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"Oh, Mr. Bigge, I am so glad you are come!
Madame de Clerville says she is engaged to
dance the first set with you, and has refused half
the room already. Come along!"

"Dance, Lady Pennard!" panted Bob. "I

"Oh, it will be lovely!" cried the merry little
hostess. "What an excellent idea! What could
have put it into your heads?"

"Heads!" Bob was conscious of having but
one such organ, and devoutly wished "it" had
never entered that; but there was no help, and
as he waddled up the entire length of the room,
his immense coat-skirts swaying, like mighty
banners, from side to side, and the protuberance
covered by his vast striped waiscoat moving in
unison, the entire assembly were in convulsions
of mirth. Happily, Bob's mind was too much
engrossed with the impending introduction to be
very captious about general criticism.

"Here, my dear countess, is your tardy cavalier,"
said Lady Pennard.

A circle of admirers had opened, and Bob
stood face to face with his beloved.

"I present Mr. Daniel Lambert to the first
beauty of Teheran," laughed the hostess, as she
glided away.

Beautiful as he had known her to be, Bob
was perfectly dazzled with her loveliness on this
occasion. She wore a Persian costume of the
richest kind, so arranged as, while concealing
the actual figure, to make it appear that the fair
wearer was prodigally furnished with that most
important item in the Persian estimate of
beautyfat. One might have thought it a
little over-done, but for the perfect ease and
grace with which the beautiful creature seemed
to manage that "fair mountain" with which
natureor a sugar dietwas supposed to have
invested her.

"In the name of all that's absurd, why thus
disfigure her charming form?" was Bob's first
thought; and, perhaps, he might have put it,
into some politer form of words, but for a
sudden change which came across the
countess's face. From evincing a very decided
inclination to laugh, she became suddenly grave
and pale, and seemed almost about to faint.
Bobby instinctively extended his tremendous
arm, which she took, and, avoiding the quadrille
about to be formed, moved towards a side-room,
which conducted into a sort of conservatory,
tenanted at the moment by nothing but
geraniums. There she sank down on the first seat.

"Robert, you have divined my secret," she
murmured. "Generous, noble man! how kindly,
how delicately have you conveyed to me your
consciousness ofof my—"

"Ahem!" said the embarrassed Bob.

"Being, to use the popular expression,
considerably broader than I am long!" said the
countess, smiling with bewitching sweetness.

Bob's pulse stood still. She was exquisitely
beautiful. Her skin was whiter than the pearls
she wore. You might have laid a tender young
rose-leaf on her cheek, and never known the
difference. Her rounded arms were the perfection
of symmetry. But she was immensely fat!

"But," stammered Bob, hardly knowing what
he said, "this decep——"

"Was useless, indeed, dear Robert," said the
still smiling countess. "Your reproach is equally
tender and just. Think you I have forgotten
how eagerly you coincided in all my opinions
relative to the very subordinate position held by
the body in our mixed being? Perhaps a little
childish vanity whispered me to keep you a short
time longer in the dark upon this minor point."

("'Maximum,' rather!" muttered Bob.)

"And when I found you knew it, and had
dressed yourself in that hideous guise for my
sake, thus silently expressing your noble
indifference to any amount of size, think, think,
Robert, how my heart reproached me for my
want of faith in you!"

Bob gently pressed the beautiful little hand
that laid itself in his.

"Hem!" said Bob. "You have used, I
think, the term 'hideous' in reference to my
present appearance. Is itand do not answer
lightlyso very distasteful to you? My excellent
maternal ancestor, whose garments, pantaloons
excepted, I now wear, though not popular
as a partner in a country-dance, was, nevertheless,
a favourite in general society, and——"

"You are right to stand up for your
distinguished relative," said the countess, laughing
like a Hebe, "and it would ill become me to be
over-critical as to his dimensions round the
waist; but what do you mean?"

"That I, whom you think so noble and
disinterestedI, whom you believe, purely for your
dear sake, to have made such a booby of myself,
am a humbugan impostor! Oh, Caroline,
Caroline (forgive meI would kneelthe
impossibility of getting up again without assistance
alone deters me), I selected this absurd
costume solely to conceal from your eyes, for
the present, a figure scarcely less preposterous.
Caroline, I amdo not startif anything, a
trifle stouter than your charming self!"

A burst of silver laughter was the only reply,
in which Bob, unable to resist the pleasant
contagion, heartily joined.

"It strikes me we have both been rather
silly," said the countess at last, wiping away the
tears that mirth had called into her beautiful
eyes; "but it must be at least admitted that
we both had 'solid reasons.'"

Early in September will be published, price 5s. 6d., bound
in cloth,




Containing from Numbers 151 to 176.
The preceding Volumes are always to be had.