Page images
PDF
EPUB

all disturbed by the approach of two or ought to be some means of dividing them a three men employed in putting up an awn- little into classes." ing “Take care of your head,” cried “I am sure so do I,” said Agatha. one of the plainly dressed young strangers, A capital idea, mamma! I wish you addressing Miss Roberts, who profited by would set it going," added Maria. the warning without acknowledging it, and “My dear Edward," said Mrs. Roberts, in a few minutes the awning was arranged, bending forward across the space, which and the party restored to the quiet posses- divided the seat she occupied from that on sion of their seats.

which her son was gracefully lounging along " What a comfort !” exclaimed the same a space that might have accommodated young lady, addressing Miss Roberts, look- three, "I am excessively sorry to disturb ing, as she did so, too full of youth and en-you ; for, happy creature, you really look joyment to be aware of the immense liberty as if you were going to sleep, and upon my she was taking with a young lady so ele- word, under some circumstances, that is gantly dressed as to be much more fit for a the best thing one can do. But I really drive in the park than a voyage on the must trouble you to call Stephen here." Thames. But whatever sensations of hap- The young man obeyed, and the tall piness Miss Roberts might feel, they were footman again made his appearance. not of a nature so completely to overcome

"You must contrive to get us more footall her preconceived notions of what she stools, Stephen," said his mistress, with sufowed to herself, as to induce her to reply ficient distinctness to have been heard in any way to the unauthorized familiarity almost from the helm to the head of the of her neighbour, neither did she turn her vessel. eyes towards her, but looking straightfor

“I don't think I can get any more, ward, exchanged a glance with her mam

ma'am," said the man;

" for I have seen ma, which very eloquently expressed all every one that was laid up in the heap carthe annoyance she experienced at being ex- ried away." posed to a liberty so every way unauthor- The young offender on the opposite ized.

bench immediately withdrew her feet, at This will never do,” said Mrs. Rob- the same time pushing forward the footerts, knitting her brows, and shaking her stool, and making a slight action with her head with a look of mingled alarm and in- head, as she looked at the servant, to indidignation. “Mr. Roberts,” she added, “I cate that he was at liberty to remove it. must really beg you to change places with The man did so, and placed it beneath the my daughters, I can easily make room for feet of Miss Agatha.

“ You must contrive to find another, Stethem both, and,” lowering her voice a very little," it will be quite a different thing if phen," resumed Mrs. Roberts, in her most

decisive tone. “ Miss Maria cannot sit and Edward are attacked.”

without a footstool.” The proposed change was instantly made,

The two young girls who had innocently and the young ladies placed themselves one been the cause of all this trouble, were at each side of their mamma, with the hap- either unconscious that their dresses conpy look of recovered security, which an cealed the wished-for accommodation, or escape from danger naturally inspires. But thought that they had better not intrude the young ladies, in their hurry to escape any further civility upon their elegant fel, from the freedom of manner which had so

low-travellers. greatly annoyed them, had left their foot, not quite at their ease, for the beaming gay

Perhaps they began to feel stools behind, and one of the cotton-robed young ladies, though with a very innocent little overcast, and instead of continuing to

ety of their bright young faces seemed a and unconscious look, almost immediately converse together concerning the fortunate placed a foot upon one of them : Mrs. Rob- tinennss of the weather and the like, they erts seemed greatly agitated.

both seemed occupied in looking about the “I really do wish,” she said with every deck, as if in search of some one they exappearance of being deeply in earnest, "1 pected to see there. Nor did they, as it really do wish that they would make the seemed, look in vain ; for in the next mosteamboats on a different plan. The divi- ment, they both sprung up together and sion between deck and cabin passengers is darted away to meet a gentleman, who from by no means sufficient. Now, that all sorts his age, and the manner in which he smiland kinds of people go abroad, there really ingly received one under each arm, pro

you

claimed himself unmistakably to be their from the observations which fell from them father. The very instant that their removal in reply, that they one and all fully apprerestored the coveted footstool to sight, Mrs. ciated the justness of her reasoning. Roberts extended her own hand to seize “Well, thank God!" she said, after harupon it, exclaiming as she did so, “ How ing listened to them all in turn, “I don't extremely disagreeable it is to meet with believe I have any fools to deal with underbred people!"

amongst you, and that is an immens

comThis sentiment was very cordially echoed fort when there is an important object in by her daughters, upon which Mrs. Rob- view. In fact, I know that we all think erts took occasion to observe that in the and feel pretty much alike as to the mannew mode of life which was now opening ner in which we should choose to go on, before them, they would find it highly ne- but as to the means, I know perfectly well cessary to assume and sustain a tone of that you must trust to me—and I am happy manners differing very essentially from what to say that you may do this safely, for dewas either necessary or desirable at home. pend upon it, I shall forget nothing. That

