with doubts and fears. He writes to ing nervous about his reception, thera her. She does not answer. His anxiety was nothing, at all events, to be feared becomes a madness; and forth with he from Queen Titania, who would have sets off in pursuit of her. Is there any- welcomed the * * * himself with an thing in all this to brand him as an out- effusive courtesy, if only she had tocast from humanity ?”

garded it as her duty. “Why, look at the folly of it! If “Oh, Arthur," she says, her whole the girl bad proper spirit, would it not face lighting up with a gladness which drive her into refusing him altogether?" amazed even me, who am accustomed

· Foolish, my dear, yes! but not to watch her ways, “I am really criminal. Now the whole of you seein delighted to see you.

How good of you to look on Arthur as monster of to come and spend the evening with us wickedness, because he is anxious to on so short a notice. I hope we have marry the girl he is fond of.”

not taken you away from any other My Lady alters the disposition of the engagement ?" thin tracery of silver cord which runs

* No," says

the young man, anthrough the dark masses of her hair, parently very much tonched by this and as she thus manages to shelve the

“and-and-it is I who subject, she says

ought to apologize for breaking in on “I suppose we shall have a pleasant you like this." time at dinner. Arthur will be fiercely “ Then you will spend to-morrow amusing. Plenty of sarcasm going with us also ?" says my Lady, quite about. Deadly looks of hatred. Jokes pleasantly. Indeed, there is nothing like as heavy as that one Bell talks of—that facing the inevitable with a good grace. was carried to the window by four men, "Yes," says Arthur, rather humbly, and killed a policeman when it tumbled “if you think I'm not intruding." over."

Why, your coming will be quite a My Lady is gently reminded that this relief. I should never have forgiven story was told of a German, before the


had been in our neighbourdate of Bell's conversion ; whereupon hood without coming to see us." she answers coolly

You might think that this little “Oh, I do not suppose that Count speech was of the nature of a fib. But von Rosen is like all Germans. I think it was not, just at that moment. When he is quite an exception--a very credit people are absent, Tita is about as cool, able exception. I know I have never and accurate, and severe in her judgmet anyone the least like him before." ment of them as any woman can be ;

“ But heroes were not common in and she is not disinclined to state her your county, were they ?

opinion. But once they come near her “They were in yours," says Tita, put- -and especially if she has to play the ting her arm within mine, and speaking part of hostess, and entertain them—the with the most gracious sweetness; "and natural and exuberant kindness of the that was why they took no notice of woman drives her into the most curious you.”

freaks of unconscious hypocrisy. We go

downstairs. At the head of an hour before she had been talking of the large dining-room, in front of the Arthur in a way that would have confireplace, a young man is standing. He siderably astonished that young man, if has a tine-table in his hand, which he is he had known; and had been looking for pretending to read, and his hat is on

ward with dismay and vexation to all the his head. He hastily removes that embarrassments of his visit. Now, howmost important part of an English- ever, that he was there—thrown on her man's attire, when my Lady enters the mercy as it were—she showed him a room, and then he comes forward with quite inordinate kindness, and that in a certain apprehension and embarrassed the most honest way in the world. A look on his face. If he had been grow- couple of minutes sufficed to convince

you if

Arthur that he had at least one firm Lieutenant von Rosen had at first adfriend in our household.

dressed a word or two to our guest; but He began to look anxiously towards finding the labour not productive, he the door. Presently, a voice that he had dropped him entirely out of the knew pretty well was heard outside ; conversation. Meanwhile Arthur had and then – ominous conjunction ! drunk a glass or two of sherry. He the Lieutenant and Bell entered to- was evidently nettled at finding the gether. Von Rosen had held the door Lieutenant almost monopolizing attenopen for his companion, so that Bell ad- tion ; for Tita herself had given up in vanced first towards our visitor. Her despair, and was content to listen. Von face was quite calm and a trifle reserved; Rosen was speaking as usual of the and yet every one could see that as she differences between English and German shook hands with the young man, there ways, and social aims, and what not, was a timid, half-concealed look of plea- until at last he drifted into some mensure and welcome in her eyes. He, on tion of the Republican phenomena that his part, was gloomily ceremonious. He had recently been manifested in this scarcely took any notice of the greeting country. which the Lieutenant carelessly ad- Now what conceivable connection is dressed to him. He accompanied us there between the irritation of an anxiouz over to the table, and took a seat on the lover and Republicanism? Master Arright hand of Tita, with a silence that thur had never alarmed any of us by portended evil. We were likely to have professing wild opinions on that subject a pleasant evening.

