Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

candle; but saw nothing to awaken his grey in the tender morning mist. Bell suspicions.

is standing on the bridge, too. The “Oh,” he said, carelessly, as we left Lieutenant has brought out her sketchthe

room, “I do think him a most piti- book, and she has placed it on the stone ful fellow."

parapet before her. But somehow she

seems disinclined to begin work thus CHAPTER VI.

early on our journey; and, instead, her

eyes are looking blankly and wistfully A GIFT OF TONGUES.

at the rich green meadows, and the red My lady is an archer rare,

COWS, and the long white reach of the And in the greenwood joyeth she ; river shining palely beneath the faint There never was a marksman yet who could green heights in the north.

compare
In skill with my ladie.

“Is Henley the prettiest town in the

world, I wonder ?” she said. Early morning in Henley! From over “Yes, if you think so, mademoiselle," the wooded hills in the east there replied Von Rosen, gently. comes a great flood of sunshine that She lifted her eyes towards him, as lies warmly on the ruddy side of the though she had been unaware of his old inn, on its evergreens, and on the

presence.

Then she turned to the slopes of sweet-scented mignonette, and stream. sweetbriar, and various blossoms that “I suppose, if one were to live always adorn the bank of the river. The river among those bright colours, one would itself, lying apparently motionless be- get not to see them, and would forget tween level and green meadows, has its how fine is this old bridge, with the blue surface marred here and there by a pretty town, and the meadows, and the white ripple of wind; the poplars that stream. Seeing it only once, I shall never stand on its banks are rustling in the forget Henley, or the brightness of this breeze; there are swallows dipping and morning." skimming about the old bridge, and ducks With that, she closed her sketchpaddling along among the rushes and book, and looked round for Tita. That weeds, and cattle browsing in the deep small person was engaged in making green; and further on, some high-lying herself extremely wretched about her stretches of rye-grass struck into long and boys and the pony; and was becoming silvery waves by the morning wind. vastly indignant because she could get

All the stir and the motion of the new no one to sympathize with her wild day have come upon us; and Henley, imaginings of diverse perils and dangers. clean, white, and red, with its town Why, to hear you talk,” she was hall shining brightly down its chief saying at this moment, “one would street, and all its high clusters of old think you had never experienced the fashioned houses backed by a fringe of feelings of a parent--that you did not dark-wooded hill, shows as much life know you were the father of those two and briskness as are usually seen in poor boys." a quaint, small, old-fashioned English “That," I remark to her, “is not a town. But where the silence and the matter on which I am bound to express stillness of the morning dwell is away an opinion.” up the reach of the river. Standing “Very pretty-very !" she said, with on the bridge, you see the dark blue a contemptuous smile.

“ But I will say stream, reflecting a thousand bright this—that if you had had to buy the colours underneath the town, gradually pony, the boys would have had to wait become

greyer in hue until it gets long enough before they were exposed out amid the meadows and woods; to the dangers you think so little about and then, with a bold white curve, that now. is glimmering like silver in the north, “Madam," I observe, sternly, "you it sweeps under that line of low, soft are the victim of what theologians call green hills which have grown pearly and invincible ignorance. I might have

No. 148.-VOL. XXV.

T

bought that pony and all its belongings “Why?" she says, looking up. for a 201. note; whereas I shall have to “Because you accused me of stingipay 401. a year for its keep."

ness in not buying a pony for the boys, “Oh, I know," says my Lady, with and I showed you that I should have to great sweetness, "how men exaggerate pay 401. a year for the brute." those things. It is convenient. They “Yes, showed me! I suppose by that complain of the cost of the horses, pleasing fiction you will gain other 201. of the heaviness of taxes, and other a year to spend in Partagas, and Murias, things; when the real fact is that they and trumpery stuff that the tobacconists are trying to hide what they spend out tell you came from abroad.” of their income on cigars, and in their My dear,” I say, “ your insolence is clubs when they go to town. I counted astounding." up our taxes the other day, and I don't “If you call speaking the plain truth believe they have been over 81. for the insolence, I cannot help it. Bell, breakwhole of the last six months. Now

you

fast must be ready." know you said they were nearly 351. a Yes, my Lady,” says Bell, coming year."

forward demurely. “But I wasn't And you counted in those that are doing anything." due next week, I suppose ?"

