Page:Court Royal.djvu/196

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I secured your services for the new school at Wooley. I read your account of your misadventures—that you sent to Blackwood—with great amusement. Never laughed so much in my life. It was smartly written—very. You will do something with your pen some day.’

‘Oh, Lucy, dear,’ said Lady Grace, ‘do go to papa and persuade him to retire. He is so happy when he gets with the young people that he will stay on here longer than is judicious. He will suffer for it to-morrow, and I am sure that they will dance with more ease when the restraint of his presence is removed. Look! there are only three circling round the room now, to the strains of the whole marine band, and they are blushing and disposed to give it up. Where is Joanna? What has become of that odd girl? I see her nowhere.’

‘I do not know; I will ask my father, or Beavis.’

‘Do, Lucy, go to the Duke. He will listen to you when he will not obey me or Uncle Ronald—not even the Archdeacon. You have such a coaxing way, and yet you are so resolute, he will not refuse to go. Dear old man! it is always “Where is Lucy?” with him. Nothing goes right unless under your hands.’

Then Lady Grace caught the eye of Beavis, and beckoned him to her. ‘Where is your maid Joanna?’ she asked. ‘Do see how shy the young folk are. These couples are only dancing because I have set them spinning, and they do it out of duty, not because they enjoy themselves. Joanna has no shyness, I will get her a partner and set her off.’

‘She is not here, Lady Grace.’

‘Not here! But how is this? Could you not spare her? I am sorry; Lucy and I have been teaching her to dance, and she had so set her heart on this evening.’

‘She is a perplexing, queer girl.’

‘She is a girl worth studying, a girl from whom a great deal may be learnt; delightfully fresh and yet terribly worn out, if you can understand such a compound of opposites. Is not that the sum of Hegel’s philosophy, the conciliation of antagonisms? Well, that is Joanna. I am so sorry she is not here. I should have delighted to see how she profited by my teaching.’

‘She is gone, Lady Grace.’

‘Gone!’

‘Yes, gone without warning.’