Orders were issued to the outriders for horns to be sounded.
Both Chloe and Beau Beamish wrinkled their foreheads at the disorderly notes of triple horns, whose pealing made an acid in the air instead of sweetness.
‘You would say, kennel dogs that bay the moon!’ said the wincing beau. ’Yet, as you know, these fellows have been exercised. I have had them out in a meadow for hours, baked and drenched, to get them rid of their native cacophony. But they love it, as they love bacon and beans. The musical taste of our people is in the stage of the primitive appetite for noise, and for that they are gluttons.’
‘It will be pleasant to hear in the distance,’ Chloe replied.
’Ay, the extremer the distance, the pleasanter to hear. Are they advancing?’
‘They stop. There is a cavalier at the window. Now he doffs his hat.’
Chloe described a semicircle in the grand manner.
The beau’s eyebrows rose. ‘Powers divine !’ he muttered. ’She is let loose from hand to hand, and midway comes a cavalier. We did not count on the hawks. So I have to deal with a cavalier! It signifies, my dear Chloe, that I must incontinently affect the passion if I am to be his match: nothing less.’
‘He has flown,’ said Chloe.
‘Whom she encounters after meeting me, I care not,’ quoth the beau, snapping a finger. ’But there has been an interval for damage with a lady innocent as Eve. Is she advancing?’
’The chariot is trotting down the hill. He has ridden back. She has no attendant horseman.’
’They were dismissed at my injunction ten miles off particularly to the benefit of the cavaliering horde, it would appear. In the case of a woman, Chloe, one blink of the eyelids is an omission of watchfulness.’
‘That is an axiom fit for the harem of the Grand Signior.’
’The Grand Signior might give us profitable lessons for dealing with the sex.’
‘Distrust us, and it is a declaration of war!’
‘Trust you, and the stopper is out of the smelling-bottle.’
‘Mr. Beamish, we are women, but we have souls.’
’The pip in the apple whose ruddy cheek allures little Tommy to rob the orchard is as good a preservative.’
‘You admit that men are our enemies?’
‘I maintain that they carry the banner of virtue.’
‘Oh, Mr. Beamish, I shall expire.’
’I forbid it in my lifetime, Chloe, for I wish to die believing in one woman.’
‘No flattery for me at the expense of my sisters!’
’Then fly to a hermitage; for all flattery is at somebody’s expense, child. ’Tis an essence-extract of humanity! To live on it, in the fashion of some people, is bad—it is downright cannibal. But we may sprinkle our handkerchiefs with it, and we should, if we would caress our noses with an air. Society, my Chloe, is a recommencement upon an upper level of the savage system; we must have our sacrifices. As, for instance, what say you of myself beside our booted bumpkin squires?’