A Russian Revenge can be found in

The Black Cat

AUGUST, 1898.

A Russian Revenge.


AS Helen Winscom stepped from the store of the coiffeuse into the brightness and bustle of the boulevard, she felt as guilty as a criminal haunted by the knowledge of a crime. She blamed her own vanity for allowing her to covet the beautiful coil of hair which now so magnificently augmented her scanty tresses thinned by recent illness. She blamed Madame Trésjeune for her specious argument that the braid was only another shade of red than her own hair, and, "in effect Madame was not really dyeing her hair but making a slight accommodation of the tint." Already her secret seemed everybody's and, though long accustomed to observation and scrutiny, to-day the sidelong glance, the furtive regard, the bolder stare,—all tributes paid to her beauty from her earliest introduction into society,—bad the effect of making her blush like a school girl till her whole body pricked and tingled.

To regain her composure she turned to the window of a jewelry store, celebrated even among the magasins of Paris for the purity of its gems and the beauty of its trinkets. With her first glance the guilty, half-conscious feeling entirely vanished. She felt that she would have dyed her hair many shades deeper than its natural color, instead of one, to produce an effect so splendid as that given back by the mirrors lining the windows. Against the pallor of her complexion her hair showed like a sunset on a field of snow. It was a glorified red. Burnished copper barely suggests its beauty and brilliance. It made one think of the morning sun seen, blurred, through a London fog. From these reflections, internal and external, Mrs. Winscom was rudely awakened to the publicity of her position by the appearance of another face in the mirror beside her own; a man's face of dark complexion, framed in a close-clipped pointed beard. Affecting to be interested in examining a bracelet, Helen stooped as if to observe it more closely. When her eyes rose again to the level of the mirror the face was still there. The man seemed to be endeavoring to attract her attention. A well-gloved hand was raised to the beard as if to stroke it, and from the half-closed fingers peeped the edge of a visiting card. As the hand was removed the man's glance dropped significantly to the card and then sought her own eyes with a look of intelligence that was unmistakable. Her face burned with anger as she left the window and pursued her. way along the boulevard, walking swiftly, heedlessly, to the first crossing, where she turned and passed to the other side. Gradually she slackened her pace ns her irritation subsided, and her mouth softened with a smile as she thought: " How foolish of me to resent a notice invited by my own position! Posing before a mirror in a public street as if —"

She broke off her monologue as her eye caught the curve of a dainty Sevres vase in a store window. It was a corner store, and its windows fronted on the intersecting avenue as well as on the boulevard, the vase occupying a pedestal in the angle of the window and being visible from either approach. As she looked she felt, against her will, her eyes slowly drawn up from the vase until they met those of the man she had recently encountered at the jeweler's. Standing now on tho avenue, he was gazing at her. directly through the angle of the window. Again he held the card in his hand, but this time more openly as his position permitted. With a glance which was meant to be annihilating she turned from the window and signaled one of the ubiquitous fiacres which was just then passing. " To the Hotel Mazarin," she commanded as she entered, and then recoiled, half stupefied by the appearance, at the window of the vehicle, of the persistent stranger who had evidently listened to her directions. But anger overcame her astonishment when, covering the act with a bow, he managed to toss a card into her lap. Seizing the card at the instant it touched her dress she tore it violently in two and dashed the pieces in the man's face just as the cab, starting forward with a jerk, threw her breathless against the cushions.

"The wretch! " she cried, panting with indignation. " And he heard me give my address. Fortunately he doesn't know my name. But is there another woman in the hotel with hair like ...

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