Alex. McVeigh Miller
They Looked and Loved; Or, Won by Faith

"But, then, mama, dear, you must remember that the poor girl does not really seem to have any knowledge of the usages of the best society. I fancy her wealth must have come to her quite suddenly. She cannot play the piano, Dorian, nor sing a note. She knows no language but English, she is brusk, and–" But the sentence uttered in a clear, high-pitched voice, was never ended.

The door that already stood slightly ajar, to admit the evening air, was pushed open by a graceful hand, and Nita stood on the threshold with the stranger. She had heard, for, looking straight at her dismayed rival, she said archly:

"You are quite right, Miss Courtney, I was brought up in poverty until a few weeks ago, when I came into my—inheritance."

Cool, fair, queenly, she bowed to Dorian, and said simply:

"Your friend, Mr. Kayne."

"Donald Kayne!" cried Dorian joyfully.

A confusion ensued in which Nita's daring speech was happily passed over. The Courtneys were well acquainted with the newcomer. In their palmy days they had been in his "set," and, although surprised to see them here, he greeted them with the easy cordiality of a man of the world.

A lively conversation ensued from which Nita seemed for a short while necessarily left out. She withdrew to the only vacant seat, regretting that she could not conveniently move the heavy arm-chair away from the strong glare of light.

She leaned back, with languid grace, her eyes downcast, a hovering smile on her scarlet lips, her exquisite arm escaping from the lace of the loose sleeve, resting on the arm of the dark velvet chair, the taper, extending fingers quivering with a slight nervous motion that made the serpent-ring glitter so weirdly one would scarcely have been more startled to hear a sibilant hiss escape from the open jaws.

Nita was unconscious that the stranger's eyes dwelt admiringly upon her queenly beauty as she sat in the velvet arm-chair. She kept her lids lowered persistently, not daring to meet Dorian's ardent gaze.


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