So they went off ; and the Count and “Did you leave money to pay for I followed. them ?” she asks, mildly.

“ What is the matter ?” says he. “ And you based your calculations on “Do you know what a 'relish' is at some solitary instalment for armorial breakfast ?" bearings !—which you brought into the "No." family, you know."

“Then don't marry, or you will find Yes,” she replies, with an engaging out.” smile. “That was one thing you did not The tall young man with the brown require before-l am sorry to have caused beard and the light eyes shrugged his you so much expense. But you need not shoulders, and only said, as we walked avoid the subject. Mrs. Quinet told me to the inn last week that she knows her husband “ That is a very pleasant comedy, pays every year 651. for club-subscrip- when it means nothing. If it was tions alone, and nearly 402. for cigars." earnest, you would not find so much

"Then Mrs. Quinet must have looked enjoyment in it—no, not at all-you into your eyes, my dear, and seen what would not amuse yourselves, like two a simple little thing you are; for your children, instead of the parents of a knowledge of housekeeping and other family. But, my dear friend, it is a expenses, I will say, is as slight as need dangerous thing; for some day you will be, and Mrs. Quinet has been simply meet with a stupid person, who will not making a fool of you.

For the understand how Madame and yourself Major belongs to two clubs, and in the do make-believe in that way, and that one he pays eight guineas and in the

person will be astonished, and will talk other ten guineas a year. And he smokes of it, and you will both have a very

bad Manillas at 258. a hundred, which is reputation among your friends." equivalent, my dear—though you will However, there was one amiable perscarcely credit it-to threepence apiece.” son at the breakfast-table, and that was

“The money must go somehow,” says Bell. Tita, defiantly.

“Bell," I said, “I am going to sit by “ That is a customary saying among you. You never provoke useless quarwomen; but it generally refers to their rels about nothing; you are never imown little arrangements.”

pertinent; you never argue; and you “You avoid the question very skil- can look after a breakfast-table better fully."

than people twice your age.” "I should have thought you would Bell prudently pretended not to hear; have preferred that."

indeed, she was very busy helping every

I am

But did you

body and making herself very useful voice; but you know you told me yourand pleasant all round. She seemed to self, Tita, that he had been unfortunate have forgotten her independent ways ; in money matters, and was rather perand was so good-naturedly anxious to plexed just now. Of course, I wouldn't see that the Lieutenant's coffee was all say such a thing of one of your friends ; right, that he was apparently quite but I have heard of bankrupts; and I touched by her friendliness. And then have heard of a poor little man being she was very cheerful, too; and was so burdened with debt, that he looked bent on waking up the spirits of the like a mouse drawing a brougham, and whole party—but in a bright, submis- then, of course, he had to go into the sive, simple fashion that the audacious Court to ask them to unharness him.young lady did not always affect. Do have some more coffee, Count;

“ Did you hear the cocks crowing this sure that is quite cold.” morning ?" she said, turning to Von Rosen “You ought to be a little careful, with her frank eyes. “I thought it was Bell,” says my Lady. “ You know so pleasant to be woke up that way absolutely nothing of Major Quinet, instead of listening to the milkman and yet you hint that he is insolvent.” coming along a dismal London square, “I didn't--did I ?” says Bell, turning and calling up the maidservants with to her companion. his 'El-cho! El-cho !''

"No," replies the Count, boldly. notice that one of the cocks cried At this Tita looked astonished for quite plainly, 'Oh, go away! Oh, go a second; but presently she deigned awa-a-ay!'which was a stupid animal to smile, and say something about the to have near an inn; and another fine wickedness of young people. Indeed, fellow, who always started with a famous my Lady seemed rather pleased by Bell's flourish, had got a cold, and at the audacity in appealing to the Lieutenant; highest note he went off at a tangent and she was in a better humour when, into something like a plaintive squeak. some time after, we went out to the The intention of that crow, so far river and got a boat. as it went, was far better than the Once more upon the Thames, we feeble Oh, go away!' of the other; pulled up the river, that lies here and I was quite sorry for the poor between wooded hills the animal. — Do have some more toast, side, and level meadows on the other. Count.—He reminded me of poor Major The broad blue stream was almost deQuinet, Tita, who begins a sentence very

serted ; and as we got near the green well; but all at once it jerks up into islands, we could see an occasional the air-goes off like a squib, you know, young moor-hen paddle out from just below his nose ; and he looks amazed among the rushes, and then go quickly and ashamed, like a boy that has let a in again, with its white tail bobbing bird escape out of a bag."

