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I have been a slighting insult to respectability to

have been seen in London at this time, and “Under the Greenwood Tree.” legends exist to the purport that indigent fami

| lies, who have not the wherewithal to travel or I am going to take you back to Oaklands go “out of town," rather than bear the scorn Hall, and I am sure that if you feel half as and contumely of their acquaintance, immure delighted as I do to leave the din and turmoil themselves in the secret depths of their manof London for the sylvan shades and sun- sions, and there, like so many Marianas in the chequered lawn of the pretty Kentish House, Imoated grange, await the advent of the next shall be satisfied. And it really will not be season. such a losing bargain, after all, this exchange-! And so it was, that visitors to Mr. Grantley's pure, fresh breezes, provocative of ruddy cheeks house in Portman Square would have been and unlimited hunger, instead of the dull, informed by the stalwart Jeames Augustus, with leaden canopy of smoke, under which we poor condescending urbanity, that the “family was Londoners have been gasping and groping our hout of town at Oakland's 'All.” An invitaway-for pleasant walks in the turnip-fields and tion had come from Mrs. Stewart to her quiet lunches at the cover-side, under some daughter, begging of her to come and help fill patriarchal oak, where Tityrus leaves, for the the house for the shooting, and to bring nonce, his flute, and operates upon a bottle of Grantley to help and shoot the birds, who wanted sherry, and Neæra ceases turning the pretty thinning sadly. To tell truth, Ella was right coronal and carves the venison pasty. Far glad to go; the feverish hard life of continual away from London now are all the divinities excitement which she had been living lately, who have graced the ball-rooms and the concerts going incessantly from ball to ball, rout to rout, of the dead season-far away in distant shooting-concert to concert, had almost knocked up the boxes, tramping, in the neatest of nailed boots, young wife, and she longed for the sharp pure through the heather, or whipping the brawling breeze of the air round the dear old Hall, to stream for speckled trout, and sometimes enable her to recover her lost roses; and, above knocking down their brace of birds quite as all these, there was the fact that she should neatly and efficiently as they broke the hearts have Grantley all to herself at the Hall; there of unsuspecting victims in the mazy dance. Far would be none of those horrid creatures at clubs away, in the “ stately homes of England," where to occupy all his time and keep him absent they spend the live-long day reading the last from his loving little wife ; and, most priceless new novel under their favourite elm, or driving | boon of all, only get him to Oaklands, and he the ball through the difficult croquet hoop, or would forget, in the excitement of open-air sport, indulging in sweet far niente, the absolute the terrible fascination which was luring him to luxury of doing and thinking of nothing at all. destruction—the furious desire of winning Far away, on the broad channel, in the most money at the gaming table. At Oaklands there bewitching of yachting costumes, sailor-hats would be no Board of Green Cloth over which placed cavalierly over the long fluttering tresses; to ruin the health and energies; no écarté table, pea-jacket, with gilt buttons, and puzzling their to detect and punish cheating foreigners at. So pretty little heads with the Eleusinian mysteries never did Roman poet welcome the retreat of "starboard” and “larboard,” “luff” and into the country, to the shady Apulian farm, to "belay." The last birds were preparing to wing drink warm milk with his Falernian, and chat their flight from London; solitude was com- with sunburnt Galatæa, as he bound the mencing its annual reign in the fashionable sheaves, when wearied with the strepitus of the localities; Praed's “Goodbye to the season” was Roman streets ; never did the bucks and macain every mouth, and the closed curtained win- ronies of the second Charles' days welcome the dows, the vacuous, idle footmen lolling on the annual trip to Buxton or Bath, and the usual step, were conclusive evidence that the polite flirtation with the brown-cheeked farmers' world was out of town, And, in troth, it would daughters, who sold flummery and cherries, more eagerly than Ella did this visit to Oak- \ anything about yourself, you sly little thing. lands. And when they arrived there, what How about the Reverend Loftus ?-are you as intense solicitude, on the fond mother's part, as madly fond of him as ever? or have you treated to Ella's looks.

him like all the others, and left him lament“My dear girl, how pale and worried you ing?are looking !" Much better for you to have “Like Lord Ullin's daughter? Oh dear no! stayed with us in the old place."

