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poor Cécile, in a sad flutter. “A sister's affection can call for no gratitude.”
“Particularly, when the term is used restrictively, as it is, I am assured, in this case, Cécile.”
She fixed her earnest gaze upon him, and deliberately replied:
“Edward, you have not been misinformed."
“But I suppose the feelings that exist on one side are not absolutely to regulate those that may arise on the other ?”
“Yes, Edward, they must, they will, or there is an end to the happiness of this happy home.”
“There are other homes in the wide world besides this one, Cécile.”
“None for you, Edward, and none, I trust, for me either, so long as I may honourably and fearlessly claim a shelter at Redburn.”
There was no mistaking the purport of this last appeal, however indirect and guarded in its terms, and it struck very forcibly upon Edward's heart. During the whole evening he remained singularly quiescent and abstracted, and early on the ensuing morning, he took his departure for London, having often experienced that change
of air and scene were excellent remedies for the indisposition under which he laboured, as for many others, when still in their earliest stage.
Perhaps it may appear strange that the Lord Viscount St. Edmunds, Royal Horse Guards, Red, who had now been residing, far beyond the appointed time, at what he had been pleased to designate the slowest house in all England, should not have deemed this a very fair opportunity for likewise accomplishing his retreat. He, however, thought otherwise. Whether the chief attraction was found in the excellent condition of the covers, the amenity of Lady Helen's disposition, the exalted and enlarged views of Sir Charles Basinstoke himself, or the charm of his fair cousin's society, we cannot undertake precisely to determine. Certain it is, at all events, that though his departure seemed indefinitely postponed, he showed himself perfectly resigned to his new style of life.
It chanced that, a very few days after his cousin's departure, our hero entered, in quest of a missing newspaper, the small print-room adjoining the library, where Constance and Cécile were wont to spend a great portion of their time
together. On this occasion, the retiro was untenanted, but apparently it had not been long so, for, on the table, a sketch was lying, which immediately attracted the intruder's attention. It represented an Amazon on horseback, to a certain extent similar in attitude to that of the unmentionable German, but differing widely from it, insomuch that the warlike maiden's antagonist was not a raging wild beast, but a sorely wounded Parthian youth. So deeply was St. Edmunds engaged in the contemplation of this drawing, that he did not hear a light step behind him, until the voice of the startled Cécile reached him as she exclaimed:
“Holy Virgin ! our poor Amazon."
“My dear Miss Basinstoke, I hope that I have been guilty of no indiscretion.”
“Your cousin Conny will be here presently,” replied Cécile, endeavouring to suppress a slight smile, “and you had better ask her what she thinks upon the matter." - “ Is this sketch hers?”.
“It does not signify if it is hers or another person's. What I am alluding to is the invasion of our retreat, and its present consequences.”
“And you think Constance will scold me more effectually than you could ?”
“As your cousin, she has a right to do so, which I may not claim.”
“Well, it cannot be helped, Miss Basinstoke. Now that I have seen this drawing, which, by the bye, was lying fully exposed on the table, I must tell you how charming, how beautiful it is."
“You know that you will not mend matters by paying such unmerited compliments,” replied Cécile, stretching out her fairy hand to recover the sequestered offspring of her fancy.
“ Then must I attempt to ingratiate myself by a word of criticism. Will that be more patiently endured ?”
“ But first may I ask, Miss Basinstoke, for what the design is intended ?”
“ As a pattern for Conny's tapestry work; that is, of course, if it succeeds at all. But pray let me hear your critical remarks."
“Well but, Miss Basinstoke, I must first state, in extenuation of the suggestion, that, though I draw a little, my observation will point to what is far more within my province. I have had a good deal of theoretical practice in the noble art of cutting and thrusting, and I must tell you that, beautiful as the composition and general attitude of the group decidedly are, the heroine will scarcely accomplish her victory. See, her adversary is fearfully wounded. As he is reclining on his knees, the fore-hoofs of her horse are even now dashing against his brow : a second more, and they must bear him to the ground. Now, it seems to me that too much strength is thrown into the left arm, as if she were endeavouring to restrain her furious courser, while the right arm is wielding the spear with less assurance than might beseem so intrepid a combatant. That weapon will deal no deathstroke, Miss Basinstoke.”
“ Are you sure that one is intended ?” muttered Cécile, without raising her eyes. “ Look again.”
Thus admonished, the critic gazed more intently upon the sketch, and then the true spirit of the conception dawned more clearly upon him.
“Ah !" resumed he musingly, “I had indeed completely mistaken the purport. The left hand is most designedly reining in the ruthless