“No, certainly, not changed; but—I—I did not very well know then what a desert was; or, at least, I had formed rather a different idea of it.”
“What was your idea of a desert?” said her husband, laughing. “Do tell me, love.”
“Oh! I had fancied it a beautiful place, full of roses and myrtles, and smooth green turf, and murmuring rivulets, and, though very retired, not absolutely out of the world; where one could occasionally see one’s friends, and give dejeunes et fetes champetres.”
“Well, perhaps the time may come, Juliana, when we may realise your Elysian deserts; but at present, you know, I am wholly dependent on my father. I hope to prevail on him to do something for me; and that our stay here will be short; as, you may be sure, the moment I can, I will take you hence. I am sensible it is not a situation for you; but for my sake, dearest Juliana, bear with it for a while, without betraying your disgust. Will you do this, darling?” and he kissed away the sullen tear that hung on her cheek.
“You know, love, there’s nothing in the world I wouldn’t do for you,” replied she, as she played with her squirrel; “and as you promise our stay shall be short, if I don’t die of the horrors I shall certainly try to make the agreeable. Oh! my cherub!” flying to her pug, who came barking into the room “where have you been, and where’s my darling Psyche, and sweet mackaw? Do, Harry, go and see after the darlings.”
“I must go and see my brother and his wife first. Will you come, love?”
“Oh, not now; I don’t feel equal to the encounter; besides, I must dress. But what shall I do? Since that vile woman’s gone I can’t dress myself. I never did such a thing in my life, and I am sure it’s impossible that I can,” almost weeping at the hardships she was doomed to experience in making her own toilet.
“Shall I be your Abigail?” asked her husband, smiling at the distress; “me thinks it would be no difficult task to deck my Julia.”
“Dear Harry, will you really dress me? Oh! That will be delightful! I shall die with laughing at your awkwardness;” and her beautiful eyes sparkled with childish delight at the idea.
“In the meantime,” said Douglas, “I’ll send someone to unpack your things; and after I have shook hands with Archie, and been introduced to my new sister, I shall enter on my office.”
“Now do, pray, make haste; for I die to see your great hands tying strings and sticking pins.”
Delighted with her gaiety and good humour, he left her caressing her favourites; and finding rather a scarcity of female attendance, he despatched two of his sisters to assist his helpless beauty in her arrangements.
And ever against eating cares,
Lap me in soft Lydian airs.”
WHEN Douglas returned he found the floor strewed with dresses of every description, his sisters on their knees before a great trunk they were busied in unpacking, and his Lady in her wrapper, with her hair about her ears, still amusing herself with her pets.