When London Burned by G. A. Henty
Chapter XII. New Friends
On arriving at the room upstairs, Captain Dave placed his hand on Cyril's shoulder and said:
"How can I thank you, lad, for what you have done for us?"
"By saying nothing further about it, Captain Dave. I had hoped that the matter would never have come to your ears, and yet I rejoice, for her own sake, that Mistress Nellie has told you all. I thought that she would do so some day, for I, too, have seen how much she has been changed since then, and though it becomes me not to speak of one older than myself, I think that the experience has been for her good, and, above all, I am rejoiced to find that you have fully forgiven her, for indeed I am sure that she has been grievously punished."
"Well, well, lad, it shall be as you say, for indeed I am but a poor hand at talking, but believe me that I feel as grateful as if I could express myself rightly, and that the Earl of Wisbech cannot feel one whit more thankful to you for having saved the lives of his three children than I do for your having saved my Nellie from the consequences of her own folly. There is one thing that you must let me do--it is but a small thing, but at present I have no other way of showing what I feel: you must let me take upon myself, as if you had been my son, the expenses of this outfit of yours. I was talking of the matter, as you may have guessed by what I said to the Earl, when Nellie burst into tears; and if I contemplated this when I knew only you had saved me from ruin, how much more do I feel it now that you have done this greater thing? I trust that you will not refuse me and my wife this small opportunity of showing our gratitude. What say you, John Wilkes?"
"I say, Captain Dave, that it is well spoken, and I am sure Master Cyril will not refuse your offer."
"I will not, Captain Dave, providing that you let it be as a loan that I may perhaps some day be enabled to repay you. I feel that it would be churlish to refuse so kind an offer, and it will relieve me of the one difficulty that troubled me when the prospects in all other respects seemed so fair."
"That is right, lad, and you have taken a load off my mind. You have not acted quite fairly by us in one respect, Master Cyril!"
"How is that?" Cyril asked in surprise.
"In not telling us that you were Sir Cyril Shenstone, and in letting us put you up in an attic, and letting you go about as Nellie's escort, as if you had been but an apprentice."
"I said that my father was Sir Aubrey Shenstone, though I own that I did not say so until I had been here some time; but the fact that he was a Baronet and not a Knight made little difference. It was a friendless lad whom you took in and gave shelter to, Captain Dave, and--it mattered not whether he was plain Cyril or Sir Cyril. I had certainly no thought of taking my title again until I entered a foreign army, and indeed it would have been a disservice to me here in London. I should have cut but a poor figure asking for work and calling myself Sir Cyril Shenstone. I should have had to enter into all sorts of explanations before anyone would have believed me, and I don't think that, even with you, I should have been so comfortable as I have been."
"Well, at any rate, no harm has been done," Captain Dave said; "but I think you might have told me."
"If I had, Captain Dave, you would assuredly have told your wife and Mistress Nellie; and it was much more pleasant for me that things should be as they were."
"Well, perhaps you were right, lad. And I own that I might not have let you work at my books, and worry over that robbery, had I known that you were of a station above me."
"That you could never have known," Cyril said warmly. "We have been poor ever since I can remember. I owed my education to the kindness of friends of my mother, and in no way has my station been equal to that of a London trader like yourself. As to the title, it was but a matter of birth, and went but ill with an empty purse and a shabby doublet. In the future it may be useful, but until now, it has been naught, and indeed worse than naught, to me."
The next morning when Cyril went into the parlour he found that Nellie was busy assisting the maid to lay the table. When the latter had left the room, the girl went up to Cyril and took his hand.
"I have never thanked you yet," she said. "I could not bring myself to speak of it, but now that I have told them I can do so. Ever since that dreadful night I have prayed for you, morning and evening, and thanked God for sending you to my rescue. What a wicked girl you must have thought me--and with reason! But you could not think of me worse than I thought of myself. Now that my father and mother have forgiven me I shall be different altogether. I had before made up my mind to tell them. Still, it did not seem to me that I should ever be happy again. But now that I have had the courage to speak out, and they have been so good to me, a great weight is lifted off my mind, and I mean to learn to be a good housewife like my mother, and to try to be worthy, some day, of an honest man's love."
