“Madam Carlyle, monsieur, your husband, awaits you in the _salon_.”
The tall, beautiful blonde, practicing a difficult sonata at the piano,
pauses a moment and suffers her white hands to rest idly on the keys.
“Colonel Carlyle, did you say, madam?” she inquires calmly.
The dignified head of the Parisian school bows in assent, and stands
awaiting her pupil’s pleasure. The latter rises slowly, folds her
music together, restores it to the proper place and turns to leave the
“You will wish to make some changes in your dress, of course,” the lady
superior blandly asserts.
Madam Carlyle gives a glance downward at her dress of dark blue
cashmere. It is made with almost nun-like simplicity, and fits her
rounded, graceful form to perfection. The neck and sleeves are finished
with frills and fine lace, and there is not an ornament about her
except the rings on her tapering fingers. She does not need ornament.
She is rarely, peerlessly beautiful with her fair flower-face and
luxuriant crown of golden hair.
“It is not necessary,” she answers. “Colonel Carlyle is perhaps
There is a delicate-veiled sarcasm in the words barely perceptible to
the trained hearing of the listener. With that simple speech she turns
and glides from the room, leaving the lady superior gazing after her in
“They say that we in France make _mariages de convenance_,” she murmurs
in French (which we will spare our readers); “but surely the Americans
must do likewise. That old man and that fair young girl–surely it is
the union of winter and summer. After two years’ absence she goes to
him as coolly as an iceberg.”
Meanwhile Mrs. Carlyle has glided down the long hall, opened the door
of the reception-room with a steady hand, and stepped across the
“Bonnibel!” exclaims a voice, trembling with rapture and emotion–“my
His arms are about her, his lips touch hers.
After a moment she gently disengages herself and looks up in his face.
“Colonel Carlyle,” she exclaims, involuntarily, “how changed you are!”
Ten years instead of two seem to have gone over his head.
A look of age and weakness has grown into his face, his erect form has
acquired a perceptible stoop; yet a look of disappointment flashes into
his eyes at her words.
“It is only the fatigue of travel,” he answers, quickly. “I have been a
great wanderer since we parted, my dear, and the weariness of travel is
still upon me. But as soon as I get rested and recuperated I shall look
quite like myself again.”
“I hope so,” she answers, politely. “Pray resume your seat sir.”
He looks at her a little wistfully as she seats herself some distance
“Bonnibel, are you glad to see me again?” he asks, gently.
She looks up, startled, and hesitating what to say to this point-blank
He sees the struggle in a moment, and adds, quickly and a little sadly:
“Never mind, my dear, you need not answer. I see you have not forgotten
my harshness in the past, and you are not prepared with an answer that
would make me happy. But, my darling, you must learn forgetfulness of
those things that alienated you from me, for I shall bend every effort
now to the one object of making you happy. I have come to take you away
with me, Bonnibel.”
A slight, almost impalpable, shiver runs through her at the words, and
she smothers a faint sigh.
She will be very sorry to leave this haven of peace in which she has
rested securely the last two years. She has grown fond of her quiet
life among the “passionless, pale-cold” nuns of the convent, and is
loth to break its repose by going back to the jar and fret of life with
her jealous husband. She wishes that she might stay in the convent all
“Do you intend to return at once to the United States, sir?” she
inquires, being at a loss for something to say.
“Not yet, unless you particularly desire it. I want you to see
something of life in the gay French Capital–‘dear, delightful Paris,’
as we Americans call it. I have rented an elegant _chateau_ and
furnished it in handsome style, according to what I fancied your taste
would prefer; have engaged a retinue of servants; and there is a lovely
garden of roses; in short, the home is ready, and only awaits its
mistress. I have tried to arrange everything as you would like it.”
“Thank you; you are very kind,” she murmurs, almost inaudibly.
“The next thing,” he goes on, “is to take you to Worth, where you
may order an outfit as handsome as a queen’s, if you choose. And
jewels–well, you shall have as many and as costly ones as you like.”
