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“No blushes or transports, or such silly actions;
It was one of the quietest business transactions,
W. A. BUTLER.
THE busy monotony of the Lyndsays' daily toil was at last interrupted in the midst of their second summer among the hills and valleys.
A breath from the perfumed atmosphere of fashionable life was wafted to them early in the Saratoga season, in the shape of a rose-colored note from Mrs.Spencer, entreating the pleasure of her dear Matilda's company for a few weeks, at the Springs.
Mrs. Spencer was thoroughly a woman of fashion, but she was a favorable specimen. Really kind-hearted, generous from impulse, she was rich enough to indulge her amiable fancies. Not pre-eminently beautiful or gifted, she yet possessed wit and beauty enough to form a powerful combination; and her position was so marked and established that she had no fears of rivalry. She could always win friends when she chose : she never made enemies. In her very lightness there was a charm, and her wit never left a sting.
She was very sorry for the Lyndsays, and, judging Matilda by herself, thought she would be glad to enjoy a change from the dulness of a summer“in such a forlorn place as Montiluna.”
The invitation was gladly accepted, and after a few busy days spent in refitting the long unused gauze and lace dresses to the present mode, Matilda departed, to appear once more in “society.”
About a week afterwards Mrs. Peters' little black girl came running in from the gate where she usually kept watch on the doings of the village, thus enabling Mrs. Peters to acquire all public and private news, with unheard of celerity, which, added to her natural keenness, caused her to combine the advantages of a village oracle and daily bulletin.
“O! Mrs. Peters, there's such a fine wagon stopped at uncle Jake's.”
Uncle Jake kept the only establishment in the village that boasted any pretensions to hotelship.
“Who's in the wagon, Jinny ?" said Mrs. Peters, looking through an ingeniously contrived opening in the window-curtain, that enabled her to see without being seen.
“ Werry fine man, Mrs. Peters," answered Jinny, trying to get a peep from behind her mistress's elbow.
“Him's got whiskers all over his face, and red ribbons on his coat; and t'other man with him's a soldier I guess ; he's got gold all on his hat and coat, like training day.”
“Run down to the store, Jinny, and get me a pound of tea; be back time enough to fill the kettle."
Away went Jinny on her errand, which she well understood. The store was next door to the tavern, and the tea was the least important part of her mission. Jinny was born for a diplomatist, she needed no detailed instructions, she knew better than to go about asking questions; but turning the money for the tea listlessly in her fingers, she wandered with staring eyes among the loungers by the tavern door, who were admiring and criticising the splendid horses. Every word they said was carefully noted by the careless-looking little darkey, who received more than one admonition to hurry on her errand, from those who little imagined that she was doing it in the best possible manner.
The horses were fed, the gentleman took lunch, and then inquiring the way to Mr. Lyndsay's, drove
the road. All this took time, and it was nearly two hours from the time of her leaving home ere Jinny re-entered Mrs. Peters gate.
“Mrs. Peters, what sort of an officer is a barel ?"
“A what ! child, what are you talking about ?"
“This bit o' paper, ma’am, as I picked off the valise ; but I can't spell anything but barel.”
This was an unexpected treasure. Mrs. Peters seized the card and read, “Colonel Baron De Brie," and then listened eagerly to the detailed report of her sable emissary.
“The soldier is only his servant, ma'am; he said 'master' several times, and they fed the horses, and had briled chicken for themselves, and now they's gone to see Mrs. Lyndsay."
“How long are they going to stay, Jinny ?"
“They druv' over from Saratogy this mornin', ma'am, and they's going back to-night.”
A queer misgiving seized Mrs. Peters. Perhaps for once she had been mistaken, and the Lyndsays were really high people, after all, and Miss Matilda would be a baroness. Per haps Mrs. Lyndsay's stiffness was only a dignified manner. Why had she not tried again to make the acquaintance? It would have been so nice to invite a real baron to a tea party,