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she should chance to hear of the affair of yesterday. This, however, was very unlikely to happen; for she had not one friend in common with her cousins, except just her lover. To-day, as I have said, being a holiday, he had arranged to meet her at the Marble Arch, and take her to that frightful reservoir of amusement, Madame Tussaud's. Her usual morning engagement led her to that neighbourhood, and it was a safe place to meet in-far from Highbury, Hackney, and Bagot-street.
The snow was very deep. Mrs. Boxall tried to persuade Lucy not to go. But where birds can pass lovers can pass, and she was just finishing her lesson to resplendent little Miriam as Thomas got out of an omnibus at Park-street, that he might saunter up on foot to the Marble
The vision of Hyde Park was such as rarely meets the eye of a Londoner. It was almost grotesquely beautiful. Even while waiting for a lovely girl, Thomas could not help taking notice of the trees. Every bough, branch, twig, and shoot supported a ghost of itself, or rather a white shadow of itself upon the opposite side from where the black shadow fell. The whole tree looked like a huge growth of that kind of coral they call brain-coral, and the whole park a forest of such coralline growths. But against the sky, which was one canopy of unfallen snow, bright with the sun behind it, the brilliant trees looked more like coral still, gray, namely, and dull.
Thomas had not sauntered and gazed for more than a few minutes before he saw Lucy coming down Great Cumberland-street towards him. Instead of crossing the street to meet her, he stood and watched her approach. And there was even some excuse for his coolness, she looked so picturesque flitting over the spotless white in her violet dress, her red cloak, her grebe muff. I do not know what her bonnet was ; for if a bonnet be suitable, it allows the face to show as it ought, and who can think of a bonnet then! But I know that they were a pair of very dainty morocco boots that made little holes in the snow all across Oxford-street towards the Marble Arch where Thomas stood, filled, I fear, with more pride in the lovely figure that was coming to him than love of her.
"Have I kept you waiting long, Thomas ?” asked Lucy, with the sweetest of smiles, her teeth white as snow in the summer flush of her face.
“Oh ! about ten minutes," answered Thomas. It wasn't five. “ What a cold morning it is !"
“ I don't feel it much,” returned Lucy. "I came away the first moment I could. I am sorry I kept you waiting."
“Don't mention it, Lucy. I should be only too happy to wait for you as long every morning,” said Thomas, gallantly, not tenderly.
Lucy did not relish the tone. But what could she do ? A tone is one of the most difficult things to fix a complaint upon. Besides, she was not in a humour to complain of anything if she could help it. And, to tell the truth, she was a little afraid of offending Thomas, for she looked up to him ten times more than he deserved.
“How lovely your red cloak looked—quite a splendour - crossing the snow !” he continued.
And Lucy received this as a compliment to herself, and smiled again. She took his armfor lovers will do that sometimes after it is quite out of fashion. But will it be believed? Thomas did not altogether like her doing so, just because it was out of fashion.
“What a delightful morning it is !” she said. “Oh! do look at the bars of the railing."
“ Yes, I see. The snow has stuck to them. But how can you look at such vulgar things as iron stanchions when you have such a fairy forest as that before you ?” said the reader of Byron, who was not seldom crossed by a feeling of dismay at finding Lucy, as he thought, decidedly unpoetical. He wanted to train her in poetry, as, with shame let it flow from my pen, in religion.
“But just look here,” insisted Lucy, drawing him closer to the fence. “ You are short-sighted, surely, Thomas. Just look there."
“Well, I see nothing but snow on both sides of the paling-bars," returned Thomas.
“Now I am sure you are short-sighted. It is snow on the one side, but not on the other. Look at the lovely crystals."
On the eastern quarter of each upright bar the snow had accumulated and stuck fast to the depth of an inch : the wind had been easterly. The fall had ceased some hours before morning, and a strong frost had set in. That the moisture in the air should have settled frozen upon the iron would not have been surprising ; what Lucy wondered at was, that there should be a growth, half an inch long, of slender crystals, like the fungus growth commonly called mould, only closer, standing out from the bar horizontally, as if they had grown through it out of the soil of the snow exactly opposite to it on the other side. On the one side was a beaten mass of snow, on the other a fantastic little forest of ice.
“I do not care about such microscopic beauties," said Thomas, a little annoyed that she whom he thought unpoetical could find out