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Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 3/Evan Harrington - Part 24

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Evan Harrington - Watteau-like Groups.fw.png


At the south-western extremity of the park, with a view extending over wide meadows and troubled mill-waters, yellow barn-roofs and weather-gray old farm-walls, two grassy mounds threw their slopes to the margin of the stream. Here the bull-dogs held revel. The hollow between the slopes was crowned by a bending birch, which rose three-stemmed from the root, and hung a noiseless green shower over the basin of green it shadowed. Beneath it the interminable growl sounded pleasantly; softly shot the sparkle of the twisting water, and you might dream things half fulfilled. Knots of fern were about, but the mounds were firm grass, evidently well rolled, and with an eye to airy feet. Olympus one eminence was called, Parnassus the other. Olympus a little overlooked Parnassus, but Parnassus was broader and altogether better adapted for the games of the Muses. Round the edges of both there was a well-trimmed bush of laurel, obscuring only the feet of the dancers from the observing gods. For on Olympus the elders reclined. Great efforts had occasionally been made to dispossess and unseat them, and their security depended mainly on a hump in the middle of the mound which defied the dance.

Watteau-like groups were already couched in the shade. There were ladies of all sorts: town-bred and country-bred: farmers' daughters and daughters of peers: for this pic-nic, as Lady Jocelyn, disgusting the Countess, would call it, was in reality a fête champêtre, given annually, to which the fair offspring of the superior tenants were invited—the brothers and fathers coming to fetch them in the evening. It struck the eye of the Countess de Saldar that Olympus would be a fitting throne for her, and a point whence her shafts might fly without fear of a return. Like another illustrious General at Salamanca, she directed a detachment to take possession of the height. Courtly Sir John Loring ran up at once, and gave the diplomatist an opportunity to thank her flatteringly for gaining them two minutes to themselves. Sir John waved his handkerchief in triumph, welcoming them under an awning where carpets and cushions were spread, and whence the Page:ONCE A WEEK JUL TO DEC 1860.pdf/94 Page:ONCE A WEEK JUL TO DEC 1860.pdf/95 Page:ONCE A WEEK JUL TO DEC 1860.pdf/96 Page:ONCE A WEEK JUL TO DEC 1860.pdf/97 Page:ONCE A WEEK JUL TO DEC 1860.pdf/98 Page:ONCE A WEEK JUL TO DEC 1860.pdf/99