"How is it," said she thoughtfully, and looking away from him, "that men leave out their sisters when they sum up womankind? Are not we women too? My poor brother quite forgets he has one woman who will never, never desert nor deceive him; dear, darling fellow!" and with these three last words she rose and kissed the tips of her fingers, and waved the kiss to Vizard with that free magnitude of gesture which belonged to antiquity: it struck the Anglo-Saxon flirt at her feet with amazement. Not having good enough under his skin to sympathize with that pious impulse, he first stagnated a little while; and then, not to be silent altogether, made his little, stale, commonplace comment on what she had told him. "Why, it is like a novel."
"A very unromantic one," replied Zoe.
"I don't know that. I have read very interesting novels with fewer new characters than this: there's a dark beauty, and a fair, and a duenna with an eagle eye and an aquiline nose."
"Hush!" said Zoe: "that is her room;" and pointed to a chamber door that opened into the apartment.
Oh, marvelous female instinct! The duenna in charge was at that moment behind that very door, and her eye and her ear at the key-hole, turn about.
Severne continued his remarks, but in a lower voice.
"Then there's a woman-hater and a man-hater: good for dialogue."
Now this banter did not please Zoe; so she fixed her eyes upon Severne, and said, "You forget the principal figure--a mysterious young gentleman who looks nineteen, and is twenty-nine, and was lost sight of in England nine years ago. He has been traveling ever since, and where-ever he went he flirted; we gather so much from his accomplishment in the art; fluent, not to say voluble at times, but no egotist, for he never tells you anything about himself, nor even about his family, still less about the numerous _affaires de coeur_ in which he has been engaged. Perhaps he is reserving it all for the third volume."
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