THE VISITS OF ELIZABETH
By ELINOR GLYN
TWENTY SECOND EDITION.
NAZEBY HALL 300 EATON PLACE HEAVILAND MANOR HAZELDENE COURT CHATEAU DE CROIXMARE YACHT "SAUTERELLE" CAUDEBEC HOTEL FRASCATI, HAVRE CHATEAU DE CROIXMARE CHAMPS ELYSEES CHATEAU DE CROIXMARE RETBY CARRISTON TOWERS CHEVENIX CASTLE FOLJAMBE PLACE
It was perhaps a fortunate thing for Elizabeth that her ancestors went back to the Conquest, and that she numbered at least two Countesses and a Duchess among her relatives. Her father had died some years ago, and, her mother being an invalid, she had lived a good deal abroad. But, at about seventeen, Elizabeth began to pay visits among her kinsfolk. It was after arriving at Nazeby Hall, for a Cricket Week, that she first wrote home.
Nazeby Hall, 26th July.
Dearest Mamma,—I got here all right, without even a smut on my face, for Agnes tidied me up in the brougham before we arrived at the gate. The dust in the train was horrid. It is a nice house. They were at tea when I was ushered in; it was in the hall—I suppose it was because it was so windy outside. There seemed to be a lot of people there; and they all stopped talking suddenly, and stared at me as if I were a new thing in the Zoo, and then, after a minute, went on with their conversations at the point they had left off.
[Sidenote: Afternoon Tea]
Lady Cecilia pecked my cheek, and gave me two fingers; and asked me, in a voice right up at the top, how were you. I said you were better, and—you know what you told me to say. She murmured something while she was listening to what a woman with a sweet frock and green eyes was saying at the other end of the table. There was heaps of tea. She waved vaguely for me to sit down, which I did; but there was a footstool near, and it was half dark, so I fell over that, but not very badly, and got safely to my seat.
Lady Cecilia—continuing her conversation across the room all the time—poured out a cup of tea, with lumps and lumps of sugar in it, and lots of cream, just what you would give to a child for a treat! and she handed it to me, but I said, "Oh! please, Lady Cecilia, I don't take sugar!" She has such bulgy eyes, and she opened them wide at me, perfectly astonished, and said, "Oh! then please ring the bell; I don't believe there is another clean cup." Everybody stopped talking again, and looked at me, and the green-eyed lady giggled—and I rang the bell, and this time didn't fall over anything, and so presently I got some tea. Just as I was enjoying such a nice cake, and watching all the people, quite a decent man came up and sat down behind me. Lady Cecilia had not introduced me to anybody, and he said, "Have you come a long way?" And I said, "Yes." And he said, "It must have been dusty in the train," and I said it was—and he was beginning to say something more, when the woman with the green eyes said, "Harry, do hand me the cucumber sandwiches," and so he had to get up, and just then Sir Trevor came in, and he was glad to see me. He is a jolly soul, and he said I was eight when he last saw me, and seemed quite surprised I had grown any taller since! Just as though people could stay at eight! Then he patted my cheek, and said, "You're a beauty, Elizabeth," and Lady Cecilia's eyes bulged at him a good deal, and she said to me, "Wouldn't you like to see your room?" and I said I wasn't a bit in a hurry, but she took me off, and here I am; and I am going to wear my pink silk for dinner, and will finish this by-and-by.
12.30.—Well, I have had dinner, and I found out a good many of their names—they mostly arrived yesterday. The woman with the green eyes is Mrs. de Yorburgh-Smith. I am sure she is a pig. The quite decent man, "Harry," is a Marquis—the Marquis of Valmond—because he took Lady Cecilia in to dinner. He is playing in the Nazeby Eleven.
There is a woman I like, with stick-out teeth; her name is Mrs. Vavaseur. She knows you, and she is awfully nice, though so plain, and she never looks either over your head, or all up and down, or talks to you when she is thinking of something else. There are heaps more women, and the eleven men, so we are a party of about twenty-five; but you will see their names in the paper.
Such a bore took me in! He began about the dust again, but I could not stand that, so I said that every one had already asked me about it. So he said "Oh!" and went on with his soup.
