle with fine flannel and stitch firmly round the bottle. Tack first the outer edges of the lace to the flannel, rolling it smoothly round the bottle, and then tack the inner edge smoothly down. Cover the lace over with a piece of very fine flannel or muslin and rub the whole gently with clean soapsuds made of soap jelly. If the lace is very much discoloured fill the bottle with hot water and set it upright in a saucepan of suds, letting it boil for a few minutes. Then place the bottle under a running tap to rinse the lace thoroughly. Make some starch about as thick as arrowroot for an invalid, melt in it a small quan- tity of best white wax and a little loaf sugar. Plunge the bottle two or three times into the starch, pressing out the superfluous starch with the hand then dip the bottle into cold water, re- move the outer covering from the lace, fill the bottle with very hot water, and set in the sun to dry. When nearly dry take it carefully off the bottle, pick it out with the fingers, and lay it in a cool place to dry. LASTING I LOVELINESS. Loveliness in women, though it may vary in its character and manifestations at different periods of life, is not the property of youth only. There is a great and undeniable charm in the fresh beauty of eighteen, to which inexperience and early romance lends, perhaps, additional fascination. A pretty girl of that age, who has been untouched by care, and who knows of the world through imagination only, is a very delightful object; and many men may be eager to take captive her first affections. Between eighteen and twenty-two, the changes of a girl, so far as the charms of her person go, are not likely to be great but in that time, by longer inter- course with society, and by natural development, she may grow more companionable for men of maturity, and her carriage and self-control become better and greater. Those are important years in a young woman's life, the years during which, in this country, the majority of the sex are married. And yet from 22 to 25 or 26 a maiden may, and generally does, still further advance in attractive- ness, and add to the store of her charms. She is still young, but she has outlived many youthful fancies, and feels some of the dignity of womanhood. No better ages than those in a maiden's life, and never is she lovelier. But why stop at 26 ? What fairer women are to be found than many of those between 26 and 30, and even older ? Girls of 18 may look on them as unsought old maids, and yet they are in their womanly prime, and may cap- ture hearts which have been steeled against girlish fascinations. Oftentimes they make the best of wives, and men find a solace and companionship in their society which immaturity cannot give. They have the advantage of experience, and they have learned the lessons taught by longer contact with the world, while still they may not be averse to falling in love. WOMANLY CHARMS. What is the magical quality that makes one woman infinitely more fascinating than another, and draws the opposite sex in what- ever sphere she moves, though she may be neither beautiful, witty nor talented ? She might call it individuality, others might term it her personality, but it is really her attitude of mind. It is in these moments when a woman is most indifferent, most independent, most herself; it is when she is making least effort to be so that she is most attractive. Some women are born with this calm indifference, this ab- solute independence that attracts men as the magnet attracts needles. It is when a woman is doing something and doing it well, and when her heart is elsewhere than on her sleeve, that she is most fascinating. It is not the fact < that she can accomplish the thing, but that she is self-sufficient and does not need the attentions of men that makes her most attractive. A woman is most interesting when she is absolutely herself. When she strives to make herself attractive to men, to exhibit her power over them, she thus destroys much of her natural charm. A man quickly wearies of a woman whose only diversion is himself. He needs the impetus of rivalry. If other men follow her, she becomes the better worth pursuing. On her side, the woman who strives too openly to please lacks that wonderful thing, poise and repose she is wonderfully self- conscious, and is always considering what she will do and what she will say in order to appear most attractive. When a woman is in love she is possibly more charming than at any other time. The woman who lacks charm, or, at any rate, that fascination which draws admirers to her feet, trebles her attractive powers when she loves and spends her life in loving, passionately and without reserve. MATRIMONIAL DISILLUSIONS. The first year of married life is undoubtedly one of the most critical through which two young people, who have been wedded for better or worse, have to pass. It should, of course, be the happiest. But there are always certain obstacles in the way of perfect married happiness, where two inexperienced young people are concerned, which, if not met in a proper manner, are liable to cause the young housewife to go about her domestic duties with a tearful and troubled face, and bring a careworn expression to that of her husband. How often two lovers assure each other during the courtship that their married life shall be one everlasting honeymoon! But alas how few there are who realise tha,t hope and happi- ness For after the wedding comes the reaction. Little failings and faults, hitherto concealed, come to light on both sides, which disturb the blissful harmony in which they had hoped to live to the end of their days. Edwin does not turn out to be the paragon Angelina always considered he was while she, on her part, is not exactly the angel without wings her lover had always imagined her to be. It is a cruel disillusionment, and their dis- appointment is often the cause of much heart burn- ing. The disappointment, however, would not be so keen did lovers realise that there is a great dif- ference between courtship days and married life, and try