"I am sure you will be," Cyril said warmly. "And so, Mistress Nellie, it has all turned out for the best, though it did not seem so at one time."
At this moment Captain Dave came in. "I am glad to see you two talking together as of old," he said. "We had thought that there must be some quarrel between you, for you had given up rating him, Nellie. Give her a kiss, Cyril; she is a good lass, though she has been a foolish one. Nay, Nellie, do not offer him your cheek--it is the fashion to do that to every idle acquaintance. Kiss him heartily, as if you loved him. That is right, lass. Now let us to breakfast. Where is your mother? She is late."
"I told her that I would see after the breakfast in future, father, and I have begun this morning--partly because it is my duty to take the work off her hands, and partly because I wanted a private talk with Sir Cyril."
"I won't be called Sir Cyril under this roof," the lad said, laughing. "And I warn you that if anyone calls me so I will not answer. I have always been Cyril with you all, and I intend to remain so to the end, and you must remember that it is but a few months that I have had the right to the title, and was never addressed by it until by Prince Rupert. I was for the moment well nigh as much surprised as you were last night."
An hour later Cyril again donned his best suit, and started to pay his visit to the Earl. Had he not seen him over-night, he would have felt very uncomfortable at the thought of the visit; but he had found him so pleasant and friendly, and so entirely free from any air of pride or condescension, that it seemed as if he were going to meet a friend. He was particularly struck with the manner in which he had placed Captain Dave and his family at their ease, and got them to talk as freely and naturally with him as if he had been an acquaintance of long standing. It seemed strange to him to give his name as Sir Cyril Shenstone to the lackeys at the door, and he almost expected to see an expression of amusement on their faces. They had, however, evidently received instructions respecting him, for he was without question at once ushered into the room in which the Earl of Wisbech and his daughters were sitting.
The Earl shook him warmly by the hand, and then, turning to his daughters, said,--
"This is the gentleman to whom you owe your lives, girls. Sir Cyril, these are my daughters--Lady Dorothy, Lady Bertha, and Lady Beatrice. It seems somewhat strange to have to introduce you, who have saved their lives, to them; but you have the advantage of them, for you have seen them before, but they have not until now seen your face."
Each of the girls as she was named made a deep curtsey, and then presented her cheek to be kissed, as was the custom of the times.
"They are somewhat tongue-tied," the Earl said, smiling, as the eldest of the three cast an appealing glance to him, "and have begged me to thank you in their names, which I do with all my heart, and beg you to believe that their gratitude is none the less deep because they have no words to express it. They generally have plenty to say, I can assure you, and will find their tongues when you are a little better acquainted."
"I am most happy to have been of service to you, ladies," Cyril said, bowing deeply to them. "I can hardly say that I have the advantage your father speaks of, for in truth the smoke was so thick, and my eyes smarted so with it, that I could scarce see your faces."
"Their attire, too, in no way helped you," the Earl said, with a laugh, "for, as I hear, their costume was of the slightest. I believe that Dorothy's chief concern is that she did not have time to attire herself in a more becoming toilette before the smoke overpowered her."
"Now, father," the girl protested, with a pretty colour in her cheeks, "you know I have never said anything of the sort, though I did say that I wished I had thrown a cloak round me. It is not pleasant, whatever you may think, to know that one was handed down a ladder in one's nightdress."
"I don't care about that a bit," Beatrice said; "but you did not say, father, that it was a young gentleman, no older than Sydney, who found us and carried us out. I had expected to see a great big man."
"I don't think I said anything about his age, Beatrice, but simply told you that I had found out that it was Sir Cyril Shenstone that had saved you."
