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had received an invitation, and the dinner back to the engine and next to the door. As occurring on the evening in question, I had that is considered the ladies' seat, I offered been asked to accompany him. The party it to her ; she, however, very graciously dewas a numerous one, and as the meal ap- clined it, and took the corner opposite, say, proached its termination, and was about to ing, in a very agreeable voice, that she liked subside into the dessert, the conversation to feel the breeze on her cheek. The next became general. I should here mention that few minutes were occupied in locating hermy hearing is defective ; at some times more self. There was the cloak to be spread under so than at others, and on this particular her, the skirts of the dress to be arranged, evening I was extra deaf-so much so, that the gloves to be tightened, and such other the conversation only reached me in the form trifling arrangements of plumage as ladies of a continued din. At one instant, how- are wont to make before settling themselves ever, I heard a word distinctly pronounced, comfortably at church or elsewhere, the last though it was uttered by a person at a con- and most important being the placing back siderable distance from me, and that word over her hat the veil that concealed her feawas–Kirkbeck. In the business of the tures. I could then see that the lady was London season I had forgotten all about the young, certainly not more than two or three visitors of the spring, who had left their card and twenty ; but being moderately tall, without the address. The word reaching me rather robust in make, and decided in exunder such circumstances, arrested my at- pression, she might have been two or three tention, and immediately recalled the trans- years younger. I suppose that her comaction to my remembrance. On the first plexion would be termed a medium one; opportunity that offered, I asked a person her hair being of a bright brown, or auburn, whom I was conversing with if a family of while her eyes and rather decidedly marked the name in question was resident in the eyebrows were nearly black. The color of neighborhood. I was told, in reply, that a her cheek was of that pale transparent hue Mr. Kirkbeck lived at A-, at the farther that sets off to such advantage large expresend of the county. The next morning I sive eyes, and an equable firm expression of wrote to this person, saying that I believed mouth. On the whole, the ensemble was he called at my studio in the spring, and had rather handsome than beautiful, her expresmade an arrangement with me, which I was sion having that agreeable depth and harprevented fulfilling by there being no ad- mony about it that rendered her face and dress on his card ; furthermore, that I should features, though not strictly regular, infishortly be in his neighborhood on my return nitely more attractive than if they had been from the north, but should I be mistaken in modelled upon the strictest rules of symaddressing him, I begged he would not metry. trouble himself to reply to my note. I gave “ It is no small advantage on a wet day as my address, The Post-office, York. On and a dull long journey to have an agreeable applying there three days afterwards, I re- companion, one who can converse, and ceived a note from Mr. Kirkbeck, stating whose conversation has sufficient substance that he was very glad he had heard from in it to make one forget the length and the me, and that if I would call on my return, dreariness of the journey. In this respect I he would arrange about the pictures; he also had no deficiency to complain of, the lady told me to write a day before I proposed being decidedly and agreeably conversacoming, that he might not otherwise engage tional. When she had settled herself to her himself. It was ultimately arranged that I satisfaction, she asked to be allowed to look should go to his house the succeeding Sat- at my Bradshaw, and not being a proficient urday, stay till Monday morning, transact in that difficult work, she requested my aid afterwards what matters I had to attend to in ascertaining at what time the train passed in London, and return in a fortnight to exe- through Retford again on its way back from cute the commissions.
