or no attention left to bestow upon the the sudden difficulty produced by the depresent.

mand of Mademoiselle Amabel, Mrs. RobIn a general way Mrs. Roberts was far erts had received and paid too many bills from being reserved towards her daughters, in the course of her life, not to feel, in the and since their arrival in Paris, this unre- very midst of her triumph at getting rid of serve had decidedly increased, rather than the dun, that the relief was but temporary. diminished. The phrase by which in Eng- Moreover, though she did not think it neland she was wont to express her intention cessary to tease the poor girls by talking of taking or rather of hearing an opinion, about it, Mademoiselle Amabel's account had almost invariably been, “Of course was not the only one which lay concealed the father of a family ought to be consulted in the recesses of her writing-desk. The whenever it is possible to do so;" it was elegant Edward had not reached the pinnanow generally changed for, “Young people cle on which he stood, as one of the besthave eyes in their heads as well as their dressed Englishmen who walked the Bouleelders," a difference which displayed a very vards, without having been obliged to ask judicious power of distinction on the part his proud mother for a little assistance, of Mrs. Roberts ; for whereas Mr. Roberts which assistance had been given, not only was very likely to agree with her, in days in the shape of all the ready money she of yore, upon most subjects of economy and could spare, but also by her telling him expenditure, the young ladies were morally that if he would leave one of his tailor's certain to do so now; which must already bills with her, she would take care somehave become obvious to the reader, from how or other, to get it paid before very sundry little traits which have been cit- long. Moreover, though such trifles were ed, relative both to mother and daughters. not of sufficient consequence, seriously to But now, this delightful unreserve seemed torment any person with so respectable an to have vanished, for all that the poor girls income as she had the command of, she could get in return for repeated bursts of could not help recollecting sometimes, with the most confidential openness on their pari, rather an uncomfortable consciousness, that was this,

the butter and cream bill had been suffered “I beg your pardon, my dears, but I to run on a good while; and also that Mr. really was thinking of something else, and Roberts had given her money expressly to I don't quite know what you are talking pay a wine-bill, which she had quite forabout.”

gotten, and suffered the money to melt • What is it, mamma?” said Agatha. away out of her fingers, she really did not "What is it, mamma?” said Maria. know for what.

But this question, direct as it was, did But there was something a great deal worse not help them a bit, for though Mrs. Rob- than all this, which weighed upon the mind erts did not look the least angry, the smile of Mrs. Roberts. She had been for above which she gave first to one, and then to the twenty years in the habit of assuring her other in return, was of so vacant and un- husband, children, and as many people as meaning a character, as more to increase would listen to her, that she was one of the their uncertainty, than to remove it. How- best managers that ever lived ; and the conever, they behaved with great good sense sequence was that a great many people conon the occasion, merely giving each other sulted her in a very flattering manner upon a little kick, which was made perfectly in- points of economy, and that her husband telligible by the words,

“ It's no use;'

;" trusted all domestic affairs to her without which they uttered without restraint, and, reserve. Could she quietly have gone into in fact, without the least wish that Mrs. prison for these troublesome little debts, Roberts would notice, or even hear them. without any body's knowing any thing

But whatever the young ladies might about it, she would have suffered absothink of it, their mamma did not deserve lutely nothing, in comparison to what she to be accused of caprice. She really had a sometimes endured now, when she thought great deal to think of, and that too of an ex- what little chance there was that she should tremely important kind.

ever get clear of them, without confessing The situation of Mrs. Roberts at this their existence to Mr. Roberts. This idea time was certainly one of some difficulty tormented her perpetually, and the more and embarrassment. Though the ready so, of course, because she would not inwit of her daughters, acting upon her own dulge herself with the relief of confiding it sagacious judgment, had relieved her from to her daughters. Why was it then, that




313 although nothing in the world had occur-jever attained a more thoroughly independred to alter this position of things, and al- ent situation in their domestic circle than though she had all the vexation of Madame Mrs. Roberts. Nobody, not even Edward, de Soissonac's offensive conduct, and the unless he pretended to be half

in joke, ever unceremonious commentary of the Ladies ventured to contradict her. Mr. Roberts, Moreton and Forton upon it, to add to her as far as he was concerned, knew that he annoyances-why was it that her counte- had a great deal better not.

