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Cecil Castlemaine's gage, Lady Marabout's troubles and other stories online

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TuE PuBLiSHEES have the pleasure of offering to
the many admirers of the writings of " Ouida," the
present volume of Contributions, which have appeared
from time to time in the leading Journals of Europe,
and which have recently been collected and revised by
the author, for publication in book-form.

They have also in press, to be speedily published,
another similar volume of tales, from the same pen,
togetlibx with an unpublished romance entitled
"Under Two Flags."

Our editions of Ouida's Works are published by
express arrangement with the author; and any other
editions that may anpear in the American market will
be issued in violation of the courtesies usually ex-
tended both to authors and publishers.

Philadelphia, May, 18G7.


< f\

""> O ''"" (~~^ it




Broidebed Shield 11


Maltese Peerage 37

A Chaperone. — In Three Seasons : —

Season the First. — The Eligible 84

Season the Second. — The Ogre 121

Season the Third. — The Climax 164

A STUDY A LA LOUIS QUINZE ; or, Pendant to a Pas-
tel BY La Tour... 211

I. The First Morning 212

n. The Second Morning 218

IIL Midnight 227

"DEADLY DASH." A Story told on the Off Day 235





CousiNSHiP 265

THE STORY OF A CRAYON-HEAD; ok, A Doubled-down

Leaj in a Man's Life 306

THE BEAUTY OF VICQ D'AZYR ; ok, Not at all a

Pkofkk Pekson 339

trait BT MiONABD 368




fECIL CASTLEMAINE was the beauty of her
county and her line, the handsomest of all tlie
handsome women that had graced her race, when
she moved, a century and a half ago, down the stately
staircase, and through the gilded and tapestried halls of
Lilliesford. The Town had run mad after her, and her
face levelled politics, and was cited as admiringly by the
Whigs at St. James's as by the Tories at the Cocoa-tree,
by the beaux and Mohocks at Garraway's as by the
alumni at the Grecian, by the wits at Will's as by the
fops at Ozinda's.

Wherever she went, whether to the Haymarket or the
Opera, to the 'Change for a fan or the palace for a state
ball, to Drury Lane to see Pastoral Philips's dreary
dilution of Racine, or to some fair chief of her faction
for basset and ombre, she was surrounded by the best
men of her time, and hated by Whig beauties witli viru-
lent wrath, for she was a Tory to the backbone, indeed a
Jacobite at heart ; worshipped Bolingbroke, detested
MaWborough and Eugene, believed in all the horrors of
tne programme said to have been plotted by the Whigs
for the anniversary show of 1711, and was thought to
have prompted the satire on those fair politicians who

12 CECIL castlemaine's gage.

are disguised as Rosalinda and Nigranilla iu the 81st
paper of the Spectator.

Cecil Castlemaine was the greatest beauty of her day,
lovelier still at four-and-twenty than she had been at seveu-
teeu, unwedded, though the highest coronets in the land
had been offered to her ; far above the coquetteries and
miuauderies of her friends, far above imitation of the affec-
tations of " Lady Betty Medley's skuttle," or need of prac-
tising the Fan exercise ; haughty, peerless, radiant, unwon
— nay, more — untouched ; for the finest gentleman on the
town could not flatter himself that he had ever stirred the
slightest trace of interest in her, nor boast, as he stood in
the inner circle at the Chocolate-house (unless, indeed, he
lied more impudently than Tom Wharton himself), that he
had ever been honored by a glance of encouragement from
the Earl's daughter. She was too proud to cheapen her-
self with coquetry, too fastidious to care for her conquests
over those who whispered to her through Nicolini's song,
vied to have the privilege of carrying her fan, drove past
her windows in Soho Square, crowded about her in St.
James's Park, paid court even to her little spaniel Inda-
mara, and, to catch but a glimpse of her brocaded train
as it swept a ball-room floor, would leave even their play
at the Groom Porter's, Mrs. Oldfield in the green-room,
a night hunt with Mohun and their brother Mohocks, a
circle of wits gathered " within the steam of the coffee-
pot" at Will's, a dinner at Halifax's, a supper at Boling-
broke's, — whatever, according to their several tastes, made
their best entertainment and was hardest to quit.