or on any other. We never knew that the Had he possessed a little more worldly young man had any political views, beprudence or savoir faire, he would now yonid a sort of nebulous faith in the have made some light excuse for his Crown and the Constitution. Consider, being present. He ought, for form's sake, therefore, our amazement when, at this to bave given us to understand that, as moment, he boldly and somewhat scornhe was obliged to be in Oxford, he had fully announced himself a Democrat, come on by rail to pay us a visit. But and informed us that the time was como as it was, no explanation was forth- for dismissing old superstitions and coming Our Apemantus had appa- destroying the last monopolies of feudalrently dropped from the skies.

He ism. There would be a heavy account looked very uncomfortable ; and replied to settle with the aristocracy that had in monosyllables to the various and con- for generations made laws to secure its tinuous remarks tbat Tita addressed to own interests, and tied up the land of him. He had never spoken to Bell, who the country so that an idle population sat next him, and who was herself had to drift into the big towns and silent. Indeed, the constraint and em- become paupers. All this was barrassment from which she was suffer- New times were at hand. England was ing began to vex the Lieutenant, who ripe for a new revolution ; and woe to strove in vain to conquer it by every them that tried to stem the tide! means in his power.

Theexplanation of which outburst was The barometer steadily fell. The at- merely this—that Arthur was so angry mosphere grew more and more gloomy, and impatient with the state of things until a storm of some sort was inevitable. inmediately around him, that he was The anxious efforts of Queen Tita to in- possessed with a wild desire to upset troduce some cheerfulness were touching and destroy sumething. And there is to sce; and as for Bell, she joined in the nothing so easy to upset and destroy, in talk about our journey, and what we had rhetoric, as the present political basis of seen, in a series of disconnected obser- this country. vations that were uttered in a low and Well, we looked at the lad. His timid tone, as if she was afraid to draw face was still aglow ; and there was down lightning from the thunder-clouds. something of triumph as well as of



fierceness in it. The hero of the old as they do now, to that the Silesian song, when his sweetheart has country is properly governed. And forgotten the vows she made, and the whiat will become of the present Repubring she gave him is broken in two, licans, who are angry because theç would like to rush away into battle, cannot get into Parliament, and wbo and sleep by camp-tires, under the still wish for a change that they may become night. But nothing half so ordinary great persons ? When you take away would do for our fire-eater, who, be the Crown, they will noi all be kinys, I cause he could not very well kill a think : there is too much of good sense in Prussian lieutenant, must needs attack this country, and of public spirit, that the British Crown. Was there any one makes


best men give up their own of us four inclined to resent this burst comfort to look after the governmentof sham heroics? Was there not in it and so it will be then." something of the desperation of wretched “I hope there will be no violent ness that was far more entitled to awaken change in our time, at least," said Queen compassion ? Had Arthur been less Tita. in love, he would have been more “ Madame is anxious about the prudent. Had he controlled his emo Church, I know,” remarked the Lieutions in that admirable fashion with tenant, with great gravity ; but he which most of our young gentlemen looked at Bell, and Bell could not now-a-days seem to set about the busi altogether conceal a smile. Arthur, ness of choosing a wife, he would not watching them both, noticed that little have made himself absurd. There was bit of private understanding; and the something almost pitiable in this wild, gloom on his face visibly deepened. incoherent, ridiculous effort of a young This must be said, however, that man to do or say something striking when an embarrassing evening is uidand picturesque before the eyes of a girl avoidable, a dinner is the best method whose affections he feared were drifting of tiding it over. The various small away from him.