[Sidenote: The Cricket Talk]
At the other side was another of the Eleven, and he said, Did I like cricket? And I said, No, I hated always having to field (which was what I did, you know, when I played with the Byrne boys at Biarritz); and I asked him if he was a good player, and he said "No," so I said I supposed he always had to field too, then; and he said, No, that sometimes they allowed him a bat, and so I said I was sure that wasn't the same game I played; and he laughed as if I had said something funny—his name is Lord George Lane—and the other one laughed too, and they both looked idiots, and so I did not say any more about that. But we talked on all the time, and every one else seemed to be having such fun, and they all call each other by pet names, and shorten up all their adjectives (it is adjectives I mean, not adverbs). I am sure you made a mistake in what you told me, that all well-bred people behave nicely at dinner, and sit up, because they don't a bit; lots of them put their elbows on the table, and nearly all sat anyhow in their chairs. Only Lady Cecilia and Mrs. Vavaseur behaved like you; but then they are both quite old—over forty.
They all talk about things that no stranger could understand, but I dare say I shall pick it up presently. And after dinner, in the drawing-room, Lady Cecilia did introduce me to two girls—the Roose girls—you know. Well, Lady Jane is the best of the two; Lady Violet is a lump. They both poke their heads, and Jane turns in her toes. They have rather the look in their eyes of people with tight boots. Violet said, "Do you bicycle?" and I said, "Yes, sometimes;" and she said, with a big gasp: "Jane and I adore it. We have been ten miles since tea with Captain Winchester and Mr. Wertz."
[Sidenote: An African Millionaire]
I did not think that interesting, but still we talked. They asked me stacks of questions, but did not wait for the answers much. Mr. Wertz is the African millionaire. He does not play cricket, and, when the men came in afterwards, he crossed over to us, and Jane introduced him to me when he had talked a little. He is quite a sort of gentleman, and is very much at home with every one. He laughed at everything I said. Mrs. Smith (such bosh putting "de Yorburgh" on!) sat on a big sofa with Lord Valmond, and she opened and shut her eyes at him, and Jane Roose says she takes every one's friend away; and Lord George Lane came up, and we talked, and he wasn't such an idiot as at dinner, and he has nice teeth. All the rest, except the Rooses and me, are married—the women, I mean—except Miss La Touche, but she is just the same, because she sits with the married lot, and they all chat together, and Violet Roose says she is a cat, but I think she looks nice; she is so pretty, and her hair is done at the right angle, because it is like Agnes does mine, and she has nice scent on; and I hope it won't rain to-morrow, and good-night, dear Mamma.—Your affectionate daughter, Elizabeth.
P.S.—Jane Roose says Miss La Touche will never get married; she is too smart, and all the married women's men talk to her, and that the best tone is to look rather dowdy; but I don't believe it, and I would rather be like Miss La Touche. E.
Elizabeth received an immediate reply to her letter, and the next one began:
Nazeby Hall, 28th July.
Dearest Mamma,—I am sorry you find I use bad grammar and write incoherently, and you don't quite approve of my style; but you see it is just because I am in a hurry. I don't speak it; but if I must stop to think of grammar and that, I should never get on to tell you what I am doing here, so do, dear Mamma, try and bear it bravely. Well, everybody came down to breakfast yesterday in a hat, and every one was late—that is, every one who came down at all, the rest had theirs upstairs.
[Sidenote: The Cricket Match]
The cricket began, and it was really a bore. We sat in a tent, and all the nice men were fielding (it is always like that), and the married lot sat together, and talked about their clothes, and Lady Doraine read a book. She is pretty too, but has big ears. Her husband is somewhere else, but she does not seem to miss him; and the Rooses told me her hair used to be black, and that they have not a penny in the world, so I think she must be clever and nice to be able to manage her clothes so well. They are perfectly lovely, and I heard her say her maid makes them.
Miss La Touche happened to be next me, so she spoke to me, and said my hat was "too devey for words" (the blue one you got at Caroline's); and by-and-by we had lunch, and at lunch Lord Valmond came and sat by me, and so Mrs. Smith did too, and she gushed at me. He seemed rather put out about something—I suppose it was having to field all the time.—and she talked to him across me, and she called him "Harry" lots of times, and she always says things that have another meaning. But they all do that—repeat each other's Christian names in a sentence, I mean—just like you said that middle-class people did when you were young, so I am sure everything must have changed now.