The highest suitors of the day sought her smile and
sued for her hand ; men left the Court and the Mall to
join the Flanders army before the lines at Bouchain lesa
for loyal love of England than hopeless love of Cecil
Castlemaine. Her father vainly urged her not to fling
away offers that all the women at St. James's envied her.
She was untouched and unwon, and when her friends, the


court beauties, the fine ladies, the coquettes of quality,
rallied her on her coldness (envying her her conquests),
she would smile her slight proud smile and bow her
stately head. "Perhaps she was cold; she might be;
they were personnable men ? Oh yes ! she had nothing
to say against them. His Grace of Belamour ? — A pretty
wit, without doubt. Lord Millamont? — Diverting, but
a coxcomb. He had beautiful hands ; it was a pity he
was always thinking of them ! Sir Gage Rivers ? — As
obsequious a lover as the man in the * Way of the World,'
Dut she had heard he was very boastful and facetious at
women over his chocolate at Ozinda's. The Earl of
Argent? — A gallant soldier, surely, but whatever he
might protest, no mistress would ever rival with him the
dice at the Groom Porter's. Lord Philip Bellairs ? — A
proper gentleman ; no fault in him ; a bel esprit and an
elegant courtier ; pleased many, no doubt, but he did not
please her overmuch. Perhaps her taste was too finical,
or her character too cold, as they said. She preferred it
should be so. When you were content it were folly to
seek a change. For her part, she failed to comprehend
how women could stoop to flutter their fans and choose
their ribbons, and rack their tirewomen's brains for new
pulvillios, and lappets, and devices, and practise their
curtsy and recovery before their pier-glass, for no better
aim or stake than to draw the glance and win the praise
of men for whom they cared nothing. A woman who
had the eloquence of beauty and a true pride should
be above heed for such affectations, pleasure in such
applause ! "

So she would put them all aside and turn the tables ou
her friends, and go on her own way, proud, peerless, Gecil
Castlemaine, conquering and unconquered ; and Steele
must have had her name in his thoughts, and honored it
heartily and sincerely, when he wrote one Tuesday, on
the 21st of October, under the domino of his Church Co-

14 CECIL castlemaine's gage

quet.te, " I say I do honor to those who can be coquette*
and are not such, but I despise all who would be so, and,
in despair of arriving at it themselves, hate and vilify all
those who can." A definition justly drawn by his keen,
quick graver, though doubtless it only excited the ire of,
and was entirely lost upon, those who read the paper over
their dish of bohea, or over their toilette, while they
shifted a patch for an hour before they could determine
it, or regretted the loss of ten guineas at crimp.

Cecil Castlemaine was the beauty of the Town : when
she sat at Drury Lane on the Tory side of the house, the
devoutest admirer of Oldfield or Mrs. Porter scarcely
heard a Avord of the Heroic Daughter, or the Amorous
Widow, and the " beau fullest of his own dear self" for-
got his silver-fringed gloves, his medallion snuff-box, his
knotted cravat, his clouded cane, the slaughter that he
planned to do, from gazing at her where she sat as though
she were reigning sovereign at St. James's, the Castle-
maine diamonds flashing crescent-like above her brow.
At church and court, at park and assembly, there were
none who could eclipse that haughty gentlewoman ; there-
fore her fond women friends who had caressed her so
warmly and so gracefully, and pulled her to pieces behind
her back, if they could, so eagerly over their dainty cups
of tea in an afternoon visit, were glad, one and all, when
on " Barnabybright," Anglice, the 22d (then the 11th)
of June, the great Castlemaine chariot, with its three
herons blazoned on its coroneted panels, its laced liveries
and gilded harness, rolled over the heavy, ill-made roads
down into the country in almost princely pomp, the peas-
ants pouring out from the wayside cottages to stare at my
lord's coach.

It was said in the town that a portly divine, who wore
his scarf as one of the chaplains to the Earl of Castle-
maine, had prattled somewhat indiscreetly at Child's of
his patron's politics ; that certain cipher letters had


