There was a moment’s pause; then lord Herbert laughed aloud.
‘Excellent well, mistress Dorothy!’ he cried. ’Thank your cousin, my lady, for a compliment worthy of an Irishwoman.’
‘I thank you, Dorothy,’ said her mistress; ’although, Irishwoman as I am, my lord hath put me out of love with compliments.’
‘When they are true and come unbidden, my lady,’ said Dorothy.
‘What! are there such compliments, cousin?’ said lord Herbert.
‘There are birds of Paradise, my lord, though rarely encountered.’
’Birds of Paradise indeed! they alight not in this world. Birds of Paradise have no legs, they say.
‘They need them not, my lord. Once alighted, they fly no more.’
‘How is it then they alight so seldom?’
’Because men shoo them away. One flew now from my heart to seek my lady’s, but your lordship frighted it.’
‘And so it flew back to Paradise—eh, mistress Dorothy?’ said lord Herbert, smiling archly.
The supper bell rang, and instead of replying, Dorothy looked up for her dismissal.
‘Go to supper, my lady,’ said lord Herbert. ’I have but just dined, and will see what Caspar is about.’
‘I want no supper but my Herbert,’ returned lady Margaret. ’Thou wilt not go to that hateful workshop?’
‘I have so little time at home now—’
‘That you must spend it from your lady?—Go to supper, Dorothy.’
HUSBAND AND WIFE
‘What an old-fashioned damsel it is!’ said lord Herbert when Dorothy had left the room.
‘She has led a lonely life,’ answered lady Margaret, ’and has read a many old-fashioned books.’
’She seems a right companion for thee, Peggy, and I am glad of it, for I shall be much from thee—more and more, I fear, till this bitter weather be gone by.’
’Alas, Ned! hast thou not been more than much from me already? Thou wilt certainly be killed, though thou hast not yet a scratch on thy blessed body. I would it were over and all well!’
’So would I—and heartily, dear heart! In very truth I love fighting as little as thou. But it is a thing that hath to be done, though small honour will ever be mine therefrom, I greatly fear me. It is one of those affairs in which liking goes farther than goodwill, and as I say, I love it not, only to do my duty. Hence doubtless it comes that no luck attends me. God knows I fear nothing a man ought not to fear—he is my witness—but what good service of arms have I yet rendered my king? It is but thy face, Peggy, that draws the smile from me. My heart is heavy. See how my rascally Welsh yielded before Gloucester, when the rogue Waller stole a march upon them—and I must be from thence! Had I but been there instead of at Oxford, thinkest thou they would have laid down their arms nor struck a single blow? I like not killing, but I can kill, and I can be killed. Thou knowest, sweet wife, thy Ned would not run.’