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to be stuck up on that sofa and called “Miss Greene in the green-room, for Clara's amusement, and perhaps be shown up again and asked to play a duett. However, Aunt Cecily read her face, and told her to go into the next room, and she was set free from her panic.
When she went in, Lady Mary called her to come and sit by her. The ladies were laughing at the smallness of the audience, and Lady Mary said it was a pity they had not invited the school-mistress and pupil-teachers and the singing-class from the school. Mrs. Greene, who had not the slightest idea that Lady Mary was in earnest, laughed the little simpering laugh which she thought due to her guest's joke, and said 'It was a pity indeed.' "The audience' at present consisted of Lady Mary, Mrs. Auriel, Mrs. and Miss Bright, Mrs. Greene, and Mabel. They were allowed to sit where they pleased, Miss Mellany and Miss Wells having over-ruled Clara's proposal to have sofas and chairs placed in rows to give the look of a concert-room. So Mrs. Auriel and Lady Mary talked to one another in rather a low tone as they sat together on a sofa near the fire, while Mrs. Greene was trying hard to make conversation with Mrs. Bright and her daughter, who occupied the sofa opposite. Coffee was brought in, and the ladies in the other room joined the audience, and there was no lack of talking and laughing then.
Miss Wells came to Miss Bright and asked if she would do them the favour of joining the performers, but the young lady begged to be excused.
Mrs. Bright said, 'Pray do not ask her to-night, dear Miss Wells; she only came home the day before yesterday, and between the journey and the unpacking she is quite tired, poor child! And this is her first dinnerparty, you know, and that is quite excitement enough for a school-girl.'
Sophy Bright did not approve of being called a school-girl,' so she said, 'Well, Mamma, I've left school now, and I assure you I don't feel at all excited.-I should be very happy to play, Miss Wells, if I had my music, but I should be afraid to trust my memory to-night. I played Thalberg's “ Last Rose of Summer” without notes, at our concert at Belvidere House, the week before last, but I have not practised for several days, and I should really be afraid to venture to-night.'
So spoke Miss Bright, with an air of assumed confidence that amused Miss Wells and delighted Mrs. Bright, who being a shy person herself, was thankful that Brighton air had given her daughter such perfect freedom from nervousness. Miss Wells was glad to find that she need not make a change in her programme for Sophy Bright, and went off directly to report this to Miss Mellany, who was anxiously awaiting the result of the invitation.
Just then Mr. Auriel appeared, followed by Clement Bowyer. It was Mr. Auriel's habit when dining in houses where he was very intimate, to leave the dining-room soon after the departure of the ladies, and Clement Bowyer took advantage of this to make his escape too. The conversation had got upon an accusation of buying up pheasants' eggs from poachers and poisoning foxes, brought against a new-comer in the neighbourhood ; a gentleman who had lately rented a few acres of shooting with a cottage on it, the property of Mr. Greene It was a little manor some miles distant from Ashton, which Mr. Greene had inherited only a few years ago, and he had let it rather than have any trouble about it, as he had quite enough to do at Ashton. As Clement Bowyer did not care for hunting or shooting, the discussion bored him as much as it did Mr. Auriel, and he was thankful to have an opportunity of getting away.
When they entered the drawing-room Clement went straight to Miss Wells and Miss Mellany, but Mr. Auriel dropped into a most inviting arm-chair between the fire-place and the sofa where Mrs. Bright and her daughter were seated, and began to talk to Sophy. He bad known her ever since she was Mabel's age, but he had not seen her for a year, because when she was at home for the midsummer holidays he and Mrs. Auriel were in Switzerland. He asked her if she was going to play, and she made the same reply to him that she had made to Miss Wells. It struck Mr. Auriel that Sophy was wonderfully altered, and he did not think it a change for the better. A year ago Sophy had left home for the first time, an awkward shy girl, but simple and modest, with a low opinion of her own abilities and acquirements. She had been a strong, healthy, clumsy-looking girl, with no promise of beauty; but this last year she had shot up suddenly, and was quite tall. Her carriage and manner had become graceful, her dress was quite in the newest style, and her hair was elaborately arranged, and in a mode that suited her face. But there was an expression of conceit, and a little patronizing air, that appeared to Mr. Auriel not only absurd, but decidedly unpleasant. However, he never judged anyone in a hurry, and he made allowance for the Belvidere House standard of manner; and he hoped that Sophy's old simplicity and humility would come back again when she had been at home for a few months.
In the meantime he inquired about her musical studies. He was sorry to find that she had been learning nothing but what he called rubbish,' and he told her he was glad she was not going to play at all that evening, if she could do nothing better than the pieces she mentioned.
Poor Sophy! She had been accustomed to look on Mr. Auriel as one of the kindest and gentlest of human beings, and she was quite astonished at what seemed to her such harsh criticism. But she was a goodtempered girl, and bore the trial well. That was just what Mr. Auriel hoped. He gave her credit for solid goodness underneath the school-girl airs and graces. IIe saw she was mortified and hurt, but that she made an effort not to resent the unpalatable remarks.
