'NOW, Miss Grey,' exclaimed
Miss Murray, immediately I entered
the schoolroom, after having
taken off my outdoor garments,
upon returning from my four weeks'
recreation, 'Now - shut the door,
and sit down, and I'll tell you
all about the ball.'
'No - damn it, no!' shouted
Miss Matilda. 'Hold your tongue,
can't ye? and let me tell her
about my new mare - SUCH a splendour,
Miss Grey! a fine blood mare
'Do be quiet, Matilda; and
let me tell my news first.'
'No, no, Rosalie; you'll be
such a damned long time over
it - she shall hear me first
- I'll be hanged if she doesn't!'
'I'm sorry to hear, Miss Matilda,
that you've not got rid of that
shocking habit yet.'
'Well, I can't help it: but
I'll never say a wicked word
again, if you'll only listen
to me, and tell Rosalie to hold
her confounded tongue.'
and I thought I should have
in pieces between them; but Miss
Matilda having the loudest voice,
her sister at length gave in,
and suffered her to tell her
story first: so I was doomed
to hear a long account of her
splendid mare, its breeding and
pedigree, its paces, its action,
its spirit, &c., and of her own
amazing skill and courage in
riding it; concluding with an
assertion that she could clear
a five-barred gate 'like winking,'
that papa said she might hunt
the next time the hounds met,
and mamma had ordered a bright
scarlet hunting-habit for her.
'Oh, Matilda! what stories
you are telling!' exclaimed her
'Well,' answered she, no whit
abashed, 'I know I COULD clear
a five-barred gate, if I tried,
and papa WILL say I may hunt,
and mamma WILL order the habit
when I ask it.'
'Well, now get along,' replied
Miss Murray; 'and do, dear Matilda,
try to be a little more lady-like.
Miss Grey, I wish you would tell
her not to use such shocking
words; she will call her horse
a mare: it is so inconceivably
shocking! and then she uses such
dreadful expressions in describing
it: she must have learned it
from the grooms. It nearly puts
me into fits when she begins.'
'I learned it from papa, you
ass! and his jolly friends,'
said the young lady, vigorously
cracking a hunting-whip, which
she habitually carried in her
hand. 'I'm as good judge of horseflesh
as the best of 'm.'
'Well, now get along, you shocking
girl! I really shall take a fit
if you go on in such a way. And
now, Miss Grey, attend to me;
I'm going to tell you about the
ball. You must be dying to hear
about it, I know. Oh, SUCH a
ball! You never saw or heard,
or read, or dreamt of anything
like it in all your life. The
decorations, the entertainment,
the supper, the music were indescribable!
and then the guests! There were
two noblemen, three baronets,
and five titled ladies, and other
ladies and gentlemen innumerable.
The ladies, of course, were of
no consequence to me, except
to put me in a good humour with
myself, by showing how ugly and
awkward most of them were; and
the best, mamma told me, - the
most transcendent beauties among
them, were nothing to me. As
for me, Miss Grey - I'm so SORRY
you didn't see me! I was CHARMING
- wasn't I, Matilda?'
'No, but I really was - at
least so mamma said - and Brown
and Williamson. Brown said she
was sure no gentleman could set
eyes on me without falling in
love that minute; and so I may
be allowed to be a little vain.
I know you think me a shocking,
conceited, frivolous girl; but
then, you know, I don't attribute
it ALL to my personal attractions:
I give some praise to the hairdresser,
and some to my exquisitely lovely
dress - you must see it to-morrow
- white gauze over pink satin
- and so SWEETLY made! and a
necklace and bracelet of beautiful,
'I have no doubt you looked
very charming: but should that
delight you so very much?'
'Oh, no! - not that alone:
but, then, I was so much admired;
and I made so MANY conquests
in that one night - you'd be
astonished to hear - '
'But what good will they do
'What good! Think of any woman
'Well, I should think one conquest
would be enough; and too much,
unless the subjugation were mutual.'
