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"You should have lived awhile in the society of my brother-inlaw, he would have taught you to remember a few; this one is very pointed, however: How can we expect that a friend should keep our secret, whilst we are convincing him that it is more than we can do ourselves ?"
"But for all that it is very pleasant to get rid of the load. I hate secrets, and, worse still, secret people; they always seem to belong to the vampire tribe-they fascinate all your secrets out of you, and give you no confidence in return; you find yourself in their power before you know how greatly you have committed yourself. I dislike such people immensely; they make me nervous and uncomfortable. But here come the gentlemen at last!" she said, rising with alacrity, as if she had talked quite enough on such serious topics and was glad of a change. Colonel Stanhope took her place, saying—
"Well, Mary, how have you been getting on? How did Arthur behave?"
Awfully well!" I replied, laughing.
"You have discovered Master Arthur's pet adverb, I see; he is not a bad fellow; but "-and he lowered his tone as he spoke“I put you on your guard against his mother."
"I am never likely to interfere with her," I said, with surprise. "I am not so sure of that. Arthur's weak point is an easy susceptibility, with his mother's will as a strong anchor whenever a breeze threatens to become dangerous and carry him out to sea too far. Take care, my little girl," he said, with a sudden earnest tenderness; "the world is before you, and we must see that no little hearts are broken at the outset ;" then adding, in a lighter tone, "You must appoint me your father confessor-won't you?"
"When there is anything to confess, I promise that you shall fill the post," I replied, gratefully.
"That is a good girl." We were silent for some moments, when he exclaimed: "Oh, what a bore, I knew it was coming; Crofton must have his rubber, and I am victimised accordingly; and there is Arthur looking wistfully across in this direction, wondering why I don't vacate in his favour; so I must go."
Amy was at the piano, playing a delicious tarantella by some modern composer, with Lord Delamaine in waiting to turn the leaves of her music.
"You sing, don't you?" said Captain Crofton, coming up to me. "I am awfully fond of singing.'
"So am I-do you sing?"
"No; I wish to heaven I did; but I go regularly to the opera when I am in town. I am awfully fond of the opera-I was
only a night or two in London as I passed through, and I went to hear in Faust. It is the finest thing out, where she sings the duet, you know, and the scene before in the garden. Oh, it is awfully fine!"
"I have never seen the opera, but I know the music.' "Do you? Can you sing the jewel song-that one with the shake? I don't know the Italian for it.”
"I know the one you mean, but it is hardly suitable for a drawing-room. I think that you want the scenery and the jewels to give it effect and point. It is so difficult to make people understand what you are in such ecstacies about unless they see the
"Never mind the scenery if you can sing the music; as the showman said to the little boy who asked which was Pharaoh and which was the host? You must imagine the 'ost, 'cos the canvas isn't large enough to contain 'em.' So we must imagine the jewels and all the etcetera. Do come and sing it! Amy is just finished; we have the music, so you haven't the ghost of an excuse. Here, Amy, get your score of Faust. Miss Prior is going to give us the jewel song, and you can accompany her."
'Oh, by George! that is awfully fine!" he exclaimed, as I finished it, while Amy laughed in the midst of her thanks, saying
"You have completely destroyed Arthur; he won't recover this for a week," and indeed, when I looked at him I could not help laughing with Amy at the lackadaisical expression of his face.
Notwithstanding the frequent repetition of the irritating adverb, to which I soon grew accustomed, there was something very agreeable and genuine about Captain Crofton. It was impossible not to like him, he possessed a freedom and charm of manner that refused to be kept at a distance; and I enjoyed my evening very much.
As time passed on, and I became the object of his unvarying attention, I felt that it would require a very stout heart to remain insensible to his fascination. That he would ever have the power to supply Philip's place I knew to be impossible; but Philip, since he had refused Colonel Stanhope's invitation, was fast becoming a dream of which I despaired. It is at this point of aching vacuity that we so often wreck our lives by filling the void with any pleasing object that greets the fancy. So impatient are we then of suffering that we fling off pain with rebellious laughter, and defy our longings with hollow substitutes.
It was thus I strove to stifle pain, and with success, for I took no heed of aught but the simple pleasure of living in the midst of everything that could enhance the delight of life, and make it one of pure physical enjoyment.
"OVER THE HILLS AND FAR AWAY,"
(BY J. E. MILLAIS. IN THE ROYAL ACADEMY EXHIBITION, 1876.)
SCOTLAND, that generations breeds,
Oh, rugged land of proud tradition,
Oh, land of dauntless patriots!
Oh, land whose 'scutcheon stain'd with blots,
Oh, land of gory wild romance,
Oh, lovely land of crag and glen,
That seemed a fair Gehenna when
Here, by the poet-painter's art,
It is a heathery inland bay,
Where circling mountains stretch away
Unto the portals of the day.
Where, on grey stones, the crowing grouse,
The sleepy startled morn arouse.
Where, by moist reed and mossy peat,
Where oft is heard through mingled bristle,
The snipe's shrill shriek-the plover's whistle.
Where, while the smiling showeret fills
This wild, that common footsteps shun,
And oft, knee-deep in heather, he,
Nor, seldom the sun, sinking slow,
THE EARL OF BEACONSFIELD.
"SOMEBODY once said, 'Thank God we have a House of Lords ;' I say, 'Thank God we have the Earl of Beaconsfield at the head of affairs.'"-Such was the remark we overheard made by a member of that class which Mr. Bright styles "the residuum," on the day that it was announced to the world that Mr. Disraeli had been created a peer, and had left the arena of his life-long battles and triumphs, to take his seat in that "hereditary and august chamber," the grandeur and importance of which he has never failed to recognise. We were at once struck and charmed by the remark, because it seemed a powerful corroboration of the opinion we have always entertained, that notwithstanding the persistent and profligate efforts of the Radical press, combined with Radical politicians, "Spargere ambiguas voces in vulgum,"-that popular instinct, which lies deeper than mere education and which cannot long remain blinded, had pierced through sophistries and misleading influences, and clearly recognised the man under whose guidance the destinies of the nation were safe. For our own part, while sharing in the pride which the whole country feels at the dignity which Mr. Disraeli's Sovereign has conferred upon him, we cannot echo too heartily the observation of the artisan, "Thank God that Lord Beaconsfield still remains at the head of affairs." We cannot, as some of the Liberal press do-the wish, we fear, is father to the thought-look upon the fact of Mr. Disraeli becoming a peer as the closing act and consummation of the drama; for we are persuaded that much yet lies in the future that will add both to Lord Beaconsfield's usefulness and renown; but at the same time we feel that what has happened is, so to speak, the placing of the top stone on one portion of the edifice of his fame, and that it is a peculiarly seasonable moment in which to bring before the public some passages in a career perhaps the most marvellous, and certainly the most unique of the century. As probably everybody knows by this time, Mr. Disraeli (as he was then) became known to the public first of all as a brilliant novelist. His first production, "Vivian Grey," though, as he himself intimates, "written by a boy," was devoured and talked about in fashionable circles. In one of his prefaces, Mr. Disraeli speaks in the most disparaging tones of the first heir of his invention," and actually declares that he used every effort to prevent its being