"Is the nurse recovering, my Lord?"
"She is still in bed, and the doctor says she will be some time before she quite recovers from the fright and shock. They were all sleeping in the storey above. It was Dorothy who first woke, and, after waking her sisters, ran into the nurse's room, which was next door, and roused her. The silly woman was so frightened that she could do nothing but stand at the window and scream until the girls almost dragged her away, and forced her to come downstairs. The smoke, however, was so thick that they could get no farther than the next floor; then, guided by the screams of the other servants, they opened a door and ran in, but, as you know, it was not the room into which the women had gone. The nurse fell down in a faint as soon as she got in. The girls, as it seems, dragged her as far as they could towards the window, but she was too heavy for them; and as they had not shut the door, the smoke poured in and overpowered them, and they fell beside her. The rest you know. She is a silly woman, and she has quite lost my confidence by her folly and cowardice, but she has been a good servant, and the girls, all of whom she nursed, were fond of her. Still, it is evident that she is not to be trusted in an emergency, and it was only because the girls' governess is away on a visit to her mother that she happened to be left in charge of them. Now, young ladies, you can leave us, as I have other matters to talk over with Sir Cyril."
The three girls curtsied deeply, first to their father, and then to Cyril, who held the door for them to pass out.
"Now, Sir Cyril," the Earl said, as the door closed behind them, "we must have a talk together. You may well believe that, after what has happened, I look upon you almost as part of my family, and that I consider you have given me the right to look after your welfare as if you were a near relation of my own; and glad I am to have learned yesterday evening that you are, in all respects, one whom I might be proud indeed to call a kinsman. Had you been a cousin of mine, with parents but indifferently off in worldly goods, it would have been my duty, of course, to push you forward and to aid you in every way to make a proper figure on this expedition. I think that, after what has happened, I have equally the right to do so, and what would have been my duty, had you been a relation, is no less a duty, and will certainly be a great gratification to me to do now. You understand me, do you not? I wish to take upon myself all the charges connected with your outfit, and to make you an allowance, similar to that which I shall give to my son, for your expenses on board ship. All this is of course but a slight thing, but, believe me, that when the expedition is over it will be my pleasure to help you forward to advancement in any course which you may choose."
"I thank you most heartily, my Lord," Cyril said, "and would not hesitate to accept your help in the present matter, did I need it. However, I have saved some little money during the past two years, and Captain Dowsett has most generously offered me any sum I may require for my expenses, and has consented to allow me to take it as a loan to be repaid at some future time, should it be in my power to do so. Your offer, however, to aid me in my career afterwards, I most thankfully accept. My idea has always been to take service under some foreign prince, and Prince Rupert has most kindly promised to aid me in that respect; but after serving for a time at sea I shall be better enabled to judge than at present as to whether that course is indeed the best, and I shall be most thankful for your counsel in this and all other matters, and feel myself fortunate indeed to have obtained your good will and patronage."
"Well, if it must be so, it must," the Earl said. "Your friend Captain Dowsett seems to me a very worthy man. You have placed him under an obligation as heavy as my own, and he has the first claim to do you service. In this matter, then, I must be content to stand aside, but on your return from sea it will be my turn, and I shall be hurt and grieved indeed if you do not allow me an opportunity of proving my gratitude to you. As to the career you speak of, it is a precarious one. There are indeed many English and Scotch officers who have risen to high rank and honour in foreign service; but to every one that so succeeds, how many fall unnoticed, and lie in unmarked graves, in well-nigh every country in Europe? Were you like so many of your age, bent merely on adventure and pleasure, the case would be different, but it is evident that you have a clear head for business, that you are steady and persevering, and such being the case, there are many offices under the Crown in which you might distinguish yourself and do far better than the vast majority of those who sell their swords to foreign princes, and become mere soldiers of fortune, fighting for a cause in which they have no interest, and risking their lives in quarrels that are neither their own nor their country's.
