Charlotte Mary Yonge.

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Ada, dear Ada.'

'You don't, or you would not go and leave me alone.'

'Then, Ada, I will not go,' said Phyllis; 'I could not bear to leave
you crying here all alone.'

'Thank you, dear good Phyl, but I think you will not have much loss.
You know you do not like dancing, and you cannot do it well, and they
will be sure to laugh at you.'

'And I daresay Redgie and Marianne will tell us all about it,' said
Phyllis, sighing. 'I should rather like to have seen it, but they
will tell us.'

'Then do you promise to stay? - there's a dear,' said Ada.

'Yes,' said Phyllis. 'Cousin Robert is coming in, and that will be
very nice, and I hope he will not look as he did the day the
gunpowder went off - oh, dear!' She went back to the window to get
rid of her tears unperceived. 'Ah,' cried she, 'there is some one in
the garden!'

'A man!' screamed Ada - 'a thief, a robber - call somebody!'

'No, no,' said Phyllis, laughing, 'it is only William; he has been
out all the evening, and now papa has come out to speak to him, and
they are walking up and down together. I wonder whether he has been
sitting with Cousin Robert or at Broomhill! Well, good-night, Ada.
Here comes Hannah.'



CHAPTER XXV: THE THIRTIETH OF JULY



'The heir, with roses in his shoes,
That night might village partner choose.'

The 30th of July was bright and clear, and Phyllis was up early,
gathering flowers, which, with the help of Jane's nimble fingers, she
made into elegant little bouquets for each of her sisters, and for
Claude.

'How is this?' said Mr. Hawkesworth, pretending to look disconsolate,
'am I to sing "Fair Phyllida flouts me," or why is my button-hole
left destitute?'

'Perhaps that is for you on the side-table,' said Lily.

'Oh! no,' said Phyllis, 'those are some Provence roses for Miss
Weston and Marianne, because Miss Weston likes those, and they have
none at Broomhill. Redgie is going to take care of them. I will get
you a nosegay, Frank. I did not know you liked it.'

She started up. 'How prudent, Phyllis,' said Eleanor, 'not to have
put on your muslin frock yet.'

'Oh! I am not going,' said Phyllis.

'Not going!' was the general outcry.

'No, poor Ada cries so about being left at home with only baby, that
I cannot bear it, and so I promised to stay.'

Away went Phyllis, and Reginald exclaimed, 'Well, she shall not be
served so. I will go and tell Ada so this instant.'

Off he rushed, and putting in his head at the nursery door, shouted,
'Ada, I am come to tell you that Phyl is not to be made your black-a-
moor slave! She shall go, that is settled.'

Down he went with equal speed, without waiting for an answer, and
arrived while Eleanor was saying that she thought Ada was provided
with amusement with the baby, her playthings, and books, and that Mr.
Devereux had promised to make her a visit.

'Anybody ought to stay at home rather than Phyllis,' said Lily; 'I
think I had better stay.'

'No, no, Lily,' said Jane, 'you are more wanted than I am; you are
really worth talking to and dancing with; I had much better be at
home.'

'I forgot!' exclaimed William. 'Mrs. Weston desired me to say that
she is not going, and she will take care of Ada. Mr. Weston will set
her down at half-past ten, and take up one of us.'

'I will be that one,' said Reginald, 'I have not seen Miss Weston
since I came home. I meant to walk to Broomhill after dinner
yesterday, only the Baron stopped me about that country-dance. Last
Christmas I made her promise to dance with me to-day.'

Lily had hoped to be that one, but she did not oppose Reginald, and
turned to listen to Eleanor, who was saying, 'Let us clearly
understand how every one is to go, it will save a great deal of
confusion. You and Jane, and Maurice, go in the phaeton, do not you?
And who drives you?'

'William, I believe,' said Lily. 'Claude goes earlier, so he rides
the gray. Then there is the chariot for you and Frank, and papa and
Phyllis.'

So it was proposed, but matters turned out otherwise. The phaeton,
which, with a promoted cart-horse, was rather a slow conveyance, was
to set out first, but the whole of the freight was not ready in time.
The ladies were in the hall as soon as it came to the door, but
neither of the gentlemen were forthcoming. Reginald, who was
wandering in the hall, was sent to summon them; but down he came in
great wrath. Maurice had declared that he was not ready, and they
must wait for him till he had tied his neckcloth, which Reginald
opined would take three quarters of an hour, as he was doing it
scientifically, and William had said that he was not going in the gig
at all, that he had told Wat Greenwood to drive, and that Reginald
must go instead of Maurice.