"And the reason for this,” she contin- letter now, for instance, to the embassyued, “ is very obvious; while people re- who but I would ever have thought of makmain in their own country, every body ing use of our good apothecary in such a about them knows who and what they are, business? But I will bet you what you and there is neither good nor harm to be please that we shall find Lady Carlton's letgot by letting all that sort of thing take its ier quite as effectual as if she had written course : but it is plain to see that when it to please the first duke in the land? travelling abroad, a very different line of Don't I know that an apothecary, as clever conduct becomes necessary. It is most as Tomlinson is with children, may get probable, you know, that every body we what he likes from the parents, if he does meet will be strangers to us, and I should but know how to ask for it ?" like to know how they are to find out that “ It was a capital good thought of yours, we are something above the common herd, my dear," said Mr. Roberts; “I am sure unless we take care to make them feel it it would never have come into my head, if and know it by a little dignity and high I had studied where to get an introduction, spirit in our manner of going on? This for a hundred years." must of course be equally necessary to- "Certainly, mamma understands all that wards foreigners and English, and I beg to sort of thing better than any one I ever observe to you all, that it must never be heard of,” said Agatha. lost sight of. I am quite certain that we “I do not think we shall run much risk are now in a situation to choose our own in trusting to her," observed Maria. position in society, and this, it is very cer- “Upon my soul, you are first rate, tain, that we never were before. Every ma'am," added Mr. Edward, as he recone body, you know, says that one pound on noitered through a glass the different the continent will go as far as five in Eng- groups that occupied the deck; “but do land, and we therefore have quite enough you think, ma’am, there wonld be any into place us in the very highest society, if decorum in our moving about a little? I we take care to conduct ourselves properly. think we look rather musty-fusty sitting Nor is this, I beg to observe, the only here altogether, as if we were afraid of all reason why it is necessary to behave, so as the people." to give ourselves consequence in the eyes

« Afraid of them in one sense, my

dear of those around us. Though a great many Edward, it is very necessary we should be, people of fashion come abroad, it is only as you must have perceived yourself since too certain that a great many others come we came on board; but that is no reason also, and just think what a business we why we should not walk about, if we like it. should make of it, if, instead of keeping We can take care of ourselves, you know, amongst the very highest set, as I hope and whether we move, or remain stationary. I intend, we should any of us run up an inti- have no wish to make any of you timid, macy with a parcel of people actually infe- quite the contrary. If you will give me rior, perhaps, to any that we should choose your arm, Mr. Roberts, I will take a turn to speak to at home !"

or two upon the deck; but you must call The whole party, father, daughters, and Stephen here first, Edward, that he may son, listened to this harangue with the most take charge of the foot-stools till we sit earnest attention, and it was very evident down again.”

[ocr errors]

As there was nobody else on board who something in the appearance of the two appeared to be attended by a tall footman gentlemen who were now the companions in a blazing livery, the young man felt that of their obnoxious fellow-passengers which his appearance among them, gave a consid- led her to doubt whether, notwithstanding erable degree of distinction to the party, their “horribly common gowns,” they and this consideration was fully sufficient might not be very different sort of people to reconcile him to this third mission in from what she had first supposed. pursuit of Stephen, and once again the “Mamma-mamma,” she whispered, at long-backed serving-man bent very literally the same time restraining her mother's steps to the ladies' foot-stools, and having duti- by a little gentle violence. “Don't go on fully withdrawn them, desired to know if in that way till you know what sort of peohe was to follow them to the place they ple they are. Just look at the gentlemen were next going to occupy. Mrs. Roberts who are with them.” raised her eyes to the man as he asked the Mrs. Roberts did look at the gentlemen, question, and he looked at once so very and her state of mind underwent an immestately and so very obsequious, with the diate change. She returned the pressure three footstools in his hands, that for a mo- of the arm which had seized upon hers, in ment she was strongly tempted to answer token that she comprehended what the in the affirmative; but recollecting that pressure meant, and returned the whisper the purpose of their moving was to prome- by saying in the same tone, or one lower nade the deck, and not merely to change still, their places, it occurred to her that the be- “Never mind—I will set it all right ing so followed might look odd, and she again. The girls seemed vastly inclined to therefore contented herself by pointing out be sociable.” a conspicuous place just below the quarter- And then taking a step back, she pointed deck, where he might deposit them, charg- out some object on the bank of the river to ing him at the same time to keep a strict Maria and her brother, and having led watch over them, and not to permit their them to the side of the vessel, said, being removed by any one.

