levity and festivity of the conclave. De- canters and glasses stood on small tables before them; nearly all were drinking and smoking. They comprised fifteen or twenty men, some of whose faces were familiar to him elsewhere as Southern politicians; a. few, he was shocked to see, were well-known

Northern Democrats. Occupying a charac-

teristically central position was the famous Colonel Starbottle, of Virginia. Jaunty and youthful - looking in his mask - like, beardless face, expansive and dignified in his middle-aged port and carriage, he alone retained some of the importance—albeit slightly theatrical and aifected—~of the oc- easion. Clarence in his first hurried glance had not observed his wife, and for a moment had felt relieved; but as Colonel Star-bot- tle arose at that moment, and with a studi- OllSly chivalrous and courtly manner turned to his right, he saw that she was sitting at the further end of the balcony, and that a man whom he recognized as Captain Pinck- ney was standing beside her. The blood quickly tightened around his heart, but left him cold and observant.

“It was seldom, indeed,” remarked Col- onel Starbottle, placing his fat fingers in