‘I have never known such happiness,’ she said. The brilliancy of her eyes confirmed it.
He glanced over at Duchess Susan, who was like a sunflower in the sun. His glance lingered a moment. Her abundant and glowing young charms were the richest fascination an eye like his could dwell on. ‘That is right,’ said he. ’We will be perfectly happy till the month ends. And after it? But get us rid of Monsieur le Jeune; toss him that trifle; I spare him that. ’Twill be bliss to him, at the cost of a bit of silk thread to us. Besides, if we keep him to cure him of his passion here, might it not be —these boys veer suddenly, like the winds of Albion, from one fair object to t’ other—at the cost of the precious and simple lady you are guarding? I merely hint. These two affect one another, as though it could be. She speaks of him. It shall be as you please, but a trifle like that, my Chloe, to be rid of a green eye!’
‘You much wish him gone?’ she said.
He shrugged. ‘The fellow is in our way.’
‘You think him a little perilous for my innocent lady?’
‘Candidly, I do.’
She stretched the half-plaited silken rope in her two hands to try the strength of it, made a second knot, and consigned it to her pocket.
At once she wore her liveliest playfellow air, in which character no one was so enchanting as Chloe could be, for she became the comrade of men without forfeit of her station among sage sweet ladies, and was like a well-mannered sparkling boy, to whom his admiring seniors have given the lead in sallies, whims, and fights; but pleasanter than a boy, the soft hues of her sex toned her frolic spirit; she seemed her sex’s deputy, to tell the coarser where they could meet, as on a bridge above the torrent separating them, gaily for interchange of the best of either, unfired and untempted by fire, yet with all the elements which make fire burn to animate their hearts.
‘Lucky the man who wins for himself that life-long cordial!’ Mr. Beamish said to Duchess Susan.
She had small comprehension of metaphorical phrases, but she was quick at reading faces; and comparing the enthusiasm on the face of the beau with Caseldy’s look of troubled wonderment and regret, she pitied the lover conscious of not having the larger share of his mistress’s affections. When presently he looked at her, the tender-hearted woman could have cried for very compassion, so sensible did he show himself of Chloe’s preference of the other.
That evening Duchess Susan played at the Pharaoh table and lost eight hundred pounds, through desperation at the loss of twenty. After encouraging her to proceed to this extremity, Caseldy checked her. He was conducting her out of the Play room when a couple of young squires of the Shepster order, and primed with wine, intercepted her to present their condolences, which they performed with exaggerated gestures, intended for broad mimicry of the courtliness imported from the Continent, and a very dulcet harping on the popular variations of her Christian name, not forgetting her singular title, ’my lovely, lovely Dewlap!’