« PreviousContinue »
much in her power. Altogether Eve's brains were somewhat puzzled by the discussion; and, perhaps, her longing for power and freedom from penury were not in the least quieted by Mr. Sackville's lecture.
Now, Mr. Sackville,' she said, at length, * look at Sir Mark Philipson ; do you mean to tell me he is not happier than my cousin ?'
* Perhaps you had better ask that question yourself,' he replied, quickly, 'for he is just beside you.'
Eve started; yes, the head of a chesnut horse pushed up alongside of her grey, and Sir Mark greeted her cordially. Could he have overheard her absurd question ? She thought not, and yet she was guilty and confused.
Their road lay the same way ; it would have been almost impossible to separate now, so they rode on together, Mr. Sackville bearing much the liveliest part in the colloquy. Something startled Eve's horse, and she grew nervous.
You don't manage your horse properly,' said Sir Mark, quickly—Eve fancied, sharply.
I'm afraid I don't. I have not ridden for many years—that is to say, not above once or twice.'
Then why does not Mr. Sackville teach
“Why,' Mr. Sackville answered, laughing, ' because this is our very first appearance together, and I had not found out her defects; and also because I must candidly confess I am no horseman myself. I can cling on, and I can trot without being shaken off; in short, I can manage myself passably well—but to teach another is beyond me.'
Then, my good fellow, are you a proper escort for an inexperienced girl ?'
'Apparently I am not; but I am not my own master. My wife said, 'order a saddle on the grey, and ride with Eve.' ' I rode; and if I had thought at all upon the matter, I should have still ridden; for I remember Eve eternally on a pony in former times, and never questioned her ability now. I assure you, Sir Mark, I never go to Whitefield without pausing by the paddock and recalling her little fairy figure careering about as if she were literally part of that black pony–hair streaming to the wind, and cheeks brighter than—ah ! as bright as they are now.'
Yes, they were very brilliant, as she shrank back from Sir Mark's softening gaze.
a new association with that shady green field, and one which did not quickly fade from his memory.
"I could soon be as much at ease as ever on horseback, I think, if I practised,' Eve said, eagerly; 'or if I had Mordaunt to teach me.'
"When he comes again, he shall have one of my horses, Sir Mark replied.
Ah! he has no time.'
Sir Mark paused; he did not see at the instant that her tone of disappointment related to Mordaunt's unceasing toils; he thought she regretted her lessons.
'If you could time your rides with mine, Sackville, I would be riding-master.'
“There, Eve, what do you say ?'
Eve would fain have said no, but had not courage.
She feared to offend her cousin's grave employer ; looked at him wistfully, faltered something about trouble,' and was answered by one of his rare but very peculiar smiles.
"You are afraid I shall be too stern a preceptor, I see. Don't you like being found fault with ?'
Who does, Sir Mark ?'
critical eye than undergo the ordeal myself,' Mr. Sackville said.
* You must not prejudice my pupil too strongly against me; I assure you, Miss Cuthbert, if I am not lenient, I can be patient.'
Eve looked up dubiously; were the two assertions compatible ? A question she often asked herself in after years.
Whilst she remained at the Heath, Sir Mark rode with them almost every day, or rather they rode with him either as he went to town or returned. Eve did credit to those careful instructions, although she could not throw off her awe of the teacher. He dined often at the Heath, and listened gravely to her music. He had not been so well entertained for years.
Childhood, I believe, does sometimes pay a second visit to man-youth, never !
T was a longer visit than had been at first
anticipated, and yet Mordaunt unselfishly rejoiced in it when he saw how blooming Eve was when she returned. That bloom did not quickly fade, for the present home was pleasanter than the other, and even Mrs. Cuthbert was less irksome in her recent mood of satisfaction with her daughter. She liked to hear of Sir Mark's kindness, and patted the head of its object complacently.
• But, Mordaunt, you are very busy; I think you have more to do than ever,' Eve said. ‘Perhaps I have.
It is more agreeable, though.
' But your strength ?'