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Brick. His lordship looks anxiously forward, in hopes of a hint or a halloa ; and Angelena, pot less anxious, about herself, feels her hair, and her face, and her habit, and hopes she's looking well. And well she is looking_uncommonly well—warmed without being heated, with a bright sparkle of animation imparted to her radiant eyes.
“ Ah, you'll do very nicely," whispered the old peer in her ear, as she now began fingering the pretty pink and white kerchief. “ You'll do very nicely,” repeated he,“ only don't lose the pin, you know," which was now rather sticking up.
“ Shouldn't like to do that,” replied Angelena, adjusting it, and looking most lovingly at her lord as she hoped he was to be.
She would have backed herself at this moment at twenty to one for a countess.
“ I'm afraid we've lost the fox,” whispered she, shaking her habit under her as she saw Billy Brick (Dicky, who was nothing across country without Billy to bore holes in the fences for him, having been floored at the first leap) advancing to the assistance of the pack. « I'm afraid we've lost the fox,” repeated she, as his lordship sat looking distrustful at Billy.
“Let's have a bet about it-let's bet half a dozen kisses,” replied his lordship, coaxingly, taking hold of her arm.
“ Hush !” frowned Angelena, “ the servants will hear ;" looking significantly at Sam, who now bustled past with some tail hounds.
“ Oh, never mind him," said his lordship, who was quite regardless of servants.
“ Well now, what do you say ?" resumed his lordship, sotto voce. “ Say about what ?” asked Angelena, pretending ignorance.
“ About the kisses," replied his lordship; “ will you bet me half a dozen kisses we don't kill the fox ?"
66 You inust ask mamma,” replied Angelena, with a stately bow.
“ Oh, fiddle, mammas,” laughed his lordship; “ we young chaps like dealing with the daughters."
“ Dare say you do, you naughty man,” replied she, touching him lightly with her whip. Just then an envious drop of rain beat heavily on her fair forehead, causing her to shudder at the prospect of a storm. Who knew but a coronet depended on the weather.
“I wish it mayn't be going to rine," observed she, looking anxiously up at the now cloud-cast sky.
“ Hope not,” muttered his lordship, who was watching Billy's cast, thinking he would make a huntsman. Another great drop confirmed Angelena's suspicions—it was indeed going to rain.
6 Hark to Forester !” cries Billy, as that fine black-and-white hound, after a preliminary feather up the inside of the high hedge between the turnip and pasture fields, at length gives one of his invaluable Bank of England notes, and the spreading pack rush to the summons. “ Hark to Forester!" again cries Billy, sticking spurs to his steed, and capping the rest on to their comrade.
"To him!-to him!” cries Sam, riding and cracking his whip at the unbelieving ones..
They cluster and settle to the scent with undiminished perseverance.
“ I shall want my kisses,” observed his lordship, knowingly, as he eyed their energy.
Another slight faulter, and away they shot as before.
“ He's away for the main earths at Tibberley Chase," observed his lordship to Angelena, considering how that would act for Mrs. Easylove's.
“Indeed,” smiled the fair coquette, not much wiser for the information.
- Tell me if you're tired, you know," said his lordship, squeezing her arm a little above the elbow as they again rode away together.
“Oh, I shan't tire,” smiled the fair equestrian.
6 You're a darling !” exclaimed his lordship, eyeing her intently, and thinking he would salute her rosy lips at the next check, whether the whips were there or not. “ You're a darling," repeated he, looking most lovingly at her.
“ A countess for a hundred,” thought Angelena, setting herself well in her saddle, sticking in her back, and holding up her head as if she was going to court all blazing in diamonds.
A smart blash of rain rather checked her aspirations. She dreaded Lord Maidstone's threatened deluge. In truth, she was not got up for resisting the elements. Besides an abundant crinoline petticoat, she had on her best white silk eider-down bustle, a thing not at all adapted for weather. Altogether she began to be nervous. Rain never improved any woman's looks.
* If the fox would only go to Scarrington Crags instead of the Chase,” thought his lordship, “ the rain would be all in our favour.” Then he looked back for Dicky Dyke, wondering where that worthy had got, and how it was they had made such a mistake about the drag. Then he wondered if Mrs. Mansell would have got to Mrs. Easylove's with the clothes, or if there was any mistake about them ; next, whether he should be able to dress himself without the aid of his valet; and anon, he was imagining Jug and old furs asleep together. Then he looked at Angelena, and wondered if she'd ever be as fat as her father; next he saw she would be more like her mother.
