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      It was an eccentric existence that she led in her youth, it must be confessed. That wandering, restless life had a character all the more strange because at that time it was so unusual; going perpetually from one chateau to another, roaming about the country disguised as a peasant, playing tricks on everybody, eating raw fish, playing the harp like Apollo, dancing, acting, fencing....



      "What a pretty idea! It is as if Major Disney had found a new kind of wild flower in some cranny of the old grey wall that guards the town."

      Colonel Disney was full of thoughtfulness for his wife in all their going to and fro; and before their day's rambles were half done he would drive her to any quiet spot where she might choose to spend a restful hour in the afternoon sunshinein this or that convent garden, in some shaded corner on the Aventine, or among the wild flowers that flourish and grow rank amidst the ruins of palace and temple on the Palatine. Her favourite resort was still the English cemetery, and she always begged to be set down within reach of that familiar gate, where the custodian knew her as well as if she had been some restless spirit whose body lay under one of those marble urns, and whose ghost passed in and out of the gate every day.Going home, Trafford? Take me with you, and give me a soda and whisky, will you?

      She leant back in her basket-chair, revelling in the rural atmosphere, and in that new sense of being in the bosom of her family. Tim leapt upon her lap and licked her face, in token of his acceptance of her into the home-circle. Nobody had ever called Miss Leland a beauty, nor had she ever received those disquieting attentions which follow the footsteps of exceptional loveliness. She was sometimes described as a girl who grew upon one; and people who knew her well generally ended by thinking her distractingly pretty. She had a brilliant complexion, of the true English type, fair and bloominga complexion which indicated perfect health and an active, orderly life; no late hours or novel-reading over the firean out-of-door complexion, which would have looked its best under a neat little felt hat in the hunting-field, or under a coquettish straw sailor hat on board a yacht. Her eyes were blue-grey, with long, brown lashes and boldly[Pg 107] marked eyebrows; her nose was firmly modelled, inclining a little to the aquiline order. Her mouth was the prettiest feature in her face, and yet it was a shade larger than accepted perfection in mouths. It was a mouth chiefly remarkable for character and expression; and, indeed, it was the individuality and variety of expression in the fair young face which constituted Miss Leland's chief claim to distinction.


      Isola was right in her prophecy, except as to the hour of Captain Hulbert's arrival. They were taking a picnic[Pg 233] luncheon in a little grove of lemon and orange, wedged into a cleft in the hills, on the edge of a deep and narrow gorge down which a mountain torrent rushed to the sea. Suddenly across the narrow strip of blue at the end of the vista came the vision of white sails, a schooner with all her canvas spread, dazzling in the noonday sun, sailing towards San Remo. Allegra sat gazing at the white sails, but said never a word. Neither Martin Disney nor his wife happened to be looking that way, till the child in his nurse's lap gave a sudden crow of delight.

      "I am very glad. I am glad with all my heart."

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      And step by step she was drawing away from the Revolution. She had had enough of it, and she began to feel that disgust and horror were taking the place of the frantic admiration she had entertained for it in former years. And the finishing stroke was put by hearing herself called, as she walked with Tallien in Cours la Reine one evening, Notre Dame de Septembre.

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      The faces of the men darkened, and they growled and muttered under their breath.

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      Varley Howard rolled another cigarette, and though his face was as impassive as ever, his delicate fingers quivered slightly."You have more of what people call animal spirits than I have."


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