"Ah! that is a great thing in your country," exclaimed the princess, "a man being his own master at so early an age."
"I thought it was a 'heritage of woe,'" said Lothair.
"No, no," said the princess; "the only tolerable thing in life is action, and action is feeble without youth. What if you do not obtain your immediate object?—you always think you will, and the detail of the adventure is full of rapture. And thus it is the blunders of youth are preferable to the triumphs of manhood, or the successes of old age."
"Well, it will be a consolation for me to remember this when I am in a scrape," said Lothair.
"Oh! you have many, many scrapes awaiting you," said the princess. "You may look forward to at least ten years of blunders—that is, illusions—that is, happiness. Fortunate young man!"
Theodora had, without appearing to intend it, relinquished her seat to Lothair, who continued his conversation with the princess, whom he liked, but who, he was sorry to hear, was about to leave England, and immediately—that very night. "Yes," she said, "it is my last act of devotion. You know, in my country we have saints and shrines. All Italians, they say, are fond, are superstitious; my pilgrimage is to Theodora. I must come and worship her once a year."
A gentleman bowed lowly to the princess, who returned his salute with pleased alacrity. "Do you know who that is?" said the princess to Lothair. "That is Baron Gozelius, one of our great reputations. He must have just arrived. II will present you to him; it is always agreeable to know a great man," she added—"at least Goethe says so!"
The philosopher, at her invitation, took a chair opposite the sofa. Though a profound man, he had all the vivacity and passion which are generally supposed to be peculiar to the superficial. He had remarkable conversational power, which he never spared. Lothair was captivated by his eloquence, his striking observations, his warmth, and the flashing of his southern eye.
"Baron Gozelius agrees with your celebrated pastor, Dr. Cumming," said Theodora, with a tinge of demure sarcasm, "and believes that the end of the world is at hand."
"And for the same reasons?" inquired Lothair.
"Not exactly," said Theodora, "but in this instance science and revelation have arrived at the same result, and that is what all desire."
"All that I said was," said Gozelius, "that the action of the sun had become so irregular that I thought the chances were in favor of the destruction of our planet. At least, if I were a public office, I would not insure it."
"Yet the risk would not be very great under those circumstances," said Theodora.
"The destruction of this worlds foretold," said Lothair; "the stars are to fall from the sky; but while I credit, I cannot bring my mind to comprehend, such a catastrophe."
"I have seen a world created and a world destroyed," said Gozelius. "The last was flickering ten years, and it went out as I was watching it."
"And the first?" inquired Lothair, anxiously.
"Disturbed space for half a century—a great pregnancy. William Herschel told me it would come when I was a boy, and I cruised for it through two-thirds of my life. It came at last, and it repaid me."
There was a stir. Euphrosyne was going to sing with her sister. They swept by Lothair in their progress to the instrument, like the passage of sultanas to some kiosk on the Bosporus. It seemed to him that he had never beheld any thing so resplendent. The air was perfumed by their movement and the rustling of their wondrous robes. "They must be of the Aryan race," thought Lothair, "though not of the Phidian type." They sang a Greek air, and their sweet and touching voices blended with exquisite harmony. Every one was silent in the room, because every one was entranced. Then they gave their friends some patriotic lay which required chorus, the sisters, in turn, singing a stanza. Mr. Phoebus arranged the chorus in a moment, and there clustered round the piano al number of gentlemen almost as good-looking and as picturesque as himself. Then, while Madame Phoebus was singing, Euphrosyne suddenly, and with quickness, moved away and approached Theodora, and whispered something to her, but Theodora slightly shook her head, and seemed to decline.
Euphrosyne regained the piano, whispered something to Colonel Campian, who was one of the chorus, and then commenced her own part. Colonel Campian crossed the room and spoke to Theodora, who instantly, without the slightest demur, joined her friends. Lothair felt agitated, as he could not doubt Theodora was going to sing. And so it was; when Euphrosyne had finished, and the chorus she had inspired had died away, there rose a deep contralto sound, which, though without effort, seemed to Lothair the most thrilling tone he had ever listened to. Deeper and richer, and richer and deeper, it seemed to become, as it wound with exquisite facility through a symphony of delicious sound, until it ended in a passionate burst, which made Lothair's heart beat so tumultuously that for a moment he thought he should be overpowered.
"I never heard any thing so fine in my life," said Lothair to the French philosopher.
"Ah! if you had heard that woman sing the Marseillaise, as I did once, to three thousand people, then you would know what was fine. Not one of us who would not have died on the spot for her!"
The concert was over. The Princess of Tivoli had risen to say farewell. She stood apart with Theodora, holding both her hands, and speaking with earnestness. Then she pressed her lips to Theodora's forehead, and said, "Adieu, my best beloved; the spring will return."
The princess had disappeared, and Madame Phoebus came up to say good-night to her hostess.
"It is such a delicious night," said Theodora, "that I have ordered our strawberries-and-cream on the terrace. You must not go."
And so she invited them all to the terrace. There was not a breath of air, the garden was flooded with moonlight, in which the fountain glittered, and the atmosphere was as sweet as it was warm.
"I think the moon will melt the ice to-night," said Theodora, as she led Madame Phoebus to a table covered with that innocent refreshment in many forms, and pyramids of strawberries, and gentle drinks which the fancy of America could alone devise.
"I wonder we did not pass the whole evening on the terrace," said Lothair.
"One must sing in a room," said Euphrosyne, "or the nightingales would eclipse us."
Lothair looked quickly at the speaker, and caught the glance of a peculiar countenance—mockery blended with Ionian splendor.
"I think strawberries-and-cream the most popular of all food," said Madame Phoebus, as some touched her beautiful lips.
"Yes; and one is not ashamed of eating it," said Theodora.
Soon there was that stir which precedes the breaking up of an assembly. Mrs. Giles and some others had to return to town. Madame Phoebus and Euphrosyne were near neighbors at Roehampton, but their carriage had been for some time waiting. Mr. Phoebus did not accompany them. He chose to walk home on such a night, and descended into the garden with his remaining friends.
"They are going to smoke," said Theodora. "Is it your habit?"
"I do not dislike it in the air and at a distance; but I banish them the terrace. I think smoking must be a great consolation to a soldier;" and, as she spoke, she moved, and, without formally inviting him, he found himself walking by her side.
Rather abruptly he said, "You wore last night at the opera the same ornament as on the first time I had the pleasure meeting you."
She looked at him with a smile, and a little surprised. "My solitary trinket; I fear you will never see any other."
"But you do not despise trinkets?" said Lothair.
"Oh no; they are very well. Once I was decked with jewels and ropes of pearls, like Titian's Queen of Cyprus. I sometimes regret my pearls. There is a reserve about pearls which I like—something soft and dim. But they are all gone, and I ought not to regret them, for they went in a good cause. I kept the star, because it was given to me by a hero; and once we flattered ourselves it was a symbol."
"I wish I were a hero!" said Lothair.
"You may yet prove one."
"And if I do, may I give you a star?"
"If it be symbolical."
"But of what?"
"Of an heroic purpose."
"But what is an heroic purpose?" exclaimed Lothair. "Instead of being here to-night, I ought, perhaps, to have been present at a religious function of the highest and deepest import, which might have influenced my destiny, and led to something heroic. But my mind is uncertain and unsettled. I speak to you without reserve, for my heart always entirely opens to you, and I have a sort of unlimited confidence in your judgment. Besides, I have never forgotten what you said at Oxford about religion—that you could not conceive society without religion. It is what I feel myself, and most strongly; and yet there never was a period when religion was so assailed. There is no doubt the atheists are bolder, are more completely organized, both as to intellectual and even physical force, than ever was known. I have heard that from the highest authority. For my own part, I think I am prepared to die for Divine truth. I have examined myself severely, but I do not think I should falter. Indeed, can there be for man a nobler duty than to be the champion of God? But then the question of the churches interferes. If there were only one church, I could see my way. Without a church, there can be no true religion, because otherwise you have no security for the truth. I am a member of the Church of England, and when I was at Oxford I thought the Anglican view might be sustained. But, of late, I have given ray mind deeply to these matters, for, after all, they are the only matters a man should think of; and, I confess to you, the claim of Rome to orthodoxy seems to me irresistible."
"You make no distinction, then, between religion and orthodoxy?" said Theodora.
"Certainly I make no difference."
"And yet, what is orthodox at Dover is not orthodox at Calais or Ostend. I should be sorry to think that, because there was no orthodoxy in Belgium or France, there was no religion."
"Yes," said Lothair, "I think I see what you mean."
"Then again, if we go further," continued Theodora, "there is the whole of the East; that certainly is not orthodox, according to your views. You may not agree with all or any of their opinions, but you could scarcely maintain that, as communities, they are irreligious."
"Well, you could not, certainly," said Lothair.
"So you see," said Theodora, "what is called orthodoxy has very little to do with religion; and a person may be very religious without holding the same dogmas as yourself, or, as some think, without holding any."
"According to you, then," said Lothair, "the Anglican view might be maintained."
"I do not know what the Anglican view is," said Theodora. "I do not belong to the Roman or to the Anglican Church."
"And yet, you are very religious," said Lothair.
"I hope so; I try to be so; and, when I fail in any duty, it is not the fault of my religion. I never deceive myself into that; I know it is my own fault."
There was a pause; but they walked on. The soft splendor of the scene and all its accessories, the moonlight, and the fragrance, and the falling waters, wonderfully bewitched the spirit of the young Lothair.
"There is nothing I would not tell you," he suddenly exclaimed, turning to Theodora, "and sometimes I think there is nothing you would not tell me. Tell me, then, I entreat you, what is your religion?"
"The true religion, I think," said Theodora. "I worship in a church where I believe God dwells, and dwells for my guidance and my good—my conscience."
