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her ladyship a wink of the left eye; all of which Becky caricatured to admiration; as well as the particulars of the night's conversation ; the politics; the war; the quarter-sessions; the famous run with the H. H., and those heavy and dreary themes, about which country gentlemen
As for the Misses Wapshots' toilettes and Lady Fuddleston's famous yellow hat, Miss Sharp tore them to tatters, to the infinite amusement of her audience.
“ My dear, you are a perfect trouvaille,” Miss Crawley would say. “I wish you could come to me in London, but I couldn't make a butt of
you as I do of poor Briggs,-no, no, you little sly creature; you are too clever - Isn't she, Firkin?"
Mrs. Firkin (who was dressing the very small remnant of hair which remained on Miss Crawley's pate), flung up her head and said, “ I think Miss is very clever," with the most killing sarcastic air. In fact, Mrs. Firkin had that natural jealousy which is one of the main principles of every honest woman.
After rebuffing Sir Huddleston Fuddleston, Miss Crawley ordered that Rawdon Crawley should lead her into dinner every day, and that Becky should follow with her cushion-or else she would have Becky's arm and Rawdon with the pillow. “We must sit together,” she said. “ We're the only three Christians in the county, my love”-in which case, it must be confessed, that religion was at a very low ebb in the county of Hants.
Besides being such a fine religionist, Miss Crawley was, as we have said, an Ultra-liberal in opinions and always took occasion to express these in the most candid manner.
“What is birth, my dear ? ” she would say to Rebecca—"Look at my brother Pitt; look at the Huddlestons, who have been here since Henry II., look at poor Bute at the parsonage ;—are any one of them equal to you in intelligence or breeding ? Equal to you—they are not even equal to poor dear Briggs, my companion, or Bowls, my butler. You, my love, are a little paragon-positively a little jewel - You have more brains than half the shire—if merit had its reward, you ought to be a Duchess—no, there ought to be no duchesses at all—but you ought to have no superior, and I consider you, my love, as my equal in every respect; and—will you put some coals on the fire, my dear ; and will you pick this dress of mine, and alter it, you who can do it so well?” So this old philanthropist used to make her equal run of her errands, execute her millinery, and read her to sleep with French novels, every night.
At this time, as some old readers may recollect, the genteel world had been thrown into a considerable state of excitement, by two events, which, as the papers say, might give employment to gentlemen of the long robe. Ensign Shafton had run away with Lady Barbara Fitzurse, the Earl of Bruin's daughter and heiress ; and poor Vere Vane, a gentleman who, up to forty, had maintained a most respectable character and reared a numerous family, suddenly and outrageously left his home, for the sake of Mrs. Rougemont, the actress, who was sixty-five years of age.
“ That was the most beautiful part of dear Lord Nelson's character,” Miss Crawley said. “ He went to the deuce for a woman. There must be good in a man who will do that. I adore all imprudent matches.
What I like best, is for a nobleman to marry a miller's daughter, as Lord Flowerdale did-it makes all the women so angry-I wish some great man would run away with you, my dear ; I'm sure you're pretty enough.”
“Two post-boys !--Oh! it would be delightful !” Rebecca owned.
“ And what I like next best, is, for a poor fellow to run away with a rich girl. I have set my heart on Rawdon running away with some one." “A rich some one, or a poor some one ?"
. Why, you goose ! Rawdon has not a shilling but what I give him. He is criblé de dettes—he must repair his fortunes, and succeed in the world.”
"Is he very clever ?” Rebecca asked.
