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'Do you


Carina ?' 'It is hard to speak '—the chill of youth was in the girl's voice'but you must know! How could I help it? I gain so much from you, and all that I ever achieve will be your work. You are

my ideal.'

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*Carina, you do not know what you are saying; but you say you love me, and I will tell you all.' Pain burned steadily in the dark eyes; it was the harder with this young face, all reverence, lifting hero-worshipping eyes to her own. ' Before you came to me, beloved, with your white forehead, like an angel alighting for a moment—before I found you, sweetness, I was not good. If I have

any claim now it is you who have made me so.' The grey eyes were full of question.

' It was a love that stained,' said the Signora softly, the wonderful face an incarnate sorrow. 'I had done what you would call hideously wrong.'

For a minute there was only a sound of little waves lapping the garden shore, breaking, not upon the edge of dreams, but of awakening

'It isn't true; it cannot be true,' said Katharine, breathing hard.

“Si, si, my little one; you cannot believe. That is sweet in you; but I tell you, my own tongue tells you. I was wicked, wicked, for he had other claims; wife and child he had, and they have suffered. I may forgive him, bambina ; I can never forgive myself.'

The girl's hands were drawn slowly away from the appealing fingers laid upon them.

‘But I loved him, I loved him, Carina! I loved him to the breaking of the heart.'

You loved-a-man who was married ?'

Signora Reale flung out her arms in a gesture that told the tragedy of a lifetime.

May you never know how bitterly!'

'When—where ? 'stammered Katharine, with slowly whitening face.

It began-in Rome. He saw me play; I was Giulietta—and it lasted three years—three years. When it was over it was not I who had the strength to leave him; it was he who left me. Ah ! we were so happy, bambina, in our villa by Lake Como !!

You?' breathed Katharine.

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Her clear eyes filled with tears as they looked upon the older woman: it was the same face, the same shadowy, grey-flecked hair, the same beautiful mouth, save that the look of sadness had deepened. It was the same face, and yet, for the girl the Signora Reale had ceased to exist. 'You said you loved me, carissima.'

, ' But I cannot bear it,' said Katharine, covering her face with her hands. There isn't any you; it is as if the stars had all gone out.'

She rose and went away down the garden path with drooping head. The Signora sat so still in the sunshine upon the mossgrown marble bench by the cypress-tree that butterflies alighted on her forehead, and flew, unaffrighted, away.

Several hours afterward Katharine knocked at the Signora's door. The actress was standing by one of the long windows, dressed for the evening performance, watching the after-gleam of sunset as it touched sky and water to deepest gold. Beyond her lay the worn city, whose beauty, spiritualised by time, whose wistful look of having ceased to hope, bore an expression akin to her own.

'You will not fail me to-night, Caterina ?'

Of course not,' said the girl proudly. 'I do not break engagements, and I am nearly ready.'

'We will start,' and the Signora came forward to ring for her maid, but Katharine put up a warning hand.

'Just a minute. I thought I should tell you to-night: I-I am going away.'

Where, Carina ?'

To my aunt in England.' The girl's eyes were cast down, and she faltered.

To stay?'

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* To stay.'

'Then Maria can pack your things and send them.' The Signora spoke quietly, as if the plan had been long thought out.

‘Don't- don't look like that!' begged the girl. 'I cannot bear it. Everything is different; everything is slipping. I don't know what to believe.'

The older woman bent forward listening.

you think I am very bad ? ' pleaded the girl. No, carissima.' 'You see,' there were tears of the young cheek that had been


seldom wet by them, ' I had an ideal, always, and then you came, and you were the ideal.' Her voice broke in & hard little sob. Now all is different ; you are not you. Oh, if it had been anything but that!'

The woman's arms were flung out to the empty air.

Oh, my little one!' she cried, I have done you a great wrong! I did not mean to, only I was so lonely, so lonely!'

I 'No, you did not mean to,' said the girl gently. “And you have done so much for me. The—the money you have spent for me I shall try to repay.'

The Signora lifted her hand, almost touching the girl's hair. * Forgive me, little one. It is my just punishment.'

Katharine started to go, swayed, came back again, and then went out, closing the door softly.

That night, in the great theatre La Fenice, the Signora Reale played at her will with the hearts of men and of women. It was & poetic drama, with lyric appeal, embodying the old myth of Demeter and Persephone, full of the ripple of old laughter and the dropping of old tears. The search of the mother for the daughter carried away by Pluto to the under world from a moment of sweetest content in the sunshine ; the cry of the mother's grief, sounding along imagined meadow and mountain path, brought a fall of real flowers upon the stage in the path of the stricken Demeter.

* Proserpina! Proserpina !' The grief of all stricken mothers sounded in the wonderful melody of that voice. The house was held spellbound by this wandering blue-veiled figure with the pleading hands; she ceased to be a woman and became a voice, & cry, an instrument on which all the sorrow of the world was playing.