Well, after lunch, all the people in the county seemed to come; some of them had driven endless miles, and we sat apart, I suppose to let them see how ordinary we thought them; and Lady Cecilia was hardly polite, and the others were more or less rude; but presently something happened—I don't know what—and the nice men had not to field any more. Perhaps they could not stand it any longer, and so every one who had been yawning woke up, and Mr. Wertz, who had been writing letters all this time, appeared, and Lady Doraine made room for him beside her, and they talked; and when our Eleven had drunk something they came and lay on the grass near us, and we had such a nice time. There is a beautiful man here, and his name is Sir Dennis Desmond, and his grandfather was an Irish King, and he talks to me all the time, and his mother looks at him and frowns; and I think it silly of her, don't you? And if I were a man I wouldn't visit with my mother if she frowned at me. Do you know her? She dresses as if she were as young as I am. She had a blue muslin on this morning, and her hair is red with green stripes in it, and she is all white with thick pink cheeks, and across the room she doesn't look at all bad; but close! Goodness gracious she looks a hundred! And I would much sooner have nice white hair and a cap than look like that, wouldn't you? I'll finish this when I come to bed.
[Sidenote: Sir Dennis Desmond]
12.30.—What do you think has happened? Sir Dennis sat beside me on the sofa just as he did last night—but I forget, I have not yet told you of yesterday and last night; but never mind now, I must get on. Well, he said I was a perfect darling, but that he never could get a chance to say a word to me alone, but that if I would only drop my glove outside my door it would be all right; and I thought that such a ridiculous thing to say, that I couldn't help laughing, and Lady Cecilia happened to be passing, and so she asked me what I was laughing at, and so I told her what he had said, and asked why? There happened to be a pause just then and, as one has to speak rather loud to Lady Cecilia to attract her attention, every one heard, and they all looked flabergasted; and then all shrieked with laughter, and Sir Dennis said so crossly, "Little fool!" and Lady Desmond simply glared at me, and Lady Cecilia said, "Really, Elizabeth!" and Sir Dennis got purple in the face, and Jane Roose whispered, "How could you dare with his wife listening!" and every one talked and chaffed. It was too stupid about nothing; but the astonishing part is, that funny old thing I thought was the mother turns out to be his wife!
Imagine! years and years older than him! Jane Roose said he had to marry her because her husband died; but I think that the most absurd reason I ever heard, don't you? Lots of people's husbands die, and they don't have to get married off again at once—so why should that ugly old thing, specially when there are such heaps of nice girls about?
[Sidenote: A Man of Honour]
Jane Roose said it was so honourable of him, but I call it crazy—unless, perhaps, he was a great friend of the husband's, who made him promise when he was dying, and he did not like to break his word. How he must have hated it! I wonder if he had ever met her before, or if the husband made him take her, a pig in a poke. I expect that was it, because he never could have done it if he had ever seen her.
I can't think why he is so cross with me, but I am sorry, as he is such a nice man. Now I am sleepy, and it is frightfully late, so I suppose I had better get into bed. Agnes came up, and has been fussing about for the last hour. Best love from your affectionate daughter,
Nazeby Hall, 30th July.
Dearest Mamma,—Yesterday was the best day we have had yet; the nice men had not to field at all, and the stupid cricket was over at four o'clock, and so we went into the gardens and lay in hammocks, and Miss La Touche had such nice shoes on, but her ankles are thick.
[Sidenote: Ghosts in the Corridor]
The Rooses told me it wasn't "quite nice" for girls to loll in hammocks (and they sat on chairs)—that you could only do it when you are married; but I believe it is because they don't have pretty enough petticoats. Anyway, Lady Doraine and that horrid Smith creature made a place for me in the empty hammock between them, and, as I knew my "frillies" were all right, I hammocked too, and it was lovely. Lord Valmond and Mr. Wertz were lying near, and they said agreeable things, at least I suppose so, because both of them—Lady Doraine and Mrs. Smith—looked purry-purry-puss-puss. They asked me why I was so sleepy, and I said because I had not slept well the last night—that I was sure the house was haunted. And so they all screamed at me, "Why?" and so I told them, what was really true, that in the night I heard a noise of stealthy footsteps, and as I was not frightened I determined to see what it was, so I got up—Agnes sleeps in the dressing-room, but, of course, she never wakes—I opened the door and peeped out into the corridor. There are only two rooms beyond mine towards the end, round the corner, and it is dimly lit all night. Well, I distinctly saw a very tall grey figure disappear round the bend of the hall! When I got thus far every one dropped their books and listened with rapt attention, and I could see them exchanging looks, so I am sure they know it is haunted, and were trying to keep it from me. I asked Mrs. Smith if she had seen or heard anything, because she sleeps in one of the rooms. She looked perfectly green, but she said she had not heard a sound, and had slept like a top, and that I must have dreamt it.
