« AnteriorContinuar »
riers, lodged like gentlemen, each breed a shady wood. The music of a delici. in its own apartment; the puppies, as ous band stole up from the recesses of elsewhere, treated with most attention. a grove, draped as an orchestra, and Some were in the flower-garden, some green-room on the lower side ; and in the green-houses, some in the grape. while the audience disposed themselves ries, aviaries, and grottoes ; and at in the shade of the upper grove, a the side of a bright sparkling fountain, company of players and dancing-girls in the recesses of a fir-grove, with her commenced their theatricals. Imogen foot upon its marble lip, and one hand Ravelgold, who was separated by a on the shoulder of a small Cupid who pine tree only from the junior partarchly made a drinking cup of his wing, ner, could scarce tell you, when it was and caught the bright water as it fell, finished, what was the plot of the play. stood Lady Imogen Ravelgold, the The recall-bugle sounded again, and loveliest girl of nineteen that prayed the band wound away from the lawn, night and morning within the parish of playing a gay march. Followed Lady May Fair, listening to very passionate Roseberry and her suite of gentlemen, language from the young banker of followed dames and their daughters, Lothbury.
followed all who wished to see the A bugle on the lawn rang a recall. flight of my lord's falcons. By a narFrom every alley, and by every path, row path and a wicket-gate, the long poured in the gay multitude, and the music-guided train stole out upon an smooth sward looked like a plateau of open hill-side, looking down on a animated flowers, waked by magic verdant and spreading meadow. The from a broidery on green velvet. Ah! band played at a short distance behind the beautiful demi-toilettes !—so diffi- the gay groups of spectators, and it cult to attain, yet, when obtained, the was a pretty picture to look down dress most modest, most captivating, upon the splendidly dressed falconer most worthy the divine grace of woman. and his men, holding their fierce birds Those airy hats, sheltering from the upon their wrists, in their hoods and sun, yet not enviously concealing a jesses, a foreground of old chivalry feature or a ringlet that a painter would and romance ; while far beyond extendraw for his exhibition picture! Those ded, like a sea over the horizon, the summery and shapely robes, covering smoke-clad pinnacles of busy and every the person more to show its outline day London. There are such conbetter, and provoke more the worship, trasts for the eyes of the rich! which, like all worship, is made more The scarlet hood was taken from adoring by mystery! Those complex- the trustiest falcon, and a dove, conions which but betray their transparen- fined at first with a string, was thrown cy in the sun : lips in which the blood up, and brought back, to excite his is translucent when between you and attention. As he fixed his eye upon the light : cheeks finer-grained than him, the frightened victim was let loose, alabaster, yet as cool in their virgin and the falcon flung off ; away skimmed purity as a tint in the dark corner of the dove in a low flight over the a Ruysdael; the human race was at meadow, and up to the very zenith, less perfection in Athens in the days in circles of amazing swiftness and of Lais -- in Egypt in the days of power, sped the exulting falcon, apparCleopatra, than that day on the lawn ently forgetful of his prey, and bound of Rose Eden.
for the eye of the sun with his strong Cart-loads of ribbons, of every gay wings and his liberty. The falconer's colour, had been laced through the whistle and cry were heard; the dove trees in all directions; and amid every circled round the edge of the meadow variety of foliage, and every shade of in his wavy flight; and down, with the green, the tulip-tints shone vivid and speed of lightning, shot the falcon, brilliant, like an American forest after striking his prey dead to the earth bethe first frost. From the left hedge of fore the eye could settle on his form. the lawn, the ground suddenly sunk As the proud bird stood upon his into a deli, shaped like an amphitheatre victim, looking around with a lifted with a level platform at its bottom, and crest and fierce eye, Lady Imogen all around, above and below, thickened Ravengold heard a voice of which her heart knew the music, “ They who notes of hand? Though I thought soar highest strike surest : the dove you became your den in Lothbury, lies in the falcon's bosom."
upon my honour you look more at The afternoon had, meantime, been home here." wearing on, and at six the “ breakfast” And Lady Ravelgold fixed her suwas announced. The tents beneath perb eyes upon the beautiful features which the tables were spread, were of her companion, wondering partly in different parts of the grounds, and why he did not speak, and partly why the guests had made up their own par- she had not observed before, that he ties. Each sped to his rendezvous, and was incomparably the handsomest as the last loiterers disappeared from creature she had ever seen. the lawn, a gentleman in a claret coat “I can regret no vocation,” he and a brown study, found himself answered after a moment, “which stopping to let a lady pass, who had procures me an acquaintance with obeyed the summons as tardily as your ladyship's family." himself. In a white chip hat, Hair- There is an arrière pensée in that bault's last, a few lilies of the valley formal speech, Mr. Tremlet. You laid among her raven curls beneath, a are insincere. I am the only one in simple white robe, the chef d'euvre of my family whom you know, and what Victorine in style and tournure, Lady pleasure have you taken in my acquaintRavelgold would have been the belle of ance? And, now I think of it, there the fête, but for her daughter.
