« FöregåendeFortsätt »
mantic ruin on the side of a charming hill, completed the beauty of this delicious spot.
A whole day might be spent in exploring those remains of antiquity, and in roaming over the delightful gardens at the foot of the hill upon which the ruin stands. It seemed to me a perfect Paradise.
Every one was now occupied in preparations for the approaching birth-day, which, by the duke's express desire, was to be celebrated with unusual splendour.
Though Mittonet and myself had nothing to do on the occasion, we frequently went to look at the preparations going on in the park.
Here, more than once, we met, to my great delight, the marquis, and had I not been completely blinded, it must have struck me as singular that, when he stopped us, as he always did to make some observation, Mittonet, who was particularly forward on most occasions, now shrunk back, and, conversing with some of the workmen, left the marquis and myself together.
This, however, was too agreeable for me to find fault with, and as he was always kind, and never familiar, I felt at last quite at ease in his society.
At length the day, long looked for by the whole county, arrived.
A grand dinner and ball in the evening to the nobility and gentry, and dinners in tents in the park for the tenantry, with bonfires, dances, and fireworks filled up the whole day and night. All the trees in the gardens and groves were illuminated; indeed, as far as the eye could reach, fires were blazing and torches burning in all directions. Bands of music were placed at proper intervals, and the whole air was filled with sweet sounds, delicious perfumes, and the joyful voices of the happy crowd.
I was enchanted at all I saw, but had the enchanter not been there, or had it not all been done to honour him, I fear my delight would soon have vanished.
In the evening the Marquis of St. George opened the tenants' ball (which was held
under the noble trees in the illuminated avenue) with the wife of the principal one. He then kindly danced down with the old housekeeper of the castle, to her unspeakable delight; for she had held him in her arms the night he was born.
He afterwards joined the ladies' ball in the interior of the castle, and I saw no more of him for some time.
I continued walking among the illuminated groves with a heavy heart, in company with the two conceited daughters of the Twickenham housekeeper, when they began praising the appearance of a couple of officers who had been dancing with some farmers' daughters at the same time Lord St. George had been leading down the old housekeeper.
The two girls were disputing with each other as to which of the two young heroes was the handsomest and the best dancer, and as they could not agree they appealed to me, who had hitherto kept silent.
It so happened that I had been reading that morning to the duchess the Life of Madame de la Vallière, and that part instantly came to my mind where some of the ladies of the court, in praising the performance of some of the courtiers, appealed to Madame de la Vallière for her opinion.
I could not resist giving her answer, only changing the word king for marquis.
“Est-il possible, que l'on puisse remarquer ceux dont vous parlez, quand ils sont auprès de marquis ?”
These accomplished young ladies, upon whose education their mother had declared that she had spared no expense, positively did not understand one word I said.
I therefore, at their desire, repeated it in English, when they unwittingly answered me in almost the same words, or at least to the same effect, as the French ladies did Madame la Vallière.
“Ah! nothing but a marquis, then, can please you."
“ No," I answered, (as La Vallière did,) “No, bis coronet adds nothing to his attrac
tions; on the contrary, it takes away from the danger."
Little did I think that every word I uttered was heard and treasured by the person whom I should have least wished to hear them the marquis himself!
In about ten minutes he, to our surprise, joined us, together with two other young men. He took my hand, saying in a low voice, that as he had danced with two old women to please his father, he hoped I would now allow him to dance with a young and handsome one to please himself.
As his two companions had led off the two Miss Bowsteads, and he pressed me to dance with him, I could not refuse to follow if I had had the inclination, which certainly I had not. I therefore, with a beating heart, accepted his offered arm and joined the dancers. After going down one dance, he took me to the various illuminated alleys, and continued walking with me for so long a time, that I began to be afraid he would be missed