[ocr errors]

ner, and very attentive to her- was ing down; "the weather bas been so nevertheless obviously on the watch, good-and-and the scenery was and certain to resent any remark that pleasant-and-and-" might by chance miss him and glance It was Arthur himself, singularly by towards her. Certainly, these were enough, who came to the rescue, little not comfortable conditions for a pleasant knowing that he was affording her such walk. Tita afterwards declared that she relief. was calculating with satisfaction that she “I don't think you have chosen the had already got through several hours right road," he remarked. “The real of that terrible day.

reminiscences of the old stage-coach The sun was shining far away on the days you will find on the York and blue Malvern hills. Along the level Berwick road to Scotland. I never meadows the lines of pollard willows heard of anyone going to Scotland this were grey and silvery in the breezy

way.” light. Close at hand the rich masses of Why,” says one of the party, with green were broken by the red sandstone a laugh that seemed to startle the bank opposite ; while the tall trees silence around, " that is the very reason above sent straggling duplicates of them

we chose it.” selves -coloured in deep chocolate- “I have been thinking for some brown-down into the lazy stream that time,” he says, coldly, "of getting a flowed beneath us. And as we sat there dog-cart and driving up the old route and listened for the first ominous obser- to Scotland.” vation of one or another of these young

The heavens did not fall on him. folks, lo! there glided into the clear white Queen Tita looked at the tips of her and blue channel of the river a gaily- gloves, and said nothing; but Bell, bedizened barge that gleamed and glit- having less of scepticism about her, imtered in the sunlight and sent quivering mediately cried outlines of colour down into the water. “Oh, Arthur, don't do that, it will The horse came slowly along the road. be dreadfully wretched for you going The long rope rustled over the brush- away on such an excursion by yourwood on the bank, and splashed on the self." surface of the stream. The orange and But the young man

saw that his scarlet bands of the barge stole away proposal—I will swear it had never up and through that world of soft green- entered his brain before that very minute ness that lay under the shadow of the - bad produced an effect; and treated it opposite bank; and then the horse, and as a definite resolve. rope, and driver turned the corner of a “At least, if you are going, you might field, and we saw them no more.

as well come with us, or meet us further The appearance of the barge bad pro- on, where the roads join,” says Bell. voked attention, and secured silence. No, I am not so mad as to go When it was gone the Lieutenant turned your way,” he replied, with an air of carelessly to Arthur, and said

disdain." I shall keep out of the rainy “Do you go back to London to- districts, and I mean to go where one morrow ?

can find traces of the old times still “I don't know,” said the young man,

hanging about.” gloomily.

And pray," I venture to ask him, “I: is such a pity you can't come are all the old inns confined to one with us, Arthur,” says Bell, very gently, part of this unfortunate country? And as if begging for a civil reply.

were there no ways of getting to Scot“I have no doubt you will enjoy land but by York and Berwick? Why, yourselves very well," he replies, with a over the whole country there is a netcertain coldness in his tone.

work of routes along which stage“We have hitherto," she says, look- coaches used to run. And if you should be tired of driving alone, you can do no

abroad like your aristocracy, and gambetter than strike across country from bling away their fortunes to the Jews York by the old coach-road that comes and the horse-dealers, and getting into on to Penrith, and so go up with us debt and making very much fools of through Carlisle and Moffat on to themselves." Edinburgh."

“ When we of this country,” says “I am not so sure that I shall go Arthur, proudly, "see the necessity of alone,” he said, quite fiercely.

military preparations, we join the ranks What did the boy mean? Was he of a body that accepts no pay, but is going to drive a white elephant about none the less qualified to fight when the country?

that is wanted." “Do you know much of the manage

“Oh, I do say nothing against your ment of horses ? ” says the Lieutenant, volunteers. No, on the contrary, I meaning no harm whatever.

think it is an excellent thing for the Arthur is in the volunteer artillery, young men.

And it would be better if —the field artillery, do they call it?— the service was continuous for one, two, and of course he has to manage horses,” three years—and they go away into explains my Lady.

barrack life--and have much drill and Oh, you are a volunteer ?” said the exercise in the open air, and make the Lieutenant with quite an accession of young men of the cities hardy and interest. “That is a very good thing. strong.

That would be a very good I think all the young men of this army then, I think ; for when the men country would do much good to their are intelligent and educated, they have health and their knowledge by being less chance of panic—which is the volunteers and serving a time of military worst that can happen in a battle—and service."

they will not skulk away, or lose their “ But we don't like compulsion here," courage, because they have so much selfsays Arthur, bluntly.

respect. But I do not know whether “That,” retorts the Lieutenant, with this is safer-to have the more ignorant a laugh, “is why you are at present a men of the peasantry and country peoplo very ill-educated country."

who will take their drill like machines " At all events," says Arthur, rather and go through it all, and continue hotly, “we are educated well enough firing in great danger, because they are to have thrown aside the old super

like machines. Now, if you had your stitions of feudalism and divine right; towns fighting against the country, and and we are too well educated to suffer if you had your town volunteers and your a despotic government and a privileged country regiments with the same amount aristocracy to have it all their own way.” of instruction, I think the country

