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and he, the preux chevalier of Balliol, the man who was considered a perfect prig about women among men quite is particular as he, then and there, believing that it was his little niece Dora, lugged out Miss Lee from behind the curtain, kissed her, called her his dear little pussy, and then, putting his two hands behind her waist, jumped her towards the door, just as Dora and the whole party came in vith a candle, Dora saying, “Don't tell me; I know she is here." She was indeed. And so was her uncle.
TWO MORE GUESTS.
The most awful part of the accident remained a profound secret. All that the astonished Dora and the rest of the children saw, was that Miss Lee and her uncle were alone together in the dark, and that they were both the colour of that rose which she knew at Silcotes as “ General Jacqueminot.” Dora said little, but thought the more: all she said was, “ Why, you are all in the dark here. Uncle, how
, did you get in ?" After which they all went up stairs, the younger ones shouting all together to their father and grandfather, how they had found Miss Lee and Uncle Archy, alone in the dark in the study. Miss Lee was not present, and Algernon rallied his brother right pleasantly. Archy replied that it was an accident, but so very awkwardly that Algernon, little conscious of the magnitude of the disaster, thought how very shy about women university life was apt to make men otherwise perfectly self-possessed.
When Miss Lee reappeared at the supper-table, leading in the two youngest children, the blushes had blazed out of her beautiful cheeks. She was nicely dressed in a well-cut quiet dress; not that it was of much consequence to such radiant beauty as hers (as Dr. Holmes so prettily says, anything almost will do to cover young and graceful curves).
The hair was banded up, and nothing was left of the late disorder. In the expression of her face, her attitudes, and her air, she combined the dignified humility of the governess with the melancholy pride of the gentlewoman of fallen fortunes; the modesty of extreme youth with the conscicusness of a beauty which in her humble circumstances was a vexatious annoyance to her, and with which she would gladly have dispensed. Nothing was ever better done. The worst of it was that it was thrown away on every one except Dora, whose eyes grew wider with wonder, while she looked and remembered the indiscretions of the morning walk. “You would not come in at the beginning of the second lesson, if he was reading prayers, my lady,” said the shrewd young person to herself.
But all this exquisite moral “get up” was lost on Arthur for a time. He did not even notice the curtsey and look with which she greeted him: an inclination made with dropped eyelids, which expressed humility, dignity, and a forgiving sense of injury received (for she knew well enough that he had complained of her being noisy: secrets are not long kept in a house so untidy as that of Algernon's). He never looked at her. He had not seen her for some time, and had never observed her closely, being very shy of looking at women. He now regarded her as an objectionable and fast-going person, in whose power he had put himself utterly ; whom by a horrible combination of evil
; stars and evil influences, he had kissed in the dark, called his pussy, and jumped up and down. If she would only have complained to Algy, he could have apologised and explained, but she wouldn't. As a gentleman, he had to keep the dreadful secret, and he almost hated her. I should be inclined to say that it was very
difficult to hate anything really beautiful and good very long, if the aforementioned good and beautiful thing gives you anything like an opportunity of appreciating and admiring it. Miss Lee gave Arthur every opportunity of admiring and appreciating her, though Arthur upset her arrangements by not looking at her. Dora looked at her, however, even before supper, and looked at her so long, and with such an expression of wonder in her face, that Mr. Betts asked her what she was gazing at. She replied, “At Miss Lee,” and Miss Lee heard her.
“Why are you looking at Miss Lee so strong ?”
“I was wondering whether she had been hurt on the slide this morning," answered Dora.
“If I had been, Dora," answered Miss Lee, “I should have gone to bed.”
There was such an awkward emphasis on the word bed that Dora felt that she was not quite Miss Lee's match yet, and had better hold her tongue. For there was no appeal against Miss Lee in that house; and Miss Lee, in her position as governess, could send anybody to bed in five minutes. Dora, although in opposition to her governess, as a true British young lady is bound to be, had sense enough to hold her tongue and let things drive. “So you are going to set your cap at Uncle Arthur, are you, my lady?" she said to herself "Good gracious, goodness me, how fine we are getting all of a sudden! Yes, indeed!
! , Oh, quite so! Bed may be bed, my lady, but I have seen the last of French irregular verbs for some time, I fancy ; unless I am a born fool, which I ain't; no, nor I won't be kept in over my colloquia French either, after this ; and she trampolining away to Hampstead with the children, and Dempster, and riding donkeys, because I said, 'Il va pluvoir.”
