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THE ORDEAL FOR WIVES.

A Story of London Life.
BY THE AUTHOR OF THE MORALS OF MAYFAIR.'

CHAPTER I.

AT SWINDON.

WHAT

was SO.

VHAT is the supposed origin me! That is right, Miss Fleming,

of ladies' carriages, Miss open the windows on both sides. Bates? They are a time-honoured We have need of a good fresh institution, of course; but in these draught upon us after all the Bates' days one likes to know more about kisses!' And here Miss Dashwood things than that they exist–one threw her hat off with visible imlikes derivations. What are ladies' patience at the mere recollection of carriages derived from, and what is her friend's caresses, and held her their supposed object?'

face to the open window, through *My dear Miss Dashwood - I which the summer morning wind really--so very amusing !'

was blowing freshly. Milly, listen to Miss Bates “ On It was a lovely face! I speak Ladies' Carriages.” She says, im- advisedly; for few faces are lovely primis, they are amusing.'

in real iife; but hers undoubtedly My dear, I mean't nothing of the

Súch brilliant colouring ! kind. I mean't, you know, that such abundance of dark fine hair! they are very proper

such liquid hazel eyes! I don't ' And you separate the two ideas? think there was anything at all in You think that nothing that is the expression of the features, colright can be pleasant. Oh, Miss lectively, that charmed you as you Bates, Miss Bates, what a fast per- looked at her. You thought of eyes son you are growing! How fear- and lips and blooming cheeks alone. fully the last four years have dege- I am quite sure you read nothing nerated you!

whatever of beauty of mind or soul, 'What spirits !' was Miss Bates's as one does in romance, upon Jane response to this little attack upon her Dashwood's face. You were quite character; 'what charming spirits content with the beauty of the outdear Miss Dashwood continued to ward material, without going deeper, enjoy! just as full of life and fun as or seeking for the exact inward evor?' And then, the last bell having charms she did not possess; and at rung, Miss Bates insisted upon get- this moment, when I first introduce ting into the carriage once more to her to you, dressed in a simple rosekiss all her dear young friends be- coloured muslin, and with the broad fore their departure; and, finally, June morning resting full upon her in the forgetfulness of affection, was faultlessly pure complexion, she very near being locked in, and formed, altogether, about as favourborne away with them in the ex- able a type of a fair young Englishpress train-an accident which all woman in the freshness of her first her very dear young friends seemed maturity as you would meet, or remarkably anxious to prevent. desire to meet with anywhere.

‘She means well, I believe,' said Her sister Millicent at her side Milly Dashwood, as they caught the was also pretty, mignonne, and last sight of the Bates struggling delicate-even more frailly delicate wildly among a crowd of porters than Jane—but with less perfect upon the platform of the Paddington features, perhaps with a somewhat terminus. 'She means well, but she sweeter and less restless expression is very unpleasant. Oh, how glad than her elder sister. At the few I am to be free from her!'

balls to which Milly had ever been 'She is detestable,' said Jane, (she was only seventeen, and yestercurtly. 'I hate her-as she hates day was a school-girl), she had had quite as many partners as Miss bestowed upon any living being but Dashwood; and had, on the whole, her sister. 'Milly, we shan't be been better liked by the men who parted any more now.' danced with her. Jane was beau- *And I shall have to learn nothing tiful enough to give herself royal more, Jane. I hate learning!' airs, and took full advantage of the So did I, Milly. I had seven prerogative. Millicent was only years of it-you have only had pretty enough to be shy and coax- four. ing and good-tempered, with, at . But you were clever. You times, a slight dash of wilfulness could win prizes and make proflavouring the good-temper: but gress.' Milly found these subjective charms ' And enemies, Milly. Now I quite as powerful in their way as dare say you have had some real Jane's objective ones, and she was friends at school. I never had one.' not only thoroughly unenvious of 'I have Esther,' said Milly, her sister's superior beauty, but, glancing at their young companion, possessed of the conviction-as deep who had betaken herself to the down in her mind as Milly's little farther compartment of the carmind had depth-that she would, riage. "Esther is worth a dozen one day or another, rule quite as common friends. I like her better triumphantly over a limited empire than any one in the world but you, of her own as Jane, in all the pride Jane, although I've only known her of her beauty and arrogance and six months. She is so clever-did one-and-twenty years, was reigning my exercises like a key, and mended over hers now.

