“And is that a Scotch reel you are dancing, you Highland fairy?” asked her father.—“Mrs. Bretton, there will be a green ring growing up in the middle of your kitchen shortly. I would not answer for her being quite cannie. She is a strange little mortal.”

“Tell Lucy to dance with me, papa. There is Lucy Snowe.”

Mr. Home (there was still quite as much about him of plain Mr. Home as of proud Count de Bassompierre) held his hand out to me, saying kindly he remembered me well; and, even had his own memory been less trustworthy, my name was so often on his daughter’s lips, and he had listened to so many long tales about me, I should seem like an old acquaintance.

Every one now had tasted the wassail-cup except Paulina, whose pas de fée, ou de fantaisie, nobody thought of interrupting to offer so profanatory a draught; but she was not to be overlooked, nor balked of her mortal privileges.

“Let me taste,” said she to Graham, as he was putting the cup on the shelf of the dresser out of her reach.

Mrs. Bretton and Mr. Home were now engaged in conversation. Dr. John had not been unobservant of the fairy’s dance; he had watched it, and he had liked it. To say nothing of the softness and beauty of the movements, eminently grateful to his grace-loving eye, that ease in his mother’s house charmed him, for it set him at ease. Again she seemed a child for him—again almost his playmate. I wondered how he would speak to her. I had not yet seen him address her. His first words proved that the old days of “little Polly” had been recalled to his mind by this evening’s childlike light-heartedness.

“Your ladyship wishes for the tankard?”

“I think I said so. I think I intimated as much.”

“Couldn’t consent to a step of the kind on any account. Sorry for it, but couldn’t do it.”

“Why? I am quite well now. It can’t break my collar-bone again or dislocate my shoulder. Is it wine?”

“No, nor dew.”

“I don’t want dew. I don’t like dew. But what is it?”

“Ale—strong ale—old October; brewed, perhaps, when I was born.”

“It must be curious. Is it good?”

“Excessively good.”

And he took it down, administered to himself a second dose of this mighty elixir, expressed in his mischievous eyes extreme contentment with the same, and solemnly replaced the cup on the shelf.

“I should like a little,” said Paulina, looking up. “I never had any ‘old October.’ Is it sweet?”

“Perilously sweet,” said Graham.

She continued to look up exactly with the countenance of a child that longs for some prohibited dainty. At last the doctor relented, took it down, and indulged himself in the gratification of letting her taste from his hand. His eyes, always expressive in the revelation of pleasurable feelings, luminously and smilingly avowed that it was a gratification; and he prolonged it by so regulating the position of the cup that only a drop at a time could reach the rosy, sipping lips by which its brim was courted.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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