Imágenes de páginas

tinue to show our good blood 'I wish you would have mine, through a dozen generations. Your Jane,' cried Esther; they are very mother, poor thing, had no beauty good ones that were sent to Aunt and no birth either. I believe I have Tudor this morning; but they are told you so before, but you have not not of the least use to me. Do inherited a look-no, not a single take them off my hands as a kindfeature from her. You have Garratt ness.' Fleming's face, line for line, and I Jane Dashwood's nature was not cannot pay you a higher compli- irrevocably selfish, like Milly's, but ment. Your dear grandfather was the temptation of a hothouse bouquet unfortunate in his domestic con- was a strong one. She thought of cerns. This was Mrs. Tudor's pretty her washed muslin; of Miss Lynes' way of stating the fact that a man certain costly freshness; she knew was an unprincipled spendthrift; Arthur had so often told her so that .but he was the' noblest-looking man one of her most irresistible poses was and the most perfect dresser of his when she held her lips upon a boutime. Enjoy yourself well, child, quet and half raised her eyes towards and be sure, if Colonel Dashwood her partner's face. It seems dreadoffers to pay their share of the fly, fully selfish to rob you, Esther, but you take the money at once. It if you really don't want them.' shows very ill-breeding ever to make I am very glad to give them any difficulty about the settlement you, Jane,' said Esther, thinking of small accounts.'

with a little pang of her unbroken This last injunction of Mrs. Tu- black dress. You know better what dor's proved her to be ignorant of to do with such things than I do.' the finer part of Colonel Dashwood's 'It is thoroughly base of you, Miss character. He accompanied his Dashwood, for all that,' remarked daughters to the carriage; he took Milly, when Esther had made over and held Esther's hand with that her sole ornament into Jane's hands. paternal warmth he seemed always 'We poor wretches who are on our ready to feel for all young women promotion want adorning more than except his own children ; finally, he engaged people, you know.' remarked how kind it was of Miss That is just why I am selfish, Fleming to call round for Jane and Milly,' replied Miss Dashwood. 'I Milly. They must do as much for her am so utterly thrown on my own the next time they were all going to resources, so hopelessly on my prothe same party. But Colonel Dash- motion again! Paul usurped, in wood knew, as well as Mrs. Tudor secret, by mysterious influences, herself, when it was decently possible and openly by Miss Fleming, and to be spared eighteenpence.

Mr. Peel given by the unanimous : Papa has given me a colour for consent of all his friends to Miss the evening,' said Jane as they drove Lynes. It is a pity there are not a few off. It does make my cheeks burn · willow-leaves among these flowers, 80 when I hear those polite little Esther. My position to-night would roundabout ways of being mean that make them a very appropriate enour family excel in.'

dowment for me.' 'I hope your dress isn't very ‘You don't mean that, Jenny,' fresh, Esther, cried Milly. What said Millicent. You know that in is it, black? Oh, how dowdy! how- spite of your washed muslin you ever, it's all the better for us. I are bent on Miss Lynes's utter diswas afraid you would have a new composure and retreat, and feel very white muslin, and we are in our old sure of it, too. I wish I had some washed ones. You have got a bou- especial work on my hands like you. quet, I see, so have I. Wasn't it It is so insipid dancing and talking good of Jane? Papa presented us with everybody and not caring for with two shillings to buy flowers- any one in particular. I hope John just fancy, two shillings, twenty- Alexander won't have managed to four pence between us -and she get there, though. He's all very gave up her share to me. Jenny's well when one spends the day wită always so good in these little things.' his sisters, but I could not stand

looking intimate with him before ribbon, with bouquets of flowers, people.

with lace. From poor Miss Lynes's Which little exposition of feeling, head (that pièce de résistance to all I think, pretty surely affords the innately tasteless or newly-made wokey-note to Miss Millicent Dash- men) depended a coronet of many wood's general views of life. She colours, fern-leaves, grasses, fruits ; liked knowing the Smithetts and all things of merit and price in spending days with them, because themselves, but very hideous to look they were rich, and wealth was upon in their present position. the one thing that Milly, in her As she continued intent upon her inmost heart, most yearned after employment, which was to hinder and respected. She liked John her hair from parting, as thinnish Alexander's attentions very well in- sandy hair has a habit of doing upon deed when only his sisters were by high, nude, glossy foreheads, Jane to witness them. She could even Dashwood danced lightly behind look forward a few years and pic- the unconscious heiress, and by panture herself marrying John Alexan- tomimic gestures conveyed to Esther der, if she were not sufficiently lucky and Milly her own sense of the vain the mean time to meet with any ried graces of her wealthy rival's one who happened to be a gentle- dress and figure. Just as she had man as well as rich. But to meet commenced it very graphic repreMr. Smithett among a room full of sentation of the set of two squaredecent people, to have to receive his looking red elbows, Miss Lynes attentions and listen to his silly caught sight of her in the glass, and jokes and vulgar laugh, with other turned round sharply. persons listening to them too, would 'La, Miss Dashwood, how you have given Milly about as much startled me! I declare I never pain as anything not directly and heard you come in at all. I'm so absolutely wounding her own self- used to servants it seems quite odd love, could have power to inflict to do anything for myself. Do you on her.

think my hair will do ?' Next to money, the opinion of Oh, perfectly, I should say, her little world was Millicent Dash- Jane answered, looking slowly up wood's god. I think, though the and down Miss Lynes's figure. `Your struggle might have been sharp, dress is quite magnificent. she would really sooner have given *This ? La, no, I think it very the Smithetts up, with their din- plain, I can assure you; but for a ners, riding-horses, presents, John little party it don't look well to be Alexander's attentions, and all the over-dressed. Your sister, I supother benefits that she received from pose?' looking at Milly. You're them, than have it said by the people not out yet, are you?' at Mrs. Strangways' ball that she It was not in Millicent Dashwood's was intimate with a family of nature to be anything but civil to stocking-weavers. Any foolish sen- the owner of fifty thousand pounds, timent about the Smithett girls and she answered very sweetly inthemselves, or inconvenient grati- deed that she was out. She had tude for any of the kindness they been to balls for the last six months. had shown to her, it was not at all *Dear me! I thought from your in Millicent Dashwood's way to feel. dress you weren't;' and she glanced

Not many people had arrived at Milly's skirt, which, like Jane's, when they reached the Strangways', had shrunk from its pristine length and the first object that met Jane's in washing. 'Just set the door open eyes on entering the cloak-room was for me,' she added, turning to Esther. Miss Lynes standing in solitary and 'It's enough to tear one's dress to absorbed attention before a cheval- pieces cramming in and out of these glass. The heiress was dressed in little pokey bedrooms.' a brocaded pink silk, of a hue and Esther looked straight between texture gorgeous to behold. This Miss Lynes's eyebrows for a modress was made with excess of trim- ment, then turned away, and the mings, with fringes, with bows of heiress, with all the rustle of vulgar


2 P

assurance, stalked away by herself Esther Fleming, who knew nothing down stairs.

whatever of sentiment, and had 'Oh, you dear old Esther! cried never read a word of French poetry, Jane, and in her exultation she ran was repeating it now, but unconup and embraced Esther round the sciously (and, after all, that is the waist. “I never saw such a lovely only way to do such things truly. take-down in my life--so utterly All the fine aroma, all the exquisite demolishing, and yet so dignified. I half-pain of love is gone, when we would give anything to have let that are once thoroughly conscious of woman's impertinence down as you

what we

are about). She really did.'

thought the rooms were dark to "If her skin is not as thick as a her because she had no taste for buffalo's, which it looks, she must balls, no zest in little intrigues and have felt your sarcasm when you triumphs like Milly's; no one strong were praising her looks, Jane,' said interest like poor Jane's; and when Milly. “Did you ever hear any- she took her place between two thing so odious as her telling me frightfully-old Bath young ladies that my dress was short? Only that upon a sofa, quite simply and seI knew you and Esther were quite riously believed herself to be intent strong enough without me, I would on watching the arrival of Mrs. have let her see pretty plainly how Strangways' guests-not the door intensely vulgar I thought her.' through which Paul Chichester's

‘She is not worth thinking about,' face might possibly appear. interrupted Jane, quickly, as the Mrs. Strangways' guests, whatsounds of approaching steps told ever they might think or speak that more people were arriving. about their hostess, at any other * If you are ready, Esther, we will time, were very numerous this go down at once. It would be the night; and Mrs. Strangways, dressed height of indecorum for three young with all the exquisite art that to her women without a chaperon to enter was second nature, and with a a room in which more than half-a- slightly heightened shade of pink dozen people were assembled. Miss upon her cheeks, looked superbly Lynes, you see, has nestled her in- handsome as she received them. nocent head under Mrs. Strangways' Did she remember the slights, the wing already.'

coldness, the positive insults to There were, however, a good many which she had submitted at different more than half-a-dozen people in times from nine - tenths of these the room when they entered; and smiling guests of hers? Did her Miss Lynes, though, in the meta- smiling guests remember the conphorical language of ball-rooms, demnation they had so often and so under Mrs. Strangways’ care, was, loudly expressed of the woman who in commonplace speech, already was entertaining them, as they now flirting hard with Mr. Peel upon a shook her by the hand ? remote and isolated ottoman.

Esther asked herself this while A glance--less than a glance- she watched repetition after repetian instinctive momentary chill told tion of the same little comedy of Esther, as she went in, that Paul bows and smiles and compliments, was not there, and she at once as group after group of white and retreated quietly to a corner, with a pink and blue floated up to Mrs. general sense of extreme weariness Strangways and away again. But of spirit, and with no other desire poor Esther was, you know, quite than to be 'a passive spectator of barbarian in all her ideas of life and what was going on about her for the of right and wrong. Who thinks of ren der of the evening.

what they have once said of Vous me manquez-je suis ab- hostess, when they are just going to sent de moi-même!' I suppose, at spend a pleasant evening at her exsome period of life, every human pense? Who remembers that the being, in some form of speech or Dean of Sarum's wife and daughters another, has repeated that line of were once so bitter to one, when Victor Hugo's to his own heart. the Dean of Sarum's wife and

daughters are just going to give prevented her from seeing him, even tone and respectability to one's if a certain feeling of shyness had whole party? Every one pronounced not hindered her from seeking to that Mrs. Strangways was looking meet his eye; but the running comcharming, and that her rooms were mentaries of the two aërial virgins at lit and decorated with an effect that her side soon put her in possession only her Parisian taste could pro- of what Paul was doing with himself. duce. Mr. and Mrs. Strang ways 'Look at him, Isabella, at that (with Minnie in white muslin, as a Jane Dashwood's side already, alsort of domestic angel by their side) though she has only eyes and ears smiled and talked to each other, and for Mr. Peel, and giving her a bouto their child, in the intervals of en- quet, too; what infatuation! No, he tertaining their visitors, with a har- is only showing it to her; he is mony and affection quite rare to see. coming this way.' Esther's pulse And Esther-probably the only ho- quickened a very little. How nest person present-felt herself to foolish it looks to see a man with a be positively misanthropic and bad bouquet! Why, he's coming over of heart, for wondering how much to us. Oh, Bella dearest, I do beof genuine truth lay beneath all this lieve he's going to ask me to dance.' outside show of excellent taste and But Mr. Chichester, as it turned kindly feeling.

out, had other intentions. He reJust as the first dance had ended, turned the expectant smiles of the she heard Mr. Chichester's name two veteran nymphs with a low announced. The crowd of people bow, and then passed quietly on to between herself and the doorway Esther's side.


THE place of places for a chat,


The place where lords and wits have sat

And will sit, till the world shall pass :
The cosy-rie' as members dub
This great bay-window of our club!
A spot by all the fair sex loathed-

Seductive as the Siren-shore-
Hateful alike to the betrothed,

Who does her absent love deplore,
And to the wife, whose faithless hub'
Wooes the bay-window of our club.
Full many kinds of men, I trow,

Have watched the world through yonder pane :
Familiar faces, missing now,

Shall ne'er be seen thereat again!
For we must leave-—'ay, there's the rub'--
E'en the bay-window of our club.
Where's Vane-the invariably well-drest?-

Great friends that gallant lad and I-
The brave young soldier takes his rest

Beneath the scorching Indian sky:-
'Tis many a year since he, a sub,
Left the bay-window of our club.
Where's Markham ? He, so people say,

Carries a cross before the Pope.
Where's Bruce? The ruined man one day

Ended his troubles with a rope.
Where's Barrington ? He keeps a ' pub?--
Shuns the bay-window of our club.

2 P 2

These are some changes I have seen

Some names struck out of friendship's scroll : And 'tis alınost enough, I ween,

To make one play the cynic's róle-
A sour Diogenes, whose tub
Is the bay-window of our club.


Behind this barrier of glass

A zoological display
Our club presents, to all who pass,

Of the strange creatures of the day:-
Donkey, bore, lion, bear, and cub
Deck the bay-window of our club.
Here's Gobemouche dropping in to learn

What is the latest news of who ?'-
Ah me! how distant ears must burn,

While characters we piecemeal strew
As bait for this voracious chub
In the bay-window of our club.
Here's Parvenu, familiar snob,

Who calls one by one's Christian name,
Who loves with lords to hob and nob,

Who'd climb by noble skirts to fame,-
One of those men 'tis vain to snub
In the bay-window of our club.

Pshaw! what's the use in being sour!

There's something noble still and true-
Despite the follies of the hour--

In man; and if this jaundiced view
We see from here; 'twere well to scrub
This same bay-window of our club.
The world is not so very bad,

Though gold and dross together run;
There's lots of pleasure to be had,

And lots of labour to be done ;-
Knights may find giants still to drub,
Oh, old bay-window of our club!
The seasons change for evermore,

And evermore the world revolves;-
And still we mortals sink or soar.

With stronger will or weak resolves
One mounts--a fly, one crawls-a grub,
In the bay-window of our club.
Here as elsewhere-s0 Heaven decrees-

For those who in their race believe,
E'en with surroundings such as these,

The man who labours may achieve ;-
Why, laurels !- I have seen the shrub
In the bay-window of our club.
So let the world wag on, say I,

As through these ancient panes I gaze.
There's but one end for low and high ;-

The cypress sure if not the baysDeath comes recruiting, rub-a-dub, To the bay-window of our club.

« AnteriorContinuar »