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women certainly talked together, but there seemed, as with those who rode out from Lowther Street, little to interest in what they said. The faces, too, lacked expression or animation, some being quite cold and uninviting. A few even glanced almost angrily at poor unoffending Trixie and Dot, as their merry voices re-echoed now and again. It seemed it was considered vulgar to laugh, or even appear interested in anything for that matter, within that charmed circle and at that fashionable hour. At times, it is true, you might see some fair, girlish face aglow with the pleasures of the ride, a bright smile upon her lips, her eyes sparkling health and happi
She, like the children, let her spirits go forth unchecked, careless of appearances.
But that would in all likelihood be the girl's first season out.” If you saw her there in a few years' time, she would no doubt look like the others— listless, inanimate. .And yet in its wealth and grandeur it was a great sight. The nymphs watching it were loath to turn away and walk onwards.
But they were assured they would see more presently when they reached the great focus they were all being drawn to. And so it was. For as they went along they found that many more people were coming in at another gate, and that the crowd met shortly at an angle of the Park, near one of the arches they had seen all the
time. But it was the same sort of crowd : loungers and riders, all well dressed, all evidently quite used to this daily exercise. A small fringe of unwashed humanity, with a background of nurserymaids and children, clustered at that part where they could all meet ; but they were nobodies. They kept to their own unfashionable corner, and did not intrude on the line of grey-kidded dandies who dangled their canes over the railings further on.
It was not a dense crowd, yet enough to require care in crossing the roadway, to do which in safety, a polite policeman made up small parties of both sexes, stopping the carriages and horses. (much to the coachmen's disgust) while he piloted them across. The main road still swept on, but there was another called the “Row," with an unintelligible adjective often used in connection with it, which ran along beside it for a long distance, separated therefrom by more neat flower-beds and rhododendron bushes, then in full bloom. This space was devoted entirely to equestrian traffic, and was covered with a brown substance to be soft to the poor horses' feet. Splendid trees ran along on each side, with a few in the middle every now and then, making a most delightful avenue, although at that time of day there was not much shade to be found anywhere.
Great-heart and his charges made up part of the next batch to be taken across the road, and then they found themselves quite in the thick of all the noontide gaiety. There were plenty of chairs placed along the sides of the walk, some with arms, others without. They took three, not very distant from the corner where the crowd was thickest, yet far enough up not to be stared at too much. Here they had a capital view of everything. Almost directly they had sat down, a man with a leathern pocket slung round him appeared mysteriously from somewhere and demanded money for their seats. This of course he got at once, when he disappeared suddenly again. He must have had a very clear head, that man, for he never let anyone sit down without paying, nor did he ever appear to ask the same person twice over. There was
so much to see that the children hardly knew where to turn their heads next-at those who walked before and behind them, or at the varied displays of horsemanship going on in front. Some of the neatly-appointed carriages" Victorias " they were called-had drawn up under the trees close to them in the drive, and the occupants had either alighted to sit or walk about, or leant back languidly, talking with men who came up to them. But all seemed terribly “ bored.” Some of the ladies drove themselves in pony-phaetons, and had parasols to their whips to keep the sun off. Whilst they rested, their men-servants stood at the horses' heads, in case of accidents, or to look ornamental. Those who walked let their yards of valuable silks and satins trail recklessly on the ground,—which seemed to the nymphs a terrible waste of money. It must be so easy to hold them up. Few ladies were alonę, or if one did happen to be so, it was not for long, for some gentleman would soon join her, and with a bow escort her off for a walk. The continuous change of colour and movement in the throng was quite bewildering, and made the eyes ache. Most of the riders formed themselves into friendly parties, and trotted, cantered, or walked about together. There were not many by themselves. Raising of hats went on continually, with many listless handshakings across the railings. It was a dazzling sight truly, and one to be remembered. The children were amazed and delighted.
Yet, somehow or other there stole across Dot's heart a feeling that those people were not quite happy; that, after a while, this sort of thing must lose its charm; that those gay beings must long to shake off all this tiresome restraint and appear more natural, like that sweet girl she had seen an hour or so before. The younger child glanced up at Greatheart, and noted that his face wore grave,
thoughtful look as he pondered over what he saw, and sighed at times.
She thought she would hazard a question, so she turned her great eyes upon him, and said,
“ Are all these people happy in this beautiful place, dear?
The man smiled sadly as he answered,
" It would seem they ought to be, would it not, little one ? It would look as if they had everything to make them so."
Yes, one would think so, truly," reflected the child.
“Yet I must tell you that only a very small proportion of this crowd knows what happiness, nay, even peace, may mean.”
“ Indeed; are they not all good, then ? "
“Not all ; some, perhaps, but certainly not all, or nearly so."
“Ah! now that is a pity. And not happy, either, with apparently everything to make them so. Why, the mere privilege of liberty, and the sight at will of this lovely spot, should surely make them that, if nothing more.”
"Perhaps so; but I fear it does not often, little Dot.”
“ It is strange,” thoughtfully mused the child ; "it is very, very strange. Why, there must be many