"However, all this we can talk over when you come back after having, as I hope, aided in destroying the Dutch Fleet. I expect my son up to-morrow, and trust that you will accompany him to the King's levee, next Monday. Prince Rupert tells me that he has already presented you to the King, and that you were well received by him, as indeed you had a right to be, as the son of a gentleman who had suffered and sacrificed much in the Royal cause. But I will take the opportunity of introducing you to several other gentlemen who will sail with you. On the following day I shall be going down into Kent, and shall remain there until it is time for Sydney to embark. If you can get your preparations finished by that time, I trust that you will give us the pleasure of your company, and will stay with me until you embark with Sydney. In this way you will come to know us better, and to feel, as I wish you to feel, as one of the family."
Cyril gratefully accepted the invitation, and then took his leave.
Captain Dave was delighted when he heard the issue of his visit to the Earl.
"I should never have forgiven you, lad, if you had accepted the Earl's offer to help you in the matter of this expedition. It is no great thing, and comes well within my compass, and I should have been sorely hurt had you let him come between us; but in the future I can do little, and he much. I have spoken to several friends who are better acquainted with public affairs than I am, and they all speak highly of him. He holds, for the most part, aloof from Court, which is to his credit seeing how matters go on there; but he is spoken of as a very worthy gentleman and one of merit, who might take a prominent part in affairs were he so minded. He has broad estates in Kent and Norfolk, and spends the greater part of his life at one or other of his country seats. Doubtless, he will be able to assist you greatly in the future."
"I did not like to refuse his offer to go down with him to Kent," Cyril said, "though I would far rather have remained here with you until we sail."
"You did perfectly right, lad. It will cut short your stay here but a week, and it would be madness to refuse the opportunity of getting to know him and his family better. The Countess died three years ago, I hear, and he has shown no disposition to take another wife, as he might well do, seeing he is but a year or two past forty, and has as pleasant a face and manner as I have ever seen. He is not the sort of man to promise what he will not perform, Cyril, and more than ever do I think that it was a fortunate thing for you that John Wilkes fetched you to that fire in the Savoy. And now, lad, you have no time to lose. You must come with me at once to Master Woods, the tailor, in Eastcheap, who makes clothes not only for the citizens but for many of the nobles and gallants of the Court. In the first place, you will need a fitting dress for the King's levee; then you will need at least one more suit similar to that you now wear, and three for on board ship and for ordinary occasions, made of stout cloth, but in the fashion; then you must have helmet, and breast- and back-pieces for the fighting, and for these we will go to Master Lawrence, the armourer, in Cheapside. All these we will order to-day in my name, and put them down in your account to me. As to arms, you have your sword, and there is but a brace of pistols to be bought. You will want a few things such as thick cloaks for sea service; for though I suppose that Volunteers do not keep their watch, you may meet with rains and heavy weather, and you will need something to keep you dry."
They sallied out at once. So the clothes were ordered, and the Court suit, with the best of the others promised by the end of the week; the armour was fitted on and bought, and a stock of fine shirts with ruffles, hose, and shoes, was also purchased. The next day Sydney Oliphant, the Earl's son, called upon Cyril. He was a frank, pleasant young fellow, about a year older than Cyril. He was very fond of his sisters, and expressed in lively terms his gratitude for their rescue.
"This expedition has happened in the nick of time for me," he said, when, in accordance with his invitation, Cyril and he embarked in the Earl's boat in which he had been rowed to the City, "for I was in bad odour with the authorities, and was like, erelong, to have been sent home far less pleasantly; and although the Earl, my father, is very indulgent, he would have been terribly angry with me had it been so. To tell you the truth, at the University we are divided into two sets--those who read and those who don't--and on joining I found myself very soon among the latter. I don't think it was quite my fault, for I naturally fell in with companions whom I had known before, and it chanced that some of these were among the wildest spirits in the University.