"Your conscience may be divine," said Lothair, "and I believe it is; but the consciences of other persons are not divine, and what is to guide them, and what is to prevent or to mitigate the evil they would perpetrate?"
"I have never heard from priests," said Theodora, "any truth which my conscience had not revealed to me. They use different language from what I use, but I find, after a time, that we mean the thing. What I call time they call eternity; when they describe heaven, they give a picture of earth; and beings whom they style divine, they invest with all the attributes of humanity."
"And yet is it not true," said Lothair, "that—"
But, at this moment, there were the sounds of merriment and of approaching footsteps; the form of Mr. Phoebus appeared ascending the steps of the terrace, followed by others. The smokers had fulfilled their task. There were farewells, and bows, and good-nights. Lothair had to retire with the others, and, as he threw himself into his brougham, he exclaimed: "I perceive that life is not so simple an affair as I once supposed."
When the stranger, who had proved so opportune an ally to Lothair at the Fenian meeting, separated from his companion, he proceeded in the direction of Pentonville, and, after pursuing his way through a number of obscure streets, but quiet, decent, and monotonous, he stopped at a small house in a row of many residences, yet all of them, in, form, size, color, and general character, so identical, that the number on the door could alone assure the visitor that he was not in error when he sounded the knocker.
"Ah! is it you, Captain Bruges?" said the smiling and blushing maiden who answered to his summons. "We have not seen you for a long time."
"Well, you look as kind and as pretty as ever, Jenny," said the captain, "and how is my friend?"
"Well," said the damsel, and she shrugged her shoulders, "he mopes. I'm very glad you have come back, captain, for he sees very few now, and is always writing. I cannot bear that writing; if he would only go and take a good walk, I am sure he would be better."
"There is something in that," said Captain Bruges. "And is he at home, and will he see me?"
"Oh! he is always at home to you, captain; but I will just run up and tell him you are here. You know it is long since we have seen you, captain—coming on half a year, I think."
"Time flies, Jenny. Go, my good girl, and I will wait below."
"In the parlor, if you please, Captain Bruges. It is to let now. It is more than a mouth since the doctor left us. That was a loss, for, as long as the doctor was here, he always had some one to speak with."
So Captain Bruges entered the little dining-room with its mahogany table, and half a dozen chairs, and cellaret, and over the fireplace a portrait of Garibaldi, which had been left as a legacy to the landlady by her late lodger, Dr. Tresorio.
The captain threw a quick glance at the print, and then, falling into reverie, with his hands crossed behind him, paced the little chamber, and was soon lost in thoughts which made him unconscious how long had elapsed when the maiden summoned him.
Following her, and ascending the stair-case, he was ushered into the front room of the first floor, and there came forward to meet him a man rather below the middle height, but of a symmetrical and imposing mien. His face was grave, not to say sad; thought, not time, had partially silvered the clustering of his raven hair; but intellectual power reigned in his wide brow, while determination was the character of the rest of his countenance, under great control, yet apparently, from the dark flashing of his eye, not incompatible with fanaticism.
"General," he exclaimed, "your presence always reanimates me. I shall at least have some news on which I rely. Your visit is sudden—sudden things are often happy ones. Is there any thing stirring in the promised land? Speak, speak! You have a thousand things to say, and I have a thousand ears."
"My dear Mirandola," replied the visitor, "I will take leave to call into council a friend whose presence is always profitable."
So saying, he took out a cigar-case, and offered it to his companion.
"We have smoked together in palaces," said Mirandola, accepting the proffer with a delicate white hand.
"But not these cigars," replied the general. "They are superb, my only reward for all my transatlantic work, and sometimes I think a sufficient one."
"And Jenny shall give us a capital cup of coffee," said Mirandola; "it is the only hospitality that I can offer my friends. Give me a light, my general; and now, how are things?"
"Well, at the first glance, very bad; the French have left Rome, and we are not in it."
"Well, that is an infamy not of today or yesterday," replied Mirandola, "though not less an infamy. We talked over this six months ago, when you were over here about something else, and from that moment unto the present I have with unceasing effort labored to erase this stigma from the human consciousness, but with no success. Men are changed; public spirit is extinct; the deeds of '48 are to the present generations as incomprehensible as the Punic wars, or the feats of Marius against the Cimbri. What we want are the most natural things in the world, and easy of attainment because they are natural. We want our metropolis, our native frontiers, and true liberty. Instead of these, we have compromises, conventions, provincial jealousies, and French prefects. It is disgusting, heart-rending; sometimes I fear my own energies are waning. My health is wretched; writing and speaking are decidedly bad for me, and I pass my life in writing and speaking. Toward evening I feel utterly exhausted, and am sometimes, which I thought I never could be, the victim of despondency. The loss of the doctor was a severe blow, but they hurried him out of the place. The man of Paris would never rest till he was gone. I was myself thinking of once more trying Switzerland, but the obstacles are great; and, in truth, I was at the darkest moment when Jenny brought me the light of your name."
The general, who had bivouacked on a group of small chairs, his leg on one, his elbow on another, took his cigar from his mouth and delivered himself of a volume of smoke, and then said dryly: "Things may not be so bad as they seem, comrade. Your efforts have not been without fruit. I have traced them in many quarters, and, indeed, it is about their possible consequences that I have come over to consult with you."
"Idle words, I know, never escape those lips," said Mirandola; "speak on."
"Well," said the general, "you see that people are a little exhausted by the efforts of last year; and it must be confessed that no slight results were accomplished. The freedom of Venice—"
"A French intrigue," exclaimed Mirandola. "The freedom of Venice is the price of the slavery of Rome. I heard of it with disgust."
"Well, we do not differ much on that head," said the general. "I am not a Roman as you are, but I view Rome, with reference to the object of my life, with feelings not less ardent and absorbing than yourself, who would wish to see it again the empress of the world. I am a soldier, and love war, and, left to myself, would care little perhaps for what form of government I combated, provided the army was constituted on the principles of fraternity and equality; but the passion of my life, to which I have sacrificed military position, and perhaps," he added in a lower tone, "perhaps even military fame, has been to destroy priestcraft, and, so long as the pope rules in Rome, it will be supreme."
"We have struck him down once," said Mirandola.
"And I hope we shall again, and forever," said the general, "and it is about that I would speak. You are in error in supposing that your friends do not sympathize with you, or that their answers are dilatory or evasive. There is much astir; the old spirit is not extinct, but the difficulties are greater than in former days when we had only the Austrians to encounter, and we cannot afford to make another failure."
"There could be no failure if we were clear and determined. There must be a hundred thousand men who would die for our metropolis, our natural frontiers, and true liberty. The mass of the pseudo-Italian army must be with us. As for foreign interference, its repetition seems to me impossible. The brotherhood in the different countries, if well guided, could alone prevent it. There should be at once a manifesto addressed to the peoples. They have become absorbed in money-grubbing and what they call industry. The external life of a nation is its most important one. A nation, as an individual, has duties to fulfil appointed by God and His moral law; the individual toward his family, his town, his country; the nation toward the country of countries, humanity—the outward world. I firmly believe that we fail and renounce the religious and divine element of our life whenever we betray or neglect those duties. The internal activity of a nation is important and sacred because it prepares the instrument for its appointed task. It is mere egotism if it converges toward itself, degrading and doomed to expiation—as will be the fate of this country in which we now dwell," added Mirandola in a hushed voice. "England had a mission; it had belief, and it had power. It announced itself the representative of religious, commercial, and political freedom, and yet, when it came to action, it allowed Denmark to be crushed by Austria and Prussia, and, in the most nefarious transaction of modern times, uttered the approving shriek of 'Perish Savoy!'"
"My dear Mirandola," said the general, trimming his cigar, "there is no living man who appreciates your genius and your worth more than myself; perhaps I might say there is no living man who has had equal opportunities of estimating them. You formed the mind of our country; you kindled and kept alive the sacred flame when all was gloom, and all were without heart. Such prodigious devotion, so much resource and pertinacity and patience, such unbroken spirit, were never before exhibited by man; and, whatever may be said by your enemies, I know that in the greatest hour of action you proved equal to it; and yet at this moment, when your friends are again stirring, and there is a hope of spring, I am bound to tell you that there are only two persons in the world who can effect the revolution, and you are not one of them."
"I am ardent, my general, perhaps too sanguine, but I have no self-love, at least none when the interests of the great cause are at stake. Tell me, then, their names, and count, if required, on my cooperation."
"Garibaldi and Mary-Anne."
"A Polchinello and a Bayadere!" exclaimed Mirandola, and, springing from his seat, he impatiently paced the room.
"And yet," continued the general calmly, "there is no manner of doubt that Garibaldi is the only name that could collect ten thousand men at any given point in Italy; while in France, though her influence is mythical, the name of Mary-Anne is a name of magic. Though never mentioned, it is never forgotten. And the slightest allusion to it among the initiated will open every heart. There are more secret societies in France at this moment than at any period since '85, though you hear nothing of them; and they believe in Mary-Anne, and in nothing else."
"You have been at Caprera?" said Mirandola.
"I have been at Caprera."
"And what did he say?"
"He will do nothing without the sanction of the Savoyard."
"He wants to get wounded in his other foot," said Mirandola, with savage sarcasm. "Will he never weary of being betrayed?"
"I found him calm and sanguine," said the general.
"What of the woman?"
"Garibaldi will not move without the Savoyard, and Mary-Anne will not move without Garibaldi; that is the situation."
"Have you seen her?"
"Not yet; I have been to Caprera, and I have come over to see her and you. Italy is ready for the move, and is only waiting for the great man. He will not act without the Savoyard; he believes in him. I will not be skeptical. There are difficulties enough without imagining any. We have no money, and all our sources of supply are drained; but we have the inspiration of a sacred cause, we have you—we may gain others—and, at any rate, the French are no longer at Rome."
