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- Scenes and Characters - 3/54 -

first man who tried to teach me Latin. I wonder what has become of that mad fellow Edward, and Devereux, my father's godson! Was not Mrs. Aylmer badly off? I cannot bear that people should be forgotten!'

'It is not so very long that we have lost sight of them,' said Emily.

'Eight years,' said Lord Rotherwood. 'He died six weeks after my father. Well! I have made my mother promise to come home.'

'Really?' said Lilias, 'she has been coming so often.'

'Aye--but she is coming this time. She is to spend the winter at the castle, and make acquaintance with all the neighbourhood.'

'His lordship is romancing,' said Claude to Lily in a confidential tone.

'I'll punish you for suspecting me of talking hyperborean language-- hyperbolical, I mean,' cried Lord Rotherwood; 'I'll make you dance the Polka with all the beauty and fashion.'

'Then I shall stay at Oxford till it is over,' said Claude.

'You do not know what a treasure you will be,' said the Marquis, 'ladies like nothing so well as dancing with a fellow twice the height he should be.'

'Beware of putting me forward,' said Claude, rising, and, as he leant against the chimney-piece, looking down from his height of six feet three, with a patronising air upon his cousin, 'I shall be taken for the hero, and you for my little brother.'

'I wish I was,' said Lord Rotherwood, 'it would be much better fun. I should escape the speechifying, the worst part of it.'

'Yes,' said Claude, 'for one whose speeches will be scraps of three words each, strung together with the burthen of the apprentices' song, Radara tadara, tandore.'

'Radaratade,' said the Marquis, laughing. 'By the bye, if Eleanor and Frank Hawkesworth manage well, they may be here in time.'

'Because they are so devoted to gaiety?' said Claude. 'You will say next that William is coming from Canada, on purpose.'

'That tall captain!' said Lord Rotherwood. 'He used to be a very awful person.'

'Ah! he used to keep the spoilt Marquis in order,' said Claude.

'To say nothing of the spoilt Claude,' returned Lord Rotherwood.

'Claude never was spoilt,' said Lily.

'It was not Eleanor's way,' said Emily.

'At least she cannot be accused of spoiling me,' said Lord Rotherwood. 'I shall never dare to write at that round table again-- her figure will occupy the chair like Banquo's ghost, and wave me off with a knitting needle.'

'Ah! that stain of ink was a worse blot on your character than on the new table cover,' said Claude.

'She was rigidly impartial,' said Lord Rotherwood.

'No,' said Claude, 'she made exceptions in favour of Ada and me. She left the spoiling of the rest to Emily.'

'And well Emily will perform it! A pretty state you will be in by the 30th of July, 1846,' said Lord Rotherwood.

'Why should not Emily make as good a duenna as Eleanor?' said Lily.

'Why should she not? She will not--that is all,' said the Marquis. 'Such slow people you all are! You would all go to sleep if I did not sometimes rouse you up a little--grow stagnant.'

'Not an elegant comparison,' said Lilias; 'besides, you must remember that your hasty brawling streams do not reflect like tranquil lakes.'

'One of Lily's poetical hits, I declare!' said Lord Rotherwood, 'but she need not have taken offence--I did not refer to her--only Claude and Emily, and perhaps--no, I will not say who else.'

'Then, Rotherwood, I will tell you what I am--the Lily that derives all its support from the calm lake.'

'Well done, Lily, worthy of yourself,' cried Lord Rotherwood, laughing, 'but you know I am always off when you talk poetry.'

'I suspect it is time for us all to be off,' said Claude, 'did I not hear it strike the quarter?'

'And to-morrow I shall be off in earnest,' said Lord Rotherwood. 'Half way to London before Claude has given one turn to "his sides, and his shoulders, and his heavy head."'

'Shall we see you at Easter?' said Emily.

'No, I do not think you will. I am engaged to stay with somebody somewhere, I forget the name of place and man; besides, Grosvenor Square is more tolerable then than at any other time of the year, and I shall spend a fortnight with my mother and Florence. It is after Easter that you come to Oxford, is it not, Claude?'

