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these revelations, scarcely lifting her eyes from the table, and maintaining an appearance of studied indifference. Why should she care about the mention of any actress, or any dozen of actresses ? My Lady's anxiety was obviously unyecessary.
A MOONLIGHT NIGHT.
Then to the spicy nut-brown ale,
How faery Mab the junkets eat." CAIPPING Norton is supplied with all the comforts of life. Before leaving for the more inhospitable regions in which we are to pass the night, we take a leisurely walk through the curious little town, that is loosely scattered over the side of a steep slope. Here civilization has crowded all its results together; and Queen Tita is asked whether she could not forsake the busy haunts of men, and exchange that hovering between Leatherhead and London, which constitutes her existence, for a plain life in this small country town.
“ Chemists' shops abound. There is a subscription reading-room. There are co-operative stores. A theatre invites you to amusement. You may have Lloyd's News, various sorts of sewing machines, and the finest sherry from the wood "
“ Along with a Wesleyan chapel,” she says, with a supercilious glance at the respectable, if somewhat dull-looking little building that fronts the main street.
There is no reply possible to this ungracious sneer; for who can reason, as one of us hints to her, with a woman who would spend a fortune in incense, if only she had it, and who would rejoice to run riot in tall candles ?
Bell takes us away from Chipping Norton, the Lieutenant sitting beside her to moderate the vehemence of her pace in the event of her getting into a difficulty. First the road dips down by a precipitous street, then it crosses a
hollow, in which there are some buildings of a manufactory, a tiny river, and a strip of common or meadow, and then it ascends to the high country beyond by a steep hill. On the summit of this hill we give the horses a rest for a few seconds, and turn to look at the small town that lies underneath us in the valley. There is a faint haze of blue smoke rising from the slates and tiles. The deadened tolling of a bell marks the conclusion of another day's labour: for already the afternoon is wearing on apace; and so we turn westward again, and set out upon the lofty highway that winds onward towards the setting sun. Small hamlets fringe the road at considerable intervals, while elsewhere our route lies between stretches of heath aud long fields. And still the highway ascends, until we reach the verge of a great slope ; and, behold! there lies before us a great landscape, half in gloom, half in the dusky yellow light of the evening. And over there, partly shutting out the dark lines of hills in the west, a great veil of rain stretches from the sky to the earth, and through it the sun is shining as through ground glass. But so far away is this pale sheet of yellow mist, that we seem to be above it, and over the level and dark landscape on which it descends; and, indeed, where this veil ends, the sunlight sends forth long shafts of radiance that light up level tracts of the distant and wooded country. What fate is to befall us when we get down into this plain, and go forward in search of the unknown hostelry at which we are to pass the night!
"I hope the rain will not spread," says Bell, who had been telling us of all the wonders we should find at Bourton-on-the-Hill; “ but even if it does rain to-night, we shall be as well off on a hill as in a swamp."
“But at Moreton-in-the-Marsh," says Tita, “ there is sure to be a comfortable inn, for it is a big place; whereas Bourton-on-the-Hill appears to be only a small village, and we may find there only a public-house."
“But suppose it should clear?” says
Bell; “the moon will be larger to-night, horses, and said she should moderate and then we can look down on all this the efforts of the one, while waking up level country from the top of the hill. the other to a sense of his duties, she We have not had a night-walk for a was quite obedient.
When the whip long time, and it will be so much more was used at all—which was seldom pleasant than being down in the mists enough, for both horses were sufficiently of a marsh."
free/it was Pollux that felt the silk. “And you are prepared to sleep on a The Lieutenant fancied he was giving couple of chairs in the smoking-room of Bell lessons in driving, whereas he was a public-house ?” I ask of Miss Bell. merely teaching her submissiveness,
“I dare say we shall get accommoda That golden sheet of rain had distion of some kind," she replies, meekly. appeared in the west, and the yellow
“Oh, I am quite sure Mademoiselle light had sunk further and further down is right; there is so much more adven behind far bands of dark cloud. А ture in going to this small place on the grey dusk was falling over the green top of a hill,” cried the Lieutenant. landscape, and the birds were growing
Of course Madenoiselle was right. mute in the woods and the hedges. In Mademoiselle was always right now. the pervading silence we heard only the And when that was understood, Queen patter of the horses' feet and the light Titania never even attempted to offer rolling of the phaeton, as we sped onan objection, so that in all affairs per ward down the long slopes and along taining to our trip the rude force of the plain.