"The Goodwood Cup, my lord—the Doncaster. This pair of flagons for his highness the Khedive—something quite new—yes, parcel-gilt, the only style now—it gives relief to design—yes, by Monti, a great man, hardly inferior to Flaxman, if at all. Flaxman worked for. Rundell and Bridge in the old days—one of the principal causes of their success. Your lordship's gold service was supplied by Rundell and Bridge. Very fine service indeed, much by Flaxman—nothing of that kind seen now."
"I never did see it," said Lothair. He was replying to Mr. Ruby, a celebrated jeweller and goldsmith, in a celebrated street, who had saluted him when he had entered the shop, and called the attention of Lothair to a group of treasures of art.
"Strange," said Mr. Ruby smiling. "It is in the next room, if your lordship would like to see it. I think your lordship should see your gold service. Mr. Putney Giles ordered it here to be examined and put in order."
"I should like to see it very much," said Lothair, "though I came to speak to you about something else."
And so Lothair, following Mr. Ruby into an inner apartment, had the gratification, for the first time, of seeing his own service of gold plate laid out in completeness, and which had been for some time exhibited to the daily admiration of that favored portion of the English people who frequent the brilliant and glowing counters of Mr. Ruby.
Not that Lothair was embarrassed by their presence at this moment. The hour of their arrival had not yet come. Business had not long commenced when Lothair entered the shop, somewhat to the surprise of its master. Those who know Bond Street only in the blaze of fashionable hours can form but an imperfect conception of its matutinal charm when it is still shady and fresh—when there are no carriages, rarely a cart, and passers-by gliding about on real business. One feels as in some Continental city. Then there are time and opportunity to look at the shops; and there is no street in the world that can furnish such a collection, filled with so many objects of beauty, curiosity, and interest. The jewellers and goldsmiths and dealers in rare furniture, porcelain, and cabinets, and French pictures, have long fixed upon Bond Street as their favorite quarter, and are not chary of displaying their treasures; though it may be a question whether some of the magazines of fancy food—delicacies culled from all the climes and regions of the globe—particularly at the matin hour, may not, in their picturesque variety, be the most attractive. The palm, perhaps, would be given to the fish-mongers, with their exuberant exhibitions, grouped with skill, startling often with strange forms, dazzling with prismatic tints, and breathing the invigorating redolence of the sea.
"Well, I like the service," said Lothair, "and am glad, as you tell me, that its fashion has come round again, because there will now be no necessity for ordering a new one. I do not myself much care for plate. I like flowers and porcelain on a table, and I like to see the guests. However, I suppose it is all right, and I must use it. It was not about plate that I called; I wanted to speak to you about pearls."
"Ah!" said Mr. Ruby, and his face brightened; and, ushering Lothair to some glass cases, he at the same time provided his customer with a seat.
"Something like that?" said Mr. Ruby, who by this time had slid into his proper side of the counter, and was unlocking the glass cases; "something like that?" and he placed before Lothair a string of pretty pearls with a diamond clasp. "With the earrings, twenty-five hundred," he added; and then, observing that Lothair did not seem enchanted, he said, "This is something quite new," and he carelessly pushed toward Lothair a magnificent necklace of turquoises and brilliants.
It was impossible not to admire it—the arrangement was so novel and yet of such good taste; but, though its price was double that of the pearl necklace, Mr. Ruby did not seem to wish to force attention to it, for he put in Lothair's hands almost immediately the finest emerald necklace in the world, and set in a style that was perfectly ravishing.
"The setting is from the Campana collection," said Mr. Ruby. "They certainly understood things in those days, but I can say that, so far as mere workmanship is concerned, this quite equals them. I have made one for the empress. Here is a black pearl, very rare, pear-shape, and set in Golconda diamonds—two thousand guineas—it might be suspended to a necklace, or worn as a locket. This is pretty," and he offered to Lothair a gigantic sapphire in brilliants and in the form of a bracelet.
"The finest sapphire I know is in this ring," added Mr. Ruby, and he introduced his visitor to a tray of precious rings. "I have a pearl bracelet here that your lordship might like to see," and he placed before Lothair a case of fifty bracelets, vying with each other in splendor.
"But what I want," said Lothair, "are pearls."
"I understand," said Mr. Ruby. "This is a curious thing," and he took out a paper packet. "There!" he said, opening it and throwing it before Lothair so carelessly that some of the stones ran over the glass covering of the counter. "There, that is a thing, not to be seen every day—packet of diamonds, bought of an Indian prince, and sent by us to be cut and polished at Amsterdam—nothing can be done in that way except there—and just returned—nothing very remarkable as to size, but all of high quality—some fine stones—that for example," and he touched one with the long nail of his little finger; "that is worth seven hundred guineas, the whole packet worth perhaps ten thousand pounds."
"Very interesting," said Lothair, "but what I want are pearls. That necklace which you have shown me is like the necklace of a doll. I want pearls, such as you see them in Italian pictures—Titians and Giorgiones—such as a Queen of Cyprus would wear. I want ropes of pearls."
"Ah!" said Mr. Ruby, "I know what your lordship means. Lady Bideford had something of that kind. She very much deceived us—always told us her necklace must be sold at her death, and she had very bad health. We waited, but when she went, poor lady, it was claimed by the heir, and is in chancery at this very moment. The Justinianis have ropes of pearls—Madame Justiniani of Paris, I have been told, gives a rope to every one of her children when they marry—but there is no expectation of a Justiniani parting with any thing. Pearls are troublesome property, my lord. They require great care; they want both air and exercise; they must be worn frequently; you cannot lock them up. The Duchess of Havant has the finest pearls in this country, and I told her grace, 'Wear them whenever you can; wear them at breakfast,' and her grace follows my advice—she does wear them at breakfast. I go down to Havant Castle every year to see her grace's pearls, and I wipe every one of them myself, and let them lie on a sunny bank in the garden, in a westerly wind, for hours and days together. Their complexion would have been ruined had it not been for this treatment. Pearls are like girls, my lord—they require quite as much attention."
"Then you cannot give me what I want?" said Lothair.
"Well, I can, and I cannot," said Mr. Ruby. "I am in a difficulty. I have in this house exactly what your lordship requires, but I have offered them to Lord Topaz, and I have not received his answer. We have instructions to inform his lordship of every very precious jewel that we obtain, and give him the preference as a purchaser. Nevertheless, there is no one I could more desire to oblige than your lordship—your lordship has every claim upon us, and I should be truly glad to find these pearls in your lordship's possession if I could only see my way. Perhaps your lordship would like to look at them?"
"Certainly, but pray do not leave me here alone with all these treasures," said Lothair, as Mr. Ruby was quitting the apartment.
"Oh! my lord, with you!"
"Yes, that is all very well; but, if any thing is missed hereafter, it will always be remembered that these jewels were in my possession, and I was alone. I highly object to it." But Mr. Ruby had vanished, and did not immediately reappear. In the mean time it was impossible for Lothair to move: he was alone, and surrounded with precious necklaces, and glittering rings, and gorgeous bracelets, with loose diamonds running over the counter. It was not a kind or an amount of property that Lothair, relinquishing the trust, could satisfactorily deliver to a shopman. The shopman, however honest, might be suddenly tempted by Satan, and take the next train to Liverpool. He felt therefore relieved when Mr. Ruby reentered the room, breathless, with a velvet casket. "I beg pardon, my lord, a thousand pardons, but I thought I would just run over to Lord Topaz, only in the square close by. His lordship is at Madrid, the only city one cannot depend on communications with by telegraph. Spaniards strange people, very prejudiced, take all sorts of fancies in their head. Besides, Lord Topaz has more pearls than he can know what to do with, and I should like your lordship to see these," and he opened the casket.
"Exactly what I want," exclaimed Lothair; "these must be the very pearls the Queen of Cyprus wore. What is their price?"
"They are from Genoa, and belonged to a doge," said Mr. Ruby; "your lordship shall have them for the sum we gave for them. There shall be no profit on the transaction, and we shall be proud of it. We gave for them four thousand guineas."
"I will take them with me," said Lothair, who was afraid, if lie left them behind, Lord Topaz might arrive in the interval.
Lothair had returned home from his last visit to Belmont agitated by many thoughts, but, generally speaking, deeply musing over its mistress. Considerable speculation on religion, the churches, the solar system, the cosmical order, the purpose of creation, and the destiny of man, was maintained in his too rapid progress from Roehampton to his Belgravian hotel; but the association of ideas always terminated the consideration of every topic by a wondering and deeply interesting inquiry when he should see her again. And here, in order to simplify this narrative, we will at once chronicle the solution of this grave question. On the afternoon of the next day, Lothair mounted his horse with the intention of calling on Lady St. Jerome, and perhaps some other persons, but it is curious to observe that he soon found himself on the road to Roehampton, where he was in due time paying a visit to Theodora. But what is more remarkable is that the same result occurred every day afterward. Regularly every day he paid a visit to Belmont. Nor was this all; very often he paid two visits, for he remembered that in the evening Theodora was always at home. Lothair used to hurry to town from his morning visit, dine at some great house, which satisfied the demands of society, and then drive down to Roehampton. The guests of the evening saloon, when they witnessed the high ceremony of Lothair's manner, which was natural to him, when he entered, and the welcome of Theodora, could hardly believe that a few hours only had elapsed since their separation.