“Oh, you do talk of Prussia,” said troops would win, although each man the Count. “Well, we are not perfect might not have as much patriotism and in Prussia. We have many things to education and self-respect as in the learn and to do, that we might have town soldiers. Because the country done if we had been preserved round troops would march long distances—and about by the sea,


But I think would not be hurt much by rain or the we have done very well for all that : sleeping out at night and they would and if we have a despotic government,

go through their duties like machines which I do not think, it is perhaps when the fight commenced. But your because what is good for England is not city volunteers, they have not yet got always good for every other country; anything like the training of your reguand if we have an aristocracy, they work lar troops that come from the country for the country just like the sons of the villages and towns.” peasants, when they go into the army, “I know this," says Arthur, " that and get small pay, instead of going if there was to be an invasion of this

country by Prussia, a regiment of our way. Bell's looks are cast down ; Arthur city volunteers would not be afraid to speaks in a loud voice, to let us know meet a regiment of your professional that he is only talking about the most soldiers, however countrified and me- common-place affairs. But at the first chanical they may be

stile we go through, they manage to fall “Ah, but that is a great mistake you behind ; and when, at intervals, we turn make," says the Lieutenant, taking no to see how the river and the meadows notice of the challenge ; “our soldiers and the groves of trees look in the are not of any single class—they are sunshine, we find the distance between from all classes, from all towns, and us and the young couple gradually invillages, and cities alike-much more creasing, until they are but two almost like your volunteers than your regular undistinguishable figures pacing along soldiers, only that they have some more the banks of the broad stream. drill and experience than your volun- “Well, we have got so far over the teers. And what do you say of an in- day!" said my Lady, with a sigh. “But vasion ? I have heard some people talk I suppose we must ask him to dine of that nonsense—but only in England. with us.” Is it that you are afraid of invasion that “Is it necessary, Madame ?


the you imagine these foolish things, and Lieutenant. "But perhaps you might talk so much of it?"

ask him to bring better manners with “No, we are not afraid of it


him.” Arthur, evidently casting about for some “I am afraid he has been very rude to biting epigram.

you,” said Tita, with some show of com“ Yet no one in all Europe speaks or punction. thinks of such a thing but a few of your “To me? No. That is not of any people here, who give great amusement consequence whatever, but I did think to us at home.”

that all this pleasant walk has been “ There would be amusement of spoiled to Mademoiselle and yourself another sort going,” says Arthur, get- by—by what shall I say not rudeting a little red.

ness, but a fear of rudeness. And yet, And just at this instant, before he what reason is there for it?" has time to finish the sentence, Tita “I don't know," was the reply, utters a little scream. A stone has uttered in rather a low voice. “ But I splashed into the stream beneath us. hope Bell is not being annoyed by him The author of the menace is unknown now.” -being probably one of a gang of young You see, that was the way in which rascals hidden behind the bushes on the they had got to regard this unfortunate other side of the river—but it is certainly youth—as a sort of necessary evil, which not anger that dwells in my Lady's bosom was to be accepted with such equanimity with regard to that concealed enemy. as Heaven had granted to the various He has afforded her relief at a most sufferers. It never occurred to them to critical moment; and now she prevents look at the matter from Arthur's point Arthur returning to the subject by pro- of view, or to reflect that there was proposing that we should walk back to bably no more wretched creature in the Worcester ; her suggestion being fully whole of England than he was during understood to be a command.

this memorable Sunday. We set out. The Lieutenant wilfully Consider how he spent the day. It separates himself from Bell.

He joins

was the one day on which he would us elderly folks on the pretence of being have the chance of seeing Bell for an much interested in this question of unknown period. He comes round in Volunteer service-and Bell and Arthur the morning to find her sitting at breakare perforce thrown together. They walk fast with his rival. He accompanies on in front of us, in rather an embarrassed them on a walk into the country ; finds

himself “the third wheel to the cart,” he was practically dismissed. Seven and falls behind to enjoy the spec came, and Arthur appeared. He was in tacle of seeing her walk by the side evening dress ; conveying a rebuke to of this other man, talking to him, uncouth people like ourselves, who were and sharing with him the beautiful in our ordinary travelling costume. sights and sounds around. Ye who But Bell's seat was vacant. After we have been transfixed by the red-hot had waited a few minutes, Queen Tita skewers of jealousy, think of the torture went to inquire for her, and in a few which this wretched young man suffered minutes returned. on this quiet Sunday morning. Then as “ Bell is very sorry, but she has a he walks home with her, he finds her, headache, and would rather not come as we afterwards learn, annoyed about down to dinner." certain remarks of his. He explains in Arthur looked up with an alarmed a somewhat saucy manner, and makes face; the Lieutenant scowled; and Tita, matters worse.

