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willing to cast her own repute away pretty woman, her peculiar genius with her own hands sooner than not had narrower scope for action. But be spoken of at all;" Jane Dash- genius it was.

This insatiate paswood's precocious knowledge of the sion for love--it is neither passion, baser side of human nature had nor love itself; it goes with a temprompted her to give a tolerably perament never made by nature to true summary of one part of Mrs. experience either-has been, I susStrangways' character in the re- pect, the real motive-power which mark, that to Esther had seemed has made the great majority of almost unintelligible. Supine in af- celebrated women celebrated. The fection, cold in love, passionless in cold white hand under whose sway passion, there was yet one desire in England rose to her greatest glory this woman's soul that no food could belonged, you must remember, to satisfy, no surfeit satiate. She could just such a woman as Mrs. Strangneglect her children, neglect her ways. If she had been a queen, do home, give up her worldly reputa- you think she would not have won tion even, so that she could but the hearts of her people, and have purchase that which was a thousand chosen the popular religion, and times dearer to her than all-the have carried on platonic loves with admiration of men, and the world's 'half her court, and murdered any acknowledgment of such admiration. younger or fairer woman who chanced To win this, yes, even in any one in- to stand in her way? It is on the dividual case upon which she had focus from which we look at things, set her mind, she could be patient moral as well as physical, that their for weeks, or months, or years ; magnitude •depends. As a queen could make a thousand painful and Mrs. Strangways might have been unworthy sacrifices, could bear with as good and great as Elizabeth. indifference or rebuff or insult. The Bound down by fortune, forced to notes which Arthur Peel's sense of be content with the admiration of honour had allowed him to show dozens and not thousands, to intrigue Jane Dashwood, were but one for the regard of a court made up sample of the hundred insidious of men like Arthur Peel, to stab her modes of attack that Mrs. Strang- rivals by words not by the dagger, ways could bring to bear upon the she was only a miserable, disapobject that, for the time being, she pointed woman. Already, after a had in view. She was too indolent, reign of just a dozen years, her possibly too really weak, for the courtiers were beginning to grow commonest exertions of life to which slack in their devotion; her rivals, her master passion did not lend an bitterer test! to fear her hatred less. interest. If she got up to breakfast Already she was obliged to stoop to when she was living at home it made humiliating concessions, such as her faint; attempting to teach one making Jane Dashwood her comof her children his letters was an panion, unless she would lose every actual torture to her nerves; to take satellite who used to do homage the commonest care of a houschold round her throne. The ambition of three servants was a superhuman

which would have made a queen exertion to her. But she could go great; the fixed, unshrinking purto five balls a week; could travel, pose which would have carried a without halt, from London to man on to the attainment of any of Vienna; could go through labyrinths the honest desires of life,-had of small intrigues, whose details brought her to two-and-thirty, were all tedious and laborious in the scarce beyond her youth, and extreme, when she had an object to stranded her there, without any encompass. The same spirit-un- other view of the future than this flinching, unresting, unscrupulous certainty-that every year should -that lay in her fragile body would bear her more hopelessly away from have made a first-rate general, a the empire which it had been the first-rate statesman, a first-rate head struggle of all these years of alterof the Society of Jesus. Mrs. Strang- nate victory and defeat to win! ways being only a woman, and a Mrs. Strangways had married