And what was the manner of Theodora to him when they were alone? Precisely as before. She never seemed in the least surprised that he called on her every day, or even twice a day. Sometimes she was alone, frequently she had companions, but she was always the same, always appeared gratified at his arrival, and always extended to him the same welcome, graceful and genial, but without a spark of coquetry. Yet she did not affect to conceal that she took a certain interest in him, because she was careful to introduce him to distinguished men, and would say, "You should know him, he is master of such a subject. You will hear things that you ought to know." But all this in a sincere and straightforward manner. Theodora had not the slightest affectation; she was always natural, though a little reserved. But this reserve appeared to be the result of modesty, rather than of any desire of concealment. When they were alone, though always calm, she would talk with freedom and vivacity; but in the presence of others she rather led to their display, and encouraged them, often with a certain degree of adroit simplicity, to descant on topics which interested theme or of which they were competent to treat. Alone with Lothair, and they were often alone, though she herself never obtruded the serious subjects round which he was always fluttering, she never avoided them, and without involving herself in elaborate arguments, or degenerating into conversational controversy, she had a habit of asking a question, or expressing a sentiment, which greatly affected his feelings or perplexed his opinions.
Had not the season been long waning, this change in the life of Lothair must have been noticed, and its cause ultimately discovered. But the social critics cease to be observant toward the end of July. All the world then are thinking of themselves, and have no time to speculate on the fate and fortunes of their neighbors. The campaign is too near its. close; the balance of the season must soon be struck, the great book of society made. In a few weeks, even in a few days, what long and subtle plans shattered or triumphant!—what prizes gained or missed!—what baffled hopes, and what broken hearts! The baffled hopes must go to Cowes, and the broken hearts to Baden. There were some great ladies who did remark that Lothair was seldom seen at balls; and Hugo Bohun, who had been staying at his aunt Lady Gertrude's villa for change of air, did say to Bertram that he had met Lothair twice on Barnes Common, and asked Bertram if he knew the reason why. But the fact that Lothair was cruising in waters which their craft never entered combined with the lateness of the season to baffle all the ingenuity of Hugo Bohun, though he generally found out every thing.
The great difficulty which Lothair had to apprehend was with his Roman Catholic friends. The system of the monsignori was never to let him be out of sight, and his absence from the critical function had not only disappointed but alarmed them. But the Jesuits are wise men; they never lose their temper. They know when to avoid scenes as well as when to make them. Monsignore Catesby called on Lothair as frequently as before, and never made the slightest allusion to the miscarriage of their expectations. Strange to say, the innocent Lothair, naturally so straightforward and so honorable, found himself instinctively, almost it might be said unconsciously, defending himself against his invaders with some of their own weapons. He still talked about building his cathedral, of which, not contented with more plans, he even gave orders that a model should be made, and he still received statements on points of faith from Father Coleman, on which he made marginal notes and queries. Monsignore Catesby was not altogether satisfied. He was suspicious of some disturbing cause, but at present it baffled him. Their hopes, however, were high; and they had cause to be sanguine. In a month's time or so, Lothair would be in the country to celebrate his majority; his guardian the cardinal was to be his guest; the St. Jeromes were invited, Monsignore Catesby himself. Here would be opportunity and actors to avail themselves of it.
It was a very few days after the first evening visit of Lothair to Belmont that he found himself one morning alone with Theodora. She was in her bowery boudoir, copying some music for Madame Phoebus, at least in the intervals of conversation. That had not been of a grave character, but the contrary when Lothair rather abruptly said, "Do you agree, Mrs. Campian, with what Mr. Phoebus said the other night, that the greatest pain must be the sense of death?"
"Then mankind is generally spared the greatest pain," she replied, "for I apprehend few people are sensible of death—unless indeed," she added, "it be on the field of battle; and there, I am sure, it cannot be painful."
"Not on the field of battle?" asked Lothair, inducing her to proceed.
"Well, I should think for all, on the field of battle, there must be a degree of excitement, and of sympathetic excitement, scarcely compatible with overwhelming suffering; but, if death were encountered there for a great cause, I should rather associate it with rapture than pain."
"But still a good number of persons must die in their beds and be conscious," said Lothair.
"It may be, though I should doubt it. The witnesses of such a demise are never impartial. All I have loved and lost have died upon the field of battle; and those who have suffered pain have been those whom they have left behind; and that pain," she added with some emotion, "may perhaps deserve the description of Mr. Phoebus."
Lothair would not pursue the subject, and there was rather an awkward pause. Theodora herself broke it, and in a lighter vein, though recurring to the same theme, she said with a slight smile: "I am scarcely a competent person to consult upon this subject, for, to be candid with you, I do not myself believe in death. There is a change, and doubtless a great one, painful it may be, certainly very perplexing, but I have a profound conviction of my immortality, and I do not believe that I shall rest in my grave in saecula saeculorum, only to be convinced of it by the last trump."
"I hope you will not leave this world before I do," said Lothair, "but, if that sorrow be reserved for me, promise that to me, if only once, you will reappear."
"I doubt whether the departed have that power," said Theodora, "or else I think my heroes would have revisited me. I lost a father more magnificent than Jove, and two brothers brighter than Apollo, and all of them passionately loved me—and yet they have not come; but I shall see them—and perhaps soon. So you see, my dear lord," speaking more briskly, and rising rather suddenly from her seat, "that for my part I think it best to arrange all that concerns one in this world while one inhabits it, and this reminds me that I have a little business to fulfil in which you can help me," and she opened a cabinet and took out a flat antique case, and then said, resuming her seat at her table: "Some one, and anonymously, has made me a magnificent present; some strings of costly pearls. I am greatly embarrassed with them, for I never wear pearls or anything else, and I never wish to accept presents. To return them to an unknown is out of my power, but it is not impossible that I may some day become acquainted with the donor. I wish them to be kept in safety, and therefore not by myself, for my life is subject to too great vicissitudes. I have therefore placed them in this case, which I shall now seal and intrust them to your care, as a friend in whom I have entire confidence. See," she said, lighting a match, and opening the case, "here are the pearls—are they not superb?—and here is a note which will tell you what to do with them in case of my absence, when you open the case, which will not be for a year from this day. There, it is locked. I have directed it to you, and I will seal it with my father's seal."
Lothair wag about to speak. "Do not say a word," she said "this seal is a religious ceremony with me." She was some little time fulfilling it, so that the impression might be deep and clear. She looked at it earnestly while the wax was cooling, and then she said, "I deliver the custody of this to a friend whom I entirely trust. Adieu!" and she disappeared.
The amazed Lothair glanced at the seal. It was a single word, "ROMA," and then, utterly mystified, he returned to town with his own present.
Mr. Phoebus had just finished a picture which he had painted for the Emperor of Russia. It was to depart immediately from England for its northern home, except that his imperial majesty had consented that it should be exhibited for a brief space to the people of England. This was a condition which Mr. Phoebus had made in the interests of art, and as a due homage alike to his own patriotism and celebrity.
There was to be a private inspection of the picture at the studio of the artist, and Mr. Phoebus had invited Lothair to attend it. Our friend had accordingly, on the appointed day, driven down to Belmont and then walked to the residence of Mr. Phoebus with Colonel Campian and his wife. It was a short and pretty walk, entirely through the royal park, which the occupiers of Belmont had the traditionary privilege thus to use.
The residence of Mr. Phoebus was convenient and agreeable, and in situation not unlike that of Belmont, being sylvan and sequestered. He had himself erected a fine studio, and added it to the original building. The flower-garden was bright and curious, and on the lawn was a tent of many colors, designed by himself and which might have suited some splendid field of chivalry. Upon gilt and painted perches, also, there were paroquets and macaws.
Lothair on his arrival found many guests assembled, chiefly on the lawn. Mr. Phoebus was highly esteemed, and had distinguished and eminent friends, whose constant courtesies the present occasion allowed him elegantly to acknowledge. There was a polished and gray-headed noble who was the head of the patrons of art in England, whose nod of approbation sometimes made the fortune of a young artist, and whose purchase of pictures for the nation even the furious cognoscenti of the House of Commons dared not question. Some of the finest works of Mr. Phoebus were to be found in his gallery; but his lordship admired Madame Phoebus even more than her husband's works, and Euphrosyne as much as her sister. It was sometimes thought, among their friends, that this young lady had only to decide in order to share the widowed coronet; but Euphrosyne laughed at every thing, even her adorers; and, while her witching mockery only rendered them more fascinated, it often prevented critical declarations.
And Lady Beatrice was there, herself an artist, and full of aesthetical enthusiasm. Her hands were beautiful, and she passed her life in modelling them. And Cecrops was there, a rich old bachelor, with, it was supposed, the finest collection of modern pictures extant. His theory was, that a man could not do a wiser thing than invest the whole of his fortune in such securities, and it led him to tell his numerous nephews and nieces that he should, in all probability, leave his collection to the nation.
Clorinda, whose palace was always open to genius, and who delighted in the society of men who had discovered planets, excavated primeval mounds, painted pictures on new principles, or composed immortal poems which no human being could either scan or construe, but which she delighted in as "subtle" and full of secret melody, came leaning on the arms of a celebrated plenipotentiary, and beaming with sympathy on every subject, and with the consciousness of her universal charms.
And the accomplished Sir Francis was there, and several R. A. s of eminence, for Phoebus was a true artist, and loved the brotherhood, and always placed them in the post of honor.
No language can describe the fascinating costume of Madame Phoebus and her glittering sister. "They are habited as sylvans," the great artist deigned to observe, if any of his guests could not refrain from admiring the dresses; which he had himself devised. As for the venerable patron of art in Britain, he smiled when he met the lady of the house, and sighed when he glanced at Euphrosyne; but the first gave him a beautiful flower, and the other fastened it in his button-hole. He looked like a victim bedecked by the priestesses of some old fane of Hellenic loveliness, and proud of his impending fate. What could the Psalmist mean in the immortal passage? Three-score-and-ten, at the present day, is the period of romantic passions. As for our enamoured sexagenarians, they avenge the theories of our cold-hearted youth.
