Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

the ungrateful creature back to the hotel, coming forward from the fireplace," you and give her tea and a novel. As for the must not go away from the town without billiard-room in that hotel, it is one of the seeing it well. It is handsome, and the best between Holborn and the Canongate. tall poplars down by the side of the river, The Lieutenant begs to add, that he can they are worth going to see by themrecommend the beer.

selves." CHAPTER XV.

"It was very pretty this morning," con

tinued Bell, “ when the wind was blowing “LA PATRIE EN DANGER.” “Sometimes on lonely mountain-meres,

about the light blue smoke, and the sun I find a magic bark;

was shining down on the slates and the I leap on board: no helmsman steers : clumps of trees. We went to a height on I Roat till all is dark."

the other side of the river, and I have I sit down to write this chapter with a made a sketch of it-" determination to be generous, calm, and “ Pray," says my Lady, regarding our modest in the last degree. The man who ward severely, “when did you go out this would triumph over the wife of his bosom morning?" merely to have the pleasure of saying "I “Perhaps about an hour and a half told you so," does not deserve to have his ago," replies Bell carelessly; "I don't expath through life sweetened by any such actly know." tender companionship. Far be it from “More than that, I think,” says the me to recall the protestations which my Lieutenant, “ for I did smoke two cigars Lady affixed to the first portion of this before we came back. It is much to our narrative on its publication. Not for credit to get up so early, and not any thing worlds would I inquire into her motives to be blamed of.” for being so anxious to see Arthur go. The “I am glad Bell is improving in that ways of a woman ought to be intricate, respect,” retorts my Lady, with a wicked occult, perplexing, if only to preserve smile; and then she adds, “Well ?" something of the mystery of life around "He has started," is the reply to that her, and to serve her, also, as a refuge from question. the coarse and rude logic of the actual “And is going by another route?” world. The foolish person who, to prove “ Yes : in a dog-cart-by himself. Don't himself right, would drive his wife into a you think it is very foolish of him, Tita ? corner, and demonstrate to her that she You know what accidents occur with those was wrong—that she had been guilty of dog-carts." small prevarications, of trifling bits of hy- « Mademoiselle, do not alarm yourself,” pocrisy, and of the use of various arts to says the Lieutenant, folding up his newsconceal her real belief and definite pur- paper. “It is quite true what Madame pose-the man who would thus wound the said yesterday, that there are so many acgentle spirit by his side to secure the petty cidents in driving, and so very seldom any gratification of proving himself to have one hurt. You ask your friends-yes, they been something of a twopenny-halfpenny have all had accidents in their riding and prophet;-but these remarks are prema driving; they have all been in great danture at the present moment, and I go on ger, but what have they suffered ?-Nothto narrate the events which happened on ing! Sometimes a man is killed-yes, one the day of our leaving Shrewsbury, and get out of several millions in the year. And ting into the solitary region of the meres. if he tumbles over-which is likely if he

“I have received a telegram from Ar- does not know much of horses and driving thur,” says Bell, calmly; and the pink-what then? No, there is no fear; we sheet is lying on the breakfast-table before shall see him some day very well, and go her.

on all together!" “How did you get it?" says my Lady, “Oh, shall we ?” says my Lady, eviwith some surprise.

dently regarding this as a new idea. "At the post-office."

“ Certainly. Do you think he goes “Then you have been out ?"

that way always ? Impossible. He will “Yes, we went for a short walk, after tire of it. He will study the roads across having waited for you,” says Bell, looking to meet us. He will overtake us with his down.

light little dog-cart; we shall have his “Oh, Madame," says the Lieutenant, company along the road."

Tita did not at all look so well satisfied have all the fair green world to ourselves. with this prospect of meeting an old friend We looked with a lenient eye upon the as she might have done.

great habitations of men. What if a trifle “And when are you to hear from him of coal-smoke hung about the house-tops, next ?" I inquire of Mademoiselle. and that the streets were not quite so

“ He will either write or telegraph to clean as they might be? We suffered each of the big towns along our route, on little from these inconveniences. They the chance of the message intercepting us only made us rejoice the more to get out somewhere; and so we shall know where into the leafy lanes, where the air was he is.”

fresh with the scent of the bean-fields and “And he has really started ?"

the half-dried hay. And when a town Bell placed the telegram in my hands. happened to be picturesque-and it was It was as follows:

our good fortune to find a considerable Have set out by Hatfield, Huntingdon, number of handsome cities along our line and York, for Edinburgh. Shall follow of route—and combined with its steep the real old coach-road to Scotland; and streets, its old-fashioned houses, and its am certain to find much entertainment." winding river and banks, a fair proportion

“ For man and beast,” struck in the of elms and poplars scattered about in Lieutenant. “And I know of a friend of clumps to mar the monotony of the gray mine traveling in your country who went fronts and the blue slates, we paid such a into one of these small inns, and put up tribute of admiration as could only be ob his horse, and when they brought him in tained from people who knew they would his luncheon to the parlor, he only look- soon be emancipated from the din and claed at it and said, 'Very good, waiter ; this mor, the odor and the squalor, of thoroughis very nice ; but where is the entertainment fares and pavements. for the man ?"

