THE LAWN-PARTY AT CHATSWORTH.
WHEN Maud returned from her drive, she mounted directly to Saint's room, where she was happy to find her alone, busily engaged in copying music. Maud's active mind had conceived a far-reaching scheme, which involved both of the girls, and she was anxious to begin its development. She confided to Saint Harry's information in regard to the legacy, and asked her help.
"I do not know exactly what Mr. Atchison intends to do," she said, "but I can trust him implicitly. Perhaps with his large family, three boys and two daughters (one married to a clergyman, and the other the wife of a scientist in South Africa), he thinks he has no right to allow himself the luxury of leaving the Featherstonhaughs in possession of their home, and secretly making up the legacy to Barbara out of his own pocket. No doubt he has done enough for the family already, and it would be perfectly reasonable if he wished to make the girls friends, and then leave them to compromise matters. At any rate friends they must be, and they have started on the wrong road. I have only made matters worse, and it is you alone, Saint, who can redeem the situation. You are an English type of girl; you must conciliate Miss Featherstonhaugh, and get her to tolerate Barbara."
"I ! " exclaimed Saint; " you forget that I have my own reasons for not wishing to see any more of the family."
"Now, Saint, do not be ridiculous; to hear you talk, one would think that John Featherstonhaugh had proposed to you."
" You know that he did nothing of the kind."
" Then there is no occasion for any embarrassment, unless, perhaps, you are vexed with him for not proposing."
" Maud Van Vechten! " Saint's eyes fairly blazed.
"There, don't be angry; let us face the facts sensibly, and see what they amount to. We met Mr. Featherstonhaugh when we were in Spain, as he was on his return from India with Lord Gubbins. He was very kind and polite to us all, and especially to you. He was plain and simple in his manner, a real brotherly kind of young man, and you liked him as well as Barb and I did, until he told you that he had a secret to confide to you some day. Then you took fright at once, and would none of him or his confidences, and we parted without ever ascertaining what this important secret was. Now, what right have you to imagine that it referred in any way to yourself ? Perhaps it was something about an important invention with which he intends to electrify the scientific world."
Saint laughed. " It is very possible," she replied.
" Well, then, without any nonsense, you made a pleasant impression on John Featherstonhaugh, and are likely to make a similar one on his sister. Will you not exert yourself for Barb's sake?"
" If I were sure that her brother had never spoken to her of me, and that my ingratiating myself in her good graces would not be misunderstood --- No matter if it is. I shall probably never meet any of the family again. Well, I'll do my best, - for Barbara's sake."
A little later Barbara burst excitedly into the room. " Oh, girls, such news ! " she exclaimed. "My hour of triumph has arrived. The Featherstonhaugh is at my gate as an humble suppliant. Dick has just returned from practising lawn-tennis at the Manor. It seems that the young lady from Newnham College, who was to play at the lawn-party has suddenly been telegraphed for on account of the illness of her mother. This has thrown the inter-collegiate match into confusion for they know of no other college girl in this vicinity who can
play sufficiently well to take her place. It seems that Dick enlarged on my skill in back under-hand strokes, and my ' show ' play generally, and also on the fact that I was a Vassar girl, and so eligible to the contest, which last consideration had, perhaps, more to do in my election to the Newnham girl's place than any other. Be that as it may, here comes Dick with a very civil note from Miss Featherstonhaugh, asking me to compete. Now shall I crush her and decline."
"No, no," exclaimed Saint and Maud, unanimously.
"Oh! you'd have me pour coals of fire on her head, and mortify her by beating her at her own national game, and by showing her how cleverly we Americans can play ? "
" No, Barb," Maud replied, " it is time we were dressing for dinner; come down to our room and let us talk it over." Scarcely was the door closed upon the two when Maud (as she expressed it mentally) carefully prepared a cartridge for the second division of her double-barrelled plot.
" For Saint's sake, Barb dear, do be nice to Miss Featherstonhaugh. You know her brother was one of the most agreeable men we ever met. He liked Saint, and something may come of it yet, but we must not prejudice his family against Americans."
"Oh, dear! revenue is sweet. I feel like exasperating her to the last degree."
" But you won't ? "
" No, I'll be just angelic; but it's all for Saint's sake." The next day, at an early hour, the family repaired to Chatsworth, where they were graciously received by the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, whose palatial residence, with its magnificent grounds,
ranks among the first of the princely domains of England. Considerable time was given to the inspection of the park and gardens. The fountains were in play, and nowhere except at Versailles had the girls seen them excelled. They wandered through the " Orangery " into the Hall of Sculpture, and out again through the mazes of the French garden to the monster conservatory from which the Crystal Palace was modelled, where a superb Victoria Regia filled a huge tank with its immense leaves, and its royal blossoms, ranging in color from pure white through rose to dark purple. Just before the game of tennis was announced, while they were straying through the picture-gallery, they were suddenly confronted by a portly form, while a bluff voice exclaimed, " Is it possible that we have here those extraordinary young women from America?"