Mr. Phoebus was an eminent host. It delighted him to see people pleased, and pleased under his influence. He had a belief, not without foundation, that every thing was done better under his roof than under that of any other person. The banquet in the air on the present occasion could only be done justice to by the courtly painters of the reign of Louis XV. Vanloo, and Watteau, and Lancres, would have caught the graceful group and the well-arranged colors, and the faces, some pretty, some a little affected; the ladies on fantastic chairs of wicker-work, gilt and curiously painted; the gentlemen reclining on the turf, or bending behind them with watchful care. The little tables all different, the soups in delicate cups of Sevres, the wines in golden glass of Venice, the ortolans, the Italian confectionery, the endless bouquets, were worthy of the soft and invisible music that resounded from the pavilion, only varied by the coquettish scream of some macaw, jealous, amid all this novelty and excitement, of not being noticed.
"It is a scene of enchantment," whispered the chief patron of British art to Madame Phoebus.
"I always think luncheon in the air rather jolly," said Madame Phoebus.
"It is perfect romance!" murmured the chief patron of British art to Euphrosyne.
"With a due admixture of reality," she said, helping him to an enormous truffle, which she extracted from its napkin. "You know you must eat it with butter."
Lothair was glad to observe that, though in refined society, none were present with whom he had any previous acquaintance, for he had an instinctive feeling that if Hugo Bohun had been there, or Bertram, or the Duke of Brecon, or any ladies with whom he was familiarly acquainted, he would scarcely have been able to avail himself of the society of Theodora with the perfect freedom which he now enjoyed. They would all have been asking who she was, where she came from, how long Lothair had known her, all those questions, kind and neighborly, which under such circumstances occur. He was in a distinguished circle, but one different from that in which he lived. He sat next to Theodora, and Mr. Phoebus constantly hovered about them, ever doing something very graceful, or saying something very bright. Then he would whisper a word to the great Clorinda, who flashed intelligence from her celebrated eyes, and then he made a suggestion to the aesthetical Lady Beatrice, who immediately fell into enthusiasm and eloquence, and took the opportunity of displaying her celebrated hands.
The time had now arrived when they were to repair to the studio and view the picture. A curtain was over it, and then a silken rope across the chamber, and then some chairs. The subject of the picture was Hero and Leander, chosen by the heir of all the Russias himself, during a late visit to England.
"A fascinating subject," said old Cecrops to Mr. Phoebus, "but not a very original one."
"The originality of a subject is in its treatment," was the reply.
The theme, in the present instance, was certainly not conventionally treated. When the curtain was withdrawn, they beheld a figure of life-like size, exhibiting in undisguised completeness the perfection of the female form, and yet the painter had so skilfully availed himself of the shadowy and mystic hour, and of some gauze-like drapery, which veiled without concealing his design, that the chastest eye might gaze on his heroine with impunity. The splendor of her upstretched arms held high the beacon-light, which thew a glare upon the sublime anxiety of her countenance, while all the tumult of the Hellespont, the waves, the scudding sky, the opposite shore revealed by a blood-red flash, were touched by the hand of a master who had never failed.
The applause was a genuine verdict, and the company after a time began to disperse about the house and gardens. A small circle remained, and, passing the silken rope, approached and narrowly scrutinized the picture. Among these were Theodora and Lothair, the chief patron of British art, an R. A. or two, Clorinda, and Lady Beatrice.
Mr. Phoebus, who left the studio but had now returned, did not disturb them. After a while he approached the group. His air was elate, and was redeemed only from arrogance by the intellect of his brow. The circle started a little as they heard his voice, for they had been unaware of his presence.
"To-morrow," he said, "the critics will commence. You know who the critics are? The men who have failed in literature and art."
The lodge-gate of Belmont was opening as Lothair one morning approached it; a Hansom cab came forth, and in it was a person whose countenance was strongly marked on the memory of Lothair. It was that of his unknown friend at the Fenian meeting. Lothair instantly recognized and cordially saluted him, and his greeting, though hurriedly, was not ungraciously returned; but the vehicle did not stop. Lothair called to the driver to halt; but the driver, on the contrary, stimulated his steed, and in the winding lane was soon out of sight.
Theodora was not immediately visible. She was neither in her usual apartment nor in her garden; but it was only perhaps because Lothair was so full of his own impressions from his recent encounter at the lodge, that he did not observe that the demeanor of Mrs. Campian, when she appeared, was hardly marked by her habitual serenity. She entered the room hurriedly and spoke with quickness.
"Pray," exclaimed Lothair, rather eagerly, "do tell me the name of the gentleman who has just called here."
Theodora changed color, looked distressed, and was silent; unobserved, however, by Lothair, who, absorbed by his own highly-excited curiosity, proceeded to explain why he presumed to press for the information. "I am under great obligations to that person; I am not sure I may not say I owe him my life, but certainly an extrication from great dander and very embarrassing danger too. I never saw him but once, and he would not give me his name, and scarcely would accept my thanks. I wanted to stop his cab to-day, but it was impossible. He literally galloped off."
"He is a foreigner," said Mrs Campian, who had recovered herself; "he was a particular friend of my dear father; and when he visits England, which he does occasionally, he calls to see us."
"Ah!" said Lothair, "I hope I shall soon have an opportunity of expressing to him my gratitude."
"It was so like him not to give his name and to shrink from thanks," said Mrs. Campian. "He never enters society, and makes no acquaintances."
"I am sorry for that," said Lothair, "for it is not only that he served me, but I was much taken with him, and felt that he was a person I should like to cultivate."
"Yes, Captain Bruges is a remarkable man," said Theodora; "he is not one to be forgotten."
"Captain Bruges. That, then, is his name?"
"He is known by the name of Captain Bruges," said Theodora, and she hesitated; and then speaking more quickly she added: "I cannot sanction, I cannot bear, any deception between you and this roof. Bruges is not his real name, nor is the title he assumes his real rank. He is not to be known, and not to be spoken of. He is one, and one of the most eminent, of the great family of sufferers in this world, but sufferers for a divine cause. I myself have been direly stricken in this struggle. When I remember the departed, it is not always easy to bear the thought. I keep it at the bottom of my heart; but this visit to-day has too terribly revived every thing. It is well that you only are here to witness my suffering, but you will not have to witness it again, for we will never again speak of these matters."
Lothair was much touched: his good heart and his good taste alike dissuaded him from attempting commonplace consolation. He ventured to take her hand and pressed it to his lips. "Dear lady!" he murmured, and he led her to a seat. "I fear my foolish tattle has added to pain which I would gladly bear for you."
They talked about nothings: about a new horse which Colonel Campian had just purchased, and which he wanted to show to Lothair; an old opera revived, but which sounded rather flat; something amusing that somebody had said, and something absurd which somebody had done. And then, when the ruffled feeling had been quite composed, and all had been brought back to the tenor of their usual pleasant life, Lothair said suddenly and rather gayly. "And now, dearest lady, I have a favor to ask. You know my majority is, to be achieved and to be celebrated next month. I hope that yourself and Colonel Campian will honor me by being my guests."
Theodora did not at all look like a lady who had received a social attention of the most distinguished class. She looked embarrassed, and began to murmur something about Colonel Campian, and their never going into society.
"Colonel Campian is going to Scotland, and you are going with him," said Lothair. "I know it, for he told me so, and said he could manage the visit to me, if you approved it, quite well. In fact, it will fit in with this Scotch visit."
"There was some talk once about Scotland," said Theodora, "but that was a long time ago. Many things have happened since then. I do not think the Scotch visit is by any means so settled as you think."
"But, however that may be decided," said Lothair, "there can be no reason why you should not come to me."
"It is presumptuous in me, a foreigner, to speak of such matters," said Theodora; "but I fancy that, in such celebrations as you contemplate, there is, or there should be, some qualification of blood or family connection for becoming your guests. We should be there quite strangers, and in everybody's way, checking the local and domestic abandon which I should suppose is one of the charms of such meetings."
"I have few relations and scarcely a connection," said Lothair rather moodily. "I can only ask friends to celebrate my majority, and there are no friends whom I so much regard as those who live at Belmont."
"It is very kind of you to say that, and to feel it; and I know that you would not say it if you did not feel it," replied Theodora. "But still, I think it would be better that we should come to see you at a time when you are less engaged; perhaps you will take Colonel Campian down some day and give him some shooting."
"All I can say is that, if you do not come, it will be the darkest, instead of the brightest, week in my life," said Lothair. "In short, I feel I could not get through the business; I should be so mortified. I cannot restrain my feelings or arrange my countenance. Unless you come, the whole affair will be a complete failure, and worse than a failure."
"Well, I will speak to Colonel Campian about it," said Theodora, but with little animation.
"We will both speak to him about it now," said Lothair, for the colonel at that moment entered the room and greeted Lothair, as was his custom, cordially.
"We are settling the visit to Muriel," said Lothair; "I want to induce Mrs. Campian to come down a day or two before the rest, so that we may have the benefit of her counsel."
Muriel Tower crowned a wooded steep, part of a wild, and winding, and sylvan valley, at the bottom of which rushed a foaming stream. On the other side of the castle the scene, though extensive, was not less striking, and was essentially romantic. A vast park spread in all directions beyond the limit of the eye, and with much variety of character—ornate near the mansion, and choicely timbered; in other parts glens and spreading dolls, masses of black pines and savage woods; everywhere, sometimes glittering, and sometimes sullen, glimpses of the largest natural late that inland England boasts, Muriel Mere, and in the extreme distance moors, and the first crest of mountains. The park, too, was full of life, for there were not only herds of red and fallow deer, but, in its more secret haunts, wandered a race of wild-cattle, extremely savage, white and dove-colored, and said to be of the time of the Romans.
