give him a hint,” he muttered to my Lady, “about going back to-morrow.

He eats like a shark! It would hardly do for me to mention it.”

His wife caught the idea, and at once began giving hints of the most

subtle and delicate kind. “Just see what a short way it is back to

Fairyland! Why, if you started to-morrow morning, you’d get there in

very little more than a week!”

The Baron looked incredulous. “It took me a full month to come,” he said.

“But it’s ever so much shorter, going back, you know!’

The Baron looked appealingly to the Vice-warden, who chimed in readily.

“You can go back five times, in the time it took you to come here

once–if you start to-morrow morning!”

All this time the Sonata was pealing through the room. The Baron could

not help admitting to himself that it was being magnificently played:

but he tried in vain to get a glimpse of the youthful performer.

Every time he had nearly succeeded in catching sight of him, either the

Vice-Warden or his wife was sure to get in the way, pointing out some

new place on the map, and deafening him with some new name.

He gave in at last, wished a hasty good-night, and left the room,

while his host and hostess interchanged looks of triumph.

“Deftly done!” cried the Vice-Warden. “Craftily contrived!

But what means all that tramping on the stairs?” He half-opened the door,

looked out, and added in a tone of dismay, “The Baron’s boxes are being

carried down!”

“And what means all that rumbling of wheels?” cried my Lady. She peeped

through the window curtains. “The Baron’s carriage has come round!”

she groaned.

At this moment the door opened: a fat, furious face looked in: a voice,

hoarse with passion, thundered out the words “My room is full of

frogs–I leave you!”: and the door closed again.

And still the noble Sonata went pealing through the room: but it was

Arthur’s masterly touch that roused the echoes, and thrilled my very

soul with the tender music of the immortal ‘Sonata Pathetique’:

and it was not till the last note had died away that the tired but happy

traveler could bring himself to utter the words “good-night!” and to

seek his much-needed pillow.



The next day glided away, pleasantly enough, partly in settling myself

in my new quarters, and partly in strolling round the neighbourhood,

under Arthur’s guidance, and trying to form a general idea of Elveston

and its inhabitants. When five o’clock arrived, Arthur proposed without

any embarrassment this time–to take me with him up to ‘the Hall,’

in order that I might make acquaintance with the Earl of Ainslie,

who had taken it for the season, and renew acquaintance with his daughter

Lady Muriel.

My first impressions of the gentle, dignified, and yet genial old man

were entirely favourable: and the real satisfaction that showed itself

on his daughter’s face, as she met me with the words “this is indeed an

unlooked-for pleasure!”, was very soothing for whatever remains of

personal vanity the failures and disappointments of many long years,

and much buffeting with a rough world, had left in me.

Yet I noted, and was glad to note, evidence of a far deeper feeling

than mere friendly regard, in her meeting with Arthur though this was,

as I gathered, an almost daily occurrence–and the conversation

between them, in which the Earl and I were only occasional sharers,

had an ease and a spontaneity rarely met with except between very old

friends: and, as I knew that they had not known each other for a longer

period than the summer which was now rounding into autumn, I felt

certain that ‘Love,’ and Love alone, could explain the phenomenon.

“How convenient it would be,” Lady Muriel laughingly remarked,

a propos of my having insisted on saving her the trouble of carrying

a cup of tea across the room to the Earl, “if cups of tea had no weight

at all! Then perhaps ladies would sometimes be permitted to carry them

for short distances!”

“One can easily imagine a situation,” said Arthur, “where things would

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Categories: Carroll, Lewis