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meant nothing to me, I'm speaking the truth. Don't be afraid that I'll ever talk like that of you, my dear."

"It's not that."

"Then please, what is it?"

"It's because I can't understand," he told her with complete sincerity, "how you could ever have fallen in love with some one so ordinary as I am. The people you meet must be very different from me "

"They are," Lina told him dryly.

She went across to him, put one hand on his shoulder, and continued, in a caressing tone of voice:

"I love you. And I've never loved any one before. Isn't that enough? And now I'm going to prove to you that I love you. Wait a minute."

She went across to her dressing-table, searched in her bag, and returned to him with a little gilt key.

"Take this. As I told you, no one ever has before. When the lights in the salon are out, come back. I shall be waiting for you."

Her last view of him, before he left, was of his white beautiful face, his bright hair, illuminated in the twinkling light of a single candle.

She considered him, standing there by the mantelpiece a little stiffly, in all the dignity of her crinoline.

"You are rather like the portrait by Lawrence of the Duc de Reichstadt," she called to him across the room, "but you are more handsome, far more handsome, than he was."

He whispered back, kissing his hand to her:

"Send them away soon. I shall be in torture until the lights are out. I love you!"

"So do I love you."

The door closed softly behind him.

Any one watching in the firelit darkness of the bedroom might then have observed the curious spectacle of