Then Lady Doraine and every one talked at once, and Lord Valmond asked did any one know if the London evening papers had come. But I was not going to be put off like that, so I just said, "I know you all know it is haunted and are putting me off because you think I'll be frightened; but I assure you I am not, and if I hear the noise again I am going to rush out and see the ghost close."
Then every one looked simply ahuri. So I mean to get the ghost story out of Sir Trevor to-night after dinner—I had not a chance yesterday—as I am sure it is interesting. Mrs. Smith looked at me as if she wanted to poison me, and I can't think why specially, can you?
Twelve p.m.—I asked Sir Trevor if the house is haunted, and he said, "God bless my soul, no!" and so I told him, and he nearly had a fit; so I know it is, but I am not a bit frightened.—Your affectionate daughter, Elizabeth.
Nazeby Hall, Sunday.
Dearest Mamma,—Agnes and I go to Aunt Mary's by the 10:30 train to-morrow, and I am not a bit sorry, although I have enjoyed myself, and now I begin to feel quite at home with every one—at least, some of them; but such a tiresome thing happened last night. It was like this: After dinner it was so hot that we all went out on the terrace, and, as soon as we got there, Mrs. Smith and Lady Doraine and the rest said it was too cold, and went in again; but the moon was pretty, so I stayed alone, and presently Lord Valmond came out, and stood beside me. There is such a nice view, you remember, from there, and I didn't a bit want to talk.
[Sidenote: A Kiss and a Blow]
He said something, but I wasn't listening, when suddenly I did hear him say this: "You adorable enfant terrible, come out and watch for ghosts to-night; and I will come and play the ghost, and console you if you are frightened!" And he put his horrid arm right round my waist, and kissed me—somewhere about my right ear—before I could realise what he was at!
I was in a rage, as you can fancy, Mamma, so I just turned round and gave him the hardest slap I could, right on the cheek! He was furious, and called me a "little devil," and we both walked straight into the drawing-room.
I suppose I looked savage, and in the light I could see he had great red finger marks on his face. Anyway, Mrs. Smith, who was sitting on the big sofa near the window alone, looked up, and said in an odious voice, that made every one listen, "I am afraid, Harry, you have not enjoyed cooing in the moonlight; it looks as if our sweet Elizabeth had been difficult, and had boxed your ears!"
That made me wild, the impudence! That parvenue calling me by my Christian name! So I just lost my temper right out, and said to her, "It is perfectly true what you say, and I will box yours if you call me 'Elizabeth' again!"
Tableau! She almost fainted with astonishment and fury, and when she could get her voice decent enough to speak, she laughed and said—
"What a charming savage! How ingenuous!"
[Sidenote: Lord Valmond in Disgrace]
And then Lady Cecilia did a really nice thing, which shows that she is a brick, in spite of having bulgy eyes, and being absent and tiresome. She came up to me as if nothing had happened, and said, "Come, Elizabeth, they are waiting for you to begin a round game," and she put her arm through mine and drew me into the billiard-room, and on the way she squeezed my arm, and said, in a voice quite low down for her, "She deserved it," and I was so touched I nearly cried. From where I sat at the card-table I could see Mrs. Smith and Lord Valmond, and they were quarrelling. She looked like green rhubarb juice, and he had the expression of "Damn!" all over him.
Of course I did not say good-night to him, and I hope I shall never see him again.—Your affectionate daughter, Elizabeth.
300 EATON PLACE
300 Eaton Place,
Tuesday, 2nd August.
[Sidenote: London out of Season]
Dearest Mamma,—The train from Nazeby was so late and Aunt Mary seemed to think it was my fault—so unreasonable of her, just because they had waited lunch for me. I don't believe I like visiting very near relations as much as ones further off. They feel they can say anything to you. I am glad I have only got to sleep here the one night. I had not eaten my omelette before Aunt Mary began about my hair. She said of course it was very nice curling like that, but it was a pity I did not wear a net over it all to keep it more tidy. She was sure you spoilt me, even though we are rich, letting me have such smart clothes. She had heard from Nazeby, that I had had on a fresh frock every day. I don't know who could have written to her. She has got to look much older in the two years we have been abroad and the corners of her mouth shut with a snap. Perhaps it is having to spend part of the year with her mother-in-law.
