Page:The King's Men (1884).djvu/30

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THE KING'S MEN.

ing festivity of the pleasure-loving Victorian era when the nobility of the United Kingdom gathered to listen to a masque by Sir William Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan in aid of a fund to erect a statue to the memory of one John Brown, a henchman of the sovereign.

But what boots in this age of earnest activity more than a trivial reference to the selfish splendor of a superstitious past? To-day is to-day, and the nails on the coffin-lid of the last Hanoverian would scarcely be of silver, so many hungry mouths are to be fed.

Geoffrey Ripon on the morning following his reflections was sauntering along the gravel path which bordered the cliff. He was reading the half-penny morning paper, in which he had just come upon a paragraph describing the discovery by the police of a batch of infernal machines supposed to have been sent over from America by friends of the Royalists. Among the emissaries captured he read the name of Cedric Ruskin, an old schoolfellow and great-grandson to an art critic of that surname who flourished in former days by force of his own specific gravity. Pained at the intelligence, he sighed heavily, and was on the point of sitting down upon a rustic bench close at hand when a melodious, gladsome voice hallooing his name broke in upon his meditation. He looked up and perceived Miss Maggie Windsor skipping down the lawn with charming unconventionality.

"Lord Brompton, Lord Brompton."

He raised his hat and stood waiting for the girl, whose motions were marvellously graceful, especially if her large and vigorous physique be considered. No sylph could have glided with less awkwardness, and yet a spindle more closely resembles the bole of a giant oak than Maggie Wind-