It was not without emotion that Lothair beheld the chief seat of his race. It was not the first time he had visited it. He had a clear and painful recollection of a brief, hurried, unkind glimpse caught of it in his very earliest boyhood. His uncle had taken him there by some inconvenient cross-railroad, to avail themselves of which they had risen in the dark on a March morning, and in an east wind. When they arrived at their station they had hired an open fly drawn by a single horse, and, when they had thus at last reached the uninhabited Towers, they entered by the offices, where Lothair was placed in the steward's room, by a smoky fire, given something to eat, and told that he might walk about and amuse himself, provided he did not go out of sight of the castle, while his uncle and the steward mounted their horses and rode over the estate; leaving Lothair for hours without companions, and returning just in time, in a shivering twilight, to clutch him up, as it were, by the nape of the neck, twist him back again into the one-horse fly, and regain the railroad; his uncle praising himself the whole time for the satisfactory and business-like manner in which he had planned and completed the edition.
What a contrast to present circumstances! Although Lothair had wished, and thought he had secured, that his arrival at Muriel should be quite private, and even unknown, and that all ceremonies and celebrations should be postponed for a few days, during which he hoped to become a little more familiar with his home, the secret could not be kept, and the county would not tolerate this reserve. He was met at the station by five hundred horsemen, all well mounted, and some of them gentlemen of high degree, who insisted upon accompanying him to his gates. His carriage passed under triumphal arches, and choirs of enthusiastic children; waving parochial banners, hymned his auspicious approach.
At the park gates his cavalcade quitted him with that delicacy of feeling which always distinguishes Englishmen, however rough their habit. As their attendance was self-invited, they would not intrude upon his home.
"Your lordship will have enough to do to-day, without being troubled with us," said their leader, as he shook hands with Lothair.
But Lothair would not part with them thus. With the inspiring recollection of his speech at the Fenian meeting, Lothair was not afraid of rising in his barouche and addressing them. What he said was said very well and it was addressed to a people who, though the shyest in the world, have a passion for public speaking, than which no achievement more tests reserve. It was something to be a great peer and a great proprietor, and to be young and singularly well-favored; but to be able to make a speech, and such a good one, such cordial words in so strong and musical a voice—all felt at once they were in the presence of the natural leader of the county. The enthusiasm of the hunting-field burst forth. They gave him three ringing cheers, and jostled their horses forward, that they might grasp his hand.
The park gates were open, and the postillions dashed along through scenes of loveliness on which Lothair would fain have lingered, but be consoled himself with the recollection that he should probably have an opportunity of seeing them again. Sometimes his carriage seemed in the heart of an ancient forest; sometimes the deer, startled at his approach, were scudding over expanding lawns; then his course wound by the margin of a sinuous lake with green islands and golden gondolas; and then, after advancing through stately avenues, he arrived at mighty gates of wondrous workmanship, that once had been the boast of a celebrated convent on the Danube, but which, in the days of revolutions, had reached England, and had been obtained by the grandfather of Lothair to guard the choice demesne that was the vicinage of his castle.
When we remember that Lothair, notwithstanding his rank and vast wealth, had never, from the nature of things, been the master of an establishment, it must be admitted that the present occasion was a little trying for his nerves. The whole household of the Towers were arrayed and arranged in groups on the steps of the chief entrance. The steward of the estate, who had been one of the cavalcade, had galloped on before, and he was, of course, the leading spirit, and extended his arm to his lord as Lothair descended from his carriage. The house-steward, the chief butler, the head-gardener, the chief of the kitchen, the head-keeper, the head-forester, and grooms of the stud and of the chambers, formed one group behind the housekeeper, a grave and distinguished-looking female, who courtesied like the old court; half a dozen powdered gentlemen, glowing, in crimson liveries, indicated the presence of my lord's footmen; while the rest of the household, considerable in numbers, were arranged in two groups, according to their sex, and at a respectful distance.
What struck Lothair—who was always thinking, and who had no inconsiderable fund of humor in his sweet and innocent nature—was the wonderful circumstance that, after so long an interval of neglect and abeyance, he should find himself the master of so complete and consummate a household.
"Castles and parks," he thought, "I had a right to count on, and, perhaps, even pictures, but how I came to possess such a work of art as my groom of the chambers, who seems as respectfully haughty, and as calmly grateful, as if he were at Brentham itself, and whose coat must have been made in Saville Row, quite bewilders me."
But Lothair, though he appreciated Putney Giles, had not yet formed a full conception of the resource and all-accomplished providence of that wondrous man, acting under the inspiration of the consummate Apollonia.
Passing through the entrance-hall, a lofty chamber, though otherwise of moderate dimensions, Lothair was ushered into his armory, a gallery two hundred feet long, with suits of complete mail ranged on each side, and the walls otherwise covered with rare and curious weapons. It was impossible, even for the master of this collection, to suppress the delight and the surprise with which he beheld the scene. We must remember, in his excuse, that he beheld it for the first time.
The armory led to a large and lofty octagonal chamber, highly decorated, in the centre of which was the tomb of Lothair's grandfather. He had raised it in his lifetime. The tomb was of alabaster surrounded by a railing of pure gold, and crowned with a recumbent figure of the deceased in his coronet—a fanciful man, who lived in solitude, building castles and making gardens.
What charmed Lothair most as he proceeded were the number of courts and quadrangles in the castle, all of bright and fantastic architecture, and each of which was a garden, glowing with brilliant colors, and gay with the voice of fountains or the forms of gorgeous birds. Our young friend did not soon weary in his progress; even the suggestions of the steward, that his lordship's luncheon was at command, did not restrain him. Ballrooms, and baronial halls, and long libraries with curiously-stained windows, and suites of dazzling saloons, where he beheld the original portraits of his parents, of which he had miniatures—he saw them all, and was pleased, and interested. But what most struck and even astonished him was the habitable air which pervaded the whole of this enormous structure; too rare even when families habitually reside in such dwellings; but almost inconceivable, when it was to be remembered that more than a generation had passed without a human being living in these splendid chambers, scarcely a human word being spoken in them. There was not a refinement of modern furniture that was wanting; even the tables were covered with the choicest publications of the day.
"Mr. Putney Giles proposes to arrive here to-morrow," said the steward. "He thought your lordship would like to be a day or two alone."
"He is the most sensible man I know," said Lothair; "he always does the right thing. I think I will have my luncheon now, Mr. Harvey, and I will go ever the cellars to-morrow."
Yes; Lothair wished to be alone. He had naturally a love of solitude, but the events of the last few hours lent an additional inducement to meditation. He was impressed, in a manner and degree not before experienced, with the greatness of his inheritance. His worldly position, until to-day, had been an abstraction. After all, he had only been one of a crowd, which he resembled. But the sight of this proud and abounding territory, and the unexpected encounter with his neighbors, brought to him a sense of power and of responsibility. He shrank from neither. The world seemed opening to him with all its delights, and with him duty was one. He was also sensible of the beautiful, and the surrounding forms of nature and art charmed him. Let us not forget that extreme youth and perfect health were ingredients not wanting in the spell any more than power or wealth. Was it, then, complete? Not without the influence of woman.
To that gentle yet mystical sway the spirit of Lothair had yielded. What was the precise character of his feelings to Theodora—what were his hopes, or views—he had hitherto had neither the time nor the inclination to make certain. The present was so delightful, and the enjoyment of her society had been so constant and complete, that he had ever driven the future from his consideration. Had the conduct of Theodora been different, had she deigned to practise on his affections, appealed to his sensibility, stimulated or piqued his vanity, it might have been otherwise. In the distraction of his heart, or the disturbance of his temper, he might have arrived at conclusions, and even expressed them, incompatible with the exquisite and even sublime friendship, which had so strangely and beautifully arisen, like a palace in a dream, and absorbed his being. Although their acquaintance could hardly be numbered by months, there was no living person of whom he had seen so much, or to whom he had opened his heart and mind with such profuse ingenuousness. Nor on her part, though apparently shrinking from egotism, had there ever been any intellectual reserve. On the contrary, although never authoritative, and, even when touching on her convictions, suggesting rather than dictating them, Lothair could not but feel that, during the happy period he had passed in her society, not only his taste had refined but his mind had considerably opened; his views had become larger, his sympathies had expanded; he considered with charity things and even persons from whom a year ago he would have recoiled with alarm or aversion.
The time during which Theodora had been his companion was the happiest period of his life. It was more than that; he could conceive no felicity greater, and all that he desired was that it should endure. Since they first met, scarcely four-and-twenty hours had passed without his being in her presence; and now, notwithstanding the novelty and the variety of the objects around him and the vast, and urgent, and personal interest which they involve he felt a want which meeting her, or the daily prospect of meeting her, could alone supply. Her voice lingered in his ear; he gazed upon a countenance invisible to others; and he scarcely saw or did any thing without almost unconsciously associating with it her opinion or approbation.
Well, then, the spell was complete. The fitfulness or melancholy which so often is the doom of youth, however otherwise favored, who do not love, was not the condition, capricious or desponding, of Lothair. In him combined all the accidents and feelings which enchant existence.
He had been rambling in the solitudes of his park, and had thrown himself on the green shadow of a stately tree, his cheek resting on his arm, and lost in reverie amid the deep and sultry silence. Wealthy and young, noble and full of noble thoughts, with the inspiration of health, surrounded by the beautiful, and his heart softened by feelings as exquisite, Lothair, nevertheless, could not refrain from pondering over the mystery of that life which seemed destined to bring to him only delight.
"Life would be perfect," he at length exclaimed, "if it would only last." But it will not last; and what then? He could not reconcile interest in this life with the conviction of another, and an eternal one. It seemed to him that, with such a conviction, man could have only one thought and one occupation—the future, and preparation for it. With such a conviction, what they called reality appeared to him more vain and nebulous than the scones and sights of sleep. And he had that conviction; at least he had it once. Had he it now? Yes; he had it now, but modified, perhaps, in detail. He was not so confident as he was a few months ago, that he could be ushered by a Jesuit from his deathbed to the society of St. Michael and all the angels. There might be long processes of initiation—intermediate states of higher probation and refinement. There might be a horrible and apathetic pause. When millions of ages appeared to be necessary to mature the crust of a rather insignificant planet, it might be presumption in man to assume that his soul, though immortal, was to reach its final destination regardless of all the influences of space and time.