Katharine, watching, was almost terrified by sudden glimpses in a world of real passion ; listening was like having new windows flung open for the soul. The Signora's cheeks were wet with real tears. 'How does she do it? She is so clever !' said the girl despairingly as she repeated her own lines, bringing her whole intellect to bear on the problem of the great actress's power. Could I ever learn to laugh like that?' There was one scene where the girl was put to the test. In shadowy Hades, at Pluto's side, she must plead to return to the upper world.

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Ah, beautiful mother of all things, my heart is consumed by its longing
For the touch of thy hand on my shoulder, the warmth of thy breath on my

To feel in the glow of thy sunshine thy radiant kisses descending.

She felt the Signora's eyes upon her; for a moment something seemed to choke her, and when she spoke her voice had an eloquence beyond its own. The face of the actress was illumined when the girl had finished, and she heard the quick applause. Then followed the return of the lost daughter in spring. Laughter floated through the house, wonderful laughter, gathering up into itself the merriment of little children, the mirth of waving grass, the upward cadences of song caught from the lips of the young. The soul of all the springtimes of the world was in that voice; it was joy incarnate ; it was life set free.

No word was spoken as the two went home that night, their gondola threading its way through the gay pageant of the Grand Canal into the wider shadows of the canal of the Giudecca. Silently they glided over the dusky water, broken here and there by long paths of trembling light, their island home rising like a bubble before them. Katharine crept to her room, shaken as she had never been shaken in all her self-controlled little life, fearful yet fascinated by the wide seas of feeling breaking so near.

In the morning Katharine, pale of face, begged for Pietro and the gondola, as she had a few errands to do.

'Of course! Of course! Do you need to ask, little one ? ' said the Signora, but she did not bend to kiss the girl. The trim, linen-clad figure disappeared, to reappear a minute afterward upon the quay. Looking back, Katharine saw the Signora watching her from a window, and saw her smile, one of those divinely touching smiles, sadder than tears. It haunted her through all the fierce pain in her young heart for ideals destroyed, as she glided in and out through shadowed waterways, haunted her until, deciding to leave some of her errands undone, she told Pietro to row her anywhere he chose for a time, as she wanted to think. It was a clouded morning, full of the appeal of unfallen showers, and, as they went out to meet the coming rain, the girl saw St. Mark's golden crosses and angel wings, and the tinted drifting sails more lovely than ever under soft clouds of grey. Through the gentle influence of rippling water and widening sky the beauty of this city of many sorrows came creeping, creeping nearer her inmost heart. The poignant charm of the worn thresholds and of the delicate arches of window and doorway with their crumbling leaf tracery brought an appeal as of human grief, and, in looking, she felt herself, as often with the Signora, standing breathless at the edge of that undiscovered country-Life. A wavering look

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crept over the resolution of the fine young face. Alone in the gondola, Katharine bowed her head upon her hand, crying out softly to herself: 'What shall I do? What shall I do?'

The Signora watched long from the window that morning, busied herself with needless tasks, and came back to the window again. Something troubled her eyes, and it was evident that she could not see clearly, for the faces that passed seemed all to be Katharine's. Women's garments took the shape of the linen jacket and the slope of the girl's shoulders. More than once, in the blindness of her grief, she started to call from the balcony, but saw a strange face uplifted to hers. The next figure took on the same outline, and the next. She took refuge in the garden. Caterina, Caterina, Caterina !

* ' The grieved melody of her voice sounded up and down the garden paths as she went with beautiful bowed head. She had dreamed in the brief sleep vouchsafed last night that a child's finger had touched her cheek-always in dreams Katharine came to her as a little child. Then they had seemed walking together where the way was steep, the child ahead, she following.

'I have failed to win her,' said the Signora. “It is because she is so good that she is strong. I do not deserve her love.'

Tired, she threw herself down upon Katharine's seat, yielding to the charm of the sunless day which won water and shore and troubled heart to a mood of utter rest. Softer green lay on the vineyard and the slender cypresses, while the moist air deepened the russet of the old tiled roofs beyond, and the woods flecking the marble seats of the garden. All about the island kingdom, ripple by ripple, the water answered back the purpling grey of dome and sky. To the woman, waiting with half-closed eyes, all the past came back in pictures of Katharine-Katharine timidly rehearsing, Katharine in grey-blue walking dress among the olive slopes of Fiesole, Katharine in white or in palest gold like her hair. The starved maternity of the woman lingered hungrily over the least detail, the memory of the lines of the girl's white forehead with the delicate eyebrows bringing tears to her eyes. So odd, so Puritan, and so sweet! How much of the sting of the past her love had taken away! Even in this cruel loss of her the girl was as the healing of her bitter hurt, God’s forgiveness in human shape.

“Signora,' said Maria, ' a gentleman to see you.'

But I am seeing no one.'
'He said he was an old friend, and gave no card.'

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