Chapter 70983777

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Chapter NumberXIV
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article70983777
Full Date1885-09-12
Page Number32
Corrections0
Word Count1253
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAustralian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907)
Trove TitleFound Out
article text

CHAPTER XIV.

The hose and shoon were git, my man's

They cam' first to my hand j

And I've ravelled a' my yellow hair,

Coining against the wind.

. At breakfast next morning Mr. B. announced his imminent departure, but as he was bent on returning, if only for a day or two, before the party broke up, he ventured to commit Mr. Ve- lasquez to the kind hospitality of his host during the few days that would intervene.

" You could not leave my daughter and myself a more charming hostage for your return," said Dashwood, and Velasquez bowed, and Katharine looked at her father.

" By the way," said Mrs. Vivien, turning her languid eyes on the two young people, who, as usual, sat side by side, " how does the fencing room look by moonlight-by very shabby moon light-for it must have been almost morning when I saw you both returning from an inspection

of the armour ?"

" It was only half-past 3/' said Dashwood. "1 looked at my watch when they left me."

All within ear-shot glanced at Katharine and Velasquez. Mrs. Vivien shrugged her shoulders.

"Chacun a son gout" she said, "but I should scarcely have thought a room where a murder or was it a suicide ?-had been committed, was a cheerful spot for a promenade on a freezing Ja- nuary night !"

" I fancy a good many people feel chilled inside this morning," said Lord Noll, cheerfully. " Put a mask and. domino on some people and they turn into wasps, and go about stinging everybody. At supper some of the faces were as long as

hatchots!"

Mrs. Vivien laughed.

" Was yours one of them ?" she said.

" Oh no ! Somebody told nie I was a fool ; I said I knew it; another, that without my mask I was ugly enough to frighten aJiorse. I told him I did not possess a looking-glass for nothing. A

third informed me that my grandfather was a greengrocer. I gave him my word of honor that he was a tallowchandler. A fourth accused me of trifling with the feelings of a lady for whom I have a-a great respect, and transferring them to a lady who-who"-in spite of himself he stole a look at Katharine, who seemed lost in thought.

" Doesn't want them," said Mrs. Vivien ; " and you," she added, turning to her host, " were any home-truths fired off at you ?"

" No ; only some clumsy guesses," he said, neg- ligently ; " but can any one tell me who was the lady in a man's mask and domino, and who the gentleman disguised as a lady last night ?" He had raised his voice a little, and his voice travelled to the end of the long table and checked the con- versation then going forward, producing a violent increase of color in the face of a gallant warrior who had mysteriously lost all hirsute appendages since yesterday.

A burst of laughter greeted this spontaneous confession of his guilt, and Lady Becky ex-

claimed :

" So that explains it !"

" What," said Mrs. Vivien.

" I hope you didn't find my cheek very rough, sir," said the young man, turning to Mr. B., who had suddenly devoted himself to his plate ; "but I assure you-"

" That more than one lady present might have envied you," said Lady Becky, maliciously ; " but if you were the lady, pray who was the gentle-

man ?" and she elanced round the table.

" I don't know," said the perplexed warrior. " All I can say is, my man found my mask and domino gone, and a woman's white one laid out instead, and rather than stay upstairs during the fun, I accepted the situation."

"But your petticoats ?" cried one.

" Your wig ?" ejaculated another. '

Your shoes ?"

" One of the ladies' maids found the first, the housekeeper the second, but the third waB รก twis- ter, though we got over that in time." . .

" Does any woman here own to number seven' shoes ?" said Lady Becky, darting an impertinent smile at a beautiful blonde who was present, per- fect as far as one could see, and who might even have perfect feet-had the world ever been privileged to behold them.

" They were black satin," continued the war- rior, " and when they burst, which of course they did, it didn't matter much, as I'd got on black silk stockings-"

" By Jove you had !" said Lord Dolly, in an audible whisper, " that stuck halfway up your leg."

"I'm afraid they showed," said the son of Mars, apologetically ; " you see, when I saw peo- ple being spilled right and left, I naturally skated off to assist-and of course I hitched up the petticoats-and that domino was so confoundedly

short !"

" And which sex profited most by your assist- ance ?" said Lady Be:ky.

"Oh! yours," he said, readily. "I went to them by instinct-and none of them were in the least grateful. One woman, as soon a3 she re- gained her feet, slapped my face."

" But Mr. B. consoled you," said Mrs. Vivien, sweetly.

"It, was only a temporary infidelity to the milkmaid," whispered Lord Noll in her ear. " He was up at seven this morning to assist in the dairy."

" But what became of your domino ?" cut in Mrs. Vivien, sharply, " and which of us women had the bad taste-and the height-to wear it ?"

" I think her maid took tucks in it," said the warrior in perfect good faith; then looking around and catching the feminine glances (some indig- nant, some hurt, and all with one exception sin- cerely innocent) turned upon bim, he colored to his brows, and looked the picture of misery.

" Why are you all so angry with me ?" he said. "It was a good joke-and whichever of you did it, carried the thing out with uncommon

soirit!"

" It must have been, one of our maids," said Mrs. Vivien, serenely, "but it could not have been mine. She waited on me more than once during the evening. And no doubt in the servants' hau enough county scandal is discussed to enable one of these people to plant a sting where it was cer-

tain to be felt."

" But wasps sometimes sting from mere fury or folly," said Dashwood.

" This one didn't," said Lord Noll, with a chuckle. "I shall never forget one country matron who nearly choked after a whisper in her ear, and stamping her skate, cried out, ' Me ! the mother of nine children !' And she upset herself, and I picked her up-and she swore that I was the wo- man who had uttered the vile calumny," said the unwilling victim to petticoats, "and she nearly had my wig and mask off before I could

back out !"

" But of course 'you didn't venture to spealc ?" said Lady Becky, with some curiosity.

"Not I. I nodded, giggled-once or twice forgot to be ladylike, and punched one or two heads. I'm afraid I punched yours, sir," turning to Mr. B., not without malicious intent, but the great man's chair was empty ; he had noiselessly

withdrawn.

" He has gone to say good-by to the milkmaid," said Lady Becky.

(TO BE CONTINUED.)