It was, indeed, the same man who had come to consult Dr. Burney, but had not been allowed the chance of doing so by Garrick, a fortnight before—the same man, but with a marked difference, who was now walking across the pillared room in the Pantheon, with a smiling, well-favoured lady by his side; and toward the pair the eyes of all the circle whom Mrs. Thrale had been addressing were directed.

Mrs. Thrale and her friends were too much amazed to be able to speak, but the lips of every one of them were holding back some exclamation of surprise: an acute observer would have been able easily to set down the various unuttered exclamations of the party, from the simple “Oh, Lud!” of Mrs. Thrale to the more emphatic “Merciful Powers!” of Mrs. Cholmondeley, though not a word was spoken between them, while Mr. Kendal and the lady walked straight through the room to where they were standing.

“Slip behind the pillar: I will cover you, my friend,” whispered Dr. Burney to Garrick.

But Garrick had no intention of doing anything so ignominious—more especially as he perceived that Mr. Kendal had caught sight of him; and it was really Garrick who advanced to meet the couple, with the air of a host about to welcome two long-expected guests—it was really Garrick who received them with one of his finest bows, and who—to add to the amazement of the group behind him—was greeted by Mr. Kendal and the lady with the friendliest of smiles (the lady was blushing, not Mr. Garrick).

And then it was to Dr. Burney the gentleman turned.

“Dear sir,” he cried, “with what words should I approach you? It is to your counsel and Mr. Garrick’s that I owe my happiness.” Then he made his bow to the others of the group.

“Mrs. Thrale,” he said, when he had recovered himself, “we hoped to find you here with your friends, so that we might lose no moment in offering you our thanks for the tactful way in which you brought us together. Only such genius as yours, madam, could have perceived—well, all that you did perceive. I protest that neither Mrs. Kendal nor myself apprehended the too flattering truth. But the heart of a woman who has herself loved—ah, that is the source of such genius as you displayed with such subtlety. She is mine, madam; we have been married a whole week, and I, at least, know what a treasure—but I cannot trust myself to talk of my happiness just now. Perhaps at some future time I shall be able to tell you coherently how I felt within me that my Diana—Mrs. Nash, as she was then—did not mean her rebuff as a final dismissal, and thus I was led to her side—to implore an audience of her, in the course of which she confessed to me that—”

But his bride prevented the flow of his eloquence by tapping him under the chin in exquisite playfulness with her fan, smiling roguishly at him first, and then looking round the group with an air of chastened triumph while she said:

“Foolish man! Prithee remember, Ferdinand, that you are in a public place, and that the secrets of the confessional are sacred. I protest that you are exceeding a husband’s privilege in revealing aught that I confessed when taken aback at your sudden appearance before me!”

“I ask your pardon, my angel,” he cried. “I had no right to say even the little that I have said. I suppose I shall learn discretion in time and with practice. But when I think of the kindly interest that some of our friends here showed in bringing us together, I feel that they should be rewarded by a repetition of the whole story.”

“Nay, nay, sir, you may take my word for it that we look not for such a reward,” cried Garrick. “Such philanthropists as Mrs. Thrale and myself feel more than rewarded when we succeed in bringing together a lady and gentleman who were so plainly intended by Providence for each other’s happiness.”

“It was Mr. Garrick who looked with the eyes of Providence into your case as associated with Mr. Kendal, madam. That is, if Puck may ever be thought of as assuming the rôle of Providence,” said Mrs. Thrale. “For myself, I believe that Puck has more to do with the making of matches than heaven; and assuredly in this particular case the mischievous fairy had more than a finger. But however that may be, we can still wish you every happiness in life, and offer you an apology for—”

“H’sh!” whispered Garrick, raising a hand. “Rauzzini is beginning to sing. I am sure, Mrs. Kendal, that you will willingly accept Signor Rauzzini’s song in lieu of Mrs. Thrale’s apology, however admirably worded the latter were sure to be.”

The bride smiled benignly at Mrs. Thrale, and there was more than a trace of triumph in her smile.

Dr. Burney smiled also at the adroitness of the actor, who, he could perceive, had no intention of allowing himself to be incriminated by any confession, assuming the form of an apology, that Mrs. Thrale might make in a moment of contrition for having been a partner with him in a piece of fooling that had had a very different result from the one he (and she) had looked for.

Garrick, still holding up a warning finger as if he had at heart the best interests of the composer as well as the singer of “Waft her, Angels,” prevented another word from being spoken, though more than a full minute had passed before Rauzzini had breathed the first notes of the recitativo.

But incautiously lowering his finger when the handsome Roman had begun, Mrs. Thrale took advantage of her release from the thraldom imposed upon her, to say in a low tone, looking toward the gallery in front of which the singer stood:

“It is one angel talking to the others! Was there ever so angelic a man?”

And little Miss Burney, who had also her eyes fixed upon the singer, felt that little Mrs. Thrale was not merely an angel, but a goddess. She expressed her opinion to this effect in her next letter to Mr. Crisp.

She listened in a dream to the singing that no one could hear and remain unmoved, even though one had not the advantage of looking at the singer at the same time. Fanny Burney was too short-sighted to be able to distinguish one face from another at such a distance; but this made no difference to her; she had the face of the sweet singer ever before her—most clearly when she closed her eyes, as she did now, and listened to him.

