« AnteriorContinuar »
that set,” thought not of the morrow, and made no reply.
“I wonder whether any one will call this evening ?”
“I expect my brother. It is very long since he was here...."
Only a fortnight, or so.” “Only !......” and Zelie turned to the window, and repeated to herself—“ only!”
Now, my dearest love, you must not have that window open; there, your cough is come back.”
" Oh, let it remain so; I cannot breathe.”
“ You promised your brother not to sit near the open windows."
Ah, well, then, close it; but,” she added, o herself, “it is in vain, and I might breathe the pure air while I can; I feel it will not be long."
A loud knock startled the pale Zelie, and made even Mrs. Chester's turban bob.
“Oh! it is that odious Lord Gripeall. I cannot see him, Mrs. Chester. I am not at home to him."
Mrs. Chester seemed not to hear “ I am not at home, Mrs. Chester.”
“ Remember, my love, your brother thinks Lord Gripeall an important friend for you.”
“No, no, any one but he! I am not at home. I cannot be at home.”
Nay, but I beg the lovely Zelie will make herself quite at home,” said the squeaky voice of Lord Gripeall, who at that moment pushed in his crooked neck and red-veined face. “ Now don't disturb yourself, I beg; I wish you to make yourself quite at home.” “It is rather for me to request you to do
. “Ah, very good, ’pon my soul! Well, you see I do.” And he stood upon the rug, with his back to the fire, playing with the swallowtails of his green coat. “How do, Mrs. Chichester."
“I beg your pardon, my lord ; Chester is
so, my lord.”
“Ah! very good, Jester! so let it be, a very good name, too, I take it! Jester, he! he! he ! Court jester to the Queen of Song, eh? ha! ha! ha !” and his lordship laughed at his own wit.
Mrs. Chester laughed too, for she did not think a lord could be dull. In her opinion, a lord's joke must be a good joke.
Lord Gripeall, since last we saw him, is grown a little more grim; his eyes are somewhat of a more filmy blue, and his face of a browner red. His cheap, ill-made false teeth are grown very yellow; but he has resolved to keep his lip down, and make them do; this effort adds to the ugliness and baboonishness of his face.
“ And where's brother?” he said.
“Well, we can manage to do without him, I dare say, eh?” and, extending a paralytic hand, his fingers covered with cheap rings, in which were set large and gaudy stones, he
patted the wan and transparent hand of Zelie, as it hung listlessly beside her on the couch.
“ I beg your pardon, my lord,” she cried, reddening, and withdrawing her own.
By no manner of means, divine Zelie!” and he extended his. “ Come, what are you afraid of? I am ever ready to take beauty and talent by the hand, eh? Mrs. Jester, he! he! he! ha! ha! ha!”
“I am sure you are, my lord,” curtseyed the chaperon; and then, to please his lordship, she professed to have lost her knittingneedle, and went in search of another.
Scarcely had the door closed, when Lord Gripeall, who for some minutes had been sitting, in a most dégagé manner, with his cheap but shining boots, and their very pointed toes, one on the fender, and the other on the hob (while he took several pinches of inferior snuff from a gaudy but trumpery box), suddenly rose, and threw himself on the sofa beside the pale and shrinking Zelie.
“ Come, don't be so shy, my dear,” he said, extending his hand. “I wish to be your friend; I do, upon my honour. Now, why can't you believe me? I'm in love with you -I am, by Jupiter! You've made a conquest of me, and I'm come to throw myself at your feet.”
Zelie looked up; the hideous old miser had twisted round his crooked neck to look into her face, as she stooped to hide it in her hands. He looked so ineffably hideous and wicked, that she uttered a faint scream, whether by accident or design we know not. But he fell on both his knees before her, and caught hold of her robe as she tried to rise, partly to detain her, partly to preserve his balance.
At this moment the door opened, and in rushed De Villeneuve, booted, spurred, and splashed, his riding-whip in his hand. Zelie rose to fly into his arms, but, weak from recent illness, the excitement overcame her, and she