to adapt themselves to the change of cir- cumstances. Before marriage a couple meet under the best of conditions, so to speak. They always appear at their best when in one another's company, and make themselves as agreeable as possible. The defects are glossed over, and leve being blind, they remain undiscovered for the time being. It only requires a few weeks of married life, however, to bring them to light; and unless a young wife is prepared to bear with her husband's faults, and try by the exercise of a little common sense and tact to overcome any domestic difficulties that may arise, she will assuredly be unhappy. Many girls marry with the idea that everything will be plain sailing after the ceremony, and that they will lead an ideal existence, free from all worry and care. Although it would be unfair to say that a girl's troubles only commence at married life, yet more often than not she meets with difficulties which she never imagined for one moment would fall to her lot. It behoves every young bride, and young bridegroom, too, who wishes to be truly happy after settling down in the new home, to endeavour to understand thoroughly each other's weak points, and look at life in a practical as well as a romantic manner. Courting days should consist of more than love, kisses and pleasure. A girl should studv her lover, and the more she does this the better she will be able to contribute to the happiness of married life. The domestic cares and worries of married life often come as a great sur- prise to the young and inexperienced bride. She I finds that the art of cooking and housekeeping is not the easy task she expected it would be. Further- more, she discovers to her great surprise that Edwin is like a bear with a sore head if his meals are not ready at the proper time, or if they are spoiled in the cooking. His discontent, coupled with other little worries, seem a big burden to bear. and she thereupon begins to consider marriage a failure, and that she is one of the most miserable of women. I
A German butcher-boy, named Muhl, in Esch- I sur-Alzette, Luxembourg, was dismissed for ir- regularities. He returned the next day, armed with a big knife, and killed his master, with three passers-by who sought te interfere. was captured after a desperate struggle.
ART AND LITERATURE, VI Considering the success which has so far at- tended the effort to preserve Tintoretto's mas- terpiece at Venice, by removing it from the wall to which it adhered, one cannot (remarks the "Globe") help regretting that some such attempt was not made to save Leonardo da Vinci's "Last Supper" at Milan. That great fresco, once the delight of artists of every na- tion, and unquestionably one of the finest pic- tures in the world, has been allowed to go to utter ruin for the want of some such means as have been adopted at Venice. The loss is irre- parable, for no copy could adequately reproduce the exact effects of da Vinci's masterpiece. "Into the HiddenCity A Treasure Yarn of the Caribbean Sea," by John Mackie, and "By the Hand of a Schoolboy," by Andrew Home, are two new serials which will be commenced in the next issue of "Chums." The same number will include the first of a series of Redskin Stories by Mr. S. Walkey, entitled "Wild Cat, the Boy Scout," and the beginning of a series of Kaval Chats called "Beneath the White Ensign." All the above will be illustrated, and the number will contain two la-rge pictures in colour, re- produced from The Rising Generation" by J. C. Doliman, R.I., and "Napoleon on Board the Bellerophon," by W. Q. Grchardson, R.A. The panels in the abmulatory of the Royal Exchange in London are being steadily filled up. Mr. Gow's painting of "Kelson leaving England for the last time," given by the Corporation of Lloyd's, has just been unveiled, and Mr. Che- vallier Tayler's "The Entertainment of the Vintners' Company to the Five Kings," given by Mr. W. Vivian, is finished, and will be fixed in the position reserved for it before the end of this month. Four other panels are in progress, Mr. E. A. Abbey's "Commemorating the Foundation of the Annual Festival on the Eve of St. John's Day," given by the Merchant Taylors' and the Skinners' Companies; Mr. Brangwyn's "Modern Commerce"; Mr. George Harcourt's The Presentation of the Charter to the Bank of England," given by the members of the Stock Exchange; and Mr. Yeames's King Henry VIII. bestowing on the Mercers' Company the licence to build St. Paul's School," given by Mr. J. H. Palmer. When the whole series is completed it will be apparently an in- teresting but rather incongruous collection. From the very beginning I found a firm friend in Charles Alias, who kept me busy at costume designs (was what Phil May said of himself in "The Days of My Youth" in. M.A.P."). I remember one night he and I and some other friends bought out a whole winkle stall in Maiden-lane, and wheeled it all' over the place, distributing the winkles to every- one we met, until the police interfered with our generosity. Once I was very busy on some dress designs which Mr. Alias required at a very particular time. The constant and hard work made me fretful and impatient, and at the most inconvenient times-for him—I often wandered out, and my return was always un- certain. By preventing these outings he hoped to keep me steadily at work, and so, as I only wore slippers in the studio, he hit on the idea of hiding my boots. When I took it into my head to go out I could not find my boots any- where, so I drew on a pair of Turkish boots of crimson leather and went into the Strand. Alias seemed amused when he saw my feet!" There will be widespread sympathy with M. Jules Verne in the sad affliction of almost total blindness, as the result of cataract, which has befallen him. Jules Verne, who is now seventy- five, has written a novel for every year he has lived, although his first book did not appear until he was over thirty. This was "Five Weeks in a Balloon," and its success was instantaneous. At that time Jules Verne had hardly travelled at all. But he possessed an