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undervalue the increased importance the neighbourhood was about to derive from the rich family coming to live in it.
“Well, there's one thing I can tell you, Mrs. Bayley,” said he, with his usual grin. “ The devil a bit of Ireland they'd ever come to, if they could live in England. Mind my words, and see if they'll not come true. It's either the Bank is in a bad way, or this or that company is going to smash, or it's his wife has run away, or one of the daughters married the footman;—something or other has happened, you'll see, or we would never have the honour of their distinguished company down here.”
“It's a bad wind blows nobody good,” said Mrs. Bayley. “It's luck for us, anyhow.”
“I don't perceive the luck of it either, ma'am,” said the captain, with increased peevishness. “Chickens will be eighteenpence a couple, eggs
, a halfpenny a piece. I'd like to know what you'll pay for a codfish, such as I bought yesterday for fourpence ?"
“It's better for them that has to sell them."
“Ay, but I'm talking of them that has to buy them, ma'am, and I'm thinking how a born gentleman with a fixed income is to compete with one of these fellows that gets his gold from California at market price, anul makes more out of one morning's robbery on the Stock Exchange,
thal 3 Lieut.-General receives after thirty years' service.”
A sharp tap at the window-pane interrupted the discussion at this critical moment, and Mrs. Bayley perceived it was Mr. Dorose, Colonel Bramleigh's valet, who had come for the letters for the great house."
“ Only these, Mrs. Bayley ?" said he, half contemptuously.
"Well, indeed, sir; it's a good-sized bundle after all. There's eleven letters, and about fifteen papers, and two books."
“Send them all on to Brighton, Mrs. Bayley. We shall not coma down here till the end of the month. Just give me The Times, however;' and tearing open the cover, he turned to the City article. “I hope you're nothing in Ecuadors, Mrs. Bayley ? they look shaky. I'm hit,' too, in my Turks. I see no dividend this half.” Here he leaned forward, so as to whisper in her ear, and said, “Whenever you want a snug thing, Mrs. B., you're always safe with Brazilians;" and with this he moved off, leaving the postmistress in a flurry of shame and confusion as to what precise character of transaction his counsel applied.
“ Upon my conscience, we're come to a pretty pass !” exclaimed the captain, as, buttoning his coat, he issued forth into the street; nor was his temper much improved by finding the way blocked up by a string of carts and drays, slowly proceeding towards the great house, all loaded with furniture and kitchen utensils, and the other details of a large household. A bystander remarked that four saddle-horses had passed through at daybreak, and one of the grooms had said, “It was nothing to what was coming in a few days.”
Two days after this, and quite unexpectedly by all, the village awoke to see a great flag waving from the flagstaff over the chief tower of
Castello; and the tidings were speedily circulated that the great people had arrived. A few sceptics, determining to decide the point for themselves, set out to go up to the house ; but the lodge gate was closed, and the gatekeeper answered them from behind it, saying that no visitors were to be admitted ; a small incident, in its way, but after all, it is by small incidents that men speculate on the tastes and tempers of a new dynasty.
LADY AUGUSTA'S LETTER.
It will save some time, both to writer and reader, while it will also serve to explain certain particulars about those we are interested in, if I give in this place a letter which was written by Lady Augusta Bramleigh, the Colonel's young wife, to a married sister at Rome. It ran thus :"DEAREST DOROTIIY,
“ Hanover Square, Nov. 10, 18—. “ HERE we are back in town, at a season, too, when we find ourselves the only people left; and if I wanted to make a long story of how it happens, there is the material; but it is precisely what I desire to aroid, and at the risk of being barely intelligible, I will be brief. We have left Earlshope, and, indeed, Herefordshire, for good. Our campaign there was a social failure, but just such a failure as I predicted it would and must be; and although, possibly, I might have liked to have been spared some of the mortifications we met with, I am too much pleased with the results to quarrel over the means.
“You are already in possession of what we intended by the purchase of Earlshope-how we meant to become county magnates, marry our sons and danghters to neighbouring magnates, and live as though we had been rooted to the soil for centuries. I say 'we,' my dear, because I am too good a wife to separate myself from Col. B. in all these projects; but I am fain to own that as I only saw defeat in the plan, I opposed it from the first. Here, in town, money will do anything ; at least, anything that one has any right to do. There may be a set or a clique to which it will not give admission; but who wants them, who needs them ?