passed the Channel enclosed in chocolate-cakes as soon aa
French goods wei'e again imported after the peace of
Utrecht ; that gentlemen in high places were strongly
suspected of mischievous designs against the tranquillity
of the country and government; that the Earl had,
among others, received a friendly hint from a relative in
power to absent himself for a while from the court where he
was not best trusted, and the town where an incautious
word might be picked up and lead to Tower Hill, and
amuse himself at his goodly castle of Lilliesford, where
the red deer would not spy upon him, and the dark beech-
woods would tell no tales. And the ladies of quality, her
dear friends and sisters, were glad when they heard it as
they punted at basset and fluttered their fans compla-
cently. They would have the field for themselves, for a
season, while Cecil Castlemaine was immured in her
manor of Lilliesford ; would be free of her beauty to
eclipse them at the next birthday, be quit of their most
dreaded rival, their most omnipotent leader of fashion -
and they rejoiced at the whisper of the cipher letter, the
damaging gossipry of the Whig coffee-houses, the bad
repute into which my Lord Earl had grown at St.
James's, at the misfortune of their friend, in a word, as
human nature, masculine or feminine, will ever do — to
its shame be it spoken — unless the fomes peccati be more
completely wrung out of it than it ever has been since the
angel Gabriel performed that work of purification on the
infant Mahomet.

It was the June of the year '15, and the coming dis-
affection was seething and boiling secretly among the
Tories ; the impeachment of Ormond and Bolingbroke
had strengthened the distaste to the new-come Hanove-
rian pack, their attainder had been the blast of air needed
to excite the smouldering wood to flame, the gentlemen
of that party in the South began to grow impatient of the
intrusion of the distant German branch, to think lovingly

16 CECIL castlemaine's gage.

3f the old legitimate line, and to feel something of the
chafing irritation of the gentlemen of the North, who
were fretting like stag-hounds held in leash.

Envoys passed to and fro between St. Germain, and
Jacobite nobles, priests of the church that had fallen out
oT favor and was typified as the Scarlet "Woman by a
rival who, though successful, was still bitter, plotted with
ecclesiastical relish in the task ; letters were conveyed in
rolls of innocent lace, plans were forwarded in frosted
confections, messages were passed in invisible cipher that
defied investigation. The times were dangerous ; full of
plot and counterplot, of risk and danger, of fomenting
projects and hidden disaflfection — times in which men,
living habitually over mines, learned to like the uncer-
tainty, and to think life flavorless without the chance of
losing it any hour ; and things being in this state, the
Earl of Castlemaine deemed it prudent to take the coun-
sel of his friend in power, and retire from London for a
while, perhaps for the safety of his own person, perhaps
for the advancement of his cause, either of which were
easier insured at his seat in the western counties than
amidst the Whigs of the capital.

The castle of Lilliesford was bowered in the thick
woods of the western counties, a giant pile built by Nor-
man masons. Troops of deer herded under the gold-
green beechen boughs, the sunlight glistened through the
aisles of the trees, and quivered down on to the thick
moss, and ferns, and tangled grass that grew under the
park woodlands ; the water-lilies clustered on the river,
and the swans " floated double, swan and shadow," under
the leaves that swept into the water; then, when Cecil
Castlemaine came down to share her father's retirement,
as now, when her name and titles on the gold plate of a
coffin that lies with others of her race in the mausoleum
across the park, where winter snows and summer sun-
rays are alike to those who sleep within, is all that, tells

CECIL castlemaine's oaoe. 17

at Lilliesford of the loveliest womau of her time who once
reiffned there us mistress.

The country was in its glad green midsummer beauty,
and the musk-rosebuds bloomed in profuse luxuriance
over the chill marble of the terraces, and scattered tlieir
delicate odorous petals in fragrant showers on the sward
of the lawns, when Cecil Castlemaine came down to what
she termed her exile. The morning was fair and cloud-
less, its sunbeams piercing through the darkest glades in
the woodlands, the thickftst shroud of the ivy, the deep-
est-hued pane of the muilioned windows, as she passed
down the great staircase where lords and gentlewomen of
her race gazed on her from the canvas of Lely and Jarae-
sone, Bourdain and Vandyke, crossed the hall with her
dainty step, so stately yet so light, and standing by the
window of her own bower- room, was lured out on to the
terrace overlooking the west side of the park.

She made such a picture as Vandyke would have liked
to paint, Avith her golden glow upon her, and the musk-
roses clustering about her round the pilasters of marble — ■
the white chill marble to w^hich Belamour and many other
of her lovers of the court and town had often likened her.
Vandyke would have lingered lovingly on the hand that
rested on her stag-hound's head, would have caught her
air of court-like grace and dignity, would have painted
with delighted fidelity her deep azure eyes, her proud
brow, her delicate lips arched haughtily like a cupid's
bow, would have picked out every fold of her sweeping
train, every play of light on her silken skirts, every dainty
tracery of her point- lace. Yet even painted by Sir An-
thony, that perfect master of art and of elegance, though
more finished it could have hardly been more faithful,
more instinct with grace, and life, and dignity, than a
sketch drawn of her shortly after that time by one who
loved her well, which is still hanging in the gallery at
2* li


i8 CECIL castlemaine's gage.