In confirmation of the startling fact Wat, who had had a special
invitation from the Marquis, was sitting in the phaeton in his best
black velvet coat. Jane only hoped that Emily would not look out of
the window, or she would certainly go into fits on seeing them arrive
with the old phaeton, the thick-legged cart-horse, and Wat Greenwood
for a driver; and Reginald, after much growling at Maurice, much
bawling at William's door, and, as Jane said, romping and roaring in
all parts of the house, was forced to be resigned to his fate, and
all the way to Hetherington held a very amusing conversation with his
good-natured friend the keeper.

They were overtaken, nodded to, and passed by the rest of their
party. Maurice had been reduced to ride the pony, William came with
the 'Westons, and the chariot load was just as had been before
arranged.

Claude came out to meet them at the door, saying, 'I need not have
gone so early. What do you think has become of the hero of the day?
Guess, I will just give you this hint,


"Though on pleasure he was bent, he had no selfish mind."'


'Oh! the Aylmers, I suppose,' said Lilias.

'Right, Lily, he heard something at dinner yesterday about a school
for clergymen's sons, which struck him as likely to suit young
Devereux Aylmer, and off he set at seven o'clock this morning to
Raynham, to breakfast with Mrs. Aylmer, and talk to her about it.
Never let me hear again that he is engrossed with his own affairs!'

'And why is he in such a hurry?' asked Lily.

''Tis his nature,' said Claude, 'besides Travers, who mentioned this
school, goes away to-morrow. My aunt is in a fine fright lest he
should not come back in time. Did not you hear her telling papa so
in the drawing-room?'

'There he is, riding up to the door,' said Phyllis, who had joined
them in the hall. Lord Rotherwood stopped for a few moments at the
door to give some directions to the servants, and then came quickly
in. 'Ah, there you are! - What time is it? It is all right, Claude -
Devereux is just the right age. I asked him a few questions this
morning, and he will stand a capital examination. Ha, Phyl, I am
glad to see you.'

'I wish you many happy returns of the day, Cousin Rotherwood.'

'Thank you, Phyl, we had better see how we get through one such day
before we wish it to return. Are the rest come?'

He went on into the drawing-room, and hastily informing his mother
that he had sent the carriage to fetch Miss Aylmer and her brothers
to the feast, called Claude to come out on the lawn to look at the
preparations. The bowling-green was to serve as drawing-room, and at
one end was pitched an immense tent where the dinner was to be.

'I say, Claude,' said he in his quickest and most confused way, 'I
depend upon you for one thing. Do not let the Baron be too near me.'

'The Baron of Beef?' said Claude.

'No, the Baron of Beechcroft. If you wish my speech to be radara
tadara, put him where I can imagine that he hears me.'

'Very well,' said Claude, laughing; 'have you any other commands?'

'No - yes, I have though. You know what we settled about the toasts.
Hunt up old Farmer Elderfield as soon as he comes, and do not
frighten him. If you could sit next to him and make him get up at
the right time, it would be best. Tell him I will not let any one
propose my health but my great-grandfather's tenant. You will manage
it best. And tell Frank Hawkesworth, and Mr. Weston, or some of
them, to manage so that the gentry may not sit together in a herd,
two or three together would be best. Mind, Claude, I depend on you
for being attentive to all the damsels. I cannot be everywhere at
once, and I see your great Captain will be of no use to me.'

Here news was brought that the labourers had begun to arrive, and the
party went to the walnut avenue, where the feast was spread. It was
pleasant to see so many poor families enjoying their excellent
dinner; but perhaps the pleasantest sight was the lord of the feast
speaking to each poor man with all his bright good-natured
cordiality. Mr. Mohun was surprised to see how well he knew them
all, considering how short a time he had been among them, and Lilias
found Florence rise in her estimation, when she perceived that the
inside of the Hetherington cottages were not unknown to her.

'Do you know, Florence,' said she, as they walked back to the house
together, 'I did you great injustice? I never expected you to know
or care about poor people.'

'No more I did till this winter,' said Florence; 'I could not do
anything, you know, before. Indeed, I do not do much now, only
Rotherwood has made me go into the school now and then; and when
first we came, he made it his especial request that whenever a poor
woman came to ask for anything I would go and speak to her. And so I
could not help being interested about those I knew.'

'How odd it is that we never talked about it,' said Lily.

'I never talk of it,' said Florence, 'because mamma never likes to
hear of my going into cottages with Rotherwood. Besides, somehow I
thought you did it as a matter of duty, and not of pleasure. Oh!
Rotherwood, is that you?'

