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A DAY'S RIDE: A LIFE'S ROMANCE.

CHAPTER XIII.

BREAKFAST over, I took a walk through the
town. Though in a measure prepared for a
scene of unbustling quietude and tranquillity, I
must own that the air of repose around far
surpassed all I had imagined. The streets through
which I sauntered were grass-grown and
untrodden; the shops were but half open; not an
equipage, nor even a horseman was to be seen.
In the Platz, where a sort of fruit-market was
held, a few vendors of grapes, peaches, and
melons sat under large crimson umbrellas, but
there seemed few purchasers, except a passing
schoolboy, carefully scanning the temptations in
which he was about to invest his kreutzer.

The most remarkable feature of the place,
however, and it is one which through a certain
significance has always held its place in my
memory, was that, go where one would, the
palace of the grand-duke was sure to finish
the view at one extremity of the street. In
fact, every alley converged to this one centre,
and the royal residence stood like the governor's
chamber in a panopticon gaol. There did my
mind for many a day picture him sitting like a
huge spider watching the incautious insects that
permeated his web. I imagined him fat,
indolent and apathetic, but yet with a gaoler's
instincts, ever mindful of every stir and movement
of the prisoners below. With a very ordinary
telescope he must be master of everything that
went on, and the humblest incident could not
escape his notice. Was it the consciousness of
this surveillance that made every one keep the
house? Was it the feeling that the " Gross
Herzogliche" eye never left them, that prevented
men being abroad in the streets and about their
affairs as in other places? I half suspected this,
and set to work imagining a state of society
thus scanned and scrutinised. But that the
general aspect of the town so palpably proclaimed
the absence of all trade and industry,
I might have compared the whole to a glass
hive; but they were all drones that dwelt there,
there was not one " busy bee" in the whole of
them.

While I rambled thus carelessly along, I came
in front of a sort of garden fenced from the
street by an iron railing. The laurel, and
arbutus, and even the oleander, were there,
gracefully blending a varied foliage, and contrasting
in their luxuriant liberty so pleasantly with the
dull uniformity outside. Finding a gate wide
open, I strolled in and gave myself up to the
delicious enjoyment of the spot. As I was deliberating
whether this was a public garden or
not, I found myself before a long, low, villa-like
building, with a colonnade in front. Over
the entrance was a large shield, which on nearer
approach I recognised to contain the arms of
England. This, therefore, was the legation,
the residence of our minister, Sir Shalley
Doubleton. I felt a very British pride and
satisfaction to see our representative lodged so
splendidly. With all the taxpayer's sentiment
in my heart, I rejoiced to think that he who
personated the nation should, in all his belongings,
typify the wealth, the style, and the
grandeur of England, and in the ardour of this
enthusiasm I hastened back to the inn for the
despatch-bag.

Armed with this, and a card, I soon presented
myself at the door. On the card I had written,
"Mr. Pottinger presents his respectful compliments,
and requests his excellency will favour
him with an audience of a few minutes for an
explanation."

I had made up my mind to state that my
servant, in removing my smaller luggage from
the train, had accidentally carried off this Foreign-office
bag, which, though at considerable
inconvenience, I had travelled much out of my way
to restore in person. I had practised this explanation
as I dressed in the morning, I had
twice rehearsed it to an orange-tree in the
garden, before which I had bowed till my back
ached, and I fancied myself perfect in my part.
It would, I confess, have been a great relief to
me to have had only the slightest knowledge of
the great personage before whom I was about
to present myself, to have known was he short
or tall, young or old, solemn or easy-mannered,
had he a loud voice and an imperious tone, or
was he of the soft and silky order of his craft.
I'd have willingly entertained his " gentleman"
at a moderate repast for some information on
these points, but there was no time for the
inquiry, and so I rang boldly at the bell. The
door opened of itself at the summons, and I
found myself in a large hall with a plaster cast
of the Laocoon, and nothing else. I tried several
of the doors on either side, but they were all
locked. A very handsome and spacious stair of

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