+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error





When Maud, following her conductor,
reached the door of the sitting-room, she
stopped the servant by a quick gesture
from opening it and announcing her.

"I am expected," she said, almost in a
whisper. " I will go in by myself."

She entered a large, dimly-lighted room.
The furniture, always sombre, had once
been also rich, but was now merely dingy.
A fire burnt in a low, wide grate at one
end of it. On the tall, old-fashioned mantelpiece
stood a couple of branch candle-
sticks, holding lighted wax tapers. From
their position, these illumined only the
upper part of the room; the rest was more
or less in deep shadow. There was a large
arm-chair drawn to one side of the fireplace.
Its back was toward the principal door
of the room. But one entering from the
staircase could see the long draperies of
the occupant of the chair, against which a
white drooping hand was strongly relieved.

Maud stood still for a second. Not for
longer than a second; for, almost immediately,
she closed the door behind her; and
the noise, though slight, attracted the
attention of the solitary person who sat there.
Maud had but an instant in which to
observe her melancholy drooping attitude,
when the lady turned her head, peering
into the dimness of the distant part of the
room, and suddenly rose and leaned with
both hands on the back of her chair.


Veronica drew in her breath with a great
gasp, almost like a sob, and held out her
arms. In an instant Maud held her in a
close embrace, kissing her and crying over
her with a gush of unrestrained tears.

But Veronica stood as silent as a statue,
straining the other tightly in her arms,
tearless, and with ice-cold hands and lips,
until all at once she pressed Maud down
into the chair, and sank on to the floor at
her feet in her old familiar posture, burying
her face on Maud's knees.

Presently Maud spoke. " Dear Veronica,
will you not get up and sit beside
me? I want to see you."

Veronica raised her head.

"And I want to see you, Maudie. It
all seems unreal. I can't believe that I
am hearing your voice."

She slowly rose up from the floor, and
stood bending a little over Maud, and holding
her hands. Both girls were in deep
mourning. Maud wore a plain merino
gown, trimmed with a little crape.
Veronica's rich rustling silk robe swept the
ground, and was elaborately adorned with
all the art of a Parisian dressmaker. Jet
gleamed mysteriously here and there upon
it, and its deep crape trimming was of a
very different texture and quality from that
which Maud wore.

Veronica fixed her eyes on Maud's face.
The latter was rather pale, and her eyes
bore traces of the tears they had just shed.
But she was still the same Maud whom
Veronica had known and loved. Her
bright hair shone like a golden-tinged
cloud at sunset above her black garments.
There was the broad clear brow, the
mobile mouth, the earnest blue eyes,
unchanged in the character of their

On her side, what did Maud see?

A face undeniably, strikingly, beautiful ;