Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

Presently the soldiers made their appearance; but, as they closely resembled all other amateur attempts at soldiership, I will leave them to the imagination of the reader. Their dresses were not of the best fit; and their limbs seemed to follow the dictates of their own fancy, instead of the rules of military precision.

Lord Ravensden being well known in the county, was “How d’ye doing" everybody;

, whilst his lady, in a very elegant toilette herself, scanned the dresses of the county ladies with an amused expression of countenance, and made satirical remarks to me upon “those outlandish people” with whom her lord seemed on terms of the most friendly intimacy.

The dowager, meanwhile, as was usual with her, was prepared to be amused and pleased with everything that offered.

Well, my dear,” she said to me, " this is better in my opinion than staying boxed up in that little house, watching the leaves drop off the trees, and counting how many times the dogs bark in an hour. Here's the interesting study of a rural assemblage, human nature all anxiety to see husbands, brothers and lovers playing at soldiers, shivering with joy. It

a

makes me warm to look at them, and now the soldiers are going through their evolutions. Ah ! can't understand anything about it, though it's very grand, I suppose. I shall look round me at the oddities here." While taking a survey of the company,

I suddenly perceived a face and form I knew only too well ; but for a moment I doubted my visual organs.

“That tall, straight man with the white face and dark hair must be my guardian !" I exclaimed to myself. The unpleasing truth became more and more evident as I regarded him in his distant position ; and it was with feelings of annoyance

l and vexation that I assured myself I was not deceived.

He had a lady with him, whom he seemed endeavouring to amuse, and did not appear to see our party, which was some consolation.

I only hoped he would not do so; and anxiety on this head made me quite feverish. All my pleasure, I thought, was gone if he did ; and filled with the fear of his recognition,

. I did not even like to mention the fact of his near neighbourhood to Lady Ravensden, lest she should be inclined to speak to him.

[ocr errors]

Mr. Grey, however, had eyes as sharp as mine.

'I see a friend of yours, Miss Brand,” he said to me, and looked in the direction of Lord D'Arville. I shivered.

“Shall I tell his lordship you are here ?” he asked.

“Oh, no! Mr. Grey,” I cried, with something like terror, quite forgetful for the moment of everything save my dislike to my guardian.

“But he would wish to see you, I should

· , think,” he continued provokingly.

“ Never mind-please not to attract his attention."

Is his lordship’s society so very distasteful to you ?” “ More than that-it is hateful to me.'

(and he laughed), “I am particularly desirous of speaking to him ?”

“ You cannot be, Mr. Grey; you're only saying it to teaze me. Be kind for once, and take no notice of him.”

To this my companion remarked in a provoking way :

“ But suppose,

“It's a hard case to be obliged to cut a friend through a young lady's whim. However, if you particularly wish it, I will abstain from the anticipated pleasure. How cold you look !” he continued.

“ You'll catch your death here. Cannot we find you a warmer place ?” and he exerted himself to have draughts stopped, and made arrangements for our comfort.

Presently, I made the discovery that another friend was in my immediate neighbourhood who had perceived me, and was now making his way towards us; and this was Mr. St. Leger.

I had not seen him for so long a time, that it gave me great pleasure to shake hands with him once more, and Mr. Grey also greeted him warmly.

“Well, Miss Brand !” said Mr. St. Leger, "I've wandered far and wide since I last had the pleasure of seeing you;

I feel almost like a stranger in my own land, for skipping the London season-a thing I never

I did in my life before, I feel as if I had lost a whole year of life.' ”

“The force of custom," I said.

and now

[ocr errors]

Yes-custom as you say. I'm afraid I've hitherto been too much the slave of custom. We all are now-a-days, and I'm convinced that until we break the tyrant's chains, we cannot know real happiness.”

“Is that you, St. Leger ?" said Mr. Grey ; why you're a converted character.”

Quite so, but I'm afraid my conversion is not of a lasting kind, for to confess the honest truth, I felt like a child returned home for the holidays, when I found myself at the club the other day in passing through town; everything looked so civilized and comfortable. No! England and home have their charms, and though we may wander for a time, it is pleasant to return to the trammels of both.”

I thought it was fortunate that his lot being cast among the “favoured few” of England, he felt so well inclined to fall into the conventional routine of life-he would, no doubt, get through it very comfortably and well. Still, agreeable and “nice person as Mr. St. Leger was, he possessed very little interest for me; he seemed to have so much savoir vivre -worldly knowledge, and conventionalism, ,

« FöregåendeFortsätt »