'The Aylmers are come,' said Lord Rotherwood, drawing her arm into
his, 'and I want you to come and speak to them, Florence and Lily; I
can't find any one; all the great elders have vanished. You know
them of old, do not you, Lily?'

'Of old? Yes; but of so old that I do not suppose they will know me.
You must introduce me.'

He hastened them to the drawing-room, where they found Miss Aylmer, a
sensible, lady-like looking person, and two brothers, of about
fifteen and thirteen.

'Well, Miss Aylmer, I have brought you two old friends; so old, that
they think you have forgotten them - my cousin Lilias, and my sister
Florence.'

'We have not forgotten you, Miss Aylmer,' said Florence, warmly
shaking hands with her. 'You seem so entirely to belong to
Hetherington that I scarcely knew the place without you.'

There was something that particularly pleased Lily in the manner in
which Miss Aylmer answered. Florence talked a little while, and then
proposed to adjourn to the supplementary drawing-room - the lawn -
where the company were already assembling.

Florence was soon called off to receive some other guest, and Lilias
spent a considerable time in sitting under a tree talking to Miss
Aylmer, whom she found exceedingly pleasant and agreeable,
remembering all that had happened during their former intercourse,
and interested in everything that was going on. Lily was much amused
when her companion asked her who that gentleman was - 'that tall, thin
young man, with dark hair, whom she had seen once or twice speaking
to Lord Rotherwood?'

The tall gentleman advanced, spoke to Miss Aylmer, told Lily that the
world was verging towards the tent, and giving one arm to her and the
other to Miss Aylmer, took that direction. In the meantime Phyllis
had been walking about with her eldest sister, and wondering what had
become of all the others. In process of time she found herself
seated on a high bench in the tent, with a most beautiful pink-and-
white sugar temple on the table before her. She was between Eleanor
and Frank. All along one side of the table was a row of faces which
she had never seen before, and she gazed at them in search of some
well-known countenance. At last Mr. Weston caught her eye, and
nodded to her. Next to him she saw Marianne, then Reginald; on the
other side Alethea and William. A little tranquillised by seeing
that every one was not lost, she had courage to eat some cold
chicken, to talk to Frank about the sugar temple, and to make an
inventory in her mind of the smartest bonnets for Ada's benefit. She
was rather unhappy at not having found out when grace was said before
dinner, and she made Eleanor promise to tell her in time to stand up
after dinner. She could not, however, hear much, though warned in
time, and by this time more at ease and rather enjoying herself than
otherwise. Now Eleanor told her to listen, for Cousin Rotherwood was
going to speak. She listened, but knew not what was said, until Mr.
Hawkesworth told her it was Church and Queen. What Church and Queen
had to do with Cousin Rotherwood's birthday she could not imagine,
and she laid it up in her mind to ask Claude. The next time she was
told to listen she managed to hear more. By the help of Eleanor's
directions, she found out the speaker, an aged farmer, in a drab
greatcoat, his head bald, excepting a little silky white hair, which
fell over the collar of his coat. It was Mr. Elderfield, the oldest
tenant on the estate, and he was saying in a slow deliberate tone
that he was told he was to propose his lordship's health. It was a
great honour for the like of him, and his lordship must excuse him if
he did not make a fine speech. All he could say was, that he had
lived eighty-three years on the estate, and held his farm nearly
sixty years; he had seen three marquises of Rotherwood besides his
present lordship, and he had always found them very good landlords.
He hoped and believed his lordship was like his fathers, and he was
sure he could do no better than tread in their steps. He proposed
the health of Lord Rotherwood, and many happy returns of the day to
him.

The simplicity and earnestness of the old man's tones were
appreciated by all, and the tremendous cheer, which almost terrified
Phyllis, was a fit assent to the hearty good wishes of the old
farmer.

'Now comes the trial!' whispered Claude to Lilias, after he had
vehemently contributed his proportion to the noise. Lilias saw that
his colour had risen, as much as if he had to make a speech himself,
and he earnestly examined the coronet on his fork, while every other
eye was fixed on the Marquis. Eloquence was not to be expected; but,
at least, Lord Rotherwood spoke clearly and distinctly.

'My friends,' said he, 'you must not expect much of a speech from me;
I can only thank you for your kindness, say how glad I am to see you
here, and tell you of my earnest desire that I may not prove myself
unworthy to be compared with my forefathers.' Here was a pause.
Claude's hand shook, and Lily saw how anxious he was, but in another
moment the Marquis went on smoothly. 'Now, I must ask you to drink
the health of a gentleman who has done his utmost to compensate for
the loss which we sustained nine years ago, and to whom I owe any
good intentions which I may bring to the management of this property.
I beg leave to propose the health of my uncle, Mr. Mohun, of
Beechcroft.'

