Presently Lady Nithsdale drew near, accompanied by a tall, grave gentleman, and bringing with them a still taller youth, with the stiffest of backs and the longest of legs, who, when presented, made a bow apparently from the end of his spine, like Estelle’s lamented Dutch-jointed doll when made to sit down. Moreover, he was more shabbily dressed than any other gentleman present, with a general outgrown look about his coat, and darns in his silk stockings; and though they were made by the hand of a Countess, that did not add to their elegance. And as he stood as stiff as a ramrod or as a sentinel, Estelle’s good breeding was all called into play, and her mother’s heart quailed as she said to herself, ’A great raw Scot! What can be done with him?
Lord Nithsdale spoke for him, thinking he had better go as secretary, and showing some handwriting of good quality. ’Did he know any languages?’ ‘French, English, Latin, and some Greek.’ ‘And, Madame,’ added Lord Nithsdale, ’not only is his French much better than mine, as you would hear if the boy durst open his mouth, but our broad Scotch is so like Swedish that he will almost be an interpreter there.’
However hopeless Madame de Bourke felt, she smiled and professed herself rejoiced to hear it, and it was further decided that Arthur Maxwell Hope, aged eighteen, Scot by birth, should be mentioned among those of the Ambassador’s household for whom she demanded passports. Her position rendered this no matter of difficulty, and it was wiser to give the full truth to the home authorities; but as it was desirable that it should not be reported to the English Government that Lord Burnside’s brother was in the suite of the Jacobite Comte de Bourke, he was only to be known to the public by his first name, which was not much harder to French lips than Maxwell or Hope.
‘Tall and black and awkward,’ said Estelle, describing him to her brother. ’I shall not like him—I shall call him Phalante instead of Arthur.’
‘Arthur,’ said Ulysse; ‘King Arthur was turned into a crow!’
’Well, this Arthur is like a crow—a great black skinny crow with torn feathers.’
CHAPTER III—ON THE RHONE
’Fairer scenes the opening eye
Of the day can scarce descry,
Fairer sight he looks not on
Than the pleasant banks of Rhone.’
Long legs may be in the abstract an advantage, but scarcely so in what was called in France une grande Berline. This was the favourite travelling carriage of the eighteenth century, and consisted of a close carriage or coach proper, with arrangements on the top for luggage, and behind it another seat open, but provided with a large leathern hood, and in front another place for the coachman and his companions. Each seat was wide enough to hold three persons, and thus within sat Madame de Bourke, her brother-in-law,