The Black Robe
Events At Ten Acres
THERE was no obstacle to the speedy departure of Romayne and his wife
from Vange Abbey. The villa at Highgate--called Ten Acres Lodge, in allusion
to the measurement of the grounds surrounding the house--had been kept in
perfect order by the servants of the late Lady Berrick, now in the employment
of her nephew.
On the morning after their arrival at the villa, Stella sent a note to her
mother. The same afternoon, Mrs. Eyrecourt arrived at Ten Acres--on her way
to a garden-party. Finding the house, to her great relief, a modern building,
supplied with all the newest comforts and luxuries, she at once began to plan
a grand party, in celebration of the return of the bride and bridegroom.
"I don't wish to praise myself," Mrs. Eyrecourt said; "but if ever there was a
forgiving woman, I am that person. We will say no more, Stella, about your
truly contemptible wedding--five people altogether, including ourselves and
the Lorings. A grand ball will set you right with society, and that is the one
thing needful. Tea and coffee, my dear Romayne, in your study; Coote's
quadrille band; the supper from Gunter's, the grounds illuminated with
colored lamps; Tyrolese singers among the trees, relieved by military music--
and, if there are any African or other savages now in London, there is room
enough in these charming grounds for encampments, dances, squaws, scalps,
and all the rest of it, to end in a blaze of fireworks."
A sudden fit of coughing seized her, and stopped the further enumeration of
attractions at the contemplated ball. Stella had observed that her mother
looked unusually worn and haggard, through the disguises of paint and
powder. This was not an uncommon result of Mrs. Eyrecourt's devotion to the
demands of society; but the cough was something new, as a symptom of
"I am afraid, mamma, you have been overexerting yourself," said Stella. "You
go to too many parties."
"Nothing of the sort, my dear; I am as strong as a horse. The other night, I
was waiting for the carriage in a draught (one of the most perfect private
concerts of the season, ending with a delightfully naughty little French play)--
and I caught a slight cold. A glass of water is all I want. Thank you.
Romayne, you are looking shockingly serious and severe; our ball will cheer
you. If you would only make a bonfire of all those horrid books, you don't
know how it would improve your spirits. Dearest Stella, I will come and lunch
here to-morrow--you are within such a nice easy drive from town--and I'll
bring my visiting-book, and settle about the invitations and the day. Oh, dear
me, how late it is. I have nearly an hour's drive before I get to my garden
party. Good-by, my turtle doves good-by."