is a mystery about you, which, but for “Well emerged from Lothbury!" the noble truth written so legibly on she said, curtseying, with a slight flush your features, I should be afraid to over her features, but immediately fathom. Why have you suffered me taking his arm. “I have lost my to overdraw my credit so enormously, party, and meeting you is opportune. and without a shadow of a protest ?" Where shall we breakfast?"
When Lady Ravelgold had disburThere was a small tent standing dened her heart of this direct question, invitingly open on the opposite side she turned half round and looked her of the lawn, and by the fainter rattle companion in the face with an intense of soup spoons from that quarter, it interest, which produced upon her own promised to be less crowded than the features an expression of earnestness others. The junior partner would very uncommon upon their pale and willingly have declined the proffered impassive lines. She was one of those honour, but he saw at a glance that persons of little thought, who care there was no escape, and submitted nothing for causes or consequences, so with a grace.
the present difficulty is removed, or the “You know very few people here," present hour provided with its wings; said his fair creditor, taking the bread but the repeated relief she had received from her napkin.
from the young banker, when total “Your ladyship and one other,” ruin would have been the consequence
“Ah, we shall have dancing by and of his refusal, and his marked coldness by, and I must introduce you to my in his manner to her, had stimulated daughter. By the way, have you no the utmost curiosity of which she was name from your mother's side? Fir- capable. Her vanity, founded upon kins' sounds so very odd. Give me her high rank and great renown as a some prettier word to drink in this beauty, would have agreed that he might champagne."
be willing to get her into his power at “ What do you think of Tremlet?” that price, had he been less agreeable
“Too effeminate for your severe in his own person, or more eager in style of beauty—but it will do. Mr. his manner. But she had wanted Tremlet, your health! Will you give money sufficiently to know, that thirty me a little of the paté before you ? thousand pounds are not a bagatelle, Pray, if it is not indiscreet, how comes and her brain was busy till she discothat classic profile, and more surprising vered the equivalent he sought for it. still, that distinguished look of yours, Meantime her fear that he would turn to have found no gayer destiny than out to be a lover, grew rapidly into a the signing of 'Firkins and Co.' to fear that he would not.
Lady Ravelgold had been the wife with his unusual excitement, was, to say of a dissolute earl, who had died, leaving the least, favourable upon Lady Imobis estate inextricably involved. With gen; and they parted on the night of the no male heir to the title or property, fête, mutually aware of each other's and no very near relation, the beautiful preference. widow shut her eyes to the difficulties. On the following morning Lady by which she was surrounded, and at Ravelgold made her proposed visit to the first decent moment after the death the city; and inquiring for Mr. Firkins, of her lord, she had re-entered the gay was shown in as usual to the junior society of which she had been the bright partner, to whom the colloquial busiand particular star, and never dreamed ness of the concern had long been either of diminishing her establish- entrusted. To her surprise she found ment, or of calculating her possible no difficulty in obtaining the sum of income. The first heavy draft she had money which had been refused her on made upon the house of Firkins and the preceding day—a result which she Co., her husband's bankers, had been attributed to her powers of persuasion, returned with a statement of the Ravel. or to some new turn in the affairs of gold debt and credit on their books, by the estate ; and for two years these which it appeared that Lord Ravelgold visits had been repeated at intervals of had overdrawn four or five thousand three or four months, with the same pounds before his death, and that from success, though not with the same some legal difficulties, nothing could delusion as to the cause. She had be realised from the securities given on discovered that the estate was worse his estates. This bad news arrived than nothing, and that the junior parton the morning of a fête to be given ner cared little to prolong his tetés-àby the Russian ambassador, at which têtes with her, and up to the visit with her only child, Lady Imogen, was to which this tale opened, she had looked make her debut in society. With the to every succeeding one with increased facility of disposition which was pecu- fear and doubt. liar to her, Lady Ravelgold thrust the During these two years, Tremlet papers into her drawer, and determining had seen Lady Imogen occasionally at to visit her banker on the following balls and public places, and every look morning, threw the matter entirely from they exchanged wove more strongly her mind and made preparations for the between them the subtle threads of ball. With the Russian government love. Once or twice she had endeathe house of Firkins and Co. had long voured to interest her mother in concarried on very extensive fiscal transac. versation on the subject, with the tions, and in obedience to instructions intention of making a confidence