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dog was dangerous-when Moustache, furious at the interruption to his sport, leaped up and snapped at the puppy. The girl, with more pluck than prudence, lifted her Skye out of his reach, and struck the bull-dog's great bullet head with all the force of her little clenched right hand. Moustache gave one fierce low growl, sprang upon her and knocked her down, griping at her throat. Just as his immense teeth, covered with angry foam, almost touched her neck, De Vigne sprang off the phaeton, caught the dog's skin, and dragged him back. Moustache strove like a mad thing to wrench from his grasp, and fly at him, for, balked of its prey twice, its savageness was as dangerous as madness. De Vigne set his teeth; it was as much as he could do to hold the furious beast, but he clenched at its throat harder and harder, never relaxing the iron hold of his right hand; till, as the struggles in his grasp grew fainter and more feeble, and Moustache was well-nigh strangled, he stretched out his left hand to me for the driving-whip, but the girl, who had not fainted, or screamed, or had any nonsense, sprang up, laid her hand on his arm, and said, in a pretty, soft, beseeching voice,
"Please don't hurt your dog any more-pray don't. He could not tell he was doing any wrong, poor fellow, and he has had quite punishment enough."
De Vigne turned to her with a smile. He liked her for thinking of the dog instead of her own past danger.
"Yes, he knew he was doing wrong, because he has been taught never to fly at anything without command. But, to be sure, he cannot help the nature he was born with being a savage one; and, I dare say, the only law he will recognise will be a muzzle. It is I who am to blame, for letting him go without one. You are not hurt at all, I trust? You are a very brave young lady not to be more frightened.”
She was frightened, though; for, now the excitement was over, she was very pale, and trembled a good deal besides. She had to lean against one of the trees, for in her fall she had slightly twisted her left ankle. "You have hurt your foot!" exclaimed De Vigne. "Confound the dog, what a fool I was to bring him! Is it very painful ?" "No."
"I fancy it is, in spite of your denial. I fear you will never forgive my dog or me, and if you do, I shall not easily pardon myself for allowing such a savage brute to run loose. Pray do not try to walk," he cried, as the girl, with a bright smile, began to limp along the road. "Allow me to drive you to your home; if you exert that ankle while it is just hurt you may have such a tedious sprain. Let me drive you home. If you refuse, I shall think you bear some resentment still, and it would only be just if you did. Allow me—pray do."
"Oh, thank you, it is not far; but there are all my sketching things, and-indeed, I think I could walk."
"But I think indeed you must not. Soames, give the ribbons to Captain Chevasney, and go and pick up those drawings and colour-boxes under the tree yonder. Now, where may I drive ?" said De Vigne, lifting the little artist into the front seat, with her Skye on her lap, and her portfolio, block, and moist-colour-box under the seat. Soames was bidden to walk on to Colonel Sabretasche's. I got up in the back seat, and De Vigne took the ribbons, gave the greys their heads, and started off again.
The young artist was a very fascinating-looking little waif and stray; but De Vigne would have done just the same if it had been an elderly gentleman, or an old market-woman, whom Moustache had disabled. "Where am I to drive ?" he asked.
"To St. Crucis-on-the-Hill; a long name, but a very little farm," laughed the girl. "You do not know it, I dare say? No; I thought not. When we are out of the park turn to the left, take the first turning to the right, and a quarter of a mile straight on will bring you there. I am so sorry to take you so far."
"My greys will do so far' in ten minutes," said De Vigne, smiling. It was no particular pleasure to him to drive this girl home, and he did not say it was; he never complimented by mere complaisance now. "Do you often come to sketch in this park ?"
"Almost every day," said the little lady, who had not lost the dear privilege of her sex, the tongue, and talked to De Vigne as frankly as to an old acquaintance. "I love the trees so dearly. I am never tired of watching the shadows fade off and on, and the delicate fresh first green give place to golden brown, and the shy, graceful deer come trooping up to lie down under their great boughs. One can never tire of woodland scenery, there is so much change in it."
"You take a different view of Richmond Park to the generality," laughed De Vigne. "With most young ladies Richmond is connected with water parties and déjeûners, flirtations and champagne."
"I know of none of those things, so I cannot well associate them with it. Richmond to me is full of other remembrances of charming Horace Walpole and lovely Anne Damer, of Swift and Gay, and St. John and the 'little crooked thing that asks questions'" (how I detest Lady Mary for calling him so!), "and all those courtly gentlemen and stately ladies with their hoops and their patches, their minuets and their Ombre, who used to gather here like so many Watteau groups."