“Sophy,' he said, with that sweet smile peculiar to him, “you and I are such old friends that I may speak the plain truth to you even when it sounds very disagreeable. I hope you will come over and spend a day with us soon, and then you can look over all my music, and choose what you would like to study, and take it home with you; and whenever you wish for an accompanyist, I shall be at your service.'
O Mr. Auriel, how good you are !' Sophy said, her eyes sparkling with joy. 'I will learn anything you like if you will advise me, only I hope you will not require me to learn a fugue, because that would be an impossibility. Mr. Grandon Sharpe brought me one once, and I tried so hard, but it was really impossible, and he used to get so out of patience; and I left off learning with him, and Miss Hauton placed me under Herr Scheinundstein, and I got on so much better with him!'
Mr. Auriel laughed, and was going to reply, when Clara came up, saying, “Uncle Auriel, we want your help at once. We have no string bass part for the Midsummer Night's Dream, but of course you know it by heart.' Then she went on to explain that they were trying to do a quartett for eight hands with only three performers—that her sister had written out her own part, putting in as many notes as one pair of hands could manage, and giving some extra work to the bass player at the first piano. And I always forget those tiresome bits added to my part,” said Clara ; "and you would help me immensely if you would only just come in and see what it is. Do-please, dear Uncle Auriel, she added very coaxingly.
Now Mr. Auriel had intended to sit quiet in that comfortable chair and listen to the overture, instead of exerting himself so soon after dinner. However, le rose at Clara's bidding, and followed her meekly to the other room. Here he carefully examined the bass parts, and decided on what was wanting. He had played that overture for years in the orchestra of an amateur society at —, and knew every note of it by heart. In a few minutes he was as much interested in it as Clara herself.
Presently the other gentlemen appeared. Mr. Barry and Mr. St. Leger, who had arrived only just in time for dinner, were highly amused at the formal arrangements for the concert.' They made their way to the orchestra directly, and begged to be informed what they were expected to sing. Miss Mellany had chosen things she knew they were familiar with, so they made no objection to the programme.
Clara ordered them off, saying they would be of more use swelling the ranks of the audience at present than anywhere else. "Mind,' she said, you are to go out of that door, and come round to us by the hall. It would be disrespectful for you to walk straight up from the audience to the orchestra, “and discipline must be maintained,” you know, Ensign St. Leger,' she added, mimicking Mr. Charles Dickens's old soldier.
Mr. St. Leger replied first by carrying his hand to his forehead in military fashion, and then plunging it into his pocket, he drew forth a pair of white kid gloves, which it was his habit to carry with him when he dined out, in case any dancing should turn up. He was only just twentyone, and had not worn his uniform more than a year. He displayed the gloves to Clara, saying, 'Observe, my brilliant cousin, I keep my powder dry. You shall find me ready for duty when you summon me.' And then with a mock bow he retired with the programme in his hand.
Mr. Barry was less obedient. He was a clergyman attached to the Cathedral of X-, and a very good musician, and he was nearly a dozen years older than Mr. St. Leger. He paid no attention to Clara's orders, but asked her sister who was going to turn over.
Miss Wells heard him, and said, 'I was just going in to get Mr. Charles Lyne, but he would perhaps blunder. if you would do it, Mr. Barry, it would be a charity.'
'I shall think it an honour, Miss Wells,' Mr. Barry replied with solemn emphasis, and then went straight to the piano-forte and rapidly turned over the pages of the piece on the music desk to see that they were all right.
Miss Wells and Miss Mellany looked at each other with a smile, and Miss Mellany whispered, “That is so like him ! He always thinks nothing can be in proper order unless he has arranged it himself.'
Just then, Clara, who had seated herself at the piano-forte directly Mr. St. Leger retired, took up a little hand-bell she had kept in readiness, and rang it sharply. The talking and laughing in the next room stopped instantly, and those who were standing sat down. Miss Wells and Miss Mellany, startled by the sudden summons, hurried to their places. Mr. Barry considered Clara's action unseemly, but he had no time to expostulate, as Mr. Auriel tapped his violoncello with his bow, and after looking at Miss Mellany, who replied by an affirmative bend of her head, he glanced at the rest of the party, and nodded. Then Miss Mellany started alone, playing the opening chords on the harmonium with soft stops-alas! a poor substitute, the player felt it to be, for the instruments those chords ought to have been played by. Then the piano-forte and violin joined her; and Mabel could hardly help clapping her hands when she heard the fairies rush in.
We need not go through the overture. It is enough to say that it was successful so far as the audience was concerned, and a sound of suppressed laughter showed that the donkey's bray was recognized and appreciated. The players were not so easily contented as the audience, and when the applause began they lifted their eyebrows or their shoulders and smiled significantly at each other.
As they rose, the clapping was continued to make them bow their thanks; and then the two Miss Mellanys, Clement Bowyer, and Mr. Auriel, ranged themselves just inside the archway, Bliss Wells struck the chord of G, and the four singers began Mendelssohn's Spring Song in s time, singing it without an accompaniment. It was encored, and then they gave “The Lark's Song,' which was also demanded a second time most vehemently.