“ There's always a wonderful Van Eyck or a Memling in a Dutch town, to obtain the sight of which you have to petition the authorities, or implore the Stadtholder ; but I never knew any one admit that success repaid the trouble; and the chances are that you come away from the sight fully convinced that you have seen scores of old pictures exactly like it, and that all that could be said was, it was as brown and as dusky, and as generally disappointing, as its fellows. So it is with these small exclusive societies. It may be a great triumph of ingenuity to pick the lock; but there's nothing in the coffer to reward it. I repeat, then, with money—and we had money-London was open to us. All the more, too, that for some years back society has taken a speculative turn; and it is
nothing derogatory to fine people to go in,' as it is called, for a good thing, in • Turks' or · Brazilians,' in patent fuel, or a new loan to the children of Egypt. To these, and such like, your City man and banker is esteemed a safe pilot; and you would be amused at the amount of attention Col. B. was accustomed to meet with from men who regarded themselves as immeasurably above him, and who, all question of profit apart, woaid have hesitated at admitting him to their acquaintance.
“I tell you all these very commonplace truths, my dear Dorothy, because they may not, indeed cannot be such truisms to you—you, who live in a grand old city, with noble traditions, and the refinements that come transmitted from centuries of high habits ; and I feel, as I write, how puzzled you will often be to follow me. London was, as I have twice said, our home; but for that very reason we could not be content with it. Earlshope, by ill-luck, was for sale, and we bought it. I am afraid to tell you the height of our castle-building ; but, as we were all engaged, the work went on briskly, every day adding at least a story to the edifee. We were to start as high-sheriff, then represent the county. I am not quite clear, I think we never settled the point, as to the lord-lieutenanes ; but I know the exact way, and the very time, in which we demanded on peerage. How we threatened to sulk, and did sulk ; how we actually sat a whole night on the back benches; and how we made our eldest son dancs twice with a daughter of the Opposition,'—menaces that no intelligent Cabinet or conscientious whip'could for a moment misunderstand. And oh ! my dear Dora, as I write these things, how forcibly I feel the pradecco of that step which once we all were so ready to condemn you for baring taken. You were indeed right to marry a foreigner. That an English girl should address herself to the married life of England, the first condition is she should never have left England, not even for that holidar-trip to Paris and Switzerland, which people now do, as once they were wont to
do Margate.' The whole game of existence is such a scramble with us : we scramble for social rank, for place, for influence, for Court favour, for patronago; and all these call for so much intrigue and plotting, that I vow to you I'd as soon be a Carbonara or a Sanfedista as the wife of al aspiring middle-class Englishman.
“But to return. The county would not have us—we were rich, and we were City folk, and they deemed it an unpardonable pretension in us to come down amongst them. They refused our invitations, and sent us none of their own. We split with them, contested the election against them, and got beaten. We spent unheard-of monies, and bribed everybody that had not a vote for ten miles round. With universal suffrage, which I beliere we promised them, we should have been at the head of the pole ; but the freeholders were to a man opposed to us.
" I am told that our opponents behaved ungenerously and unjustlyperhaps they did; at all events, the end of the contest left us withont a single acquaintance, and we stood alone in our glory of beaten candidateship, after three months of unheard-of fatigue, and moro meanness than ?
like to mention. The end of all was, to shake the dust off our feet at Herefordshire, and advertise Earlshope for sale. Meanwhile we returned to town; just as shipwrecked men clamber up the first rock in sight, not feeling in their danger what desolation is before them. I take it that the generals of a beaten army talk very little over their late defeat. At all events we observed a most scrupulous reserve, and I don't think that a word was dropped amongst us for a month that could have led a stranger to believe that we had just been beaten in an election, and hunted out of the county.
“I was just beginning to feel that our lesson, a severe one, it is true, might redound to our future benefit, when our eldest - born,-I call them all mine, Dora, though not one of them will say mamma to me,-discovered that there was an Irish estate to be sold, with a fine house, and fino grounds, and that if we couldn't be great folk in the grander kingdom, there was no ing what we might not be in the smaller one. This was too much for me. I accepted the Herefordshire expedition because it smacked of active service. I knew well we should be defeated, and I knew there would be a battle, but I could not consent to banishment. What had I done, I asked myself over and over, that I should be sent to live in Ireland ?