incidents of the feast supply any omiThe Lieutenant, to whom this out nous gaps in the conversation; and break was particularly addressed, took there is, besides, a thawing influence in the affair very good-naturedly. He said, good meat and drink which the fiercest with a smile

of tempers finds it hard to with-tand. “Do you know who will be the most After the ebullition about Republicandisappointed, if you should have a Re ism, Arthur had quieted somewhat. public in England ? Why, the Repub. By the time we had got down to the licans that are very anxious for it just sweets, and perhaps with the aid of a now. Perhaps some of them are very little champagne—the lad never drank respectable men-yes, I believe that; much at any time, I ought to say-his but if I am not wrong, the men who anger had become modified into a make the great fuss about it in your morose and sentimental melancholy; nation are not like that. Agitators-is and when he did manage to speak to not that what you call them ? And, Bell, he addressed her in a wistful and if you have England a Republic, do you pathetic manner, as if she were some think the government of the country one on board a vessel and he saw her will be given to those noisy persons of gradually going away from him, her the present? No—that is not possible, friends, and her native land. One little I think. When the Republic comes, if revelation, nevertheless, comforted him it does come at all —and I do not know greatly; and lovers apt to magnify their how much force is in this demonstra misfortunes will note that he might have tion—all your great men, your well enjoyed this solace long before if only educated men, your men of good posi he had exercised the most ordinary tion and good breeding and good frankness. feeling they will all come forward, “You got a letter I sent you to

Oxford, I suppose ?” he said, with a mind a little discomfort. You should studied carelessness.

have seen the look of amazement and “ Yes," said Bell, with a little con- indignation which my Lady darted across scious colour in her face, as she bent the table at this moment. Fortunately, down her eyes.

Arthur did not notice it. He said he was “I am glad I had the chance of seeing very much obliged—he feared he would you to-night," he continued, with the have to return—if he went with us for same effort at self-possession, “ because a day or two, he would inconvenience I-I fancied you might be unwell-or us sadly—but he would consider it besome accident happened_since you did fore Monday morning. not send the telegram I begged of you." After dinner, Von Rosen got up and Here an awful moment of silence proposed that he and I should


down intervened. Everybody trembled for to the billiard-room-which is in the Bell's reply, which might provoke the end of the building abutting on the catastrophe we had been seeking to stable-yard—and smoke a cigar. Surely postpone.

generosity could go no further. Arthur “It was only yesterday forenoon looked surprised; and wore quite a I got your letter," Bell says, appa- pleasant smile on his face when we rose rently feeling the silence uncomfort- and left. able; “and—and I meant to have But perhaps it was merely selfishness answered it to-night

that caused our Uhlan to leave the field ; Oh, you were going to answer it?” for as we two went down the passage, he says, with his face suddenly getting and made our way up to the spacious bright.

room, he said “Yes," she says, looking up with “I am rather sorry for mademoiselle. some surprise. " You did not suppose

She does not seem to be very glad to I wouldn't answer it?”

meet her old friend-perhaps because In fact, that was just what he had he is not in a good temper. That is supposed, considering that she had been

why I did say we should go and play grievously offended by the tone of his billiards—there will be a chance of exletter.

planation --and to-morrow he will be all “I meant to have let you know how right. It is foolish of him to be diswe all were, and how far we had got,” agreeable. All this time of dinner, I says Bell, conveying an intimation that was thinking to myself how well he this sort of letter might be sent by any might make himself agreeable if he only body to anybody.

wished—with knowing all the polite Nevertheless, Arthur greatly recovered phrases with ease, and being able to talk himself after this assurance. She had without thinking. For me, that is difnot broken off with him, after all. He ferent, you know. I am bound in by explained that the letter must have stupid limits; and when I think to say been delayed on the way, or she would something nice to anyone—then I stop have got it the day before. He drank because I know nothing of the words, another glass of champagne, and said, just like at a wall.” with a laugh, that he had meditated He sent the red ball up and down surprising us, but that the design had the table in rather a peevish manner; failed, for everyone seemed to have ex- he felt that Arthur had an advantage pected him.

perhaps. “I only came down this afternoon; “But you talk English remarkably and I suppose I must go back on Mon- well.” day,” he remarked, ruefully.

