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IVA KILDARE:

A MATRIMONIAL PROBLEM.

CHAPTER I.

HE.

He was one of those lanky, tawny, irresistible creatures who go straight to the hearts of women in a way that is perfectly inexplicable, not to say positively maddening, to the eyes of the other sex.

He was not particularly handsome, he was not abnormally clever; but he knew what to say, and how to look; and when such knowledge is instinctive in the bosom of a gallant, pray what else is required of him from the fairest of the fair?

See that sprightly miss just out of the schoolroom. She has been chatting away contentedly enough, and not at all shyly, with the lion of the evening-flattered by his notice, and by no means loth to prolong the occasion for it. He thinks she "appreciates " him; and such gentry

love to be "appreciated". At any rate, Miss Blue-eyes enjoys the distinction Professor Barnacles' conversation bestows on her, and raps out her little pert questions and answers with a confidence that is not misplaced.

All is going well, when in a moment-in the twinkling of an eyelid the scene changes. The great man perceives that he has lost his auditor; eyes and ears are gone from him ; vague responses and vacant smiles have taken the place of that pretty bon camaraderie which was so enchanting before; and for the life of him he cannot imagine why.

What has happened?

Nothing.

It would be absurd to suppose that the metamorphosis took place because of-that it had anything whatever to do with the arrival of that tailor-made sprig who lounged lazily by a few minutes before, and who now supports his length against the doorway.

The sprig exchanged a glance with miss as he passed; and she has been upon the fidget

ever since.

Still, it would be an insult to her understanding to the understanding of any intelligent being to credit her with preferring the jabber of a noodle to his own witty, piquant badinage. He has been putting forth his best, and feels that

Good heavens! that

his best is worthy of him. such pearls should have been cast before-oh, yes, he mentally finishes the proverb to its bitter end, as the conviction is at length forced upon his amazed and sickened soul that the race is no more to the strong now than it ever was.

It would have been the same, honoured sir, indeed it would, if you had been talking to the girl's mother, or grandmother.

You think they would have known better? Not they! True, they would not so artlessly have betrayed themselves-being older, more wary, and better versed in the convenances. They would have been more adroit in manipulating the turn of the wheel; have continued to work the muscles of the face and inflections of the voice long after the mainspring within had given way with a snap; so that their surfeit of you and your conversation, and the dropping away of their interest, would have been concealed beneath a decent and decorous exterior; but do not flatter yourself that in reality, in their heart of hearts, the stately dames prefer your rounded periods and well-chosen themes to the prattling of that simple boy. Nature has bestowed on him one double-distilled drop out of a bottle fast corked to you, and all your contempt and wrath, all your fuming and spluttering, will not rob him of his portion, nor procure it for yourself.

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