imagination which could carry him to the ends of the earth, and he did not fail to make the most of it. There is I better news concerning M. Jules Verne. It is true that he is threatened with blindness, and that the doctors had decided that an operation for cataract was necessary. It is also true that he dissented from the notion of this operation on account of his age. But since his general health is good (says the "Advertiser" correspondent) he has followed the advice of the oculist, and consented to go through the operation. It is cheering to learn that, in spite of the trouble with his eyes, M. Jules Verne works as hard as ever. His interest in the affairs of Amiens has not abated; in spite of his infirmity he still attends the meetings of the municipal council. Not a day elapses that he does not take a walk. A new literature is in process of development. You often hear (says a writer in the "Booklovers' Magazine") an intelligent man or woman say, "I always look in the back of the magazine first." I' you carefully seek the reason for this you will discover that in the pages and pages of advertis- ing in the back of the magazines is to be found, not only much that is instructive, but much that is interesting and suggestive in a purely literary way. The modern advertisement is worth look- ing at, whether it is the sounding proclamation of some big corporation, with facts and figures both weighty and impressive, or the light, eye- catching notice of some simple trade or con- trivance. All forms of literary composition find place in the advertising pages: History, story, verse. Many advertisements measure up to the test of good literature. In truth, there is often an uncommon amount of character in them. A word here or a phrase there is often singularly vivid as "local colour," and behind many an advertisement it is possible to see a vigorous personality. Nor are there lacking in this new literature qualities of humour, both intentional and unintentional, from the conscious aphorism and epigram to unconscious fun, as in the announcement which recently happened to come under the eye of the writer, that a certain article would be supplied to the purchaser painted "azure blue or as you like it." Lady Verney, who the other day entertained the party of University Extension Students at Claydon on their visit to the village libraries there—the first village libraries established under the Libraries Act in the Kingdom—had pre- pared her guests for the visit by a most interest- ing paper read at the Conference at Oxford. In addition to many interesting particulars of the b p history and working of these eminently successful libraries—one of which, established ten vears ago, has now upwards of 4,000 volumes--Lady Verney told some stories of village readers. One was of an elderly lady who had made a careful search without finding the book she wanted, and then made known the fact to the librarian. "It's a book in four volumes," she said, "and it costs a guinea a volume." "Indeed," answered the librarian, "and what- is the title of the book? "'The Life and Letters of Lord Selborne, was the interesting answer. "But why do you want that book?" she was asked. "Well, you see, my brother was in Lord Selborne's service as a clerk, and Lord Selborne took great interest in him, and when he died attended his funeral. Lord Selborne supported the widow on his arm at the grave-side!" He was always so kind to my brother that I should so much like to read the 'Life,' in which I believe my brother is mentioned." In due course a copy was added to the village library—though at a much less cost than its published price—and was read not cnly by the good lady but also by many villagers to whom she had make known Lord Selborne's goodness. The village libraries provide books of a far different type as well—picture-books for the children, and Lady Verney told of one toddler who was so impatient to see the pictures that her brother who had brought him to the library assumed the shape of the church lectern for his convenience in the library garden path. Some children spending a holiday at Claydon noticed the library. "Free library," said one of them. "We don't want no free libraries—we're on our holidays." "But they were not Claydon children-they were from London," added Sir Edmund Verney, who related this incident, and assured the meeting that the personal interest taken by the librarian in the village readers had secured'their affection for the library. A note- worthy fact is that these Claydon libraries are carried on with incomes from the library rate varying from £ 9 to not more than £ 15 per annum!
T, It is generally supposed that Bath brick, like Bath stone, emanates from Bath, but this, ac- cording to the "Manchester Daily Dispatch," is not the case. The brick is a mixture of mud and smut cariied in the sluggish waters of the River Parrett. It makes the stream unpleasant to look upon, but it is no common mud. It is "pay dirt," in the gold-miner's sense of the term, for it is converted into the precious metal, and hun- dreds live by preparing it for the market. Councillor Joseph Downs, of Irvine, the well- known Ayrshire archaeologist, has excavated from the aand bed of the river Irvine, in the vicinity of Shewalton, a large piece of the skeleton of a whale, which, in the opinion of experts, must have been stranded there at least 6,000 years ago. The remains were got fully 20ft. beneath the surface. The bone weighs 161b. Mr. Downs also picked up on the same occasion the fossilised ear bone of the whale, and he has already in his possession its skull. Mrs. E. S. Tome, who is the lady manager of two American banks in Maryland, is a charming personality. Her late husband left her 3,000,000 dols., and named her before his death trustee of the Maryland Institute of Learning, which she founded. The partners in the bank he managed elected her president, and she took up a partner- ship with another bank, which she brought up in four years to a state of great prosperity. Her fortune in that time is said to have doubled.