By Order of the League

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THE shades of evening had commenced to fall; already the slanting sun shining through the open window glittered on the array of crystal glasses, turning the wine within them to a blood-red hue. The remains of an ample dessert were scattered about the bare polished table, rich luscious-looking fruits and juicy pines filling the air with their fragrance. A pleasant room, with its panelled walls and quaint curiosities, with here and there a modern picture framed; and again other works standing upon easels or placed against the wainscot. From the Corso below came the sounds of laughter and gaiety; while within, the delicate scent of the pines was overpowered by the odour of tobacco which rose from the cigarettes of the three men sitting there. They were all young—artists evidently, and from the appearance of one of them, he was of a different nationality from the others. Frederick Maxwell was an Englishman, with a passion for art, and no doubt had he been forced to gain a living by his brush, would have made some stir in the world; but being born with the traditional silver spoon in his mouth, his flirtation with the arts never threatened to become serious.

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