There was, indeed, no revival of the little sentiment which I had once experienced. When these things once expire, I do believe they are as hard to revive as our dead lap-dogs, guinea-pigs, and parrots. It was my perfect coolness which enabled me to chat, I flatter myself, so agreeably with the refined Captain, who plainly thought me his captive, and was probably now and then thinking what was to be done to utilise that little bit of Bartram, or to beautify some other, when he should see fit to become its master, as we rambled over these wild but beautiful grounds.
It was just about then that Milly nudged me rather vehemently, and whispered ‘Look there!’
I followed with mine the direction of her eyes, and saw my odious cousin, Dudley, in a flagrant pair of cross-barred peg-tops, and what Milly before her reformation used to call other ‘slops’ of corresponding atrocity, approaching our refined little party with great strides. I really think that Milly was very nearly ashamed of him. I certainly was. I had no apprehension, however, of the scene which was imminent.
The charming Captain mistook him probably for some rustic servant of the place, for he continued his agreeable remarks up to the very moment when Dudley, whose face was pale with anger, and whose rapid advance had not served to cool him, without recollecting to salute either Milly or me, accosted our elegant companion as follows:—
’By your leave, master, baint you summat in the wrong box here, don’t you think?’
He had planted himself directly in his front, and looked unmistakably menacing.
‘May I speak to him? Will you excuse me?’ said the Captain blandly.
‘Ow—ay, they’ll excuse ye ready enough, I dessay; you’re to deal wi’ me though. Baint ye in the wrong box now?’
‘I’m not conscious, sir, of being in a box at all,’ replied the Captain, with severe disdain. ’It strikes me you are disposed to get up a row. Let us, if you please, get a little apart from the ladies if that is your purpose.’
‘I mean to turn you out o’ this the way ye came. If you make a row, so much the wuss for you, for I’ll lick ye to fits.’
‘Tell him not to fight,’ whispered Milly; ‘he’ll a no chance wi’ Dudley.’
I saw Dickon Hawkes grinning over the paling on which he leaned.
‘Mr. Hawkes,’ I said, drawing Milly with me toward that unpromising mediator, ‘pray prevent unpleasantness and go between them.’
‘An’ git licked o’ both sides? Rather not, Miss, thank ye,’ grinned Dickon, tranquilly.
‘Who are you, sir?’ demanded our romantic acquaintance, with military sternness.
’I’ll tell you who you are—you’re Oakley, as stops at the Hall, that Governor wrote, over-night, not to dare show your nose inside the grounds. You’re a half-starved cappen, come down here to look for a wife, and——’
Before Dudley could finish his sentence, Captain Oakley, than whose face no regimentals could possibly have been more scarlet, at that moment, struck with his switch at Dudley’s handsome features.