Bell, sitting very erect, and holding the I continued to read the telegram whip and reins in the most accurate and aloud

scientific fashion, was driving us leisurely “ Shall probably be in Edinburgh before up the level and pleasant road leading you ; but will telegraph or write to each big from Shrewsbury to Ellesmere. The countown along your route, that you may let me try was now more open and less hilly than know where you are."

that through which we had recently come. “It is very obliging,” says the Lieuten- Occasionally, as in the neighborhood of ant, with a shrug of his shoulders.

Harmer Hill, we drove by long woods; “ It is quite certain," observes my Lady, but for the most part our route lay between with decision," that he must not accom- spacious meadows, fields, and farms, with pany us in his dog-cart; for we shall ar- the horizon around lying blue and dark rive at plenty of inns where they could under the distant sky. The morning had not possibly put up three horses and so gradually become overcast, and the varimany people."

ous greens of the landscape were darken“ Ít would have been so," said the ed by the placid gray overhead. There Lieutenant,“ at the place on the top of was little wind, but a prevailing coolness the hill-Bourton was it called ?"

that seemed to have something of preThe mere notion of Arthur coming in monitory moistness in it. to spoil the enjoyment of that rare even- But how the birds sang under the silence ing was so distressing, that we all took re- of that cold gray sky! We seemed to hear fuge in breakfast, after which we went for all the sounds within a great compass, and a long and leisurely stroll through Shrews- these were exclusively the innumerable bury, and then had Castor and Pollux notes of various warblers—in the hedges, put into the phaeton. It seemed now to and in the roadside trees, far away in us to matter little at what town we stay- woods, or hidden up in the level grayness ed. We had almost began to forget the of the clouds : Tewi, tewi, tewi, trrrr-weet! various points of the journey. It was-droom, droom, phloee !—tuck, tuck, tuck, enough that some hospitable place—whe- tuck, feer !—that was the silvery chorus ther it were city, town, or hamlet-afford- from thousands of throats, and, under the ed us shelter for the night, that on the darkness of the gray sky, the leaves of the next morning we could issue forth again trees and the woods seemed to hang into the sweet smelling country air, and motionless in order to listen. Now and again Bell picked out the call of a thrush too, a faint vapor seemed to rise, so that or a blackbird from the almost indistin- the shores on the other side had grown guishable mass of melody; but it seenied dim and vague. The trees were still to us that all the fields and the hedges had dropping large drops into the plashing but one voice, and that it was clear, and road; runnels of water showed how heavy sweet, and piercing, in the strange silence the rain had been ; and it seemed as if reigning over the land.

the gray and ghostly plain of the lake Šo we rolled along the unfrequented were still stirred by the commotion of the road, occasionally passing a wayside showers. The reflection of a small yacht tavern, a farmhouse, or a cluster of cot- out frorn the shore was blurred and indistages, until about noon we caught a tinct; and underneath the wooded island glimpse of a stretch of gray water. On beyond there only reigned a deeper gloom this lonely mere no boat was to be seen, on the mere. nor any house on its banks, merely a bit Of course, no reasonable person could of leaden-colored water placed amid the have thought of going out in a boat on soft and low-lying woods. Then we this damp evening; but Bell having excaught the glimmer of another sheet of pressed some wish of the kind, the Lieucold gray, and by and by, driving under tenant forth with declared we should soon and through an avenue of trees, we came have a boat, however late the hour. He full in sight of Ellesmere.

dragged us through a wet garden to a The small lake looked rather dismal house set amid trees by the side of the just then. There was a slight stirring of lake. He summoned a worthy woman, wind on its surface, which destroyed the and overcame her wonder, and objections, reflection of the woods along its shores

