we will try to make the place pleasant to you. You sketch ? I can show you some lovely spots.”

Hereupon the tall gentleman rose slowly, buttoned a few buttons in his waistcoat, shook himself, and with the words, “ We shall see you at the inn," strolled down the path. When he had gone a few steps, he looked over his shoulder, and observed carelessly, “Of course you won't repeat what I have said. I am sure that I can trust you; you are so like your uncle."

Mr Harefel stood still, and stared blankly down the path. Then he roused himself with an impatient movement, bit his lip, settled his hat more firmly, and began to walk up the slope. There was no use in regretting the past. He would be severely practical, and decide on his future course. His task was a difficult one, and required all his energies. He could not tell his cousin that Mr Archer had confessed that he wanted him for a son-in-law; for he had distinctly heard those last careless words, and had, moreover, nodded, without pausing to think. Besides, Irvine would never believe that the girl was in the plot; and, indeed, he could not say that he was himself certain of her participation. An attack on her would rouse in his cousin both his natural opposition and his old

fashioned chivalry, and would probably bring him with a rush to the injured lady's feet. To insist on the opinion of Sir Joseph and Lady Harefel, would be to bring down on himself an angry declamation against insular prejudice. Should he speak of Katharine ? He turned impatiently from the thought, assuring himself that it would be useless, and wholly unwilling even to think of her as connected with this matter. He walked and deliberated until he was tired of both ; but the more he thought, the more clear it became to him that he must follow his opponent's advice, and wait. It was annoying and comical. So he sat down by the side of the path and burst out laughing. There was certainly something amusing about this strange father, Mr Sebastian Archer. Under other circumstances, what a pleasant companion he would be ! It was easy to understand how his uncle Eustace had been fascinated by this strange combination of carelessness and grace, sloth and ability—this loose packet of the arts and manners of all countries this Englishman so superbly cosmopolitan. After all, there was no great hardship in spending a week at Amalfi. He had rushed through Italy, hurrying on through rain and sunshine, harassed by dust and wind. Now, in this warm corner, he woke to

find the Italy of poets. The great sun moved slowly down the sky. The grand curve of the bay stirred vague memories of Greek legend. The colours glowed and deepened on the water, here quivering with hot light, here still and green and marvellously clear. Ned Harefel was not easily impressed by scenery, but he felt the charm of the place and the hour. As he walked back to the inn, he was in a cheerful mood, glad that his duty had brought him to such a place, and confident that, if he must use the weapons suggested by the enemy, he would use them well. He found his cousin with Mr and Miss Archer, seated on the loggia, and looking across the little quay to the broad waters, which were settling into gloom. Irvine, the friend whom he loved, and for whose sake he had travelled day and night, greeted him with a cool nod, and turned away to murmur at the ear of the dangerous enchantress; but Sebastian, the enemy whom he was eager to vanquish, held him by the hand while he presented him to his daughter, and almost embraced him with his arm while he congratulated himself on the pleasant addition to their party. It was embarrassing for Mr Edward Harefel. After dinner they returned to the balcony, and the evening was passed in the dim light. Miss Archer refused to sing, choosing to hear the quiet lapping of the water. She spoke little; but that little was uttered with a manner which Harefel thought too confident for a young girl. Irvine made the briefest inquiries about his friends at home, and was occasionally sarcastic. But the great Sebastian was in his happiest vein, talking, without appearing talkative; listening, with evident interest; telling stories of himself, and arousing no suspicion of egoism; instructing, with a refreshing gaiety; amusing, with a delightful gravity. This man, so graceful and so careless, who wore the best clothes in the easiest manner, had an extraordinary power of charming young men. He made them feel that they were men of the world. When Ned betook himself to rest, he was so busy recalling the remarks of his new friend, that he forgot to rehearse his plans against his new enemy. Thus ended the first day of the conference, in which the Envoy Extraordinary of the Harefel family gained no conspicuous advantage over the representative of Bohemia.




ALL may be retrieved. The wise young man woke with the sun in his eyes, and joy in his heart. To breathe that air was ecstasy, and nothing was impossible. Happiness and duty for once were hand in hand. He would fulfil the object of his mission, and enjoy it too. He would carry off his cousin, but not too quick. Up, young hero, wily as Odysseus by this old Greek sea, put by your shining arms, and clothe yourself with guile! neglect not the poison of asps, O thou sucking-dove! Up, young hero, clear-eyed and stout of limb, for the morning is fair, and youth and beauty and breakfast are awaiting thee! Truly, it is hard to be suspicious in the fresh morning air, in the presence of kindliness and beauty. It was very hard for young Mr Harefel to remember that the lazy debonair gentle

« ForrigeFortsett »