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      But Esmeralda stared and declined.Oh, yes, he replied. The police have taken the affair up, and there has been an inquest on the two men and an inquiry; but, as usual, it has come to nothing. Simon and[289] the others who were engaged have cleared out, and the rest of Dogs Ear swears that it knows nothing about it. The police have had a hunt after Simon, but they are not likely to catch him; they never do. Dogs Ear gave the two men a public funeral, and Im given to understand that they did me the honor to burn me in effigy after the ceremony.

      A week or two ran by, and now again it was March. Never an earlier twelvemonth had the women of New Orleans--nor of any town or time--the gentlewomen--spent in more unselfish or arduous toil.

      What jaunty fellows they were! and as their faultless ranks came close, their glad, buskined feet beating as perfect music for the roaring drums as the drums beat for them, Anna, in fond ardor, bent low over the rail and waved, exhorting Miranda and Constance to wave with her. So marched the chasseurs by, but the wide applause persisted as yet other hosts, with deafening music and perfect step and with bayonets back-slanted like the porcupine's, came on and on, and passed and passed, ignoring in grand self-restraint their very loves who leaned from the banquettes' edges and from balustraded heights and laughed and boasted and worshipped.

      I am glad you like my father, he said. Of course you know he has fallen in love with you? He talked of nothing else but you last night, and sung your praises tremendously.

      It was: You remember Mrs. Everyoung, Lady Trafford? She wears a golden wig now; it used to be black, you know.

      The duke laughed again unabashed.This, he said, was a women's--a gentlewomen's--war.


      Yes, responded Norman, wiping his face, for he was hot and tired, and there was a tone of anxiety and eagerness in his voice. It is strange that I should run against you the first moment of my arrivalthe man I wanted to see so badly.


      That was well done! he said. You would hold your own in the hunting-field, Esmeralda.


      "Oh"--a name she could not speak even there went through her heart in two big throbs--"if only we had never met! I never set so much as a smile to snare you, you who have snared me. Can Connie be right? Have you felt my thraldom, and are you trying to throw me off? Then I must help you do it. Though I covet your love more than life I will not tether it. Oh, it's because I so covet that I will not tether it! With the last gem from my own throat will I rather help you go free if you want to go. God of mercy, what else can I do!"