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, for the next ten minutes. The carriage came to the door. Sir Frederick, in one of the flat-crowned, broad-brimmed hats, of which he had a large and various collection, mounted the box, looked up at the front windows, kissed his hand, though no one was visible at those of the ladies' apartments, and drove away.
He always appeared to more advantage when driving or riding, than at any other time. His management of his spirited horses was perfect. There was no straining after effect, and he seemed thoroughly to enjoy both modes of taking exercise. Perhaps he was aware of the circumstance; for the common saying was, that there was no hour of the day or night, when Sir Frederick Derwent's horses and grooms could safely calculate on being left undisturbed ; no lonely lane or bustling thoroughfare in the country, where you could feel perfectly certain that you might not chance to meet him.
Miss Le Sage did not read aloud to her friend
the whole of the foreign-looking dispatch which she had received that morning; but she communicated most of the contents to her, turning them into her own language. Perhaps, she was in truth rather ashamed of the letter. Excepting to her daughter, who was used to her style of expression, the principal part of the information transmitted by Clarice's mother from Genoa, would have been completely unintelligible. Some of her complaints were, probably mortifying to the young girl's pride ; for her colour rose when she came to them, and she suppressed with difficulty a passionate ejaculation.
The lady wrote in a kind of mysterious cypher, of which only those who knew her peculiarities possessed the key. Most of the persons of whom she spoke were indicated by stars and blanks, initials or familiar appellations. Except her Italian greyhounds, Beppo and Lara, not a single creature alluded to was designated clearly. Her lap.dogs were more the Sig
respectfully treated than her friends, and had a whole page of the letter devoted to them.
After due mention had been made of her favourites, in that peculiar slang sacred to the purpose among fashionable ladies, Clarice waded through two pages in which the asterisks and capital letters were quite alarming. What the Prince de C- and Madame de LM, noras G— and M., and their cavalieri serventi, E. and F., were about, would have required more study to ascertain than the impatient girl chose to bestow upon the subject. She glanced over the list which followed of balls and conversazioni, until she came to the portion of the letter which more immediately concerned herself.
From this she learned that “Mustapha” had been extremely indignant at her departure, but had, on the whole, conducted himself more reasonably than might have been expected. Her first letter had been safely received. It was very evident that her mother was not so much distressed as she professed to be, at the absence of her child. The dissipated woman of fashion perhaps found her small income inadequate to her selfish pleasures, and preferred spending it upon her own dress and ornaments to sharing it with her daughter. " Il Commandatore" had not made himself so disagreeable about money since Clarice went away, Whatever her calamities might be, she had for her consolation a share in a box at the opera, with the English family who were represented by the asterisks.
If every letter from Italy had been directed to be opened at the Post Office; and all the Genoese ladies were engaged in an extensive conspiracy, the writer could not have been more diplomatically cautious. Even Laura was mysteriously denominated “
Daphne;" and it took Clarice some time to discover, that, by “ Il Burbero Benefico,” her Italianised mother meant Sir Frederick Derwent.
Clarice rather glanced over than read the closely written pages, pausing here and there,
and knitting her fair brows together; when, through a cloud of nonsense, she detected some painful meaning in the carefully-disguised phrases of the worldly woman's letter. On the whole, nevertheless, its purport appeared to give her satisfaction. She told Miss Derwent that her mother was less unhappy than she had expected, and that every circumstance of her position convinced her that she had acted wisely, and for her ultimate benefit, in leaving Italy. A weight was lifted off her mind by seeing the light way in which her mother regarded evils which to another would have seemed very disasterous. Every trifle amused her; and she found a solace for the loss of her child, and a host of domestic miseries, in the gay society which she frequented.
Maydwell Place remained extremely quiet, all that day. Miss Derwent and Clarice had not been aware how much the perpetual current of activity in which Sir Frederick delighted, altered the character of his residence,