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those grandees carrying so much luggage, that a box or two, more or less, makes no difference. I have, therefore, packed up some English fare, which you will, I trust, enjoy whilst it is in good condition, as Matilda promised to forward it to you immediately on her arrival. She says, also, that Lord Stiffley and the Honourable Misses Steel will accompany her to visit you, which, you know, may lead to something, for she says his lordship is very generous when he takes to any one, and we know how liberal he has been to her. So, my dear boy, pray do not throw such an introduction away by any of your queer artist's ways. Mind you keep your study in nice order. Ah! how I wish I could come and tidy it for you; and if you could, love, just refrain from smoking in the daytime- ladies do dislike it so; and please don't turn all your sketches to the wall, as if nobody could understand them but yourself, for I have no doubt they mean to buy some, or give you a commission, or something, or they would not visit you at all.”
I could not help smiling, as I felt the curls of smoke wreathing round my head, to think how obedient Will was. He removed his pipe from his lips, however, to remark:
“Well, now, you see, Nell, this sketch of Don Juan and Haidee is tolerably well made out, all but the costume, at which I will work today like fun, and I really think it is the best thing I have done.”
“Beautiful! Only,” I suggested, timidly, “ do you think the subject likely to please ? I have heard the Stifleys were rather rigid, and I should think if you touched up that · Milton's Reconciliation,' it would be more in their line."
But when did ever artist (at least a raw one) recognise the fitness of sublunary things, time, or place ? Milton had long been laid aside, and Will was at present boiling over on the subject of Haidee, and could not understand that any one should not share his enthusiasm.
“ You must know, Nell, I have not breakfasted yet, having turned out only just before fetching you."
* Lazy fellow! I have been up five hours.”
“ You don't say so! Dear me, how unearthly–why, it must have been the middle of the night, for I am sure I was up very early. I asked Meyer to breakfast with me, so do you slip on that costume whilst I go in search of him and of a loaf.”
When the two friends returned, they started back in surprise, which soon changed to mirth. I was declared to be Haidee herself, and mounted at once to repose on the ottoman amongst Will's pillows and bolster, concealed by the old tapestry and my shawl in*as Eastern a style as could be devised.
“Is not Meyer just the old pirate ?" said Will. “Now, Pirate Lambro, prepare our breakfast, that we may lose no time. You will find the Cyprus wine, the dates, the grapes, the-what did those lovers eat?”
"Nothing equal to this, I can tell you," replied Meyer, diving into the hamper. “They had lamb and pistachio nuts, or some such stuff, and here we have English ham and Stilton ! real Stilton, as I am apirate! Go on painting, my friend, and I will spread you such a feast ! Some of this ham would broil exquisitely at this clear fire. Where's your frying-pan ?"
“In my bedroom, I rather think. Stay, though, it may be in the corner there, behind that torso.”
It was soon found up, and with much merriment on my part, but great gravity on that of our cook, the ham was sliced, and began to emit savoury odours and musical sounds as the doctor bent over it, fork in hand, the light of the fire gleaming on his large eyes and coal-black beard. How did that man contrive always to look like a wizard ?
“What fun it would be," I exclaimed, “ if our expected aristocracy made its appearance at this moment !"
The words were hardly uttered, when we all started and held our breath to listen. Steps were heard at the very door, a tremendous rustling of silken skirts, a tap with some sturdy knuckles, and an English voice reading Will's name on the card, which served as door-plate. “Ici nous sum," it said, in choice French; “the ascent equals Snowdon !"
Will jumped up as if shot, and seized the frying-pan with a frantic intention of getting rid of it somehow; but the door opened, the room filled with company, and in an agony of confusion poor Will clapped the greasy hot pan just where it was most conspicuously out of place and in sighton the centre of the table. There the ham hissed and palpitated after the manner of fried meats, till it gradually sobbed itself into quiet and coldness. And there, round the table, staring with ill-concealed astonishment, stood our Cousin Matilda, Lord Stilley, the Honourable Charles, the Honourable Miss Steel, and the Honourable Miss Adelaide Steel! The scene was so exquisitely ridiculous that no sense of shame could have stified the laugh that was bursting from my lips when I suddenly saw all those eyes turn from the frying-pan to me, and I remembered my own strange costume, which I had till then forgotten. I stood in mute confusion as they surveyed me from top to toe, from the crown of my tasselled cap, down my flowing hair, my embroidered vest, my striped gauze trousers, my slippers, which I could not keep on my feet, and Matilda went through the ceremony of introduction with as much suavity as she could command ; but imagine how she looked—she who had been for twenty years a model of perfection in the schoolrooms of the nobility! Then, coming up as if to give me a cousinly salute, she whispered, angrily,
“ How can you allow your brother to live in such a way? I never was so ashamed in my life! I would not have brought them had I known it was such a pigsty!"
