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cause the ball is given on a public occasion, and now voila! the consequences.”
“But," urged Peregrine; “ there is still a fair proportion of élite in costume too. There is Mr. Proteus, you see and Mrs. Jupiter Grand, (how sweetly she looks!) and Mary Anne Dew, and the Miss Bygods—the Pilgrims—the SingletonsMrs. Delafosse "
“And yourself," suggested Splashington.
“ Yes !-I must say, however, that a fancy ball in Calcutta is a very stupid thing, indeed-people are so dull and tame—so spiritless and flat; but I must leave you, for I am engaged to dance with Eliza Dew, and I see her coming this way."
“What have you done with Miss Sweetenham?" asked Miss Dew, when Peregrine joined his partner. " I hear every one asking after her, for she is en. gaged, I know not how many deep, and the gentlemen are all in agonies about her.”
“ Most fair and beautiful damsel," returned Peregrine, “the Lady Augusta hath withdrawn the sunlight of her presence from the variegated parterre of this mimic assembly, and betaken herself behind a cloud—nay, naught so churlish, but has sunk beneath the horizon of her home; wherefore, my knowledge is all impotent to opine—the keen eye of my penetration is too dull to pierce the unfathomable abyss of that mystery. Gone hath she, it irks me
given to fathom the secrets of the heavenly bodies. Phoebus descends into the bosom of old Oceanus, and pale Hesperus rises in the firmament; but the ignorance of the earth-born dullards is left to gaze and gape in unknowing astonishment from our lowly terrene positions. Lady, most fair and beautiful, the most devoted of thy servants cannot give meet answer to thine interrogatories?”
“In other words, brave Sir Piercie, you do not exactly know."
“ Thy dew-dropping voice falls sweetly and refreshingly upon the desert of my thirsty soul, most courtly daughter of a council-ruling sage; and fain by some high and mighty feat of chivalry, would I show my devotion to thee. Thou shalt be my Encouragement and I thine Enterprize."
“Nay,” interrupted the young lady; "I will not be your Encouragement, I assure you. I have seen in you so little that is worthy of encouragement, that I really cannot undertake the office you have so very kindly imposed upon me."
“Thy words fill me with astonishment, most Mi. nerva-like damsel."
“Nay, rather do they fill you with self-consciousness of your own most blameable untruth," returned Miss Dew, with mock severity. “Oh! thou most faithless of knights and lovers, are you not prostrated by the bare allusion to your faithlessness ?"
“Cruel and misjudging lady!" returned Peregrine, “wherein have I been faithless and untrue ?"
“ It is the duty of true knights,” said Miss Dew,
" to break lances and not hearts; to defend damsels not to desert them. I am afraid that Sir Piercie Shafton is but a carpet-knight after all—a breaker of ladies' hearts, and of nothing else less fragile. He loves and he rides away-nothing else, nothing else, Sir Piercie!"
Peregrine felt the full force of this reproof, and for a little while his self confidence was shaken. Speedily, however, did he regain his constitutional calmness of mind, and his habitual calmness of demeanour, and then he instantly changed the subject. He knew the individual tastes and propensities of Miss Dew, and was soon engaged in a conversation on the hollow-heartedness and emptyheadedness of the world in general. This lasted him till the Finale was over, and then a few turns up and down the ball-room were taken, and Peregrine got a new partner.
It was nearly cleven o'clock, the rooms were respectably crowded, and the dancing was at its height—the refreshment-room had been several times resorted to, and ices were in requisition. Young gentlemen, disappointed in procuring partners at the first, were beginning to calculate that the “ fifth" with Miss Bell, and the “sixth" with Miss Thompson were near at hand — costumewearers were getting accustomed to their toggeries, and the atmosphere getting a little hot. Old ladies were beginning to wax sleepy, and wonder how
their daughters and nieces could possibly look so fresh, whilst the young ladies wondered how their mammas and aunts could possibly wax sleepy. The evening's entertainment, in short, was at its height -the good people were just beginning to “enter into the spirit of the thing," and there were actually two or three ghastly attempts on the parts of some gentlemen whom nobody knew, and who were shrewdly suspected of being in their cups, to act up to the characters they had assumed—which characters being Paul Pry, Clown, and Punchinello, were productive of more boisterous mirth than refined amusement in their personation, though it must be acknowledged that Mr. Splashington's horror—the fat Cossitollah minstrel—did his best to supply the latter desideratum, by playing a plaintive serenade on his guitar, and causing a considerable speculation as to the name and nature of the tune, which was intended to regale the assembly. .
At this interesting crisis of the evening's amusement—a quadrille having just been accomplished, and a waltz being in active preparation,-a little event occurred, which, as being connected with the personages of this history, we shall not fail to record, especially as it was one of the leading incidents of the all-important Victoria ball. .
“Who is that? who is that?" asked a young subaltern from Barrackpore, who was standing be
side one of the pillars, and taking a leisurely survey of the scene before him.
“ By Jove," said his companion, " I don't know; but a splendid dress, isn't it, just ?"
“ That it is I haven't seen it before she can only have just come," said the first speaker-" a deuced fine girl, whoever she is.”
“ Splendid," rejoined the other," the handsomest dress in the room-what a beautiful velvet train."
“ I must go and ask who it is positively I must," said the Barrackporean. “Here comes Pultuney, of the artillery. I'll ask him. I say, Pultuney, who is that deuced pretty girl, with the crimson velvet train and the spangled petticoat, and those fine things in her hair?"
“ Can't think,” said Peregrine Pultuney.
“D-d rum dog that Pultuney," said the Barrackporean; “ I'll be hanged if he has not gone up to ask the girl herself what her name is."
“ I say, Splashington, my dear fellow-you know every body-who is that? A deyvelish fine girl, upon my soul—and a most magnificent dress." The speaker was Cornet Drawlincourt.
" Which girl do you mean?" asked Mr. Splashington—" I see so many pretty girls."
“Oh! d-n it, that splendid creature, in the crimson train-with the superb figure and the