But Evelyn thought: "This is the girl they talk about. God knows, if he had loved worthily, I might not so much have minded!" From the garden came a burst of laughter and high voices. Mistress Stagg started up. "'Tis our people, Mistress Evelyn, coming from the playhouse. We lodge them in the house by the bowling green, but after rehearsals they're apt to stop here. I'll send them packing.
After waiting, as it seemed, for some remark or answer, and waiting in vain, the visitor resumed: 'Madam, my name is Stagg. A friend of mine who has desired the honour of meeting with you any time these five years past, has commissioned me to call upon you. I should be glad to whisper that gentleman's name in your ear. Zounds, ma'am, are you deaf?
It was planted in the shadow of a larger building, and a path led around it to what seemed a pleasant, shady, and extensive garden. Mistress Deborah gave a sigh of satisfaction. "Seven years come Martinmas since I last stayed overnight with Mary Stagg! And we were born in the same village, and at Bath what mighty friends we were!
The silken stuff touched a coarser cloth, and that was the skirt of Darden's Audrey, who sat upon the ground asleep, with her arm across the chair, and her head upon her arm. "How came she here?" demanded Mr. Stagg at last, when he had given a tragedy start, folded his arms, and bent his brows.
A tress of hair, fallen from its fastening, swept her cheek; Mistress Stagg, stooping, put it in place behind the small ear, then straightened herself and pressed her Mirabell's arm. "Well, my love," quoth that gentleman, clearing his throat. "'Great minds, like Heaven, are pleased in doing good. My Millamant, declare your thoughts!" Mistress Stagg twisted her apron hem between thumb and finger.
Stagg, found himself mightily inclined to improve the golden opportunity and at once lay siege to this paragon from the playhouse. Two low bows, a three-piled, gold-embroidered compliment, a quotation from his "To Sylvia upon her Leaving the Theatre," and the young gentleman thought his lines well laid.
He'd given the little waistrel the cross-buttock, and felled him on his head. I saw the other ride off, and I saw Simeon Stagg. When all was still, I crept out and took Wilson's money yes, I took it; but I flung it into the next beck. For the moment, when I touched him I thought he was alive. I've not been drinking hard since then, Ralph; no, nor never will again."
Hence to Graye's-Inn walks, and there staid a good while; where I met with Ned Pickering, who told me what a great match of hunting of a stagg the King had yesterday; and how the King tired all their horses, and come home with not above two or three able to keep pace with him. So to my father's, and there supped, and so home. 12th. At the office this morning.
If the look was not one of curiosity alone, but had in it an admixture of new-found respect; if to Mistress Stagg the Audrey of yesterday, unnoted, unwhispered of, was a being somewhat lowlier than the Audrey of to-day, it may be remembered for her that she was an actress of the early eighteenth century, and that fate and an old mother to support had put her in that station.
By now his fever was full upon him, and it was a man scarce to be held responsible for his actions that presently knocked at the door of the long room where, at the window opening upon Palace Street, Audrey sat with Mistress Stagg and watched the people going to the ball. For an hour it had been very quiet, very peaceful, in the small white house on Palace Street.