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better five-and-twenty years ago than now. They dined better, they dressed better, they drove better, they turned out better in the field and in the park, and they talked better.”
“ How do you account for this, my lord ?"
Simply in this way, Cutty. We have lowered our standard in taste just as we have lowered our standard for the army. We take fellows five feet seven into grenadier companies now; that is, we admit into society men of mere wealth-the banker, the brewer, the railway director, and the rest of them; and with these people we admit their ways, their tastes, their very expressions. I know it is said that we gain in breadth: yet, as I told Lord Cocklethorpe, (the mot had its success,) what we gain in breadth, said I, we lose in height. Neat, Cutty, wasn't it? As neat as a mot well can be in our clumsy language.” And with this, and a familiar bye bye, he strolled away, leaving Cutbill to practise before the glass such an imitation of him as might serve, at some future time, to convulse with laughter a select and admiring audience.
A WINTER DAY'S WALK LORD CULDUFF and Marion set out for their walk. It was a sharp frosty morning, with a blue sky above and crisp snow beneath. We have already seen that his lordship had not been inattentive to the charms of costume. Marion was no less so; her dark silk dress, looped over a scarlet petticoat, and a tasteful hat of black astracan, well suited the character of looks where the striking and brilliant were as conspicuous as dark eyes, long lashes, and a bright complexion could make them.
“I'll take you by the shrubberies, my lord, which is somewhat longer, but pleasanter walking, and if you like it, we'll come back by the hill path, which is much shorter."
“ The longer the road the more of your company, Miss Bramleigh. Therein lies my chief interest," said he, bowing.
They talked away pleasantly as they went along, of the country and the scenery, of which new glimpses continually presented themselves, and of the country people and their ways, so new to each of them. They agreed wonderfully on almost everything, but especially as to the character of the Irish-so simple, so confiding, so trustful, so grateful for benefits, and so eager to be well governed. They knew it all, the whole complex web of Irish difficulty and English misrule was clear and plain before them; and then, as they talked, they gained a height from which the blue broad sen was visible, and thence descried a solitary sail afar off, that set them speculating on what the island might become when commerce and trade should visit her, and rich cargoes should cumber her quays, and crowd her harbours. Marion was strong in her knowledge of industrial resources; but as an accomplished aide-de-camp always rides a little behind his chief,
so did she restrain her acquaintance with these topics, and keep them slightly to the rear of all his lordship advanced. And then he
confidential, and talked of coal, which ultimately led him to himself, the theme of all he liked the best. And how differently did he talk now! What vigour and animation, what spirit did he not throw into his sketch! It was the story of a great man unjustly, hardly, dealt with, persecuted by an ungenerous rivalry, the victim of envy. For half, ay, for the tithe of what he had done, others had got their advancement in the peerage-their blue ribbons and the rest of it; but Canning had been jealous of him, and the Duke was jealous of him, and Palmerston never liked him. “ Of course," he said, “these are things a man buries in his own breast. Of all the sorrows one encounters in life, the slights are those he last confesses; how I came to speak of them now I can't imagine--can you ?” and he turned fully towards her, and saw that she blushed and cast down her eyes at the question.
" But, my lord," said she, evading the reply, “you give me the idea of one who would not readily succumb to an injustice. Am I right in my reading of you?"
“I trust and hope you are,” said he haughtily; " and it is my pride to think I have inspired that impression on so brief an acquaintance."
“ It is my own temper too,” she added. “ You may convince ; you cannot coerce me."
“I wish I might try the former,” said he, in a tone of much meaning.
“We agree in so many things, my lord,” said she laughingly, “ that there is little occasion for your persuasive power. There, do you see that smoke-wreath yonder ? that's from the cottage where we're going."
“I wish I knew where we were going," said he with a sigh of wonderful tenderness.
" To Roseneath, my lord. I told you the L'Estranges lived there." “ Yes : but it was not that I meant,” added he feelingly.
“ And a pretty spot it is,” continued she, purposely misunderstanding him; “ so sheltered and secluded. By the way, what do you think of the curate's sister ? She is very beautiful, isn't she ?"
"Am I to say the truth ?” “Of course you are."
“I mean, may I speak as though we knew each other very well, and could talk in confidence together ? ”
66 That is what I mean.”
" Yes; there is some beauty--a good deal of beauty, if you like ; but somehow it is not allied with that brightness that seems to accentuato beauty. She is tame and cold.”
"I think men generally accuse her of coquetry."
“And there is coquetry too; but of that character the French call minauilerie, the weapon of a very small enchantress, I assure you."
" You are, then, for the captivations that give no quarter ?” said she, smiling.
"It is a glory to be so vanquished," said he, heroically.
"My sister declared the other night, after Julia had sung that barcarole, that you were fatally smitten.”
“And did you concur in the judgment ? ” asked he tenderly.
“ At first, perhaps I did, but when I came to know you a little better-"
“ After our talk on the terrace?"
" And even before that. When Julia was singing for you, --clearly for you, there was no disguise in the matter, and I whispered you, 'What courage you have !' you said, 'I have been so often under fire,'—from that instant I knew you.”
“ Knew me,-how far ?"
"Enough to know that it was not to such captivations you would yield, -that you had seen a great deal of that sort of thing."
65 Oh, have I not !"
Perhaps not always unscathed," said she, with a sly glance.
• I will scarcely go that far," replied he, with the air of a man on the best possible terms with himself. “ They say he is the best rider who has had the most falls. At least, it may be said that he who has met no disasters has encountered few perils.”
