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putting back the velvet hood and smoothing
her hair.

"Tell me what hour it is," he said.

She consulted a little jewelled watch hanging
at her waist. "Half-past four," she
said, with a smile. "How the hours have
run on!"

So they had. There was a cold, blueish
atmosphere abroad, and the three night
travellers were shivering miserably with the
cold of that early morning. Some stray men
in blouses were going to their work; but
they had not been up all night.

The train was slackening its speed: it was
drawing near that other halting place. More
platform, more range of offices, gliding by in
the cold, blueish light. There are some
early morning travellers closely muffled up,
but very fresh and buoyant, standing ready,
and waiting for the express. Very different
from the bleared, haggard souls who were
pouring out upon the platform.

But a short span for stoppage here:
barely five minutes. No stir from my two
companions.

"Mordieu! why do they not go forward?
I tremble with the cold. Feel me. O, I am
very miserable, heart and body!"

"Wrap this about you," Velvet-Hood said,
taking her shawl from her shoulders and
putting it round him. "There!"

He looked at her surlily.

"How quiet you take all this! " he said.
"Have you any nerves, or feeling?"

She laughed pleasantly.

"Should you ask that, after——"

"Don'tdon't! " he said, covering up his
face. "O, I could cry nowcry my eyes
and heart out! Why don't they go
forward?"

At this moment the door was softly
opened, and one of the brisk, muffled
travellers stepped in. He had a little handy
valise, which he put on the seat beside him,
and a snug comforter about his neck. "Fine,
fresh morning it was," he said, as he loosed
his comforter: "good for the country."

"What is this delay?" the Neapolitan
said, gruffly. "Why do we not go
forward?"

"They were getting up the passports," the
brisk man believed. "No, it could not be
that either. Ah! here they are."

The door opens again. Three gentlemen in
black standing near the steps; one ascends
them with a paper in his hand.

"All here have come down from Paris?"
he says, interrogatively.

"Yes," I answer, being next the door,
excepting this gentleman."

"Pardon, Messieurs," the lady remarks,
quite composed. "We only got in at the
last halting-place; some twenty leagues or so
back."

"Never mind," says the gentleman with
the paper; "the lady and gentleman yonder
must descend. There is a mistake about
their baggage. They must please to hasten
themselves."

All this while the Neapolitan has been
turning white and red, his teeth chattering
galvanicaily. "Don't trouble yourselves," he
says faintly, "it is no matter about the
baggage; we can leave it; we do not
care."

"By no means," Velvet-Hood says sweetly;
"we could not afford that, Messieurs. What
is to become of my poor toilette; which is
sufficiently disarranged already. Rather let
us descend."

"No! no!" the Neapolitan cried, clinging
to the arms of the seat with both hands.
"Leave us!"

"Sacré! " exclaims one of the gentlemen
near the steps, "are they coming down?"

"Now, mon ami," Velvet-Hood said, rising
and passing him, "be reasonable. Let us go,
if they require us so particularly. Adieu,
Monsieur," she said sweetly, turning to me.
Then she drew the velvet hood close over
her face. The Neapolitan had to be well nigh
dragged from the carriage.

A dim suspicion took possession of me.

"What can it all mean?" I said aloud.

"An affair of police simply," the fresh,
man remarked. He had, curiously enough,
taken up his handy valise, and was preparing
to go too. "A veteran gentleman was
murdered last night in Paris by his wife (a
grisette he had married off the pavé) and
his courier. Suspiciontelegraphnothing
more. It is very simple. This lady and
gentleman who have just left us are singularly
like the description. Good morning,
sirgood voyage, sir!"

With that he bowed himself down the
steps; a shrill shriek from the engine,
impatient to go forward. Well it might,
now that what it waited for was
accomplished.

The Neapolitan and Velvet-Hood, waiting
wearily in the private room of the station,
must have heard with heavy heart the
shrill departing shriek dying off in the
distance.

MR, CHARLES DICKENS
WILL READ AT ST. MARTIN'S HALL:
ON THURSDAY EVENING, MAY 6th, his "Chimes."
ON THURSDAY EVENING, MAY 13th, his "Christmas
Carol."
Each Reading will commence at Eight exactly, and
will last two hours.
PLACES FOR EACH READING: Stalls (numbered and
reserved). Five Shillings; Area and Galleries, Half-a-
crown; Unreserved Seats, One Shilling. Tickets to be
had at Messrs. Chapman and Hall's, Publishers, 193,
Piccadilly; and at St. Martin's Hall, Long Acre.

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