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had heard him coming; and Mr. Kennan said to himself she had never looked so beautiful.
“ Freda was right,” he thought; “I could not have done without this—I shall have my reward.
“Mavis,” he said, in a low voice, taking her hands, “I have come to see you here for the last time: I have come to ask you to be my wife.”
“To be your wife?” she repeated slowly. “Are you sure you mean that? Are you sure of yourself ?”
“ You need not ask that. If you look in my eyes, you should be able to tell whether I am. I know my own heart-better than I have sometimes known my own mind.” She smiled in answer to his smile and the allusion of his words.
“But are you sure of me ? ” she asked again.
They still held hands, and for answer he pressed hers.
A curious look came into her eyes, and again she asked him, “Will you take me still, whatever I prove to be?”
I have taken you in my heart already, and there can be no going back.”
“Then, Mr. Kennan” (she dropped his hands, and drew back a step) "I will put you to the test. Look at me well, now.”
She threw back the red scarf that had been always over her head and shoulders since the day when they met for the first time, and passed her hands over her hair. “To thine own self,'” she began to say, smiling at him strangely, “óto thine
“Do you forgive me?” said Freda. “Yes, I think you do. You still seem a little bewildered, though. Shall I state the case again more clearly ?”
They stood at the stern, and the men were engaged forward.
Freda leaned back against the great wooden tiller, in front of her lover, laughing at his still astonished countenance. “I, Freda Sands," said she, emphasising each word with slow and judicial utterance, “who having refused you, Edward Kennan, seven years ago, and having at last succeeded in making you a Decided Man, do hereby accept you for my
Husband,” finished Mr. Kennan. “Freda, I never dreamt of such fortune. But it is all very extraordinary. I suppose, now, that I fell in love with Mavis — with you as Mavis, I mean-because you were you : do you see?”
“ Most lucidly,” said Freda, laughing. “Do you remember my little song” (she sang the last two lines softly):
“" Oh ! trust me, dear! Howe'er thou wilt appear,
Still, with quick senses, shall I feel thee near'?"
“ The only
“That is what I did, Freda, only I didn't know it. The astonishing thing is that I never guessed ; and there were so many things to tell me, too."
“Love is blind, you see,” said Freda, laughing mischievously. excuse for you is that I had never told you that I owned this barge, and had a mad fancy for taking a holiday this way now and then. But, truthfully, I never intended to play such a trick on you ; but when you suddenly appeared on the barge that day and didn't recognise me, I couldn't resist keeping up the little play, and it developed into such a glorious opportunity of --well
“Showing up my weaknesses ?”
“ Proving your real strength, rather. You made the great conquest, added the one thing wanting in your character
"Oh !” said Mr. Kennan, as all that he had said and done rushed back along the roads of his mind pell-mell, “was ever man made to court in this fashion ?”
“My dear boy,” said Freda, taking his hand in both of hers, “was ever man so easy, so ridiculously easy, to take in? It was so very obvious that you had never been off the shore before, or I don't think you would have thought it quite natural for a barge to be all comfortable cabin, or for a barge girl to be reading Landor and Matthew Arnold, or—"
“Oh, don't!” groaned Mr. Kennan again. I've proved myself for ever the most hideously foolish—_”
“And the noblest, of men,” said Freda, stopping his mouth with her hand,
But even now, when Mr. Kennan sits alone and unoccupied, or while his wife is playing dreamy melodies before the lights are brought, he still revolves the list of coincidences that “ought to have shown him what he was doing.” And he sometimes regrets for a moment that it was all their personal experience ; for it is a great literary idea lost to him for ever.
HE wheel of life seems to turn so fast nowadays, and event after event in
the history of the last fifty years has trodden so closely on the other's heels,
has filled men's minds, and has one after the other been the world's wonder before it passed away from the world's ken, that it is strange indeed that the splendid series of festivities known to fame as the Eglinton Tournament should still be remembered. Two generations have disappeared since then, and most of those who fought and feasted together in 1839 have joined the majority.
One alone of all the knights survives; but the Lord of the Tourney, the King of the Tourney, the fair Queen of Love and Beauty, and most of those who followed in their train, have long since vanished into nothingness.
Here and there may be found in the west country some ancient grandsire or withered dame who took part in the great pageant, and who, did their infirmities allow them, would “still stand a-tiptoe when the day is named.” But it is not they alone who keep its memory alive. It somehow got hold of the public imagination ; it was written about, it was sung, it was the subject alike of heroic couplets and of the witty rhymes of Thomas Ingoldsby. It became familiar in men's mouths as household words, and even in these present prosaic times there is something that stirs the brain and makes the heart beat a little faster when we read that in our own times, so to speak, there were to be found young and ardent souls who tried to bring back to life the deeds of chivalry and the glory of days long gone by. We are terribly familiar nowadays with scenic representations of everything past and present. Ancient Roman processions have filed past us, and classical sports and games have been rendered familiar to us; we have “swum in gondolas” in the Venice of Olympia, and have gazed on the Eastern beauties of a mimic Seraglio in a pasteboard Constantinople ; the Bastille has been rebuilt for our benefit, and the life of the Wild West has been acted in miniature before our eyes. There is hardly a
bazaar held for charitable purposes that is not a counterfeit of a Cairene street, of a Danish or an Irish village, an ice carnival or something of the kind. We have seen so much pretty fooling that we might be forgiven if we placed the celebrated tournament of over half a century ago in much the same category.
In one sense, no doubt, the revival of the sports of our ancestors may be looked on as illustrating the history of ancient chivalry-a series of tableaux which recalled scenes on which the shadows of more than three hundred years had fallen, and which presented to the eyes of tens of thousands of spectators gorgeously coloured pictures of the past.
But it was no imitation of a tournament—it was the thing itself. It was not a theatrical representation got up to while away idle hours—but a reality in which the best born and most distinguished in the land did not mimic their illustrious forefathers, but actually brought back for a brief space the ways and manners of the olden times.
The "passages of arms ” were not a parody on the jousts of the Middle Agesthey were the joust itself, regulated by the laws framed in the days of the Edwards and the Henrys. Sword and lance were used in earnest, thrusts were given and received with right good will. In the mêlée the strength, skill and horsemanship of the combatants were put to a severe trial, and, if not an actual struggle for life and death, it was a combat for knightly honour and reputation. Some care was taken to avoid bad accidents, but hard blows were given and received with unflinching courage.
Since the days of the Field of the Cloth of Gold a more splendid pageant had never been seen. Generations had risen, flourished and decayed in the space of time that had intervened between the last tournament in the days of the Tudors and this revival of the sports and pastimes of chivalry. It was a grand, moving picture of the history of the valorous days of Europe—a living representation of the manners, modes, fashions and thoughts of those who had once played a great part on the theatre of the world.
The pomp and circumstance of mimic war were reproduced in the fights at the