" Quite possible," Saint replied, with quiet composure. Lord Gubbins shook hands with each of the girls with much effusion, and presented them to his wife with a flourish of his hand and the explanation, "These, my dear, are the Vassar girls of whom I have so often spoken." Then he led Maud, with her escort, Tom Atchison, into an adjoining apartment to see some tapestries. Saint followed with Lady Gubbins and Mrs. Atchison; but Barbara and Dick excused themselves, as it was time for them to look up their fellow-players. Lady Gubbins belonged to the class to whose taste in dress Maud had expressed her especial antipathy. She was very conservative even in English matters, and proud of her ignorance of everything not English.
" The growth of our provinces is very surprising," she said to Saint. "I think it must be owing to the interest which her Royal Highness the Princess Louise has taken in them. It was very noble of her to go out to such a half-savage country, and of course her influence must have given a great stimulus to American society. We hear so much more about America since she went out. The interest taken in education is truly surprising. The Princess sent
over some Winnipeg girls, who were really civilized. One of them played on a cabinet organ in a really creditable manner. If I had not seen them with my own eyes at a soiree given by Lady Algernon Montague, I shouldn't have believed the stories which his lordship
told me of the accomplishments of you Vassar girls. But now I am ready to believe that our wild, aboriginal tribes can be educated almost to any extent."
"My dear Lady Gubbins," Mrs. Atchison replied, politely, " Vassar is not the name of an Indian tribe, but of an institution of learning in the United States."
Lady Gubbins raised her eye-glasses and gazed at Saint, who was blushing violently.
" I thought she had a very fair complexion," she said, musingly, " but education and the force of example do such wonders. They say that since her Royal Highness went out the natives are bleaching their hair. But, my dear, you have the true English physique, quite the Lancashire type, is it not, Mrs. Atchison?"
"Yes, indeed," that lady replied, eagerly. "I remarked to Acherly last evening that if any one was introduced to Miss Boylston, not knowing her to be an American, they would never suspect it."
" I would like to see the experiment tried," Maud exclaimed; turning suddenly. " Saint has not met Miss Featherstonhaugh yet. If they could come together with nothing said about nationality what fun it would be to watch the result. I would enjoy trying it myself, but unfortunately I have already met her."
"I do not think I could manage it," said Mrs. Atchison, "Miss
Featherstonhaugh knows that we have a party of American girls as guests, and would immediately suspect."
" But we know Gladys Featherstonhaugh," suggested Lord Gubbins to his wife, " suppose, my dear, that you undertake to chaperone Miss Boylston for to-day, and we will see whether Gladys is bright enough to see through the ruse. Come, now, I am willing to lay a wager on it."
" Please don't make me the subject of a bet, my lord," Saint replied, wincing slightly.
" Well, we won't put it in that way, but Gladys is a shrewd girl, and a great favorite of mine. If she finds you out without a hint from any one I'll take her to Ascot, and if you succeed in befooling her we'll take you."
"Thank you, my lord," said Saint. "But pray let Miss Featherstonhaugh have the pleasure in any case, for I have never attended races; it is something at which girls in my set in Boston would be quite shocked."
" Not in good form, eh ? The Derby perhaps isn't, but the ladies all patronize Ascot races. Where are they all moving to? Ah! a tennis-match on the lawn. My dear, I believe we have reserved seats. We will take Miss Boylston with us and leave her at Cosietoft on her way home."
The parties separated, Maud and the Atchisons finding themselves at quite a distance from Lord and Lady Gubbins. The players were standing in easy attitudes, waiting for the signal for the beginning of the game. Barbara and Miss Featherstonhaugh were conversing affably, but Maud could see that Miss Featherstonhaugh's eyes travelled critically over every detail of Barbara's dress, a very becoming suit, consisting of a dark blue silk Jersey and kilted skirt, admirably adapted to the exercise in hand. Miss Featherstonhaugh's attire was also sensible, but not so tasteful.
The players took their places, and the set. opened with nearly
equal skill on each side. The two gentlemen were well matched, while Miss Featherstonhaugh's strong and steady play was offset by Barbara's more brilliant exploits. At last the score was declared "games all," or five for each side. Each game was now of the
utmost importance. During the first part of the next Barbara plainly had Miss Featherstonhaugh at an advantage, obliging her by oblique drives to race from side to side, until her fine English complexion assumed the color of a peony, and she seemed likely soon to become too much fatigued to continue the game. Suddenly Barbara served two consecutive faults, and the game was declared " vantage " for Miss Featherstonhaugh. It so happened, oddly enough those thought who were familiar with Barbara's skill, that the next and decisive game was also lost through Barbara's play, and in opposition to Dick's advice. The set was over, and Barbara, flushed, and with an extremely satisfied expression for a defeated player, joined the Atchisons.
"Where is Saint?" she asked of Maud, but her inquiry was lost in Harry's lamentation over the result of the .game.
" You played a great deal more cleverly than Miss Featherstonhaugh," he exclaimed. " If it had not been for your ill-luck you would have won the silver racket."
Dick wore a dubious expression. "I cannot understand it," he
said. "You were not as docile as usual in taking advice, Cousin Barbara."
