“I think I hear a carriage at last,” cried Miss Jacky, turning up her ears. “Wisht! let us listen.”
“It’s only the wind,” sighed Miss Grizzy.
“It’s the cart with the bread,” said Miss Nicky.
“It’s Lady Maclaughlan, I assure you,” pronounced Miss Jacky.
The heavy rumble of a ponderous vehicle now proclaimed the approach of the expected visitor; which pleasing anticipation was soon changed into blissful certainty by the approach of a high-roofed, square bottomed, pea-green chariot, drawn by two long-tailed white horses, and followed by a lackey in the Highland garb. Out of this equipage issued a figure, clothed in a light-coloured, large-flowered chintz raiment, carefully drawn through the pocket-holes, either for its own preservation, or the more disinterested purpose of displaying a dark short stuff petticoat, which, with the same liberality, afforded ample scope for the survey of a pair of worsted stockings and black leather shoes, something resembling buckets. A faded red cloth jacket, which bore evident marks of having been severed from its native skirts, now acted in the capacity of a spencer. On the head rose a stupendous fabric, in the form of a cap, on the summit of which was placed a black beaver hat, tied a la poissarde. A small black satin muff in one hand, and a gold-headed walking-stick in the other, completed the dress and decoration of this personage.
The lackey, meanwhile, advanced to the carriage; and, putting in both his hands, as if to catch so something, he pulled forth a small bundle, enveloped in a military cloak, the contents of which would have baffled conjecture, but for the large cocked hat and little booted leg which protruded at opposite extremities.
A loud but slow and well-modulated voice now resounded through the narrow stone passage that conducted to the drawing-room.
“Bring him in—bring him in, Philistine! I always call my man Philistine, because he has Sampson in his hands. Set him down there,” pointing to an easy chair, as the group now entered, headed by Lady Maclaughlan.
“Well, girls!” addressing the venerable spinsters, as they severally exchanged a tender salute; “so you’re all alive, I see;—humph!”
“Dear Lady Maclaughlan, allow me to introduce our beloved niece, Lady Juliana Douglas,” said Miss Grizzy, leading her up, and bridling as she spoke with ill-suppressed exultation.
“So—you’re very pretty—yes, you are very pretty!” kissing the forehead, cheeks, and chin of the youthful beauty between every pause. Then, holding her at arm’s length, she surveyed her from head to foot, with elevated brows, and a broad fixed stare.
“Pray sit down, Lady Maclaughlan,” cried her three friends all at once, each tendering a chair.
“Sit down!” repeated she; “why, what should I sit down for? I choose to stand—I don’t like to sit—I never sit at home—do I, Sir Sampson?” turning to the little warrior, who, having been seized with a violent fit of coughing on his entrance, had now sunk back, seemingly quite exhausted, while the Philistine was endeavouring to disencumber him of his military accoutrements.