Even in the distance the Herd Boy could see the nine maidens in the water. They had all laid down their clothes on the shore. "Take the red clothes, quickly," said the cow, "and hide away with them in the forest, and though she ask you for them never so sweetly do not give them back to her until she has promised to become your wife."
Her husband had a daughter by his first wife who was more beautiful than all other maidens, and so gentle and good that she won the heart of all who knew her. His second wife, however, had also a grown-up daughter, who by herself would have been ugly and disagreeable enough, but beside her good and beautiful stepsister seemed still more ugly and wicked, so that all turned from her with loathing.
It had been arranged between the two maidens that Naomi should be a guest at Portchester Rectory till she could communicate with Walwyn, and her father or brother could come and fetch her. They landed at the little wharf, among the colliers, and made their way up the street to an inn, where, after ordering a meal to satisfy the ravenous sea-appetite, Mr.
'I try not even to think of what we will have to go through. What good does it do to fuss over things we can't help? "'That's right, dear, said her companion, 'and it doesn't pay to look far ahead, either, if one wants to be happy. I never do. "They were pretty and quite well dressed, these two maidens. As to their being without a male escort, I rather admired their sturdy independence.
He looked at Miss Lambart very unamiably. He felt that she was not impressed by him as were the maidens of Cassel-Nassau; and he resented it. He resolved to capture the princess at any cost. The archduke fumed furiously to find, next morning in the Morning Post the true story of his daughter's disappearance; and he was fuming still when the car came from Rowington.
As for their orderlies, they soon made love to our Indian maidens, and there is every reason to believe that the interlopers obtained all necessary comforts, after all. So all went well enough in the two menages. Indeed, an entente cordiale between the population of Mexico and the French army was rapidly established. In a few days the place assumed an unwonted aspect of cheerfulness and festivity.
By the side of the garden-flowers, of Spring's curled darlings, the hyacinths, of rosebuds, dear to sketching maidens, of flower-de-luces and morning-glories, nay, oftener than these, and more tenderly caressed by the colored brush that rendered them, were those common growths which fling themselves to be crushed under our feet and our wheels, making themselves so cheap in this perpetual martyrdom that we forget each of them is a ray of the Divine beauty.
It was then that the maidens assembled on the slope to sing of Lada and to dance their ancient dances, while strapping youths came forth from their winter dwellings in the woods and listened. The slope down to the river was steep; below was the rustling sound of water among the reeds. Everything was wrapt in stillness, yet everywhere the throb and flow of life could be heard.
But it was not so; for, the train stopping at some station, the cars were instantly thronged with the natives, wives and fathers, young men and maidens, some of them in little more than nightgear, some with stable lanterns, and all offering beds for sale.