Meantime, Lord Gubbins had led Miss Featherstonhaugh up to Saint, who congratulated her upon her victory, as they strolled toward the refreshment-tent. The conversation glided uneventfully among topics not likely to betray Saint's nationality. They spoke of Europe. "You have visited the continent, I presume," said Miss Featherstonhaugh; and then she compared the fountains to those at Versailles. Next, as a regimental band was discoursing from a . neighboring pavilion, they touched upon music and found much in common. Saint spoke of the old songs which she had found; and of the fascination which dialect of every kind had for her.
"Then you are not from the North of England?" Miss Featherstonhaugh inquired.
" My home is in Chelsea," Saint replied, flushing slightly, as she thought how improbable it was that Miss Featherstonhaugh had ever heard of this suburb of Boston.
" Have you ever read Edwin Waugh's songs in Lancashire dialect?" Miss Featherstonhaugh inquired; and on Saint's replying in the negative, she offered to lend her some of them set to music.
"You will like 'Owd Pindar,' I think, and 'Mary Link thy Arm i' Mine.' He has a very touching tribute to the violin, too; it always comes to my mind when I hear Joachim play at the Sacred Harmonies. It runs in this way, I think: -
' My Uncle Sam's a fiddler; an
I fain could yer him play
Fro' set of sun, till winter neet
Had melted into day;
For eh, sich glee - sich tenderness
Through every changin' part,
It's th' heart that stirs his fiddle,-
An' his fiddle stirs his heart ! ' "
"'That is delicious," Saint replied. "The violin is my favorite instrument. Have you ever read Mr. Gilder's sonnet to it? These are two lines from it: -
'And now one white small note to heaven doth stray,
And fluttering fall upon the golden strand.'
They seem to me absolutely inspired."
"They are exquisite. But Gilder, Gilder?-" mused Miss Featherstonhaugh. " It is strange that I never heard of him."'
" He is an American poet," Saint replied, blushing once more, while Lord Gubbins elevated his eyebrows and smiled provokingly.
"America is really coming to the front," Miss Featherstonhaugh admitted, patronizingly. " My opponent in tennis just now is an American, and quite a pretty girl, is she not, my lord? "
" Uncommonly pretty, on my word. American young ladies have that reputation, you know."
"My brother told me," Miss Featherstonhaugh continued, embarrassing Saint sadly, " that while travelling with you he met a party of American ladies somewhere on the Continent who impressed him very favorably. Do you happen to remember them, sir? "
It was his lordship's turn to redden and fidget. "Aw, yes. Aw, couldn't forget them, you know, they were so very extraordinary."
"May I inquire in what way they were extraordinary?" Saint asked, fearlessly.
" Oh! they were perfectly proper, you know; but they were so uncommonly clever and self-reliant, and yet so very charming that one forgot their very superior education, and treated them just as you would any agreeable lady of your acquaintance."
Miss Featherstonhaugh laughed, good-humoredly. " I insist, my lord, that your portrait is that of an Englishwoman, and not a very
modern one, either. You remember that Catherine Parr was learned enough to discuss theology with Henry VIII., and had tact enough to excuse her abilities to her husband, who was no admirer of learned ladies."
The conversation from this point until the breaking up of the party, was sufficiently commonplace. Lord Gubbins, when he returned Saint to her friends at Cosietoft, expressed himself as dissatisfied. " Gladys has not had a fair chance," he said. " Meeting Miss Boylston in that casual way, it is no wonder that she did not suspect. We must have another trial."
Lady Gubbins, who was really better bred than her appearance would lead one to infer, and who had withal a most hospitable disposition, seconded her husband's wishes.
" Gladys is going back with us for a visit of a few days at Gubbins Park in Warwickshire. Now Miss Boylston must also be of the party. It is on your way to London, and after you have been with us long enough to try our little experiment, Miss Van Vechten must join you, and together we will make up an excursion to Kenilworth and Stratford-upon-Avon."
Mr. and Mrs. Atchison approved heartily of the plan. "Warwickshire is the most interesting country in England," said Mr. Atchison. " And this will give you an excellent opportunity for seeing it."
" But what will Maud do during the first part of my visit?" Saint asked, hesitatingly.
" She need not leave us so soon," suggested Mrs. Atchison.
" And then you, Saint, do not care for Worcester," Maud added, "while my heart is set on visiting the porcelain works; and Mrs. Atchison has kindly offered to give me a letter to a respectable widow, who keeps a lodging-house in Worcester. I'll stay there a day or two before joining you at Gubbins Hall, and then for London, and work in earnest."
"I shall be wild to know the success of the stratagem," Barbara admitted. " You must write me. Saint, from Warwickshire, and let me know how the plot progresses."
" I undertake it," Saint replied, " only on condition that I am to explain everything just when I choose. I never attempted to play a part before, and I do not think I shall care to keep it up long."
" You are not to play a part," Maud insisted. " Be simply yourself, and only refrain from flaunting the stars and stripes in Miss Featherstonhaugh's face, and she is sure to like you."
Saint shook her head. " I have my doubts," she said.
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