“ Clever, my love ?-not an idea in the world beyond his horses, and his regiment, and his hunting, and his play; but he must succeed—he's so delightfully wicked. Don't you know he has killed a man, and shot an injured father through the hat only? He's adored in his regiment; and all the young men at Wattier's and the Cocoa Tree swear by him.*
When Miss Rebecca Sharp wrote to her beloved friend the account of the little ball at Queen's Crawley, and the manner in which, for the first time, Captain Crawley, had distinguished her, she did not, strange to relate, give an altogether accurate account of the transaction. The Captain had distinguished her a great number of times before. The Captain had met her in a half-score of walks. The Captain had lighted upon her in a half-hundred of corridors and passages. The Captain had hung over her piano twenty times of an evening, as (My Lady was now up stairs, being ill
, and nobody heeded her) she sang. The Captain had written her notes (the best that the great blundering dragoon could devise and spell ; but dulness gets on as well as any other quality with women). But when he put the first of the notes into the leaves of the song she was singing, the little governess, rising and looking him steadily in the face, took up the triangular missive daintily, and waved it about as if it were a cocked hat, and she, advancing to the enemy popped the note into the fire, and made him a very low curtsey, and went back to her place, and began to sing away again more merrily than ever.
"What's that ?” said Miss Crawley, interrupted in her after-dinner doze by the stoppage of the music.
“It's a false note," Miss Sharp said, with a laugh; and Rawdon Crawley fumed with rage and mortification.
Seeing the evident partiality of Miss Crawley for the new governess, how good it was of Mrs. Bute Crawley not to be jealous, and to welcome the young lady to the Rectory, and not only her, but Rawdon Crawley, her husband's rival in the Old Maid's five per cents.! They became very fond of each other's society, Mrs. Crawley and her nephew. He gave up hunting : he declined entertainments at Fuddleston : he would not dine with the mess of the depot at Mudbury: his great pleasure was to stroll over to Crawley parsonage-whither Miss Crawley came too; and as their mamma was ill, why not the children with Miss Sharp ? So the children (little dears !) came with Miss Sharp; and of an evening some of the party would walk back together. Not Miss Crawley—she preferred her carriage—but the walk over the Rectory fields, and in at the little park wicket, and through the dark plantation, and up the checkered avenue to Queen’s Crawley, was charming in the moonlight to two such lovers of the picturesque as the Captain and Miss Rebecca.
* If anybody considers this is an overdrawn picture of a noble and influential class of persons, I refer them to contemporaneous histories—such as Byron's Memoirs, for instance; in which popular illustration of Vanity Fair, you have the morals of Richelieu and the elegance of Dutch Sam.
“O those stars, those stars !” Miss Rebecca would say, turning her twinkling green eyes up towards them. “I feel myself almost a spirit when I gaze upon them.”
“0-ah—Gad—yes, so do I exactly, Miss Sharp," the other enthusiast replied. “You don't mind my cigar, do you, Miss Sharp ?" Miss Sharp loved the smell of a cigar out of doors beyond everything in the world—and she just tasted one too, in the prettiest way possible, and gave a little puff, and a little scream, and a little giggle, and restored the delicacy to the Captain ; who twirled his moustache, and straightway puffed it into a blaze that glowed quite red in the dark plantation, and swore“ Jove—aw-Gad-aw-its the finest segaw I ever smoked in the world aw," for his intellect and conversation were alike brilliant and becoming to a heavy young dragoon.
Old Sir Pitt, who was taking his pipe and beer, and talking to John Horrocks about a “ship " that was to be killed, espied the pair so occupied from his study-window, and with dreadful oaths swore that if it wasn't for Miss Crawley, he'd take Rawdon and bundle un out of doors, like a rogue as he was.
“He be a bad ’n, sure enough,” Mr. Horrocks remarked; " and his man Flethers is wuss, and have made such a row in the housekeeper's room about the dinners and hale, as no lord would make—but I think Miss Sharp 's a match for ’n, Sir Pitt,” he added, after a pause.
And so, in truth, she was—for father and son too.
QUITE A SENTIMENTAL CHAPTER.
E must now take leave of Arcadia, and those amiable people practising the rural virtues there, and travel back to London, to inquire what has become of Miss Amelia.