of her from the emperor, regular invitations feelings; but Lady Ravelgold, when for the embassy fêtes were sent to the not anxious, was giddy with her own bankers, accepted occasionally by the success, and the unfamiliar name never junior partner only, who was generally rested a moment on her ear. With supposed to be a natural son of old this explanation to render the tale intel. Firkins. Out of the banking-house he ligible, “let us," as the French say, was known as Mr. Tremlet, and it "return to our muttons." was by this name, which was presumed Of the conversation between Tremlet to be his mother's, that he was casually and her mother, Lady Imogen was an introduced to Lady Imogen on the unobserved and astonished witness. night of the fête, while she was sepa- The tent which they had entered was rated from her mother in the dancing- fitted with a buffet in the centre, and a room. The consequence was a sudden, circular table waited on by servants deep, ineffaceable passion in the bosom within the ring; and, just concealed of the young banker, checked and by the drapery around the pole, sat silenced, but never lessened or chilled Lady Imogen with a party of her by the recollection of the obstacle of friends, discussing very seriously the his birth. The impression of his sub- threatened fashion of tight sleeves. dued manner, his worshipping, yet most She had half risen, when her mother respectfultones, and the bright soul that entered, to offer her a seat by her side, breathed through his handsome features, but the sight of Tremlet, who imme
diately followed, had checked the days of chivalry - would you not words upon her lip, and to her surprise wear her favour as conspicuously as they seated themselves on the side that they ?" was wholly unoccupied, and conversed Å flush of mingled embarrassment in a tone inaudible to all but them- and surprise shot over the forhead of selves. Not aware that her lover knew Tremlet, and he was turning the ring Lady Ravelgold, she supposed that with his fingers, when Lady Imogen, they might have been casually intro- attempting to pass out of the tent, was duced, till the earnestness of her mo- stopped by her mother. ther's manner, and a certain ease be- “Imogen, my daughter! this is tween them in the little courtesies of Mr. Tremlet. Lady Imogen Ravelthe table, assured her that this could gold, Mr. Tremlet!" not be their first interview. Tremlet's The cold and scarce perceptible bow face was turned from her, and she which the wounded girl gave to her could not judge whether he was equally lover, betrayed no previous acquaintinterested; but she had been so accus- ance to the careless Lady Ravelgold. tomed to consider her mother as irresis- Without giving a second thought to tible when she chose to please, that she her daughter, she held her glass for supposed it of course ; and very soon some champagne to a passing servant, the heightening colour of Lady Ravel- and as Lady Imogen and her friends gold, and the unwavering look of min- crossed the lawn to the dancing tent, gled admiration and curiosity which she she resumed the conversation which bent upon the handsome face of her they had interrupted; while Tremlet, companion, left no doubt in her mind with his heart brooding on the altered that her reserved and exclusive lover look he had received, listened and rewas in the dangerous toils of a rival plied almost unconsciously ; yet from whose power she knew. From the this very circumstance, in a manner mortalo pangs of a first jealousy, which was interpreted by his comheaven send thee deliverance, fair Lady panion as the embarrassment of a Imogen!
timid and long-repressed passion for “ We shall find our account in the herself. advances on your ladyship's credit,” While Lady Ravelgold and the said Tremlet, in reply to the direct junior partner were thus playing at question that was put to him. “Mean cross purposes over their champagne time, permit me to admire the courage and bons-bons, Grisi and Lablache were with which you look so disagreeable a singing a duet from I Puritani, to a subject in the face.”
full audience in the saloon ; the drink“For disagreeable a subject,' read ing young men sat over their wine at • Mr. Tremlet. I show my temerity the nearly deserted tables ; Lady more in that. Apropos of faces, yours Imogen and her friends waltzed to would become the new fashion of Collinet's band, and the artizans were cravat. The men at Crockford's slip busy below the lawn, erecting the the ends through a ring of their lady- machinery for the fire-works. Meanlove's, if they chance to have one- time every alley and avenue, grot and thus !" and untying the loose knot of labyrinth, had been dimly illuminated his black satin cravat, Lady Ravel- with coloured lamps, showing like varigold slipped over the ends a diamond coloured glow-worms amid the foliage of small value, conspicuously set in and shells; and if the bright scenery pearls.
of Rose Eden had been lovely by day, “ The men at Crockford's," said it was fay-land and witchery by night. Tremlet, hesitating to commit the Fatal impulse of our nature, that these rudeness of removing the ring, “ are approaches to paradise in the “ delight not of my school of manners. If I of the eye,'' stir only in our bosoms had been so fortunate as to inspire a the passions upon which law and holy lady with a preference for me, I should writ have put ban and bridle! not advertise it on my cravat."