my stockings most beautifully, This empire, reader, did not ex- every other thread--but not pretty, tend over the very first London Jane, eh?' society, of which the Dashwood girls * She is distinguished-looking, reknew nothing, but over that out- plied Miss Dashwood, who, like lying and somewhat mouldering all unequivocally handsome women, province of fashion, Bath, where could afford, at times, to be genetheir father, Colonel Dashwood, had rous; ‘pretty is not a word for her. been a shining light during the last She has just that air noble which twenty years. Jane had now been

papa is always trying to impress staying a fortnight in town with upon our minds as so essentially arisdistant relatives to see the exhi- tocratic-as though little things bitions, for which she cared nothing, like you and me, Milly, could be and to go to see one or two operas, statuesque, if we tried.' for which she cared a great deal : Oh, papa! repeated Milly, the Jane Dashwood assisted a very little, parental image evidently coming you see, in white silk and jasmine before her mind for the first time. wreath, at the latter entertainments, 'Papa-how is he?-I quite forgot not at all at the former ones. And to ask-and mamma?' she was this day chaperoning Milly "Much as usual,' answered Jane,' home to Bath, that young person's shortly. Philanthropy and nerves, apprenticeship at the finishing esta- title-hunting and polemical teablishment of Miss Bates, Kensington parties : the old routine of our Gravel Pits, having just expired. house, Milly, from which I, as of

Yes, you are finished, Milly,' old, escape as much as usual? Jane remarked, when her indignant · Where to, Jane? Who are your recollection of Miss Bates had had dear, intimate friends at present? time to cool. 'Poor little Milly, of What have I got to look forward seventeen, finished! I never kissed to?' you before Miss Bates, child; I 'I have no friends at all,' ancouldn't. Let me look at you. swered Miss Dashwood. I never Milly, dear, I think you look do have any; and I shall want them stronger than you used to do;' less than ever now that I have got and Jane put her arms round her, you back, Milly. But I am useand kissed her with one of those fully intimate with one long, silent caresses that she never young women of my own age, and

or two

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in their society I walk about the have much feeling or not. Oh, streets in winter and the park in Jane, talking of feelings, where is summer. You know! Then in the Paul ?' winter old Mrs. Blantyre took me Milly!' to the balls, when papa was laid up Oh, never mind Esther-Esther with the gout, and in the summer knows nothing about it, and if she young Mrs. Strangways has pro- did it wouldn't signify. Don't be mised to take us both to the angry, Jenny. If I thought you archery-meetings and the subscrip- really cared about him I should tion pic-nics.'

have said nothing, but as you are What! the Mrs. Strangways you

onlyused to dislike so ?'

Only engaged to him it does not * The same,' said Jane, with a matter,' cried Miss Dashwood, with somewhat hard laugh; and with her short laugh. * Miss Fleming, the same amiable feelings still going what nonsenso has Milly been tellon between us ! She is a capital ing you about me?' chaperon, Milly. Young married Only nonsense, I am sure,' anwomen always are — particularly swered a calm, sonorous voice, sinwhen they dislike one very heartily. gularly different in its ring and

'I can understand that,' replied cadence to the Dashwoods'. 'I Milly, after giving the subject sufti- should be sorry to believe it anycient attention to grapple duly with thing else.' its mysteries. 'If they take you they Oh, you dear, steady, severe old amuse themselves, and let you do Esther! cried Miss Milly. Please exactly as you like, of course. But don't be so like Miss Bates on the why does a woman like Mrs. Strang- first day of our freedom. I feel the ways care to be troubled with you prison-chill steal over me again at all, Jane?'

when you come out with those 'Because new lights may bring awful moral sentiments—“I should back old worshippers to the ne- be sorry to believe it anything else.” glected shrine, because a little stray Really it seemed like Miss Bates in incense-oh, Milly, darling, don't person, didn't it, Jane?' let's talk of these people now! You 'I think no two human beings in will learn enough of such tactics as the world could be so unlike as Mrs. Strangways' without my teach- Miss Fleming and the Bates,' said ing you! Do you know, child, Jane, quickly.

