Still, Louis’s desertion had left unoccupied so many of the hours of Mary’s time that he had previously absorbed, that her mother watched anxiously to see whether she would feel the blank. But she treated it as a matter of course. She had attended to her cousin when he needed her, and now that he had regained his former companion, Clara, she resigned him without effort or mortification, as far as could be seen. She was forced to fall back on other duties, furnishing the house, working for every one, and reading some books that Louis had brought before her. The impulse of self-improvement had not expired with his attention, and without any shadow of pique she was always ready to play the friend and elder sister whenever he needed her, and to be grateful when he shared her interests or pursuits. So the world went till Lord Ormersfield’s return caused Clara’s noise to subside so entirely, that her brother was sufficiently at ease to be exceedingly vivacious and entertaining, and Mrs. Ponsonby hoped for a great improvement in the state of affairs.
THE BETTER PART OF VALOUR.
For who is he, whose chin is but enriched
With one appearing hair, that will not follow
These culled and choice-drawn cavaliers ’gainst France?
Work, work your thoughts, and therein see a siege.
King Henry V.
The next forenoon, Mary met James in the park, wandering in search of his pupil, whom he had not seen since they had finished their morning’s work in the study. Some wild freak with Clara was apprehended, but while they were conferring, Mary exclaimed, ’What’s that?’ as a clatter and clank met her ear.
‘Only the men going out to join old Brewster’s ridiculous yeomanry,’ said Jem.
‘Oh, I should like to see them,’ cried Mary, running to the top of a bank, whence she could see into the hollow road leading from the stables to the lodge. Four horsemen, the sun glancing on their helmets, were descending the road, and a fifth, at some distance ahead, was nearly out of sight. ‘Ah,’ she said, ’Louis must have been seeing them off. How disappointed he must be not to go!’
‘I wish I was sure—’ said James, with a start. ’I declare his folly is capable of anything! Why did I not think of it sooner?’
Clara here rushed upon them with her cameleopard gallop, sending her voice before her, ‘Can you see them?’
‘Scarcely,’ said Mary, making room for her.
‘Where’s Louis’!’ hastily demanded her brother.
‘Gone to the yeomanry meeting,’ said Clara, looking in their faces in the exultation of producing a sensation.
James was setting off with a run to intercept him, but it was too late; and Clara loudly laughed as she said, ‘You can’t catch him.’