“I tried to get up a party against the project, and failed. Augustus Bramleigh-our heir-was in its favour, indeed, its chief promoter. Temple, the second son, who is a secretary of embassy, and the most insufferable of puppies, thought it a 'nice place for us,' and certain save us money ; and John-Jack, they call him—who is in the navy, thinks land to be land, besides that, he was once stationed at Cork, and thought it a paradise. If I could do little with the young men, I did less with the girls. Marion, the eldest, who deems her papa a sort of divine-right head of a family, would not discuss the scheme ; and Eleanor, who goes in for nature and spontaneous feeling, replied that she was overjoyed at the thought of Ireland, and even half gave me to understand that she was only sorry it was not Africa. I was thus driven to a last resource. I sent for our old friend, Doctor Bartlet, and told him frankly that he must order me abroad to a dry warm climate, where there were few changes of temperature, and nothing depressing in the air. He did the thing to perfection ; he called in Forbes to consult with him. The case was very serious, he said. The lung was not yet attacked, but the bronchial tubes were affected. Oh, how grateful I felt to my dear bronchial tubes, for they have sent me to Italy. Yes, Dolly dearest, I am off on Wednesday, and hope within a week after this reaches you to be at your side, pouring out all my sorrows, and asking for that consolation you never yet refused me. And now, to be eminently practical, can you obtain for me that beautiful little villa that overlooked the Borghese Gardens—it was called the Villino Altieri. The old Prince Giuseppe Altieri, who used to be an adorer of mine, if he be alive may like to resume his ancient passion, and accept me for a tenant; all the more that I can afford to be liberal. Col. B. behaves well always
where money enters. I shall want servants, as I only mean to take from this, Rose and my groom. You know the sort of creatures I like; but, for any sake, be particular about the cook—I can't eat . Romanesque'and if there be a stray Frenchman wandering about, secure him. Do you remember dear old Pauletti, Dolly, who used to serve up those delicious little macaroni suppers long ago in our own room? Cheating us into gourmandism by the trick of deceit! Oh, what would I give to be as young again! To be soaring up to heaven, as I listened with closed eyes to the chaunt in the Sistine chapel, or ascending to another elysium of delight, as I gazed at the noble guard' of the Pope, who, while his black charger was caracoling, and he was holding on by the mane, yet managed to dart towards me such a look of love and devotion ! and you remember, Dolly, we lived “secondo piano,' at the time, and it was plucky of the man, considering how badly he rode. I yearn to go back there. I yearn for those sunsets from the Pincian, and those long rambling rides over the Campagna, leading to nothing but an everlasting dreaminess, and an intense desire that one could go on day after day in the same delicious life of unreality ; for it is so, Dolly. Your Roman existence is as much a trance as anything ever was—not a sight nor sound to shock it. The swell of the organ and the odour of the incense follow you even to your pleasures, and, just as the light streams in through the painted windows with its radiance of gold and amber and rose, so does the Church tinge with its mellow lustre all that goes on within its shadow. And how sweet and soothing it all is. I don't know, I cannot know, if it lead to heaven, but it certainly goes in that direction, so far as peace of mind is concerned. What has become of Carlo Lambruschini ? is he married ? How goodlooking he was, and how he sung. I never heard Mario without thinking of him. How is it that our people never have that velvety softness in their tenor voices; there is no richness, no latent depth of tone, and consequently no power of expression ? Will his Eminence of the Palazzo Antinori know me again ? I was only a child when he saw me last, and used to give me his benedizione.' Be sure you bespeak for me the same condescending favour again, Heretic though I be. Don't be shocked, dearest Dora, but I mean to be half converted, that is, to have a sort of serious flirtation with the Church ; something that is to touch my affections, and yet not wound my principles ; something that will surround me with all the fervour of the faith, and yet not ask me to sign the ordinances. I hope I can do this. I eagerly hope it, for it will supply a void in my heart which certainly neither the money article, nor the share list, nor even the details of a county contest, have sufficed to fill. Where is poor little Santa Rosa and his guitar ? I want them, Dolly—I want them both. His little tinkling barcaroles were as pleasant as the drop of & fountain on a sultry night; and am I not a highly imaginative creature, who can write of a sultry night in this land of fog, east wind, gust, and gas-light. How my heart bounds to think how soon I shall leave it. How I could travesty the refrain, and cry, 'Rendez moi mon passeport,