in unison with its small head and beak. “ You need not amuse yourself with We rowed into the sluice of the the personal defects of your neighbours, mill that lies under Park Place, and Bell,” says Tita, who did not expect there, having floated down a bit under to have Major Quinet brought forward some willows, we fixed the boat to a again. Major Quinet is a very well- stump of a tree, landed, and managed to informed and gentlemanly man, and get into the road along which we had looks after his family and his estate driven the previous night. As we aswith the greatest care."

cended this pleasant path, which is cut I must say, Tita," retorted Bell through the woods of various mansions, (and I trembled for the girl), “that and looks down upon the green level you have an odd trick of furnishing of Wargrave Marsh, and the shining people with a sort of certificate of cha- meadows beyond the other bank of the racter, whenever you hear their names river, the ascents and descents of the mentioned. Very likely the Major can road seemed less precipitous than they manage his affairs in spite of his cracked had appeared the night before. What

on

one

we had taken, further, for wild masses seemed rather frightened all the same, of rock, and fearful chasms, and dan- and said nothing for some time. gerous bridges, were found to be part The drive from Henley to Oxford is of the ornamentation of a park—the one of the finest in England, the road bridge spanning a hollow having been leading gradually up through pleasant built of sham rock-work, which, in the pastures and great woods until it brings daylight, clearly revealed its origin.

you on to a

common—the highest Nevertheless, this road leading through ground south of the Trent—from which the river-side woods is a sufficiently you see an immeasurable wooded plain picturesque and pleasant one; and in stretching away into the western horizon. sauntering along for a mile or two and First of all, as we left Henley on that back we consumed a goodly portion of bright morning, the sweet air blowing the morning. Then there was a brisk coolly among the trees, and bringing us pull back to Henley; and the phaeton odours from wild flowers and breadths was summoned to appear.

of new-mown hay, we leisurely rolled When the horses were put in, and along what is appropriately called the the phaeton brought out, I found that Fair Mile, a broad smooth highway Von Rosen had quietly abstracted the running between Lambridge Wood and bearing-reins from the harness, some No Man's Hill, and having a space of time during the morning. However, grassy common on each side of it. This no one could grudge the animals this brought us up to Assenton Cross, and relief, for the journey they had to make here, the ascent getting much more stiff

, to-day, though not over twenty-three Bell took the reins, and the Count and miles, was considerably hilly.

I walked up the hill until we reached Now Tita had come early out, and Bix turnpike. had evidently planned a nice little ar- “ What a curious name !” said Bell, rangement. She got in behind. Then as she pulled the horses up. she bade Bell get up in front. The “Most likely,” said the Lieutenant, Lieutenant had lingered for a moment who was looking at an ancient edition in search of a cigar-case; and my Lady of Cary's Itinerary, “it is from the had clearly determined to ask him to old Saxon bece, the beech-tree, which is drive so soon as he came out. Butplentiful here. But in this book I find as she had not expressed any contrition it is Bixgibwen, which is not in the for her conduct of that morning, some modern books. Now what is gibwen ?' punishment was required ; and so, just “St. Caedwyn, of course," said Bell, as Von Rosen came out, I took the merrily. reins, stepped up beside Bell, and he, “You laugh, but perhaps it is true," of course, was left to join the furious replied the Lieutenant, with the gravity little lady behind.

befitting a student: “why not St. Caed“I thought the Count was going to wyn's beeches?

