Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

larly provoking,” said her ladyship : “ it will never rain when we wish it. There is no help, no rescue, now for me from a day's martyrdom. May it not still be possible, Alice, to put off these people? I cannot go through it — I feel I cannot: I am doing wrong to attempt it.”

“ You really shall not look so gloomily upon a pleasure," replied Alice Windermere. “ How gay you were at Alsington ! the youngest of the party !”

“ At Alsington! Oh! that was a very different affair — very agreeable, very charming; but very different, you know,” lisped Lady Windermere, in a smooth tone of placid contempt for things present.

" But, how often," continued Miss Windermere, heeding the first admission only—“ how often have you sighed to have that day's excursion over again!”

“Oh! it would give me perfect delight!” ejaculated the mamma.

Well, then," said the lovely girl, advancing playfully towards her lady-mother,

you have only to suppose that we are now about to repeat it."

Repeat it !” exclaimed Lady Windermere, in consternation- repeat that excursion!” Will you never learn to draw distinctions, Alice ? Absolutely, you have no judgment, no discrimination whatever.

I lament my weakness in having consented. These out-ofdoor romps, with all kinds of people, cannot receive my sanction for the future.”

“ Could I have imagined,” observed Miss Windermere," the least dislike -

“ A moment's consideration, Alice,” interrupted Lady Windermere, “would have rendered any exercise of your imagination quite superfluous.”

« Oh! you must not forget your perfect happiness at Alsington," replied her daughter; “and the spirit with which you entered into all the juvenile amusements, even to the clambering up those rugged tor cliffs ; when

you only feared lest some wandering naturalist should mistake you for a gazelle, and shoot you for a cabinet specimen. I had expected that you would hail to-day with eagerness.”

“ I trust,” answered her ladyship, delivering the sentiment in a tone even more mono

66 that

tonous and deliberate than usual, eagerness is not my most striking characteristic. On the present occasion, at least, I consider that it would betray peculiarly ill taste.”

Alice Windermere discovered that her anticipations of a day of perfect enjoyment were already damped; yet why should they be so? The hour long wished for had, at length, arrived — the hour destined for the meeting of friends; for the stroll with Constance Grey through the field and the forest, and

“ Under the green-wood tree;'

for the adventurous plunge into the dark woods of Pennersley Hurst, and the bold scramble to the summit of Pennersley Crag, with the assistance of Mr. Grey, or some other useful and agreeable pioneer.

“I do trust, Alice," resumed Lady Windermere, after the chill pause that followed her last remark, “ that you will endeavour to render the affair as brief as possible. It will be a vast improvement upon your plan to omit, if possible, the collation under that odious old oaktree. To such exhibitions before every chance passer by, every loitering clown or inquisitive stranger, I have always entertained the strongest aversion. Indeed, they may be regarded as positive invitations to intrusion and impertinence.”

But, mamma, do you remember," interrupted Alice Windermere

My dear Alice,” interposed the mamma, “to what purpose is this perpetual reference to that gipsy-party at Alsington? That was certainly delightful. Dear Lord Byborough was the soul of it. His arrangements were unexceptionable; his behaviour was delicious ; and the spirit which he infused into all, most enlivening; and, above all, Alice, you must know that the presence of the marquess was of itself a sufficient sanction."

“ But that was a dull, cloudy day. Look upon the park,” continued Miss Windermere, gazing upon the bright green of the lawn, of the extensive park, and the trees, gilded with the sunshine. " Are we not favoured, now?”

“ You know,” replied the inexorable Lady

Windermere, turning the eye from the lattice of the Gothic window toward a storm-piece of Paul Veronese, “I cannot endure the glaring of the sun. It is as offensive as the stare of an impertinent person."

“Oh! I think it only spreads over the hills and fields a brightness and a joy that must reflect themselves upon the heart," answered her daughter, still looking upon the gay clothing of Windersleigh Park, and watching the herds of deer as they gambolled and chased each other along the sweeps.

Lord Byborough, however, differs from you,” rejoined Lady Windermere.

" Much beauty and truth lay in his lordship’s observation that day, — that sunshine is like the gaudy gown of a country girl who would be fine at a village fair ; whilst he compared light mists, floating over the earth, to the airy drapery of a sylph.”

“ The marquess, having made his party for a dull day, probably had the ingenuity and adroitness to take refuge in that pretty speech," answered Alice Windermere, laughing : “yet,' continued she, “even mists are really lovely,

« PoprzedniaDalej »