His life, as nance expressed so very benign a degree he managed it, was by no means a very unof satisfaction ?

comfortable one, though he hated being It was not for nothing, gentle reader. scolded as much as most men; for, withMrs. Roberts had that morning heard out absolutely yielding up the power of enough to occupy her mind by night and seeing, hearing, and guessing from day to by day for some time to come, without day, what was going on around him, he leaving her any leisure to recur to her managed so cleverly to bow and to bend, to trumpery little debts ; excepting just to re- twist and to turn, in order to avoid falling member, perhaps, what a great pleasure it under the displeasure of his wife, that, notwould be to get rid of them.

withstanding her strictly sustained author"Why,” thought Mrs. Roberts, “why ity, they very rarely appeared to disagree. should not I step forward at this critical mo- Neither were her daughters at all more ment, and offer to relieve my excellent restive under the yoke which her princiand most Aattering confidential friend Lady ples of domestic discipline led her to put Moreton of the troublesome guardianship of upon them, than she was at all times ready her niece? As to her mourning and her moan- to forgive upon due submission on their ing, it could not possibly produce the slight-parts. It may, indeed, always be remarked, est inconvenience to me. I should not be that where the conjugal part of an establishcalled an unfeeling sister because I did not ment is carried on upon a system resemmourn and moan with her. Four hundred bling that of Mrs. Roberts, the children of a year! More than half as much again as the family are found to restrain all sympwe have got now! It would be perfectly toms of natural and hereditary vivacity of impossible that we could go wrong with temper to their intercourse with their papa; that-perfectly! And then the contin- feeling, from a sort of intuitive logic, that gency! Let any woman look at Edward he who has been brought to declare, -any woman in the world, rich or poor, without a murmur, that black was white, old or young, and see if she can do it with every time his lady and mistress required out feeling at her heart that he is the hand the concession, was not likely to make any somest man she ever saw. Living with great difficulty about allowing that pale him, too, actually living under the same pink was dark crimson, when his offspring roof with him! I will defy her to help her- particularly wished that he should do so. self, poor girl; there can be no doubts or Yet, notwithstanding the admirable simfears about that part of the business. And{plicity of the machinery which regulated even if her father, Sir Christopher, should all the more important movements of the marry, and it should turn out that she would Roberts family, by which one main spring never have any thing beyond her present did every thing, without any perplexing five hundred a year, I should still be de- complication of action from minor ones lighted with the match. The connection, notwithstanding this admirable arrangewith our high spirit and superior sort of ment, there were now and then circumstanfeeling on those subjects, would perfectly ces which, like the present, required the acreconcile us all to the marriage, even quiescence of the titular master of the famthough her father were to have half-a- ily to be publicly expressed in order to bring

Our calling on that proud the business to perfection. old woman to-day, was perfectly providen

But not for this was the heartfelt content. tial!"

ment of Mrs. Roberts the less perfect. She Now then who will wonder at Mrs. Rob- knew her power, and if there was something erts looking pleased despite all the trou- of almost nervous hurry in the manner in bles which beset her? Or who can blame her which, on returning home, she sought her if , with such occupation for her thoughts, husband, it was not from any agitating she did not pay any great attention to what doubt as to how her proposal might be taher daughters were talking about ? ken, but solely from eagerness to be doing

Few women, in any station of life, had in a business, from the accomplishment o

dozen sons.

which she anticipated such delightful re-painful sort of misgiving about their expensults.

diture. The carriage, the gay dresses of Mr. Roberts had an old English news- the whole family, particularly in the case of paper before him when she entered the his son, of which naturally he was in some room where he was sitting, but he was degree a better judge, altogether made him more than half asleep over it, and started feel doubtful whether the economy of this when roused to consciousness by his wife, continental scheme was quite as much to who laid her hand upon his shoulder as be depended on as its gaiety. And now she approached him, giving him a gentle he only expected to hear the name of some shake.