You do call many drive,” says Tita, with a certain cold places about here by the trees. There air. “Surely the road to Oxford is is Assenton ; that is the place of ash

trees. We shall soon be at Nettlebed; "It is,” I say to her.

and then comes Nuffield, which is Nutknow all roads lead to Rome, and they field, how do you call

your

wildnutsay that Oxford is half-way to Rome tree in England ?" -argal"

“The hazel," said Bell. “ But that But knowing what effect this refer- is commonplace; I like the discovery ence to her theological sympathies was about St. Caedwyn's beeches better: and likely to have on Tita, I thought it here, sure enough, they are.” prudent to send the horses on; and as The road at this point--something they sprang forward and rattled up the less than a mile past Bix turnpikemain street of Henley, her retort, if plunges into a spacious forest of beeches

, any, was lost in the noise. There which stretches along the summit of the was a laugh in Bell's eyes; but she hill almost on to Nettlebed. And this

[ocr errors]

easy to find.”

6 For you

road is bordered by a strip of common, “That is a very good income," said which again leads into a tangled maze the Lieutenant, with a smile. of bracken and briar; and then you “I do not like people with large inhave the innumerable stems of the comes,” said Bell

, dexterously avoiding beeches, showing long vistas into the that part of the subject. “I think they green heart of the wood. The sunlight must have qualms sometimes, or else be was shimmering down on this wilder- callous. Now I would have everybody ness, lying warmly on the road and its provided with a certain income, say green margin, and piercing here and 2001. a year; but I would not like to there with golden arrows the dense prevent all competition, and so I would canopy of leaves beyond. High as we fix an income at which all people must were the light breeze was shut off by the stop. They might strive and strive if beeches, and in the long broad cleft in they liked, just like bells of air in a which the road lay the air was filled champagne glass, you know, but they with resinous odours, that of the tall should only be able to reach a certain green and yellow brackens prevailing level in the end. I would have nobody An occasional jay fled screaming down with inore than 1,0001. a year ; that between the smooth grey branches, would be my maximum.” giving us a glimpse of white and blue A thousand a year !” exclaimed as it vanished; but otherwise there Tita. “Isn't a thousand ten hundred ?" seemed to be no birds about, and the “Yes," said Bell, after a second's wild underwood and long alleys lay calculation. still and warm in the green twilight of “And suppose you have one hundred the leaves.

to pay for two boys at school, and “It is very like the Black Forest, I another hundred for rent, and another think,” said the Lieutenant.

hundred for the keep of two horses, and "Oh, it is much lighter in colour," cried a hundred and twenty for servants' Bell. “Look at all those silver greys wagesof the stems and the lichens, and the Perhaps, Tita," I suggest in the clear green overhead, and the light meekest possible way, "you might as browns and reds beneath, where the

well tell Count von Rosen what you pay sunlight shines down through a veil. for a leg of mutton, so that when he It is lighter, prettier, more cheerful next comes to dine with us he may than your miles of solemn pines, with enjoy himself the more.” the great roads cut through them for It is well that the lightning which is the carts, and the gloom and stillness said to dart from women's eyes underneath, where there is no growth harmless sort of thing—a flash in the of underwood, but only level beds of pan, as it were, which is very pretty, green moss, dotted with dropped cones.” but sends no deadly lead out. How

“ You have a very accurate eye for ever, as Queen Tita had really becolours, mademoiselle; no wonder you haved herself very well since we set paint so well,” was all that the Lieu- out from Henley, I begged Bell to stop tenant said. But Tita warmly remon- and let us in, and then I asked the strated with Bell.

Lieutenant if he would drive. “You know Bell,” she said, “ that By this time we had walked the all the Black Forest is not like that; horses nearly to the end of the pleasant there is every variety of forest-scenery stretch of beechwood, which is about a there. And pray, Miss Criticism, where mile and a half long, and before us was were the gloomy pines and the solemn a bit of breezy common and the village avenues in a certain picture which was of Nettlebed. Von Rosen took the reins sold at the Dudley last year for twenty- and sent the horses forward. five solid English sovereigns ?”

“Why did you not continue to “You needn't tell Count von Rosen drive ? " said Tita, rather timidly, when what my income is," said Bell. “I I had taken my seat beside her. took two months to paint that picture." “Because we shall presently have to

is a

« VorigeDoorgaan »