If I were any your hair has grown darker? I am judge of such matters I should say quite positive it has. I wonder that I think both you and I, Milly, whether Mrs. Dashwood will see it.' have a great many more Bates

And Miss Dashwood stroked down qualities than Miss Fleming has. her sister's hair with loving hands, Miss Bates is worldly; so are we: looking into its texture and colour yes, Milly, dear, even you, in spite with something of that close, long of your blue eyes and your sevenscrutiny with which children's hair teen years: Miss Bates's life is and cheeks and eyes are scrutinized acting, every hour of it; so is ours: when they come back to their Miss Bates has only one object-to mother, grown and altered, after seem what she is not; our ambievery six months' absence at school. tion, directed into another channel,

• Fancy Mrs. Dashwood thinking is the same. She is odious and we of such earthly vanities as a shade are delightful, certainly; but these of difference in my tawny locks ! are adventitious conditions beyond cried Milly. Papa, of course, our own control. At heartwould like to the article “We are both of us selfish, sor“ daughter" generally improved did, wicked, worldly hypocrites,' and more marketable, but no one interrupted Milly, laughing. How on earth besides you, Jane, ever I do like to hear you in your sudfeels any concern about me or my den fits of repentance, Jenny. Come looks when I come and go. Luckily, over here, Esther,' she added, turnit does not break my heart! I ing to her friend, and hear Miss really wonder sometimes whether I Dashwood holding forth on

see

our

family virtues. Don't be shy-oh, one otherwise handsome EnglishI forgot! I have not introduced woman in a hundred. Her hair was you. Jane, Esther. Esther, Jane. fairer by many shades than you What a colour you have got, Mis- would have expected from her dark tress Fleming, with holding your clear skin; brown waving hair, face outside the window all this growing golden almost in a very time. You don't look very uch full light. Her face-no, I will like Miss Bates, I must confess.' leave that alone; all descriptions of

Not very like, certainly; Miss Bates faces are a mistake. I may tell you being parchment-hued, withered, of a cheek serene and clear, of blackforty-five; Esther Fleming fresh, grey eyes, of a delicate firm-cut full of life and health, and only just mouth; I can never bring the living eighteen. Still Jane Dashwood had Esther Fleming herself one whit been right in applying the qualified nearer to you. You will not see terms 'noble’ and distinguished- her smile, half shy, half serious; looking' to Miss Fleming's style of you will not see the expression of beauty. Handsome though she was her loving thoughtful eyes, with all when you came to know her face by my catalogue of charms. Read, inheart, not two persons out of a hun- stead, the expression of the face that dred would have hesitated, at first you were enamoured of when you sight, to pronounce her face inferior first left school, and you will see in good looks to either of the Dash- before you a more loveable heroine wood girls. She had, as Milly told than any that words of mine can by her, a colour at this moment, but any possibility set forth. ordinarily she was pale; and colour * This is the wild woman of the is after all the standard common- woods that I have written to you place criterion of beauty. Then she about,' said Milly, addressing her possessed none of the little piquant sister, and possessing herself, schoolgraces that formed so many charms girl like, of Miss Fleming's hand. in the Dashwood girls. She was * Doesn't she look as if she had lived rather large, and decidedly strongly in the wilds of Exmoor all her life? built: and beside their two little Esther, what do you think of Jane ?' fragile figures you would inevitably • Your sister is like you, Milly, have been possessed, during the but first ten minutes or so, with the • Prettier. Of course; I have idea that she was not perfectly re- heard that since I was a baby, and fined. With good room to study have quite left off being jealous. the three young women in-an open That brings us round-I don't know moorland, say, with sky for roof by what road—to Paul again. Don't and heather for carpet--you must try to blush, Jenny; where is he?' soon have reversed your first judg- Mr. Chichester is in Bath,' Jane ment; for every line in Esther's replied ; 'or rather, he was there well-grown frame was duly propor- when I left. He never stays more tioned ; finer far, in fact, than the than two or three days at time. Dashwoods'. Her hands had the I can't think what in the world brown healthy look of hands that makes him come there at all.' have lived much out of doors, but * But does he really visit at our they were not too large for her size, house, Jane? and in shape were perfect as a Of course.' gipsy's, while the Dashwoods' · Whenever he comes to Bath ?' hands were only short-fingered, and "Yes, I believe so.' small, and white. Her walk-on • Then it is a positive engagement. the moor, mind, I don't mean in a Oh, Jane, and you never told me! ball-room-was free and stately as a When is it to be?' Tyrol peasant girl's. The Dash- 'Never, Milly, if by "it" you wood's paces were good as far as mean my marriage with Mr. Chithey went, but they were paces still. chester.' Then Esther Fleming's head was 'Yet you are engaged, with Papa's small and admirably formed, and consent! this is a beauty possessed by not 'Yes, that is the thing,—with

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