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MR. HILYARD'S DREAM.
It was late in the summer of 1714 that Lord Derwentwater brought the Countess home. Such was his eagerness to return, and hers to make acquaintance with her husband's cousins, that is to say, with all the gentry of the county, that he started for the north on the very day that his two years expired, namely, on the 10th of July; and, though he travelled with a great company of servants, baggage, and pack-horses, and stopped on the way to see York races, he arrived at Dilston Hall in the first week of August, to the joy and content of his friends and tenants.
As for his brothers, Frank and Charles, they were both in London, but not, I understood, living together, and Charles spendings at a
great rate, that is to say, above his income; his uncle, Colonel Thomas Radcliffe, was at Douay, where I hope the poor man forgot his imaginary pursuer; the Lady Mary was gone to Durham, where she had a house; and Lady Katharine to live in a convent at St. Germain's—honoured no more by the Court of the Prince, who was at Bar-le-Duc. Some of the Swinburnes were there to meet the Countess, and Mr. Errington, of Beaufront. Mr. Hilyard also, who was at Blanchland on Lady Crewe's business, went to Dilston to pay his respects. Tom was still in London, and I was at Bamborough, thirty miles away.
When, however, Mr. Hilyard returned, he informed me of every particular, even of her ladyship’s dress, of which, for a man, he was observant, and made me understand that the Countess had taste, and dressed in the mode. : As for my lord,' said Mr. Hilyard," he looks certainly older, and is fuller in the cheeks than three years ago; but his carriage is the same. Sure there is no other nobleman in the world like unto him. He was so
good as to inquire of my welfare, after asking after your own health and his honour's.'
And the Countess ?' I asked.
She is little of stature, but vivacious in speech; her age is twenty ; her eyes are dark and bright, and she laughs readily. She has the manners of the town, and will prove, I doubt not, remarkable for her ready sallies ; and for a lively temper rather than for the dignity which is so conspicuous in some great ladies—in Lady Crewe, for example. Her own people all declare that she is kindhearted and generous, though quick of speech.'
Did my lord seem happy ?' I asked. • There was no outward sign of anything but of happiness,' he told me. They are reported to be lovers still, though they have been married two years and more. All testify that never was a couple more truly fitted for each other, and yet -
He stopped short, but I knew very well what was in his mind.
" And yet, three years ago,' I said, he was content to look for happiness with
another woman. Young men sometimes mistake their hearts. Let us be thankful that, this time, my lord hath made no mistake. Those who remain lovers after two years are certainly married as Heaven intended, and will continue lovers to the end.'
And yet, for my own part, I had never forgotten his image, which was graven on my heart. But he had forgotten; he could show every outward sign of happiness. This, I say, being a feeble woman, I could not choose but feel. Afterwards I learned that a man may be happy, and yet not forget tender passages of old. We women are for ever saying, “A man does this, and a man does that,' making comparisons of ourselves with the other sex, only to find out our own weakness and their strength. "A wise man,' quoth King Solomon, is strong.' He doth not say that a strong man is wise. Yet methinks a man, because he is strong, may attain unto and reach that Wisdom, which is to the soul (also in the words of Solomon) like honey and the honeycomb, more easily than a woman.
*I hear also,' said Mr. Hilyard, “that the
Countess is red-hot for the Prince; and am sorry to hear it.'
Why,' I replied, “surely you would not have her on the other side ?'
Nay; I would have her on the side of safety. Loyalty, faith, and kinship call the Earl into a certain path which is beset with danger. Let Prudence walk beside him, if only to hold him back.'
Of late Mr. Hilyard often spoke thus, showing, though I knew it not, a spirit prophetic. Thus can learning make men foretell the storm, and see clouds to come even in a sky without a cloud. In affairs of State who would have looked for foresight from a simple Oxford scholar of lowly birth? Yet the storm was at hand. The first sign of it came the very next day, namely, the 7th of August, in the year of grace 1714; Mr. Hilyard being in the forenoon on the high-road from which Bamborough lieth distant a mile and a half, or thereabouts, presently saw, making what speed he could along the way (which here is rough and full of furrows, so that to gallop is not easy), a messenger on horseback, who blew a horn as