Claude was much surprised, for his cousin had never given him a hint
of his intention. It was a moment of great delight to all the young
Mohuns when the cheer rose as loud and hearty as for the young lord
himself, and Phyllis smiled, and wondered, when she saw her papa rise
to make answer. He said that he could not attempt to answer Lord
Rotherwood, as he had not heard what he said, but that he was much
gratified by his having thought of him on this occasion, and by the
goodwill which all had expressed. This was the last speech that was
interesting; Lady Rotherwood's health and a few more toasts followed,
and the party then left the tent for the lawn, where the cool air was
most refreshing, and the last beams of the evening sun were lighting
the tops of the trees.

The dancing was now to begin, and this was the time for Claude to be
useful. He had spent so much time at home, and had accompanied his
father so often in his rides, that he knew every one, and he was
inclined to make every exertion in the cause of his cousin, and on
this occasion seemed to have laid aside his indolence and
disinclination to speak to strangers.

Lady Florence was also indefatigable, darting about, with a wonderful
perception who everybody was, and with whom each would like to dance.
She seized upon little Devereux Aylmer for her own partner before any
one else had time to ask her, and carried him about the lawn, hunting
up and pairing other shy people.

'Why, Reginald, what are you about? You can manage a country-dance.
Make haste; where is your partner?'

'I meant to dance with Miss Weston,' said Reginald, piteously.

'Miss Weston? Here she is.'

'That is only Marianne,' said Reginald.

'Oh! Miss Weston is dancing with William. Marianne, will you accept
my apologies for this discourteous cousin of mine? I am perfectly
horror-struck. There, Redgie, take her with a good grace; you will
never have a better partner.'

Marianne was only too glad to have Reginald presented to her,
ungracious as he was, but the poor little couple met with numerous
disasters. They neither of them knew the way through a country-
dance, and were almost run over every time they went down the middle;
Reginald's heels were very inconvenient to his neighbours; so much
so, that once Claude thought it expedient to admonish him, that
dancing was not merely an elegant name for football without a ball.
Every now and then some of their friends gave them a hasty intimation
that they were all wrong, but that they knew already but too well.
At last, just when Marianne had turned scarlet with vexation, and
Reginald was growing so desperate that he had thoughts of running a
way, the dance came to an end, and Reginald, with very scanty
politeness to his partner, rushed away to her sister, saying, in
rather a reproachful tone, 'Miss Weston, you promised to dance with
me.'

'I have not forgotten my promise,' said Alethea, smiling.

At the same moment Claude hurried up, saying, 'William, I want a
partner for Miss Wilkins, of the Wold Farm. Miss Wilkins, let me
introduce Captain Mohun.'

'You see I have made the Captain available,' said Claude, presently
after meeting Lord Rotherwood, as he speeded across the lawn.

'Have you? I did not think him fair game,' said the Marquis. 'Where
is your heroine, Claude? I have not seen her dancing.'

'What heroine? What do you mean?'

'Honest Phyl, of course. Did you think I meant Miss Weston?'

'With Eleanor, somewhere. Is the next dance a quadrille?'

Lord Rotherwood ran up the bank to the terraced walks, where the
undancing part of the company sat or walked about. Soon he spied
Phyllis standing by Eleanor, looking rather wearied. 'Phyllis, can
you dance a quadrille?'

Phyllis opened her eyes, and Eleanor desired her to answer.

'Come, Phyllis, let me see what M. Le Roi has done for you.'

He led her away, wondering greatly, and thinking how very good-
natured Cousin Rotherwood was.

Emily was much surprised to find Phyllis her vis a vis. Emily was
very generally known and liked, and had no lack of grand partners,
but she would have liked to dance with the Marquis. When the
quadrille was over, she was glad to put herself in his way, by coming
up to take charge of Phyllis.

'Well done, Phyl,' said he; 'no mistakes. You must have another
dance. Whom shall we find for you?'

'Oh! Rotherwood,' said Emily, 'you cannot think how you gratified us
all with your speech.'

'Ah! I always set my heart on saying something of the kind; but I
wished I could have dared to add the bride's health.'

'The bride!'

'Do not pretend to have no eyes,' said Lord Rotherwood, with a
significant glance, which directed Emily's eyes to the terrace, where
Mr. Mohun and Alethea were walking together in eager conversation.

