Festus Shows His Love
Festus Derriman had remained in the Royal watering-place all that day, his horse being
sick at stables; but, wishing to coax or bully from his uncle a remount for the coming
summer, he set off on foot for Oxwell early in the evening. When he drew near to the
village, or rather to the hall, which was a mile from the village, he overtook a slim, quick-
eyed woman, sauntering along at a leisurely pace. She was fashionably dressed in a green
spencer, with 'Mameluke' sleeves, and wore a velvet Spanish hat and feather.
'Good afternoon t'ye, ma'am,' said Festus, throwing a sword-and-pistol air into his
greeting. 'You are out for a walk?'
'I AM out for a walk, captain,' said the lady, who had criticized him from the crevice of
her eye, without seeming to do much more than continue her demure look forward, and
gave the title as a sop to his apparent character.
'From the town?--I'd swear it, ma'am; 'pon my honour I would!'
'Yes, I am from the town, sir,' said she.
'Ah, you are a visitor! I know every one of the regular inhabitants; we soldiers are in and
out there continually. Festus Derriman, Yeomanry Cavalry, you know. The fact is, the
watering-place is under our charge; the folks will be quite dependent upon us for their
deliverance in the coming struggle. We hold our lives in our hands, and theirs, I may say,
in our pockets. What made you come here, ma'am, at such a critical time?'
'I don't see that it is such a critical time?'
'But it is, though; and so you'd say if you was as much mixed up with the military affairs
of the nation as some of us.'
The lady smiled. 'The King is coming this year, anyhow,' said she.
'Never!' said Festus firmly. 'Ah, you are one of the attendants at court perhaps, come on
ahead to get the King's chambers ready, in case Boney should not land?'
'No,' she said; 'I am connected with the theatre, though not just at the present moment. I
have been out of luck for the last year or two; but I have fetched up again. I join the
company when they arrive for the season.'
Festus surveyed her with interest. 'Faith! and is it so? Well, ma'am, what part do you
'I am mostly the leading lady--the heroine,' she said, drawing herself up with dignity.