“I have enough jewels, I think,” she answers. “There are the pearls
Uncle Francis gave me; then my wedding-gift–the diamonds.”
“Tut, tut; you will need many more when you are fairly launched on
the tide of gay society here. You will see women fairly loaded
with jewels–you must not have less than they. Not but that you are
beautiful enough to dispense with extraneous ornament, but I wish you
to outshine all others in adornment as well as in beauty.”
The long lashes droop over her cheeks a little sadly as he talks. So
these are the things with which she is to fill her life–society,
dress, jewels, fashion. A long life, too, perhaps, for she is barely
twenty-one now. For other women there may be love and happiness–for
her nothing but the gilded pleasures that wealth can purchase. Ah,
well, and with a start she remembers Mrs. Arnold’s threat and her weak
subjugation by it–these are the things for which she sold herself to
the old man sitting yonder. She made the bargain herself, and now she
must abide by it. She is a fettered slave, but at least her bonds are
“You are very kind,” she answers, trying hard to be cordial and
grateful for his generosity. “I do not know how to thank you for your
“I will tell you,” he answers, quickly. “Try to like me a little,
Bonnibel. Once I dreamed of winning your love; but things went wrong
and I–I–perhaps I was too harsh with the bonny bird I had caught–so
I came near earning your hatred instead. But that was so long ago. You
will try to forgive me and like me just a little now, my wife.”
The pathos of his words, his aged, weary looks touch a tender chord in
her young heart, and thaw out a little of the icy crust of reserve that
has been freezing around it these two years.
She rises impulsively and walks over to him, putting her delicate hand,
warm with youth and health, into his cold, white, trembling one.
“Indeed, I will try,” she says, earnestly. “Only be kind to me, and do
not frighten me with your jealous fancies, and I will like you very
He kisses the little hand with the ardor of a boyish lover, feeling his
heart beat warm and youthful still at her gently-spoken words.
“A thousand thanks, my angel!” he exclaims. “Your words have made me
very happy. I will try to curb my jealous temper and merit your sweet
regard. And now, my dearest, how soon can you accompany me? I do not
want to go away without you.”
“You wish me to go at once–to-day?” she stammers, drawing back ever so
“To-day–at once,” he answers. “I have wearied for a sight of you so
long, my wife, that I cannot let you go again. I want you to put on
a carriage costume at once, and I will take you to Worth’s, and from
thence to the _chateau_.”
“But my maid–and my trunks,” she urges, in dismay.
“Tell your maid to pack your trunks and we will send for them this
evening, and her also. By the way, who is your maid? Have you a
competent one?” he inquires.
“You remember Lucy–the girl who came over with me from New York?” she
He frowns slightly.
“Ah, yes; but she will not suit you now, dear. You must let her go, and
secure a skillful French maid.”
“Let Lucy go–the faithful creature!” For the first time her lip
quivers. “Oh, no, I cannot part with Lucy. She has been my attendant
ever since I was a child, and is the only link that is left to me out
of my old life.”
“Keep her with you still, then, but secure a French maid also, and let
Lucy hold a sinecure.”
“It would break her heart, Colonel Carlyle, to depose her from her post
as my chief helper. Besides, though she is rather illiterate, the girl
has real talent and taste in her vocation. Pray do not ask me to give
“As you please, my dear. But now go and make your adieux to the lady
superior and your friends here, and prepare to accompany me to your
new home,” said the colonel, with slight impatience, for he already
felt his dominant passion, jealousy, rising within him at Bonnibel’s
openly-expressed preference for her maid. Old or young, male or female,
he could not feel contented that anyone but himself should hold a place
in his young wife’s heart.
She went away and remained what seemed a long time to the impatient
old man. She came back with slightly-flushed cheeks and a mist in her
sea-blue eyes, attended by the superior of the convent.
With a brief and gentle farewell to her, Bonnibel entered the carriage
with her husband.