French, German, Polish, or British grandée, “Oh! is it you, my dear ?" he exclaimed. whose visiting card had produced the ex“I do believe I was dreaming, for I fancied hilarating effect on his lady's spirits, which I heard old Smithson, our head clerk, com- he witnessed. plaining that the balance sheet did'nt show “Well, sir," began Mrs. Roberts, as soon off so so well as it ought to do. Only think as she had finished her jocose examination of my dreaming that, my dear!"

of her husband's grave face, “though you “ But you must be wide awake now, Mr. do look so very solemn, I suppose you do Roberts, to listen to what I have got to say not intend to deny that we are living with to you,” said his wife, in an accent which a great deal more enjoyment, and amongst showed plainly enough that the promised a very much better set of acquaintance, communication was to be received as ex- than we ever did before ?" tremely agreeable. “And most thankful “Oh, yes, my dear," replied the husband, you ought to be, Mr. Roberts," she added, “ it is quite certain that we none of us solemnly, “that neither your prosperity, ever went out into company so much benor that of your family depends longer upon fore; and as to titles, and all that sort of Mr. Smithson and his balance sheet. I finery, of course there is no comparison. think I have something to tell you that will I am only afraid sometimes, my dear, that convince you at last, my dear, that the wis- there may be a little too much of it-not est thing you ever did in your life, was let- for pleasure I don't mean, for I am ting me have my own way. about giving up sure it is quite delightful to see you all enthat terribly slow coach, the banking con-joying yourselves so—talking French all of cern, and coming to a country where my you, like natives, which must be such an knowledge of the world, and my unceasing improvement. So of course I am not anxiety to improve the position of my afraid of all that. But I can't help thinkfamily, can be turned to account." ing sometimes that it must be impossible

“Have either of the girls had an offer ?" for you, my dear Sarah, to save quite so cried Mr. Roberts, eagerly. “Nonsense, much money as you intended. The table Mr. Roberts! You really need not trouble is certainly very economical, I can't deny yourself to be in any fuss about their mar- that, and it does you great credit, I am sure, rying. Such girls as mine, with a mother very great credit; but it is the carriage, to take care of them, who tolerably well which you know is always going on, and the knows what she is about, are not very likely beautiful dresses, all of which it is quite to encumber their father's house too long. a pleasure to see, if it was not that I do No, sir, I have something better than that sometimes feel half afraid, my dear, that for you," said Mrs. Roberts, seating herself you must be putting your good management in an arm-chair opposite to him, resting to some inconvenience about it. But her elbows on its arms, and looking at him though this does sometimes come into my with a countenance perfectly radiant with head, I soon satisfy myself again, by resatisfaction.

collecting how quite impossible it is that, Had not Mr. Roberts several times, with your management, you ever should since his arrival in Paris, heard his lady get into any real trouble about money." announce an invitation, or even a call from Mrs. Roberts did certainly feel uncomsome titled absentee, with an appearance fortable for about half-a-minute as she list. of triumphant delight as remarkable as ened to this very civil speech, but she ralwhat she displayed now, he might have lied again directly, and replied, been more moved by her exulting manner; “Keep yourself easy, sir, I beg, about but although no secret accumulation of money matters; as long as you choose to debts had as yet been disclosed to him, the confide them to me, they can never go very worthy gentleman had begun to have a far wrong, you may depend upon it; and

ing for it.

you like.