'Yes, my year of idleness will be over. And there is the Baron looking at his watch.'

The 'Baron' was the title by which the young people were wont to distinguish Mr. Mohun, who, as Lily believed, had a right to the title of Baron of Beechcroft. It was certain that he was the representative of a family which had been settled at Beechcroft ever since the Norman Conquest, and Lily was very proud of the name of Sir William de Moune in the battle roll, and of Sir John among the first Knights of the Garter. Her favourite was Sir Maurice, who had held out Beechcroft Court for six weeks against the Roundheads, and had seen the greater part of the walls battered down. Witnesses of the strength of the old castle yet remained in the massive walls and broad green ramparts, which enclosed what was now orchard and farm- yard, and was called the Old Court, while the dwelling-house, built by Sir Maurice after the Restoration, was named the New Court. Sir Maurice had lost many an acre in the cause of King Charles, and his new mansion was better suited to the honest squires who succeeded him, than to the mighty barons his ancestors. It was substantial and well built, with a square gravelled court in front, and great, solid, folding gates opening into a lane, bordered with very tall well- clipped holly hedges, forming a polished, green, prickly wall. There was a little door in one of these gates, which was scarcely ever shut, from whence a well-worn path led to the porch, where generally reposed a huge Newfoundland dog, guardian of the hoops and walkingsticks that occupied the corners. The front door was of heavy substantial oak, studded with nails, and never closed in the daytime, and the hall, wainscoted and floored with slippery oak, had a noble open fireplace, with a wood fire burning on the hearth.

On the other side of the house was a terrace sloping down to a lawn and bowling-green, hedged in by a formal row of evergreens. A noble plane-tree was in the middle of the lawn, and beyond it a pond renowned for water-lilies. To the left was the kitchen garden, terminating in an orchard, planted on the ramparts and moat of the Old Court; then came the farm buildings, and beyond them a field, sloping upwards to an extensive wood called Beechcroft Park. In the wood was the cottage of Walter Greenwood, gamekeeper and woodman by hereditary succession, but able and willing to turn his hand to anything, and, in fact, as Adeline once elegantly termed him, the 'family tee totum.'

To the right of the house there was a field, called Long Acre, bounded on the other side by the turnpike road to Raynham, which led up the hill to the village green, surrounded by well-kept cottages and gardens. The principal part of the village was, however, at the foot of the hill, where the Court lane crossed the road, led to the old church, the school, and parsonage, in its little garden, shut in by thick yew hedges. Beyond was the blacksmith's shop, more cottages, and Mrs. Appleton's wondrous village warehouse; and the lane, after passing by the handsome old farmhouse of Mr. Harrington, Mr. Mohun's principal tenant, led to a bridge across a clear trout stream, the boundary of the parish of Beechcroft.


'And wilt thou show no more, quoth he, Than doth thy duty bind? I well perceive thy love is small.'

On the Sunday evening which followed Eleanor's wedding, Lilias was sitting next to Emily, and talking in very earnest tones, which after a time occasioned Claude to look up and say, 'What is all this about? Something remarkably absurd I suspect.'

'Only a new principle,' said Emily.

'New!' cried Lily, 'only what must be the feeling of every person of any warmth of character?'

'Now for it then,' said Claude.

'No, no, Claude, I really mean it (and Lily sincerely thought she did). I will not tell you if you are going to laugh.'

'That depends upon what your principle may chance to be,' said Claude. 'What is it, Emily? She will be much obliged to you for telling.'

'She only says she cannot bear people to do their duty, and not to act from a feeling of love,' said Emily.

'That is not fair,' returned Lily, 'all I say is, that it is better that people should act upon love for its own sake, than upon duty for its own sake.'

'What comes in rhyme with Lily?' said Claude.

'Don't be tiresome, Claude, I really want you to understand me.'

Scenes and Characters - 3/54

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