"She's talkative enough!" thought De Vigne, as he answered her: "Few young ladies who come to Richmond now would know much about your associations, despite their finishing.' Their present is too full of inanities to allow them time to dwell on the beauties of the past."
"And my present is so empty that I am driven to history for companions and memories," said the girl, with a shadow on her face. "This is the turning-in at that gate, if you please."
We turned in at the gate-it was as much as the dashing mailphaeton could do to pass it-and into a small paved court belonging to a little farm. On one side of it stood hayricks and a barn, where a stout, red-haired Omphale was feeding chickens, and beguiling an awkward Hercules in fustian from his proper task of taking out a cartful of bread into the town; on the other side stood the house, a long, low, thatched, and picturesque tenement, more like Hampshire than Middlesex; at the bottom there was a garden, an orchard, and a paddock, now black and bare enough in the chill February morning.
"You will come in ?" said the little artist, as we drew up before the door. 66 'Pray do. I want to speak to you.”
"What a strange little thing!" whispered De Vigne to me, as we followed her through the house to a room at the west end, a long, low
room, with an easel standing in its wide bay-window, and water-colours, etchings, pastels, études à deux crayons, pictures of all kinds, were hung about its walls, while some books, and casts, and flowers, gave a refinement to its plain simplicity, often wanting in many a gilt and gorgeous drawing-room I have entered.
"So you have not recognised me!" said the girl, taking off her black hat, and looking up in De Vigne's face.
As she spoke, I remembered her as the same with the subject of Violet Molyneux's amusing episode in Pall-Mall. De Vigne was wholly surprised; he looked at her for some moments.
Recognise you? I am ashamed to say I do not."
"Ah! you have so much more to think of than I. It is not the least likely you could, but I have never forgotten you, Sir Folko. I knew you the other day, when that young lady's servant knocked down my portfolio. Have you quite forgotten little Alma? I am so glad to see youyou cannot think how much!"
And Alma Tressillian held out both her hands to him, with a bright, joyous smile on her upraised face.
"Little Alma!" repeated De Vigne. "Yes, yes! I remember you
Where could my mind have gone not to recognise you at once? You are not the least altered since you were a child. But how have come from Lorave to London? Come, tell me everything. My dear child, you are not more pleased to see me than I am to see you!"
I think that was only a bit of courteous kindness on De Vigne's part; in reality, he cared very little about it, though Alma Tressillian was pretty enough not to have been viewed altogether with indifference by most men. I am not sure, though, that pretty is the word for her. It is so dealt out to every girl who resembles those lovely waxen dolls sold in diminutive baby-clothes or ball-dresses in the Pantheon, or who chances to have a pink colour and a stereotyped smile, that I hate using it to a woman worth admiring. I generally take refuge in those far higher words-fascinating, séduisante, brilliant, attrayante-where I really like a woman-but how few deserve those epithets! Alma was little altered since her childhood: now, as then, her golden hair and eloquent darkblue eyes, with the constant change, and play, and animation of all her features, made her greatest beauty. They were not regularly beautiful as Violet Molyneux's, though with her, as with Violet, the mobility and extreme intellectuality of expression was the chief charm, after all. She was not so tall as Violet, nor had she that exquisite and perfect form which made the belle of the season compared with Pauline Bonaparte; but she had something graceful and fairy-esque about her, and both her face and figure were instinct with a life, an intelligence, a radiance of expression which promised you a rare combination of sweet temper and hot passions, intense susceptibility, and highly cultivated intellect. You might not have called her pretty: you must have called her much more-irresistibly winning and attractive.
"Come, tell me everything about yourself," repeated De Vigne, as he pushed a low chair for her, and threw himself down on an arm-chair near. "You must remember Captain Chevasney as well as you do me. shall both of us be anxious to hear all you have to tell." "Yes, I remember him," smiled Alma, with a pretty bend of her head Sept.-VOL. CXXIII. NO.CCCCLXXXIX,
(she did not add "as well"). "I was so sorry when you did not see me that day in Pall-Mall; I thought I might never come across you again. You must not be too cross to that poor bull-dog, for if he had not flown at Sylvo I might not have found you now."
"I am under obligations to Moustache, certainly," said De Vigne, with a half-smile. "Nevertheless, I shall never bring him here again, for his fangs were dangerously near your throat. He is a savage brute, but he has had a lesson he will not easily forget. But where is your grandpapa?-is he in town?"
She looked down, and her lips quivered:
"Grandpapa is in Lorave. He has been dead three years."
"Dead! My dear child, how careless of me! I am grieved, indeed!" exclaimed De Vigne, involuntarily.