“ Shall we stroll down this alley of " But suppose the lady were proud crimson lamps ?" said Lady Ravelof her preference, as dames were of gold, crossing the lawn from the tent the devotion of their knights in the where their coffee had been brought to
them, and putting her slender arm far able pain. A French attaché, Phil. into that of her now pale and silent lipiste to the very tips of his moustache, companion.
addressed to her ear, meantime, the A lady in a white dress stood at the compliments he had found most effecentrance of that crimson avenue, as tive in the Chaussée D'Antin. Tremlet and his passionate admirer The light burst suddenly from a disappeared beneath the closing lines hundred blazing points, clear, dazzl. of the long perspective, and, remain- ing, intense-illuminating, as by the ing a moment gazing through the un- instantaneous burst of day, the farthest broken twinkle of the confusing lamps, corner of Rose Eden. And Monsieur she passed her hand hard upon her Mangepoire, with a French contempt forehead, drew up her form as if for English fire-works, took advantage struggling with some irrepressible feel. of the first ray to look into Lady ing, and in another moment was whirl. Imogen's eyes. ing in the waltz with Lord Ernest "Mais, Miladi !" was his immediate Fitzantelope, whose mother wrote a exclamation, after following their complimentary paragraph about their direction with a glance, “ ce n'est performance for the next Saturday's qu'u' tableau vivant, cela ! Help, Court Journal.
gentlemen! Elle s'evanouit. Some The bugle sounded, and the band salts! Misericorde ! Mon Dieu ! played a march upon the lawn. From Mon Dieu !" And Lady Imogen the breakfast-tents, from the coffee. Ravelgold was carried fainting to Lady rooms, from the dance, from the card. Roseberry's chamber. tables, poured all who wished to wit. In a small opening at the end of a ness the marvels that lie in saltpetre. long avenue of lilacs, extending from Gentlemen who stood in a tender the lawn in the direction of Lady attitude in the darkness, held them. Imogen's fixed and unconscious gaze, selves ready to lean the other way was presented, by the unexpected when the rockets blazed up, and illumination, the tableau vivant, seen mammas who were encouraging flirta- by her ladyship and Monsieur Mangetions with eligibles, whispered a caution poire at the same instant-a gentleon the same subject to their less-ex- man drawn up to his fullest height, perienced daughters.
with his arms folded, and a lady kneelUp sped the missiles, round spun ing on the ground at his feet with her the wheels, fair burned the pagodas, arms stretched up to his bosom. swift flew the fire-doves off and back again on their wires, and softly floated A little after two o'clock on the down through the dewy atmosphere following Wednesday, Tremlet's cabof that May night the lambent and riolet stopped near the perron of many-coloured stars, flung burning Willis's rooms in King-street, and from the exploded rockets. Device fol. while he sent up his card to the lady lowed device, and Lady Imogen almost patronesses for his ticket to that night's forgot, in her child's delight at the spec- Almack's, he busied himself in looktacle, that she had taken into her bosom ing into the crowd of carriages about a green serpent, whose folds where clos- him, and reading on the faces of their ing like suffocation about her heart. fair occupants the hope and anxiety to
The finale was to consist of a new which they were a prey, till John the light, invented by the Pyrotechnist, footman brought them tickets or despromised to Lady Roseberry to be pair. Drawn up on the opposite side several degrees brighter than the sun of the street, stood a family carriage -comparatively with the quantity of of the old style, covered with half the matter. Before this last flourish arms of the herald's office, and concame a pause ; and while all the world taining a fat dowager and three very were murmuring love and applause over-dressed daughters. Watching around her, Lady Imogen, with her them, to see the effect of their applieyes fixed on an indefinite point in the cation, stood upon the sidewalk three darkness, took advantage of the cessa- or four young men from the neightion of light to feed her serpent with bouring club-house, and at the mo. thoughts of passionate and uncontroll- ment Tremlet was observing these cir.