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"And the Wrays ? "
“Ah! I am afraid the dear old people are breaking, Hugh. Martin fails even more than Margery; I have promised for you, my dear, that you shall spend Christmas with them. Now come with
I want you to see Maude and Felixstowe.”
CAAPTER XX.-FAIRY-LAND. A few hours later it occurred to me that I had not seen Lady Olive, and I began to wonder whether my arrival had so utterly disgusted her that she had withdrawn herself from the family circle. It was nearly dark, and I was sitting alone in a balcony among the flowering plants, watching the gay crowds below who came and went incessantly. The sun had gone down in a great ruddy haze, for the day had been intensely hot, and now the stars were beginning to glitter in the purple sky. But the brilliant city seemed scarcely to need the celestial luminaries of the firmament, for as the night fell thousands of dazzling lamp3 shone forth in long lines of light, jets of resplendent flame shot up here and there, floods of intense radiance were poured over street, and park, and boulevard, and outside the cafés merry groups were seated chatting and discussing ices and effervescing drinks, while splendid equipages incessantly flashed by, and everywhere were sounds of mirth, and music, and rejoicing. The white and gold salon behind me lay still in shadow, but the balcony was light as day, and while I was intent on the gay scene beneath some one glided out from another window than that near which I sat, and came up past the blooming étagères close to where I was established. At first I thought it was Lady Dovercourt, but it was scarcely her figure, and there was something altogether girlish about the floating robes that swept lightly by the flowers; and yet it could not be Maude, for she was not so tall, and certainly not so graceful, as the fair unknown bearing down upon me like a dream.
Another second, and I knew that my visitor was Lady Olive. She had shot up considerably since I saw her last on the archery ground; she was pale, but her skin was puro as ivory, her brows were nearly straight, and delicately pencilled, her chestnut-brown eyes were lustrous as stars, and her rich dark hair fell like a veiling cloud on her snowy drooping shoulders and her bare, rounded arms. The sallow, angular, plain little girl had grown up into a beautiful young lady. I saw that at once, I recognised on the instant her stately patrician loveliness, and I wondered whether, in mind and manner, she were equally improved. To my intense surprise, she extended her hand-her delicate, white hand, with its soft, pink
palm, and its slender fingers glittering with gems, and took mine as if we had been old friends.
“Hugh Travis, I am sure," she said, gently, and without the smallest admixture of scorn. “I knew you were here, of course, but I have been away since morning improving my mind with my new governess, Madame Le Gramont, who is a vast improvement on Miss Flogg, and since then riding in the Bois. I hoped you would have ridden with me, but you had wandered off somewhere, mamma said; it is disagreeable riding with only other ladies and servants, and there is no one here I care to ride with. You will ride with me, will you not, Mr. Travis ?
I was so bewildered that I scarcely knew how to answer her. I had been debating within myself whether she would accost me as “young man” now that I could no longer be styled “boy.” And here she stood in her graceful array, with rich jewels sparkling on her neck, and arms, and hands, and calling me Hugh Travis and Mr. Travis in the sweetest, softest accents, and as amiably and cordially as if we had always been on the closest terms of intimacy.
“Do you really wish it, Lady Olive?” I said, coldly.
“ To be sure I do,” she replied, glancing up into my face with a confiding smile. "I want a handsome cavalier by my side in the Bois, and all the demoiselles will envy me if you consent to be my attendant.”
This was very flattering of course, and I felt as bashful as the merest rustic. Of course I knew I was handsome. When a man or woman is really and undeniably handsome it is sheer affectation to pretend to be ignorant of the fact; but it is one thing to be conscious of your own good looks, and another thing to have them praised by a beautiful young lady of rank.
“ You are very good, Lady Olive," I stammered ; " but I am afraid you are preparing a disappointment for yourself and for me also. I shall scarcely create the impression you desire."
“Oh, yes, you will. I have not seen any one so divinely handsome for
“Very seldom; horse-exercise does not suit her she says. She prefers to drive, and so does Madame Le Gramont. Madame is not exactly my governess, you know. I read with her for an hour or two each day, and she takes me to galleries and museums, and cultivates my taste, and improves my mind, and all that; and I have lessons from masters. But still, though I am not regularly "out,' I go into society a little, and do pretty much as I please. Madame is the best creature in the world, and lets me have my own way, and I let her have hers. We quite understand each other. Was not Flogg a horrid creature ?"
“I did not like her, Lady Olive. I always thought she was insincere, and I am sure she was rather vulgar.”
Say excessively vulgar, if you like, and you will be nearer the truth. Madame is essentially a gentlewoman."
I thought she must have worked some wondrous charm on her pupil. Never could I have imagined such a transformation. It did not seem as if the scornful Lady Olive of Dovercourt and the gracious Lady Olive of Paris could be identical. Thorough was the alteration ; and yet there was no mistake. There I, the despised “boy” of old time, sat by her, the heavy-featured, contemptuous, insolent child of other days; but there was no scorn now in the sweet, silvery voice, no sneer on the lovely rosy lips, no contempt in the proud, shy dark eyes, no arrogance in the stately, patrician bearing; and she sat close to me, and my arm touched her filmy, gauzy draperies that floated like fleecy moon-lit clouds around her. Once she dropped her glove ; of course I picked it up and restored it to her. She thanked me with a beaming smile, and presently she said, “Indeed, Hugh, I think you are as gallant and graceful as you are handsome. It was an excellent idea of mamma having
“But you forget, Lady Olive," I returned, proudly, “that I am - lowly born!""
