none seemed to mind, she spoke aloud this phrase—a phrase brief enough, simple enough, but it sent a shock through me,—

“Messieurs et mesdames,” said she, “où donc est Justine Marie?”

“Justine Marie!” What was this? Justine Marie—the dead nun—where was she? Why, in her grave, Madame Walravens. What can you want with her? You shall go to her, but she shall not come to you.

Thus I should have answered, had the response lain with me. But nobody seemed to be of my mind; nobody seemed surprised, startled, or at a loss. The quietest commonplace answer met the strange, the dead- disturbing, the Witch-of-Endor query of the hunchback.

“Justine Marie,” said one, “is coming. She is in the kiosk. She will be here presently.”

Out of this question and reply sprang a change in the chat—chat it still remained—easy, desultory, familiar gossip. Hint, allusion, comment went round the circle, but all so broken, so dependent on references to persons not named, or circumstances not defined, that, listen intently as I would—and I did listen now with a fated interest—I could make out no more than that some scheme was on foot in which this ghostly Justine Marie, dead or alive, was concerned. This family junta seemed grasping at her somehow, for some reason; there seemed question of a marriage, of a fortune, for whom I could not quite make out—perhaps for Victor Kint, perhaps for Josef Emanuel—both were bachelors. Once I thought the hints and jests rained upon a young fair-haired foreigner of the party, whom they called Heinrich Mühler. Amidst all the badinage Madame Walravens still obtruded from time to time hoarse, cross-grained speeches, her impatience being diverted only by an implacable surveillance of Désirée, who could not stir but the old woman menaced her with her staff.

“Là voilà!” suddenly cried one of the gentlemen. “Voilà Justine Marie qui arrive!”

This moment was for me peculiar. I called up to memory the pictured nun on the panel; present to my mind was the sad love-story; I saw in thought the vision of the garret, the apparition of the alley, the strange birth of the berceau. I underwent a presentiment of discovery, a strong conviction of coming disclosure. Ah! when imagination once runs riot, where do we stop? What winter tree so bare and branchless, what wayside, hedge-munching animal so humble that Fancy, a passing cloud, and a struggling moonbeam will not clothe it in spirituality, and make of it a phantom?

With solemn force pressed on my heart the expectation of mystery breaking up. Hitherto I had seen this spectre only through a glass darkly; now was I to behold it face to face. I leaned forward; I looked.

“She comes!” cried Josef Emanuel.

The circle opened as if opening to admit a new and welcome member. At this instant a torch chanced to be carried past; its blaze aided the pale moon in doing justice to the crisis, in lighting to perfection the dénouement pressing on. Surely those near me must have felt some little of the anxiety I felt, in degree so unmeted. Of that group the coolest must have “held his breath for a time!” As for me, my life stood still.

It is over. The moment and the nun are come. The crisis and the revelation are passed by.

The flambeau glares still within a yard, held up in a park-keeper’s hand; its long eager tongue of flame almost licks the figure of the expected—there—where she stands full in my sight! What is she like? What does she wear? How does she look? Who is she?

There are many masks in the park to-night, and as the hour wears late, so strange a feeling of revelry and mystery begins to spread abroad that scarce would you discredit me, reader, were I to say that

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