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AT THE AUSTRIAN ARMS

way leading off to the left, which we were that instant nearest. There was that in her manner, I could not say exactly what, which led me to follow her at a respectful distance, seeing which she turned her head, and I fancied I could observe a thankful little smile playing about her lips. At any rate she quickened her pace and walked with more assurance, no longer in doubt about her movements.

For many rods at times she would be lost to view in the dark, and her tread was so light it scarcely made a sound—or the great, clumsy clattering I created drowned it entirely. Just at the time I thought I had lost her, I could catch a glimpse of a flitting skirt beneath one of the flambeaux, which, stuck in niches of the wall here and there, lighted old Paris.

In a very pleasant frame of mind, I strode along behind her. It was wonderful, I thought, how readily a woman's intuition recognizes a protector. And I—for I must admit I was young then; in the ways of women, far younger than my years—I amused myself with many conjectures concerning what manner of errand had taken this young woman abroad alone on such a night. A lady she plainly seemed. Disguised a little, that might be, for her quiet dignity did not fully comport with the style of her dress.

A thousand airy castles I built for my fair heroine to live in, and I, like the knightly heroes of the Crusades, was ever her defender, ever her champion in the lists.

Busied with these fancies and romantic thoughts, I lost count of streets and passages, turning this way,