Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/267

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IV.

IN WHICH ONE LADY TRIES NATURE, WHILE TWO, DISCUSS HUMANITY.


One afternoon, in the following long vacation, a lady was gathering honeysuckle from a hedge in a field near St. Albans. She wore a pink cambric confection, artfully relieved with old Honiton: with one hand she held up her skirt and discovered a most elaborate silk petticoat; on the ground by her side was a lace parasol and a pair of long kid gloves. A hat, garnished with velvet orchids and silk dandelions, shaded her face, and was tied under her chin with pale green ribbons; her hair, which was black and very abundant, was loosely caught up by a silver comb. In figure she was tall and gracious, but one could have wished that her hips had more of a jut and her shoulders less an air of almost masculine resolution. She had too much distinction to be fashionable and too much style to be stylish: beyond any doubt she was a personage.

She had filled her basket with the flowers when her eyes fell on a fine spray just beyond her reach. The branch of a tree hung over the hedge, and, by supporting herself on this, she thought it might be possible to clutch at the prize. She was about to spring, when she was startled by the sight of a young man running towards her from the adjoining paddock.

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