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from the little fleuriste opposite in King's Parade, to the V.P.'s wife, who petted him, par excellence, because his uncle was a millionnaire-the dearest fellow in the world, according to all the Cambridge young ladies -the darling of all the milliner and confectioner girls in Trumpingtonstreet and Petty Cury-the best chap going among the kindred spirits, who got gated, and lectured, and rusticated for skying over to Newmarket, or pommelling bargees, or taking a lark over at Cherryhinton the best-dressed, fastest, and most charming of Cantabs, as he himself would gravely assure you.
What there was in common between the haughty, reserved tutor, who had long ago tired of Young England epicurianism, and the wild, gay, light-hearted under-grad, I can't say, for I much question if the wisest sage ever puzzled out a stiffer problem than that common human mystery -mutual attachments.
The Commencement came and went, with its speeches, and its H.R.H. Chancellor, and its pretty women gliding with their crinoline and lace parasols among the elms of Neville's Court (poor Leslie Ellis's daily haunt), filling the grim benches of the Senate House, and flitting past the carved benches of King's Chapel. Granta was henceforth a desert to all Cambridge belles; they could walk down Trumpingtonstreet without meeting a score of little straw hats, and Trumpingtonstreet became as odious as Sahara; the darling Backs were free to them, and, of course, the dear little contradictory things, who, by all relations, from those of Genesis to those of Vanity Fair, have never cared, save for fruit défendu, saw nothing to admire in the trees, and grass, and river, minus outriggers and collegians. There was a general exodus: Masters' red hoods, Fellows Commoners' gold-lace, Fellows' gown and mortar boards, morning chapel surplices, and under-grads' straw-hats and cut-away coats, all vanished from court and library, street and cloister. Cambridge was empty; the married Dons and their families went off to country-houses or Rhine steamers; unmarried Fellows went touring with views to mediæval architecture, Roman remains, Greek inscriptions, Paris laisser aller, or Norwegian fishing, according to their tastes and habits; undergrads scattered themselves over the face of the globe, and were to be found in knots of two or three calling for stout in Véfour's, kicking up a row with Austrian gendarmerie, chalking up effigies of Bomba on Italian walls, striding up every mountain from Skiddaw to the Pic du Midi, burrowing like rabbits in a warren for reading purposes on Dartmoor, kissing sunny-haired Gretchens in German hostelries, swinging through the Vaterland with knapsacks and sticks, doing a walking tour-in fact, swarming everywhere with their impossible French and hearty voices, and lithe English muscle, Granta marked on them as distinctly as an M.B. waistcoat marks an Anglican, or utter ignorance of modern politics a "great classic."
Cambridge had emptied itself of the scores of naughty boys that lie in the arms of Mater, and on Tuesday Keane and Sydie were shaking and rattling over those dreadful nervous Eastern Counties tenders, through that picturesque and beautiful country that does permutations with such laudable perseverance on pollards, fens, and flats-flats, fens, and poldards at the snail's pace that, according to the E.U.R,, we must believe to be "express.”
"I wrote and told the governor you were coming down with me, Keane," said Sydie, hanging up his hat. "I didn't tell him what a trouble I had to make you throw over South America for a fortnight, and come and taste his curry at the Beeches. You'll like the old boy, Keane; he's as hot and choleric, and as genial and good-hearted, as any old brick that ever walked. He was born as sweet-tempered and softmouthed as mamma when an eldest son waltzes twice with Adeliza, and the pepper's been put into him by the curry-powder, the gentlemanlike transportation, and the unlimited command over black devils, enjoyed by gentlemen of the H.E.I.C.S."
"A nabob uncle," thought Keane. "Oh, I see, yellow, dyspeptic, always boring one with How to govern India,' and recollections of "When I served with Napier.' What a fool I was to let Sydie persuade me to go. A month in Lima and the Pampas would be much pleasanter."
"He came over last year," continued Sydie, in blessed ignorance, "and bought the Beeches, a very jolly place, I can tell you, only he's crammed it with everything anybody suggested, and tried anything that any farmer recommended, so that the house and the estate present a peculiar compendium of all theories of architecture, and a general exhibition of all sorts of tastes. He's his hobbies; pouncing on and apprehending small boys is one of 'em, for which practice he is endeared to the youth of St. Crucis as the old cove,' the Injian devil,' and like affectionate cognomens. But he's a prime old boy, the exception to governors generally; they're often a nasty, spiteful lot, and grudge one the fun they've outgrown themselves. But the General's weak point is me-me and little Fay."
"His mare, I suppose ?" said Keane, unfolding his Times. Though he was a contributor to the Journal des Mathématiques and the Cambridge Transactions, he was up in all the things of the day, and knew Palmerston's measures as thoroughly as Plato's Republic.
