Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 128.djvu/796

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BEE OR BEATRIX.

as the generous heart of Jean-Jacques Ampère cared for those he loved, equally during life and after death, so her kindred heart in both senses has cared for him. He died at Pau, March 1864, under his friends' roof, bequeathing to Madame Cheuvreux those family records of three generations which she has turned to such pious account. And it may be added that in so doing she has given to the world a work which, more than any other we know, proves that France is the paradise of friendship.



BEE OR BEATRIX.

PART II.

But when the time comes. Bee declares that she will go alone.

In the dead silence and downcast eyes with which her father's proposition was received, she read the blow he was inflicting.

She is quite able to walk, she knows the way, and she will be as safe in keeping to the track as if in their own grounds.

"I really think she may. What do you say, Arthur? Everybody is out on the hill with us, and we are all up above. That is to say, if you are sure you won't be frightened or anything, Betty; and mind you keep to the track. Don't let mamma put the blame on me if any harm comes to you. It is your own fault if anything happens."

"Let me see Miss Graeme home."

Every one stares at Harry, Miss Graeme herself included. Every one laughs at the idea. It is his hunt. He is the stranger, the guest, the whole thing has been got up for him, and in his heart Harry knows himself that he ought not to be the one.

But what is to be done?

Arthur will not offer, and the boys each think the other should go. Kind Sir Charles looks weakly at his offspring, sympathizing, and sorely perplexed. She cannot walk with a keeper, and altogether the poor child is made to feel that she is terribly in the way.

Harry cannot stand it.

"After all, sir, I have really had enough. I shall be better up to it another day; but standing so long is apt to give one the cramp. Let me be the escort."

Of course, if he puts it upon that, there is nothing more to be said.

Arthur tries to look as if he thought it quite the right thing, and the boys breathe a sigh of relief as the two brown figures disappear down the track.

"I am so sorry to take you home, Captain Blount. I am so ashamed. One of the boys might"—and poor Beatrix tries to gulp down her mortification, but cannot finish the sentence.

It is evident that she has not been taken in by his flimsy attempt at fiction.

Harry regards her kindly, laughs it off, and begins to talk of other things.

Bee is most anxious to be companionable; she will do all she can to compensate him for the loss of his afternoon's sport; she points out the beauties of the walk, has tales to tell of childish exploits, curiosities to point out; and to all he says in reply, she listens with the most flattering and submissive attention.

The walk will soon be over, but there is one more stone dyke in the way.

"It is rather a worse one than usual," says Blount, shaking the stones, that totter when he touches them; "they are lying loose along the top, without an attempt at being fixed. We must try to find a better place lower down."

"It will be just as bad there—rather worse, in fact; it only goes down to the burn. I think," says Bee, modestly, "you have not fired off your second barrel, Captain Blount; would you put the gun over first?"

He laughs. "That is the advantage of a breech-loader. Look here, Miss Graeme; satisfy yourself that both muzzles are empty. See, we turn it down so, take out the cartridge, and combine safety with economy. The cartridge will do again."

She murmurs something about having always heard her father fire off his gun as he approached the house, and feels that she has been officious; but he reassures her.

"Sir Charles sticks to the old muzzle-loader. You were quite right, indeed. Half the gun-accidents take place through scrambling over a fence with a loaded gun. The twigs catch, or something."

He is helping her over, and a shower of stones topples after them.

"You seem to have a superfluity of these walls about here?"

"Charlie and I had to get over seventeen the other day."

"Seventeen! Where had you been?"

"He was fishing all along there, and I went with him, as I wanted to visit a blind man who lives at the back of that hill. It is too far to go by the road, at least to