[Sidenote: Cousinly Curiosity]
Lettice and Clara are just the same as they were, not a bit of difference since they came out. They are as tidy as can be, not a hair escapes from their nets! and their heads look as if they had dozens of hairpins in them, and because it is out of the season they have gone back to their country high linen collars, and they look as if they were choking. I hate linen collars, don't you, Mamma? Two Ethridge aunts are staying here besides me, and we all have to sit together in the morning-room, as everything is covered up in the drawing-rooms, ready for being shut up next week, when they go to Scotland. After lunch the girls did nothing but question me about what we had done at Nazeby. They said Lady Cecilia only asks them to the dullest parties. They knew every one's name, they had carefully read them in the Morning Post. They wanted especially to know about Lord Valmond because Lettice had danced with him once this season. They thought him awfully good-looking. I said he was an odious young man and very rude. So Lettice said she supposed he had not spoken to me, as he never speaks to girls. I told them that was quite a mistake as he had spoken to me all the time, but I hated him. And do you know, Mamma, they looked as if they did not believe a word I was saying; which was not very polite I think.
When we got upstairs they wanted to see all my clothes, but fortunately Agnes had only taken out one or two things, and they asked me to let their maid take patterns of everything. Of course I could not refuse, but I hate my things being mauled over by strange females, and Agnes was simply furious. I am sure she will scratch the maid when she comes to ask for a frock. They tried on my hats all at the wrong angle, first Clara, then Lettice, and made faces and gave little screams at themselves in the glass, and no wonder, for they looked perfect guys in them, with their tight "tongy" hair. Then they tossed them on to the bed as they finished with them, and Agnes kept muttering to herself like distant thunder. Finally Lettice danced a pas seul with the white rose toque perched on the back of her head, and she made such kicks and jumps that it lurched off, and landed in the water jug! At that Agnes got beside herself.
"Fi! donc, Mademoiselle!" she screamed, "ca c'est trop fort!"
[Sidenote: On the Water Shoot]
The hat is quite spoilt, so please write and order me another one from Caroline's, like a nice, sweet, pretty, darling Mamma. At tea they were all so interested when I told them I was going to stay in France with the de Croixmares. One of the Ethridge aunts (Rowena) pricked up her ears at once, and asked me if Madame de Croixmare was not my godmother, and had she not been a great friend of poor papa's. So I told her yes, and that I was going there for three weeks. She and Aunt Mary exchanged looks, I don't know why, but it irritated me, Mamma, and I rather snapped at Aunt Mary when she began about my hair again. And presently I heard her saying to the other aunt that it was a pity girls nowadays were allowed to be impertinent to their elders.
Of course there was not a thing to do, every one having left Town, so in the evening Uncle Geoffrey took us to the Exhibition to go down in the Water Shoot. That is lovely, Mamma, only I had to sit beside Lettice, because Clara was frightened and would be with her father. A horrid man behind, who, I suppose, was not holding on, flopped right on to us at the bump in the water, and then said, "Beg pardon, dears," and it made Uncle Geoffrey so cross he would not let us go down any more, and we had to go home and to bed. I am just scribbling this before breakfast.
We go on to Great-aunt Maria's by the eleven train. I am glad Cousin Octavia is going to take me out next season instead of Aunt Mary, which was first suggested. I know I should not have been good with her. She is not a bit like you, darling Mamma. I hope you are better; I shan't see you again until next Saturday, when I leave Heaviland Manor. It is a long time.—With love from your affectionate daughter, Elizabeth.
Wednesday, August 3rd.
Dearest Mamma,—I can't think why you made me come here! Agnes has been so sniffy and condescending ever since this morning; but I have remarked that Uncle John's valet is only about forty and has a roving eye! so perhaps by to-morrow morning I shan't have my hair screwed off my head! But I feel for Agnes, only in a different way.
