Изображения страниц

deadliest aim, straight in the eye. He himself was more than ever attentive, because he felt he had some amends to make, for accidentally placing Lady Eda in the dangerous position from which she had so narrowly escaped. Her ladyship, whether somewhat tired of the exclusive enjoyment of his society, or unwilling too openly to encourage his addresses, took every opportunity to favour Arthur with her remarks, and commands. Even her most trivial observations were graciously directed to her cousin ; and so marked did her preference become at last, that it caused the two young men, as if by an act of their own free agency, to change the seats they at first occupied. Arthur, whose spirits had hitherto been but moderately boisterous, now became uproarious. Pierce, on the other hand, was completely chapfallen, and so abstracted in his own gloomy thoughts, that Lady Dorothy was as near as possible going into hysterics before he was made aware that he had set down the wine hamper on the top of her gouty toe.

He would speak to nobody, and was beginning to cast a damp on the spirits of the whole party. He asked permission to smoke, which was granted by everybody except Lady Eda.

Very well,” he said; “I am sorry to deprive you of the pleasure of my society, but I must go and smoke my pipe in retirement.”

Pray do,” said Lady Eda; and without looking to see if he went, said something in a whisper to Arthur. Pierce was

a long time smoking, and though he only half turned his head in the direction of Lady Eda, he could see she very often turned hers to look steadily at him. He came back to the party, but still was silent. Lady Eda, he fancied, was beginning to relent. She spoke to him once or twice, in a kindly tone of voice; he

[ocr errors]

answered her surlily like a bear. She asked him to bring a plaid; he pitched it towards her, but it fell short. She looked annoyed. He was obliged for civility's sake to get up and take it to her. He presented it with a formal bow, and seated himself at a little distance. She asked him some question. He answered with a polite and bitter smile, and walking away, observed :

“If anybody wanted to fish, they had better begin, for it was getting late.”

The proposition was seconded by Longvale ; and the rods were soon put together. They had not far to go, for that beautiful trout stream so well known in Wales, as the ran whirling and dancing at the foot of the valley, not a hundred yards below them. Lady Eda was reckoned by the learned in such matters to be a piscatrix of the most dexterous order; so that she only permitted Pierce to tie on her flies, but would not condescend to have further assistance from any one. It was settled that she was to fish up-stream, and that Arthur and Pierce were to keep at a respectable distance behind her.

On both sides, the banks were rocky and impracticable; and it was no easy matter to walk near enough to the water without the fisher showing himself, so as to frighten his finny game. They had scrambled on for nearly a quarter of a mile, when the foremost rod came to a standstill, and was overtaken by the two young men. Lady Eda, who fished from some loose stones, desired that she might not be approached as a good fish had just risen. Her command was of course obeyed, and the next cast she hooked a heavy trout. The harder it tugged, the more she laughed, and wound him up; then round flew the reel again. The fish darted up-stream; Lady Eda followed; but the loose stones slipped from under her, and, catching one foot between the rocks, sprained her ankle as she fell.



Both the gentlemen rushed to the spot, and found her in such pain that she was totally unable to speak. She could not bear to be touched, and motioned them to go away. It was evident she must be carried back to some place, whence the pony-carriage could fetch her. But what was

to be done?

Every time she uttered a groan, it nearly brought tears to Pierce's eyes. He would have jumped head foremost off the highest rock to have saved her from a moment's pain. Doubtless Arthur would have done as much, only it did not occur to him that such a proceeding would have been of the slightest avail in the present difficulty. He, therefore, told Lady Eda, if she would make up her mind to it, he would carry her.

“No,” she replied, “she would lie there for ever; she would not be carried.”

The objection was intelligible to More's

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »