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some young Englishman can't show himself | formed that they were both at home. Nevin Paris, without having the married wo-ertheless, on entering the spacious drawingmen behaving in this way! It really is room, they found no one in it, save a young perfectly horrible.”
girl in deep mourning, whom they had nev“ It is no good to fret about it, mamma, er seen before, and who seemed almost lost in that way,” said Agatha. “ We all know in its ball-room-like extent. She looked a that Edward is particularly handsome, and little frightened, as if unaccustomed to the it will be lucky for him if this is the only task of receiving strangers, but she rose, French woman that attacks him. I be- and begged them to sit, in a manner which lieve in my heart that they are one and all showed that she considered herself at home, capable of it.”
and bound to do the honors of the saloon, “Yes, yes," returned Mrs. Roberts, in a till the mistress of it appeared. tone of less profound despair, " we all know She was very young for such an officebut too well, I am afraid, what depraved certainly not more than seventeen, and creatures French women are—nor will I looked younger still, from the great simpretend to deny that if one could bring plicity of her dress, and the almost childone's mind to
's perfections ish manner in which her pretty brown hair could be an excuse for such abominable was combed away from her face, and sufconduct, my son Edward is the man. But fered to hang with its closely curled ends I beg you both to observe, my dears, that I behind her ears. Perhaps it would be imdon't say this with the least atom of a possible to hit upon a less becoming mode thought towards meaning that any such of arranging a young head than that exhibthing can be excused. We English know ited by the dark-eyed stranger. The regubetter. But here, to be sure, the case is lar features and delicate complexion, the altogether different. God forbid I should large and brilliant eyes,-nay, even the ever be unjust to any woman. And upon reddest lips and whitest teeth that ever were the whole, I can't say but what I think it seen, could scarcely atone for the look of might be, as Maria says, the surest way to naked boldness which this merciless exstop such a report, if we, that is, without posure of the fair and ample forehead proEdward, of course, but if we three were to duced. keep going on to all her balls as long as we “La! what an ugly girl,” whispered Agdo stay here; and perhaps the best thing Latha to Maria. Did
you ever see such a could do, after all, would be to get Lady fright ?” Moreton or Lady Forton to give Madame
Never!” was the satisfactory reply. de Soissonac a hint about it. I am sure I " Never since I was born!" don't know what use it was to have those “I will go and tell my aunt Moreton," last new dresses if we don't go there—for said the young stranger, leaving the room the embassy people still mean to go on in as soon as the party had seated themselves. the same impertinent way, that's quite clear. The moment her slight young figure had We shall never get there above once in a become safely invisible by the closing of month at the very most. So that, on the the door behind her, the mother and daughwhole, I think we owe it to ourselves not ters exclaimed in chorus, to give up Madame de Soissonac."
“ Who in the world can this be? I nev“At any rate,” observed Agatha, “the er heard she had a niece." best thing we can do now is, to try and get “Isn't she ugly ?" whispered Maria. a good talk with Lady Moreton and her “Humph!" returned her mamma, to cousin. We shall be sure to find out some- whom the question was addressed; “I am thing, and it is very possible, I think, that not quite sure that she is absolutely ugly. it may end by our going without poor Ed. She is quite a girl, you know, as yet, perward to the Soissonac ball on Tuesday. fectly a child; but when she is grown up, Come, Maria! let us put on our things I should not wonder if she were to be the carriage will be here directly." called handsome. Those eyes will tell,
you may depend upon it. They are absolutely magnificent.”
“Grown up, ma'am !" returned Maria, On reaching the splendid mansion in the why she is as tall as a house already! Rue de Rivoli, in which the titled cousins She is taller than Agatha, take my word had their very showy apartment, the Ro-for it." bertses had the satisfaction of being in "Nonsense, Maria !" said the eldest sis
ter. “She is as thin as a whipping-post, I ever saw her before ; she has only been
you not reckon her very handsome, “Yes, I did look at it,” replied her sister, Lady Forton ? May I ask her name?" rewith a sheer. “ That is so like you, Aga- sumed the persevering Mrs. Roberts. tha. You fancy every foot that is small “ Her name is Bertha Harrington," remust be pretty, which, as I often tell you, plied Lady Forton, coldly, and without is the greatest mistake in the world. Any deeming it necessary, as it seemed, to enartist would tell you so. I can't endure ter upon any discussion concerning her those little unmeaning Chinese feet. They beauty. Mrs. Roberts had discernment always strike me as being much more like enough to perceive that whether handsome a deformity than a beauty. I can see no or ugly, the young lady had not the good beauty in her feet, I confess.”
fortune to be a favorite with her aunt's Perhaps, as “ Bailey junior” would say, cousin, in consequence of which she proMiss Agatha had not rather small feet, and ceeded to observe (as Lady Forton was her sister rather the contrary, “Oh, no!" rather plump), “ that to be sure it was a
Before the elder Miss Roberts could reply pity the young lady should be so lamentato the artistic observation of the younger, bly thin, a defect which, in her opinion, the drawing-room door was re-opened, and was quite enough to destroy the effect of Lady Forton entered.
any beauty in the world, for that there “My cousin will be here directly,” said could be no softness, no roundness of her ladyship, courteously extending first conone hand, and then the other to receive the But ere she could finish her speech, offered salutations of the Roberts family; Lady Moreton entered, followed by the “but at this moment she is under the hands thin young niece herself. Lady Moreton of a mantua-maker, and cannot stir an inch." was not only the nobler and richer lady,
Either because Lady Moreton was the but she was also by much the most chatty widow of a peer, whereas her cousin, Lady and conversable, being, in fact, one of the Forton, was only the wife of a baronet greatest gossips that ever lived, and caring (from whom she was separated on account but little, at this period of her career, who of a recently discovered incompatibility of was the listener, provided always that it temper), or because the income of the widow was some one who thought it worth while was treble that of the wife, the former lady to listen patiently. Mrs. and the two Miss was considered as so much the principal Robertses were great favorites with her; person in the establishment, that all visits for the gossip of a peeress was, in their eswere presumed to be made to her in the timation, so greatly superior in interest to first instance. But now Mrs. Roberts has- any commoner gossip, that they all three tened to assure the elegant Lady Forton, hung upon her accents, as if ihey flowed who was always by far the most elaborately from the lips of a Siren. It was not, indressed
person of the two, that she hoped deed, uncommon for her ladyship to find Lady Moreton would not hurry herself on among the travelling English a good many their account, for that the pleasure of see- who evinced the same species of partiality; ing Lady Forton made them all much too but “ use lessens marvel," and it not unfrehappy to permit their wishing for any other. quently occurred that the halo which her And then the weather having, as a matter dowager coronet threw round her converof course, received its daily offering of ob- sation, evaporated after a few months' acservation, Mrs. Roberts, assuming a tone quaintance with her, so that in general, of easy intimacy, said, Who was that it was her last made friends and intimates charming young person, Lady Forton, whom that she liked the best. And this flattering we found here when we came in? I do pre-eminence the Roberts family had not not think we ever saw her before, did we? yet lost. It was therefore with very fasciAnd, if I mistake not, she called Lady nating cordiality that their visit was welMoreton her aunt."
comed by her. • No, Mrs. Roberis, I do not believe you "How d'ye do, Mrs. Roberts? How
d'ye do, my dears. Pretty bonnets, upon Miss Robertses in a breath, while Mrs. my word. Here, you see, I have got a Roberts, after moment's meditation, young niece come to visit me-Miss Ber- which must have greatly increased the tha Harrington is her name. I don't value of her opinion, gravely replied, "I know whether your young ladies will like really do think, Lady Moreton, that you her.
She is rather dull by way of a com- too, as well as your cousin, Lady Forton, panion just now, that's the truth. She has must have had the temper of an angel, I do just lost her mother," she added in a half indeed.” whisper to Mrs. Roberts. But if it was in “Well, to say the truth, that is exactly tended to be unheard by poor Bertha the what I have been very often told; and I purpose failed, which was made evident by leave you to judge, Mrs. Roberts, what a the rush of tears which filled her eyes, and person with my gay, happy temper must sufby the suddenness with which she rose fer from having this poor dismal girl for from the chair in which she had placed ever and for ever before my eyes! I do herself, and left the room. “There she assure you that I believe it is killing me goes again, Sophy," continued Lady More- by inches." ton, now addressing herself to her cousin. “But, my dearest Lady Moreton, this “Upon my honor I shall be worn to death must not be!" exclaimed Mrs. Roberts if she goes on so! Her mother was my warmly, and delighted beyond measure at own sister, the only sister I ever had, and the confidential tone in which the dowager therefore, of course her sudden death has, countess addressed her. naturally, almost broken my heart; and “ All Paris ought to make a remonthen just think, my dear Mrs. Roberts, strance !" cried the equally touched Agatha. what it has been for me, in addition to my “O dear me, it is quite shocking,” sufferings as a sister, to have to bear with moaned the sentimental Maria. this poor weak-spirited girl, who positively “It is very bad, isn't it ?' resumed her never passes an hour of the day without ladyship, looking from one to the other, shedding tears, more or less; does she, and seeming greatly inclined to laugh, as if Sophy ?"
to prove how totally unfit her happy temper " Most assuredly she does not,” replied was for such dismal companionship. Lady Lady Forton with a sneer, which spoke Forton sighed decply, and pressed her foreplainly enough the sort of sympathy which head with her delicate hand. she was in the habit of bestowing on the “ Ah! there it is, you see.
Poor Sophy motherless girl.
has not the strength of mind to bear it as I “ How long we shall be able to endure do. It will kill her, my good friends, it it Heaven knows," resumed Lady More- will positively kill her. And then just ton. “Poor Sophy bears it better than I think of the utter impossibility of finding do, for her temper is perfectly angelic; and what to do with her when we go out ! every one knows, I can't charge myself Though the child is sent here already, my with being particularly ill-tempered neither. sister has not been dead above a fortnight, I can assure you, Mrs. Roberts, that I have so that for the present moment you see I suffered enough in my time. Poor Lord lose nothing, because I have no full dress Moreton, who was old enough to be my mourning made ; but the dress-maker tells father, would certainly have been the death me that every thing will be ready by toof any woman who had not had a good morrow night; and then I should like to temper. But from my earliest childhood I know what is to be done with Miss Berhave always loved nothing in the world so tha! It is enough to drive one wild !" well as being gay and happy; and, Heaven “Indeed, indeed, my dearest Lady knows, I managed to have my little private Moreton, I must blame you for inviting theatre, and my public breakfasts at Rich- her!" said Mrs. Roberts, encouraged by mond, and my pretty balls, kept up con- this confidential communication to assume stantly through it all. I couldn't have had the tone of reproving friendship. “Knowa bad temper with such a husband as mine, ing your own charming character and conto have managed in this way for years be- stitution, how could you think of undertakfore he died, and never to have disappointed ing such a charge ? any of my friends of a single fête ; not one, “God bless you, my good woman, I I give you my honor. I could not have never did think of it,” replied the dowager bad a bad temper, could I ?"
countess, warming in her turn into a for" Why, no, no!” exclaimed both the getfulness of etiquette.
The Miss Robertses were a good deal (could be any object to me, you know, that shocked at hearing their mamma called a her father had settled five hundred a year “good woman;" this feeling, however, on her, four of which was to be paid for was soon conquered, not by the feigned her board; as if I should care three straws interest which had hithertó been their whether she paid or not. If she were a usual offering at the dowager's footstool, fine, handsome, lively girl, that could help but, from genuine curiosity, which was us on with our parties, she might spend the thoroughly awakened as she proceeded. whole five hundred upon her dress, and
“Heaven knows,” said she, “I might welcome, for we should both of us, I am have lived a hundred years before I had sure, be glad to have her. But such a ever dreamed of such a thing. But by all girl as that! I really do feel that she is I can learn from this poor blubbering girl, killing me by inches.” my sister died very suddenly-very unex • My poor dear lady! I am sure my pectedly indeed, and Sir Christopher Har- heart aches for you !" said Mrs. Roberts, rington, that's her husband, you know, was wringing her hands together, and looking so horribly shocked and frightened at it, as dolorous as if all her own family were that, as well as I can understand, he gave condemned to death by inches also. orders to have mourning made for the “ You are a very kind-hearted woman, child (Bertha is his only child) without an Mrs. Roberts,” resumed her ladyship, hour's delay, and as soon as she was fairly" and it really is a comfort to open one's covered with bombazine and crape, he heart to you, but I can't help laughing sent her off with his lawyer, and an elderly either, at the thoughtful slyness of Sir female servant, who has always waited on Christopher. What do you think of his her, with orders to bring her to me! I am ordering his lawyer to tell me that in case sure his grief must have made him mad, he did not marry again (and he is just poor man, or he never would have thought forty years old, observe), but in case he of doing any thing so distracted.”
does not marry again, this girl will have "Distracted and distracting!” murmured the whole of his unentailed property, Lady Forton, again applying her hand to amounting, the man said, to at least three her forehead, as if ready to sink.
thousand a year. Now I know perfectly “ There it is, you see,” resumed Lady well that this message was sent in order to Moreton, “my poor dear cousin Sophy, tempt me to keep her for the pleasure of who has devoted herself to me, and who is having an heiress to take about with me, the greatest comfort to me, and who sets which every body in this country knows is off all my parties delightfully, looking so exactly the same thing as having a fine divinely handsome as she does when she is piece of preserment in one's gift. But I dressed—just think what it must be to such a am too well off, and stand too well in Paris temper as mine to see her overcome in that to care a farthing about it. It was cleverly way! I must give a fancy ball the week thought of, too, for most people would give after next. Every body expects it, and I a great deal for it, though I would not give am sure I hope that your daughters will a button." come, Mrs. Roberts, and your son also; he Hitherto, Mrs. Roberts had continued to is really a fine-looking young man. Well, listen to her illustrious friend with a wellas I was saying, just imagine what my cou- sustained air of affectionate, yet respectful sin Sophy will be fit for, if she is to live interest, which really did her great credit, with this unlucky girl before her eyes from being precisely the aspect most likely to this time to that. The whole thing will be obtain what she wished, namely, the conas flat as ditch-water, I know it will !" tinuation of her ladyship’s condescending
“Would that I knew how to help you, familiarity, which not only gratified her my dear lady,” said Mrs. Roberts, mourn- feelings at the moment, but gave her a fully.