We passed Four - shirenumbers triumphed over the protests Stone, the adjacent shires being Worof an oppressed and long - suffering cester, Warwick, Gloucester, and Oxminority.
ford ; and then, getting on by a piece But only change the relative positions, of common, we rattled into a long and and then what a difference there was ! straggling village, with one or two large When the Lieutenant hinted in the re and open thoroughfares. motest way that Bell might do so and Moreton-in-the-Marsh was asleep, and so with the horses, she was all atten we left it asleep. There were still a tion. For the first time in her career few men lounging about the corner she allowed the interests of justice to public-house, but the women and chilmoderate her partiality for Pollux. dren had all retired into the cottages That animal, otherwise the best of from the chill night-air. In some of horses, was a trifle older than his com the windows the light of a candle was panion, and had profited by his years so visible. The dark elms behind the far as to learn a little cunning. He had houses were growing darker. got into a trick accordingly of allowing Between Moreton and Bourton you Castor—the latter being younger and a plunge still deeper into this great and good deal“ freer"—to take more than damp valley, and the way lies through his share of the work. Pollux had ac a rich vegetation which seems to have quired the art of looking as if he were thriven well in this low situation. The perpetually straining at the collar, while hedges along the roadside are magniall the time he was letting his neighbour ficent; the elms behind them constiexercise to the full that willingness tute a magnificent avenue extending for which was his chief merit. Now Bell nearly a couple of miles; all around had never interfered to alter this un are dense woods. As we drove rapidly equal division of labour. Queen Tita through this country, it almost seemed knew well how to make the older horse as though we could see the white mists do his fair share ; but Bell encouraged around us, although the presence of the him in his idleness, and permitted his vapour was only known to us by the companion to work out of all reason. chilling touch of the air. On this Now, however, when the Lieutenant July night we grew cold. Tita hoped pointed out the different action of the there would be a fire at the hostelry on
the top of the mountain, and she be standing at the higher extremity of the sought Bell to muffle up her throat, so Where is the familiar signboard, that we should not be deprived of our or the glowing bar, or the entrance to ballads by the way.
the stables ? Von Rosen surrenders At last we beheld the hill before us. his charge of the horses, and walks “It is not very like the Niessen,” says into the plain-looking house.
It is an Tita.
We begin to perceive in the dusk “But I have no doubt there is a very that a small board over the doorway good inn at the top,” remarks the Lieu bears the name of “ Seth Dyde.” We tenant ;“ for after this hill the people find, however, instead of a landlord, would naturally stop to rest their a landlady-a willing, anxious, enerhorses.”
getic woman, who forth with sets to work “And we shall get up to see the sun to take our party into this odd little rise, as we did on the Niessen ?" asks place. For dinner or supper, just as we Bell, with a fine innocence; for she choose to call it, she will give us ham knows the opinions of some of us on and
with either tea or beer. She the subject of early rising. “Do you will get two bedrooms for us ; and perremember the fat little woman who had haps the single gentleman will accept a walked up all by herself, and who came shake-down in the parlour. In that out by herself in the morning, and ap room a fire is lit in a trice; a lamp is pealed to us all to tell her the names of brought in; and presently the cheerful the mountains, that she might write blaze in the huge fire-place illuminates them down ?”
the curious old-fashioned chamber, with “ And how oddly she turned up its carpets, and red table-cloth, and again at nearly every railway station we gloomy furniture. A large tray appearsstopped at, with all her luggage around ornamental teapot is produced. her !” says Tita.