what I am going to say now is a proof of really be pretty tolerably contented. What it. You are not altogether out, Mr. Rob- do you think about it, Mr. Roberts ?" erts, in fancying that a handsome carriage, " Think about it Sarah? Why I think like ours, is not kept for nothing. Neither that if I could live to see him make such a can I dress my girls, as I do, in a style that marriage as that, I should be contented to gives them such a decided superiority over die the day after." almost every body they meet, without pay “Then what should you say, I wonder,

Edward, too, dear fellow, can't if I was to tell you that this five hundred go naked; and you must know as well as I a-year, certain, is no more than the sixth do, that it is not his little morsel of an al- part of what this young lady will have, in lowance that can enable him to keep him- all human probability ? What would you self decent; and heaven knows that it is say to that, my good man ?'' not the scrimping mite of an income which " What would I say to it? Oh! my dear was all that you could contrive to squeeze Sarah, I am afraid that I should say it out of your stupid business, that can do to was too much—too much for us to hope keep up things as they are now—it is im- that we could have any thing to do with it. possible to form intimate friendships with But, nevertheless, my dear, I should like, peeresses and that sort of pecple, and yet if you please, to hear every thing about it. go on dressing like a kitchen-niaid. You That, you know, can do no harm to any may put the question yourself to any body one."

No, Mr. Roberts, I should think not. “Then what can we do, my dear Sarah ?" I never found that knowing and undercried the worthy man, exceedingly alarmed. standing every thing, which is my general “If the income won't do, what is to become way of going on, ever did me, or any body of us ?''

connected with me, harm; but rather the “Why, really, sir, I believe you would contrary. as I flatter myself you will allow. find it rather difficult to get out of the dif- I have taken care, sir, to know and to unficulty if you had not a wife to help you. derstand every thing in the least degree imBut if you will have the condescension to portant, about this young lady and her forgive me leave, I will tell you what you must tune. She has five hundred per annum, at do. My friend, Lady Moreton, has been present, Mr. Roberts, four of which her opening her heart to me respecting her father has arranged for her, poor, young, charming niece, the daughter of Sir Chris- motherless thing ! shall be paid for her actopher Harrington, his only daughter and commodation in any family where she may heiress, you know. Dear Lady Moreton happen to reside. The fifth hundred will has been all but asking me if we will take be left in her own hands for dress, washher with an allowance of four-hundred-a- ing, travelling, doctors' bills and other inyear for her board and other expenses. cidental expenses." Now this, you see, my dear, would not only “Bless my soul, Sarah! What a wonmake every thing perfectly easy on the derful woman you are, to be sure !” exscore of money-for four hundred a-year claimed Mr. Roberts, in a burst of genuine makes an immense difference—but it will admiration. “Not one single thing, as you be such a monstrous advantage to the girls truly say, but what you have contrived to in point of connexion. And who knows, find out—that is, I mean, not any single Roberts, what may be the end of it? thing that signifies. Now all that about Who knows whether Edward and Miss the washing and the doctors' bills is so Bertha Harrington may not like one an- really important, and puts every thing on other? She is quite young, in fact quite a such a clear footing, that it is worth almost child almost, and therefore it must be, in a any money in a business of this kind.” great measure, in our power to make her “Of course it is, Mr. Roberts, or I should understand by degrees that Edward is not never have given myself the trouble of reonly the handsomest, but by far the most membering it,” replied the lady. amiable and excellent young man she can “ But I think, my dear, you were going ever hope to meet with. And just think, to be kind enough to explain all about that my dear-only fix your mind for a few min-six times five hundred. Five sixes are utes upon the real facts of the case, Rob- thirty; three thousand a year that is. What erts. Five hundred a-year, certain, and were you going to say about that, Mrs. she the daughter of a baronet. If this Roberts ?were all, it seems to me that we might | " I was merely going to mention the fact

that Bertha Harrington will have three thou-men, if not the very cleverest, that ever sand a-year at the death of her father, for lived. For now, my dear, without cockershe is his only child; and that if his death ing ourselves up too much with your sort of should take place without his happening to certain hope and expectation that our Edmarry again, she might certainly be consid- ward will marry her,—even without this ered, in point of fortune as well as birth, as beautiful conclusion, I can't but say that I an excellent match for Edward."

