THE MARQUIS OF LOSSIE.
its operation in the decision of practical questions and the formation of moral judgments. We will not attempt to follow him in these descriptions. They are, for the most part, in our opinion, perfectly justified by facts: but the great merit of his book is the elucidation of the enormous part which a species of mental mechanism, mainly constructed by each of us from our own experiences, plays in every department of human life; while, at the same time, it becomes clearer, in proportion as this fact is more completely brought out, that man, while using a wonderful machinery, is not himself a portion of it.
THE MARQUIS OF LOSSIE.
BY GEORGE MACDONALD, AUTHOR OF "MALCOLM," ETC.
He rose early the next morning, and having fed and dressed Kelpie, strapped her blanket behind her saddle, and by all the macadamized ways he could find rode her to the wharf, near where the Thames tunnel had just been commenced. He had no great difficulty with her on the way, though it was rather nervous work at times. But of late her submission to her master had been decidedly growing. When he reached the wharf, he rode her straight along the gangway on to the deck of the smack, as the easiest if not perhaps the safest way of getting her on board. As soon as she was properly secured, and he had satisfied himself as to the provision they had made for her, impressed upon the captain the necessity of being bountiful to her, and brought a loaf of sugar on board for her use, he left her with a lighter heart than he had had ever since first he fetched her from the same deck.
It was a long way to walk home, but he felt much better, and thought nothing of it. And all the way, to his delight, the wind met him in the face. A steady westerly breeze was blowing. If God makes his angels winds, as the Psalmist says, here was one sent to wait upon him. He reached Portland Place in time to present himself for orders at the usual hour. On these occasions his mistress not unfrequently saw him herself, but to make sure, he sent up the request that she would speak with him.
"I am sorry to hear that you have been ill, Malcolm," she said kindly as he entered the room, where happily he found her alone.
"I am quite well now, thank you, my lady," he returned. "I thought your ladyship would like to hear something I happened to come to the knowledge of the other day."
"Yes? What was that?"
"I called at Mr. Lenorme's to learn what news there might be of him. The housekeeper let me go up to his painting-room, and what should I see there, my lady, but the portrait of my lord marquis more beautiful than ever, the brown smear all gone, and the likeness, to my mind, greater than before!"
"Then Mr. Lenorme is come home!" cried Florimel, scarce attempting to conceal the pleasure his report gave her.
"That I cannot say," said Malcolm. "His housekeeper had a letter from him a few days ago from Newcastle. If he is come back, I do not think she knows it. It seems strange, for who would touch one of his pictures but himself? — except, indeed, he got some friend to set it to rights for your ladyship. Anyhow, I thought you would like to see it again."
"I will go at once," Florimel said, rising hastily. "Get the horses, Malcolm, as fast as you can."
"If my Lord Liftore should come before we start?" he suggested.
"Make haste," returned his mistress impatiently.
Malcolm did make haste, and so did Florimel. What precisely was in her thoughts who shall say when she could not have told herself? But doubtless the chance of seeing Lenorme urged her more than the desire to see her father's portrait. Within twenty minutes they were riding down Grosvenor Place, and happily heard no following hoof-beats. When they came near the river Malcolm rode up to her and said, "Would your ladyship allow me to put up the horses in Mr. Lenorme's stable? I think I could show your ladyship a point or two that may have escaped you."
Florimel thought for a moment, and concluded it would be less awkward, would indeed tend rather to her advantage with Lenorme, should he really be there, to have Malcolm with her. "Very well," she answered: "I see no objection. I will ride round with you to the stable, and we can go in the back way."
They did so. The gardener took the horses, and they went up to the study.