London to York. The conversation turned " The day having arrived for my visit, di- afterwards on general topics, and, somewhat rectly after breakfast I took my place in the to my surprise, she led it into such particumorning train from York to London. The lar subjects as I might be supposed to be train would stop at Doncaster, and after that more especially familiar with; indeed, I at Retford junction, where I should have to could not avoid remarking that her entire get out in order to take the line through manner, while it was any thing but forward, Lincoln to A- The day was cold, wet, was that of one who had either known me foggy, and in every way as disagreeable as I personally or by report. Thcre was in her have ever known a day to be in an English manner a kind of confidential reliance when October. The carriage in which I was seated she listened to me that is not usually achad no other occupant than myself, but at corded to a stranger, and sometimes she ac, Doncaster a lady got in. My place was ' tually seemed to refer to different circumstances with which I had been connected in soon as my surprise enabled me to speak, I times past. After about three-quarters of said that I wished I had come by the same an hour's conversation the train arrived at conveyance as herself. Retford, where I was to change carriages. That would have been rather difficult, On my alighting and wishing her good- she rejoined. morning, she made a slight movement of the “At this moment the servant came with hand as if she meant me to shake it, and on the lamps, and informed me that his master my doing so she said, by way of adieu, 'I had just arrived and would be down in a few dare say we shall meet again ;' to which I minutes. replied, I hope that we shall all meet “The lady took up a book containing again, and so parted, she going on the line some engravings, and having singled one towards London, and I through Lincolnshire out (a portrait of Lady —), asked me to to A - The remainder of the journey look at it well and tell her whether I thought was cold, wet, and dreary. I missed the like her. agreeable conversation, and tried to supply: "I was engaged trying to get up an opinits place with a book I had brought with me ion, when Mr. and Mrs. Kirkbeck entered, from York, and the Times newspaper, which and shaking me heartily by the hand, apoloI had procured at Retford. But the most gized for not being at home to receive me; disagreeable journey comes to an end at last, the gentleman ended by requesting me to and half-past five in the evening found me take
Mrs. Kirkbeck in to dinner. at the termination of mine. A carriage was “ The lady of the house having taken my waiting for me at the station, where Mr. arm, we marched on. I certainly hesitated Kirkbeck was also expected by the same a moment to allow Mr. Kirkbeck to pass on train, but as he did not appear it was con- first with the mysterious lady in black, but cluded he would come by the next-half an Mrs. Kirkbeck not seeming to understand hour later; accordingly, the carriage drove it, we passed on at once. The dinner-party away with myself only.
consisting of us four only, we fell into our “The family being from home at the mo- respective places at the table without diffiment, and the dinner hour being seven, I culty, the mistress and master of the house went at once to my room to unpack and to at the top and bottom, the lady in black and dress ; having completed these operations, I myself on each side. The dinner passed descended to the drawing-room. It proba- much as is usual on such occasions. I, havbly wanted some time to the dinner hour, as ing to play the guest, directed my conversathe lamps were not lighted, but in their place tion principally, if not exclusively, to my a large blazing fire threw a flood of light host and hostess, and I cannot call to mind into every corner of the room, and more espe- that I or any one else once addressed the cially over a lady who, dressed in deep black, lady opposite. Seeing this, and rememberwas standing by the chimney-piece warming ing something that looked like a slight want a very handsome foot on the edge of the of attention to her on coming into the diningfender. Her face being turned away from room, I at once concluded that she was the the door by which I had entered, I did not governess. I observed, however, that she at first see her features ; on my advancing made an excellent dinner; she seemed to into the middle of the room, however, the appreciate both the beef and the tart as well foot was immediately withdrawn, and she as a glass of claret afterwards ; probably she turned round to accost me, when, to my pro- had had no luncheon, or the journey had found astonishment, I perceived that it was given her an appetite. none other than my companion in the rail- “ The dinner ended, the ladies retired, and way carriage. She betrayed no surprise at after the usual port, Mr. Kirkbeck and I seeing me; on the contrary, with one of joined them in the drawing-room. By this those agreeable joyous expressions that time, however, a much larger party had asmake the plainest woman appear beautiful, sembled. Brothers and sisters-in-law had she accosted me with, I said we should come in from their residences in the neighmeet again.'
borhood, and several children, with Miss “My bewilderment at the moment almost Hardwick their governess, were also introdeprived me of utterance. I knew of no duced to me. I saw at once that my supporailway or other means by which she could sition as to the lady in black being the govhave come. I had certainly left her in a erness was incorrect. After passing the London train, and had seen it start, and the time necessarily occupied in complimenting only conceivable way in which she could the children, and saying something to the have come was by going on to Peterbor- different persons to whom I was introduced, ough and then returning by a branch to I found myself again engaged in conversaA a circuit of about ninety miles. As tion with the lady of the railway carriage, your features.'
and as the topic of the evening had referred « Yes, the lady that sat opposite me principally to portrait-painting, she contin- dressed in black ? ued the subject.
