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CHAPTER III.

THE CREST OF THE WAVE.

"The topmost bright bubble on the wave of the town."

LOWELL.

THE summer came, and brought little change. The Lyndsays transferred the scene of their amusements from New York to Saratoga and Rockaway, where they met the same people, danced the same dances, and pursued the same course of gossip that had entertained them all winter long.

One face, however, was missed from the circle of Matilda's admirers; the baron had disappeared at the close of the winter festivities.

To the ingenious cross-questioning of the matrons of her acquaintance, Mrs. Lyndsay opposed an impenetrable calmness: she was far too able a tactician to suffer them to

imagine that her plans had failed, or to perceive her real perplexity as to the cause of the gentleman's absence.

Matilda had shown some regret at Oscar's departure-perhaps her manner had been cool to the baron; but her mother hoped that the charm of a title would soon efface her unfortun te prepossession in favor of her cousin. Oscar was an excellent young man, but he had no position, and had imbibed all his parents' absurd notions to such an extent that, if Matilda married him, she would sink into mere domestic life, or, at best, a narrow social circle, and not all her beauty and tact could avail to make her a leader of fashionable society.

What a different fate was almost in her grasp! As a baroness, all her gifts and accomplishments would shine with double lustre. Where could the baron be? He had told some vague story of the necessity of attention to important affairs abroad, but no one knew of his whereabouts. If he only would come back now!

Perhaps the lady's wishes would have been

less earnest could she have seen her hoped-for son-in-law on his summer migration. Changed in dress and appearance, so as scarcely to be recognised by his most habitual associates, he pursued "the yellow fly" over the lakes, and down the western waters, shaking in his hand the box and the rattling bait wherewith he would allure the enticing phantom. Those who would take a bee-tree must feed the guide bees on honey; and to enable him to win the heiress he must secure to himself a sufficient provision for the ensuing winter.

own way.

The Sumners enjoyed the summer in their The doctor found opportunities for various excursions with his family into the country for a few days at a time; and during August Mr. Lyndsay took the girls to join his own family at Rockaway. They were warmly welcomed by their aunt and cousins, and their other friends at the sea-side. Their first day was fully occupied in watching the ocean in its ever changeful beauty-an amusement the friends who preceded them had long grown

weary of, as well as of criticising the dresses and arranging the flirtations, and all were now eager for something new.

There were some exceptions to this class of busy idlers, and among them the chief favorites seemed to be an artist and his wife, named Esmond, who were gone on a sketching expedition. So much was said of Esmond's pictures, and sketches, and conversation, that the newcomers began to feel great curiosity to see this lion, especially Helen, who, deeply imbued with a true love of art, had already attained a degree of skill unusual for a lady artist.

The following morning brought the usual question "What shall we do to-day?" A small number went to the bowling-alley, while the rest gathered around Mrs. Spencer, to hear a proposal of a pic-nic party.

Mary Lester and I will go and meet the Esmonds to-day," she said, "and, with them, select a suitable place; while you that stay here shall superintend the other arrangements. Now let us elect committees."

Towards sunset a large party assembled on the wide piazza of the hotel, and soon after a carriage drove up, and Mrs. Spencer sprang out.

"The Esmonds will be here in a moment," she exclaimed. "Now, Mr. Deane, help me to hold this shawl to receive my treasures; be careful, Mary."

Mary Lester began tossing out a profusion of wild-flowers, long stems of willow, various ferns, and lastly a large bunch of garden roses.

These last were caught by Mrs. Spencer, while she gathered up the ends of the shawl containing all the rest of the flowers, which she called one of the young men from the piazza to take.

"There, good people, I have brought some occupation for you: make yourselves look fascinating for the ball."

"Ah! Mrs. Spencer, pray give us some of those beautiful rosebuds."

"By-and-by, perhaps; let me see who best deserves them."

"How deserve them, ma'am?"

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