Sounds are heard of attendants whip“I believe,” says Bell, “she is still ping through the place—so anxious and sailing all through Europe on a shoal of so dexterous is this good woman. And bandboxes and portmanteaus. I wish Queen Tita, who is merciless in one I could draw the fat little woman respect, examines the cups, saucers, forks balancing herself in that circle of lug- and knives, and deigns to express her gage, you know, and floating about com sense of the creditable cleanliness and fortably and placidly like a bottle order of the solitary inn. bobbing about in the sea.
Meanwhile, the horses. have drifted up to St. Petersburg by “Oh,” says the Lieutenant, coming in this time."
out of the dark, “I have found & “I think we have," says the Lieu famous fellow-the first man I have tenant, who is leading the horses up seen in England who does his work the steep hill, and who rubs his chilled well with grooming a horse. He is an hands from time to time.
excellent fellow-I have seen nothing We reach the centre of the strangling like it. The horses are well off this line of houses which must be Bourton, night, I can assure you—you will see and, behold! there is no inn. In the dusk how good they look to-morrow mornwe can descry the tower of a small ing." church, and here the cottages thicken “It is strange so good an ostler into the position which ought to be should be found here," remarks Tita. dominated by an inn, but there is no “ But he is not an ostler,” replies the sign of any such thing. Have we Lieutenant, rubbing his hands at the climbed this precipitous steep, and have fire; "he is a groom to some gentleman Castor and Pollux laboriously dragged The ostler is away. He does our phaeton and luggage up, all for his work as a favour, and he does it 80 nothing? The Count asks å startled that I think the gentleman must keep villager, who points to a wayside house
some racing horses."
“How do you manage to find out all little sentences that are proper to the these things about the people you time. That is very difficult very meet ?" asked Titania, with a gracious annoying. But it is very surprising the smile.
number of your English ladies who have “Find out !" replied the tall young learned German at school; while the man, with his blue eyes staring. “Ido not French ladies, they know nothing of think I find out any more than others. that, or of anything that is outside Paris. It is people talk to you. And it is I do think them the most useless of better to know a little of a man you women-very nice to look at, and very give your horses to—and there is some charming in their ways, perhaps—but time to talk when you are seeing after not sensible, honest, frank like the the horses and so—that is perhaps English women, and not familiar with why they tell me.”
the seriousness of the world, and not “But you have not to see about horses ready to see the troubles of other people. when you are in a bookseller's shop at But your English woman who is very nine in the morning, and the young lady frank to be amused and can enjoy there tells you about the milliners' shops herself when there is a time for that, and the students," says my Lady. who is generous in time of trouble, and is
“Oh, she was a very nice girl,” re not afraid, and can be firm and active marks the Lieutenant, as if that were and yet very gentle, and who does not sufficient explanation.
think always of herself, but is ready to “But you talk to every one, whether help other people, and can look after a they are young ladies, or innkeepers, house, and manage affairs—that is a or grooms : is it to perfect your pro better kind of woman, I think-more nunciation of English ?
to be trusted—more of a companion“Yes, that is it,” said the young oh, there is no comparison !” man, probably glad to arrive at any All this time the Lieutenant was busy solution of the problem.
stirring up the fire, and placing huge “Then you ought not to speak to lumps of coal on the top; and he had ostlers.”
obviously forgotten that he was saying “ But there is no ostler who talks so these things to two English women. very bad as I do—I know it is very, Tita seemed rather amused, and kept
looking at Bell; Bell said nothing, but “I am sure you are mistaken," says pretended to be arranging the things on Bell, quite warmly, but looking down ; the table. When the Lieutenant came “I think you speak very good English back from the fire, he had apparently and it is a most difficult language to forgotten his complimentary speech ; pronounce—and I am sure there are few and was regarding with some curiosity Germans who can speak it as freely as the mighty dish of ham and eggs tha you can.”
