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Mademoiselle Olympe Zabriski
by [?]

“He has the symptoms,” said Delaney, laughing. “I remember once when Jack Hemming “–

“Ned!” cried Hemming, “I protest against any allusion to that business.”

This was one night when Van Twiller had wandered into the club, turned over the magazines absently in the reading-room, and wandered out again without speaking ten words. The most careless eye would have remarked the great change that had come over Van Twiller. Now and then he would play a game of billiards with De Peyster or Haseltine, or stop to chat a moment in the vestibule with old Duane; but he was an altered man. When at the club, he was usually to be found in the small smoking-room up-stairs, seated on a fauteuil fast asleep, with the last number of The Nation in his hand. Once, if you went to two or three places of an evening, you were certain to meet Van Twiller at them all. You seldom met him in society now.

By and by came whisper number two–a whisper more emphatic than number one, but still untraceable to any tangible mouthpiece. This time the whisper said that Van Twiller was in love. But with whom? The list of possible Mrs. Van Twillers was carefully examined by experienced hands, and a check placed against a fine old Knickerbocker name here and there, but nothing satisfactory arrived at. Then that same still small voice of rumor, but now with an easily detected staccato sharpness to it, said that Van Twiller was in love–with an actress! Van Twiller, whom it had taken all these years and all this waste of raw material in the way of ancestors to bring to perfection–Ralph Van Twiller, the net result and flower of his race, the descendant of Wouter, the son of Mrs. Van-rensselaer Vanzandt Van Twiller–in love with an actress! That was too ridiculous to be believed–and so everybody believed it. Six or seven members of the club abruptly discovered in themselves an unsuspected latent passion for the histrionic art. In squads of two or three they stormed successively all the theatres in town–Booth’s, Wallack’s, Daly’s Fifth Avenue (not burnt down then), and the Grand Opera House. Even the shabby homes of the drama over in the Bowery, where the Germanic Thespis has not taken out his naturalization papers, underwent rigid exploration. But no clue was found to Van Twiller’s mysterious attachment. The opera bouffe, which promised the widest field for investigation, produced absolutely nothing, not even a crop of suspicions. One night, after several weeks of this, Delaney and I fancied that we caught sight of Van Twiller in the private box of an up-town theatre, where some thrilling trapeze performance was going on, which we did not care to sit through; but we concluded afterwards that it was only somebody who looked like him. Delaney, by the way, was unusually active in this search. I dare say he never quite forgave Van Twiller for calling him Muslin Delaney. Ned is fond of ladies’ society, and that’s a fact.

The Cimmerian darkness which surrounded Van Twiller’s inamorata left us free to indulge in the wildest conjectures. Whether she was black-tressed Melpomene, with bowl and dagger, or Thalia, with the fair hair and the laughing face, was only to be guessed at. It was popularly conceded, however, that Van Twiller was on the point of forming a dreadful mesalliance.

Up to this period he had visited the club regularly. Suddenly he ceased to appear. He was not to be seen on Fifth Avenue, or in the Central Park, or at the houses he generally frequented. His chambers–and mighty comfortable chambers they were–on Thirty-fourth Street were deserted. He had dropped out of the world, shot like a bright particular star from his orbit in the heaven of the best society.

The following conversation took place one night in the smoking-room:–

“Where’s Van Twiller?”

“Who’s seen Van Twiller?”

“What has become of Van Twiller?”

Delaney picked up the Evening Post, and read–with a solemnity that betrayed young Firkins into exclaiming, “By Jove, now!”–