He is as foolishly fond of me as ever. You never But not an idea did the good old soul enter- saw such a faithful man, and he really comes tain of the real state of the case-it was only in useful, too. He brings me all the new the natural consequence of fasbionable books, and reads them all through, if I but London life, she thought, this languor and signify the wish; he is always ready to coach paleness and wearied eyes.

me in the district, visiting; and, in fact, he is a Ella answered nothing, but threw herself into regular slave.” the arms of the mother, whom she had not “Now, Katie, tell me one thing—from your seen for a year, and wept a sweet refreshing heart, in sober earnestness, do you love the poor shower of tears-joy mingled with grief.

young fellow enough to make him happy, and I think it is Lord Lytton who, in the to be happy and contented as his wife? It's a “ Caxtons," describes, in beautifully tender serious business this marrying, dearie; and you language, the sad awe-stricken feeling with should think of it earnestly." which the Lares and Penates—the old familiar “Oh! to hear you talk,” broke in Katie, household gods-are regarded by the stranger with a peal of laughter that rang through the who has not visited the home of his fathers old wainscoted room, “one would think that from early childhood; with what tender force you had 'come to forty-year, and seen all the the whole details of furniture and familiar pomps and vanities. You needn't be afraid, my objects come back to the world-tossed son. So darling Ella," she resumed, more seriously; “I it was with Ella Grantley: when once she had love Loftus Smyly better than my whole life, and passed under the stately escutcheoned portals think myself only too happy and privileged to of the home of her childhood she felt at peace be allowed to love him; and God willing, and of and safe, and knew that there beat a pitiful course the parents willing, I will make him the heart, to which she might entrust the sorrows truest little wife on record. I have been 80of her own sad heart; that there were protecting bered down considerably since I have known arms, in whose protecting embrace she might | him," lay her wearied head. And then the thousand- Ah, well! I envy you, Katie-that's all." and-one stories which the sisters had to tell one And there was truth in what she said. Ella another in the long evenings, when they could I did envy the future lot of her happier sister, escape from the inen, and sit opposite one and wished that such an one had been hers. another in the old bed-chamber, the fire-light After such little conversations as these the playing fitfully, as it did of yore, on the two sisters would descend to the drawing-room happy faces. But not now as of yore; for though I to “do the respectable" as the naughty Kate Katie's face was fair and unclouded as before, expressed it—that is, to sing and play, and the spectator migbt detect in Ella's face the make themselves the idols of all the men, presence of some lurking sorrow, “like a worm

married and unmarried alike, who listened i the bud;" and there were some suspicious- to their performances, and who were charmed looking lines about the corners of the mouth, for once out of the cold conventional“Thanks, and a darkness under the beautiful eye, which very much," uttered with the air of relief care seemed to have a hand in the drawing of.. which oft betokens intense pleasure that

" And how does Grantley behave, Ella?" the brilliant performance is over. Oaklands laughed Katie, archly, toying with the unbound Hall was gradually filling; for the shooting wealth of her sister's tresses-a very favourite

promised magnificently this season, and the habit of hers. “A perfect Chevalier Bayard,

birds were everything that well-behaved birds entirely devoted, and your perfectly obedient could be-neither wild, nor disinclined to lie slave; fetches and carries admirably, and war- ) close. As the old place was big and roomy ranted thoroughly broken, like Gulnare?”

enough to hold several people, there was very Could Ella undeceive the dear one who asked

soon established a delicious little coterie, these questions, and let her into the secret of

| all bent onenjoying themselves, and married life? Ah! show me the wife who, really taking delight in each other's society, however badly treated, will hint of that hus

really condescending to come down from the band's misdemeanours to another.

frigid, unbending style they adopted in each "Oh, he behaves, as you say, perfectly. I

| other's houses in town, and striving to amuse · suppose there isn't a happier couple all round each other as much as possible. It is this that, in London than we two. Of course we have

two. Of course we have provided always that the lady of the house be our little differences sometimes, and Harry is a genial hospitable matron, and the master an rather too fond of staying out from home, with urbane gentlemanly host, that makes country his fellow-officers at the club; but then he houses such veritable paradises to stay in never refuses me anything I want, and the There is no restraint there ; no ennui; no lack of wonder is that I have not ruined him, for I am occupation. People have not to be thrown over always wanting. And now you haven't told me 'much into one another's society (the conses

