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      Esmeralda noddedthe free-and-easy Three Star nodand sunk into her chair. She was instantly surrounded by men who had been waiting for their opportunity, and when Lady Wyndover found her she was hemmed in by a circle of courtiers competing for her smiles.He was later than usual. It was nearly two o'clock, and Isola had been watching for him since one, watching with an unread book in her lap, listening for the click of the gate. She had been sitting by the open window, looking out at the wet landscape, the glistening hedgerow and dull grey river, with the great, green hill beyond, a steep slope of meadow land, dotted with red cattle, and so divided by hedgerows, as to look like a Titanic chessboard.

      "They would make such a splendid pair," said Mrs. Baynham, talking of them as if they were carriage-horses.

      The death of George I. affected the strange Frederick William very deeply. He not only shed tears, but, if we may be pardoned the expression, blubbered like a child. His health seemed50 to fail, and hypochondria, in its most melancholy form, tormented him. As is not unusual in such cases, he became excessively religious. Every enjoyment was deemed sinful, if we except the indulgence in an ungovernable temper, which the self-righteous king made no attempt to curb. Wilhelmina, describing this state of things with her graphic pen, writes:

      "Tell me about your dream," she said, after a pause, with her forehead still resting on his hands, and her face hidden. "Was it something very awful?"

      "Ah, then, perhaps you are one of the young ladies I have seen sitting at street corners, or under archways, doing fearful and wonderful things with a box of moist colours and a drawing-board."The colonel did not thank him for this compliment, which was pronounced in a loud voice, amidst the little knot of acquaintances taking leave of each other on the dip of the[Pg 115] hill, where there was a sign-post on a patch of waste grass, and where road and lanes divided, one up the hill to Tywardreath, another to Fowey, and a narrow-wooded lane leading down to Glenaveril and the Angler's Nest. Short as the distance was, there were carriages waiting for the Crowthers, who never walked to church, however fine the weather. Mrs. Crowther came to the morning service resplendent in a brocade gown and a Parisian bonnet, on pain of being condemned as dowdy by her husband, who liked to put the stamp of his wealth upon every detail. His wife obeyed him with wifely meekness, but the daughters were not so easily ruled. Both were keen-witted enough to feel the vulgarity of Sunday morning splendour. So Belinda worshipped in the exaggerated simplicity of an unstarched jaconet muslin, a yellow Liberty sash, a flopping Gainsborough hat, and a necklace of Indian beads, an attire which attracted every eye, and was a source of wonder to the whole congregation, while Alicia's neat grey cashmere frock, and smart little toque to match, grey gloves, grey Prayer-book and sunshade, challenged criticism as a study in monochrome.

      She led the horse close to a fallen tree, and held out her hand to him.


      How the Duchess could ever consent to and approve of her children being entirely given up to the care of a woman whose principles were absolutely opposed to her own, is astonishing indeed; and perhaps it is still more so that for many years she did notice the infatuation of her husband, and the vast influence Mme. de Genlis had over him. But her eyes had at last been opened, Mme. de Genlis declares, by a Mme. de Chastellux, who was her enemy, and was jealous of her. However that might be with regard to the connection between Mme. de Genlis and the Duc dOrlans, no enlightenment was necessary about the Bastille, the Cordeliers Club, and other revolutionary proceedings. That was surely quite enough; besides which the Duchess had long been awakened to the fact that the governess about whom she had been so infatuated had not only carried on an intrigue with and established an all-powerful influence over her husband, but had extended that influence also over her children to such an extent [421] that her daughter at any rate, if not her two elder sons, probably preferred her to their mother.No, she said; I liked them when they first came home; but I think they look prettier in the jewelers cases than anywhere else.