Page images

once, when Mr. Harrison, in a mood of more than ordinary playfulness, applied a lighted candle to the woolly head of the Orpheus, and then he murmured out,“ Don't, sir-please."

Having bestowed his attention for a little while on the African Paganini, our friend Peregrine began to take cognizance of the young ladies who were dancing to the music of that wonderful artist's violin; and, as may be easily supposed, our hero's survey was productive of the most intense admiration that had entered his bosom for a long time. The gentle sylphs, whom he now gazed upon, were for the most part neither African nor European, but they enjoyed the advantage of concentrating the blood of both continents in one body, which every one who knows any thing about mathematics, must acknowledge to be better than an unmixed descent, precisely in the same way, as a whole is undeniably greater than a part. With black hair, and ditto eyes, and brown-paper-coloured faces, these southern houris tripped through the mazes of the quadrille, and what they wanted of "the light," they amply made up for by the irreproachable excellence of the “fantastic toe” with which they footed it across the room. It would have done any one's heart good, who had been accustomed to look upon the languid motions of our northern beauties, to have seen the energy with which these charming Afrikanders tore through the figures of the quadrille, going right ahead of Joey's music, and threatening every minute to slip out of their shells

--for these nymphs, amongst other fine qualities, were adorned with a total absence from all prudery, and they wore their clothes, which were light, many-coloured, and not particularly clean, in such a manner as to exhibit to the utmost advantage their tawney shoulders, their pink silk stockings, and the substantial enclosures of the same. Nor were the gentlemen with whom they danced, a bit behind them in vehemence of action, for, disdaining the artificial measures of the dancing-master, they harlequinaded with some earnestness—tossing about their legs, snapping their fingers, and every now and then turning their partners not by the tip of the finger, as in our modish ball-rooms, but by the circumference of the young ladies' waists; whilst the young ladies to their great honour, evinced no particular repugnance in being thus handled, but on the contrary, smiled upon their partners with faces full of affection and delight. These gentlemen were the élite of Cape Town; for they were the officers of his majesty's regiments stationed there, and of his majesty's frigate Harlequin, anchored in Simon's Bay, and it is well known that everywhere, except in India, the army and the navy are the pride of our colonies, and in fact it is very proper that they should be so.

When the dance, which was in progress when

Peregrine Pultuney and his two companions entered the room, had been clapped into a conclusion, and Joey having brought himself up short (for without the clapping he would have played on till Doomsday), layed down his fiddle-stick and wiped his face with a blue-and-white pocket handkerchief, Mr. Harrison stepped forward to pay his respects to all the young ladies in the room. This ceremony he went through in the most easy, familiar, and enengaging way possible, saying a few kind words to each in the most patronizing manner he could think of. These favours were received by different ladies after different fashions, but it struck Peregrine that they every one of them seemed to be intimately acquainted with the gallant lieutenant, fully manifesting the popular regard in which the accomplished Mr. Harrison was held by the softer portion of the colonial humanity.

Whilst Peregrine was engaged in contemplating the proceedings of his experienced leader, and wondering how long it would take to get upon such an intimate footing with all the girls, the old lady who had previously addressed Peregrine and asked him to put a little “summut in his little stummuck," came up to him again, with a winning smile on her bland physiognomy, patted him in a motherly sort of way on the cheek, and said, " Why, my dear, arn't you a going to dance?"

“ Yes, old lady," replied Peregrine, who, as we have before said, on various occasions, made a point of accommodating himself to circumstances. “I have no objection in the world, if you'll be good enough to recommend me a partner.”

“ Lauk, my dear, that I will,” rejoined the old lady; " which on them now does you like? Bless your pretty face, if I were a gal I'd love such a gentleman as you."

Peregrine was very glad that she wasn't a girl, as he did not particularly covert the virgin affections of the old harridan; however, as he was in a good humour, he made the lady a bow, and remarked he was not very particular, as it was hard to choose amongst so many beauties.

“ Ain't em now beauties?' said the old lady, " and as good gals as ever you see. That ere gal with the black eyes might have been long agone a 'spectable store-keeper's lady; but she warn't to be done over-not she! She wouldn't leave me at no price—that she wouldn't. Talk of gratitudenow sich a thing as that I call genuine and no mistake.”

Now, as all the young ladies present had black eyes, Peregrine might have found some difficulty in ascertaining which was the special object of the matron's panegyric, if a young and rather pretty girl, apparently not more than sixteen, and dressed somewhat more neatly than her associates, had not made her way up to Peregrine, and asked him in a winning voice why he didn't dance.


The old lady gave Peregrine a nudge, and whispered, “ That's she," whilst the young gentleman put the question.

" Will you dance with me?"
And the young lady answered, “ Yes."

These preliminaries were no sooner settled than the old lady, who was mistress of the establishment, exclaimed suddenly! “ Lor!-bless us and save us ! if it isn't to be a pillow dance."

" A pillow dance !" exclaimed Peregrine, " what's that?”

“Why it's that Mr. Harrison to be sure," returned the old lady, by way of an answer direct, " he's always for having a pillow dance! I never seed such a larker in my life.”

“ But what is it?" again asked Peregrine.

“ I will teach you, my dear," whispered his amiable partner; “ take hold of my hand.”

So Peregrine took hold of the young lady's hand, and another young lady took hold of his other hand, and then in a little time there was a great circle formed out of ladies and gentlemen alternately, each holding the other by the hand, and in the middle a young lady of a sprightly disposition and a modest assurance stood up with a pillow in her hand; and when Joey struck up a lively tune, the ring of ladies and gentlemen danced round the solitary damsel, who after looking round for a little while, as though in a state of mental uncertainty, dropped the pillow gracefully at Mr. Harrison's feet, and flounced down on her knees at the end of it.

« PreviousContinue »