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early, and the first two or three years recording all the angelic domestic of her married life had been passed virtues and affections of which she in Paris, where her husband then was so fair an example when on held some small office about the earth. embassy. A great many people But Mrs. Strangways was an held those two or three years respon- English woman. Not the usages of sible for all the errors of her subse- conventional life, but her own inquent career. She had learnt French nate tendencies, joined to the empire morality, they said, during her Pari- with which beauty of no common sian experiences : this is what comes order had endowed her, conspired to of spending one's youth among the make her what she was. Every wickednesses of a foreign capital. hour of triumph she enjoyed she had Others, wider in their views, held to purchase by hours of humiliation; that a nature so thoroughly vain and every night of intoxicating success unscrupulous would have ripened by days and weeks of bitterest morinto much the same maturity wher- tification. All the homage she reever she had lived; indeed (and, ceived from one sex was made good whatever the theory, this was true), to her in worse than positive neglect that Mrs. Strangways did care more or insolence from the other. She for her children and her home in her struggled against all this bravely. extreme youth than she ever cared When everybody so nearly cut her again for either in England. after that last Viennese expedition Whether her passionate thirst for alluded to by Mrs. Tudor, she gave admiration was inborn, or partially an immense fancy ball and sent in vigrafted on her nature by the examples tations to people who had passed her of wedded life that she saw in French without recognition the very same society, she was, undeniably, at her day, and bore up against dozens of present age as perfect in the science refusals, and looked handsomer and of pleasing, as finished in every se- brighter than ever when the evening ductive grace that art can give, as of her ball came, and finally fought any velvet-eyed Frenchwoman, de her way back to the position she had trente ans, who ever drew breath. so nearly lost by her own unaided As perfect; but very far from as pluck and determination of not alhappy. A Frenchwoman lives and lowing her enemies to cast her down. moves and has her being avowedly But do you think there was so little only for successes of society. It is of humanity in this woman's heart an institution of her country that that she did not feel every indignity she should remain at home the two -yes, every small stab, every ingeni. or three first years after her mar- ous little cruelty, that was put upon riage, then commit her son and her at that fancy ball?

Do you daughter to the care of their grand- think Mrs. Strangways, or any other mother or governess, and betake woman, ever fought long against the herself to her vie de jolie femme in united hosts of her own sex without earnest. She is adored till she is thousands of poisoned shafts rankthirty ; after thirty, she adores. The ling, however hid away, within her two phases of adoration divide the breast? Mrs. Strangways endured twenty best years of her existence it: she could have endured more, pretty equally; and at forty she sooner than give up the one passion sinks quietly into a dressing-gown which was the very breath of her life: and devotion for the rest of her life. but she felt every cold look, every Circumstances, not any extraordi- supercilious bow, to the full as nary bias of her own nature, make sharply now as she had done when her what she is, and French society she first began to receive them a recognises in her simply the bril- dozen weary years ago.

More liant spoilt child of its own creation. sharply, probably; she had youth Her family, including the husband, and the feelings of youthful beauty regard her as a model-wife and to the fore, then ; she who had so mother of a family, and a touching many slaves among men could epitaph shall one day be suspended easily bear the want of a few friends above her grave in Père la Chaise, among women. But now when she

began to see men's eyes following good many people were giving her younger faces than hers abroad, the cold shoulder after all the odd when she began to have more fre- stories that were afloat upon her quent and less occupied hours at return from Germany; but what home, her tired heart dwelt with with her great ball, and her bitterer emphasis than ever upon constant tea dansungs, and one every look or word of slight that she thing and another, she's quite endured, while still the desperation up again in public esteem. Most of waning power made her more re- surprising, really, Miss Fleming, solutely loath to accept the lot by how some people can do everything, which alone her peace with her and yet be visited. I can assure own sex could have been sealed

you,, the stories about her last oblivion.

spring Mrs. Tudor, bordering on four- ‘Miss Whitty, I must beg of you score years (sixty of which, at least, not to repeat anything disparaging had been spent in frivolity), -Mrs. of Mrs. Strangways to my niece, Tudor, whose own youthful follies interrupted Mrs. Tudor, the whole were probably still remembered by of whose scruples had received their herself, although buried away from quietus at the mention of Dean every one else beneath the accumu- Oxenham's name. · These scandals lated dust of half a century-Mrs. are not in any way improving for Tudor thought it right to find out, young people to hear, and it would precisely, who was visiting Mrs. be much more becoming in you, at Strangways before returning the call

your age, to refrain from trying to which she paid to herself and Esther, injure the reputation of others.' two days after their meeting in the 'But as we were talking about it railway carriage on their return this morning, mim, I thought-' from Weymouth.