6. Perhaps, Miss Hardwick, the govern“ • Do you think you could paint my por-ess, sir ?' trait ?' the lady inquired.
6. No, not Miss Hardwick ; she came “ • Yes, I think I could, if I had the oppor- down afterwards.' tunity.
" • No lady as I see, sir.' ,
“Oh dear me, yes, the lady dressed in think you should recollect my features op you
black that was in the drawing-room when I • Yes, I am sure I should never forget arrived, before Mr. Kirkbeck came home?'
“ The man looked at me with surprise as “Of course I might have expected you to if he doubted my sanity, and only answered, say that; but do you think you could do 'I never see any lady, sir,' and then left. me from recollection ?'
“ The mystery now appeared more impen“ • Well, if it be necessary, I will try; but etrable than ever-I thought it over in erery can't you give me any sittings ?'
possible aspect, but could come to no con“No, quite impossible ; it could not be. clusion upon it. Breakfast was early that It is said that the print I showed to you morning, in order to allow of my catching before dinner is like me; do you think so ?' the morning train to London. The same
“ Not much,' I replied ; "it has not your cause also slightly hurried us, and allowed expression. If you can give me only one no time for conversation beyond that having sitting, it would be better than none.' direct reference to the business that brought
“No; I don't see how it could be.' me there ; so, after arranging to return to
“ The evening being by this time rather paint the portraits on that day three weeks, far advanced, and the chamber candles be- I made my adieus, and took my departure ing brought in, on the plea of being rather for town. tired, she shook me heartily by the hand, “It is only necessary for me to refer to and wished me good-night. My mysterious my second visit to that house, in order to acquaintance caused me no small pondering state that I was assured most positively, during the night. I had never been intro- both by Mr. and Mrs. Kirkbeck, that no duced to her, I had not seen her speak to any fourth person dined at the table on the Satone during the entire evening, not even to urday evening in question. Their recollecwish them good-night-how she got across tion was clear on the subject, as they had the country was an inexplicable mystery. debated whether they should ask Miss Then, why did she wish me to paint her from Hardwick, the governess, to take the vacant memory, and why could she not give me even seat, but had decided not to do so; neither one sitting? Finding the difficulties of a could they recall to mind any such person solution to these questions rather increase as I described in the whole circle of their upon me, I made up my mind to defer fur- acquaintance. ther consideration of them till breakfast- * Some weeks passed. It was close upon time, when I supposed the matter would re- Christmas. The light of a short winter day ceive some elucidation.
was drawing to a close, and I was seated at “The breakfast now came, but with it no my table, writing letters for the evening lady in black. The breakfast over, we went post. My back was towards the foldingto church, came home to luncheon, and so doors leading into the room in which my on through the day, but still no lady, nei- visitors usually waited. I had been engaged ther any reference to her. I then concluded some minutes in writing, when, without that she must be some relative, who had hearing or seeing any thing, I became aware gone away early in the morning to visit that a person had come through the foldinganother member of the family living close doors, and was then standing beside me. "I by: I was much puzzled, however, by no turned, and beheld the lady of the railway reference whatever being made to her, and carriage. I suppose that my manner indifinding no opportunity of leading any part cated that I was somewhat startled, as the of my conversation with the family towards lady, after the usual salutation, said, Parthe subject, I went to bed the second night don me for disturbing you. You did not more puzzled than ever. On the servant hear me come in.' Her manner, though it coming in in the morning, I ventured to was more quiet and subdued than I had ask him the name of the lady who dined at known it before, was hardly to be termed the table on the Saturday evening, to which grave, still less sorrowful. There was a he answered,
change, but it was that kind of change only "A lady, sir ? No lady, only Mrs. Kirk- which may often be observed from the frank beck, sir.'