"Of course I had my horses, and, being fond of riding, I was more often in the saddle than in my seat in the college schools. Then there were constant complaints against us for sitting up late and disturbing the college with our melodies, and altogether we stood in bad odour with the Dons; and when they punished us we took our revenge by playing them pranks, until lately it became almost open war, and would certainly have ended before long in a score or more of us being sent down. I should not have minded that myself, but it would have grieved the Earl, and I am not one of the new-fashioned ones who care naught for what their fathers may say. He has been praising you up to the skies this morning, I can tell you--I don't mean only as to the fire but about other things--and says he hopes we shall be great friends, and I am sure I hope so too, and think so. He had been telling me about your finding out about their robbing that good old sea-captain you live with, and how you were kidnapped afterwards, and sent to Holland; and how, in another adventure, although he did not tell me how that came about, you pricked a ruffling gallant through the shoulder; so that you have had a larger share of adventure, by a great deal, than I have. I had expected to see you rather a solemn personage, for the Earl told me you had more sense in your little finger than I had in my whole body, which was not complimentary to me, though I dare say it is true."
"Now, as a rule, they say that sensible people are very disagreeable; but I hope I shall not be disagreeable," Cyril laughed, "and I am certainly not aware that I am particularly sensible."
"No, I am sure you won't be disagreeable, but I should have been quite nervous about coming to see you if it had not been for the girls. Little Beatrice told me she thought you were a prince in disguise, and had evidently a private idea that the good fairies had sent you to her rescue. Bertha said that you were a very proper young gentleman, and that she was sure you were nice. Dorothy didn't say much, but she evidently approved of the younger girls' sentiments, so I felt that you must be all right, for the girls are generally pretty severe critics, and very few of my friends stand at all high in their good graces. What amusement are you most fond of?"
"I am afraid I have had very little time for amusements," Cyril said. "I was very fond of fencing when I was in France, but have had no opportunity of practising since I came to England. I went to a bull-bait once, but thought it a cruel sport."
"I suppose you go to a play-house sometimes?"
"No; I have never been inside one. A good deal of my work has been done in the evening, and I don't know that the thought ever occurred to me to go. I know nothing of your English sports, and neither ride nor shoot, except with a pistol, with which I used to be a good shot when I was in France."
They rowed down as low as Greenwich, then, as the tide turned, made their way back; and by the time Cyril alighted from the boat at London Bridge stairs the two young fellows had become quite intimate with each other.
Nellie looked with great approval at Cyril as he came downstairs in a full Court dress. Since the avowal she had made of her fault she had recovered much of her brightness. She bustled about the house, intent upon the duties she had newly taken up, to the gratification of Mrs. Dowsett, who protested that her occupation was gone.
"Not at all, mother. It is only that you are now captain of the ship, and have got to give your orders instead of carrying them out yourself. Father did not pull up the ropes or go aloft to furl the sails, while I have no doubt he had plenty to do in seeing that his orders were carried out. You will be worse off than he was, for he had John Wilkes, and others, who knew their duty, while I have got almost everything to learn."
Although her cheerfulness had returned, and she could again be heard singing snatches of song about the house, her voice and manner were gentler and softer, and Captain Dave said to Cyril,--
"It has all turned out for the best, lad. The ship was very near wrecked, but the lesson has been a useful one, and there is no fear of her being lost from want of care or good seamanship in future. I feel, too, that I have been largely to blame in the matter. I spoilt her as a child, and I spoilt her all along. Her mother would have kept a firmer hand upon the helm if I had not always spoken up for the lass, and said, 'Let her have her head; don't check the sheets in too tautly.' I see I was wrong now. Why, lad, what a blessing it is to us all that it happened when it did! for if that fire had been but a month earlier, you would probably have gone away with the Earl, and we should have known nothing of Nellie's peril until we found that she was gone."
