“I told you a rose had a short life,” was the answer.
“Oh, those roses! ‘Tis the very greates’ rizzon to gather each day a fresh one.” He took a red bud from his breast for an instant, and touched it to his lips.
“M. de Chateaurien!” It was Lady Mary’s voice; she stood at a table where a vacant place had been left beside her. “M. de Chateaurien, we have been waiting very long for you.”
The Duke saw the look she did not know she gave the Frenchman, and he lost countenance for a moment.
“We approach a climax, eh, monsieur?” said M. de Chateaurien.
There fell a clear September night, when the moon was radiant over town and country, over cobbled streets and winding roads. From the fields the mists rose slowly, and the air was mild and fragrant, while distances were white and full of mystery. All of Bath that pretended to fashion or condition was present that evening at a fete at the house of a country gentleman of the neighborhood. When the stately junket was concluded, it was the pleasure of M. de Chateaurien to form one of the escort of Lady Mary’s carriage for the return. As they took the road, Sir Hugh Guilford and Mr. Bantison, engaging in indistinct but vigorous remonstrance with Mr. Molyneux over some matter, fell fifty or more paces behind, where they continued to ride, keeping up their argument. Half a dozen other gallants rode in advance, muttering among themselves, or attended laxly upon Lady Mary’s aunt on the other side of the coach, while the happy Frenchman was permitted to ride close to that adorable window which framed the fairest face in England.
He sang for her a little French song, a song of the voyageur who dreamed of home. The lady, listening, looking up at the bright moon, felt a warm drop upon her cheek, and he saw the tears sparkling upon her lashes.
“Mademoiselle,” he whispered then, “I, too, have been a wanderer, but my dreams were not of France; no, I do not dream of that home, of that dear country. It is of a dearer country, a dream country—a country of gold and snow,” he cried softly, looking it her white brow and the fair, lightly powdered hair above it. “Gold and snow, and the blue sky of a lady’s eyes!”
“I had thought the ladies of France were dark, sir.
“Cruel! It is that she will not understan’! Have I speak of the ladies of France? No, no, no! It is of the faires’ country; yes, ’tis a province of heaven, mademoiselle. Do I not renounce my allegiance to France? Oh, yes! I am subjec’—no, content to be slave—in the lan’ of the blue sky, the gold, and the snow.
“A very pretty figure,” answered Lady Mary, her eyes downcast. “But does it not hint a notable experience in the making of such speeches?”
“Tormentress! No. It prove only the inspiration it is to know you.”
“We English ladies hear plenty of the like sir; and we even grow brilliant enough to detect the assurance that lies beneath the courtesies of our own gallants.”