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ARRIVAL AT RIVERSDALE COURT.
IN In how many if not in all our lives does the remembrance of certain far-off events stand prominently forward, defined and clear, as though of only yesterday's occurrence, while every connecting circumstance of before and after has drifted utterly out of sight! But these memories, yes, there they lie, tiny islands on a boundless ocean, green spots amid deserts of sand; and like one such island, one such spot, is the recollection of my first day of arrival at Riversdale Court. Eight Indian summers had done their fiery utmost to dry up the life-blood in my young veins, when early one June I was borne from the carriage a shapeless bundle of shawls and wrappings, in
the strong arms of Jeffry, the butler, into the hall, where my grandmother, Lady Denzell, waited to receive me.
How distinctly my mind's eye sees her now, as there she stood, a sweet, gentle-looking old lady of middle height and clear but pale complexion; and my child's heart opened out at once to her, not merely because of her own attractiveness, but by reason of a certain resemblance in expression and feature to my father, of whom I was very fond. Twelve years have elapsed since that day, and to this hour a vivid impression yet dwells in my mind of the feeling of surprise and chilling disappointment I experienced at sight of the lifeless gloom and unadorned heaviness of the great old entrance-hall of Riversdale Court-unadorned save for the huge terrific-looking stags' heads and horns, dingy portraits, and gigantic organ towering aloft in the distance, all of which antiquated remains I, for long after, mentally decided the place would have been infinitely more cheerful without.
Wafted, as it were, from one mansion to another from the gorgeous Oriental splendours of my father's palace-like residence near Delhi,
its countless swarm of turbaned attendants, its prevailing glow and glitter, and ceaseless but quiet stir of-so it seemed to me-joyous existence, from the magnificence and luxury in which that Eastern clime abounds for the great and the wealthy, and of which even the richest inhabitants of these colder and by nature niggardly favoured regions have not the faintest conception,-wafted, I say, from all this and much more to my present English country home, the contrast was so strange, so icy in its effects upon my inexperienced intellects and senses, that it was positively quite painful.
The time for these disparaging comparisons was, however, so brief that no other but the young, keen sight of a sharp child could have observed all I did so rapidly.
"Bring her in here, Jeffry, bring her in here!" cried the excited voice of my grandmother, speaking in tones of suppressed rapture, and hastening the while towards an open door. Accordingly in I was brought, and put to stand on a chair, and my black nurse and Mrs. Patterson, the housekeeper, proceeded at once to divest me of my numerous envelopes. This
was effected much in the fashion of unwinding the silk from a cocoon, and with almost as satisfactory results regarding the precious atom so carefully enclosed, and which finally emerged into daylight the smallest, whitest caterpillarapology for a child the Riversdale Court inhabitants had ever looked upon.
Grandmamma was summoned from the room during the operation of unrobing, and thereby lost the first effects.
My goodness!" ejaculated Mistress Patterson, gazing at me with breathless astonishment, "is this all? Well, it is the mountain and the mouse, if anything ever was! Why, la me! there can't be but half-half? bless me, not the quarter-of a life left in such a midge of a creature! Good gracious! to think of sending her all this long, long way, merely to-to" Meeting my eyes, which perhaps expressed more of curiosity and matured understanding than she had expected in so young and small a thing, she stopped abruptly.
Perched on a chair which just brought me on a level with the broad, round face of my plainspoken examiner, I also stared, and mentally