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TANGLES AND TALES.
BREAKFAST AT THE INN.
“Vous vous assisterez dans toutes vos misères,
Vous serez l'un à l'autre enfants, pères et mères ;
“LA CHUTE D'UN ANGE,” PAR LAMARTINE.
My lecture had succeeded ; the audience had accorded me, the evening before, more than enough approbation to satisfy my wishes, and decidedly more than my deserts. It was gratifying to read, while sipping my coffee at the hotel, the eulogium which the county paper bestowed upon an unknown caterer for the public taste, since no one was more conscious than myself how entirely disinterested the remarks of the editor were.
Shall I take the present opportunity of laying before the reader that brilliant oration on one of the popular topics of the hour, which had so charmed the discriminating residents at Dowsbury, with a
little bye-play respecting the audience, some graphic descriptions of the well known old town, and an account of the ludicrous mistake committed by the mayor. What a chapter it would make! But, no, the temptation is more easily resisted than may be imagined. It will never do to waste time upon themes such as these, while my heroine is waiting.
The first thought that came into my head was a disgustingly selfish one. She was not at the lecture last night, or, at least, I did not see her. But it only required the look which she gave me, as she quietly went by, to disperse all such imaginations, and bring me to the charitable belief that she had probably been better employed.
A young girl, a stranger evidently, like myself, but with a manner somewhat foreign, clad in black, lithe and tall, a dress that showed her exquisite shape, an oval face, with very dark and soft, gentle eyes, such as my imagination had, many a time, accorded to Indian belles, dark hair, taken partly off the forehead, and falling in a rich mass of unconfined curls on each side of her neck and down her shoulders, a very calm and self-possessed yet undoubtedly mournful expression; all this required but the one moment of her passing to be noticed.
She had just risen, and descended to the coffeeroom as if she had been at some continental hotel, and had arrived there by diligence. She took her seat at the next little table to my own, and we were alone in the room.
Presently, the waiter brought the inevitable ham and eggs, which always make their appearance at an
English hotel breakfast. She questioned him with a sweet, foreign accent, and seemed to have some little difficulty in comprehending his replies. We were on the borders of Wales, and the garçon's speech was flavoured with a strong spice of the language of the Principality.
Was it English mauvaise honte that prevented my interfering, and assisting, at least, the French pronunciation of the one, if not the half Welsh of the other. I think not, since it is a vice which has seldom troubled me.
Those who are in the habit of travelling much, contract a habit of quick and ready observation, enabling them to judge speedily, and with tolerable correctness, as to the characters of those amongst whom they are temporarily thrown; and, independently of this, there is generally an instinctive feeling where our companions are en rapport with us, or the contrary.
In travelling from London towards Dowsbury, a day or two previously, it had been my fate to arrive at a certain station so late that there was no choice of a seat possible. The only one discoverable by the porter was in a middle compartment, where all the other five places were taken by ladies. My introduction was clearly an act of unpardonable barbarianism, and the glances of my fair companions expressed this sentiment in a very uncompromising mapper. It was clear that my journey promised to be an exceedingly frigid one, and my first act was to take a cautious survey of the
enemy, under cover of the fluttering sheets of the Times,