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"Would you give me your heart for all this

"Si, si!" cried she, eagerly.

"And love me alwaysfor ever?"

"Si," said she, again; but I fancied with less
of energy than before.

"And when it was spent and gone, and
nothing remaining of it, what would you do?"

"Send you to gather more, mio caro," said she,
pressing my hand to her lips, as though in earnest
of the blandishments she would bestow upon me.

Now, I cannot affect to say that all this was
very reassuring. This poor simple child of the
mountains showed a spirit as sordid and as
calculating as though she were baptised in
Mayfair. It was a terrible shock to me to see this;
a dire overthrow to a very fine edifice that I
was just putting the roof on! "Would Kate
Herbert have made me such a speech?" thought
I. " Would she have declared herself so venal
and so worldly?—and why not? May it not
be, perhaps, simply, that a mere question of
good breeding, the usages of a polite world,
might have made all the difference, and that she
would have felt what poor Catinka felt and
owned to. If this were true, the advantages were
all on the side of sincerity. With honesty as the
basis, what may not one build up of character?
Where there is candour there are at least no
disappointments. This poor simple child,
untutored in the wiles of a scheming world,
where all is false, unreal, and deceptive, has the
courage to say that her heart can be bought.
She is ready in her innocence, too, to sell it,
just as the Indians sell a great territory for a
few glass beads or bright buttons. And why
should not I make the acquisition in the very
spirit of a new settler? It was I discovered
this lone island of the sea; it was I first landed
on this unknown shore; why not claim a
sovereignty so cheaply established." I put the
question arithmetically before me: Given, a
girl, totally new to life and its seductions,
deeply impressed with the value of wealth, to
find the measure of venality in a well brought-up
young lady, educated at Clapham, and finished
at Boulogne-sur-Mer. I expressed it thus:
Dy=T + x, or an unknown quantity.

"What strange marks are you drawing there?"
cried she, as I made these figures on the slate.

"A caprice," said I, in some confusion.

"No," said she; "I know better. It was a
charm. Tell truthit was a charm."

"A charm, dearest; but for what?"

"/ know," said she, shaking her head and
laughing, with a sort of wicked drollery.

"You know! Impossible, child."

"Yes," she said, with great gravity, while she
swept her hand across the slate and erased all the
figures. " Yes, I know, and I'll not permit it."

"But what, in Heaven's name, is trotting
through your head. Catinka? You have not the
vaguest idea of what those signs meant."

"Yes," she said, even more solemnly than
before. "I know it all. You mean to steal
away my heart in spite of me, and you are going
to do it with a charm."

"And what success shall I have, Catinka?"

"Oh, do not ask me," said she, in a tone of
touching misery. "I feel it very very sore
here." And she pressed her hand to her side.
"Ah me," sighed she, "if there were only

The ecstasy her first few words gave me was
terribly routed by this vile conclusion, and I
started up abruptly, and, in an angry voice,
said, "Let us go on; Vaterchen will fear we
are lost."

"And all this gold; what shall I do with
it?" cried she.

"What you will. Throw it into the well if
you like," said I, angrily; for in good sooth I
was out of temper with her, and myself, and all

"Nay," said she, mildly, "it is yours; but I
will carry it for you if it weary you."

I might have felt rebuked by the submissive
gentleness of her words; indeed, I know not
how it was that they did not so move me, and I
walked on in front of her, heedless of her
entreaties that I should wait till she came up
beside me.

When she did join me, she wanted to talk
immensely. She had all manner of questions to
ask about where my treasure came from; how
often I went back there to replenish it; was I
quite sure that it could never, never be
exhausted, and such-like. But I was in no
gracious mood for such inquiries, and telling her
that I wished to follow my own thoughts without
interruption, I walked along in silence.

I cannot tell the weight I felt at my heart. I
am not speaking figuratively. No; it was
exactly as though a great mass of heavy metal
filled my chest, forced out my ribs, and pressed
down my diaphragm; and though I held my
hands to my sides with all my force, the pressure
still remained.

"What a bitter mockery it is," thought I,
"if the only false thing in all the world should
be the human heart! There are diamonds that
will resist fire, gold that will stand the crucible;
but the moment you come to man and his
affections, all is hollow and illusory!"

Why do we give the name worldliness to
traits of selfish advancement and sordid gain,
when a young creature like this, estranged from
all the commerce of mankind, who knows nothing
of that bargain-and-barter system which we call
civilisation, reared and nurtured like a young fawn
in her native woods, should, as though by a very
instinct of corruption, have a heart as venal as
any hackneyed beauty of three London seasons?

Let no man tell me now, that it is our vicious
system of female training, our false social
organisation, our spurious morality, laxity of family
ties, and the rest of it. I am firmly persuaded
that a young squaw of the Choctaws has as
many anxieties about her "parti" as any belle
of Belgravia, even though the settlements be
only paid in sharks' teeth and human toupees.

And what an absurdity is our whole code on
this subject! A man is actually expected to
court, solicit, and even worship the object that