The Actress in High Life eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 372 pages of information about The Actress in High Life.

Justly proud of her, her father encouraged this, taking all the attention she attracted as compliments to himself; and the gentlemen displayed great ingenuity in devising various excuses for being in frequent attendance at headquarters, in the service of her ladyship.  Lieutenant Goring, the best horseman in the ——­ light dragoons, a squadron of which had been sent hither with the brigade, to fatten their emaciated steeds on the barley and maize of Alemtejo, established himself, uninvited, in the post of equerry, and sedulously devoted himself to training the beautiful Andalusian provided for Lady Mabel’s own saddle.  Of course, he had to be in attendance when she took the air on horseback.  Major Warren, from a free, heedless sportsman, who followed his game for his own pleasure, became gamekeeper, or rather, grand huntsman, bound to lay the feathered, furred, and scaly tribes under contribution to supply her table and tempt her delicate appetite.  A proud and happy man was he when skill or fortune enabled him to lay the antlered stag or tusked boar at her feet, and expatiate on the incidents of his sylvan campaign.  He, of course, must be often invited to partake of the social meal.  Captain Cranfield, of the engineers, had just returned from Badajoz, where he had been repairing shattered bastions, and patching up curtains sadly torn by shot and shell.  He found Lady Mabel busy renovating, modernising and adorning the rude and comfortless apartments of her monastic quarters.  Immediately his pencil, his professional ingenuity and skill are devoted to her service.  He appoints himself architect, upholsterer and improver-general to the household.  He designed elegant curtains, with graceful festoons for the misshapen windows, tasteful hangings to conceal bare walls of rough-hewn stone, picturesque screens to hide unsightly corners; and arranged and put them up with as much skill as if, with a native genius for it, he had been bred to the business.  The commonest materials became rich chintz and costly arras in his hands, mahogany, or rose-wood, at his bidding.  One morning so spent put him on an easier footing with Lady Mabel than a dozen casual meetings; and he quite got the weather gage of both equerry and huntsman, securing frequent and easy intercourse, while advising and assisting her in his inter-menial capacity, whereas these gentlemen’s spheres of official duty lay properly out of doors.  But he soon found a dangerous rival to take the wind out of his sails, in the person of Major Lumley, who, possessing great taste and skill in music, accidentally heard Lady Mabel singing in one room, while he was conversing with her father in the next.  “She has,” thought and said the major, “the sweetest voice in the world; and it only needs a little more cultivation to make it heavenly!” Lord Strathern thought so too.  The major’s instructive talents were put into requisition, and, from private practice, her father led her on, somewhat reluctant, to more public display,

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The Actress in High Life from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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