"You could not tell," answered Alma, looking up at him, great tears in her blue eyes. "He died more than three years ago, but it is as fresh to me as if it were but yesterday. Nobody will ever love me as he did. He was so kind, so gentle, so good. In losing him I lost everything. I prayed day and night that I might die with him; he was my only friend!"
"Poor little Alma!" said De Vigne, touched out of that haughty reserve now habitual to him. "I am grieved to hear it, both for the loss to you of your only protector, and the loss to the world of as true-hearted and noble-natured a man as ever breathed. If I had been in England he would have seen me in Lorave, as I promised, but I have been in India the eight years since we parted. I wish I had written to him; I ought to have done so ; but one never knows things till too late." "He left a letter for you, in case I should ever meet you. You were the only person kind to us after the loss of his fortune," said Alma, as she sprang across the room-all her movements were rapid, and had something foreign in them-knelt down before a desk, and brought an unsealed envelope to De Vigne, directed to him by a hand now powerless for ever.
"This for me? I wish I had seen him," said De Vigne, as he put it away in the breast of his coat. "I ought to have written to him; but my own affairs engrossed me, and-we are all profound egotists, you know, whatever unselfishness we may pretend. What was the cause of his death? Will it pain you to tell me?"
"Paralysis. He had a paralytic stroke six months before, which ended in congestion of the brain. But how gentle, how good, how patient he was through it all! There was never any one like him."
She stopped again; the tears rolled off her long black lashes. She was quite unaccustomed to conceal what she felt, and she did not know that feeling is bad ton.
And you have been in England ever since ?" asked De Vigne, to divert her thoughts.
"Oh no!" she answered, brushing the tears off her lashes. "You know Miss Russell, the governess grandpapa took for me to Lorave? She has been so kind. She was with me at grandpapa's death. I was fifteen then, and for a year afterwards she stayed with me in Lorave; I loved the place so dearly, dearer still after his grave was there, and I could not bear to leave it. But Miss Russell had no money, and no home. She works for her living, and she could not waste her time on me, and the
little grandpapa could leave me was not enough for both of us. obliged to look for another situation, and when she came over to it-it is in a rector's family near Staines-I came over with her, and she placed me here. My old nurse has this farm; grandpapa bought it for her many years ago, when she left us and married. Her husband is dead, but she keeps on the farm, and makes bread to send into town. It was the only place we knew of, and nurse was so delighted to let me have the rooms, that I have been here ever since."
"Poor little thing, what a life!" cried De Vigne, involuntarily. "How dull you must be, Alma."
She raised her eyebrows and shrugged her shoulders. Gesticulation was natural to her, and she had caught it still more from the Italians at Lorave.
"Buried alive! Sylvo to talk to, and the flowers to talk to me, that is my society. But wherever I might have been, I should have missed him equally, and I can never be alone while I have my easel and my books."
"Have you painted these?" I exclaimed, in surprise, for there were masterly strokes in the sketches on the walls that would have shamed more than one "Associate."
"Yes. An Italian artist, spending the summer at Lorave, saw me drawing one day; something as Cimabue saw little Giotto, and had me to his studio, and gave me a regular course of instruction. He told me I might equal Elizabetta Sirani. I shall never do that, I am afraid, but I worship art, and even now I find a very good sale for my little sketches; they take them at Ackermann's and Faer's, and I work hard. Work is a wrong word though, it is my delight. I go and sketch every day out of doors, to catch the winter and summer tints. But I hate winter; it is so unkind, so cheerless. I always paint spring and summer in my pictures; not your poor pale English summer, but summer golden and glorious, with the boughs hanging to the ground with the weight of their own beauty, and the vineyards and corn-fields glowing with their rich promise for the autumn.”
"Enthusiastic as ever?" laughed De Vigne. "How are our friends the fairies, Alma?"
"Do you suppose I shall give news of them to a disbeliever ?" said Alma, with a toss of her head. "I have not forgotten your want of faith. Are you as great a sceptic now ?"
"Ten times more so-not only of fairy lore, but of pretty well everything else. Fairies are as well worth credence as all the other faiths, creeds, and superstitions of the day; I would as soon credit Queen Mab as a 'doctrinal point.' Years add to our scepticism instead of lessening it. What do you think of the fairies now ?"
"Look! Do you not think I sketched that from sight?" said Alma, turning her easel to him, where she had sketched in water-colours a charming Titania-a true Titania, such as "on pressed flowers does sleep," for whom "the cowslips tall her pensioners be:"
Where oxlips and the nodding violets grow,
Quite over-canopied with lush woodbine,