'If you were talking about any We owe these things to ourselves subject this morning, it is a quite and to society, child,' she remarked, sufficient reason for your not talking virtuously, to Esther. It is not about it this afternoon, Miss Whitty. what Mrs. Strangways does that it At all events I must beg of you not concerns us to pry into; indeed, our to repeat any idle Bath gossip to my charity as Christians demands that niece, in my presence.' we should not be over-scrupulous Miss Whitty looked duly guilty as to each other's personal and hid- for having presumed to think lightly den failings. If a certain class of of any one who was visited by the people still visit Mrs. Strangways, Davenports, and the Wardlaws, we will return her call this after- and (since her fancy ball) by Dean noon; if not, I will leave a card upon Oxenham's wife and daughters; and her in the course of the week; and Mrs. Tudor and Esther, in another our manner when we meet her next hour, were receiving very sweet can show that we don't desire any smiles from Mrs. Strangways hercontinuance of her acquaintance.' self, in the rose-coloured light of

And Miss Whitty, who usually that calumniated lady's own drawperformed any little dirty work of ing-room. the kind for Mrs. Tudor, was sent off at once to ascertain, through such underhand domestic channels as her

CHAPTER XX. abilities could suggest, what families of consideration in Bath still continued to invate Mrs. Strangways to A good deal of a certain kind of their houses.

gaiety might soon have fallen into The result was satisfactory alike Esther's


had she chosen to make to Mrs. Strangways' repute and to the most of it. One dinner, one Mrs. Tudor's nice moral sense. "At Home,' and one card party were,

'The Davenports and the Ward- however, quite enough to convince laws, mim; and since her fancy her that the dissipations that suited ball, Dean Oxenham's family, and I Mrs. Tudor at threescore years and can't tell you how many besides. A ten, were by no means seductive to


herself at eighteen; and with very ever felt anything like real interest sincere goodwill she begged for the in talking; and then Esther did not future to be left out of all entertain- admire Arthur Peel, and Arthur ments in which the amusements of Peel only thought Esther & finepeople of her own age were not the looking girl, not at all in his style. primary matter of consideration. It was on the occasion when he had

Mrs. Tudor was not likely to dis- expressly.stated his final decision on pute a point which promised to save this important subject, that poor herself the purchasing of white kid Jane first came, self-invited, to spend gloves and evening dresses for the evening with Esther, and ask Esther. She thought her dear niece her to allow her, Jane Dashwood, to showed a very praiseworthy princi- be her friend for life. ple in not wishing to acquire that Esther's temperament was not taste for society which must so in- one that urged her on into sudden evitably unfit her for her quiet life and violent young-lady friendship at home. She would wish her dear under ordinary circumstances; but niece in this, as in everything else, still Jane Dashwood's companionto consult her own feelings as long ship was welcome to her. It was as she remained her guest; and her difficult to write to Oliver, or even dear niece soon found that she would think of him, during all the hours have five or six evenings in every in which Mrs. Tudor left her alone. week very much, indeed, at her own To her who had seen so little of disposal.

life there was infinite zest in all The consequence of this freedom Miss Dashwood's savoir vivre and to Esther was a great and growing stories of her own conquests, and intimacy with Jane Dashwood. triumphs, and regrets. It was not Milly made professions still of the unamusing to hear Jane talk of deepest regard for her old school Paul. He was the last man, Esther friend; but the elements of real assured herself, for whom, even if affection for anything or person be- disengaged, she could entertain any yond herself were quite rudimen- other feeling than curiosity; but tary in poor little Milly's shallow still it was not uninteresting, in nature. She had liked Esther at default of better matter, to have his school, as she candidly avowed, be- character set forth in Jane's lively cause Esther wrote her exercises, way, and from the Dashwood point and mended her stockings for her. of view. She liked her now because she was With such mutual sources of ina complacent listener to narrations terest, confidence could scarcely fail of successes, and also-in Millicent's

