Charlotte Mary Yonge.

Beechcroft at Rockstone (Volume 1) online

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same affectionate delight. All the table was spread
with pretty books and outlined illuminations waiting
to be painted, and some really beautiful illustrated
Sunday books ; but as Gillian touched the first, Fly
cried out, ' Oh, don't ! I am so tired of all those
things ! And this is such a stupid window. I thought
at least I should see the people going to church, and



244 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap.

this looks at nothing but the old sea and a tiresome
garden.'

' That is thought a special advantage,' said Gillian,
smiling.

' Then I wish some one had it who liked it ! '

' You would not be so near us.'

' No, and that is nice, and very nice for Mysie.
How are all the dear beasts at Silverfold — Begum, and
all?'

' I am afraid I do not know more about them than
Mysie does. Aunt Jane heard this morning that she
must go down there to-morrow to meet the health-man
and* see what he says ; but she won't take any of us
because of the diphtheria and the scarlet fever being
about.'

[.' Oh dear, how horrid those catching things are !
I've not seen Ivinghoe all this winter ! Ah ! but they
are good sometimes ! If it had not been for the
measles, I should never have had that most delicious
time at Silverfold, nor known Mysie. Now, please
tell me all about where you have been, and what you
have been doing.'

Fly knew some of the younger party that Gillian
had met at Eowthorpe ; but she was more interested
in the revels at Vale Leston, and required a precise
description of the theatricals, or still better, of the
rehearsals. Never was there a more appreciative audi-
ence, of how it all began from Kit Harewood, the
young sailor, having sent home a lion's skin from Africa,



xii TRANSFORMATIONS 245

which had already served for tableaux of Androcles and
of Una — how the boy element had insisted on fun,
and the child element on fairies, and how Mrs. William
Harewood had suggested Midsummer Night's Dream
as the only combination of the three essentials, lion,
fun, and fairy, and pronounced that education had
progressed far enough for the representation to be
* understanded of the people,' at least by the 6 th and
7th standards. On the whole, however, comprehension
seemed to have been bounded by intense admiration of
the little girl fairies, whom the old women appeared to
have taken for angels, for one had declared that to
hear little Miss Cherry and Miss Katie singing their
hymns like the angels they was, was just like Heaven.
She must have had an odd notion of f Spotted snakes
with double tongues.' Moreover, effect was added to
the said hymns by Uncle Lance behind the scenes.

Then there was the account of how it had been at
first intended that Oberon should be represented by
little Sir Adrian, with his Bexley cousin, Pearl Under-
wood, for his Titania ; but though she was fairy enough
for anything, he turned out so stolid, and uttered
' "Well met by moonlight, proud Titania,' the only lines
he ever learnt, exactly like a lesson, besides crying
whenever asked to study his part, that the attempt
had to be given up, and the fairy sovereigns had to be
of large size, Mr. Grinstead pronouncing that probably
this was intended by Shakespeare, as Titania was a
name of Diana, and he combined Grecian nymphs with



246 BEECHCROFT AT ROCKSTONE chap.

English fairies. So Gerald Underwood had to combine
the part of Peter Quince (including Thisbe) with that
of Oberon, and the queen was offered to Gillian.

1 But I had learnt Hermia,' she said, ' and I saw it
was politeness, so I wouldn't, and Anna Vanderkist is
ever so much prettier, besides being used to acting
with Gerald. She did look perfectly lovely, asleep on
the moss in the scene Mrs. Grinstead painted and
devised for her ! There was '

1 Oh ! not only the prettiness ; I don't care for that.
One gets enough of the artistic, but the fun — the dear
fun.'

1 There was fun enough, I am sure,' said Gillian.
' Puck was Felix — Pearl's brother, you know — eleven
years old, so clever, and an awful imp — and he was
Moon besides ; but the worst of it was that his dog —
it was a funny rough terrier at the Vicarage — was so
furious at the lion, when Adrian was roaring under the
skin, that nobody could hear, and Adrian got frightened,
as well he might, and crept out from under it, scream-
ing, and there fell the lion, collapsing flat in the middle
of the place. Even Theseus — Major Hare wood, you
know, who had tried to be as grave as a judge, and so
polite to the actors — could not stand that interpolation,
as he called it, of " the man in the moon — not to say
the dog," came down too soon Why, Fly '

For Fly was in such a paroxysm of laughter as to
end in a violent fit of coughing, and to bring Lady
Eotherwood in, vexed and anxious.



xii TRANSFORMATIONS 247

1 Oh, mother ! it was only — it was only the lion's

skin ' and off went Fly, laughing and coughing

again.

'I was telling her about the acting of Midsummer
Night's Dream at Vale Leston,' explained Gillian.

' I should not have thought that a suitable subject
for the day,' said the Marchioness gravely, and Fly's
endeavour to say it was her fault for asking about it
was silenced by choking ; and Gillian found herself
courteously dismissed in polite disgrace, and, as she felt,
not entirely without justice.

It was a great disappointment that Aunt Jane did
not think it well to take any of the young people to
their home with her. As she said, she did not believe
that they would catch anything ; but it was better to
be on the safe side, and she fully expected that they
would spend most of the day with Mysie and Fly.

' I wish I could go and talk to Kalliope, my dear,'
she said to Gillian ; ' but I am afraid it must wait
another day.'

'Oh, never mind,' said Gillian, as they bade each
other good-night at their doors ; ' they don't know that
I am come home, so they will not expect me.'



END OF VOL. I



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Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeBeechcroft at Rockstone (Volume 1) → online text (page 14 of 14)