"Sir Cyril--no, I really cannot call you Cyril now," Nellie said, curtseying almost to the ground after taking a survey of the lad, "your costume becomes you rarely; and I am filled with wonder at the thought of my own stupidity in not seeing all along that you were a prince in disguise. It is like the fairy tales my old nurse used to tell me of the king's son who went out to look for a beautiful wife, and who worked as a scullion in the king's palace without anyone suspecting his rank. I think fortune has been very hard upon me, in that I was born five years too soon. Had I been but fourteen instead of nineteen, your Royal Highness might have cast favourable eyes upon me."
"But then, Mistress Nellie," Cyril said, laughing, "you would be filled with grief now at the thought that I am going away to the wars."
The girl's face changed. She dropped her saucy manner and said earnestly,--
"I am grieved, Cyril; and if it would do any good I would sit down and have a hearty cry. The Dutchmen are brave fighters, and their fleet will be stronger than ours; and there will be many who sail away to sea who will never come back again. I have never had a brother; but it seems to me that if I had had one who was wise, and thoughtful, and brave, I should have loved him as I love you. I think the princess must always have felt somehow that the scullion was not what he seemed; and though I have always laughed at you and scolded you, I have known all along that you were not really a clerk. I don't know that I thought you were a prince; but I somehow felt a little afraid of you. You never said that you thought me vain and giddy, but I knew you did think so, and I used to feel a little malice against you; and yet, somehow, I respected and liked you all the more, and now it seems to me that you are still in disguise, and that, though you seem to be but a boy, you are really a man to whom some good fairy has given a boy's face. Methinks no boy could be as thoughtful and considerate, and as kind as you are."
"You are exaggerating altogether," Cyril said; "and yet, in what you say about my age, I think you are partly right. I have lived most of my life alone; I have had much care always on my shoulders, and grave responsibility; thus it is that I am older in many ways than I should be at my years. I would it were not so. I have not had any boyhood, as other boys have, and I think it has been a great misfortune for me."
"It has not been a misfortune for us, Cyril; it has been a blessing indeed to us all that you have not been quite like other boys, and I think that all your life it will be a satisfaction for you to know that you have saved one house from ruin, one woman from misery, and disgrace. Now it is time for you to be going; but although you are leaving us tomorrow, Cyril, I hope that you are not going quite out of our lives."
"That you may be sure I am not, Nellie. If you have reason to be grateful to me, truly I have much reason to be grateful to your father. I have never been so happy as since I have been in this house, and I shall always return to it as to a home where I am sure of a welcome--as the place to which I chiefly owe any good fortune that may ever befall me."
The levee was a brilliant one, and was attended, in addition to the usual throng of courtiers, by most of the officers and gentlemen who were going with the Fleet. Cyril was glad indeed that he was with the Earl of Wisbech and his son, for he would have felt lonely and out of place in the brilliant throng, in which Prince Rupert's face would have been the only one with which he was familiar. The Earl introduced him to several of the gentlemen who would be his shipmates, and by all he was cordially received when the Earl named him as the gentleman who had rescued his daughters from death.
At times, when the Earl was chatting with his friends, Cyril moved about through the rooms with Sydney, who knew by appearance a great number of those present, and was able to point out all the distinguished persons of the Court to him.
"There is the Prince," he said, "talking with the Earl of Rochester. What a grave face he has now! It is difficult to believe that he is the Rupert of the wars, and the headstrong prince whose very bravery helped to lose well-nigh as many battles as he won. We may be sure that he will take us into the very thick of the fight, Cyril. Even now his wrist is as firm, and, I doubt not, his arm as strong as when he led the Cavaliers. I have seen him in the tennis-court; there is not one at the Court, though many are well-nigh young enough to be his sons, who is his match at tennis. There is the Duke of York. They say he is a Catholic, but I own that makes no difference to me. He is fond of the sea, and is never so happy as when he is on board ship, though you would hardly think it by his grave face. The King is fond of it, too. He has a pleasure vessel that is called a yacht, and so has the Duke of York, and they have races one against the other; but the King generally wins. He is making it a fashionable pastime. Some day I will have one myself--that is, if I find I like the sea; for it must be pleasant to sail about in your own vessel, and to go wheresoever one may fancy without asking leave from any man."