Lilliesford, lighted up by the afternoon sun when it
streams in through the western windows.

Cecil Castlemaine stood on the terrace looking over the
lawns and gardens through the opening vistas of meeting
boughs and interlaced leaves to the woods and hills be-
yond, fused in a soft mist of green and purple, with her
hand lying carelessly on her hound's broad head. She
was a zealous Tory, a skilled politician, and her thoughts
were busy with the hopes and fears, the chances for and
against, of a cause that lay near her heart, but whose
plans were yet immature, whose first blow was yet un-
struck, and whose well-wishers were sanguine of a success
they had not yet hazarded, though they hardly ventured
to whisper to each other their previous designs and desires.
Her thoughts were far away, and she hardly heeded the
beauty round her, musing on schemes and projects dear
to her party, that would imperil the Castlemaine coronet,
but would serve the only royal house the Castlemaine line
had ever in their hearts acknowledged.

She had regretted leaving the Town, moreover ; a
leader of the mode, a wit, a woman of the world, she
missed her accustomed sphere; she w^as no pastoral
Phyllis, no country-born Mistress Fiddy, to pass her time
in provincial pleasures, in making cordial waters, in
tending her beau-pots, in preserving her fallen rose-
leaves, in inspecting the confections in the still-room ; as
little was she able, like many fine ladies when in simi-
lar exile, to while it away by scolding her tirewomen, and
sorting a suit of ribbons, in ordering a set of gilded leather
hangings from Chelsea for the state chambers, and yawn-
ing over chocolate in her bed till mid-day. She regretted
leaving the Town, not for Belamour, nor Argent, nor any
of those Avho vainly hoped, as they glanced at the little
mirror in the lids of their snuft-boxes, that they might
have graven themselves, Avere it ever so faintly, in her
thoughts ; but for the wits, the pleasures, the choice


clique, the accustomed circle to which she was so used,
the courtly, brilliant town-life where she was wont to

So she stood on the terrace the first morning of her
exile, her thoughts far away, with the loyal gentlemen of
the North, and the banished court at St. Germain, the
lids drooping proudly over her haughty eyes, and her lipg
half parted with a faint smile of trium])h -n the visions
limned by ambition and imagination, wJiii« the wind
softly stirred the rich lace of her bodice, and her fingers
lay lightly, yet firmly, on the head of her stag-hound.
She looked up at last as she heard the ring of a horse's
hoofs, and saw a sorrel, covered with dust and foam, spurred
up the avenue, which, rounding past the terrace, swept
on to the front entrance; the sorrel looked wellnigh
spent, and his rider somewhat worn and languid, as a
man might do with justice who had been in boot and
saddle twenty-four hours at the stretch, scarce stopping
for a stoup of Avine; but he lifted his hat, and bowed
down to his saddle-bow as he passed her.

" Was it the long-looked-for messenger with definitb
news from St. Germain ? " wondered Lady Cecil, as her
hound gave out a deep-tongued bay of anger at the
stranger. She went back into her bower-room, and toyed
absently with her flowered handkerchief, broidering a
stalk to a violet-leaf, and wondering what additional
hope the horseman might have brought to strengthen the
good Cause, till her servants brought word that his Lord-
ship prayed the pleasure of her presence in the octagon-
room. Whereat she rose, and swept through the long
corridors, entered the octagon-room, the sunbeams gather-
ing about her rich dress as they passed through the
Btained-glass oriels, and saluted the new-comer, when her
father presented him to her as their trusty and welcome
friend and envoy. Sir Fulke Ravensworth, with her care-
less dignity and (jucenly grace, that nameless air which

20 CECIL castlemaine's gage.

was too highly bred to be condescension, but markedly
and proudly repelled familiarity, and signed a pale of
distance beyond which none must intrude.