“We don't care a fig for her," writes some unknown correspondent with a pretty little hand-writing and a pink seal to her note. “ She is fade and insipid,” and adds some more kind remarks in this strain, which I should never have repeated at all, but that they are in truth prodigiously complimentary to the young lady whom they
Has the beloved reader, in his experience of society, never heard similar remarks by good-natured female friends; who always wonder what you can see in Sm that is so fascinating; or what could induce Major
Jones to propose for that silly insignificant simpering Miss Thompson, who has nothing but her wax-doll face to recommend her? What is there in a pair of pink cheeks and blue eyes forsooth P these dear Moralists ask, and hint wisely that the gifts of genius, the accomplishments of the mind, the mastery of Mangnall's questions, and a ladylike knowledge of botany and geology, the gift of making poetry, the power of rattling sonatas in the Herz-manner, and so forth, are far more valuable endowments for a female, than those fugitive charms which a few years will inevitably tarnish. It is quite edifying to hear women speculate upon the worthlessness and the duration of beauty.
But though virtue is a much finer thing, and those hapless creatures who suffer under the misfortune of good looks ought to be continually put in mind of the fate which awaits them; and though, very likely, the heroic female character which ladies admire is a more glorious and beautiful object than the kind, fresh, smiling, artless, tender little domestic goddess, whom men are inclined to worship-yet the latter and inferior sort of women must have this consolation that the men do admire them after all; and that, in spite of all our kind friends' warnings and protests, we go on in onr desperate error and folly, and shall to the end of the chapter. Indeed, for my own part, though I have been repeatedly told by persons for whom I have the greatest respect, that Miss Brown is an insignificant chit, and Mrs. White has nothing but her petit minois chiffonné, and Mrs.
Black has not a word to say for herself ; yet I know that I have had the most delightful conversations with Mrs. Black (of course, my dear Madam, they are inviolable) : I see all the men in a cluster round Mrs. White's chair : all the young fellows battling to dance with Miss Brown: and so I am tempted to think that to be despised by her sex is a very great compliment to a woman.
The young ladies in Amelia's society did this for her very satisfactorily. For instance, there was scarcely any point upon which the Miss Osbornes, George's sisters, and the Mesdemoiselles Dobbin agreed so well as in their estimate of her very trifling merits: and their wonder that their brothers could find any charms in her. “We are kind to her,” the Misses Osborne said, a pair of fine black-browed young ladies who had had the best of governesses, masters, and milliners; and they treated her with such extreme kindness and condescension, and patronised her so insufferably, that the poor little thing was in fact perfectly dumb in their presence, and to all outward appearance as stupid as they thought her. She made efforts to like them, as in duty bound, and as sisters of her future husband. She passed “long mornings ” with them—the most dreary and serious of forenoons. She drove out solemnly in their great family coach with them, and Miss Wirt their governess, that raw-boned Vestal. They took her to the ancient concerts by way of a treat, and to the oratorio, and to St. Paul's to see the charity children, where, in such terror was she of her friends, she almost did not dare be affected by the hymn the children sang. Their house was comfortable ; their papa's table rich and handsome ; their society solemn and genteel; their self-respect prodigious; they had the best pew at the Foundling; all their habits were pompous and orderly, and all their amusements intolerably dull and decorous. After every one of her visits (and O how glad she was when they were over !) Miss Osborne and Miss Maria Osborne, and Miss Wirt, the vestal governess, asked each other with increased wonder, “What could George find in that creature ?"
How is this ? some carping reader exclaims. How is it that Amelia, who had such a number of friends at school, and was so beloved there, comes out into the world and is spurned by her discriminating sex? My dear Sir, there were no men at Miss Pinkerton's establishment except the old dancing-master; and you would not have had the girls fall out about him? When George, their handsome brother, ran off directly after breakfast, and dined from home half-a-dozen times a-week; no wonder the neglected sisters felt a little vexation. When young Bullock (of the firm of Hulker, Bullock and Co., Bankers, Lombard Street) who had been making up to Miss Maria the last two seasons, actually asked Amelia to dance the cotillon, could you expect that the former young lady should be pleased ? And yet she said she was, like an artless forgiving creature. " I'm so delighted you like dear Amelia," she said quite eagerly to Mr. Bullock after the dance. She's engaged to my brother George ; there 's not much in her, but she's the best-natured and most unaffected young creature : at home we're all so fond of her.” Dear girl! who can calculate the depth of affection expressed in that enthusiastic so ?
Miss Wirt and these two affectionate young women so earnestly and frequently impressed upon George Osborne's mind the enormity of the