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departed for London with all possible speed, and that they had already made several futile attempts to discover her concealment,
Dinah felt her heart brim over, as the picture of Walter's devotion rose up in her mind, with the remembrance of the neglect and scorn she was subjected to in her father's house. She sighed, however, as she remembered how her duty to her father compelled her to endure without complaint, the luxurious yet hateful existence she was doomed to, and to escape from which the future seemed to hold out but little hope.
Fortunately, by this time the curtain had fallen, and Dinah, drawing her shawl around her shoulders, rose to go. It seemed a perplexing question in every one's mind to discover who should lead her out; but Joseph Linton solved it, by drawing his daughter's arm within his own, and, followed by the three young men, led the way to the crush room.
“I will see you in the morning, Linton," whispered his lordship, as he slipped through the crowd to make his bow to a bevy of titled dames; and Linton, who fully understood the hint, turned gaily to the two young men, and insisted upon their accompanying Dinah and himself home to supper.
“You will certainly be unable to meet Lucy and her husband now, gentlemen,” he said. “We leave the house by different streets, you see; and they will naturally conclude you have either accompanied us, or gone home at once to your hotel, so that they will be halfway there by this time.”
Walter was so intoxicated, to tell the truth, by Dinah's vicinity, that he could have walked to the antipodes at such a moment, whilst Stephen was naturally very curious to see the residence of this rich and hospitable relative.
“This is my carriage, gentlemen; come, jump in,” and placing his daughter on the side next himself, Mr. Linton motioned his companions to get in.
The luxurious equipage rolling so rapidly over the well-paved streets, had an extraordinary effect upon our village philosopher, who felt himself more and more attracted towards this debonnaire uncle. Walter, on the other hand, began to doubt and suspect that all was not as it appeared. True, Dinah was with him, and that alone made him feel in a transport; but then, how did it happen that this newly-discovered parent of hers, of whom they had never heard a syllable, revelled in all the luxuries that wealth could purchase ?
Joseph Linton talked of the opera and the ballet, directing his conversation, in turns, to his daughter and Stephen. The latter agreed to every observation he made, with the utmost enthusiasın ; the former sat silent, and constrained, and speaking but in monosyllables. · Walter, from his dark corner, noted all, -the noisy patronage of their host, the complaisance of the nephew, the abstraction of his mistress, and how entirely he was himself forgotten amongst them.
He would have attempted to have conversed with Dinah, if but only in a whisper, but their positions, removed at such a distance from each other, precluded this, and he was compelled to fall back upon his old reflections once more.
At length they stopped in a fashionable street; presently, the door of tbe house before which they had drawn up was flung open, and a flood of light poured out, standing out from which Walter could discover the forms of two or three servants in livery flitting about.
“Will you alight, gentlemen ?” said the sonorous voice of Joseph Linton, breaking in upon his reverie.
Stephen, who had never seen such splendour in a private residence, felt perfectly dazzled as they ascended the stairs; but when Joseph Linton, with a careless indifference, that bespoke him quite at home in such a domain, kicked open the door of a small drawing-room, desiring them to enter, it was with the greatest difficulty he could restrain the exclamations of delight and astonishment that trembled upon his tongue.
“I wish we had had pretty Lucy and her husband here, nephew," quoth Mr. Joseph Linton, with a yawn, as he threw himself upon a couch. “John, let us have supper immediately, he added, turning to a footman; "I'm very hungry, gentlemen," he continued, with a haughty stare, to Walter.
Walter felt annoyed, but determined not to resent such behaviour, assented briefly to the remark. He felt glad now that his residence with the Courtenays had made all this pomp and glitter, which so bewildered Stephen, a thing of ordinary occurrence to him; and, resolved to show Joseph Linton that his grandeur was of little count to him, began to criticise his pictures rather sharply.
“That is not a genuine Berghem, sir," he said, pointing to one immediately before him," although you have evidently bought it under the impression that it is.”
" It—it is not, sir ? " echoed Joseph Linton, angrily; “but I say it is, or I shouldn't have given six hundred guineas for it, as I did.”
“I am sorry for you, then, Mr. Linton,” said the young man, calmly, "for I saw the original in Sir Charles Courtenay's gallery, last week. Your Claudes, too, I'm afraid, are fictitious. But that little picture, there, in the corner, which you have hung so shamefully in the dark, as if you were ashamed of its possession, is at any rate a real Sir Joshua. Surely you do not know its value, or you would accord it a worthier place."
Joseph Linton bent his shaggy brows, and uttered a low, deep growl, like that of a baffled panther, as Walter continued thus to demolish his collection, whilst Stephen, who fancied that his uncle's pictures were all magnificently framed, and very brilliant, as well, could scarcely breathe at such temerity.
“ Come and sit beside me, Dinah," said Walter, who seemed to have assumed a new character, the moment he entered Joseph Linton's house, as if the very atmosphere had rendered him more audacious. “ You look so charming in that simple dress, that I can scarcely believe we are not once again at the Abbey Holme.”
Again Joseph Linton's brows darkened, and again he restrained himself with a mighty effort, as Dinah, with a gentle smile, seated herself beside her admirer, who, on his part, darted a confident look all round the apartment.
“You have a magnificent instrument, there, Mr. Linton," said he, nodding carelessly in the direction of a grand piano; “bật, if Dinah is the only performer, I fear it will be but seldom touched.”
“Dinah's education has been so much neglected, sir,” said Joseph Linton, with crushing dignity, "that we do seldom use that instrument in private. When I give an entertainment, however, and, as this is the height of the season, I generally do so just now at least once a week, I engage some eminent pianist to perform upon it. I gave a good round sum for it, so that it ought to be a good one, sir.”
