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any time after nine, never before, One room especially, evidently that of a very lazy young person indeed (a girl without doubt), rarely showing signs of life before eleven!
By about noon, however, everybody seemed to have settled down to their various occupations of business or pleasure, though it is to be feared that in that quarter the latter had the most worshippers.
Carriages and riding horses came up in numbers. Trim little babies were secured in wicker baskets on to the backs of diminutive Shetland ponies, and led out by a long leathern strap for an "airing ” by an under footman. Gay ladies and their cavaliers, faultlessly attired, rode off ceremoniously to the Park. But they all looked terribly “bored,” and beyond fashionable nothings and plenty of “haw-hawing ” on the part of the men, there was apparently little conversation of an interesting character.
It was also a matter for perplexed comment on the part of the children how these people perverted the language in which they had been taught to converse together all their lives. For instance, those simple words of assent and dissent so commonly employed by all classes of society, became on the lips of these fashionables so drawn out or distorted as to be scarcely recognizable ; to say nothing of the introduction of many expressions altogether unintelligible to the little ones, odd sayings they had never even dreamt of. These latter introductions were known as phrases of "slang." But of course, as this, like the other peculiarity mentioned, was a fashion of the day, it was quite excusable there.
But it might be tiresome to go into too many details as to the life in Lowther Street during the short three months of the best part of the year it may be said to have existed at all. Suffice to say that our little friends found plenty to interest them there. Nor could Great-heart have dwelt in a more suitable spot to furnish those examples from which he so earnestly took his lessons for the benefit of the children.
To resume a record of the first day's doings. Presently Trixie and Dot, in the wildest spirits, hand-in-hand with Great-heart, sallied forth from the fashionable street where they stayed into the busy tide without. As they had sat at breakfast in that house, they heard only the distant murmur of the city's traffic of pleasure or of business, but a deadened hum of sound from park and roadway. For that row. of luxurious dwellings, although it stood close upon a famous thoroughfare, where night and day the stream of life flowed on, yet caught but slightly the din therefrom.
Thus were the children quite unprepared for the great change that awaited them; and their mentor was almost afraid lest the excitement might prove too much for them. He managed, however, to get them safely over the busy crossing. Once within the gates of the Park, he felt them to be tolerably secure from accident. Then what a sight burst upon their astonished visions !
All around, fresh in the garb of early summer and refreshed by recent rain, a lovely garden. In front, as far as the eye could reach, a stretch of country such as the children had never seen before, with lordly trees faintly rustling in the breeze. Bright flowers and bushes everywhere; a splendid, well-kept road sweeping round between two grand arches, standing out clearly in the bright sunshine. Neat iron railings, with an opening here and there to let the people through, ran along each side of the road and separated it from the pathways within, along which crowds of fashionables were leisurely strolling, all in one direction. Great-heart kept to the inner path, not caring to risk another crossing over just then. Besides, this was the prettiest one, and they walked along through beautiful flowerbeds. Everything around looked gay and cheerful. The little party leant over the rails to watch for a while.
Up the road went many carriage-folk, but more riders ; this, it seemed, was the time of day for them. The carriages were for the most part lowcut, open ones, perfectly appointed, sometimes drawn by two horses, sometimes by one only. In them generally reclined two fashionable ladies with a small child or a pug-dog sitting up in state in front of them. Occasionally there swept along a great coach drawn by four fine animals. On the top sat a gentleman, with brass buttons on his coat, driving; by his side a lady, with others, men and women, sprinkled about over the roof; on the back seat, always on the alert to jump down if their services were required, two smart grooms, with topboots and formidable shirt collars. These conveyances were called four-in-hands; and as they rattled by, glittered in the sun merrily. Greatheart told the children that this was a very favourite pastime just then. There were lots of these coaches about, but it was a very expensive luxury to indulge in, and had ruined many.
The riders were mounted on all sorts of horses, chosen to accommodate their various weights and sizes--great high steppers down to diminutive Shetland ponies for the little ones. Portly matrons were to be found on tall angular horses, with great power lurking about them, especially in the region of their hind legs. Young ladies on graceful mares, their bodies supported on such slender ankles that they looked as if they must snap in two as they pirouetted and danced about. Cavaliers on large-chested chargers, nodding their heads about proudly, clanking their bits the while, as if they were impatient to be off to the wars and sniffed powder already.
It was wonderful to see how perfectly all these people sat their horses: no excitement or flurry whatever the animals did. The small children seemed quite at home too, although for safety's sake some were attached by straps to an old servant who rode on a horse beside them. All the lady-riders, if alone, were followed by one or more mounted grooms; it was not at all the correct thing to be seen without. The ladies wore men's hats and long cloth dresses, fitting their figures closely, sitting sideways, and carrying gold-headed whips in their gloved hands; the men, almost without exception, had black coats and light trou
The children were allowed more latitude in the matter of dress. Some of their costumes were quite fancy--a good many sailor-boys, for instance.
Although there were so many of these people riding along, none seemed particularly eager to get to their destination, but took things very calmly. Nor was there as much conversation as might have been expected under the circumstances. The men and