Meyer alone retained his usual self-possession, and, advancing with a quiet smile, said,
“My lord can doubtless sympathise with an exile endeavouring to recal some of the customs of his native land ?”
Lord Stiffey bowed condescendingly in reply to the refined accent and manner of the doctor, but his bewilderment evidently increased under the effort to identify English habits with the frying-pan hissing on a studytable, or a young English girl habited at noonday in Greek costume. However, Meyer removed the unfortunate kitchen utensil, I suppose, to Will's bedroom, reappeared with some extra chairs for the company, and then vanished; I fancy rather to the regret of the eldest lady, who had withdrawn her attention from me as soon as she had perceived him. There were some more feeble attempts at explanation, which, as usual with explanations, made matters appear worse ; but the sketch was turned towards them as a reason why I was habited so strangely.
“ Doosid pretty girl, 'pon my word!" muttered the Honourable Charles, affecting to look at the sketch, whilst he gazed at me to my increased confusion. The Honourable Charles was, I suppose, near-sighted, for most of his energy seemed spent in the endeavour to keep an eye-glass fixed in his eye, which effort caused a most fearful contortion of countenance; lips, nose, cheek, all assisting spasmodically in the work.
Will, glad to have mounted his hobby again, began holding forth on the situation of Haidee, quoting lines explanatory, when he was suddenly pulled up by Matilda exclaiming in horror,
“ Why, cousin ! you don't suppose these young ladies—my pupils— have ever read such a book as Don Juan!'"
They had probably not read “such a book,” but they had read that one, for their faces betrayed them. The young ladies acted on the hint, and turned to something else, whilst Will stammered out,
“ I was—I was addressing the gentlemen.”
“Doosid pretty sketch !" said the Honourable Charles, still screwing up his eyes to look at me. “Egad! I should rather like being a painter myself, under such circumstances !” And there seemed to himself something so ludicrous in the idea of the Honourable Charles turning painter that he grew quite merry on the occasion.
As for Lord Stiffey, after the first shock of the frying-pan, he showed himself a very condescending gentleman, though not altogether in his element in Will's anti-aristocratic study. As usual in English society, we speedily divided into two groups, the gentlemen talking together in one corner, the ladies in another. They were thorough types of English women; tall, slender, delicately fair, with blue eyes shaded by eyelashes almost black, large mouth showing too readily the long front teeth, long chin, and hair of a rich dark brown, luxuriant in quantity, but arranged without regard to the style of face. The eldest must have been for many years only nominally Matilda's pupil, for she could not have been less than twenty-six or twenty-seven, and at least ten years older than the other sister. The hopeful heir came between the two, and had doubtless been thoroughly worshipped and spoiled by them. Suddenly Miss Steel fixed her eyes on the sketch of the Master of Ravenswood, and I saw a blush suffuse her whole face. She bent down to examine it, and perhaps to conceal her emotion. It was a minute or two before she turned her countenance (calm and pale as before) towards me, and asked “if that was a portrait of any living person ?”
“ Yes, of the gentleman you saw here."
“Ah, by the way,” said her father, “I fancied his face was familiar to me, and yet it is most improbable. Is he a brother-artist ?"
“ No, a doctor, and a man of no small ability.” “ Remarkably good English he speaks.”
"In his youth he spent some years in England, and his acquaintance with English literature far exceeds that of most Englishmen. He has been a kind friend to me, coming here a foreigner, and altogether a greenhorn."
As Will spoke warmly in praise of his friend, I again detected on the face of the eldest daughter signs of deep emotion, which she struggled in vain to suppress, and meeting my eyes fixed upon her in compassionate sympathy, her own filled with tears. There must be some sad connexion Aug.-TOL, CXXVIII. NO. DXII.
between her and some person who greatly resembled the doctor; my young imagination jumped at conclusions which I despaired of ever verifying. Who could have lived for years with starched cousin Matilda and made her any tender confidence ? Miss Steel alone looked conscious, and I believed her sorrow, whatever its cause, was secret.
Well, they thawed all of them; the ladies promised to visit me at my school, and, what was pleasanter to me for dear old Will's sake, the young fellow applied his eye-glass so successfully to the little sketch of Haidee, that he begged my brother to finish it up and name his price for the “ doosid pretty thing."
Will was of course very triumphant, and as soon as they were gone we set to work again, he actively and I passively. Meyer, who lived so near that he could see the carriage drive off, reappeared, and amused us with a description of the delighted astonishment not only of Madame Babois but of the whole neighbourhood, who collected round the door to see the horses of “ces my lords Anglais." The honourable youth mounted the box, shouting out to the rabble, “ Allez vous ong, vous petites blackguards car je vais aller sur vous, sacré.”
