She was veiled when Janet drove her out; Janet sitting upright in her masterly way, smoothing her pet ponies with the curl of her whip, chatting and smiling; the princess slightly leaning back. I strode up to the country roads, proud of our land’s beauty under a complacent sky. By happy chance, which in a generous mood I ascribed to Janet’s good nature, I came across them at a seven miles’ distance. They were talking spiritedly: what was wonderful, they gave not much heed to me: they seemed on edge for one another’s conversation: each face was turned to the other’s, and after nodding an adieu, they resumed the animated discourse. I had been rather in alarm lest Ottilia should think little of Janet. They passed out of sight without recurring to a thought of me behind them.
In the evening I was one among a group of ladies. I had the opportunity of hearing the running interchange between Ottilia and Janet, which appeared to be upon equal terms; indeed, Janet led. The subjects were not very deep. Plain wits, candour, and an unpretending tongue, it seemed, could make common subjects attractive, as fair weather does our English woods and fields. The princess was attracted by something in Janet. I myself felt the sway of something, while observing Ottilia’s rapt pleasure in her talk and her laughter, with those funny familiar frowns and current dimples twisting and melting away like a play of shadows on the eddies of the brook.
’I ‘m glad to be with her,’ Janet said of Ottilia.
It was just in that manner she spoke in Ottilia’s presence. Why it should sound elsewhere unsatisfactorily blunt, and there possess a finished charm, I could not understand.
I mentioned to Janet that I feared my father would be returning.
She contained herself with a bridled ‘Oh!’
We were of one mind as to the necessity for keeping him absent, if possible.
‘Harry, you’ll pardon me; I can’t talk of him,’ said she.
I proposed half-earnestly to foil his return by going to London at once.
‘That’s manly; that’s nice of you,’ Janet said.
This was on our walk from the house at night. My aunt Dorothy listened, pressing my arm. The next morning Janet urged me to go at once. ’Keep him away, bring down grandada, Harry. She cannot quit the island, because she has given Prince Ernest immediate rendezvous here. You must not delay to go. Yes, the Countess of Delzenburg shall have your excuses. And no, I promise you I will run nobody down. Besides, if I do, aunty will be at hand to plead for the defence, and she can! She has a way that binds one to accept everything she says, and Temple ought to study with her for a year or two before he wears his gown. Bring him back with you and grandada. He is esteemed here at his true worth. I love him for making her in love with English boys. I leave the men for those who know them, but English boys are unrivalled,