had come in for our supper. "All that is a very good compliment, That was a very comfortable and enMademoiselle,” he said, with a laugh joyable repast. When the chill of driving that caused Bell to look rather embar through the fogs of the plain had worn rassed. “I am very glad if I could off, we found that it was not so very think that, but it is impossible. And
here on the hill. A very liberal as for freedom of speaking-oh, yes, and honest appetite seemed to prevail ; you can speak freely, comfortably, if you and there was a tolerable attack made are going about the country, and meeting on the ample display of ham and eggs. strangers, and talking to any one, and As for the beer that our Lieutenant not caring whether you mistake or not; drank, it is not fair to tell stories. but it is different when you are in a room He said it was good beer, to begin with. with very polite English ladies who are Then he thought it was excellent beer. strangers to you—and you are introduced At length he said he had not tasted and you do not know how to say those better since he left London.
Women get accustomed to many don't mean to go out at this time of things during the course of a rambling night!” journey like this. You should have Why not, Madame ?” says the Lieuseen how naturally Queen Tita brought tenant. “Was it not agreed before forth the bezique-cards directly after we came up the hill ? And when could supper, and how unthinkingly Bell
you get a more beautiful night? I am fetched some matches from the mantel sure it will be more beautiful than the piece and placed them on the table. sunrise from the top of the Niessen." My Lady had wholly forgotten her “Oh, if
says my Lady, ancient horror of cigar smoke—in any with a gentle courtesy, “by all means case, as she pointed out, it was other let us go out for a little walk." people's houses we were poisoning with That is the way affairs began to be the odour. As for Bell, she openly ordered about to suit the fancies of those declared that she enjoyed the scent of young nincompoops. What little vescigars; and that in the open air, on a tige of authority remained with the suinmer evening, it was as pleasant to eldest of the group was exerted to secure her as the perfume of the wild roses or a provision of shawls and rugs. Bell the campions.
was not loth. She had a very pretty grey However, there was no bezique. We shawl. She had
shawl. She had also a smart little grey fell to talking. It became a question hat, which suited it; and as the hat as to which could find the freshest was trimmed with blue, the grey shawl phrases and the strongest adjectives to could not have a prettier decoration describe his or her belief that this was than the blue ribbon of the guitar. the only enjoyable fashion of travelling. Who proposed it I cannot say ; but The abuse that was poured upon trains, Bell had her guitar with her when we stations, railway porters, and the hurry went out into the bright wonder of the of cabs in the morning, was excessive. moonlight. Time-tables of all sorts were spoken of Bourton-on-the-Hill was now a mass with an animosity which was wonderful of glittering silver, and sharp, black to observe when it came along with shadows. Below us we could see the dark the soft and pleasant undertones of our tower of the church, gleaming grey on Bonny Bell's voice. Tita said she the one side ; then a mass of houses in should never go abroad any more. deep shadow, with a radiance shining The Lieutenant vowed that England from their tiles and slates; then the grey was the most delightful country in the road down the hill, and on one side of world to drive through. The present it a big wall, with its flints sparkling. writer remarked that the Count had But when we got quite to the summit, much to see yet; whereupon the foolish and clambered on to a small piece of young man declared he could seek for common where were some felled trees, no pleasanter days than those he had what words can describe the extrajust spent, and wished, with some un ordinary view that lay around us ? The necessary emphasis, that they might go village and its small church seemed to on for ever. At this momens Bell rose be now half-way down the hill; whereas and went to the window.
the great plain of the landscape appeared Then we heard an exclamation. Look to have risen high up on the eastern ing round, we found the shutters open, horizon, where the almost invisible stars and lo! through the window we could met the dark woods of Oxfordshire. seo a white glare of moonlight falling Over this imposing breadth of wood into the empty thoroughfare, and strik and valley and meadow-with its dark ing on the wall on the other side of the lines of trees, its glimmerings of farmway.
houses, and winding streams--the flood * It cannot be very cold outside,” of moonlight lay so softly that the world remarks the young lady.
itself seemed to have grown clear from “Bell !" cries Queen Tita, "you underneath. There were none of the