should consider the securing of such a An excellent match for Edward !" re- boarder just now as about the very best thing peated Mr. Roberts, raising his spread that could happen to us. It would, I do hands towards the ceiling, “ how cool and think-indeed I am quite sure it would be quiet you do talk of it, to be sure! Why, the saving of us. Such a boarder as that, my dear, just think what it would be, re- Mrs. Roberts, would be the saving of us." turning to England after such a match as “Such a boarder! For goodness sake, that! Think how the Pearsons would look, sir, leave off that horrid vulgar phrase. A and the Rigtons ! Oh, the Rigtons, Sarah, boarder indeed! I do really believe that if would be better than all, because they did all preliminaries were actually settled, and use to come over us so, about their cousin, the day fixed on which this dear young Lady Thomas! Should you not enjoy going creature was to enter our house as a memback to England in such an event as that, ber of our family, Lady Moreton and Lady Mrs. Roberts ?"

Forton would both feel so dreadfully disCertainly, Mr. Roberts, it would be gusted at the word boarder, that the whole highly creditable to us, there is no doubt of negotiation would be broken off.” it; nor much doubt either, in my opinion, “Oh dear! oh dear! oh dear !" cried that if she does come to live with us, the Mr. Roberts, closing his fists, and raising thing will take place. I know what Ed- them on each side to the level of his head, ward is, and that if he is but allowed to as if they were two hammers with which he make the best and the most of himself, by was going to execute justice upon his of our contriving to let him have money fending brains, .“oh dear! oh dear! oh enough to dress decently, and now and then dear! You must gag me, Mrs. Roberts, to show off his beautiful figure on horse- you must indeed.” back, the girl will be no more able to resist “Mr. Roberts," replied his lady, with a him than you were able to resist me, Mr. degree of dignity that to do her offended Roberts. I know Edward, and, indeed, for husband justice he really felt from head to that matter, I know myself too, and that foot—" Mr. Roberts, it will not do for any what I may have lost in youthful looks body in the situation in society which my since I was the beauty of Fulham, I have husband ought to fill, and, indeed must gained in knowledge of the world. Be- fill, it will not do for him, sir, to live with a iween you and I, Mr. Roberts, it would be gag upon his mouth. But if you really rather a remarkable thing if a young girl wish not to undo every thing that I have like Bertha Harrington could live in the done, you will be pleased to speak of this house with Edward, and his mother into young lady as a beloved guest. Her name the bargain, and leave it in any other way is Bertha, Mr. Roberts, and we may, and than as his wife. But of course, my dear, indeed we inust, all call her Bertha, for unyou must not say a word about the mar- less we immediately assume this sort of riage, just at present; not even to Edward style with her, our position in society will himself, remember. The first object must be altogether lost, and I would not give a be our getting her to become a member of single farthing for Edward's chance of mar. our family. That is all we have to think rying her, or for our two poor girls' chance about now.

of marrying any body. Every thing depends Mr. Roberts, his eyes fixed upon his la- upon this, sir, and I should think that eren dy's face, and opening wider and wider at you might have wit enough to see it. What every word she spoke, paused for several becomes of the advantage of our intimacy seconds after she had ceased to speak, as if with all her titled relations, if every body fearful of losing a syllable, and then ex- that sees her with us is to be told that she claimed, “Mrs. Roberts, if you do really is our boarder? Answer me only that one manage to get this high young lady to lodge question, Mr. Roberts, if you please." and board in our family, I shall truly think, “My dear I can't answer you," replied and truly say, to the very last hour of my Mr. Roberts. “No man, I will venture to life, that you are one of the cleverest wo- say, could answer such a woman as you are,

« VorigeDoorgaan »