On the following morning, contrary to his usual custom, Seaforth was the first person in the breakfast parlour. As no one else was present, he did precisely what nine young men out of ten so situated would have done; he walked up to the mantel-piece, established himself upon the rug, and subducting his coat-tails one under each arm, turned towards the fire that portion of the human frame which it is considered equally indecorous to present to a friend or enemy. A serious, not to say anxious, expression was visible upon his good-humoured countenance, and his mouth was fast buttoning itself up for an incipient whistle when little Flo, a tiny spaniel of the Blenheim breed, -- the-: pet object of Miss Julia Simpkinson's affections, bounced from beneath a sofa, and began to bark at -- his pantaloons.
They were cleverly 'built,' of a light grey mixture, a broad stripe of the most vivid scarlet traversing each seam in a perpendicular direction from hip to ankle, -- in short, the regimental costume of the Royal Bombay Fencibles. The animal, educated in the country, had never seen such a pair of breeches in her life -- Omne ignotum pro magnifico! The scarlet streak, inflamed as it was by the reflection of the fire, seemed to act on Flora's nerves as the same colour does on those of bulls and turkeys; she advanced at the pas de charge, and her vociferation, like her amazement, was unbounded. A sound kick from the disgusted officer changed its character, and induced a retreat at the very moment when the mistress of the pugnacious quadruped entered to the rescue.
'Lassy me! Flo! what is the matter?' cried the sympathising lady, with a scrutinising glance levelled at the gentleman.
It might as well have lighted on a feather bed. -- His air of imperturbable unconsciousness defied examination; and as he would not, and Flora could not expound, that injured individual was compelled to pocket up her wrongs. Others of the household soon dropped in, and clustered round the board dedicated to the most sociable of meals; the urn was paraded 'hissing hot,' and the cups which 'cheer, but not inebriate,' steamed redolent of hyson and pekoe; muffins and marmalade, newspapers and Finnon haddies, left little room for observation on the character of Charles's warlike 'turn-out.' At length a look from Caroline, followed by a smile that nearly ripened to a titter, caused him to turn abruptly and address his neighbour. It was Miss Simpkinson, who, deeply engaged in sipping her tea and turning over her album, seemed, like a female Chrononotonthologos, 'immersed in cogibundity of cogitation.' An interrogatory on the subject of her studies drew from her the confession that she was at that moment employed in putting the finishing touches to a poem inspired by the romantic shades of Bolsover. The entreaties of the company were of course urgent. Mr Peters, 'who liked verses,' was especially persevering, and Sappho at length compliant. After a preparatory hem! and a glance at the mirror to ascertain that her look was sufficiently sentimental, the poetess began: --
'There is a calm, a holy feeling,
Vulgar minds can never know,
O'er the bosom softly stealing --
Chasten'd grief, delicious woe!
Oh! how sweet at eve regaining
Yon lone tower's sequester'd shade --
Sadly mute and uncomplaining -- '