The new-comer was a tall and handsome man, of noble
presence, bronzed by foreign suns, pale and jaded just
now with hard riding, while his dark silver-laced suit
was splashed and covered with dust ; but as he bowed low
to her, critical Cecil Castlemaine saw that not Belamour
himself could have better grace, not my Lord Millamon..
courtlier mien nor whiter hands, and listened with gra-
cious air to what her father unfolded to her of his mis-
Bion from St. Germain, whither he had come, at great
personal risk, in many disguises, and at breathless speed,
to place in their hands a precious letter in cipher from
James Stuart to his well-beloved and loyal subject Her-
bert George, Earl of Castlemaine. A letter spoken of
with closed doors and in low whispers, loyal as was the
household, supreme as the Earl ruled over his domains
of Lilliesford, for these were times when men mistrusted
those of their own blood, and when the very figures on
the tapestry seemed instinct with life to spy and betray
— when they almost feared the silk that tied a missive
should babble of its contents, and the hound that slept
beside them should read and tell their thoughts.

To leave Lilliesford would be danger to the Envoy and
danger to the Cause ; to stay as guest was to disarm sus-
picion. The messenger who had brought such priceless
news must rest within the shelter of his roof; too much
were risked by returning to the French coast yet a while,
or even by joining Mar or Derwentwater, so the Earl en-
forced his will upon the Envoy., and the Envoy thanked
him and accepted.

Perchance the beauty, Avhose eyes he had seen lighten
and proud brow flush as she read the royal greeting and
injunction, made a sojourn near her presence not distaste-
ful ; perchance he cared little where he stayed till the


dawning time of action and of rising should arrive, when
he should take the field and fight till life or death for the
" White Rose and the long heads of hair." He was a
soldier of fortune, a poor gentleman with no patrimony
hut his name, no chance of distinction save by his sword ;
sworn to a cause whose star was set forever ; for many
years his life li^d been of changing adventure and shift-
ing chances, now fighting with Berwick at Almanza, now
risking his life in some delicate and dangerous errand for
James Stuart that could not have been trusted so well to
any other officer about St. Germain ; gallant to rashness,
yet with much of the acumen of the diplomatist, he was
invaluable to his Court and Cause, but, Stuart-like, men-
like, they hastened to employ, but ever forgot to reward I

Lady Cecil missed her town-life, and did not over-favor
her exile in the western counties. To note down on her
Mather's tablets the drowsy homilies droned out by the
chaplain on a Sabbath noon, to play at crambo, to talk
with her tirewomen of new washes for the skin, to pass her
hours away in knotting? — she, whom Steele might have
writ of when he drew his character of Eudoxia, could
wile her exile with none of these inanities ; neither could
she consort with gentry who seemed to her little better
than the boors of a country wake, who had never heard
of Mr. Spectator and knew nothing of Mr. Cowley,
countrywomen whose ambition was in their cowslip
wines, fox-hunters more ignorant and uncouth than the
dumb brutes they followed.

Who was there for miles around with whom she could
Btoop to associate, with whom she cared to exchange a
word ? Madam from the vicarage, in her grogram, learned
in syrups, salves, and possets ? Country Lady Bouutifuls,
with gossip of the village and the poultry-yard ? Provincial
Peeresses, who had never been to London since Queen
Anne's coronation? A squirearchy, who knew of no
music save the concert of their stop-hounds, no court save

22 CECIL castlemaine's gage.

the court of the county assize, no literature unless by
miracle 't were Tarleton's Jests ? None such as these could
cross the inlaid oak parquet of Lilliesford, and be ushered
into the presence of Cecil Castlemaine.

So the presence of the Chevalier's messenger was not
altogether unwelcome and distasteful to her. She saw him
but little, merely conversing at table with him with that
distant and dignified courtesy which marked her out from
the light, free, inconsequent manners in vogue with other
women of quality of her time ; the air which had chilled
half the softest things even on Belamour's lips, and kept
the vainest coxcomb hesitating and abashed.

But by degrees she observed that the Envoy was a man
who had lived in many countries and in many courts, was
well versed in the tongues of France and Italy and Spain —
in their belles-lettres too, moreover — and had served his
apprenticeship to good comjDany in the salons of Versailles,
in the audience-room of the Vatican, at the receptions of
the Duchess du Maine, and with the banished family at
St. Germain. He spoke with a high and sanguine spirit

Online Library1839-1908 OuidaCecil Castlemaine's gage, Lady Marabout's troubles and other stories → online text (page 1 of 30)