She coloured a little; a soft, faint tinge of crimson flushed for a moment the pearly tint of her fair, smooth cheek, and her eyes drooped till the long, dark lashes rested fringe-like on those transient roses. Then she raised her eyes and looked straight at me.
“Do you remember all that foolishness? What a disagreeable little animal I must have been. It was more than half the fault of that Flogg though. Ah! I know better now. Come, let bygones be bygones ; we must be friends, the very best of friends. Shall we make a paction,' as your old nurse Margery says ? "
“ What will Lady Dovercourt say ?”
“She will be delighted. There, give me your hand. Now, we are sworn friends and allies, and you will walk and talk with me, and ride with me, and take me to the theatre and to the opera.
I shall not be dull any more.”
Presently we dined—we four, Madame Le Gramont making up the number. And afterwards we sang, for Mrs. Craven and Cbarles were both musical, and I had cultivated my voice pretty successfully of late. It went quite well with Lady Olive's, and we tried duet after duet, Madame playing our accompaniments, till the evening was almost spent. Lady Dovercourt seemed to enjoy our little concert most thoroughly; she and Lady Olive were evidently on the best of terms. I could only suppose that it was the departure of Flogg and the separation from Lady Juliana, who had some
how offended her noble brother, that had wrought so great a succession of miracles.
After that evening all went smoothly and pleasantly. Life became a sort of fairy pageant, and I gave myself up to the delicious intoxication of the hour. I wrote to Charles and to Mrs. Craven, but Heidelberg and Schloss Wanterfels seemed very far away. By-and-bye they went home to Cravenshaugh, and they were farther away than In Paris I lived, moved, and had my whole being. I was always with the Marchioness or with Lady Olive, and every day the young girl's manner was more flattering. Her smile was shyer yet sweeter, her tones lower but gentler, her whole bearing prouder yet more confiding. We walked, we drove, we rode ; we went together to the opera, chaperoned by Madame Le Gramont; we made excursions, we explored the wonders of the splendid city; we practised our duets; we read together Jean Paul, and Göthe, and Tasso, and Mdme. de Stäel. We were like two careless, happy-hearted children, sipping continually at the sweet, exhilarating draught that was presented to our lips, dreaming not that a day might come when the goblet should be empty, or contain only bitterest drugs and lees. We forgot the past, we lived in the present. The future never entered into our calculations. We were butterflies, rejoicing in the sunshine and flowers of a spring just blossoming into earliest summer—a season of beauty, and fragrance, and melody, and golden sunlight, and warmth without heat, that seemed perennial.
(To be continued.)
EXTRACTS FROM THE DIARY AND CORRESPONDENCE
OF HENRY SELWYN,
EDITED AND ANNOTATED BY HIS FRIEND, RICHARD MORTON.
CHAPTER IV.-FROM HENRY SELWYN TO RICHARD MORTON. MY DEAR FRIEND,--Yours, which reached me two days ago, came so opportunely and was so welcome that I take the first hour I have been able to secure to reply. The truth is, I am greatly in need of that kind of relief which the outpouring of one's troubles to a friend gives, and it is a pleasure to write to one in whose sympathy I have perfect confidence. Do not be too much alarmed at this terrible beginning. I am not in any difficulty but such as I might have expected to encounter. The worst that has come to me is that I have had a strong discussion with some of my deacons, and as yet it is uncertain what view the church will take of the subject and what the ultimate issue will be. A very common thing for young ministers you will say, but when one is in the midst of a struggle like this it is poor consolation after all to remember that there are few who have not had similar experience. I have long felt that the position of deacons in our churches is one of the greatest hindrances to the pleasant and efficient working of our system. They are generally chosen for life, and, as they are of course selected because of the influence they possess, are apt to arrogate to themselves a power inconsistent with the comfort of the minister or the due exercise of its proper power by the church. Instead of accepting the position of an executive they assume a control to which they have no just title, and set up their own crotchets as laws for the guidance of the church. The relation of a young minister to those who have held office under a predecessor such as good Mr. Sainsbury is specially unfortunate. They have an immense advantage in consequence of their years and experience, and some of the older ones are very unwilling to believe that plans which have worked well can be improved, and are in fact inclined to resent any idea of change as the impertinence of a young man, and they speak with an authority which it is not easy for me to resist. There is one of them in particular who has a very exalted conception of his office, and who talks as though he expected that I should be content to be led instead of attempting to lead, and as if the responsibilities rested on the deacons rather than on the pastor. Mr. Sainsbury was the last man to tolerate such an idea, but the very firmness with which he held the reins appears to have made Mr. Crabtree, the gentleman of whom I speak, and another who sympathises with him, the more determined to assert their own supposed rights; and the consequence is, I have more than once found myself involved in unpleasant discussions with them, none of which, however, were of any great importance until that which arose at our last deacons' meeting.
But if you are to understand what I have to tell you I must first, though at the risk of troubling you with a letter of unusual length, introduce you to my deacons, of whom I have seven. The most intelligent and independent of the whole is Mr. Lassell, one of the leading Millport manufacturers, who owed his election (I believe) more to the liberality with which he supports all the institutions of the Church than to any other cause, and who is of a very different type from the majority of his colleagues. To Crabtree his presence at the deacons' board is, I know, extremely distasteful, and in fact he took the opportunity shortly after I came of assuring me in strict confidence that he did not regard Mr. Lassell as a spiritual man, and