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The Love-Charm
by [?]

Emilius was wrath to the bottom of his heart, and answered not a word. He had long given up all design of making his intended confession; nor did the thoughtless Roderick show the least wish to hear the secret which his melancholy friend had announced to him with such an air of solemnity. He sat carelessly in the arm-chair, playing with his mask, when he suddenly cried: ‘Be so kind, Emilius, as to lend me your large cloak.’

‘What for?’ asked the other.

‘I hear music in the church on the opposite side of the street,’ answered Roderick, ‘and this hour has hitherto escaped me every evening since we have been here. To-day it comes just as if called for. I can hide my dress under your cloak, which will also cover my mask and turban, and when it is over I can go straight to the ball.’

Emilius muttered between his teeth as he looked in the wardrobe for his cloak, then constraining himself to an ironical smile, gave it to Roderick, who was already on his legs. ‘There is my Turkish dagger which I bought yesterday,’ said the mask, as he wrapped himself up; ‘put it by for me; it is a bad habit carrying about toys of cold steel: one can never tell what ill use may be made of them, should a quarrel arise, or any other knot which it is easier to cut than to untie. We meet again to-morrow; farewell; a pleasant evening to you.’ He waited for no reply, but hastened down-stairs.

When Emilius was alone, he tried to forget his anger, and to fix his attention on the laughable side of his friend’s behaviour. After a while his eyes rested upon the shining, finely-wrought dagger, and he said: ‘What must be the feelings of a man who could thrust this sharp iron into the breast of an enemy! but oh, what must be those of one who could hurt a beloved object with it! He locked it up, then gently folded back the shutters of his window, and looked across the narrow street. But no light was there; all was dark in the opposite house; the dear form that dwelt in it, and that used about this time to show herself at her household occupations, seemed to be absent. ‘Perhaps she is at the ball,’ thought Emilius, little as it suited her retired way of life.

Suddenly, however, a light entered; the little girl whom his beloved unknown had about her, and with whom, during the day and evening, she busied herself in various ways, carried a candle through the room, and closed the window-shutters. An opening remained light, large enough for over-looking a part of the little chamber from the spot where Emilius stood; and there the happy youth would often bide till after midnight, fixed as though he had been charmed there. He was full of gladness when he saw her teaching the child to read, or instructing her in sewing and knitting. Upon inquiry he had learnt that the little girl was a poor orphan whom his fair maiden had charitably taken into the house to educate her. Emilius’s friends could not conceive why he lived in this narrow street, in this comfortless lodging, why he was so little to be seen in society, or how he employed himself. Without employment, in solitude he was happy: only he felt angry with himself and his own timidity and shyness, which kept him from venturing to seek a nearer acquaintance with this fair being, notwithstanding the friendliness with which on many occasions she had greeted and thanked him. He knew not that she would often bend over him eyes no less love-sick than his own; nor boded what wishes were forming in her heart, of what an effort, of what a sacrifice she felt herself capable, so she might but attain to the possession of his love.