« VorigeDoorgaan »
business as well as his wife's, and it seemed WHY LADY HORNBURY'S BALL WAS Very strange that he should be riding about so coolly in the Park, and Lady Hornbury gone away on business. Mystery was added to mystery when Hunter, of the Dragoons, came on the scene and reported himself returning from the camp at Chalons, where he had been professionally examining the French cavalry: he said that he had met Lady Hornbury at the station at Calais, just getting into the Paris train. Here was a great mystery; Edith Hornbury was at school in Paris, and was to come out at the great ball now postponed. What on earth was the matter?
[Henry Kingsley, born in 1830. He is recognized
as one of the best of our modern novelists. Upon leaving Oxford, in 1853, he proceeded to Australia, where he spent five years. Shortly after his return to England he became for some time editor of the Edinburgh Daily Review. For that journal he acted as war correspondent during eight weeks of the Franco-Prussian war; and, after the famous battle of Sedan, was the first Englishman who entered the town. His chief works are Geoffrey Hamlyn; Ravenshoe: The Hillyars and the Burtons; Austin Elliot; Mademoiselle Mathilde; Stretton; Hetty (a cheap edition of these is published by Macmillan & Co.); Old Margaret and Hornby Mills, which have been issued by Tinsley Brothers. Of the latter a series of stories and sketches-the Pall Mall Gazette says: "All are very characteristic of their author and generally exalt virtue in a way that our practical world has too little idea of."]
COURT JOURNAL, April 12th.-"Lady Hornbury's ball on May 2d is unavoidably postponed."
"What is the matter?" said all the world
and his wife. On this occasion the world and
his wife were very easily satisfied; Sir John must have had another stroke, and Lady Hornbury would soon be the most beautiful widow in England of her age, while her daughter Edith would be one of the greatest heiresses. The male line was notoriously extinct. Sir John was a shrewd man of business, a little apt to be near, and the very last man in the world to enrich unnecessarily a successor to his house in the shape of a new husband for Lady Hornbury. The world and his wife were easily satisfied; one of the pleasantest houses in London would be closed that season, and of course Lady Hornbury could not go out in the present state of her husband's health. said the world that week; but the world was astonished out of all propriety when it went into the Park next day to find Sir John faultlessly dressed and as upright as if paralysis and he had never made acquaintanceriding his celebrated bay, with his faultlessly appointed groom quite a long way behind him, by no means close to him, as he used to ride when Sir John was likely to have a seizure. The world, in short, was utterly puzzled; the more so when he answered that Lady Horn bury was perfectly well, but had been called suddenly from town on business, and would probably not appear for a considerable time. Sir John was a man who generally did his own
From Hornby Mills and Other Stories, by Henry Kingsley. 2 vols. London: Tinsley Brothers.
Sir John and Lady Hornbury were, deservedly, nearly the most popular people in London; they were wealthy, clever, kindly, and good-humoured. He was much older than she, but she was absolutely devoted to him, and never left him for an instant in his very numerous illnesses, one of which had resulted in a very dangerous attack of paralysis. There was perfect confidence between them, although Sir John had hitherto left all matters relating to his daughter to the care of his wife, only asking from time to time how the girl was getting on. She was all that could be desired; discreet, beautiful, accomplished, and perfectly obedient in everything, a most model young lady in every respect: early in her life she had
shown a will of her own, but it seemed to have
been perfectly subdued by her parents' kindtaken place a year before this had shown her ness and indulgence. An event which had had been staying at a country house, her old submission in the most remarkable way. She Aunt Hornbury's, where there was a large general society, and a style of living under the careless, good-humoured old maid most conducive to mild flirtation, or, what the old lady called it, the young people being happy together." The old lady, however, drew a pretty sharp line in these matters, and thinking that
Edith's attention was a little too much en
gaged by a very handsome young fellow, a and Edith went very submissively home. Her Mr. Holmsdale, wrote to her mother quietly, mother never mentioned the matter to her, and all was perfectly secret, until, some months after, the maid who had been with her at her aunt's tremblingly told her that Miss Edith and handed her a letter, of which the following was corresponding with this Mr. Holmsdale,
were the contents:
"SIR-Once more I request you to cease this utter folly. I have unfortunately once told you that you are not indifferent to me, and for that one expression in a moment of
weakness I am to be persecuted to death. You must take your final answer, and further letters from you, sir, will be instantly laid before my father."
"I think that our girl has behaved very well indeed," said Sir John, when his wife showed him the letter. "Deuced well. I wish my sister would keep her house in better order. The girl shan't go there again. think we are very well out of it; give me the letter."
"What are you going to do with it?"
"Send it to him addressed in my handwriting, with my name signed in the corner. I shall send it under cover to my sister; her butler knows his address. Who is this Holmsdale?"
"I don't know; the villain!" exclaimed Lady Hornbury.
"We don't know that he is a villain, my dear," said Sir John; "he must be a gentleman, or my sister would never have had him to her house."
"A clandestine correspondence!" said Lady Hornbury, bridling.