A satirical smile played around Walter's mouth, at the conclusion of this speech. He then turned to Dinah, who sat beside him, wondering at his behaviour, and entered into a subdued and eager conversation, which irritated Joseph even more than all the rest. Stephen's admiration and deference, however, almost made up for his disappointment on this head.
“Supper is served, sir," said the footman, throwing open the door, and leading the way to the dining-room.
“We shall see how he stands that,” thought Joseph Linton, pettishly, as he arose; for he inwardly piqued himself upon having one of the most gorgeous dining rooms in the metropolis : and he followed his daughter, who had taken Walter's arm, quite confident that the latter's astonishment would more than atone for his late triumph.
“ Those statues are very much admired, nephew," said he, directing Stephen's attention, as they descended the staircase, to a Cupid and Psyche which graced a couple of niches. “I bought them in Rome, last year. Prince Castle Cicala and Ia delightful fellow, the prince-were travelling post at the time, and were forced, by the pole of our carriage breaking (we both
travelled in the same), to stay a day in the eternal city. The prince hadn't been there so often as I had.-How should he, when there wasn't a river, an amphitheatre, or an aqueduct, I hadn't explored fifty times ?--And so he proposed to stroll through the ateliers of the sculptors, and see if there was anything new. Well, we went, and found a poor fellow of the name of L-, working away for bare life at that Psyche: he had finished the Cupid a short time before ; and, as the poor wretch was short of cash, and the pair were perfect gems, I bought 'em then and there, and that's the story of them."
"I never knew you had been in Rome,” said Stephen, who felt perfectly carried off his feet by the offhand way of his host.
“Know! why, how the plague, my dear fellow, should you?" cried Joseph Linton, slapping him on the shoulder, "when for years and years I was a dead man to all of you. shall know the next time I go, for I'll take you with me, my boy, and so that's a bargain."
“You are very good; but-my mother," stammered Stephen.
“Pho! pho! none but children talk about their mothers," cried Joseph Linton, with a hoarse laugh. “But come; supper waits,” and he marched with the air of a duke into the diningroom, expecting to feast his eyes upon Walter's astonishment
That young man, however, had evidently never noticed the change, for he was seated by Dinah's side, with his head resting on his breast, still engaged in the eager conversation that had been commenced upstairs. Joseph Linton almost felt asphixiatized at such audacity; his breath almost forsook him at the contempt thus exhibited by so young a man, at a scene which few, even of his ordinary guests, were not loud in praise of.
“Do you think this room neat, Mr. Mordaunt? rate, I flatter myself those Landseers will exact a word of praise from such a fastidious connoisseur," he condescended to say.
“It is well enough," said the young man, scarcely looking up. “Dinah, do you remember the Shaws, where you and I and his voice sank into au inaudible whisper.
“What will you take, nephew ?” said Joseph Linton, turning in despair to Stephen. “I always think, until the twelfth of August comes in, that a supper-table never looks thoroughly furnished,” and he glanced round with epicurean contempt at the loaded and smoking board.
“By the bye, have you any good shooting down in Herefordshire ?"
“Pretty fair,” said Walter, who had his mouth full of pigeon pie. “Do you shoot, Mr. Linton ?”
“I do, sir," said that gentleman, in an annihilating tone. “I should have thought from your bulk, sir,” said the pro
voking jackanapes, coolly, “ that it was a feat you seldom indulged in ;” and he glanced very unmistakeably at the gold chains that glittered upon Joseph's waistcoat, as if he thought them a rather singular appendage to a dog and gun.
Joseph Linton looked daggers at him, as he declared himself a very keen sportsman indeed. When the time came, they might chance to take the moors together, and then he would see whether he could stand the fatigue or not.
“I accept the challenge with all my heart," said Walter, quietly, “and in the meantime, I pledge you in a glass of this delicious hock," pouring out a glass of Joseph Linton's rarest wine, with a careless grace that won even his host's admiration.
Walter's behaviour was so little in accordance with the habits to which Dinah and Stephen had been accustomed to see him display, that they both felt considerably puzzled by his present demeanour. The latter, however, put it down to the score of the company he had lately been keeping at Sir Charles Courtenay's; whilst Mr Linton, who did not yet feel himself foiled, returned to the charge, by asking his opinion of the wine he was drinking.
"It is delicious, my dear sir,” cried Walter, examining it with the eye of a connoisseur against the chandelier.
“It is Houbigant's best," was the more complaisant reply, and satisfied with this, Joseph Linton did not trouble him with another question, the whole of the remainder of the evening.
“It is getting very late,” said Walter, at length referring to his watch, "and early folks like Stephen and I, who are up with the lark, ought to keep good hours. Come, Stephen, my boy," and he slapped his bewildered friend gaily on the shoulder.
“We shall see Lucy to-morrow,” said Dinah to the latter.
“Ay, tell her to come early, and Di will give her a long morning,” said Mr. Linton, graciously, "I am going out of town on business, so that my little girl will be entirely alone.”
He felt Walter's searching glance upon him, as he said this, and with great composure added, “but my absence, I hope, need not deter yourselves, gentlemen, from accompanying my quiet niece to Baker-street; so come and have an early dinner by yourselves, and I will perhaps drop in towards night."
“We will not promise," said Walter, quietly, “but Lucy at any rate will come.”
Joseph Linton looked disappointed, but did not say anything, and the two young men presently took leave.
When they were fairly quit of the house, Stephen burst out upon his companion with, “What the mischief, Wat, are you