The Path of a Star

Sara Jeannette Duncan
The Path of a Star, by Mrs.
Everard Cotes

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Title: The Path of a Star
Author: Mrs. Everard Cotes

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She pushed the portiere aside with a curved hand and gracefully
separated fingers; it was a staccato movement and her body followed it
after an instant's poise of hesitation, head thrust a little forward, eyes
inquiring and a tentative smile, although she knew precisely who was
there. You would have been aware at once that she was an actress. She
entered the room with a little stride and then crossed it quickly, the
train of her morning gown--it cried out of luxury with the cheapest
voice--taking folds of great audacity as she bent her face in its loose
mass of hair over Laura Filbert, sitting on the edge of a bamboo sofa,

and said--
"You poor thing! Oh, you POOR thing!"
She took Laura's hand as she spoke, and tried to keep it; but the hand
was neutral, and she let it go. "It is a hand," she said to herself, in one
of those quick reflections that so often visited her ready-made, "that
turns the merely inquiring mind away. Nothing but feeling could hold
Miss Filbert made the conventional effort to rise, but it came to nothing,
or to a mere embarrassed accent of their greeting. Then her voice
showed this feeling to be superficial, made nothing of it, pushed it to
one side.
"I suppose you cannot see the foolishness of your pity," she said. "Oh
Miss Howe, I am happier than you are--much happier." Her bare feet,
as she spoke, nestled into the coarse Mirzapore rug on the floor, and her
eye lingered approvingly upon an Owari vase three feet high, and thick
with the gilded landscape of Japan, which stood near it, in the cheap
magnificence of the room.
Hilda smiled. Her smile acquiesced in the world she had found,
acquiesced, with the gladness of an explorer, in Laura Filbert as a
feature of it.
"Don't be too sure," she cried; "I am very happy. It is such a pleasure to
see you."
Her gaze embraced Miss Filbert as a person, and Miss Filbert as a
pictorial fact, but that was because she could not help it. Her eyes were
really engaged only with the latter Miss Filbert.
"Much happier than you are," Laura repeated, slowly moving her head
from side to side as if to negative contradiction in advance. She smiled
too; it was as if she had remembered a former habit, from politeness.
"Of course you are--of course!" Miss Howe acknowledged. The words

were mellow and vibrant; her voice seemed to dwell upon them with a
kind of rich affection. Her face covered itself with serious sweetness. "I
can imagine the beatitudes you feel--by your clothes."
The girl drew her feet under her, and her hand went up to the only
semi-conventional item of her attire. It was a brooch that exclaimed in
silver letters "Glory to His Name!" "It is the dress of the Army in this
country," she said; "I would not change it for the wardrobe of a queen."
"That's just what I mean." Miss Howe leaned back in her chair with her
head among its cushions, and sent her words fluently across the room,
straight and level with the glance from between her half- closed eyelids.
A fine sensuous appreciation of the indolence it was possible to
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