The Two Guardians
"Benedict. What, my dear Lady Disdain, are you yet living?"
"Beatrice. Is it possible Disdain should die while she has such meet food to feed her?"
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.
The Lyddell family did not continue in London much longer; it had been a short season,
and though the session of Parliament was not over, most of the ladies were taking flight
into the country, before the end of June,--Mrs. Lyddell among the rest,--and her husband
went backwards and forwards to London, as occasion called him.
The girls were glad to get into the country, but Marian soon found that she had not
escaped either from gaieties, or from the objects of her aversion; for Mr. Faulkner
brought his mother and sisters to High Down House, gave numerous parties there, and
made a constant interchange of civilities with the family at Oakworthy. Archery was
pretty much the fashion with the young ladies that year; it was a sport which Marian liked
particularly, having often practised it with Edmund and Agnes, and her bow and arrows
were always the first to be ready.
One day when Marian, Caroline, and Clara were shooting on the lawn at Oakworthy, Mr.
and Miss Faulkner rode from High Down, came out on the lawn, and joined them. From
that moment, any one could see the change that came over Marian. Instead of laughing
and talking, teaching Clara, and paying only half attention to her own shooting, she now
went on as if it was her sole object, and as if she had no other purpose in life. She fixed
her arrows and twanged her string with a rigidity as if the target had been a deadly
enemy, or her whole fate was concentrated in hitting the bull's eye; and when her arrows
went straight to the mark, or at least much straighter than those of any one else, she never
turned her head, or vouchsafed more than the briefest answer to the exclamations around.
The others were talking of archery in general and in particular,--just what, if it had not
been Mr. Faulkner, would have delighted her; but she would not hear him. He might
speak of the English long-bow, and the cloth yard-shaft, and the butts at which Elizabeth
shot, and the dexterity required for hitting a deer, and of the long arrow of the Indian, and
the Wourali reed of South America,--as long as he spoke it was nothing to her, let
Caroline smile and answer, and appeal to her as much she would. Then came a talk about
archery meetings and parties, in which at last they all grew so eager, that they stood still
round the return target, and Marian could not shoot back again without perilling them; so
she unstrung her bow, and stood apart with a stern face, which made her look a great deal
more like Diana, than she by any means suspected or desired.
Two days after, there came a note from Miss Faulkner,--Julia, as she had requested to be
called,--saying that her brother was so delighted with the archery schemes that had been
discussed, that he could not give them up, and intended to give a grand fête at High