“But I have remarked that you EngThis looked so very like a request for lish always say that to a foreigner, and will an invitation that I was bound to offer not tell him when he is wrong. I know him a seat in the phaeton, if he did not I am often wrong—and always about No. 150.-VOL. XXV.


your past tenses—your was loving' and all the same such is the fact. It is not did love,' and 'loved' and like that ; so much slowness as a sort of careful and I believe I am very wrong with precision of pronunciation that she afalways saying do' and did, for I fects—and you ought to be very grateful studied to give myself free speaking for such consideration.” English many years ago, and the book “Oh, I think it is very good of herI studied with was Penys' Diary,' be- very good indeed—and I would thank cause it is all written in the first person, her for it and by a man of good station. Now I “Don't do that, or you will have no find you do not say I did think, but more of it. And at present my Lady is 'I thought,' only it is very hard to re- catching up a trick of talking in the member. And as for pronunciation, I same way." know I am very wrong.

"It is very kind," said the Lieutenant, Well, he certainly had marked forms turning to the table with rather a of pronunciation, which I have con- thoughtful manner. “You would not sidered it unnecessary to reproduce in have expected a young girl like that to recording his talk. He said " I hef' for be so reflective of other people.” 'I have,' and ' a goot shawt' for ' a good Then he broke the balls; and by fair shot.' He also made occasional blunders strength of arm screwed the white into in accent, through adopting the accent the corner pocket. Nobody was more of the Latin word from which the Eng- astonished than himself, except the lish word is derived. But what were marker. It was, indeed, the first losing such trifles to the main fact that he hazard he had ever made; never having could make himself understood ? played before on a table with pockets.

“But this is very strange,” he said ; His next stroke was not so successful ; “how much more clearly Mademoiselle and so he consoled himself with lighting speaks than any English lady, or any a Partaga about eight inches in length. English person I have known yet. It At all events," he continued, “ your is very remarkable to me, how I have language has not the difference of Sie! great difficulty to follow people who talk and du,' which is a great advantage. like as if they had several tongues roll- Oh, it is a very perplexing thing someing in their mouth-and others speak times. Suppose you do know a young very fast—and others let the ends of the lady very well, and you have agreed words slide away, but Miss Bell, she is with her in private you shall always always clear, distinct, and very pleasant call each other 'du;' and then before to hear, and then she never speaks very other people you call her 'Sie'-it is loud as most of your people do to a very

hard not to call her 'du,' by misforeigner.”

take, and then everyone jumps up, and “ Perhaps," I say, “there is a reason stares at you, and all the secret is known. for Bell's clearness of speech.”

That is a very terrible thing." “Why?"

" And please what is the interesting “Perhaps she takes pains to be very ceremony with which you drink brüderdistinct in talking to you, while she schaft with a young lady? The same as manages not to show it. Perhaps other usual ?–a large jug of beer—your arms people can notice that she speaks with intertwined

little more deliberation to you than to “ No—10—no!” he cried. “It is all anyone else."

a mystery. You shall not know any. Von Rosen was obviously much thing of that. But it is very good-it struck.

is a very pleasant thing—to have brüder“Is that possible ?” he said, with his schaft with a young lady-although you eyes full of wonder. “I have not noticed drink no beer, and have no ceremonies that she did talk slow to me."

about it,” “No-she conceals it admirably; but “ And what did Fräulein Fallersleben's


« VorigeDoorgaan »