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“And only twenty-two now,” exclaimed Reggie. “All the wisdom of a widow and the graces of an ingénue!” And he raised his hands with a gesture of admiration.

“Has she got money?” he asked.

“She had enough for New Orleans,” was the reply. “I don't know about New York.”

“Ah well,” he said meditatively, “there's plenty of money lying about.”

He took Alice away to her devotions, leaving Montague to the memories which the mention of Lucy Dupree awakened.

Allan Montague had been in love with Lucy a half a dozen times in his life; it had begun when she was a babe in arms, and continued intermittently until her marriage. Lucy was a beauty of the creole type, with raven-black hair and gorgeous colouring; and Allan carried with him everywhere the face of joy, with the quick, mobile features across which tears and laughter chased like April showers across the sky.

Lucy was a tiny creature, as he had said, but she was a well-spring of abounding energy. She had been the life of a lonely household from the first hour, and all who came near her yielded to her spell. Allan remembered one occasion when he had entered the house and seen the grave and venerable chief justice of the State down upon his hands and knees, with Lucy on his back.

She was a born actress, everybody said. When she was no more than four, she would lie in bed when she should have been asleep, and tell herself tragic stories to make her weep. Before long she had discovered several chests full of the clothes which her mother had worn in the days when she was a belle of the old plantation society; and then Lucy would have tableaus and theatricals, and would astonish all beholders in the role of an Oriental princess or a Queen of the Night.

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Her mother had died when she was very young, and she had grown up with only her father for a companion. Judge Dupree was one of the rich men of the neighbourhood, and he lavished everything upon his daughter; but people had said that Lucy would suffer for the lack of a woman's care, and the prophecy had been tragically fulfilled. There had come a man, much older than herself, but with a glamour of romance about him; and the wonder of love had suddenly revealed itself to Lucy, and swept her away as no emotion had ever done before.

One day she disappeared, and Montague had never seen her again. He knew that she had gone to New Orleans to live, and he heard rumours that she was very unhappy, that her husband was a spendthrift and a rake. Scarcely a year after her marriage Montague heard the story of his death by an accident while driving.

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He had heard no more until a short time after his coming to New York, when the home papers had reported the death of Judge Dupree. And then a week or so ago had come a letter from Lucy, to his brother, Oliver Montague, saying that she was coming to New York, perhaps to live permanently, and asking him to meet her and to engage accommodations for her in some hotel.

Montague wondered what she would be like when he saw her again. He wondered what five years of suffering and experience would have done for her; whether it would have weakened her enthusiasm and dried up her springs of joy. Lucy grown serious was something that was difficult for him to imagine.

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And then again would come a mood of doubt, when he distrusted the thrill which the memory of her brought. Would she be able to maintain her spell in competition with what life had brought him since?

His revery was broken by Oliver, who came in to ask him if he wished to go to meet her. “Those Southern trains are always several hours late,” he said. “I told my man to go over and 'phone me.”

“You are to have her in charge,” said Montague; “you had better see her first. Tell her I will come in the evening.” And so he went to the great apartment hotel—the same to which Oliver had originally introduced him. And there was Lucy.

She was just the same. He could see it in an instant; there was the same joyfulness, the same eagerness; there was the same beauty, which had made men's hearts leap up. There was not a line of care upon her features—she was like a perfect flower come to its fulness.

She came to him with both her hands outstretched. “Allan!” she cried, “Allan! I am so glad to see you!” And she caught his hands in hers and stood and gazed at him. “My, how big you have grown, and how serious! Isn't he splendid, Ollie?”

Oliver stood by, watching. He smiled drily. “He is a trifle too epic for me,” he said.