And the philosophers and distinguished men of science with whom of late he had frequently enjoyed the opportunity of becoming acquainted, what were their views? They differed among themselves: did any of them agree with him? How they accounted for every thing except the only point on which man requires revelation! Chance, necessity, atomic theories, nebular hypotheses, development, evolution, the origin of worlds, human ancestry—here were high topics, on none of which was there lack of argument; and, in a certain sense, of evidence; and what then? There must be design. The reasoning and the research of all philosophy could not be valid against that conviction. If there were no design, why, it would all be nonsense; and he could not believe in nonsense. And if there were design, there must be intelligence; and if intelligence, pure intelligence; and pure intelligence was inconsistent with any disposition but perfect good. But between the all-wise and the all-benevolent and man, according to the new philosophers, no relations were to be any longer acknowledged. They renounce in despair the possibility of bringing man into connection with that First Cause which they can neither explain nor deny. But man requires that there shall be direct relations between the created and the Creator; and that in those relations he should find a solution of the perplexities of existence. The brain that teems with illimitable thought, will never recognize as his creator any power of Nature, however irresistible, that is not gifted with consciousness. Atheism may be consistent with fine taste, and fine taste under certain conditions may for a time regulate a polished society; but ethics with atheism are impossible; and without ethics no human order can be strong or permanent.
The Church comes forward, and, without equivocation, offers to establish direct relations between God and man. Philosophy denies its title, and disputes its power. Why? Because they are founded on the supernatural. What is the supernatural? Can there be any thing more miraculous than the existence of man and the world?—any thing more literally supernatural than the origin of things? The Church explains what no one else pretends to explain, and which, every one agrees, it is of first moment should be made clear.
The clouds of a summer eve were glowing in the creative and flickering blaze of the vanished sun, that had passed like a monarch from the admiring sight, yet left his pomp behind. The golden and amber vapors fell into forms that to the eye of the musing Lothair depicted the objects of his frequent meditation. There seemed to rise in the horizon the dome and campaniles and lofty aisles of some celestial fane, such as he had often more than dreamed of raising to the revealed author of life and death. Altars arose and sacred shrines, and delicate chantries and fretted spires; now the flashing phantom of heavenly choirs, and then the dim response of cowled and earthly cenobites:
"These are black Vesper's pageants!"
Lothair was quite glad to see Mr. Putney Giles. That gentleman indeed was a universal favorite. He was intelligent, acquainted with every thing except theology and metaphysics, to oblige, a little to patronize, never made difficulties, and always overcame them. His bright blue eyes, open forehead, and sunny face, indicated a man fall of resources, and with a temper of natural sweetness.
The lawyer and his noble client had a great deal of business to transact. Lothair was to know his position in detail preparatory to releasing his guardians from their responsibilities, and assuming the management of his own affairs. Mr. Putney Giles was a first-rate man of business. With all his pleasant, easy manner, he was precise and methodical, and was not content that his client should be less master of his own affairs than his lawyer. The mornings passed over a table covered with dispatch boxes and piles of ticketed and banded papers, and then they looked after the workmen who were preparing for the impending festivals, or rode over the estate.
"That is our weak point," said Mr. Putney Giles, pointing to a distant part of the valley. "We ought to have both sides of the valley. Your lordship will have to consider whether you can devote the two hundred thousand pounds of the second and extinct trust to a better purpose than in obtaining that estate."
Lothair had always destined that particular sum for the cathedral, the raising of which was to have been the first achievement of his majority; but he did not reply.
In a few days the guests began to arrive, but gradually. The duke and duchess and Lady Corisande came the first, and were one day alone with Lothair, for Mr. Putney Giles had departed to fetch Apollonia.
Lothair was unaffectedly gratified at not only receiving his friends at his own castle, but under these circumstances of intimacy. They had been the first persons who had been kind to him, and he really loved the whole family. They arrived rather late, but he would show them to their rooms—and they were choice ones—himself, and then they dined together in the small green dining-room. Nothing could be more graceful or more cordial than the whole affair. The duchess seemed to beam with affectionate pleasure as Lothair fulfilled his duties as their host; the duke praised the claret, and he seldom praised any thing; while Lady Corisande only regretted that the impending twilight had prevented her from seeing the beautiful country, and expressed lively interest in the morrow's inspection of the castle and domain. Sometimes her eyes met those of Lothair, and she was so happy that she unconsciously smiled.
"And-to-morrow," said Lothair, "I am delighted to say, we shall have to ourselves; at least all the morning. We will see the castle first, and then, after luncheon, we will drive about everywhere."
"Everywhere," said Corisande.
"It was very nice your asking us first, and alone," said the duchess.
"It was very nice in your coming, dear duchess," said Lothair, "and most kind—as you ever are to me."
"Duke of Brecon is coming to you on Thursday," said the duke; "he told me so at White's."
"Perhaps you would like to know, duchess, whom you are going to meet," said Lothair.
"I should much like to hear. Pray tell us."
"It is a rather formidable array," said Lothair, and he took out a paper. "First, there are all the notables of the county. I do not know any of them personally, so I wrote to each of them a letter, as well as sending them a formal invitation. I thought that was right."
"Quite right," said the duchess. "Nothing could be more proper."
"Well, the first person, of course, is the lord-lieutenant. He is coming."
"By-the-by, let me see, who is your lord-lieutenant?" said the duke.
"To be sure. I was at college with him; a very good fellow; but I have never met him since, except once at Boodle's; and I never saw a man so red and gray, and I remember him such a good-looking fellow! He must have lived immensely in the country, and never thought of his person," said the duke in a tone of pity, and playing with his mustache.
"Is there a Lady Agramont?" inquired the duchess.
"Oh, yes! and she also honors me with her presence," said Lothair.
"And who was Lady Agramont?"
"Oh! his cousin," said the duke. "The Agramonts always marry their cousins. His father did the same thing. They are so shy. It is a family that never was in society, and never will be. I was at Agramont Castle once when I was at college, and I never shall forget it. We used to sit down forty or fifty every day to dinner, entirely maiden aunts and clergymen, and that sort of thing. However, I shall be truly glad to see Agramont again, for, notwithstanding all these disadvantages, he is a thoroughly good fellow."
"Then there is the high-sheriff," continued Lothair; "and both the county members and their wives; and Mrs. High-Sheriff too. I believe there is some tremendous question respecting the precedency of this lady. There is no doubt that, in the county, the high-sheriff takes precedence of every one, even of the lord-lieutenant; but how about his wife? Perhaps your grace could aid me? Mr. Putney Giles said he would write about it to the Heralds' College."
"I should give her the benefit of any doubt," said the duchess.
"And then our bishop is coming;" said Lothair.
"Oh! I am so glad you have asked the bishop," said Lady Corisande.
"There could be no doubt about it," said Lothair.
"I do not know how his lordship will get on with one of my guardians, the cardinal; but his eminence is not here in a priestly character; and, as for that, there is less chance of his differing with the cardinal than with my other guardian Lord Culloden, who is a member of the Free Kirk."
"Is Lord Culloden coming?" said the duchess.
"Yes, and with two daughters, Flora and Grizell. I remember my cousins, good-natured little girls; but Mr. Putney Giles tells me that the shortest is six feet high."
"I think we shall have a very amusing party," said the duchess.
"You know all the others," said Lothair. "No, by-the-by, there is the dean of my college coming, and Monsignore Catesby, a great friend of the St. Jeromes."
Lady Corisande looked grave.
"The St. Jeromes will be here to-morrow," continued Lothair, "and the Montairys and the St. Aldegondes. I have half an idea that Bertram and Carisbrooke and Hugo Bohun will be here to-night—Duke of Brecon on Thursday; and that, I think, is all, except an American lady and gentleman, whom, I think, you will like—great friends of mine; I knew them this year at Oxford, and the were very kind to me. He is a man of considerable fortune; they have lived at Paris a good deal."
"I have known Americans who lived at Paris," said the duke; "very good sort of people, and no end of money some of them."
"I believe Colonel Campian has large estates in the South," said Lothair; "but, though really I have no right to speak of his affairs, he must have suffered very much."
"Well, he has the consolation of suffering in a good cause," said the duke. "I shall be happy to make his acquaintance. I look upon an American gentleman with large estates in the South as a real aristocrat; and; whether he gets his rents, or whatever his returns may be, or not, I should always treat him with respect."
"I have heard the American women are very pretty," said Lady Corisande.
"Mrs. Campian is very distinguished," said Lothair; "but I think she was an Italian."
"They promise to be an interesting addition to our party," said the duchess, and she rose.
There never was any thing so successful as the arrangements of the next day. After breakfast they inspected the castle, and in the easiest manner, without form and without hurry, resting occasionally in a gallery or a saloon, never examining a cabinet, and only looking at a picture now and then. Generally speaking, nothing is more fatiguing than the survey of a great house; but this enterprise was conducted with so much tact and consideration, and much which they had to see was so beautiful and novel, that every one was interested, and remained quite fresh for their subsequent exertions. "And then the duke is so much amused," said the duchess to her daughter, delighted at the unusual excitement of the handsome, but somewhat too serene, partner of her life.
After luncheon they visited the gardens, which had been formed in a sylvan valley, enclosed with gilded gates. The creator of this, paradise had been favored by Nature, and had availed himself of this opportunity. The contrast between the parterres, blazing with color, and the sylvan background, the undulating paths over romantic heights, the fanes and the fountains, the glittering statues, and the Babylonian terraces, formed a whole, much of which was beautiful, and all of which was striking and singular.
"Perhaps too many temples," said Lothair; "but this ancestor of mine had some imagination."