, so and remonstrances, in about a couple of that the water was pretty much the coun- minutes. In a very short space of time, terpart of the gloomy sky above. At this we found ourselves in a massive and unmoment, too, the moisture in the air began wieldy punt, out in the middle of this gray to touch our faces, and every thing por- sheet of water, with the chill darkness of tended a shower. Bell drove us past the night rapidly descending. mere and on to the small village, where “ We shall all have neuralgia, and rheuCastor and Pollux were safely lodged in matism, and colds to-morrow," said my the stables of the “ Bridgewater Arms. Lady, contentedly. “And all because of

We had got into shelter just in time. this mad girl, who thinks she can see Down came the rain with a will; but we ghosts wherever there is a little mist. Bell, were unconcernedly having luncheon in a do you remember- _" long apartment which the landlord had re- Tita stopped suddenly, and grasped my cently added on to his premises. Then arm. A white something had suddenly we darted across the yard to the billiard- borne down upon us, and not for a second room, where Bell and my Lady having or two did we recognize the fact that it taken up lofty positions, in order to over- was merely a swan, bent on a mission of look the tournament, we proceeded to curiosity. Far away beyond this solitary knock the balls about until the shower animal there now became visible a faint

line of white, and we knew that there the The rain, however, showed no symp- members of his tribe were awaiting his retoms of leaving off, so we resolved to re- port. main at Ellesmere that night, and the rest The two long oars plashed in the siof the afternoon was spent in getting up lence, we glided onwards through the cold arrears of correspondence and similar mists, and the woods on the opposite work. It was not until after dinner that shore were now coming near.

How long it was found the rain-clouds had finally we floated thus, through the gloomy vagathered themselves together, and then, pors of the lake, I can not tell. We were when we went out for a stroll, in obedi- bent on no particular mission ; and someence to Bell's earnest prayer, the evening how the extreme silence was grateful to had drawn on apace.

us. But what was this new light that The darkening waters of the lake were was seen to be stealing up behind the now surrounded by low clouds of white trees, a faint glow that began to tell upon mist, that hung about the still and wet the sky, and reveal to us the conformation woods. From the surface of the mere, of the clouds ? The mists of the lake

should cease.

deepened, but the sky lightened, and we “ With you it may be different,” said could see breaks in it-long stripes of a soft Bell, almost repeating what I had said the and pale yellow. The faint suffusion of day before to the young man. “I wish yellow light seemed to lend a little warmth we could always be traveling and meetto the damp and chill atmosphere. Belling with such pleasant scenes as this. had not uttered a word. She had been But this holiday is a very exceptional watching this growing light with patient thing." eyes, only turning at times to see how the “So much the worse," said the Lieutenisland was becoming more distinct in the ant, with the air of a man who thinks he darkness. And then more and more rap- is being hardly used by destiny. idly the radiance spread up and over the “ But tell me," broke in my Lady, as the south-east, the clouds got thinner and boat lay in the path of the moonlight, thinner, until all at once we saw the white almost motionless, “ have you calculated glimmer of the disk of the moon leap in- the consequences of your becoming an to a long crevice in the dark sky. And exile ?" lo! all the scene around us was changed ; “An exile! there are many thousands of the mists were gradually dispersed and my countrymen in England; they do not driven to the shores; the trees on the is- seem to suffer much of regret because they land became sharp, black bars against a

are exiles." flood of light; and on the dark bosom of “ Suppose we were to go to war with the water lay a long lane of silver, inter- Germany." twisting itself with millions of gleaming “Madame," observed the Lieutenant, lines, and flashing on the ripples that seriously, "if you regard one possibility, went quivering back from the hull of our why not another? Should I not hesitate boat. We were floating on an enchant- of living in England for fear of a comet ed lake, set far away amid these solitary striking your country rather than Germawoods.

ny? No; I do not think there is any “ Every day, I think," said Bell, “ we chance of either ; but if there is a war, come to something more beautiful in this then I consider whether I am more bound journey."

to Germany or to England. And that is “Mademoiselle," said the Lieutenant, a question of the ties you may form, which suddenly, “ your country it has been too may be more strong than merely that you much for me; I have resolved to come to chance to have been born in a particular live here always, and in five years, if I place." choose it, I shall be able to be naturaliz- “ These are not patriotic sentiments," ed, and consider England as my own remarks my Lady, in a voice which shows country.”

she is pleased as well as amused by the anThe moonlight was touching softly at nouncement of them. this moment the outline of Bell's face, but “ Patriotism !” he said, “ that is very the rest of the face was in shadow, and we good—but you need not make it a fetish. could not see what evidence of surprise Perhaps I have more right to be patriotic was written there.