treasure of noble anecdotes, which she de“Well, you see, that would be bad termined carefully to hoard up for future enough, wouldn't it?" resumed Lady More- use. But as Lady Moreton drew near to ton; “but what's that, I should like to the conclusion of the speech above quoted, know, compared to what we have got to the eyes of Mrs. Roberts began to wander. look forward to afterwards ? It is perfectly First, they ceased to meet those of the noclear, from what the lawyer said, that Sir ble speaker, and then they appeared to avoid Christopher expects we should keep her her face altogether, till at length they finally here, for he coolly mentioned, just as if it settled themselves on the carpet, and she
remained unconsciously a perfect model of siderably higher than usual on their foremeditation, and as silent as a statue.
heads. Their look and manner altogether, For some time after this alteration took were indeed exceedingly disagreeable to the place, the dowager countess continued to Robertses. Their two ladyships evidently harangue, but at length she paused to take received it as a fact which admitted of no breath, a variation which seemed to rouse contradiction, that Madame de Soissonac Mrs. Roberts from her reverie, for she in- intended to affront them. stantly rose, and in rather a hurried man “ Is it not very strange ?'' said Agatha, ner began to take her leave.
her cheeks glowing with indignation. Both Agatha and Maria, meanwhile, had “I don't know, I'm sure, my dear,” rebeen endeavoring in a very praiseworthy plied Lady Moreton. "Perhaps she did manner, to keep on something of a conver- not like the look of your dresses last night? sation with the elegant Lady Forton, but That would be quite enough, I promise this, though it was very hard work, had not you. She never can bear shabby dresses." 80 completely occupied their attention, as to “ Not like the look of our dresses !" prevent their keeping their ears on the were the words which most assuredly alert, to learn in what manner their mam- would have risen to the lips of each of the ma would introduce the subject of Madame Robertses, had they not all been too well. de Soissonac's delinquency, and what de- behaved to repeat the words of a countess gree of information she would obtain in re- in her presence. For a moment they were turn. But when she rose thus suddenly all silent, and then Mrs. Roberts articulated, without having alluded to the subject at but with a great deal of gentleness, “I all, they exchanged glances, knit their don't think it could have been that." brows, and looked exceedingly angry; but And the poor lady remembered, not withperceiving that their negligent parent was out a disagreeable twinge, that all their actually backing towards the door, they ex- dresses were both new and costly, and, changed another glance, and then Agatha alas! that none of them had been paid for. said, in rather a louder voice than she usu- The two young ladies, also, were a good ally deemed proper in the presence of a deal disgusted, and very naturally so, at the countess,
suggestion, but they only smiled, upon “Stop one moment, mamma! I should which Lady Moreton rejoined, so like to ask their ladyships if they are Well, I don't know-I am sure I can't going to Madame de Soissonac's on Tues- tell—it is impossible to say,” concluding day next, because we want so particularly these satisfactory remarks with a conde to know."
scending nod to each of them, adding, “On Tuesday next ?" returned Lady “Good by—good by-don't let us keep Moreton. “Yes, to be sure we are, child; you standing," which of course meant, we always go there every Tuesday. She “Don't keep me standing." A hint suffigives some of the best parties in Paris, and ciently well understood to induce Mrs. I don't care a straw for the looms. What Roberts and her daughters to retreat withmade you ask the question, mademoiselle ?" out further ceremony.
Agatha felt that she had got herself into a scrape. She did not at all like having to say that Madame de Soissonac had warned them off, but she could not now avoid it, and therefore replied with a little scornful The two young ladies re-entered their laugh,
carriage with feelings a good deal irritat" That Madame de Soissonac appeared ed; but Agatha's first words, which
were, to have taken offence at something they “Horrid old woman;" and Maria's first had said or done, for that she had distinct- words, which were, “ How I do detest that ly told them the evening before, that she sort of pride and condescension mixed up was going to make some alterations in her together, so that it is impossible to tell parties, which would prevent her being which one is going to have !" did not reable to receive them on Tuesday, and yet ceive so sympathetic a return from their it was plain that she had not said the same mamma, as they might naturally have exto other people.”
pected; but the fact was, that at that mo“Really!" said Lady Moreton and Lady ment Mrs. Roberts's faculties were so comForton in chorus. And the eyebrows of pletely absorbed upon a speculation that both ladies gradually raised themselves con concerned the future, that she had little