Then he takes to re taking her seat, said she was afraid we proaches, and bids her reflect on what had walked too far in the morning. people will say; and here again he goes Strange. If you had seen our Bell walkfrom one blunder to another in talking ing lightly up to the top of Box-hill and in such a fashion to a proud and high- running down again-just by way of spirited girl, who cannot suffer herself amusement before lunch you would to be suspected. In his blindness of not have expected that a short walk of anger and jealousy, he endeavours to as a mile or two along a level river-course perse the character of the Lieutenant would have had such an effect. But so he is like other officers-everyone knows it was ; and we had dinner before us. what the Prussian officers, in general, It was not an enlivening meal ; and are—what is the meaning of this thing, the less said about it the better. Arthur and the dark suspicion suggested by talked much of his driving to Scotland that? To all of these representations in a dog-cart, and magnified the advanBell replies with some little natural tages of the York route over that we warmth. He is driven wild by her de were now following. It is quite certain fence of his rival. He declares that he that he had never thought of such a knows something about the Lieutenant's thing before that morning; but the atreputation-and then she, probably with tention that had been drawn to it, and a little paleness in her face, stands still, the manner in which he had been led and asks him calmly to say what it is. to boast of it, promised actually to He will not. He is not going to carry

commit him to this piece of folly. The tales. Only, when an English lady has mere suggestion of it had occurred at so little care of what people may say as the impulse of a momentary vexation; to accept this foreign adventurer as her but the more he talked of it, the more companion during a long journey — he pledged himself to carry out his

That was all that Bell subsequently preposterous scheme. Tita heard and told Tita. The boy was obviously mad wondered, scarcely believing; but I and reckless, but none the less he had could see plainly that the young man wrought such mischief as he little was determined to fulfil his promise if dreamed of in uttering these wild com only by way of triumphant bravado, to plaints and suspicions. When we got show his independence of us, and perback to the hotel, he and Bell had over haps inspire Bell with envy and regret. taken us, and they had the appearance When he left that night, something was of not being on the best of terms. In said about his coming to see us away on fact, they had maintained silence for the the following morning. Tita had shown last quarter of an hour of the walk. her usual consideration in not referring

My Lady asked Arthur to dine with at all to our drive of the next day, which us at seven; so that during the interval she understood was to be through the

most charming scenery. And when, that again into the country, and the sweet same night, she expressed a vague desire air, and the sunlight, would return disthat we might slip away on the next consolately to his dingy rooms in the morning before Arthur had come, it Temple, there to think of his absent was with no thought of carrying such sweetheart, or else to meditate that wild à plan into execution. Perhaps she journey along a parallel line which was thought with some pity of the young to show her that he, too, had his enjoyman who, after seeing us drive away ments.

[Notc.—I find that the remarks which Queen Titania appended to the foregoing pages when they were written, have since been torn off ; and I can guess the reason. A few days ago I received a letter, sent under cover to the publishers, which bore the address of that portion of the country fainiliarly called “the Dukeries.” It was written in a feminine hand, and signed with a family name which has some historical pretensions. Now these were the observations which this silly person in high places had to communicate :—“Sir, I hope you will furpine my intruding myself upon you in this way; but I am anxious to know whethur you really do think living with such a woman as your wife is represented to be, is really a matter for rail. lery and amusement. My object in writing to you is to say that, if you can treat lightly the fact of a wife being waspish at every turn, cufjing her boys' ears, and talking of whipping, it would have been better not to have made your extraordinary complaisance public; for what is to preveat the most ill-tempered woman pointing to these pages, and saying that that is how a reasonable husband would deal with her? If it is your misfortune to have an ill-tempered wife, you ought not to try to persuade people that you are rather proud of it. Pray forgive my writing thus frankly to you ; and I am, Sir, your obedient servant,

By a great mischance I left this letter lying open on the breakfast-table; and Tita, coming in, and being attracted by the crest in gold and colours on the paper, took it up. With some dismay, I watched her read it. She laid it down-stood irresolute for a moment, with her lips getting rather tremulous—then she suddenly fled into the haven she had often sought before, and looking up with the clear brown eyes showing themselves frightened and pained, like those of some dumb creature struck to the heart, she said, “Is it true? Am I really ill-tempered! Do I really vex you very much ?" You may be sure that elderly lady up in Nottinghamshire had an evil quarter of an hour of it when we proceeded to discuss the question, and when Queen Tita had been pacified and reassured. * But we ought to have kuown,” she said.

“ Count ron Rosen warned us that stupid persons would make the mistake. And to say that I cuffed my boys' ears! Why, you know that even in the Magazine it says that I cuffed the boys and kissed them at the same time--of course, in fun—and I threatened to whip the whole house-of course, in fun, you know, when everybody was in good spirits about going away-and now that wicked old woman would make me out an unnatural mother, and a bad wife, and I don't know what! 1-1-I will get Bell to draw a portrait of her, and put it in an exhibition—that would serve her right.” And forthwith she sat down and wrote to the two boys at Twickenham, promising them I know not what luxuries and extravagances when they came home for the Easter holidays. But she is offended with the public, all through that gabbling old lady in Notts; and will have no more communication with it, at least for the present. ]

To be continued.

« VorigeDoorgaan »