'I suspect we were wrong about those The party then set off, the father and shabby-looking girls—look at the men they mother in front, and the son and daughters have got with them. Follow me, and befollowing ; but although thus divided, they have just as I do, that's all.” contrived to converse together, exchanging She then pursued her way to the seat many keen and clever observations upon they had previously occupied, and having their fellow-passengers, the nature of which reached it, seemed suddenly to perceive for might be guessed at, perhaps, by the fre- the first time that it was fully occupied. quent laughter of the party, although all The youngest of the two girls now seated they said to each other was very decorously there looked a little frightened, and exchanguttered to each other in whispers. Having ing a glance with her sister, made a movethus amused themselves for about half-an- ment as if she was about to rise. hour, the ladies declared their wish of sit- “Not for the world, my dear young lady,” ting down again, but as they approached exclaimed Mrs. Roberts, with a courteous the places they had before occupied, they smile. “But I am afraid you will not find perceived, to their extreme surprise and in- that high seat comfortable without footdignation, that they were occupied by the stools." very identical cotton-dresses which had

And stepping briskly back towards the already proved so particularly distasteful. place where her servant was still keeping Mrs. Roberts never felt annoyed without guard over the monopolized treasures, she blaming somebody, and now, of course, she made a sign to him to advance, and then felt exceedingly angry with those very pre- with her own hands placed two of the stools sumptuous young people; she knew, how he brought beneath the feet of the two ever, perfectly well (for a river steamboat young girls. This was done with a smile was no new scene to her) that she had no of such gay good humour that it was imposright, though she was Mrs. Roberts, to re- sible not to receive it graciously, and conclaim the seat, and she therefore contented sidering the texture of their dresses, the herself by preparing to brush past it, with two young ladies acquitted themselves very the words, “ bore," " public conveyances,"well, the eldest assisting in the operation, and “vulgar people," on her lips. But with the exclamation, "Indeed, ma'am, you the sharp eyes of Miss Maria descried are too kind !” and the youngest repaying her with the same bright smile, the famili- men they met; but this they had not learned, arity of which had given such great offence and the consequence was now, as it had when expressing her approbation of the often been before, and as it was likely often awning. But the reward which Mrs. Ro- to be again, that the young man who had berts anticipated and received was from speedily entered into conversation with the gentlemen of the party, who both im- them, as speedily got tired, and after listmediately rose, and offered their places to ening with smiling attention first to one, the civil lady and her daughters. Mrs. and then to the other, as they laboured to Roberts immediately sat down, nodding to set themselves off in a variety of ways, he her children, and waving them off to the at length got up, and proposed to his father opposite bench, saying with much earnest- that they should walk to the head of the ness to the elder of the two gentlemen, who ship to look out for—what they were to was, as she divined, the father of the look out for his father did not wait to hear younger, as well as of the cotton-gowns, -for he, too, had been almost overwhelmed Pray, do not let us disturb you, sir." by the obliging efforts of Mrs. Roberts to

The two Miss Robertses were really enchant him; and telling his daughters that pretty looking girls, and the young man, he would come back to them soon, he took whose place their mother had taken, his son's arm, and walked off. seemed perfectly willing to content him- It boots not to relate all the strenuous efself with the accommodation offered by the forts made by Mrs Roberts to obliterate from seat against the side of the vessel, on which the memory of the two young ladies who they and their brother had placed them were left seated beside her, all recollection selves—Mr. Roberts having wandered of her former demeanour towards them. away in search of the gentlemen's cabin, Suffice it to say, that, like some generals, and a newspaper.

more able than successful, she piqued herIt is always to be lamented when pretty- self as much upon the skill with which she looking girls give themselves airs, and grow could perform a backward movement disagreeable, only because they know them- whenever she happened to get into a scrape, selves to be charming. However trivial as upon the spirited boldness with which and evanescent may be the gift of beauty her manœuvres in advance were ever made. to a deeply philosophic eye, it would be in the present case, however, she produced folly to deny that it is one of the good considerably less impression in both movegifts of heaven, and when the possessor does ments, than she would have been easily not call upon it to do the work of all other persuaded to believe possible; but, in fact, good qualities, moral and intellectual, it is the two young people who had unintentioncalculated, in ninety-nine instances out of ally attracted so much of her attention, a hundred, to concilitate good will from were too giddily delighted, and too youththose who look upon it, whatever their age, fully light-hearted, to know, or to care very sex, or condition. But in order to have its much what these bustling strangers thought full effect, or anything like its full effect, about them. Had they been obliged to it must be borne meekly, and the rea- pronouce an opinion concerning them, it son why the coquetry of women of high- would probably have been worded in the breeding is more effective in all coun- phrase, “ odd sort of people.” But in truth tries than that of beauties less accomplished, they were forgotten even before they were doubtless may be found in the fact that the lost sight of; for the terrible moment being last and highest polish conceals, if it does arrived at which the peaceable river not absolutely destroy, pretension. A per- changed into the cruel sea, all hopes, fears, fectly high-bred and well-educated woman joys, sorrows, plots, and counterplots were charms by being elegant, not by exerting alike forgotten by every female on board, all her faculties to appear so; and in like and by the time the vessel reached Boumanner a beautiful coquette of the same logne, the first and only thought of each class is irresistible, because she endangers was, how to get out of her as quickly as posnot the grace which is born of ease by sible. To persons who, likethe Roberts famstruggling to appear something that she is ily, have just felt the mysterious malady of not. If Agatha and Maria Roberts could the sea for the first time, there is something have learned to " let themselves alone,” they equally astonishing and delightful in the might have appeared in every drawing- sudden relief from their misery, which folroom in Europe with almost a certainty of lows the very first contact of their feet with being more admired than one-half the wo-terra firma, and they all felt it in a degree