of proceeding rapidly between two opinion--not good-looking enough young women of the respective ages ever to stand, at any time, in one's of eighteen and twenty-one. At the own way. But Jane, who with all end of a fortnight Esther knew her faults could love, had taken a every one of the antecedents of real liking to the repose of Esther's Jane's life, except such portions of face and nature from the first day it as belonged to Arthur Peel; and on which they ever saw each other Jane had received every confidence in the train. Possibly like Milly, Esther had to give, except the reshe, too, imagined Miss Fleming to countal of those few short weeks be one who would never rival her in that had been the exclusive property the closest interests of her life; but of Mr. Carew. she saw, too, in her a strong calm 'I am quite glad to see Jane character, wholly opposed to her becoming intimate with you, Miss own feverish and fitful one, an origi- Fleming,' Mrs. Dashwood observed nal fresh way of thinking widely to Esther the second time she saw different to the hackneyed flippancy her. It would be something new or assumed reserve of the young to me to see either of Colonel Dashwomen she had hitherto dignified wood's daughters caring for anyby the name of friends. Esther thing more vital than dress, and was the only person of her own sex, vanity, and balls. If you find that except her sister, with whom she had you acquire the slightest influence


over poor Jane, may I-may I ask himself a brute, and has to give in you, as a duty you owe to yourself at the onset. Her step-daughters and her, too, to try and turn it were sufficiently out of the reach of to a serious account?'

her immediate and personal power Esther answered, as civility de- to bear a great many of Mrs. Dashmanded, that she would be very glad wood's death-throes with fortitude; indeed to do anything to serve Mrs. but long experience had taught her Dashwood; but she had already husband that his wisest course lay obtained sufficient insight into Jane's in prostrate and abject submission, temper to know that whatever in- and it was quite beautiful, when he fluence was to be gained over her was asked to a whist party or a must be an indirect one. She might club dinner, to hear the conditional be swayed by example or by love; acceptance ' depending on poor Mrs. the kind of war of extermination Dashwood's wretched state of health;' that her stepmother had carried on that was all the meek, submissive against her, ever since she was seven old Colonel dared to give. years old, was, Esther felt, the pre- And yet the meek, submissive old cise means of making poor Jane's Colonel was far from miserable in heart stand firmest rooted in its own his thraldom. Years had accusrebellion.

tomed him even to Mrs. Dashwood; Mrs. Dashwood was a woman of and some of his more intimate undeniably good intentions. She friends, including his own children, held firm views as to her own per- went so far as to say that there was fectly elect state of mind and excel- a point of view from which the lent future prospects in another austerity of his wife's views, and world, and really did her best to the feebleness of her health, were by convince the people she lived with means distasteful to Colonel of their errors. Esther's ignorance Dashwood. They saved him from of theological matters prevented the expense of entertaining; and to her from discerning whether Mrs. be saved expenditure in any shape Dashwood's views were high or low, was what Colonel Dashwood lived Calvinistic, or Tractarian, or broad. for. When he summed up in his Whatever may have been her doc- mind the dinner-parties, the balls, trines, however, she held them to the theatre tickets from which Mrs. the extreme, and made her family Dashwood's views saved him, I duly miserable by their propagation. can really quite believe that the For, in addition to her views, calculation served to reconcile him Colonel Dashwood's wife had nerves. to a great many of the intestinal Views and nerves both in the same broils and personal bullyings that woman! When she got worsted were his everyday food. The girls in her frequent theological and had to be married, of course : inmoral arguments with Jane, she had deed, Colonel Dashwood's view of nerves to fall back upon at the daughters went no further than the crowning-point of her defeat. When primary expense of their dress, and Colonel Dashwood offended her by his own ultimate hopes of making his worldliness, in any shape that over this expense into the hands of involved neglect of herself, she another man; and with a woman could, at the very shortest notice, fond of them, and of the things they attire herself, metaphorically, in her liked, a woman such as their mother grave-clothes, and propose to meet might have been had she lived, her end. Every man-whatever, in what would not have been required the bracing atmosphere of masculine of him in costly entertainments confidence, he may assert to the every winter? If you set up for contrary-every man that breathes ball-giving at all, you must, accordis utterly subjugated and powerless ing to all the laws of wateringwhen his wife makes preparations for place civilization, give two large death. If he struggles, he is made balls a year. The supper for a ball to feel himself a brute, and has to costs so much; item, waiters ; item, give in in the end : if he does not musicians; the musicians alone sufstruggle, he is made equally to feel ficient to buy his fish in the Bath

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