It was the old family place of the Royallieu House in which he had congregated half the Guardsmen in the Service for the great event, and consequently the bachelor chambers in it were of the utmost comfort and spaciousness, and when Cecil sauntered into his old quarters, familiar from boyhood, he could not have been better off in his own luxurious haunts in Piccadilly. Moreover, the first thing that caught his eye was a dainty scarlet silk riding jacket broidered in gold and silver, with the motto of his house, “Coeur Vaillant se fait Royaume,” all circled with oak and laurel leaves on the collar.
It was the work of very fair hands, of very aristocratic hands, and he looked at it with a smile. “Ah, my lady, my lady!” he thought half aloud, “do you really love me? Do I really love you?”
There was a laugh in his eyes as he asked himself what might be termed an interesting question; then something more earnest came over his face, and he stood a second with the pretty costly embroideries in his hand, with a smile that was almost tender, though it was still much more amused. “I suppose we do,” he concluded at last; “at least quite as much as is ever worth while. Passions don’t do for the drawing-room, as somebody says in ‘Coningsby’; besides—I would not feel a strong emotion for the universe. Bad style always, and more detrimental to ‘condition,’ as Tom would say, than three bottles of brandy!”
He was so little near what he dreaded, at present at least, that the scarlet jacket was tossed down again, and gave him no dreams of his fair and titled embroideress. He looked out, the last thing, at some ominous clouds drifting heavily up before the dawn, and the state of the weather, and the chance of its being rainy, filled his thoughts, to the utter exclusion of the donor of that bright gold-laden dainty gift. “I hope to goodness there won’t be any drenching shower. Forest King can stand ground as hard as a slate, but if there’s one thing he’s weak in it’s slush!” was Bertie’s last conscious thought, as he stretched his limbs out and fell sound asleep.
The soldiers’ blue ribbon.
“Take the Field bar one.” “Two to one on Forest King.” “Two to one on Bay Regent.” “Fourteen to seven on Wild Geranium.” “Seven to two against Brother to Fairy.” “Three to five on Pas de Charge.” “Nineteen to six on Day Star.” “Take the Field bar one,” rose above the hoarse tumultuous roar of the ring on the clear, crisp, sunny morning that was shining on the Shires on the day of the famous steeple-chase.