“’Twould have killed you, Lady Kitty; sure ’twould have been your end to hear him speak! He walked the floor upon his knees, and clasped his hands, and followed me about like a dog in a spectacle. Lord! but I feared he would have thrown over the tabouret with his great feet. And help me, if I think not he had tears in his eyes!”
“My friend,” said Lady Kitty, solemnly, “you must have better care of your conduct. I’ll not have my father’s old friend abused in his own house.” At which they both burst into laughter. Youth, the blithely cruel, had its own way in this old coach upon the ancient dusty road, as it has ever had.
But now serious affairs gained the attention of these two fairs. “Tell me, sweetheart,” said Lady Catharine, “what think you of the fancy of my new dresser? He insists ever that the mode in Paris favors a deep bow, placed high upon the left side of the ‘tower.’ Montespan, of the French court, is said to have given the fashion. She hurried at her toilet, and placed the bow there for fault of better care. Hence, so must we if we are to live in town. So says my new hair-dresser from Paris. ’Tis to Paris we must go for the modes.”
“I am not so sure,” began Mary Connynge, “as to this arrangement. Now I am much disposed to believe—” but what she was disposed to believe at that time was not said, then or ever afterward, for at that moment there happened matters which ended their little talk; matters which divided their two lives, and which, in the end, drove them as far apart as two continents could carry them.
“O Gemini!” called out Mary Connynge, as the coachman for a moment slackened his pace. “Look! We shall be robbed!”
The driver irresolutely pulled up his horses. From under the shade of the hedge there arose two men, of whom the taller now stood erect and came toward the carriage.
“’Tis no robber,” said Lady Catharine Knollys, her eyes fastened on the tall figure which came forward.
“Save us,” said Mary Connynge, “what a pretty man!”
JOHN LAW OF LAURISTON
Unconsciously the coachman obeyed the unvoiced command of this man, who stepped out from the shelter of the hedge. Travel-stained, just awakened from sleep, disheveled, with dress disordered, there was none the less abundant boldness in his mien as he came forward, yet withal the grace and deference of the courtier. It was a good figure he made as he stepped down from the bank and came forward, hat in hand, the sun, now rising to the top of the hedge, lighting up his face and showing his bold profile, his open and straight blue eye.
“Ladies,” he said, as he reached the road, “I crave your pardon humbly. This, I think, is the coach of my Lord, the Earl of Banbury. Mayhap this is the Lady Catharine Knollys to whom I speak?”
The lady addressed still gazed at him, though she drew up with dignity.