“Now, my lord, you can see the cottage completely. Is it not very pretty, and very picturesque, and is there not something very interesting, touching almost, in the thought of beauty and captivation,-dwelling in this untravelled wilderness ?”
He almost gave a little shudder, as his eye followed the line of the rugged mountain, till it blended with the bleak and shingly shore on which the waves were now washing in measured plash,—the one sound in the universal silence around.
“Nothing but being desperately in love could make this solitude endurable," said he at last.
Why not try that resource, my lord ? I could almost promise you that the young lady who lives yonder is quite ready to be adored and worshipped, and all that sort of thing; and it would be such a boon on the frosty days, when the ground is too hard for hunting, to have this little bit of romance awaiting you."
“ Coquetry and French cookery pall upon a man who has lived all his life abroad, and he actually longs for a little plain diet, in manners as well as meals."
" And then you have seen all the pretty acts of our very pretty neighbour so much better done."
“ Done by real artists,” added he.
lord. If you will follow me, I will be your guide here; the path is very slippery, and you must take care how you go."
" When I fall, it shall be at your feet,” said he, with his hand on his heart.
As they gained the bottom of the little ravine down which the footpath lay, they found Julia, hoe in hånd, at work in the garden before the door. Her dark woollen dress and her straw hat were only relieved in colour by a blue ribbon round her throat, but she was slightly flushed by exercise, and a little flurried perhaps by the surprise of seeing them, and her beauty, this time, certainly lacked nothing of that brilliancy which Lord Culduff had pronounced it deficient in.
- My brother will be so sorry to have missed you, my lord,” said she, leading the way into the little drawing-room, where, amidst many signs of narrow fortune, there were two or three of those indications which vouch for cultivated tastes and pleasures.
“I had told Lord Culduff so much about your cottage, Julia,” said Marion, “ that he insisted on coming to see it, without even apprising you of his intention."
" It is just as well," said she artlessly. 6 A little more or less sun gives the only change in its appearance. Lord Culduff sees it now as it looks nearly every day.”
“ And very charming that is,” said he, walking to the window and looking out; and then he asked the name of a headland, and how a small rocky island was called, and on which side lay the village of Portshandon, and at what distance was the church, the replies to which seemed to afford him unmixed satisfaction, for as he resumed his seat he muttered several times to himself, “ Very delightful indeed ; very pleasing in every way."
“Lord Culduff was asking me, as he came along," said Marion, " whether I thought the solitude—I think he called it the savagery of this spot-was likely to be better borne by one native to such wildness, or hy one so graced and gifted as yourself, and I protest he puzzled me."
“ I used to think it very lonely, when I came here first, but I beliere I should be sorry to leave it now,” said Julia calmly.
“ There, my lord," said Marion, "you are to pick your answer out of that."
“ As to those resources, which you are so flattering as to call my gifts and graces,” said Julia, laughing, “such of them at least as lighten the solitude were all learned here. I never took to gardening before ; I rever fed poultry.”
“Oh, Julia ! have mercy on our illusions."
“ You must tell me what they are, before I can spare them. The curate's sister has no claim to be thought an enchanted princess."
“It is all enchantment !” said Lord Culduff, who had only very in perfectly caught what she said.
“ Then I suppose, my lord,” said Marion, haughtily, “I ought to rescue you before the spell is complete, as I came here in quality of guide."
And she rose as she spoke. « The piano has not been opened to-day,
* Very seldom indeed.”
“So I told Lord Culduff; but I promised him his recompence in the evening. You are coming to us to-morrow, ain't
"I fear not. I think George made our excuses. We are to have 'Jr. Longworth and a French friend of his here with us.”
" You see, my lord, what a gay neighbourhood we have; here is a rival dinner-party,” said Marion.
“ There's no question of a dinner, they come to tea, I assure you," said Julia, laughing.
“No, my lord, it's useless, quite hopeless. I assure you she'll not sing for you of a morning.” This speech was addressed to Lord Culduff, as he was turning over some music-books on the piano.
" Have I your permission to look at these ? " said he to Julia, as he opened a book of drawings in water-colours.
“Of course, my lord. They are mere sketches taken in the neighbourhood here, and as you will see, very hurriedly done.”
“ And have you such coast scenery as this?” asked he, in some astonishment, while he held up a rocky headland of several hundred feet, out of the caves at whose base a tumultuous sea was tumbling.
“I could show you finer and bolder bits than even that."
“ Do you hear, my lord ? ” said Marion, in a low tone, only audible to himself. “ The fair Julia is offering to be your guide. I'm afraid it is growing late. One does forget time at this cottage. It was only the last day I came here I got scolded for being late at dinner.”
And now ensued one of those little bustling scenes of shawling and embracing with which young ladies separate. They talked together, and laughed, and kissed, and answered half-uttered sentences, and even seemed after parting to have something more to say ; they were by turns sad, and playful, and saucy-all of these moods being duly accompanied by graceful action, and a chance display of a hand or foot, as it might be, and then they parted.
“Well, my lord," said Marion, as they ascended the steep path that led homewards, “ what do you say now? Is Julia as cold and impassive as you pronounced her, or are you ungrateful enough to ignore fascinations all displayed and developed for your own especial captivation ? " “ It was very pretty coquetry, all of it,” said he, smiling.
“ Her eyelashes are even longer than I thought them.”
“I saw that you remarked them, and she was gracious enough to remain looking at the drawing sufficiently long to allow you full time for the enjoyment."
The steep and rugged paths were quite as much as Lord Culduff could manage without talking, and he toiled along after her in silence, till they gained the beach.
" At last a bit of even ground," exclaimed he, with a sigh.