Sweep,blash-howl-now came the rain in heavy driving showers, slackening the pace of the hounds, and causing the horses to duck and shake their heads.
“ I wish it mayn't be going to rain,” observed his lordship, pulling his coat collar up about his old ears.
6 Going ! exclaimed Angelena; “I should say it was rineing.”
“ Won't be much,” replied his lordship, soothingly; “won't be much; besides,” added he, “I know a nice house where we can get shelter if it does—know a nice house where we can get shelter if it does,” repeated he, his hazel eyes flashing as the hounds seemed rather inclined to bend away to the south.
Vain hope ! two fields more, and they turned short to the north.
“ Hang them," muttered his lordship, vexed at the change; "we shall never get to Easylove's.”
The storm now spoiled the scent, which the plodding pack carried forward very languidly, falling into line, with only a hound here and there throwing his tongue. Billy cheered and telegraphed them on; but do
what he would he couldn't brew up a cry. Plough now intervened, and altogether things wore an unpromising aspect. His lordship, recollecting it was only a “bye,” and the hunt altogether a sham, bethought him of leaving the further enjoyment of it to Billy, retreating by the nearest road he could find to Mrs. Easylove’s. Accordingly, he began paving the way for a stop, observing to Angelena, as he reined up the grey on a piece of rising ground, that he feared it was all over for the day.
“ Indeed!” sighed the lady, flourishing her machinery-laced kerchief, as the drifting rain took her sideways, to the further discomfiture of her back and eider-down bustle.
“Forrard on! forrard on!” still cheered Billy, holding his hounds on · to a meuse in a very tumble-down hedge, when Forester again struck the scent most vehemently, and they all scored to cry as before.
His lordship, mistaking Angelena's sigh for her bustle into regret at the abrupt termination of the chase, resolved to go on, and again getting his horse by the head, was presently sailing away with the pack, who now went bustling and bristling over Benteygrass Moor in a way that looked very like killing.
- Plenty of time both for the fox and the fair,” thought his lordship, eyeing the now streaming away pack, and the again elegantly sitting lady—“ planty of time both for the fox and the fair," repeated he, eyeing Angelena's masterly style of handling her horse to ride at a stiff, undisturbed fence. “Well done you !" shouted his lordship, as she cleared it in stride without touching a twig. He then went at it himself.
The hounds again slackened their pace. Dark lowering clouds obscured the late sun-bright sky, and the summit of the Hartsbourne hills were shrouded in the distance.
“ Bad sign that,” thought his observing lordship, eyeing them—“ bad sign that; never knew them covered but it rained.” And he again congratulated himself upon having sent the dry things to Mrs. Easylove's. “ Wish we were there,” thought he, eyeing Botcherby steeple, and then the dark mass of Chillfield plantations, and that Angelena was not quite so game.
The poor girl's sigh had much to answer for. But for it his lordship might have run his fair charge into the desired haven, if not dry, at all events without the disheartening consequences that ensued. The sigh, like many a sigh, upset his arrangements. He felt it would never do for him to give in while his inamorata wished to go on; and so long as he had her with him he didn't so much mind the consequences. He therefore stuck to the hounds, notwithstanding they were now running in quite a contrary direction to what the telegraph hill and Effingham Clump told him Mrs. Easylove lived.
Angelena, now distressed and dispirited, cantered mechanically on, most anxiously wishing that his lordship was not so keen. The rain now became less capricious, but colder, more continuous, and searching in its down-pour. Angelena would have given anything to stop or get away from his lordship before she was quite spoiled. The lustre of the feathers was quite destroyed, and the dye of the brown Gariabaldi began trickling down her face. Her hair, too, became loose, and fell wildly about her ears; her pink and white kerchief was soaked, while her late looming-out habit stuck to her figure like a wet bathing-dress. Altogether she was regularly drenched.
His lordship marked the sad change, and already his fervent ardour began to cool. He was wet too, and blamed Angelena for the calamity. If he got the rheumatism he might be laid up for the rest of the winter.
“ Confound it, women never know when they have enough of anything,” thought he, peevishly, as he felt the insidious rain penetrating the salient parts of his garments—a tinge of purple, too, began to descend upon his white cords.
The hounds, meanwhile, kept towling on with a very catching scent. Billy still using his utmost efforts to accomplish that most desirable object in the eyes of a whip,—the killing of a fox in the absence of the huntsman.
His lordship would gladly have seen them run out of scent.