'Oh, but you know I never agree
with you on those points. Now,
wait a bit, and I'll tell you
my principal admirers - those
who made themselves very conspicuous
that night and after: for I've
been to two parties since. Unfortunately
the two noblemen, Lord G- and
Lord F-, were married, or I might
have condescended to be particularly
gracious to THEM; as it was,
I did not: though Lord F-, who
hates his wife, was evidently
much struck with me. He asked
me to dance with him twice -
he is a charming dancer, by-the-
by, and so am I: you can't think
how well I did - I was astonished
at myself. My lord was very complimentary
too - rather too much so in fact
- and I thought proper to be
a little haughty and repellent;
but I had the pleasure of seeing
his nasty, cross wife ready to
perish with spite and vexation
'Oh, Miss Murray! you don't
mean to say that such a thing
could really give you pleasure?
However cross or - '
'Well, I know it's very wrong;
- but never mind! I mean to be
good some time - only don't preach
now, there's a good creature.
I haven't told you half yet.
Let me see. Oh! I was going to
tell you how many unmistakeable
admirers I had:- Sir Thomas Ashby
was one, - Sir Hugh Meltham and
Sir Broadley Wilson are old codgers,
only fit companions for papa
and mamma. Sir Thomas is young,
rich, and gay; but an ugly beast,
nevertheless: however, mamma
says I should not mind that after
a few months' acquaintance. Then,
there was Henry Meltham, Sir
Hugh's younger son; rather good-looking,
and a pleasant fellow to flirt
with: but BEING a younger son,
that is all he is good for; then
there was young Mr. Green, rich
enough, but of no family, and
a great stupid fellow, a mere
country booby! and then, our
good rector, Mr. Hatfield: an
HUMBLE admirer he ought to consider
himself; but I fear he has forgotten
to number humility among his
stock of Christian virtues.'
'Was Mr. Hatfield at the ball?'
'Yes, to he sure. Did you think
he was too good to go?'
'I thought be might consider
'By no means. He did not profane
his cloth by dancing; but it
was with difficulty he could
refrain, poor man: he looked
as if he were dying to ask my
hand just for ONE set; and -
oh! by-the-by - he's got a new
curate: that seedy old fellow
Mr. Bligh has got his long-wished-for
living at last, and is gone.'
'And what is the new one like?'
'Oh, SUCH a beast! Weston his
name is. I can give you his description
in three words - an insensate,
ugly, stupid blockhead. That's
four, but no matter - enough
of HIM now.'
Then she returned to the ball,
and gave me a further account
of her deportment there, and
at the several parties she had
since attended; and further particulars
respecting Sir Thomas Ashby and
Messrs. Meltham, Green, and Hatfield,
and the ineffaceable impression
she had wrought upon each of
'Well, which of the four do
you like best?' said I, suppressing
my third or fourth yawn.
'I detest them all!' replied
she, shaking her bright ringlets
in vivacious scorn.
I suppose, "I
like them all" - but which most?'
'No, I really detest them all;
but Harry Meltham is the handsomest
and most amusing, and Mr. Hatfield
the cleverest, Sir Thomas the
wickedest, and Mr. Green the
most stupid. But the one I'm
to have, I suppose, if I'm doomed
to have any of them, is Sir Thomas
'Surely not, if he's so wicked,
and if you dislike him?'
'Oh, I don't mind his being
wicked: he's all the better for
that; and as for disliking him
- I shouldn't greatly object
to being Lady Ashby of Ashby
Park, if I must marry. But if
I could be always young, I would
be always single. I should like
to enjoy myself thoroughly, and
coquet with all the world, till
I am on the verge of being called
an old maid; and then, to escape
the infamy of that, after having
made ten thousand conquests,
to break all their hearts save
one, by marrying some high-born,
rich, indulgent husband, whom,
on the other hand, fifty ladies
were dying to have.'
'Well, as long as you entertain
these views, keep single by all
means, and never marry at all:
not even to escape the infamy