"His mare!—bless my heart, no!-his mare!" And Sydie lay back, and laughed silently. His mare! By George! what would she say. She's a good deal too lively a young lady to run in harness for anybody, though she's soft-mouthed enough when she's led. Mare! No, Fay's his niece-my cousin. Her father and my father went to glory when we were both smalls, and left us in legacy to the General, and a pretty pot of money the legacy has cost him."
"Your cousin, indeed! The name's more like a mare's than a girl's," answered Keane, thinking to himself. "A cousin! I just wish I'd known that. One of those Indian girls, I bet, tanned brown as a berry, flirts à outrance, has run the gauntlet of all the Calcutta balls, been engaged to men in all the arms, talks horridly broad Anglo-Indian-English. I know the style."
At this juncture the train stopped, and a dashing young widow in very deep crape and very bright smiles getting into the carriage, Sydie began a small introductory flirtation in the way of arranging her traps and discoursing on the weather, and Keane opened his Times and began the leader.
THE FAIRY OF THE BEECHES.
THE engine screamed, and pulled up at the St. Crucis station, some seventy miles farther on, lying in the midst of Creswickian landscapes, with woodlands, and cottages, and sweet fresh stretches of meadow-land, such as do one's heart good after hard days and late nights in dust and gaslight. The pretty widow gathered her sable round her, and bid Sydie quite an affectionate farewell. Keane folded up his Times, and got down with a murmured curse on the E.U.R., and the train sped on, the pretty widow leaning out of the window to look at the country, or at Sydie taking the ribbons of a high-stepping bay that had brought one of the neatest possible traps to take him and Keane to the Beeches.
"Deuced fine woman," said Sydie, taking off his hat to her, and springing, in all his glory, to the box, than which no imperial throne could have offered to him one-half so delightful a seat. "Poor thing! how sorry she is to part with me. However, she has a 'Parlour Library' to console her. I always talk to the women in a train that are reading the green books, but if I see 'em with the red ones I know they're blue, and never venture to spring the awful mines of intellectual ore that are sure to be hid away in the bumps under their bandeaux. The bay's in good condition, ain't he, Keane ? and, I say, Harris, how's Scamp? What a crying shame we're not allowed to keep the sorriest hack at King's. That comes of gentlemen slipping into shoes that were meant for beggars. Hallo, there are the old beech-trees; I vow I can almost taste the curry and dry from looking at them."
In dashed the bay through the park-gates, and the dog-cart tore through the quarter of a mile of avenue, sending the shingle flying up in small simoons, and the rooks cawing in supreme surprise from their nests in the branches of the beech-trees.
"Hallo, my ancient, how are you?" began Sydie to the butler, while that stately person expanded into a smile of welcome. "Down, dog, down! 'Pon my life, the old place looks very jolly. What have you hung all armour up for, to make believe our ancestors dwelt in these marble halls? How devilish dusty I am. Where's the General? Didn't know we were coming till next train. Fay! Fay! where are you ? Ashton, where's Miss Morton ?"
"Here, Sydie dear," cried the young lady in question, rushing across the hall with the most ecstatic delight, and throwing herself into the Cantab's arms, who received her with no less cordiality, and kissed her straightaway, regardless of the presence of Keane, the butler, and Harris.
"Oh, Sydie," began the young lady, breathlessly, "I'm so delighted you're come. There's the archery fête, and a pic-nic at Shallowton, and an election ball over at Coverdale, and I want you to dance with me, and to try the new billiard-table, and to come and see my aviary, and to teach me pistol-shooting (because Julia Dupuis can shoot splendidly, and talks of joining the Rifles), and to show me how to do Euclid, and to amuse me, and to play with me, and to tell me which is the prettiest of Snowdrop's pups to be saved, and to" She stopped suddenly, and dropped
from enthusiastic tirade to subdued surprise, as she caught sight of Keane for the first time. "Oh, Sydie, why did you not introduce me to your friend? How rude I have been ? Repair the mischief, monsieur, directly, and let me make the amende honorable, pray."
"Mr. Keane, my cousin, the torment of my existence, Miss Morton in public, Little Fay in private life. There, you know one another now. I can't say any more. Do tell me where the governor is."
"Mr. Keane, what can you think of me?" cried Fay, colouring a little, and laughing malgré elle. "Any friend of Sydenham's is most welcome to the Beeches, and my uncle will scold me frightfully for giving you such a reception. Please do forgive me, I was so delighted to see my cousin."