They now got upon the wide expanse of Hatherton Moor, and looking at the dreary space before, the spongy clouds aloft, above all, at the red nose, pinched face, and crestfallen figure of the drenched girl, his lordship came to the determination that it was no use persevering to please her, so he just pulled up short, saying,
“Well, I go no further.”
“ Nor I,” faltered Angelena, who would have given anything to be anywhere else. Oh that night would throw its sheltering shades over her forlorn, draggle-tailed figure. She felt that her coronet chance was descending.
They then turned their backs upon the hounds, each thinking what a drowned rat the other looked.
The cold had struck into his lordship’s old frame, and his teeth chat. tered and shook in his head. The wet had now even penetrated his pockets, and the water began to churn in his boots.
“If I don't catch my death of cold it'll be an odd thing to me,” thought he, gathering up the grey, and sticking spurs into his sides to make him quit the pack. He then went sailing away, straight across country, over hedges, ditches, and brooks, altogether regardless of the lady on whom so much care had been recently bestowed. Indeed, he seemed anxious to get away from her, and forget that he had been taken in by such a “shrimp of a thing," as he now called her. He felt that he had only taken up with her for the sake of contrast to the Empress of Morocco.
So he went splashing and crashing through the country, now wondering how he should get rid of Angelena when he got home, now anathematising Dicky Thorndyke for letting him in for such a chance.
“ Could make as good a woman out of my whip,” observed he to himself, gathering it together to ride full tilt at Foamington Brook, leaving the little lady to get over as she could.
The romance of the thing was fairly destroyed. The poetry of the feather, the sentiment of the hat, the taste of the tie were utterly ruined ; and in place of a bright-eyed, sunny-looking, well set-up girl, the old peer saw nothing but a very downcast, draggle-tailed looking Miss, who, ere long, would be very like her mother.
And he was almost glad that it was too dark for the grooms and people to see the figure she was when she got back to the castle.
CHAPTER XLVII. ALTHOUGH little pig-eyes took the most of the drugged drink, he was the first to awaken from his trance, when, seeing glasses and decanters scattered around on the table, he concluded he had been left drunk at the mess, and as there was still wine in the bottles, he made a grab at the nearest one, upsetting a tumbler of water into the jointstock-mother-in-law's lap. She then awoke with a start and a bound, nearly jumping on to Jug's knee; and then, after reseating herself, and staring wildly around her with her old front dangling over her nose, she burst into an incoherent fit of laughter.
“He, he, he! he, he, he! he, he, he !” went she, as if she had been listening to the funniest story imaginable.
“He, he, he! he, he !" joined Jug, as if he participated in the fun.
“ He, he, he! he, he, he! he, he, he !" giggled the mother-in-law again, as if she couldn't help herself.
“Well,” said Jug, now rubbing his eyes, and staring intently at her through the misty confused gloom of the room.
“ Well !” responded Mrs. Blunt, staring at him. “ Come, none of your nonsense. I know you,” said Jug, nervously. “Know me!” exclaimed Mrs. Blunt. “Why, who d’ye think I am ?” *“ Jaycock, to be sure,” replied the cornet. “ Jaycock, to be sure,” repeated Mrs. Blunt, ironically. “ Downeylipe, then,” said Jug, thinking it wasn't Jaycock's voice.
“ Where are we?” exclaimed Mrs. Blunt, now looking wildly around her.
“Ay, where are we, indeed ?” rejoined Jug, seeing by the size and fittings of the apartment that they were not in the mess-room at the barracks.
“It's very dark,” observed Mrs. Blunt, straining her old eyes into the misty confusion.
" It is,” said Jug, half shutting his little pig ones to see better.
“ Angelena !” exclaimed Mrs. Blunt, looking wildly about her ; 66 Angelena !” repeated she, in a louder tone. “Well, now; where can we be ?” added she.
“: I know !” exclaimed Jug, brightening up.
“So we are !" assented Mr. Blunt; adding, “but what can have happened ?”
“ Happened-how d’ye mean happened ?”asked Jug. 6 Why, where's Angelena ?” replied mamma, throwing out her arms.
“ Angelena-Angelena,-oh, Angelena went out with my lord; don't you remember?” asked Jug.
“I think I do,” replied Mrs. Blunt, thoughtfully—“ I think I do ;" adding, “but she ought to have been back before this. Naughty girl! what can she be doing?”
“Oh, she'll cast up presently,” said Jug, who, like all young men, was never jealous of old ones. Jug never thinking of marrying an old woman, never supposed that any young woman would think of marrying an old man.