“Waft her, angels, to the skies—Waft her, angels, waft her, angels, waft her to the skies,” rang out his fervent imploration, and she felt that there were no powers that could withstand the force of such an appeal. For herself she felt carried away on the wings of song into the highest heaven. She felt that harps of heaven alone could provide an adequate accompaniment to such a voice as his; and she gave herself up to it as unreservedly as a bride gives herself to the arms of her lover. She had that sensation of a sweet yielding to the divine influence of the music until she could feel it enfolding her and bearing her into the infinite azure of a realm more beautiful than any that her dreams had borne her to in the past. She wanted nothing better than this in any world. All that she wanted was an assurance that it would continue for ever and ever....

With the cessation of the singing she seemed to awaken from a dream of divine delight and in her awaking to retain the last thought that had been hers—the longing for an assurance that the delight which she was feeling would endure. She was awake now, and she knew that love had been all her dream, and that what she longed for was the assurance that that love would continue. And now she remembered that it was this same longing that had brought about her resolution that she would never go to her King as the beggar maid had gone to King Cophetua. There would be no assurance of the continuing of love between them if she had the humiliating feeling that he had stooped to raise her to his level.

That was the thought which took possession of her mind when she had returned from the sublimities to which she had been borne by her lover’s singing, and in another minute the reaction had come. She had been soaring high, but now she was conscious of a sinking at heart; for the whole building was resounding with acclamations of the singer. There did not seem to be anyone silent, save only herself, throughout the hall. Everyone seemed calling the name of Rauzzini—all seemed ready to throw themselves at his feet; and when he stood up to acknowledge their tribute of enthusiasm to his marvellous powers, there was something of frenzy in the way his name was flung from hundreds of voices—it was not enough for the people whom he had stirred to shout his name, they surrounded him with the banners of a great conqueror—the air was quivering with the lace and the silk that were being waved on all sides to do him honour—handkerchiefs, scarves, fans—the air was full of them.

And there he stood high above them, smiling calmly and bending his head gravely to right and left in acknowledgment of all....

That was his position before the world. Her heart sank within her as she asked herself what was hers. How could she ever hope to attain to such a place as should win from the world such applause as this? How could she ever be so vain as to think that the giving of a little book to the world should have an effect worthy of being compared with this demonstration which was shaking the Pantheon?

Her heart sank to a deeper depth still when the thunders had passed away—reluctantly as the reverberations of a great storm—and there was a buzz of voices all about her—exclamations of delight—whispers of admiration—ladies with clasped hands, fervent in their words about the marvellous face of the young Roman—and her father and his friend, Mr. Fulke Greville, exchanging recollections of the singing of the same air by other vocalists, and coming gradually to the conclusion that none had put such feeling into it as had Rauzzini.

The buzz of voices did not cease when the singer had come down from his gallery and was greeting some of his friends on the floor of the great hall. He had trouble in making his way as far as the group which he meant to reach. The most distinguished ladies of high quality had pressed round him with uncritical expressions of appreciation of his singing, and there was no lack of gentlemen of fashion to follow their example, though wondering greatly that the ladies of quality should allow themselves to show such transports respecting a man with no trait of a true-born Englishman about him. Signor Rauzzini might have indulged in a score of pinches of snuff out of the gold and enamelled boxes that were thrust forward for his acceptance with the finest artificial grace of a period when it was not thought effeminate to be graceful over small things.

He bowed low to the ladies of quality, and smiled his polite rejection of the snuff of the gentlemen of fashion. But such convenances made it impossible for him to keep his eyes upon the group toward which he was making a necessarily slow way, and he only reached the side of Dr. Burney to find that Dr. Burney’s daughter had disappeared. He had no chance of seeing how Miss Burney at his approach had slipped behind a pillar and suffered herself to be conducted thence to a seat by her cousin Edward: the fact that Edward was learning to be a painter was a sufficient excuse for his paying an occasional visit to such scenes of colour as were unfolded before the eyes of a frequenter of the fashionable Pantheon every night.

Fanny felt that if Signor Rauzzini had come to her side after passing through the ranks of lace and velvet and brocade, she would have sunk through the floor of the hall. But she knew that it was to her side he was coming, and she took the opportunity of flying when he was compelled to make a pause in front of the flattery of the Duchess of Ancaster.

She was painfully shy at all times, but overwhelmingly so at that moment, though she knew that she was the only woman in the place who would make the attempt to evade the distinction which threatened her. How could she remain where she had been with all eyes in the room upon her? She felt that it would be impossible.

Her heart was beating quickly as she thought:

“Not yet—not yet.”

After all there is no more womanly trait than that of fleeing from a lover; but Fanny Burney was yielding to its impulse without an attempt to analyse it, and without being consoled by the reflection of the woman of the younger world that if it is woman’s instinct to fly from a lover, it is a lover’s instinct to pursue.

She had scarcely finished the cup of ice which her cousin had brought her, before the man had found her.

But now the Gabrielli was beginning to sing, and all eyes were directed upon the Gabrielli, so that no one but Rauzzini saw how Dr. Burney’s over-shy daughter was flushing.

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