“He is on his way to make a visit in Monmouthshire, together with a brother office, who is related to my Lady Herries, and finding that their road led them within twenty miles of our town, the decided on making a diversion to see her. It was only from her that Sir Amyas understood how close he was to his mother’s property, for my Lady is extremely jealous of her prerogative.”
“How did you hear all this, sister?”
“Sir George Herries rode over this afternoon and sat an hour with my father, delighting him by averring that the young gentleman has his mother’s charms of person, together with his father’s solidity of principle and character, and that he will do honour to his name.”
O, I hope he will come back by this route!” cried Harriet.
“Of that there is small likelihood,” said Betty. “His mother is nearly certain to prevent it since she is sure to take umbrage at his having visited the Great House without her permission.”
CHAPTER IV. MY LADY’S MISSIVE.
To the next coffee-house he
Takes up the news, some scraps he reads.—GAY.
Though Carminster was a cathedral city, the Special General Post only came in once a week, and was liable to delay through storms, snows, mire and highwaymen, so that its arrival was as great an event as is now the coming in of a mail steamer to a colonial harbour. The “post” was a stout countryman, with a red coat, tall jackboots and a huge hat. He rode a strong horse, which carried, en croupe, an immense pack, covered with oiled canvas, rising high enough to support his back, while he blew a long horn to announce his arrival.
Letters were rare and very expensive articles unless franked by a Member of Parliament, but gazettes and newsletters formed a large portion of his freight. No private gentleman except the Dean and Sir George Herries went to the extravagance of taking in a newspaper on his own account, but there was a club who subscribed for the Daily Gazetteer, the Tatler, and one or two other infant forms of periodical literature. These were hastily skimmed on their first arrival at the club-room at the White Dragon, lay on the table to be more deliberately conned for a week, and finally were divided among the members to be handed about among the families and dependants as long as they would hold together.
Major Delavie never willingly missed the coming of the mail, for his foreign experiences gave him keen interest in the war between France and Austria, and he watched the campaigns of his beloved Prince Eugene with untiring enthusiasm, being, moreover, in the flattering position of general interpreter and guide to his neighbours through the scanty articles on foreign intelligence.
It was about ten days after the syllabub party, when he had quite recovered his ordinary health, that he mounted his stout pony in his military undress, his cocked hat perched on his well-powdered bob-wig, with a queue half-way down his dark green gold-laced coat, and with his long jack-boots carefully settle by Palmer over the knee that would never cease to give him trouble.