impulsiveness of an intelligent young lady,
to the composure and self-possession of that sity of getting a letter to Leicester before same young lady when she is either betrothed Monday morning, as the luggage office would or has recently become a matron. She asked be closed there on the Sunday; consequently, me whether I had made any attempt at a I could in no case expect the arrival of the likeness of her. I was obliged to confess pictures before the succeeding Tuesday or that I had not. She regretted it much, as Wednesday. The loss of three days would she wished one for her father. She had be a serious one; therefore, to avoid it, I brought an engraving (a portrait of Lady suggested to my host that I should leave M. A.) with her that she thought would as- immediately to transact some business in sist me. It was like the one she had asked South Staffordshire, as I should be obliged my opinion upon at the house in Lincoln- to attend to it before my return to town, and shire. It had always been considered very if I could see about it in the vacant interval like her, and she would leave it with me. thus thrown upon my hands, it would be Then (putting her hand impressively on my saving me the same amount of time after arm) she added, “She really would be most my visit to his house was concluded. This thankful and grateful to me if I would do it' arrangement meeting with his ready assent, (and, if I recollect rightly, she added), as I hastened to the Atherstone station on the much depended on it.' Seeing she was so Trent Valley Railway. By reference to Bradmuch in earnest, I took up my sketch-book, shaw, I found that my route lay through and by the dim light that was still remain- L where I was to change carriages to ing began to make a rapid pencil sketch of S in Staffordshire. I was just in time her. On observing my doing so however, for the train that would put me down at instead of giving me what assistance she was L-at eight in the evening, and a train able, she turned away under pretence of was announced to start from L- for Slooking at the pictures around the room, oc- at ten minutes after eight, answering, as I casionally passing from one to another so as concluded, to the train in which I was about to enable me to catch a momentary glimpse to travel. I therefore saw no reason to doubt of her features. In this manner I made two but that I should get to my journey's end the hurried but rather expressive sketches of same night; but on my arriving at I-I her, which being all that the declining light found my plans entirely frustrated. The would allow me to do, I shut my book, and train arrived punctually, and I got out inshe prepared to leave. This time, instead tending to wait on the platform for the arof the usual Good-morning,' she wished rival of the carriages for the other line. I me an impressively pronounced Good-by,” found, however, that though the two lines firmly holding rather than shaking my hand crossed at L-, they did not communicate while she said it. I accompanied her to the with each other, the L- station on the door, outside of which she seemed rather to Trent Valley line being on one side of the fade into the darkness than to pass through town, and the L-station on the South it. But I refer this impression to my own Staffordshire line on the other. I also found fancy.
that there was not time to get to the other “ Í immediately inquired of the servant station so as to catch the train the same why she had not announced the visitor to evening; indeed, the train had just that mome. She stated that she was not aware ment passed on a lower level beneath my there had been one, and that any one who feet, and to get to the other side of the town, had entered must have done so when she had where it would stop for two minutes only, left the street door open about half an hour was out of the question. There was, therepreviously, while she went across the road fore, nothing for it but to put up at the Swan for a moment.
