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“He will never think of her. Derwent, with all his goodnature, is a proud fellow, and this girl is probably a person of low origin. Did you make out any particulars about her ?”
“ Only that she was at school with Miss Derwent:" answered his wife. 66 Unless she was a teacher in the establishment, this seems strange; for I know Laura Derwent went to one of the first houses in London. Her education was enormously expensive. I cannot say she seems to have profited by it. She struck me as being an unformed, awkward creature. Miss Le Sage, certainly, was more polite, and took upon
herself to do the honours; gathered Sir Frederick's moss-roses with the air of a queen, and ventured on a thousand liberties, which, if I had been Miss Derwent, I should certainly not have overlooked.”
Mrs. Holcombe laid the flowers Clarice had gathered for her, on the table, with an air of disgust.
" I shall not rest until I know something
more about her.
She coloured up, when I asked if she were one of the Cornish Le Sages, and said, she knew nothing of the west of England. Her family was of foreign extraction, Her dress is quite peculiar, and not at all what I like; a sort of mixture of quakerism and coquetry; high and plain, with a beautiful guipure collar, and costly ruffles. Miss Derwent's were only black crape, and her handkerchief broad-hemmed; but her companion's was trimmed with lace worth a guinea a yard, and embroidered all over. Nothing could be more ridiculous. I was not able to make out the materiál of her gown; but, though it looked simple, I am sure it was very expensive. She wore French brodequins of black watered silk, with soles like paper."
Mr. Holcombe laughed. 6. You seem to have observed her closely. Do put those roses in water; their scent is delicious. I shall set Derwent on his guard against this fascinating young lady, especially if she has pretty feet;
but you appear only to have noticed her chaussure."
Mrs. Holcombe looked very discontented, as she arranged the roses in a jar on the table. “I see how it will be. You and Sir Frederick will both be infatuated about these girls, and never look to the future. Really, as a clergyman, Holcombe, you ought to be more circumspect, and not put such notions into his head. I cannot imagine what has made him do such a foolish thing as to invite them to Mayd.. well. It is not a fit house for them to stay in alone. All the country will be talking about it. I cannot conceive how they will conduct themselves, when he gets the gay set round him who usually fill the place.”
“ At present, you have no cause for anxiety, since the house is closed to company. Derwent is thinking a great deal about his poor brother, and has done a very kind action in receiving his niece. I am afraid it will put him sadly out of his way. Pray try and get
over this ridiculous dislike, and make yourself agreeable to his friends. Maydwell would be a dull place enough, all the year round, were it not for his constant kindness."
The Rector went back to his book, inhaling the scent of the roses complacently. He did not enter into the feelings of his wife, nor appreciate the extent of the difference caused by the presence of this newly arrived female relative, in the household of a single man, whose mansion, gardens, hospitality, patronage, and affections, Mrs. Holcombe had previously considered to be, in a great measure, at her own disposal.
A heavy shower in the afternoon prevented Sir Frederick from taking the ladies a drive. After it was over, Laura and Clarice walked in the garden with him. This was a large, square enclosure, by no means solely devoted to ornament, but with fruit trees carefully trained against the walls, and trim espaliers bordering some of the walks. Down the middle extended a broad space of green sward, smooth as velvet, between great beds of lavender freshened by the rain, masses of sweet peas, and other common but fragrant flowers. Sir Frederick gathered them for his fair companions, as they passed along
Beyond this garden, a walk between sweetbriar hedges, led into another, more exclusively filled with vegetables and useful herbs. Mrs. Derwent had taken great delight in cultivating medicinal plants, and was famous for her receipts and prescriptions. She had, Sir Frederick observed, done her best to persuade him, when he was a boy, that coffee might be made from dandelion roots superior to the infusion of the Arabian berry. Sage, mint, rue, balm, and tansy, were all among the painful reminiscences of his childhood. He could not look at the pretty white chamomile flowers, without recollecting how many cups of the bitter decoction she had made him swallow ; nor see the poppies and hyssop without fancying that his head