It is curious enough that, however badly Englishmen speak French, they always pick up the rolling “sacré," whilst the most thorough Frenchman manages to rap out the “ Godem,” which he imagines to be a certain token of Anglicised naturalisation.
“But, do you know, doctor,” said I, “one of those young ladies lost her heart then and there to the Master of Ravenswood ?"
He turned pale, and a very peculiar expression passed over his face, out he only answered, “ To the picture, of course."
“ By the way,” pursued Will, “ Lord Stiffley fancied he had seen you before; has he had that felicity at some bright period of his existence?"
Meyer hesitated, and made a strong effort to speak with indifference. “I think he may perhaps have had that pleasure, as you say. I once formed a passing acquaintance with a family named Steel ; it must have been, I suppose, before he was Lord Stiffley, for I remember nothing of any title."
“ He became Lord Stiffley the year before Matilda went there," said I; “ that must be about seven years ago."
“ Seven years; ah! I dare say. Seven years; it seems a very long time. It was at the English lakes, where I had accompanied a young artist friend, in the hopes of getting some insight into sketching from nature. I chanced to be of some service to Miss Steel on the occasion of some trifling accident; they were more grateful than the thing required, and grew quite friendly with me, till the papa suddenly made his appearance on the scene, and was just as haughty as they were affable. We pursued our travels in different directions, and met no more."
“Oh! oh! pirate,” laughed Will, "it was a young heart you stole that time. I wager you broke it—that is, you and her governor between you -the poor thing has an old, long-suppressed sorrow in her eyes. At any rate, you see she has been constant to you, she is Miss Steel still."
“And spite of his title, Steel will ever be the name of the father. But I must not remain here, I must attend a patient. Good-by. Work well, eat well, and enjoy yourselves."
He ran down stairs, and we saw no more of him that day, but Will and I talked him over, and recalling his gravity, his indifference to all but science, and a certain touch of bitterness which obscured the real goodness of his heart, we made up our minds that the doctor had been crossed in that true love which never does run smooth. I was seized with a very womanish desire to bring this pair of unfortunates to bliss, and after planning mentally all sorts of meetings for them, alarmed Will for my sanity by laughing aloud at the impracticability of my schemes.
Only a few days elapsed before the ladies called on me and obtained permission of Madame to carry me off for the day. What could she or any schoolmistress refuse to the owners of such a carriage?
Cousin Matilda proposed a visit to Père-la-Chaise. On the road they told me “Papa was so poorly—had evidently a fit of the gout coming on -which made him so cross !”
“ Irritable, not cross, my dear Adelaide ; pain always has that effect on gentlemen,"corrected the governess. “Unfortunately, he so thoroughly despises French doctors that he won't have any called in."
“Why,” I exclaimed, “ does he not send for Will's friend, Doctor Meyer, who knows English habits and constitutions so well ?”
I was a little surprised at my own boldness, but Matilda, who I fancy suffered most from my lord's irritability, caught at the idea.
“ The very thing! We must propose it to him on our return to the hotel, must we not, Miss Steel ?"
No answer came, but the youngest sister exclaimed:
“Oh yes, certainly ; if he can but keep off the gout he will be the dearest doctor in the world.”
* Or the cheapest," I put in. Poor things! I thought, they will meet again ; and I rejoiced, as if in my giddy youthfulness I could judge if such meeting would bring joy or sorrow. We did the cemetery completely, gathered a leaf from the tomb of the young poetess Eliza Mercæur, stroked the stone dog at the feet of Heloise and Abelard, looked into the little chapel full of child's toys, which some poor mother has set apart as consecrated relics, and sneered somewhat lightly (I think now) at the dripping white tears daubed on the poor black crosses, and which puzzled Miss Adelaide had mistaken for pears! I was lingering a little to admire the splendid panorama of Paris, visible from an eminence, when Miss Steel's voice startled me.
“Do you really think that Doctor Meyer so clever?" “Of course, you know, I cannot judge, but others consider him so." “Has he a good practice ?"
“No; but Will says that is entirely his own fault, because he still devotes so much time to study, and is, besides, apparently quite indifferent on the subject. I have heard him say that he does not care for his profession as a means of getting on in the world-his whole aim is the research of truth.”
" Then perhaps he may not choose to attend papa.” “O yes he will,” I replied, eagerly. She turned upon me a searching eye, before which mine fell. " Has he ?" she asked—“ has he mentioned us to you ?" I briefly repeated the substance of what he had said. “Never before that day?”. “ No; never.” “ He had forgotten all about us, I dare say,” she proceeded, stammer