that made their first continental sensations tercourse with the natives, but these were very delightful indeed. Their walk along trifles by no means of sufficient importance the pier seemed to them all the most agree to daunt such a spirit as that of Mrs. Roable promenade they had ever enjoyed, and berts. During the domestic practising even the clamorous applications for their which had gone on for several weeks precompany with which they were greeted on vious to their setting off, both her daughters, the quay by the envoys of all the hotels in fresh from the grammatical discipline of a the town, produced more pleasure than an- French teacher, had endeavoured to imnoyance.

press upon her the necessity of paying a “I have always heard that the French little more attention both to verbs and genpeople were the most intelligent in the ders, but her answer was characteristic world,” observed Mrs. Roberts; “ and how and decisive. "My dear children, it is remarkable a proof of it is their having perfectly right and proper that you should picked us out in this manner among such study the grammar; it is a study properly a motley crowd. Look here! I have had befitting your years. All young people six cards from as many different hotels put learn grammar; but scholars of my age into my hand already."

must take a more enlarged and general And how in the world are we to choose view of the language. You know how among them, my dear ?" inquired Mr. Ro steadily I have applied to reading dialogues berts. “I really should like to find iny- and vocabularies, not to mention that I self in a comfortable hotel with as little have transcribed whole columns from the delay as possible. Have you made up your dictionary, and I declare to you, girls, that I mind as to which card you like best?” am often astonished at my own quickness

Trust to me, Mr. Roberts,” replied in learning. I assure you that of late I his wife, with her usual air of knowing hardly ever go into a shop without making perfectly well what she was about. “I cer- use of French words without intending it. tainly shall not be decided in my choice by When I bought my last new bonnet I asked the appearance of the cards. But we will the woman, quite without thinking of it, to follow that well-looking young man, if you show me some' bonnets de paille." please, in the green coat and silver buttons. “But bonnet means cap, mamma, in I perceive he speaks English perfectly. French,” had been Miss Agatha’s reply. Oui, monsieur, vous, oui, vous,” she con- and, nonsense, child,” her resolut tinued, speaking very loud to assist the in- mother's rejoinder. " When the niceties on telligence of the green-coated commission- grammar are required,” she added, “all aire. “I don't mind about the English the rules I mean, and the exceptions, and myself, but it will be pleasant for you and the rest of it, as in writing notes, for inEdward,” she added, and then again ad- stance, of course I shall employ you and dressing the man whom she had selected, your sister, but in the matter of talking I she said, It is votre hôtel you know that don't expect to want your assistance at all. we are going to--and votre maitre, I sup- When there is anything to be said, I pose, can tell us tout about our luggage always feel as if I were inspired; words, and the do-do-What in the world is the thank God! never fail me, and I do believe name of a French custom-house, Agatha ?" I could soon talk in almost any language

Douane, mamma,” answered the young in the world except Greek and Latin." lady, whose recent French studies had Such were the opinions and feelings of gone considerably farther than her own; Mrs. Roberts on the subject of colloquial although Mrs. Roberts herself had not set intercourse, and though uttered before this out upon this important expedition without sketch of her adventures commences, it is having very sedulously applied herself to as well to refer to it, in order to develop the same study. “German and Italian,” the system upon which she intended to proshe had said, " I intend to learn when I get ceed. B21 to return to the crowded spot into the respective countries, but it is ab- on which we left her haranguing at Bousolutely necessary to have a stock of French logne. Long before she could repeat the to set off with."

word douane after her daughter, the acHer stock of French however, did not complished commissiona're from the Hôtel perhaps comprise all the words in the lan- d'Angleterre had assured her, in very exguage, and it was also possible that both cellent English, that if she would be pleased genders and tenses might produce some to proceed to the hotel they should i have slight embarrassment in her colloquial in their night bags in ten minutes, and the

66

« PreviousContinue »