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A Strange Bride


spirit, you certainly went with him to your apartment.’

‘I have not danced this evening more than once,’ said Laura.

‘Child, child!’ said her father, ‘to what purpose is this pretended forgetfulness?’

‘I have not forgotten,’ said Laura. ‘I can tell you all that has passed this night.’

‘Where then have you stayed away for this last hour?’

‘In the rooms of my dear sister Hildegarde,’ she answered.

‘Dearest child,’ said the Countess, ‘on a day like this, how could such melancholy thoughts come into your mind?’

‘I cannot say,’ answered she; ‘I only know that my heart became very much oppressed, and it seemed to me, all of a sudden, that I had never till then felt so heavily the loss of Hildegarde. A strange idea came into my mind, and I could not help believing that if I went to her room I should find her sitting, as in old times, with her guitar. I said nothing to any one, but slipped away, and went upstairs. Once in her apartments I could somehow not force myself to leave them. I was wearied, sat down on a chair by the window, and knew not how the time passed, till at last, as if I had awoke from sleep, I started up and came here.’

‘How long then is it since you left the ball-room?’ inquired her mother.

‘At a quarter to twelve. The clock struck as I entered my sister’s room.’

‘Good Heaven!’ cried her mother, ‘what can this mean? It was the last quarter to twelve that I spoke to her and advised her not to dance so much.’