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- The Pigeon Pie - 16/16 -


Nine years had passed away, and Forest Lea still stood among the stumps of its cut-down trees; but one fair long day in early June there was much that was changed in its aspect. The park was carefully mown and swept; the shrubs were trained back; the broken windows were repaired; and within the hall the appearance of everything was still more strikingly cheerful, as the setting sun looked smilingly in at the western window. Green boughs filled the hearth, and were suspended round the walls; fresh branches of young oak leaves, tasselled with the pale green catkins; the helmets and gauntlets hanging on the wall were each adorned with a spray, and polished to the brightest; the chairs and benches were ranged round the long table, covered with a spotless cloth, and bearing in the middle a large bowl filled with oak boughs, roses, lilac, honey- suckle, and all the pride of the garden.

At the head of the table sat, less pale, and her face beaming with deep, quiet, heartfelt joy, Lady Woodley herself; and near her were Dr. Bathurst and his happy daughter, who in a few days more were to resume their abode in his own parsonage. Opposite to her was a dark soldierly sun-burnt man, on whose countenance toil, weather, and privation had set their traces, but whose every tone and smile told of the ecstasy of being once more at home.

Merry faces were at each side of the table; Walter, grown up into a tall noble-looking youth of two-and-twenty, particularly courteous and gracious in demeanour, and most affectionate to his mother; Charles, a gentle sedate boy of fifteen, so much given to books and gravity, that his sisters called him their little scholar; Rose, with the same sweet thoughtful face, active step, and helpful hand, that she had always possessed, but very pale, and more pensive and grave than became a time of rejoicing, as if the cares and toils of her youth had taken away her light heart, and had given her a soft subdued melancholy that was always the same. She was cheerful when others were cast down and overwhelmed; but when they were gay, she, though not sorrowful, seemed almost grave, in spite of her sweet smiles and ready sympathy. Yet Rose was very happy, no less happy than Eleanor, with her fair, lovely, laughing face, or -

"But where is Lucy?" Edmund asked, as he saw her chair vacant.

"Lucy?" said Rose; "she will come in a moment. She is going to bring in the dish you especially ordered, and which Deborah wonders at."

"Good, faithful Deborah!" said Edmund. "Did she never find a second love?"

"Oh no, never," said Eleanor. "She says she has seen enough of men in her time."

"She is grown sharper than ever," said Walter, "now she is Mistress Housekeeper Deborah; I shall pity the poor maidens under her."

"She will always be kind in the main," rejoined Rose.

"And did you ever hear what became of that precious sweetheart of hers?" asked Edmund.

"Hanged for sheep stealing," replied Walter, "according to the report of Sylvester Enderby. But hush, for enter--"

There entered Lucy, smiling and blushing, her dark hair decorated with the spray of oak, and her hands supporting a great pewter dish, in which stood a noble pie, of pale-brown, well-baked crust, garnished with many a pair of little claws, showing what were the contents. She set it down in the middle of the table, just opposite to Walter. The grace was said, the supper began, and great was the merriment when Walter, raising a whole pigeon on his fork, begged to know if Rose had appetite enough for it, and if she still possessed the spirit of a wolf. "And," said he, as they finished, "now Rose will never gainsay me more when I sing -

"For forty years our Royal throne Has been his father's and his own, Nor is there anyone but he With right can there a sharer be. For who better may The right sceptre sway, Than he whose right it is to reign? Then look for no peace, For the war will never cease Till the King enjoys his own again.

"Then far upon the distant hill My hope has cast her anchor still, Until I saw the peaceful dove Bring home the branch I dearly love. And there did I wait Till the waters abate That did surround my swimming brain; For rejoice could never I Till I heard the joyful cry That the King enjoys his own again!"


The Pigeon Pie - 16/16

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