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her the preference. Messrs. Alcock's gentleman
was a very artful and adroit agent,
who had an almost machiavelian faculty
of appealing to the weakness and follies of
his female clients. This seducing person
had by the merest accident thought of Mrs.
Leader, and arriving in a cab, told her,
with a certain mystery, his little story,
and that he thought it was only due to
what they owed to her kindness and
patronage to let her know of the plot that was
against her. There was deliberationa
faint refusal, for the price was terriblea
gentle soothing pressure, to just " try them
on"—the emissary lost in respectful
admiration, overwhelmed with the gorgeous
spectacle, while the lady walked up and
down. Mr. Leader entered, and was
respectfully invited to admire; he looked on
ruefully, and made a testy though muttered
protest. But the skilful agent prevailed,
and the jewels were bought.

The evening came, and Mrs. Leader
appeared, "like a fire queen," as her
enemy the Doctor would have said. For
she blazed and flamed, in her head, which
was crowned with a gaudy French wreath
fresh from Paris; in her face, fresh from the
hands of her maid, who had tried all the
recognised lotions and emollients; in her
dress of white satin, that shone like a mirror,
and was laden with crimson velvet trimmings.
The labour of a day was there, and
the result was general hideousness, with a
certain comic effect, from her conscious air
of beauty. She and her consort went forth
together, he mournfully enough. Miss
Leader was left at home to her books to a
rational evening.

It was a long drive out to Gooseberry
Hill. When they arrived they found a
large company assembled, who looked
wonderingly at the gaudily-dressed woman
who entered so timorously. The buzz of
animated conversation was quite suspended.
The hostess and host came forward to greet
her with a polite cordiality, yet a little
confounded at their guest. Milkington Waters,
the elegant man of letters, paused in his new
capital story about Lady E., and actually,
by a sort of inspiration, found material for
a new one. Even the Prince of Saxe-Tod-
Leben, on the rug, was amused, though
mystified. There were a minister of state and
a secretary there, confidential, pleasant with
the ladies, unbending from officialism, as
they always did.

Thirty sat down to dinner, an almost
regal banquet. Nearly the same number
of servants attended. There was cheerfulness,
and even noise, such as often attends
the presence of some dignitary, who, in
the House, is known to be facetious or
satirical, and the minister's humour was
thought delightful by the ladies. A queer
little old man took in Mrs. Leader, whom
the latter discovered to be a doctor:
certainly a very remarkable doctor, whom
every one courted, and with whom everybody
laughed, for anything but his
professional gifts. With the ladies she made
no way; and she went up with them after
the dinner positively trembling.

The gentlemen were below with their
wine, Mr. Milkington Waters explaining
some amusing little anecdote, of which he
always had a special stock on hand. Mr.
Leader had not made a single remark, or
spoken a single word, save "Thank you,"
or "Brown sherry," to the servants. The
others looked at him with a sort of amused
surprise; but it had been carefully whispered
that, though silent, this was a country
gentleman of great importance and wealth,
and who signified a great deal more than
he looked. This judicious reminder secured
him a certain respect. Round went the
exquisite claret of the house: that wonderful
'54, which, we may suppose, will be
drunk for a century to come, will be " got
at Alderman Hogg's sale," and held up to
the light in glasses with much lip-smacking
that old bit of comedy which is played
again and again at a thousand dinner-

The choice fruits and other dainties
covered the table in an elegant disorder:
indeed, a dinner table of taste, seen in its
disorder, after the ladies have just quitted
it, presents an ideal of luxury and elegant
ease, which is more expressive than many
more ostentatious types.

It was then that a menial alarmed
Mr. Leader by coming behind him and
whispering that " one of his own servants"
had a message of importance for him.


WHO does not know that not unhandsome
square building of Grecian exterior in
the Rue Vivienne, in Paris, with its outer
range of Corinthian columns, and the flag
depending from its front? It may be a
hospital, or a prison, or a granary, a depôt
for Prussian spies, or a black hole for
disobedient Moblots by this time, but to us it
can never be anything but the Bourse.

Long before you came to it either from