"My dear, did we have no clandestine correspondence when I was a younger brother, and a dragoon, with five hundred a year, and you a fine lady, with Lord Bumpster at your heels everywhere? Did not you tell me once that if your mother pressed on the match with him that you would run away with me on five hundred a year and your own fortune, and trust to my poor brother Tom to get us something? And you would have done it, my lady,
"I was very young and foolish," said Lady Hornbury.
"Well, and Edith is young and wise," said Sir John, kissing her. "Now the first thing to do is to turn that maid of Edith's out of the house."
Why, we owe her much," said Lady Hornbury.
"I tell you that no right-thinking young woman would have betrayed a kind and gentle young mistress like Edith in a love affair," said the atrocious dragoon, Sir John. "What would you have said to your own maid in old times if she had done it to you?"
The argumentum ad hominem was a little too much for honest Lady Hornbury, and she had to laugh again. But," she added, "if we send her away she will talk about the matter all over the town and country."
"Well, then, double her wages and let her stay," said Sir John; "but don't let me see her. And as for Edith, let her have change
of scene; give her a year's school somewhere. Send her to Comtesse d'Aurilliac, at Paris; she can't come to any harm with that old dragon."
'My daughter will come to no harm anywhere," said Lady Hornbury, proudly.
"That I am quite sure of, my dear. the society at the old lady's pension is very agreeable, none but the very best legitimist girls, and no followers allowed."
"I would not be vulgar, Sir John, if I were in your place," said the lady; "will you ever forget the barracks?"
"You were very nearly knowing a good deal about them yourself, my lady, that night when you proposed to run away with me."
Lady Hornbury swept out of the room majestically and left Sir John laughing. There was very little conversation between mother and daughter, for Edith found in a day or two, by an answer which came from Holmsdale, that her father and mother knew everything. She was completely impassive in their hands; but apparently the Holmsdale wound had gone a little deeper than her mother had thought for. Edith spoke very little, and seemed cheerful at the thought of going to Paris. In a week she was with the Comtesse d'Aurilliac.
Every letter from the comtesse breathed delighted admiration for her charming and beautiful pupil. Since madame had been forced by the lamentable occurrences of the Revolution (her two aunts perished in the September massacres) to take pupils, she had never had such a pupil as Edith. She was the admiration of every one who had seen her, and the brightest star in her little legitimist galaxy: everything went perfectly well for three months, and Sir John and Lady Hornbury were delighted.
About this time there came to Sir John and Lady Hornbury a lumbering young nobleman of vast wealth, who was in some sort a connection of theirs; so near that they called him cousin. He called one morning to say that he was going to Paris, and to burden himself with any commissions to Edith.
"I should like to see my old playmate very much," he said. "I was a lover of hers when we were in the schoolroom; I should like very much to see her once more, though I suppose she is getting too fine for me."
There was not the slightest objection to his seeing as much of his cousin as he chose, and Lady Hornbury wrote a note in her best French (Madame d'Aurilliac did not speak English, nor did Lord Lumberton speak French), whereby
the Comtesse d'Aurilliac was requested to receive Lord Lumberton as one of their own family. The comtesse received him in French, and he responded in English: he stayed on in Paris, and in two months the comtesse found it necessary to write to Lady Hornbury as follows:
"MADAME,-My Lord Lumberton's visits are extremely frequent here, and I should be very glad to know your instructions as regards them. I have not the least reason to believe that anything has passed between milord and your beautiful daughter, but at the same time, madame, I think that he thinks of her a little more than he does of my other young ladies, while she treats him with merely the kindness of a cousin. I observe that in our little family parties she prefers dancing with M. de Rocroy, a gentleman of the very highest refinement and introduction, until lately gentleman-in-waiting to his most Christian Majesty Henri V. at Frohsdorf (whom may the holy saints have in their keeping!); M. de Rocroy, however, appears as indifferent to her as she is to him. This feeling of milord Lumberton's may ripen into an attachment, or it may not. I only await your instructions as to my management in this affair."
| inclinations, I only want her to receive Lumberton's visits. If you don't wish Lumberton to see her, you are doing the very best thing to make her think more of him by sending him to the right-about without the ghost of a cause.
"Do!" said Sir John. "Nothing at all. If Lumberton likes to fall in love with her, I don't see why we should put a spoke in his wheel. The lad is a good honest fellow enough, and would make any woman in the world happy. Old d'Aurilliac says that she doesn't care for him, so there is no immediate danger: let Lumberton go to her, but don't say anything to the girl herself. Write and tell old d'Aurilliac that we approve of his visits."
"But Edith is not out," said Lady Hornbury.
'My banker's book tells me that," said Sir John. "If she can make up her mind before she does come out, all the better for her."
He may gain her affections before she has had an opportunity of choosing."
"That is precisely what happened to your self, and if you don't regret it I am sure I don't; you know that we were engaged before you came out. No, there is not an unmarried man in London whom I would prefer to Lumberton."