Dora was rebellious against Miss Lee, although they were the best friends in the world.
They had just sat down to supper when a new guest arrived.
A gallant-looking youth, with good features and fine bold intelligent eyes, dressed in a quiet but very becoming uniform. He stood behind Algernon's chair, waiting for recognition; and Dora saw him first, and called attention to him.
"My boy," said Algernon, turning kindly on him, "I had given you up. How late you are. You have lost all the fun, and we have had such a merry day. Come and sit by me. What made you so late?"
“We had anthem in chapel this afternoon,-Purcell's. And the third master, Hicks, asked me, as a favour, to stay
and help; and we always do anything for him. So I came by the six o'clock train."
“Well, here you are at last; make yourself as happy as you may. Sit beside me. Reginald, this is the new schoolfellow I told you of. He has promised to be your protector. Come and make friends with him.”
Reginald looked for one moment at Dora, but Dora was ready for his telegraph, and left looking at the new comer, and nodded twice or thrice shortly and rapidly at Reginald. The nod said emphatically, “He'll do ;” and Reginald went and sat beside him. Dora, the opened-eyed, watched them. At first Reginald was a little shy, but soon, as far as she could see—for she could not hear—the stronger, older, and handsomer boy won him over by kindliness of talk. Dora looked until Reginald took out his bran new knife, and showed it to the strange boy. Then she said, “ That's all right. Now let's see how you two other little people are getting on.” The two people, whom she called “the two other little people,” were not getting on at all. Her uncle and Miss Lee were at opposite sides of the table, and were not looking at one another. “If he were her director, I wonder if she would confess about the slide,” thought Dora.
But Dora found that youth, good humour, and innocence were very pleasant things to contemplate, and so she looked at the two boys again, and her honest heart was satisfied. They had got their heads together now, and Reginald had got his peg-top and his string and his dibbs and agate taws, out all round his plate of plum-pudding, and was showing them to the big boy in the uniform, who seemed to possess none of these treasures.
"He is poorer than Reggy,” she said, “ and how gentle and pleasant he looks!
I like that boy." And indeed he looked very likeable indeed, in his quiet manly dress, and his whole face beaming with kindliness and pleasure.
There was some pleasant discussion about one of the large agate marbles, and the two boys appealed to Algernon, who sat radiant beside them. Reginald stretched across the strange lad, and pushed him against his father, so that his curly head was almost against Algernon's face. At the
same moment a great brown hand was twisted gently into the lad's curls, and his head was pulled back until the owner of the hand could look down into the boy's face. At which time a loud, pleasant voice said, -
“Out of the way curly-wig, and let us have a chance at your father. Algy, old cock, how are you?"
There was a general rising and confusion. All sorts of notes composed the harmony which followed; but from Mr. Betts' contented growl of “The Captain, by jingo!" down to the shriek of the smallest child from Miss Lee's kind arms, “ Uncle Tom, what have you brought us ?” the notes, discordant in sound, were the same in sentiment. They meant enthusiastic welcome to the ne'er-do-well and ne'er-to-do-better, Captain Tom Silcote of Silcotes.
Algy was very much affected and touched. He never cried, even in his most pathetic sermon; but he had to stop sometimes, and he stopped now. When he had done stopping he said,
“ "My dearest Tom! This is kind."
"I don't see it. Archy, boy, he says it's kind of me to come and get such a welcome as this. How are you, Betts? Miss Lee, my good creature, you look-all right, AlgyMiss Lee, you look, you look-I don't know what the deuce you don't look like. There—there's no harm in that. Out of the way, you handsome young monkey, and let me get near your father."
“ That is not my boy, Tom: that is a friend of Reginald's."
“Then go, friend of Reginald's, slope, and make love to Dora, if the young pepper-box will let you. Any way, give me this chair. The room smells of turkey : have it fetched back, I am as hungry as a hunter. Betts, is there a good glass of sherry in the house ? Hold your tongue, Algy–what do you know about good sherry? See how wise old Betts looks all of a sudden. Six fingers is sixty ! Nonsense, man ; is your Aunt Jane dead? A Christmas treat? All right! let's have a glass, then. Betts, old fellow, I want to talk to you on business. Archy, how are you and the other prigs getting on at Oxford ?”
Arthur was not in good humour with his brother. As