quence of which is that they get naturally tired not shoot, he was always impressed into the and sick to death of the same faces. They need service of the ladies, and his small fat figure not meet at all, unless they like, till the dinner- might be seen sprawling about on the lawn and hour; and there, radiant in gorgeous attire and fixing the croquet-hoops, or carving at lunch, beaming in smiles, they cannot fail in liking for which, like his namesake Gobbo's old each other's company. There they can talk of the father, “he had a kind of taste." This was the pleasure and occupation of the day; there they sole married couple, with the exception of the can hold pleasant converse, in low under-tones Grantleys. The rest were still in single bles. of each other's little peculiarities. The only sedness, and were (room for the fair!) a Miss thing which militates a little against the perfect Sherlock (Viola Sherloci), who was an unfailing equanimity of these country houses is that oft- feature in all social gatherings of this sort-a times, and especially in the shooting season, the species of “unprotected female," who was, ladies are left too much to their own resources, natheless, very well able to take care of herself. as all the available men come down in the She was not very young nor very pretty, but morning attired for the day's sport in all the had seen the time when her name was a favourite dandyism of shooting-coats and knickerbockers, toast, and was invaluable in love affairs. Though which seems to say—“It's no use expecting us she had fought an unsuccessful fight herself, to stay and Airt and play at croquet and devour and had in vain attacked the citadel of men's luncheon with you; there's fresh game a-field, hearts, she was still very much valued for the and the only way in which you will be enabled skill in which she brought people together. to share our lordly company is by bringing Had she been a man,“ Shall I, Sir Pandarus of baskets of lunch out to us in the middle of the Troy become?" would have suited her well; as day." And not unfrequently has this little it was, she played the part of match-maker game succeeded : when Diana has tried every much more skilfully than her namesake in known ruse to snare the wary bird, she has had “ Twelfth Night.” Then she was very useful to thank that little bit of lunch under the hedge, in filling up idle hours in houses, could play after all; she looked so much like a ministering accompaniments in good style, and had a certain angel, as she laid the cloth, and wrung her hands voice herself, which had got rather seedy, and over the absent pepper, that Charley was fain to was very good at philosophical discussion, seepropose. There was a very judicious mixture ing that she had read a great deal, and had once in the little knot of people at Oaklands Hall / written and read a paper at the “Social Science this autumn. There was a Commissioner of In- Meeting," about the “ Right Place of Women." land Revenue and his wife-Mr. Batson, a very Hope, they say, came last out of Pandora's quiet, harmless little man, with an undecided capacious box, and it has the faculty now of face and a very decided judgment in matters | surviving all other passions in woman's breast. where eating and drinking were concerned--a So it may be that Viola Sherlock still dreamt of man who set himself up for a very Soyer in the delusive charms of matrimony. With her cookery, and prided himself on his taste in port we may mention Croker Pitts of the War wine." It is no use trying to sell me with | Office, also a very handy man in a countryyour new-fangled imitations," he would say, house, for he was very like the person who is eyeing the liquor in question curiously the while: / described in the comic song as “Up to every “I know a good wine when I taste one.” Per- sort of thing." For the last on dit or sparkle haps it was not true; but there existed a legend of wit which had occupied town circles before amongst the junior clerks in the little Com- his holidays commenced, you inight safely go missioner's department that he had been a wine- | to Croker Pitts; and he had a very neat turn taster, in the days of his youth, at the for indoor amusements--from getting up cha. docks. Once get Launcelot Batson fairly en-| rades and private theatricals, and performing gaged upon a good dinner, and be the lady the chief characters himself, down to singing the whom he had taken down a very Hester last comic song learnt at a music-hall: “TootleStanhope in conversation, the commissioner tum-tay,” or “ Policeman 92 X.,” which he would see, hear, think of nothing but the flattered himself he was only excelled in by the dinner. Mrs. Batson was a mighty woman great Arthur Lloyd himself. “Capital comin stature, in voice, in deportment -- the pany” the inen styled him ; the ladies, “that fact was only too patent that she ruled her amusing creature, Mr. Pitts.” He thought small spouse with a Draco's rod of iron. Ever himself a decent shot, but his detractors said attentive to her majestic nod, the little commis- that his fame rested solely on the fact that one sioner would follow her about (like a spaniel, day by happy luck he did manage to bring and often her “ Launcelot, my love !” fell upon | down a pheasant within range, and that after his guilty ears when he was taking too much that he shot no more, and rested on his laurels, port. It is my opinion that she had formed a Ensign Robson had been asked over to the code of signals for his use, and that when she Hall, and had accordingly obtained leave of nodded like Jove himself, or compressed her absence, and made himself supremely happy lips, Launcelot was to take no more than four with everybody, as was his wont; and his big glasses of wine, and not to touch olives for fear cigar, of which he seemed to have imported all of his digestion, nor a cigar for fear of his the brand, was seen all over the grounds. He breath, and to join the ladies as speedily as pos. | fought rather shy of Viola Sherlock, and with sible. As the Commissioner did not or could reason, for no sooner was that lady introduced

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