"For sake of heaven man, wear not so long a face; it is not the funeral of thy mistress I have brought thee to."
I marvelled that so many old ladies should carry such young faces or perchance their hair had turned gray earlier than was its wont in the colonies. And, too, they seemed sadly disfigured with boils, for on the chin or cheek of nearly every one there showed a patch of black sticking-plaster. Poor things! I sorrowed for them, it was so humiliating. Verily, I pitied them all, and speculated on the wonderful compensations of Providence. With all their wealth and rank, their lordly castles and their jewels, these noble dames could not purchase that which the humblest serving-maid in Quebec had, and to spare—a clear skin and sunny locks.
I touched upon these matters to Jerome, but he only laughed immoderately. He was ever a light-headed young spark who gave no contemplation to deeper questions than present enjoyment.
Of a sudden my wits almost left me at a terrible outcry from one end of the great hall, a cry not of human beings but of wild beasts, muffled and menacing. The dancing, the music, the hum of voices ceased, and a thick silence as of direst fear fell upon them all. Then there came a loud crackling and shattering of glass, a woman's scream, the first of very many. This for aught I know might have been a usual happening at a ball, I had never been to one before.
I looked for Jerome. He was gone, speeding toward a young lady surpassing fair, with whom he had been