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bright, blowing, healthful May morning: the absence of trees and shrubs prevented that recognition of approaching summer, which in woodland scenes bursts so deliciously on the eye in every swelling bud and every fragrant blossom ; yet Nature lest not Spring, her loved first-born, unhonoured, even in this treeless, flowerless, barren region. The perfumed spirit of the season met the senses; and the fresh, peculiar odours of the ocean, with its bring plants, came delicately borne upon the gusty breeze. The white, flickering clouds, their edges lightly tinged with a roseate hue, chased each other in quick succession through the tranquil firmament. The skylarks, poised high in air, gave out their triumphant melody of song, which, in verity, seems music that is mid-way to heaven; and the fresh, sweet smell of the new-turned earth sent forth that steaming fragrance, which forms a part of the general incense with which creation gratulates the Creator.
Lord Mowbray was in good humour with himself, enlivened by exercise, and made rich by the dispensing of his riches—that only way in which they ever make their possessor truly happy. He seemed to tread on air, and murmured something about his native soil being the most glorious in the world, which it would have delighted some of his friends to hear. As he stepped cheerfully onwards, he half whistled as he went, yet not for want of thought-no! his mind was full and his fancy busy:- but it was called from indefinite wanderings to a definite object.
Just as he reached the boundaries of the Park, and turned down the road that led to Abbotsbury, a lady on a white steed came galloping towards him. The riding-habits and hals of the present day are assuredly not a becoming or feminine costume; and it would be well if, in this age of innovation, some improvement were made in a department of the toilette so much requiring it.
Yet, the lady whom Lord Mowbray thus unexpectedly encountered looked graceful and lovely, spite of the disadvantages of her dress, and sat her horse without masculine assurance, though without the least appearance of timidity. Some white and dove-coloured greyhounds followed her course, and one of these she reined in her horse to notice; for it seemed to have picked up a thorn in its rambles, and came limping to her call. In stooping down to caress and examine her favourite, as it stood on its hind paws, and rested on her foot, a sudden gust of wind carried off her bat, and away it rolled. In an instant she lightly leapt from her saddle, and giving her horse's reins into her attendant's hand, pursued the truant hat; but every
time she stooped to catch it, away it went again, as though winged by magic, and away after it flew its mistress, as if she too bad wings; the faster it rolled, the faster she ran, laughing gaily as the prize eluded her grasp.
For a minute Lord Mowbray was immoveable—but in another he joined the chase, and found it no easy matter to rival in fleetness the agile step of the beautiful creature that flitted before him. Fortunately, another breeze of wind bore the hat fairly over a hedge, and here the lady was at fault. Laughing and breathless, her cheeks blooming with the most vivid, yet most delicate colour, such as the healthful breath of morning alone imparts, she now in her turn stood motionless; while Lord Mowbray, leaping the barrier, secured the object of pursuit. And as he restored it, said with much animation, that, indeed, it did not merit the honour of belonging to one so fair, and was unworthy of its happy destiny. .
Had the lady known how seldom any compliment escaped the lips of the person who addressed her, she would perhaps have appeared more flattered at this homage. But confusion or carelessness, it was impossible to say which, marked her reply; and thanking bim courteously, thougir briefly, she vaulted into her saddle as she spoke; and the offending thorn having been removed from the greyhound's foot by her attendant, lady and dogs and servant were soon lost to the view of Lord Mowbray.
In the days of faery, he would have fancied himself under the influence of some enchantment, and that the bright vision he had seen was a being called from the region of spirits ; but, as it was, be quickened his step towards the village to inquire concerning the name and condition, if possible, of this beautiful and fleeting visitant. It might be, that the original purport of his walk to Abbotsbury was a little diverted by the circumstances that had oecurred on his way thither; but he stopped, notwithstanding, at the cottage (it is possible it might also have been the first he met with on his road) of the old woman who had so unwittingly taught such a useful lesson to him; and, putting a purse well filled into her band, asked whether or not she had seen a lady pass by mounted on a white horse that morning ?
Lauk, Sir! I never has no time, not I, to look at the folks as goes by. But I did see Mrs. Carter going to market on White Sall. It couldn't be her, I'm thinking? But what's the purse for,
and this power of silver ?”
“ The purse is for you, my good woman, --keep it: and ask of
your neighbours, if they have better eyes, whether they have seen such a lady as I describe, go by, and who she is—and let me know the next time I come this way.” And so saying, he escaped the profession of her thanks, and hastened forward to make inquiries elsewhere; but everywhere those inquiries failed, and everywhere he received the same answer in effect. Nobody had seen the lady on a white horse, nobody knew any thing about her, and, moreover, nobody seemed to care. At length, wearied and provoked, he returned to the Castle.
The end of a walk is not always as pleasant as the commencement. Lord Mowbray was partly fatigued, partly provoked; the landscape became darkened by the overcasting of the weather-a strong north-east wind blew cuttingly—the skylarks dropped into their nest; and all the aroma of the earth passed away with the sunshine.
