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counsels me ; 'tis I that have fised the value of the thing I would have, and know the price I would pay for it. It may be worthless to you, but 'tis all
my life to me.” And then we are assured that if Esmond pose sessed the Great Mogul's crown and all his diamonds, or all the Duke of Marlborough's money, he would have given them all for Beatrix. “A fool he was, if you will; but so is a sovereign a fool, that will give half & principality for a little crystal as big as a pigeon's egg, and called a diamond: so is a wealthy nobleman a fool, that will face danger and death, and spend half his life, and all his tranquillity, caballing for a blue riband : so is a Dutch merchant a fool, that hath been known to pay ten thousand crowns for a tulip.” In short, there's some particular prize we all of us value, and that every man of spirit will venture his life for.* Things are to us as we think them; nor in such matters can A act as appraiser for B, or B for A.
CANUTE THE DANE.
BY WILLIAM JONES.
CANUTE the Dane was a resolute man,
Fight away as you like," said the hardy old Dane,
* Esmond, book iii. ch. ii.
BY MRS. ALFRED M. MÜNSTER.
BENEDICT, THE MARRIED MAN. “I wish you could show a little more interest in the people about you, Laura. It is of the first importance to me that my house should be made pleasant to the county just now more than ever, as I have set my
heart on entering parliament." “ I am sure I thought we were doing wonders in the
way of gaiety," returned Laura. “I thought we should never have another quiet evening together. I did so regret our delightful readings, and walks, and talks!”
“Yes, they were delightful, indeed. But, we are quite old married people now; it is more than a year since our wedding-day; we have done quite enough for romance, and are looked on as a pattern Darbyand-Joan sort of couple. Suppose we turn our thoughts to the real business of life now? Unvaried domesticity, although inexpressibly enchanting, is apt to become just a little tiresome."
“ I should never tire of it or you."
“Ah! you are a dear, fresh little creature, quite unspoiled; but, my sweetest! men and women are so different, and I wish my wife to have that reputation for agreeability and fascination which nothing but her own disinclination to achieve it prevents her having."
" If I please you, I care to please no one else.”
“All very right, Laura ; but you cannot fully please me without pleasing others also. I was rather hurt yesterday; you know I lunched at Oakland's, and the girls there, who are very old friends of mine, frankly asked me to tell them what cause of complaint you had against them, as your manner towards them had of late changed from cordiality to such cold stiffness that they could not at all get on with you.”.
Laura was crimson from neck to brow, but said nothing; her husband put his hand under her chin, and raised her face, looking into it with a smile so provokingly careless as nearly to bring the tears to Laura's eyes. “ What is it?" he said. “ What have those poor girls done to you?”
Nothing. But I don't like them much. They don't suit me, nor I them.”
“ But, Laura, you must suit them. Oliver Heathcote is the most inAuential man in the county, and I, from my, never having lived here, am as much a stranger as though the place had not been in my family for generations. If the Heathcotes should be offended, I may give up the idea of coming forward at the election ; indeed, I noticed a very perceptible change in their way of receiving me yesterday. I gradually warmed off the chill, and we parted very pleasantly; but if you put them into your refrigerator when they come again, I shall have no end of trouble.”
“I am sorry, George. I should like to smoothe all difficulties in your way, but I cannot pretend to like people if I dislike them. Try as I may, my real feelings crop out on the surface.”
" That is exactly what you must study to avoid. Your charming naturalness, although very charming-to me-must be kept in abeyance. A woman of the world should have no dislikes in society.”
“Ah! I fear I shall never be a woman of the world.”
“ It must be your study to become one. Come, tell me, why do you not like the Heathcotes? I am sure they are everything you could desire in such near neighbours. They have always a pleasant house, and the girls, if rather passées, are still quite sufficiently ornamental to pass muster, they get up so well, and for my sake you should be cordial and friendly with them. You shall tell me what cause of complaint you have against them, for your tell-tale face speaks plainly of something hidden from me.”
“ If I were to tell you,” she answered, “ you might be still more displeased with me."
“Nonsense! The only thing that could really deeply displease me, would be your keeping things from me. Out with it !"
“ Well, then,” said Laura, " the last day they were here, we were walking in the grounds, and you were in advance with Miss Heathcote. I walked with the younger one. You were pointing out to your companion the alterations you had made in the flower-gardens, and, if you remember, she disapproved of them. Her sister laughed, and said to me, • Magdalen would have had it differently had she been mistress hereMrs. Home—and she very nearly was so.
Had Colonel Home not been so poor a man when he was ten years younger, you
would seen him, in all probability. How queerly things happen, don't they? And so,” said Laura, blushing again, “ I think I felt angry and jealous. Miss Heathcote's manner to you has so much of proprietorship about it, and to me she has always been offensively patronising. She gives me the idea that she is saying to herself that I am a poor contemptible spiritless creature, but that she will bear with me for my husband's sake."
Laura had quite unconsciously mimicked Miss Heathcote's toss of the head and very decided tones, and Colonel Home was delighted.
“ Capital !” he said. I never knew you were such a mimic. If Magdalen Heathcote discovers that, she will either be your sworn sister or your bitter foe, for she excels in mimicry, and I do not know whether she would welcome you as an ally, or dread you as a rival near the throne."
“ You shall never find out, for I hate mimics and mimicry, and never could, or would, personate any one ; but Miss Heathcote's peculiarities are so broadly marked that a child must notice, and could reproduce them. I was betrayed into an imitation of her quite without knowing what I did."
