In fact, just at the middle of the log, the ribbon, binding the slipper to Miss Fanny’s ankle, had broken—probably on account of her struggles—and the luckless slipper had fallen into the stream. It was now scudding along like a Lilliputian boat, the huge rosettes of crimson ribbon standing out like sails.
Ralph burst into a roar of laughter, from which he was instantly diverted by a rousing slap upon the cheek, administered by the hand of Fanny, who cried out at his audacity.
“Cousins, you know!—we are cousins, darling; but what a tremendous strength of arm you have!”
“Try it again, sir!” said Miss Fanny, pouting, and pulling down her sleeve, which had mounted to her shoulder in the passage.
“Never!” cried Ralph; “I am fully conscious of my improper conduct. I blush to think of it—that is to say, my left cheek does!”
“Served you right!” said Fanny.
With which retort, Mr. Ralph Ashley pointed to the slipper-less foot, which was visible beneath Miss Fanny’s skirt, and laughed.
Ralph would then have made immediate pursuit of the slipper, but Verty detained him.
The young man called Longears, pointed out the rosetted boat to that intelligent serviteur, and then turned to the company.
In two minutes Longears returned, panting, with the slipper in his dripping mouth, from which it was transferred to the foot of its mistress, with merry laughter for accompaniment.
This little incident was the subject of much amusing comment to the party—in which Miss Fanny took her share. She had soon recovered her good-humor, and now laughed as loudly as the loudest. At one moment she certainly did blush, however—that is to say, when, in ascending the hill—Verty and Redbud being before—Mr. Ralph referred to the delight he had experienced when he “saluted” her in crossing—which he could not help doing, he said, as she was his favorite cousin, and her cheek lay so near his own.
Fanny had blushed at this, and declared it false;—with what truth, we have never been able to discover. The question is scarcely important.
UP THE HILL-SIDE AND UNDER THE CHESTNUTS.
Thus leaving the sedgy stream behind, with all its brilliant ripples, silver sands, and swaying waterflags, which made their merry music for it, as it went along toward the far Potomac,—our joyful party ascended the fine hill which rose beyond, mounting with every step, above the little town of Winchester, which before long looked more like a lark’s nest hidden in a field of wheat, than what it was—an honest border town, with many memories.
Verty and Redbud, as we have said, went first.
We have few artists in Virginia—only one great humorist with the pencil. This true history has not yet been submitted to him. Yet we doubt whether ever the fine pencil of Monsignor Andante Strozzi could transfer to canvas, or the engraver’s block, the figures of the maiden and the young man.