Hotel for the night. I have an especial disSoon after this occurred I had to fulfil an like to passing an evening at an hotel in a engagement at a house near Bosworth Field, country town. Dinner at such places I never in Leicestershire. I left town on a Friday, take, as I had rather go without than have having sent some pictures, that were too such as I am likely to get. Books are never large to take with me, by the luggage train to be had, the country newspapers do not a week previously, in order that they might interest me. The Times I have spelt through be at the house on my arrival, and occasion on my journey. The society I am likely to me no loss of time in waiting for them. On meet have few ideas in common with myself. getting to the house, however, I found that Under such circumstances, I usually resort they had not been heard of, and on inquir- to a meat tea to while away the time, and ing at the station, it was stated that a case when that is over, occupy myself in writing similar to the one I described had passed letters. through and gone on to Leicester, where it “ This was the first time I had been in probably still was. It being Friday, and past — and while waiting for the tea it ocihe hour for the post, there was no possibil- curred to me how, on two occasions within
the past six months, I had been on the point pens that you are the very person I most of coming to that very place, at one time to wished to see. You are a painter, and I execute a small commission for an old ac- want you to paint a portrait of my daughquaintance, resident there, and another, to ter; can you come to my house immediately get the materials for a picture I proposed for the purpose ?! painting of an incident in the early life of “I was rather surprised at finding myself Dr. Johnson. I should have come on each known by him, and the turn matters had of these occasions had not other arrange- taken being so entirely unexpected, I did ments diverted my purpose and caused me not at the moment feel inclined to undertake to postpone the journey indefinitely. The the business; I therefore explained how I thought, however, would occur to me, How was situate, stating that I had only the next strange! Here I am at L- by no inten- day and Monday at my disposal. He, howtion of my own, though I have twice tried ever, pressed me so earnestly, that I arranged to get here and been balked.' When I had to do what I could for him in those two days, done tea, I thought I might as well write to and having put up my baggage, and arranged an acquaintance I had known some years other matters, I accompanied him to his previously, and who lived in the Cathedral- house. During the walk home he scarcely close, asking him to come and pass an hour spoke a word, but his taciturnity seemed or two with me. Accordingly, I rang for only a continuance of his quiet composure at the waitress and asked :
the inn. On our arrival he introduced me « • Does Mr. Lute live in Lichfield ?' to his daughter Maria, and then left the “Yes, sir.'
Maria Lute was a fair and a decid. 6. Cathedral-close?'
edly handsome girl of about fifteen; her 16 • Yes, sir.'
manner was, however, in advance of her 66. Can I send a note to him ?'
years, and evinced that self-possession, and, " • Yes, sir.'
in the favorable sense of the term, that “I wrote the note, saying where I was, womanliness, that is only seen at such an and asking if he would come for an hour or early age in girls that have been left mothertwo and talk over old matters. The note less, or from other causes thrown much on was taken, in about twenty minutes a per- their own resources. son of gentlemanly appearance, and what “She had evidently not been informed of might be termed the advanced middle age, the purpose of my coming, and only knew entered the room with my note in his hand, that I was to stay there for the night ; she saying that I had sent him a letter, he pre- therefore excused herself for a few moments, sumed, by mistake, as he did not know my that she might give the requisite directions name. Seeing instantly that he was not the to the servants as to preparing my room. person I intended to write to, I apologized, When she returned, she told me that I should and asked whether there was not another not see her father again that evening, the Mr. Lute living in L-?
state of his health having obliged him to re««• No, there was none other.'
tire for the night; but she hoped I should • Certainly,' I rejoined,' my friend must be able to see him some time on the morhave given me his right address, for I had row. In the mean time, she hoped I would written to him on other occasions here. He make myself quite at home, and call for any was a fair young man, he succeeded to an thing I wanted. She, herself, was sitting in estate in consequence of his uncle having the drawing-room, but perhaps I should like been killed while hunting with the Quorn to smoke and take something; if so, there hounds, and he married about two years since was a fire in the housekeeper's room, and she a lady of the name of Fairbairn.'
would come and sit with me, as she expected “The stranger very composedly replied : the medical attendant every minute, and he • You are speaking of Mr. Clyne ; he did live would probably stay to smoke, and take in the Cathedral-close, but he has now gone something. As the little lady seemed to away.'
recommend this course, I readily complied. “ The stranger was right, and in my sur- I did not smoke or take any thing, but sat prise I exclaimed:
down by the fire, when she immediately “Oh dear, to be sure, that is the name; joined me. She conversed well and readily, what could have made me address you in- and with a command of language singular stead? I really beg your pardon ; my writ- in a person so young. Without being disaing to you, and unconsciously guessing your greeably inquisitive, or putting any quesname, is one of the most extraordinary and tion to me, she seemed desirous of learning unaccountable things I ever did. Pray par- the business that had brought me to the don me.'
house. I told her that her father wished me “He continued very quietly,
to paint either her portrait or that of a sis“ There is no need of apology; it hap-l ter of hers, if she had one.