Page images

wreathing the pillars with evergreens and tricking out the ends of the room with real leaves and sham flowers, in an ambitious attempt to emulate the arbours in a suburban tea-garden? Who shall tell of the ingenuity which devised, and the labour, which executed, the gigantic V. R. at the bottom of the room? (for the bachelors of Calcutta, with a nice perception of loyalty and gallantry, had given the ball in honour of the accession of Queen Victoria to the throne) and what pen can do justice to the tout-ensemble of pillars and chandeliers and evergreens and red ribbands, which struck the eye of the beholder, as he entered the room, reminding him, at the same moment, of Jacks-in-thegreen and other appendages of chimney-sweepers' day, to say nothing of chemists' shops, Vauxhall, and small concerns of that kind.

But the people-men, women and children (of a larger growth) what are we to say to them? Such a motley assemblage rarely was seen-Gentlemen unpicturesque, very, in black coats and ditto unmentionables, were herding with officers in uniform, Swiss peasants, and Arab horse merchants Sir Giles Overreach was talking to Dr. Pangloss about the last race meeting, whilst Oliver Cromwell was carrying on a desperate flirtation with a very pretty Henrietta Maria, and the Earl of Leices. ter, having deserted Queen Elizabeth of England, was promenading with Mary Queen of Scots. The Duke of Buckingham happened to be in his right place, arm in arm with Anne of Austria, but somehow or other Sir John Falstaff had hooked himself on to Harry Hotspur, and Robinson Crusoe wa precisely where he ought to have been, in the centre of a huge crowd. There was a Red-cross Knight, between a Jew and a Saracen—a Knight of Malta walking with his wife and a Virgin of the sun, who manifested most unequivocal symp toms of a speedy increase to her family. Besides these, there was the usual compliment of Greek dresses, two or three Amy Robsarts, as many Anne Pages, a great variety of Highlanders (all suffering very much from mosquitoe bites about their crural extremities) and a very pretty assemblage of Highland, Polish, Tyrolese, and Georgian damsels, all looking very smart and fascinating, and committing much cruel havoc amongst young gentlemen in the civil service, not out of College, and subaltern officers from Barrackpore.

Sitting on a couch, before one of the garlanded pillars, at the opposite side of the room from the entrance-door, sat an elderly lady, in a black velvet dress and unexceptionable pearl ornaments, whilst at her side an exceedingly pretty girl, remarkably plainly dressed, but nevertheless, without a single exception the most striking personage in the room, was sitting, with a little bunch of flowers in her hand, every now and then glancing towards the door and occasionally saying something to her companion. As we have already said that we take

no delight in mystification, we may as well mention what our readers will have already surmised, that the two ladies were none others than Mrs. and Miss Sweetenham, and perhaps it would be better to state at the same time, that the latter was looking towards the door in expectation of the arrival of Peregrine Pultuney, who was engaged to dance the first dance with the beautiful Augusta, at her own particular request.

Dancing had not yet commenced, but the preliminary scrapings of the band were just setting the people's teeth on edge, when a very tall and a very good-looking young gentleman, with very white teeth, very black moustaches, and a dress made to match the latter, tripped up to Miss Sweetenham and asked her if she were engaged for the first set. .

"I am sorry to say, Mr. Drawlincourt, that I am."

“ No, you don't say so," returned that gentleman; “ you don't really mean that you are engaged -you see that they are beginning to stand up, and nobody is coming to claim you."

"My partner, I am afraid, has not yet arrived," said Miss Sweetenham, somewhat abruptly.

“ Then I am sure you need not wait for him," continued Mr. Drawlincourt, “it is his fault if he loses the pleasure—the honour, which you intended to bestow upon him. It will serve him right, it will re-al-ly, if he is too late—that it will, Miss Sweetenham-and indeed you ought to dance with me, for I have been in that dreadful Mofusal so long—six or seven months at the least, and this is my first appearance in Calcutta.”

“It seems a very little time since you went away,” said Augusta Sweetenham.

“Oh! no—an age—an age-upon my honour, an age-quite an age since I have had the pleasure of dancing with you, Miss Sweetenham. You see they are standing up-I'm sure your partner 1971 not come.”

“ I'm sure he will though,” said Miss Sweetenham; and then thinking she had spoken a little peevishly, she added in a kinder voice, “may ! ask what is your costume?"

"Oh! certainly-certainly—the Lord Hamletdo you not think it quite complete?”

“Quite,” said Miss Sweetenham, " quite-but I'm sure Hamlet was not given to dancing-you ought to be sauntering about the room, with a book in your hand - now reading—now pondering

words-words-words'-not given to dancing, am sure."

“Oh! he was once given to dancing and a that, I dare say,” rejoined Mr. Drawlincourt; “be was, you remember, the glass of fashion and the mould of form' and all that I am not Hamlet, the sloven and the lunatic, you know, but Hamlet the glass of fashion."

" And the mould of form," said Miss Sweetenham sarcastically.

“Yes, yeme-s, of course," returned Mr. Drawlincourt—" but pray do stand up with me there are Pemberton and Miss Singleton wanting a vis-àvisso, pray do stand up with me.”

“ I really cannot,” said Augusta decisively.

“ Oh! cruel—but may I ask who is the fortunate man you are waiting for? I'm sure he does not deserve so much consideration—not half of it, upon my honour?"

“ I am waiting for Mr. Pultuney,” said Augusta.

“ Pultuney !” exclaimed the cornet, " the devy- !-I thought he had gone to MadrasPultuney of the artillery-eh?"

“ Yes”-said Augusta—" Mr. Pultuney of the artillery.”

“ The devy- I beg your pardon—and so you are really going to sit out for this set-well it is very cruel-very cruel indeed ;" and the long cornet tripped away muttering between his teeth, “ that hound, Pultuney, d-n him, he is always thwarting me some way or other.”

The curse was still lingering on the cornet's lips, when a young gentleman, most admirably attired in the costume of an exquisite of Queen Elizabeth's time, walked mincingly into the room. Nothing could possibly have been better than his dress, which mainly consisted of a slashed doublet and trunkhose of sky blue and white satin, a crimson velvet mantle and a cap, with feathers, of the same materials, a dainty rapier and a spangled cross-belt.

« PreviousContinue »