Emily was ready to sink into the earth. Jane's surmises, and the
mysterious words of her father, left her no further doubt. At this
moment some one asked her to dance, and scarcely knowing what she did
or said, she walked to her place. Lord Rotherwood now found a
partner for Phyllis, and a farmer's daughter for himself.

This dance over, Phyllis's partner did not well know how to dispose
of her, and she grew rather frightened on finding that none of her
sisters were in sight. At last she perceived Reginald standing on
the bank, and made her escape to him.

'Redgie, did you see who I have been dancing with? Cousin Rotherwood
and Claude's grand Oxford friend - Mr. Travers.'

'It is all nonsense,' said Reginald. 'Come out of this mob of
people.'

'But where is Eleanor?'

'Somewhere in the midst. They are all absurd together.'

'What is the matter, Redgie?' asked Phyllis, unable to account for
this extraordinary fit of misanthropy.

'Papa and William both driving me about like a dog,' said Reginald;
'first I danced with Miss Weston - then she saw that woman - that Miss
Aylmer - shook hands - talked - and then nothing would serve her but to
find papa. As soon as the Baron sees me he cries out, "Why are not
you dancing, Redgie? We do not want you!" Up and down they walk,
ever so long, and presently papa turns off, and begins talking to
Miss Aylmer. Then, of course, I went back to Miss Weston, but then
up comes William, as savage as one of his Canadian bears; he orders
me off too, and so here I am! I am sure I am not going to ask any
one else to dance. Come and walk with me in peace, Phyl. Do you see
them? - Miss Weston and Marianne under that tulip-tree, and the
Captain helping them to ice.'

'Redgie, did you give Miss Weston her nosegay? Some one put such
beautiful flowers in it, such as I never saw before.'

'How could I? They sent me off with Lily and Jane. I told William I
had the flowers in charge, and he said he would take care of them.
By the bye, Phyl,' and Reginald gave a wondrous spring, 'I have it!
I have it! I have it! If he is not in love with Miss Weston you may
call me an ass for the rest of my life.'

'I should not like to call you an ass, Redgie,' said Phyllis.

'Very likely; but do not make me call you one. Hurrah! Now ask
Marianne if it is not so. Marianne must know. How jolly! I say,
Phyl, stay there, and I will fetch Marianne.'

Away ran Reginald, and presently returned with Marianne, who was very
glad to be invited to join Phyllis. She little knew what an
examination awaited her.

'Marianne,' began Phyllis, 'I'll tell you what - '

'No, I will do it right,' said Reginald; 'you know nothing about it,
Phyl. Marianne, is not something going on there?'

'Going on?' said Marianne, 'Alethea is speaking to Mrs. Hawkesworth.'

'Nonsense, I know better, Marianne. I have a suspicion that I could
tell what the Captain was about yesterday when he walked off after
dinner.'

'How very wise you think you look, Reginald!' said Marianne, laughing
heartily.

'But tell us; do tell us, Marianne,' said Phyllis.

'Tell you whet?'

'Whether William is going to marry Miss Weston,' said the
straightforward Phyllis. 'Redgie says so - only tell us. Oh! it
would be so nice!'

'How you blurt it out, Phyl,' said Reginald. 'You do not know how
those things are managed. Mind, I found it out all myself. Just
say, Marianne. Am not I right?'

'I do not know whether I ought to tell,' said Marianne.

'Oh! then it is all right,' said Reginald, 'and I found it out. Now,
Marianne, there is a good girl, tell us all about it.'

'You know I could not say "No" when you asked me,' said Marianne; 'I
could not help it really; but pray do not tell anybody, or Captain
Mohun will not like it.'

'Does any one know?' said Reginald.

'Only ourselves and Mr. Mohun; and I think Lord Rotherwood guesses,
from something I heard him say to Jane.'

'To Jane?' said Reginald. 'That is provoking; she will think she
found it out all herself, and be so conceited!'

'You need not be afraid,' said Marianne, laughing; 'Jane is on a
wrong scent.'

'Jane? Oh! I should like to see her out in her reckonings! I should
like to have a laugh against her. What does she think, Marianne?'

'Oh! I cannot tell you; it is too bad.'

'Oh! do; do, pray. You may whisper it if it is too bad for Phyllis
to hear.'

'No, no,' said Marianne; 'it is nothing but nonsense. If you hear
it, Phyllis shall too; but mind, you must promise not to say anything


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Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeScenes and Characters → online text (page 18 of 20)