The next piece was a duett of Mozart,* the Sonata composed for Madame Strinasacchi (the famous Mantuan violiniste) to perform in the presence of the Emperor Joseph. It was written in such haste that the lady had only one day to study it in; and there is a story told of the Emperor's observing that Mozart himself was playing from a blank sheet of music-paper, and saying to him afterwards, "What! you have been at that again! to which Mozart replied, “Yes, please your Majesty, but not a note fell under the desk.' It is a pretty and brilliant sonata, full of melody. The violin part is difficult, but the piano-forte part is very easy-at least to a good player. Clement Bowyer and Miss Wells played it perfectly, and the audience liked it much.
As the last chord was struck, young St. Leger, who had been standing behind the sofa where Lady Mary sat, said, 'Aunt Mary, it is our turn next. How do you mean to reach the orchestra ? Clara gave me orders to go round by the hall.'
Very well,' said Lady Mary, smiling. 'Let us go, then.'
As she rose, Mr. Barry glided in at a rapid pace, and arrived in time to conduct her ladyship to her place by a more dignified road.
Mr. St. Leger followed them, crying out, 'Now that's a shame, Barry. To do me out of my “great expectations." I intended to have made a sensation, entering the orchestra with Aunt Mary in orthodox style. But when my solo comes, see if I don't enter like a Primo Tenore.'
My dear fellow,' said Mr. Barry, with imposing suavity, will you oblige us by keeping quiet in the meantime.'
The eight parts were taken by Clara and Lady Mary, (Sopranos,) Miss Mellany and Charles Lyne, (who had that rare voice, a rich and sweet male Alto, which assimilated perfectly with the very deep full tones of Louisa Mellany's peculiar Contralto,) Mr. Miller and Clement Bowyer,
* This Sonata has a slow movement and two quick ones in Bb, and a very charming Andante in Eb. It is No. 2 in Novello's Edition.
(Tenors,) and Mr. Barry and Mr. Auriel. (Baritone and Bass.) Miss Wells had put Mr. St. Leger down as first tenor, before she knew that Clement Bowyer was enough of a singer for a difficult madrigal, but Miss Mellany told her cousin they had found a substitute for him, and that they would let him ‘reserve himself for his solo.' This Mr. St. Leger declared was 'very severe ;' but he laughed, and went back, as he said, 6 to increase the force of the audience.'
(To be continued.)
ST. DENYS' HOME, WARMINSTER.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE MONTHLY PACKET.
Your pages have been kindly thrown open for the discussion of the question of • Woman's Work;' and we are told that there are thousands of women in England whose hearts are stirred within them, and who are feeling, “If I can do anything in the Kingdom of God, I must.” I am rejoiced to hear it, and trust that the oft-repeated appeal for help, which meets us in your pages and in the columns of every newspaper, will soon find a full and free response.
It seems incredible that help can be so near, and yet, for us who pine for it, so difficult to find. Where is the fault, if fault there be any–rather the obstacle which keeps these two yearning cries of Help, help! and Work, work! from mingling in one gladsome song of thanksgiving?
All agree in the urgent need and absolute necessity that something ought to be done-nay must be, if we are to stem the tide of evil around us; passive resistance, or theory the most complete and conclusive that social science can educe, will never meet the case; we have an active enemy to fight against, and we must take the weapons out of his hand and use them against himself, if we intend to make any progress. Indifferentism, open vice, and squalid poverty, the offspring of vice, call Soud for repression and alleviation; our weapons must be self-abnegation, activity, and faith in the guidance and mission of the Church.
I was travelling a few days since on the Midland line between London and the porth, when, as the train approached Leicester, it began to slacken speed; we had just passed the last village station, and seeing nothing but open country around, we were naturally surprised, until looking ahead we saw the cause of this unusual occurrence. Just where two lines met, our way was obstructed by broken coal trucks, up-torn rails, and an engine planted in the way to warn us of the danger: another train on the branch line was like our own waiting to proceed; the gentlemeu passengers, engine drivers, stokers, &c., of each train, ran to the scene of confusion, and a party of workmen soon came up with the requisite materials and tools, which were fortunately close at hand; but, with everything ready to repair the injury, nothing was done for the first hour, there was much talk and running hither and thither, no lack of ready hands to put to the work, but no head, apparently, to direct and utilize the abundant material, until much precious time was lost; after two hours waiting in the vain hope of a clear passage, we were pushed back to the next junction, and sent on to Leicester by the up-line.
Is not this little incident a very true picture of the state of things in our portion of the Lord's Vineyard ? many of our sisters with willing hearts and hands are running to and fro, only needing direction to be of great use; but, for want of it, now standing idly looking on, and wondering when in God's Providence the obstructing mass of evil will be removed, and a clear passage be opened for His Will to be accomplished.
Many ways have been suggested in which women, free from home ties, and with plenty of means at command, may be of use, either to the well-known charities of the country, or those more recently established; but there is a large class of women earnestly desirous of work, who have neither time nor means, or having both, no