A carriage met them on the other side of the valley, and then they soon entered the park.
"I am almost as much a stranger here as yourself, dear duchess," said Lothair; "but I have seen some parts which, I think, will please you." And they commenced a drive of varying, but unceasing, beauty.
"I hope I see the wild-cattle," said Lady Corisande.
Lady Corisande saw the wild-cattle, and many other things, which gratified and charmed her. It was a long drive, even of hours, and yet no one was, for a moment, wearied.
"What a delightful day!" Lady Corisande exclaimed in her mother's dressing-room. "I have never seen any place so beautiful."
"I agree with you," said the duchess; "but what pleases me most are his manners. They were always kind and natural; but they are so polished—so exactly what they ought to be; and he always says the right thing. I never knew any one who had so matured."
"Yes; it is very little more than a year since he came to us at Brentham," said Lady Corisande, thoughtfully. "Certainly he has greatly changed. I remember he could hardly open his lips; and now I think him very agreeable."
"He is more than that," said the duchess; "he is interesting."
"Yes," said Lady Corisande; "he is interesting."
"What delights me," said the duchess, "is to see his enjoyment of his position. He seems to take such an interest in every thing. It makes me happy to see him so happy."
"Well, I hardly know," said Lady Corisande, "about that. There is something occasionally about his expression which I should hardly describe as indicative of happiness or content. It would be ungrateful to describe one as distrait, who seems to watch all one wants, and hangs on every word; and yet—especially as we returned, and when we were all of us a little silent—there was a remarkable abstraction about him; I caught it once or twice before, earlier in the day; his mind seemed in another place, and anxiously."
"He has a great deal to think of," said the duchess.
"I fear it is that dreadful Monsignore Catesby," said Lady Corisande, with a sigh.
The arrival of the guests was arranged with judgment. The personal friends came first; the formal visitors were invited only for the day before the public ceremonies commenced. No more dinners in small green dining-rooms. While the duchess was dressing, Bertha St. Aldegonde and Victoria Montairy, who had just arrived, came in to give her a rapid embrace while their own toilets were unpacking.
"Granville, has come, mamma; I did not think that he would till the last moment. He said he was so afraid of being bored. There is a large party by this train; the St. Jeromes, Bertram, Mr. Bohun, Lord Carisbrooke, and some others we do not know."
The cardinal had been expected to-day, but he had telegraphed that his arrival must be postponed in consequence: of business until the morrow, which day had been previously fixed for the arrival of his fellow guardian and trustee, the Earl of Culloden, and his daughters, the Ladies Flora and Grizell Falkirk. Monsignore Catesby had, however, arrived by this train, and the persons "whom they did not know," the Campians.
Lothair waited on Colonel Campian immediately and welcomed him, but he did not see Theodora. Still he had inquired after her, and left her a message, and hoped that she would take some tea; and thus, as he flattered himself, broken a little the strangeness of their meeting under his roof; but, notwithstanding all this, when she really entered the drawing-room he was seized with such a palpitation of the heart that for a moment he thought he should be unequal to the situation. But the serenity of Theodora reassured him. The Campians came in late, and all eyes were upon them. Lothair presented Theodora to the duchess, who, being prepared for the occasion, said exactly the right thing in the best manner, and invited Mrs. Campian to sit by her, and then, Theodora being launched, Lothair whispered something to the duke, who nodded, and the colonel was introduced to his grace. The duke, always polite but generally cold, was more than courteous—he was cordial; he seemed to enjoy the opportunity of expressing his high consideration for a gentleman of the Southern States.
So the first step was over; Lothair recovered himself; the palpitation subsided; and the world still went on. The Campians had made a good start, and the favorable impression hourly increased. At dinner Theodora sat between Lord St. Jerome and Bertram, and talked more to the middle-aged peer than to the distinguished youth, who would willingly have engrossed her attention. All mothers admire such discretion, especially in a young and beautiful married woman, so the verdict of the evening among the great ladies was, that Theodora was distinguished, and that all she said or did was in good taste. On the plea of her being a foreigner, she was at once admitted into a certain degree of social intimacy. Had she had the misfortune of being native-born and had flirted with Bertram, she would probably, particularly with so much beauty, have been looked upon as "a horrid woman," and have been relegated for amusement, during her visit, to the attentions of the dark sex. But, strange to say, the social success of Colonel Campian was not less eminent than that of his distinguished wife. The character which the duke gave of him commanded universal sympathy. "You know he is a gentleman," said the duke; "he is not a Yankee. People make the greatest mistakes about these things. He is a gentleman of the South; they have no property, but land; and I am told his territory was immense. He always lived at Paris, and in the highest style—disgusted, of course, with his own country. It is not unlikely he may have lost his estates now; but that makes no difference to me. I shall treat him, and all Southern gentlemen, as our fathers treated the emigrant nobility of France."
"Hugo," said St. Aldegonde to Mr. Bohun, "I wish you would tell Bertha to come to me. I want her. She is talking to a lot of women at the other end of the room, and, if I go to her, I am afraid they will get hold of me."
The future duchess, who lived only to humor her lord, was at his side in an instant. "You wanted me, Granville?"
"Yes; you know I was afraid, Bertha, I should be bored here. I am not bored. I like this American fellow. He understands the only two subjects which interest me; horses and tobacco."
"I am charmed, Granville, that you are not bored; I told mamma that you were very much afraid you would be."
"Yes; but I tell you what, Bertha, I cannot stand any of the ceremonies. I shall go before they begin. Why cannot Lothair be content with receiving his friends in a quiet way? It is all humbug about the county. If he wants to do something for the county, he can build a wing to the infirmary, or something of that sort, and not bore us with speeches and fireworks. It is a sort of thing I cannot stand."
"And you shall not, dear Granville. The moment you are bored, you shall go. Only you are not bored at present."
"Not at present; but I expected to be."
"Yes; so I told mamma; but that makes the present more delightful."
The St. Jeromes were going to Italy and immediately. Their departure had only been postponed in order that they might be present at the majority of Lothair. Miss Arundel had at length succeeded in her great object. They were to pass the winter at Rome. Lord St. Jerome was quite pleased at having made the acquaintance at dinner of a Roman lady, who spoke English so perfectly; and Lady St. Jerome, who in consequence fastened upon Theodora, was getting into ecstasies, which would have been embarrassing had not her new acquaintance skilfully checked her.
"We must be satisfied that we both admire Rome," said Mrs. Campian, "though we admire it for different reasons. Although a Roman, I am not a Roman Catholic; and Colonel Campian's views on Italian affairs generally would, I fear, not entirely agree with Lord St. Jerome's."
"Naturally," said Lady St. Jerome, gracefully dropping the subject, and remembering that Colonel Campian was a citizen of the United States, which accounted in her apprehension for his peculiar opinions.
Lothair, who had been watching his opportunity the whole evening, approached Theodora. He meant to have expressed his hope that she was not wearied by her journey, but instead of that he said, "Your presence here makes me inexpressibly happy."
"I think everybody seems happy to be your guest," she replied, parrying, as was her custom, with a slight kind smile, and a low, sweet, unembarrassed voice, any personal allusion from Lothair of unusual energy or ardor.
"I wanted to meet you at the station to-day," he continued, "but there were so many people coming, that—" and he hesitated.
"It would really have been more embarrassing to us than to yourself," she said. "Nothing could be better than all the arrangements."
"I sent my own brougham to you," said Lothair. "I hope there was no mistake about it."
"None: your servant gave us your kind message; and as for the carriage, it was too delightful. Colonel Campian was so; pleased with it, that he has promised to give me one, with your permission, exactly the same."
"I wish you would accept the one you used to-day."
"You are too magnificent; you really must try to forget, with us, that you are the lord of Muriel Towers. But I will willingly use your carriages as much as you please, for I caught glimpses of beauty to-day in our progress from the station that made me anxious to explore your delightful domain."
There was a slight burst of merriment from a distant part of the room, and everybody looked around. Colonel Campian had been telling a story to a group formed of the duke, St. Aldegonde, and Mr. Bohun.
"Best story I ever heard In my life," exclaimed St. Aldegonde, who prided himself, when he did laugh, which was rare, on laughing loud. But even the duke tittered, and Hugo Bohun smiled.
"I am glad to see the colonel get on so well with every one," said Lothair; "I was afraid he might have been bored."
"He does not know what that means," said Theodora; "and he is so natural and so sweet-tempered, and so intelligent, that it seems to me he always is popular."
"Do you think that will be a match?" said Monsignore Catesby to Miss Arundel.
"Well, I rather believe in the Duke of Brecon," she replied. They were referring to Lord Carisbrooke, who appeared to be devoted to Lady Corisande. "Do you admire the American lady?"
"Who is an Italian, they tell me, though she does not look like one. What do you think of her?" said the monsignore, evading, as was his custom, a direct reply.
"Well, I think she is very distinguished: unusual. I wonder where our host became acquainted with them? Do you know?"
"Not yet: but I dare say Mr. Bohun can tell us;" and he addressed that gentleman accordingly as he was passing by.
"Not the most remote idea," said Mr. Bohun. "You know the colonel is not a Yankee; he is a tremendous swell. The duke says, with more land than he has."
"He seems an agreeable person," said Miss Arundel.
"Well, he tell anecdotes; he has just been telling one; Granville likes anecdotes; they amuse him, and he likes to be amused: that is all he cares about. I hate anecdotes, and I always get away when conversation falls into, what Pinto calls, its anecdotage."
"You do not like to be amused?"
"Not too much; I like to be interested."
"Well," said Miss Arundel, "so long as a person can talk agreeably, I am satisfied. I think to talk well a rare gift; quite as rare as singing; and yet you expect every one to be able to talk, and very few to be able to sing."
"There are amusing people who do not interest," said the monsignore, "and interesting people who do not amuse. What I like is an agreeable person."