« ForrigeFortsett »
“Aunt Susan !” exclaimed. the young man, with a slight flavour of contempt in his tone.
"Don't you see,” said she and even at that time there was room for a moment's amusement at the slow pace of man's mental processes;—“don't you see that she is the very person? She is his aunt, and a proper guardian for me, and will not try to interfere with our arrangements; and she will be delighted with the suddenness and strangenessthe romance.” There was something pitiful in the sound of this last poor word, which means so much or so very little. Katharine's eyes filled with tears, but she passed her hand over them, and turned with brave determination to practical matters. It was quickly arranged that Ned should call for her and Miss Harefel, and take them down to Sunleigh that evening. When he had gone, Katharine set to work to gain her mother's consent. Mrs Adare was confused and astonished, but offered a feeble resistance to her daughter's energy. She consoled herself by the thought that she had always expected it. She said again, as she often said, that her girl might do better. "Poor Irvie,” she remarked, after a pause of contemplation, “I have always been very fond of him. He is so unlike other young men; and” (more cheerfully), “after all, he may not get over it.” Katharine looked at her mother with sudden pain, but said nothing, for she knew that the absent lady was not aware that she had spoken. “It settles one thing," said Mrs Adare, presently, “I certainly need not go to Mrs Pegge Moyser's dance this evening. She can't expect me without my daughter. So I am committed to nothing." And with this comfortable thought, she rearranged herself among her cushions. Katharine's other task was far easier. Miss Susan Harefel was enchanted to such a degree, that she could scarcely feel the proper grief for Irvine's danger. “It is like the good old times,” she said, kindling, “when two ladies ". Here she broke off, and it may be suspected that she was struggling with confused reminiscences of romantic - historical fiction. The young knight had fallen after many combats, and the ladies must go forth to succour him. She was sure that they would succeed. She used the word “quest.” She was in an exalted mood. Katharine looked to the packing, and to the accumulation of certain things which might be good for the sick man. She dared not be idle.
Is it the union of repose and motion which makes a river so satisfactory? We watch the sea fascinated but anxious, for we know that the storm must come. We muse by the lake, till its monotony has made us dull. The river is always there, and is always passing, full of movement and rest, change without violence, progress without revolution, pleasant as the touch of a loving hand which spothes a tired man to sleep.
On a most lovely morning Mr Sebastian Archer and his accomplished daughter, accompanied by Mr Kerisen, who had but lately taken to early hours, got out of the train at the little station of Sunleigh. It is a pleasant spot. A small cheerful house, with green blinds; a small garden by the line, with gay old-fashioned flowers and sweet lavender; a small cock, agreeably conscious of his importance, and strutting while his two fat hen housewives more wisely scratched and ate. Besides these little things, there was the name of the station boldly and beautifully writ large in flints. A pleasant impression is given by places where the very officials unbend to flowers and art. Life must be less hurried here. Sunleigh in the morning light was healthy and happy in the eyes of the lady to whom flowers came most often in the shape of missiles, formal as the rapture of a claque, falling with a bump like turnips, scentless as the admiration of habitués. She thought that her voice would sound clearer after a breath of this balmy air. She sprang gaily into the local fly, nodded a good-bye to the gentlemen, who chose to walk, and so was driven away. A slight graceful girl in well-fitting gown, she sat upright, with her hands lying idle in her lap, recalling a familiar bit of music, smiling involuntarily at the meadows and tangled hedgerows, glad of all the rest and sweetness for herself and for Irvine Dale. She crossed a strip of common where the gorse was all ablaze, down a shady lane all glimmering under the beeches, and on a sudden she saw the Thames. She gave a low cry of delight. It was a revelation to her, who only
knew the river business-like and dignified by its fine embankment. She had watched the tide surge turbid and yellow against the stone steps, the brown barges drifting up, and the deep London cloud torn and flying; and at evening had stopped to see the lights spring up along the edge, across the bridge, and high up round as a moon in the clock - tower at Westminster. But this stream lazily lapping its banks, swaying the murmurous reeds and lifting the little grasses, could not be the same Thames. It had time for such trifling matters, and was so rich in leisure that it could spread itself in the sun, curve back to catch the light again, ruffle itself to break the rays for fun. There is no hurry, no hurry, it seemed to say, and the summer was longer on its banks.
Miss Marion awoke from a trance as the fly pulled up before a porch modestly gay with sweetbrier. It was the front of a cottage, but the cottage had grown along its trim lawn for the accommodation of jealous patrons. The young lady stepped lightly down and pulled the bell, not a whit embarrassed by the thought of asking for a young man. She was too apt to forget the small conventionalities. After a short time the door was opened, and there appeared on the threshold an