"Which I can fully enter into, having a weakness for Sydie myself," "I am sure he is very fortunate in being the cause
Keane said it par complaisance, but rather carelessly; young ladies, as a class, being rather one of his aversions-perhaps that is too strong a term, seeing that, generally speaking, he took very little notice of them, and when he found himself with them, thought talking sense far too high a compliment to them. He looked at Fay Morton, however, critically, as he would have done at a thorough-bred filly, or a Carlo Dolce, noticed that she was prettily dressed (regarding women as lay figures, he thought the least they could do was to get themselves up in good style), and saw she was not an Indianised girl after all. She was not yellow, but, au contraire, fair as those pretty Parian statuettes which Lord Haddo of course covers with crape in his drawing-rooms, waving fair hair, long dark eyes, and a mischievous, sunny face
A rosebud set with little wilful thorns,
"Where's the governor, Fay?" reiterated Sydie.
"Here, my dear boy. Thought of your old uncle the first thing, Sydie? God bless my soul, how well look! Confound you, why didn't you tell me what train you were coming by? Devil take you, Ashton, why's there no fire in the hall? Thought it was warm, did you? Hum! more fool you then."
"Uncle dear," said Miss Fay, "here is Sydie's friend, Mr. Keane ; you are being as rude as I have been."
The General, at this conjuration, swung sharp round, a stout, hale, handsome old fellow, with grey moustaches and a high colour, holding a spade in his hand and clad in a linen coat, just come in from doing the rural, and full of glee and excitement because his Egyptian peas (the identical vegetable that Pharaoh was wont to regale himself with, if Mr. Grimstone's advertisement may be credited) were sprouting beautifully.
"Bless my soul, sir," cried the General, shaking Keane's hand with the greatest possible energy, "charmed to see you-delighted, 'pon my honour; only hope you're come to stay till Christmas; there are plenty of bachelors' dens. Devil take me! of what was I thinking? I was pleased to see that boy, I suppose. More fool I, you'll say, a lazy, goodfor-nothing young dog like him. Don't let me keep you standing in the hall. Cursed cold, isn't it? and there's Little Fay in muslin! Ashton, send some hot water into the west room for Mr.-Mr.-Confound
you, Sydie, why didn't you tell-I mean introduce me ?-Mr. Keane. Luncheon will be on the table in ten minutes. Like curry, Mr. Keane ? There, get along Sydie, you foolish boy; you can talk to Fay after lunch."
"When I'm a little cleaner," responded Sydie, going up the stairs three at a time. "What with being moistened with the tears the V.P. shed over me at my departure, and dried again by the calcined fragments the engine bestowed on me on my travels, I should say I'm pretty well as dusty as a mummy. Keane's provoking to look at; he's for all the world as cool as if he'd just come out of a cold bath."
"Sydie," whispered Fay, when the curry and dalh, Bass and Amontillado had been duly discussed, and she had teased the Cantab's life out of him till he had consented to pronounce judgment on the puppies, "what a splendid head that man has you brought with you; he'd do for Plato, with that grand calm brow, and lofty unapproachable look. Who is he?"
"The greatest philosopher of modern times," responded her cousin, solemnly. "A condensation of Solon, Thales, Plutarch, Seneca, Cicero, Lucullus, Bion, Theophrastes, and Co.; such a giant of mathematical knowledge, and all other knowledge, too, that every day, when he passes under Bacon's Gate, we are afraid the old legend will come to pass, and it will tumble down as flat as a pancake; a homage to him, but a loss to Cambridge."
"Nonsense," said Miss Fay, impatiently. "(I like that sweet little thing with the black nose best, dear.) Who is he? What is he? How old is he? What's his name? Where does he live?”
"Gently, young woman," cried Sydie. "He is Tutor and Fellow of King's, and a great gun besides; he's some eighteen years older than you and I. His name on the rolls is Gerald, I believe, and he dwells in the shadow of Mater, beyond the reach of my cornet; for which fact, not being musically inclined, he is barbarian enough to return thanks daily in chapel."
"I am sorry he is come. It was stupid of you to bring him.” And Fay hugged the pups closer, with a heavy sigh.
"Wherefore, ma cousine? Are you afraid of him? You needn't be. Young ladies are too insignificant atoms of creation for him to criticise. He'll no more expect sense from you than from Snowdrop and her pups."
"Afraid!" repeated Fay, with extreme indignation. "I should like to see any man of whom I should feel afraid! If he doesn't like fun and nonsense, I pity him; but if he despise me ever so much for it, I shall enjoy myself before him, and in spite of him. I was sorry you brought him, because he will take you away when I want you all to myself; and he looks so haughty and raffiné, that"
"You are afraid of him, Fay, and won't own it."
“I am not,” reiterated Fay, impetuously, with a squeeze to the luckless pups, a more agreeable vent to her feelings than caress to them; "and I will smoke a cigar with him after dinner, to show you I am not one bit."
"I bet you six pair of gloves you do no such thing, young lady." "Done. Do keep the one with a black nose, Sydie; and yet that