When it came to his turn Cyril passed before the King with the Earl and his son. The Earl presented Sydney, who had not before been at Court, to the King, mentioning that he was going out as a Volunteer in Prince Rupert's vessel.
"That is as it should be, my Lord," the King said. "England need never fear so long as her nobles and gentlemen are ready themselves to go out to fight her battles, and to set an example to the seamen. You need not present this young gentleman to me; my cousin Rupert has already done so, and told me of the service he has rendered to your daughters. He, too, sails with the Prince, and after what happened there can be no doubt that he can stand fire well. I would that this tiresome dignity did not prevent my being of the party. I would gladly, for once, lay my kingship down and go out as one of the company to help give the Dutchmen a lesson that will teach them that, even if caught unexpectedly, the sea-dogs of England can well hold their own, though they have no longer a Blake to command them."
"I wonder that the King ventures to use Blake's name," Sydney whispered, as they moved away, "considering the indignities that he allowed the judges to inflict on the body of the grand old sailor."
"It was scandalous!" Cyril said warmly; "and I burned with indignation when I heard of it in France. They may call him a traitor because he sided with the Parliament, but even Royalists should never have forgotten what great deeds he did for England. However, though they might have dishonoured his body, they could not touch his fame, and his name will be known and honoured as long as England is a nation and when the names of the men who condemned him have been long forgotten."
After leaving the levee, Cyril went back to the City, and the next morning started on horseback, with the Earl and his son, to the latter's seat, near Sevenoaks, the ladies having gone down in the Earl's coach on the previous day. Wholly unaccustomed as Cyril was to riding, he was so stiff that he had difficulty in dismounting when they rode up to the mansion. The Earl had provided a quiet and well-trained horse for his use, and he had therefore found no difficulty in retaining his seat.
"You must ride every day while you are down here," the Earl said, "and by the end of the week you will begin to be fairly at home in the saddle. A good seat is one of the prime necessities of a gentleman's education, and if it should be that you ever carry out your idea of taking service abroad it will be essential for you, because, in most cases, the officers are mounted. You can hardly expect ever to become a brilliant rider. For that it is necessary to begin young; but if you can keep your seat under all circumstances, and be able to use your sword on horseback, as well as on foot, it will be all that is needful."
The week passed very pleasantly. Cyril rode and fenced daily with Sydney, who was surprised to find that he was fully his match with the sword. He walked in the gardens with the girls, who had now quite recovered from the effects of the fire. Bertha and Beatrice, being still children, chatted with him as freely and familiarly as they did with Sydney. Of Lady Dorothy he saw less, as she was in charge of her gouvernante, who always walked beside her, and was occupied in training her into the habits of preciseness and decorum in vogue at the time.
"I do believe, Dorothy," Sydney said, one day, "that you are forgetting how to laugh. You walk like a machine, and seem afraid to move your hands or your feet except according to rule. I like you very much better as you were a year ago, when you did not think yourself too fine for a romp, and could laugh when you were pleased. That dragon of yours is spoiling you altogether."
"That is a matter of opinion, Sydney," Dorothy said, with a deep curtsey. "When you first began to fence, I have no doubt you were stiff and awkward, and I am sure if you had always had someone by your side, saying, 'Keep your head up!' 'Don't poke your chin forward!' 'Pray do not swing your arms!' and that sort of thing, you would be just as awkward as I feel. I am sure I would rather run about with the others; the process of being turned into a young lady is not a pleasant one. But perhaps some day, when you see the finished article, you will be pleased to give your Lordship's august approval," and she ended with a merry laugh that would have shocked her gouvernante if she had heard it.