"But, Sir John, submissive as Edith is now, you must remember the time, not so very long ago, when she had both a will and temper of her own. Any attempt to force her inclinations would be fatal.' "When will a woman learn to argue?" said Sir John, testily. "I don't want to force her
Lady Hornbury gave way after a time, goodhumouredly. She was a woman, and, good and honest as she was, would very much have liked to have had Edith out in London, and to have gone through that game of chess with eligible suitors as castles and knights, and with ineligible suitors as pawns, in which every British mother delights. But she yielded ; Lumberton would most certainly "do." She wrote to Madame d'Aurilliac at once before she went out, and, being in a hurry, wrote in English. What follows is part of her letter:
Both Sir John and I quite approve of Lord Lumberton's visits. Edith and he were cousins and playmates, and the matter is quite a family one."
Which madame, with the aid of a dictionary, translated to mean that the two families had agreed on a mariage de convenance in the French fashion.
The effect of this wonderful discovery on the part of madame was singularly delightful to Lord Lumberton, who was by this time honestly
"What shall we do now?" said Lady Horn- head over heels in love with his cousin; and bury to her husband.
also singularly and terribly disagreeable to poor Edith, who, for reasons of her own, was nearly out of her mind. Whenever Lord Lumberton came now he was left alone with her, Madame d'Aurilliac always quitting the room after a short time, with a far-seeing air, as though she was looking towards St. Petersburg to see if the ice was breaking up so as to allow of navigation; and the young ladies leaving also with that air of espiéglerie or archness of which some Parisian ladies are mistresses, and which has occasioned more than one British islander, while suffering from the spleen, to long to throw his boots at their heads. Lumberton desired to do nothing of the kind; he was in love, and he liked it, though sometimes he would have wished when they were alone that he had something to say for himself. Edith of course knew that he loved her, and she had no dislike for him, but would chat with him over old times, about his sisters, his horses, his dogs, and such things, which helped him on wonderfully. Edith knew that some day or another he would speak, and she was quite ready for him. Good fellow as he was, she would as soon have married a chiffonier. She never alluded to his attentions to her mother, and Madame d'Aurilliac only occasionally mentioned his presence at her house as a matter of
form. So matters went on for months, until there came a cataclysm. Lady Hornbury received this letter:
"MADAME,When I receive a viper into my bosom, or a snake into my house, what do I do? I expel that snake or that viper. Madame, I have discovered a snake in the form of your daughter's maid, Rose Dawson, and I have expelled her with ignominy, having first had her boxes searched by warrant from the Juge d'Instruction. Madame, we found four thousand francs in gold, which we could not retain, so she is gone free.
"My eyes, madame, have long been directed in a certain quarter. I have now, in consequence of the Revolution, to address my attention to the forming of young ladies. I have therefore an eye not readily deceived. I have noticed for a long time looks of intelligence pass between M. de Rocroy and your daughter's beautiful, but wicked, maid. I saw an intrigue, and I watched; last night they were in the shrubbery together for an hour, and at last I came on them as they were saying farewell. Him I banished my house at once, telling him that his sacred majesty Henri V. (whom the virgin and saints preserve till he comes to his own!) should hear of this violation of my hearth. Her I despatched as you have heard. I have broken the truth to your sweet and gentle daughter, who has acquiesced, though with sorrow."
"I told you that girl was no good," said Sir John. "You had better send for her home and provide for her, or she will be talking about the Holmsdale business with emendations and additions. I shall, if Lumberton ever says anything to me about Edith, tell him the whole of that matter."
"Cousin," she said, "if you think that I do not love you and respect you for what you have said, you are very much mistaken; but I vow before Heaven that if you ever speak to me like this again I will enter the Romish church and take the veil." "Edith!"
"I suppose we ought," said Lady Hornbury. "If Lumberton cannot see how well she behaved, he is unworthy of her; but wait till he speaks, for it is not everybody's business. I don't think that he cares much for her. I hear nothing of it from Madame."
But Lumberton spoke very shortly afterwards. He spoke kindly, honestly, and tenderly. He said he would wait any time she chose, that she should come out and look round in the London world to see if there was any one she liked better, but that he would not take No as an answer now. He looked so noble and manly in his faith and honour, that for one instant she felt inclined to confide everything to him, but she felt a chill as she reflected that she was in France, and that a deadly duel would be the consequence. She had been ready for him very long, and she was ready for him now.
"I can't conceive," said Lady Hornbury. "Edith must be ill. I must hurry away. Put off the ball."
And so we have got round to the beginning of the story again.
We must, however, leave Lady Hornbury to go to Paris, and stay in London with Sir John for a short time. Sir John took his ride in the Park very comfortably in spite of Madame d'Aurilliac's telegram, he not believing that anything very great was the matter. During his ride he met with an old friend who inquired after his wife, and on being told that she was gone to Paris, asked Sir John to come and take dinner with him. Sir John declined, on the ground that his lawyer was coming to dine with him, and to discuss very particular business. Indeed," he said, "old Compton is so very urgent and mysterious that he makes me a trifle uneasy: his news is very disagreeable, because he says that he will only discuss it after dinner."
"That looks bad," said his old friend, laughing. "I'll bet you five pounds that you have lost some money."
"I suppose I have," said Sir John. "I