in a country that I choose for my own, “ You are not serious," she said. than in a country where I am born with“I am."

out any choice of my own. But I do “And you mean to give up your coun- not find my countrymen when they come try because you like the scenery of anoth- to England much troubled by such things; er country pro

and I do not think your countrymen, That, plainly put, was what the propo- when they go to America, consult the sal of the Count amounted to, as he had philosophers, and say what they would do expressed it ; but even he seemed some- in a war. If you will allow me to difwhat taken aback by its apparent absurdity. fer with you, Madame, I do not think

"No," he said, “ you must not put it that is a great objection to my living in all down to one reason ; there are many England." reasons, some of them important; but at An objection-coming from her! The all events it is sure that if I come to live honest Lieutenant meant no sarcasm; but in England, I shall not be disappoint- if a blush remained in my Lady's system ed of having much pleasure in travel- —which is pretty well trained, I admit, to ing."

repress such symptoms of consciousness

surely it ought to have been visible on this all fear him, and the annoyance of his clear moonlight night.

coming? Is a young lady likely to have At length we had to make for the shore. much sympathy for him, when he is very It seemed as though we were leaving out disagreeable, and rude, and angry? Now, there on the water all the white wonder of this is what I think about him. I am the moon; but when we had run the boat afraid Mademoiselle is very sorry to tell into the boat-house and got up among the him to go away. They are old friends. trees, there too was the strong white light, But she would like him to go away, for he gleaming on black branches, and throw- is very jealous, and angry, and rude; and ing bars of shadow across the pale, brown so I go to her, and say—no, I will not tell road. We started on our way back to the you what my argument is, but I hope I village, by the margin of the mere. The will show Mademoiselle it will be better if mists seemed colder here than out on the she will promise to be my wife, and then water; and now we could see the moon- this pitiful fellow he will be told not to dislight struggling with a faint white haze tress her any more. If she says no—it is that lay over all the surface of the lake. a misfortune for me, but none to her. If My Lady and Bell walked on in front; she says yes, then I will look out that she the Lieutenant was apparently desirous tó is not any more annoyed—that is quite linger a little behind.

certain. “You know," he said, in a low voice, “ I hope you don't wish to marry merely and with a little embarrassment, “why I to rescue a distressed damsel.” have resolved to live in England."

“Bah," he said, “ you know it is not that. “ I can guess."

But you English people, you always make “I mean to ask Mademoiselle to-mor- your jokes about these things—not very row-if I have the chance—if she will good jokes either--and do not talk frankly become my wife."

about it. When Madame comes to hear “You will be a fool for your pains.” of this — and if Mademoiselle is good

"What is that phrase ? I do not com- enough not to cast me away—it will be a prehend it," he said.

hard time for us, I know, from morning “ You will make a mistake if you do. until night. But have I not told you what She will refuse you."

I have considered this young lady--so “And well ?" he said. “ Does not eve- very generous in her nature, and not thinkry man run the chance of that? I willing of herself—so very frank and goodnot blame her--no; but it is better I natured to all people around her—and of should ask her, and be assured of this one a good, light heart, that shows she can enway or the other.”

joy the world, and is of a happy disposi"You do not understand. Apart from tion, and will be a very noble companion all other considerations, Bell would al- for the man who marries her. I would tell most certainly object to entertaining such you much more, but I can not in your lana proposal after a few days' acquaintance- guage." ship

At all events, he had picked up a good "A few days !" he exclaimed. Der many flattering adjectives. Mademoiselle's Himmel! I have known her years and dowry in that respect was likely to be conyears ago-very well we were acquaint- siderable. ed

Here we got back to the inn. Glasses “But the acquaintanceship of a boy is were brought in, and we had a final game nothing. You are almost a stranger to her of bézique before retiring for the night; now

but the Lieutenant's manner towards Bell “ See here," he urged. "

“We do know was singularly constrained and almost dismore of each other in this week or two tant, and he regarded her occasionally in a than if I had seen her for many seasons of somewhat timid and anxious way. your London society. We have seen each other at all times—under all ways-not necessary for me to explain that I am not respon

[Note by Queen Titania.—“It is perhaps unmere talking in a dance, or so forth.” sible for the strange notions that may enter the

" But you know she has not definitely heads of two light-hearted young people when broken off with Arthur yet."

they are away for a holiday. But I must protest “ Then the sooner the better," said the which I will not describe that I was throughout

against the insinuation-conveyed in a manner Lieutenant, bluntly." How is it you do scheming against Arthur's suit with our "Bell.

« AnteriorContinuar »