A welcome interruption came with the sound of swift wheels and high-stepping horses in the street, and the ladies pressed forward to see. “Lady Angleby’s carriage,” said Miss Burleigh as it whirled past and drew up at the “George.” She was now in haste to be gone and join her aunt, but Bessie lingered at the window to witness the great lady’s reception by the gentlemen who came out of the inn to meet her. Mr. Cecil Burleigh was foremost, and Mr. Fairfax, Mr. Oliver Smith, Mr. Forbes, and several more, yet strangers to Bessie, supported him. One who bowed with extreme deference she recognized, at a second glance, as Mr. John Short, her grandfather’s companion on his memorable visit to Beechhurst, which resulted in her severance from that dear home of her childhood. The sight of him brought back some vexed recollections, but she sighed and shook them off, and on Miss Burleigh’s again inviting her to come away to the “George” to Lady Angleby, she rose and followed her.
“Look pleasant,” said Miss Jocund, standing by the door as Bessie went out, and Bessie laughed and was obedient.
A QUIET POLICY.
Lady Angleby received Bessie Fairfax with a gracious affability, and if Bessie had desired to avail herself of the privilege there was a cheek offered her to kiss, but she did not appear to see it. Her mind was running on that boy, and her countenance was blithe as sunshine. Mr. Laurence Fairfax came forward to shake hands, and Mr. John Short respectfully claimed her acquaintance. They were in a smaller room, adjoining the committee-room, where the majority of the gentlemen had assembled, and Bessie said to Miss Burleigh, “We should see and hear better in Miss Jocund’s window;” but Miss Burleigh showed her that Miss Jocund’s window was already filled, and that the gathering on the pavement was increasing. Soon after twelve it increased fast, with the workmen halting during a few minutes of their hour’s release for dinner, but it never became a crowd, and the affair was much flatter than Bessie had expected. The new candidate was introduced by Mr. Oliver Smith, who spoke very briefly, and then made way for the candidate himself. Bessie could not see Mr. Cecil Burleigh, nor hear his words, but she observed that he was listened to, and jeeringly questioned only twice, and on both occasions his answer was received with cheers.
“You will read his speech in the Norminster Gazette on Saturday, or he will tell you the substance of it,” Miss Burleigh said. “Extremes meet in politics as in other things, and much of Cecil’s creed will suit the root-and-branch men as well as the fanatics of his own party.” Bessie wondered a little, but said nothing; she had thought moderation Mr. Cecil Burleigh’s characteristic.
A school of young ladies passed without difficulty behind the scanty throng, and five minutes after the speaking was over the street was empty.