Lord Mowbray entered his Castle, certainly with very different sensations from those with which he had left it; and, declaring there was no dependence upon English climate for four hours together, drew his chair close to the fire, and, cowering over it, indulged in his usual malady-ennui. He was disturbed from nursing this humour by a loud noise, in which the shrill voice of his valet, Le Brun, was heard pre-eminently acute. “Milor,— Monseigneur!" cried the enraged Le Brun, “I never once did present me before your Lordship, pour vous déranger vid my complaints, quoique souvent j'ai souffert peines et martyres de Messieurs les Anglais; et si ce n'était mon attachement pour Monseigneur, Milor, il y a bien long-temps que je ne servais plus ici. Mais, Monseigneur, si je continuais de supporter les affronts de vos gens, mon honneur serait éternellement compromis, et ma confusion serait extrême.”
" What is the matter?—what is all this noise about?" asked Lord Mowbray, seeing Le Brun pursued by the cook; and he himself bearing a dirty towel in his hand, which he waved around his head with furious gestures.
“Voyez ce torchon, Milor! Vat is de matter? De matter lie here in dis—in dis dirty torchon. It was attaché, Milor,-oui, vraiment! --it vas attaché à mes culottes; and all de household point dere finger at me, and grin. Ils rient, ma foi! ils riront, mais ce sera d'une autre façon!"
“ Silence, I command you, Le Brun! What is the meaning of all this noise ?"
“ My Lord,” replied the cook, “may it please your Lordship,
Mounseer has ruined my roast, and your Lordship can have no dinner to-day; so I threatened to put him on the spit instead of the beef which he spoiled, that's all."
• Vous! me mettrez à la broche! Je vous grillerais à la crapaudine premièrement. But dat is not all :-) vas preparing une tasse de café, when Madame Betti, sa chère amie, m'a appliqué ce cadeau que voilà. I am very sorry, Milor, to quit Monseigneur, but I come to resign--c'en est fait! mon honneur est souilli :-I am all covered vid ridicule, and I depart at de soonest."
Lord Mowbray could hardly help laughing, while he ordered the cook to compromise the matter. “Not till I have pulled bis French ears well, and be hanged to him," muttered the cook : “has he pot spoiled my top dish, and scalded my legs ?”
“Well, but you provoked him first.”
“I provoked him, my Lord! I scorn to louch him with a pair of . tongs, a frog-eating rascal!"
“Milor, it vas Madame Betti, his chère amie, who did put de affron upon me: and dat was de same, you know, Milor.”
“Well, Le Brun,” interrupted his Lordship, “they shall beg your pardon, and, for my sake, I hope you will agree with them. I have a little commission for you to execute, which will take you away for a day or two, and by that time you will return, and all this will be blown over."
“Oh, oh! dat alters de all, cela change tout: when Milor command, his servant must obey."
“And as for you, Harris," said his Lordship, "show yourself better-hearted than to affront a friendless foreigner. If I do not care about the loss of my roast beef, you need not.”
The cook did not seem willing to admit the truth of Lord Mowbray's conclusion on this point; but as the cause was going against him, he retired : muttering, however, as he went, something about foreigners, and partiality, and repent it, &c. &c. "Le Brun," said Lord Mowbray, calling to his valet as he began bowing, and was preparing to follow his adversary;“stop, I want to speak with you." "Me voici, Milor." Do you know the names of any
of the noblemen's seats in this neighbourhood ? You are generally apt to make yourself master of the carte du pays pretty quickly.”
“Oh, yes! Milor, Monseigneur sait qu'il y a Milor Neville, et le Duc de Godolphin, qui sont assez proches voisins. Dere chateaux be only some few miles off.”
: "Do any of their inhabitants ride out?"
It is astonishing what foolish questions sensible men sometimes ask. “Milor, vats your pleasure ? Excusez me, I no onderstand. Les Dames de ces lieux vont-elles souvent prendre l'air à cheval ? Oh, oh! il me semble, Monseigneur”-smiling, and then suddenly becoming grave again : "il me semble qu'en effet je comprends à présent. Si les dames se promènent à cheval,—walk upon de horseback? Oh! Milor wish to know, Le Brun will make his business to ascertain. Milor saura cela au plus vite : wheder de ladies walk in a carriage or upon top de horseback.”
* Exactly! and what is their name, and how long they remain in this part of the country.”
“How long dey fix here? combien de temps ils comptent séjourner ici ? how long dey count to stay in dese parts ? Dat shall be known to Milor vidout fail. I shall be on de return as quick as de vind. He blow brisk here, Monseigneur knows."
Le Brun's wrath was entirely laid, in the prospect of having a commission to execute quite to his taste. Now, he thought, if my Lord begins to take any interest in the society of ladies, he will become quite an improved and altered man. Some days, however, elapsed before the information could be procured; and when it was, it only amounted to this :-that a large party had been at Lord Barnstaple's, among whom were General Montgomery and his two nieces, both of whom were very fond of riding, and frequently took that amusement. One of them rode on a white horse.
“Bravo, Le Brun!” said Lord Mowbray, when his servant had given him this account.
“ Mais je regrette d'ajouter," Le Brun continued, with a melancholy air; “que ces dames sont parties, elles demeurent à ce que j'ai pu savoir, près de Soutamton-_”
"Oui, précisément. Milor Barnstaple’s valet said Soutamton. Monseigneur a-t-il d'autres ordres à me donner? Any command to lay upon me?"
“Nothing more at present.
Le Brun bowed, and felt quite satisfied that he should now become an indispensable requisite to Lord Mowbray, since there was a lady in the case.
Colonel Pennington had been agreeably surprised to observe the deep interest that Lord Mowbray appeared to take in Mowbray Castle, and in the future management of the extensive property