Page images

of surrender-had secretly struck its colours, and laid them unconditionally at Charley's feet.

Poor Dora! with sincere regret, I know she could not have bestowed them on a more utterly unappreciative conqueror, if even a conscious one, which I much doubted, judging by his at all times composed, indifferent manner in her presence.

It was one o'clock when our two divisions reached their destination, Bluebell Wood, an attractive spot in which we arranged to make our head-quarters. A charming position was quickly found in a locality abounding in gipsy nooks, corners, and shady dells, and here we commenced preparations to bivouac. It was open, yet sufficiently shady to completely screen us from the heat of the mid-day sun, whose golden beams chequered the mossy turf, which here plentifully carpeted the ground. A chatty little stream, prodigal in promises of refreshment and usefulness, frisked and sparkled through a dingle close at hand.

"Oh, this is a perfect place!" said I, glancing at Charley's grave face, which darkened as I spoke. I could not account for it,

but he always seemed to hate my being merry and happy-unless, indeed, he was the originator of my mirth, and then he was obviously gratified. "Come, Johnny," I added, "let us hunt out some of the good things," a proposal so delightfully in accordance with the little fellow's hungry activity that he responded to it with a bound and a "boostling,".

[ocr errors]

"Oh, yes, miss! we'll get 'em out in no time!" that would have thrown poor old Jeffry into a fever of apprehension for the safety of the plates, glasses, &c., to say nothing of the compromising of his own dignity in the unmannerly conduct of his


And now, all following my example, we set to work with an appetite and a will, and, assisted by the servants, the well-provided banquet was spread, which was to be partaken of previous to our exploration of the ruins and other fatiguing exertions.

Mr. Cherrup seemed to have been expressly created for such like entertainments as the present, throughout the whole day smoothing down all difficulties with untiring efforts and imperturbable good temper, joking and laughing

at everything and with everybody, and, rarest of good qualities, he had not the slightest objection to being laughed at himself. On the contrary, he evidently relished such jokes more keenly than when levelled at the others.

His tiny son, a ludicrous likeness of himself in appearance, was equally so in mind and manners, and scampered about, and joked, jumped, and capered with a monkey-like agility and imitativeness that excited an amount of laughter which considerably retarded proceedings.

As for my page, infected by the noise and stir beyond self-control, he became, colt-fashion, so wild and restive I deemed it necessary to tighten the rein, and thereupon holding up my finger, murumred in grave, admonitory


"Johnny, Johnny! do not get into a 'boostle'! As surely as As surely as you do, you will get into a mischief! And then-I shall never be able to take you anywhere again!"

Johnny stared at me with round, bewildered eyes, and crimson colour mounting to the roots of his curly brown hair. He sobered down instantly, however, and the threat, pending over


a repetition of his fault, acted as a far better restraint on his young, pleasure-loving nature than fifty lectures from Jeffry might have done.

I was annoyed that Captain Bell persisted in almost exclusively aiding my efforts for the public good, instead of dear Sariann, in whose warm heart (I was better aware of that fact than she dreamed of) he held possession.

"How contradictory the world is!" thought I, impatiently, as he stood beside me, laughingly assisting in the extrication of a pair of roast chickens from their crowded hidingplace in the huge basket.

"There now, Captain George, take those to Sariann Beechley; she is principal manager of the table," I said, as Charles slowly approached, looking moody and discontented; "and Charles or Johnny will help me to find the accompanying ham. Charley, come here and make yourself useful," I added, as the amused captain walked off, tenderly holding the chickens in their white-paper coverings in his extended hands.

"In what way, fair lady?" he asked, a sudden brightness illumining his whole countenance, and filling his voice and manner with

graciousness; every vestige of ill-humour had vanished like magic.

"Well; let me see," replied I, thoughtfully. "I wonder whereabouts they have stowed away the tumblers and wine-glasses? Only fancy, if none have come!"

"Yes, here they are!" exclaimed Charles, rummaging in one of the carriages-the latter were left near the picnic ground, the horses being removed to the stables of some neighbouring farm; "they are under the seat in a flat, open basket."

"Let me help you to carry them,” cried I, running forward, as he dragged out the wellladen basket; "we will each hold the handle, and be careful to keep them steady"; this latter suggestion upon their all setting up a jingling protest against a severe shake they inadvertently received from Charles.

"Just first trap that scamp of a tumbler, Enny," he rejoined, with increasing cheerfulness; "look, he is gone off on a lark to the end of the basket, evidently with vicious intent to pitch into the faces of those unlucky wineglasses."

I laughed and captured the wickedly dis

« PreviousContinue »