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That evening at dusk, as Benedetta had sent Pierre word that she desired to see him, he went down to her little salon, and there found her chatting with Celia.

“I've seen your Pierina, you know,” exclaimed the latter, just as the young priest came in.

66 And with Dario, too. Or rather, she must have been watching for him; he found her waiting in a path on the Pincio and smiled at her. I understood at once.

What a beauty she is ! ”

Benedetta smiled at her friend's enthusiasm; but her lips twitched somewhat painfully, for, however sensible she might be, this passion, which she realised to be so naïve and so strong, was beginning to make her suffer. She certainly made allowances for Dario, but the girl was too much in love with him, and she feared the consequences.

Even in turning the conversation she allowed the secret of her heart to escape her. “Pray sit down, Monsieur l'Abbé," she said, we are talking scandal, you see.

My poor Dario is accused of making love to every pretty woman in Rome. People say that it's he who gives La Tonietta





She was

those white roses which she has been exhibiting at the Corso every afternoon for a fortnight past.

“That's certain, my dear," retorted Celia impetuously. “At first people were in doubt, and talked of little Pontecorvo and Lieutenant Moretta. But every one now knows that La Tonietta's caprice is Dario. Besides, he joined her in her box at the Costanzi the other evening."

Pierre remembered that the young Prince had pointed out La Tonietta at the Pincio one afternoon.

one of the few demi-mondaines that the higher-class society of Rome took an interest in. For a month or so the rich Englishman to whom she owed her means had been absent, travelling.

“ Ah !” resumed Benedetta, whose budding jealousy was entirely confined to La Pierina, “so my poor Dario is ruining himself in white roses! Well, I shall have to twit him about it. But one or another of these beauties will end by robbing me of him if our affairs are not soon settled. Fortunately, I have had some better news. Yes, my suit is to be taken in hand again, and my aunt has gone out to-day on that very account.”

Then, as Victorine came in with a lamp, and Celia rose to depart, Benedetta turned towards Pierre, who also was rising from his chair: "Please stay," said she; “I wish to speak to you."

However, Celia still lingered, interested by the mention of the divorce suit, and eager to know if the cousins would soon be able to marry.

And at last throwing her arms round Benedetta, she kissed her passionately. “So you are hopeful, my dear," she

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