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- Scenes and Characters - 20/54 -
'It is the most delightful plan ever thought of,' said Lily, 'so easily done, and just bringing within his compass all he ever wished to see.'
'Oh! his sole ambition is to stretch those long legs of his on the grass, like a great vegetable marrow,' said Lord Rotherwood. 'It is vegetating like a plant that makes him so much taller than any rational creature with a little animal life.'
'I think Jane has his share of curiosity,' said Lily, 'I am sure I had no idea that anything belonging to us could be so stupid.'
'Well,' said the Marquis, 'I shall not go.'
'No?' said Lily.
'No, I shall certainly not go.'
'Nonsense,' said Claude, waking from his pretended sleep, 'why do you not ask Travers to go with you? He would like nothing better.'
'He is a botanist, and would bore me with looking for weeds. No, I will have you, or stay at home.'
Claude proposed several others as companions, but Lord Rotherwood treated them all with as much disdain as Claude had shown for Germany, and ended with 'Now, Claude, you know my determination, only tell me why you will not go?'
'Then I do tell you, Rotherwood, the truth is, that those boys, Maurice and Reginald, are perfectly unmanageable when they are left alone with the girls.'
'Have a tutor for them,' said the Marquis.
'Very much obliged to you they would be for the suggestion,' said Claude.
'Oh! but Claude,' said Lily.
'I really cannot go. They mind no one but the Baron and me, and besides that, it would be no small annoyance to the house; ten tutors could not keep them from indescribable bits of mischief. I undertook them these holidays, and I mean to keep them.'
Lilias was just flying off to her father, when Claude caught hold of her, saying, 'I desire you will not,' and she stood still, looking at her cousin in dismay.
'It is all right,' cried the Marquis, joyfully, 'it is only to set off three weeks later.'
'Oh! I thought you would not go a week later for the universe,' said Claude, smiling.
'Not for the Universe, but for U-,' said Lord Rotherwood.
'Worthy of a companion true, of the University of Gottingen,' said Claude; 'but, Rotherwood, do you really mean that it will make no difference to you?'
'None whatever; I meant to spend three weeks with my mother at the end of the tour, and I shall spend them now instead. I only talked of going immediately, because nothing is done at all that is not done quickly, and I hate delays, but it is all the same, and now it stands for Tuesday three weeks. Now we shall see what he says to Cologne, Lily.'
Claude sprung up, and began talking over arrangements and possibilities with zest, which showed what his wishes had been from the first. All was quickly settled, and as soon as his father had given his cordial approbation to the scheme, it was amusing to see how animated and active Claude became, and in how different a style he talked of the once slighted Rhine.
Lord Rotherwood told the boys that their brother was a great deal too good for them, but they never troubled themselves to ask in what respect; Lilias took very great delight in telling Emily of the sacrifice which he had been willing to make, and looked forward to talking it over with Alethea, but she refrained, as long as he was at home, as she knew it would greatly displease him, and she had heard enough about missish confidences.
The Marquis of Rotherwood was certainly the very reverse of his chosen travelling companion, in the matter of activity. He made an appointment with the two boys to get up at half-past four on Monday morning for some fishing, before the sun was too high--Maurice not caring for the sport, but intending to make prize of any of the 'insect youth' which might prefer the sunrise for their gambols; and Reginald, in high delight at the prospect of real fishing, something beyond his own performances with a stick and a string, in pursuit of minnows in the ditches. Reginald was making contrivances for tying a string round his wrist and hanging the end of it from the window, that Andrew Grey might give it a pull as he went by to his work, to wake him, when Lord Rotherwood exclaimed, 'What! cannot you wake yourself at any time you please?'
'No,' said Reginald, 'I never heard of any one that could.'
'Then I advise you to learn the art; in the meantime I will call you to-morrow.'
Loud voices and laughter in the hall, and the front door creaking on its hinges at sunrise, convinced the household that this was no vain boast; before breakfast was quite over the fishermen were seen approaching the house. Lord Rotherwood was an extraordinary figure, in an old shooting jacket of his uncle's, an enormous pair of fishing-boots of William's, and the broad-brimmed straw hat, which always hung up in the hall, and was not claimed by any particular owner.
Maurice displayed to Jane the contents of two phials, strange little creatures, with stranger names, of which he was as proud as Reginald of his three fine trout. Lord Rotherwood did not appear till he had made himself look like other people, which he did in a surprisingly short time. He began estimating the weight of the fish, and talking at his most rapid rate, till at last Claude said, 'Phyllis told us just now that you were coming back, for that she heard Cousin Rotherwood talking, and it proved to be Jane's old turkey cock gobbling.'
'No bad compliment,' said Emily, 'for Phyllis was once known to say, on hearing a turkey cock, "How melodiously that nightingale sings."'
'No, no! that was Ada,' said Lilias.
'I could answer for that,' said Claude. 'Phyllis is too familiar with both parties to mistake their notes. Besides, she never was known to use such a word as melodiously.'
'Do you remember,' said the Marquis, 'that there was some great lawyer who had three kinds of handwriting, one that the public could read, one that only his clerk could read, and one that nobody could read?'
'I suppose I am the clerk,' said Claude, 'unless I divide the honour with Florence.'
'I do not think I am unintelligible anywhere but here,' said Lord Rotherwood. 'There is nothing sufficiently exciting at home, if Grosvenor Square is to be called home.'
'Sometimes you do it without knowing it,' said Lily.
'Yes,' said Claude, 'when you do not exactly know what you are going to say.'
'Then it is no bad plan,' said Lord Rotherwood. 'People are satisfied, and you don't commit yourself.'
'I'll tell you what, Cousin Rotherwood,' exclaimed Phyllis, 'your hand is bleeding.'
'Is it? Thank you, Phyllis, I thought I had washed it off: now do find me some sealing-wax--India-rub her--sticking-plaster, I mean.'
'Oh! Rotherwood,' said Emily, 'what a bad cut, how did it happen?'
'Only, I am the victim to Maurice's first essay in fishing.'
'Just fancy what an awkward fellow Maurice is,' said Reginald, 'he had but one throw, and he managed to stick the hook into Rotherwood's hand.'
'One of those barbed hooks? Oh! Rotherwood, how horrid!' said Emily.
'And he cut it out with his knife, and caught that great trout with it directly,' said Reginald.
'And neither half drowned Maurice, nor sent him home again?' asked Lily.
'I contented myself with taking away his weapon,' said the Marquis; 'and he wished for nothing better than to poke about in the gutters for insects; it was only Redgie that teased him into the nobler sport.'
Emily was inclined to make a serious matter of the accident, but her cousin said ten words while she said one, and by the time her first sentence was uttered, she found him talking about his ride to Devereux Castle.
He and Claude set out as soon as breakfast was over, and came back about three o'clock; Claude was tired with the heat, and betook himself to the sofa, where he fell asleep, under pretence of reading, but the indefatigable Marquis was ready and willing to set out with Reginald and Wat Greenwood to shoot rabbits.
Dinner-time came, and Emily sat at the drawing-room window with Claude and Lilias, lamenting her cousin's bad habits. 'Nothing will ever make him punctual,' said she.
'I am in duty bound to let you say nothing against him,' said Claude.
'It is very good-natured in him to wait for you,' said Lily, 'but it would be horribly selfish to leave you behind.'
'Delay is his great horror,' said Claude, 'and the wonder of his character is, that he is not selfish. No one had ever better training for it.'
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