The days glided on, and the holidays came to an end; Maurice spent them in adding to his collection of insects, which, with Jane’s assistance, he arranged very neatly; and Reginald and Phyllis performed several exploits, more agreeable to themselves than satisfactory to the more rational part of the New Court community. At the same time, Reginald’s devotion to Miss Weston increased; he never moved from her side when she sang, did not fail to be of the party when she walked with his sisters, offered her one of his own puppies, named his little ship ‘Alethea,’ and was even tolerably civil to Marianne.
At length the day of departure came; the boys returned to school, Claude joined Lord Rotherwood, and the New Court was again in a state of tranquillity.
‘Prescribe us not our duties.’
‘Well, Phyllis,’ said her father, as he passed through the hall to mount his horse, ’how do you like the prospect of Monsieur le Roi’s instructions?’
‘Not at all, papa,’ answered Phyllis, running out to the hall door to pat the horse, and give it a piece of bread.
‘Take care you turn out your toes,’ said Mr. Mohun. ’You must learn to dance like a dragon before Cousin Rotherwood’s birthday next year.’
‘Papa, how do dragons dance?’
‘That is a question I must decide at my leisure,’ said Mr. Mohun, mounting. ’Stand out of the way, Phyl, or you will feel how horses dance.’
Away he rode, while Phyllis turned with unwilling steps to the nursery, to be dressed for her first dancing lesson; Marianne Weston was to learn with her, and this was some consolation, but Phyllis could not share in the satisfaction Adeline felt in the arrival of Monsieur le Roi. Jane was also a pupil, but Lily, whose recollections of her own dancing days were not agreeable, absented herself entirely from the dancing-room, even though Alethea Weston had come with her sister.
Poor Phyllis danced as awkwardly as was expected, but Adeline seemed likely to be a pupil in whom a master might rejoice; Marianne was very attentive and not ungraceful, but Alethea soon saw reason to regret the arrangement that had been made, for she perceived that Jane considered the master a fair subject for derision, and her ’nods and becks, and wreathed smiles,’ called up corresponding looks in Marianne’s face.
‘Oh Brownie, you are a naughty thing!’ said Emily, as soon as M. le Roi had departed.
‘He really was irresistible!’ said Jane.
’I suppose ridicule is one of the disagreeables to which a dancing-master makes up his mind,’ said Alethea.
‘Yes,’ said Jane, ’one can have no compunction in quizzing that species.’
‘I do not think I can quite say that, Jane,’ said Miss Weston.
‘This man especially lays himself open to ridicule,’ said Jane; ’do you know, Alethea, that he is an Englishman, and his name is King, only he calls himself Le Roi, and speaks broken English!’