“ Pray don't apologise about it to me. I should be glad to see you ill natured enough to be amusing. Acids and bitters are good tonics. I can't say I ever liked syrup.”
“ I wish I could amuse you, George.” “ I am sure I wish you could, but as you can't, suppose you get people who can to come to us; and as for that idiotic speech of Lina Heathcote's,
it is quite worthy of her. By no means a bad creature, but overflowing with romance, and seeing a pair of lovers in every two persons of different sexes she may see together."
“Were you not a lover of Miss Heathcote's?”
“My dear Pertinacity! remember the fate of Bluebeard's wife. Is it any business of yours how often, and with whom, I have been in love, always providing that the business was over before your reign began ?”
“Ab!” said Laura, sighing, but smiling as well, for her husband spoke archly and good naturedly—“ah! I wish I could feel that I had nothing to do with your life then; but that's just what I cannot feel. It seems to me as though I had always belonged to you, and I am jealous that you have nothing of that feeling as to me."
"Oh, my dearest ! if you are about to float off into metaphysics, I shall say good-bye. But, Laura, do be sensible, and help me on instead of driving me back. You have as much reason to be jealous of Magdalen Heathcote as of the Cumæan Sybil that stands on your bracket. We flirted outrageously—let me see! ten, twelve years since—but our passion was of the style of the old song :
We met with joy, and parted with gladness. But now that I am settled in the old place, I should wish my wife to be at least civil to my old friends, and I hope she will not allow any absurd childish pettinesses to deform the true womanliness of her character.” And he left so tender a caress on her cheek that Laura's heart was wholly subdued.
“ You must forgive me, dear George. I am such a shocking fool, and, indeed, I knew I was a silly creature; but you are so noble and greatminded, you
will understand and make allowances for me." “Say no more about it, Laura,” he replied, magnanimously. “ You are a very sweet little thing ; but in future, darling, when you
you have cause for complaint against me, tell me it at once.
Promise !" “ Indeed I will, George. I do repent so bitterly that I have been so silly and ill tempered, and you are very good not to be angry with me; and now this has been our first quarrel, and we must never have another."
“With all my heart, darling, albeit I fancy you know little about quarrels, when you call that one."
“Yes, I know; but if you had not been so gentle with forbearing, it might have been, and if we really quarrelled, I should never be happy again."
“ Little goose !” he called her, and then played a moment with her pretty netted curls, then stifled a yawn, rose up and lounged against the window-frame, looking out on the brilliant colours of the spring flowers in the ribbon-borders of his wife's private garden.
“ What are you going to do with yourself to-day, Laura ?"
"I thought perhaps, as I had not had you to myself for a whole day this long time, you might have driven me to the Fairies' Well to-day. Í am told it is one of the few places in England where lilies of the valley grow wild.”
" It would have been a delightful plan, but it must wait for another day, love."
“Can you not come?"
“No, not to-day. The fact is, I promised to drive Mrs. Heathcote and the girls to the common. Oliver's bay mare is to run against Captain Wallace's grey; the whole thing arising out of one of those foolish bets Oliver is so fond of making.”
- Is there to be a race ?”
“ Yes; a trial between the two horses. Merely a private affair—the visitors staying at the Heathcotes and at Wallace's, and I suppose a score of bumpkins to stare at them. I wish I had not promised to go.” “I wish
had not.” “ It is a pity, but I am to be one of the umpires. However, I shall come back as soon as I can possibly get away, and to-morrow we shall have a charming day together.” And with an affectionate kiss to his wife, he went his way, and Laura was left to amuse and occupy
herself she best might.
She was still as much in love with her husband as she had ever been ; the glamour of her affection had blinded her to his short-comings, and her almost child-like innocence had kept her unsuspicious and unconscious of much that would have probably destroyed her illusions and her happiness together—not that Colonel Home was a bad husband, as the world
goes, far from it; he was not an ill-tempered man, and he could not be otherwise than gentle and indulgent to one whose whole study it was to conform herself to his wishes—nay, he had even a certain affection for her; but, in truth, he was incapable of understanding or appreciating the higher portion of Laura's nature; he looked on her as being but a weak, loving, pliable girl, and he felt not unfrequently that he had rather sacrificed himself by his marriage. He was generally regarded as being a man of determined character; he certainly considered himself as being so, but he was in reality a weak man, easily led by passion and vanity, his sole strength lying in the eagerness with which he pursued any object which for the time being seemed to him worthy of attainment.
Laura's great love had hitherto been the safeguard of her happiness, for not only did it effectually blind her eyes, but it acted on her husband (there being no strong temptation in his way to act as a counter attraction) with all the force of novelty, and he was not disinclined to allow his wife to continue in the belief that he was the best and noblest, as well as the inost tender-hearted of men. Had this required any sustained or arduous effort on his part, things might long ere this have gone differently; but Laura's faith was so firm, and her temper so sweet, that he found it easy to make her happy.
What would she have felt had she been by any chance within hearing of a conversation which took place on the improvised race-course between her husband and Magdalen Heathcote? The pair were virtually quite alone, for the colonel had given his wife a slightly incorrect account of the arrangements. That stupid, good-natured Mrs. Heathcote, with her youngest daughter and two lady visitors, filled the barouche, Colonel Home drove
Magdalen in a park phaeton, and the rest of the party rode. Magdalen Heathcote had once been extremely beautiful, a tall, queenly, brilliant brunette, but her first youth had long since departed, and her bloom had lost in softness what it had gained in intensity; she was now