[Sidenote: A Quiet Evening]
It is a stuffy, boring place. You remember the house—enormous, tidy, hideous, uncomfortable. Well, we had such a dinner last night after I arrived—soup, fish, everything popped on to the table for Great-uncle John to carve at one end, and Great-aunt Maria at the other! A regular aquarium specimen of turbot sat on its dish opposite him, while Aunt Maria had a huge lot of soles. And there wasn't any need, because there were four men-servants in the room who could easily have done it at the side; but I remember you said it was always like that when you were a little girl. Well, it got on to puddings. I forgot to tell you, though, there were plenty of candles on the table, without shades, and a "bouquet" of flowers, all sorts (I am sure fixed in sand), in a gold middle thing. Well, about the puddings—at least four of them were planted on the table, awfully sweet and jammy, and Uncle John was quite irritated with me because I could only eat two; and Aunt Maria, who has got as deaf as a post, kept roaring to old Major Orwell, who sat next her, "Children have no healthy appetites as in our day. Eh! what?" And I wanted to scream in reply, "But I am grown up now, Aunt Maria!"
Uncle John asked me every question over and over, and old Lady Farrington's false teeth jumped so once or twice that I got quite nervous. That is the party, me, Major Orwell, Lady Farrington, and Uncle and Aunt.
When dessert was about coming, everything thing got lifted from the table, and before you could say "Jack Robinson" off whisked the cloth. I was so unprepared for it that I said "Oh!" and ducked my head, and that made the cloth catch on old Lady Farrington's cap—she had to sit on my side of the table, to be out of the draught—and, wasn't it dreadful, it almost pulled it off, and with it the grey curls fixed at the side, and the rest was all bald. So that was why it was so loose—there was nothing to pin it to! And she glared at me, and fixed it as straight as she could, but it had such a saucy look all the rest of the evening.
I did apologise as well as I could, and there was such an awkward pause; and after dinner we had coffee in the drawing-room, and then in a little time tea, and between times they sat down to whist, all but Aunt Maria—so they had to have a dummy. She wanted to hear all about you, she said, and my going to visit in France; and so I had to bellow descriptions of your neuralgia, and about Mme. de Croixmare being my godmother, &c., and Aunt Maria says, "Tut, tut!" as well as "Eh! what?" to everything. I had not remembered a bit what they were like; but I was only six, wasn't I, when we came last?
After she had asked every sort of thing about you under the sun, she kept giving longing glances at the dummy's cards; so I said, "Oh! Aunt Maria, I am afraid I am keeping you from your whist." As soon as I could make her hear, you should have seen how she hopped up like a two-year-old into the vacant seat; and they were far more serious about it than any one was at Nazeby, where they had hundreds on, and Aunt Maria and the others only played for counters—that long mother-o'-pearl fish kind. I looked at a book on the table, Lady Blessington's "Book of Beauty," and I see then every one got born with champagne-bottle shoulders. Had they been paring them for generations before, I wonder? Because old John, the keeper at Hendon, told me once that the best fox-terriers arrive now without any tails, their mothers' and grand-mothers' and great-grandmothers' having been cut off for so long; but I wonder, if the fashion changed, how could they get long tails again? There must be some way, because all of us now have square shoulders. But what was I saying? Oh! yes, when I had finished the "Beauty Book," I heard Aunt Maria getting so cross with the old boy opposite her. "You've revoked, Major Orwell," she said, whatever that means.
[Sidenote: An Old English Dinner]
Then hot spiced port came in—it was such a close night—and they all had some, and so did I, and it was good; and then candles came. Such lovely silver, and so beautifully cleaned; and Aunt and Uncle kissed me. I dodged Lady Farrington's false teeth, because, after her cap incident, she might have bitten me. And Uncle said, "Too late, too late for a little one to sit up—no beauty sleep!" And Aunt Maria said, "Tut, tut!" and I thought it must be the middle of the night—it felt like it. But do you know, Mamma, when I got upstairs to my room it was only half-past ten!
I have such a huge room, with a four-post feather bed in it. I had let Agnes go to bed directly after her supper, with a toothache, so I had to get undressed by myself; and I was afraid to climb in from the side, it was so high up. But I found some steps with blue carpet on them, as well as a table with a Bible, and a funny old china medicine spoon, and glass and water-jug on it; and the steps did nicely, for when I got to the top, I just took a header into the feathers. It seemed quite comfy at first, but in a few minutes, goodness gracious, I was suffocated! And it was such a business getting the whole mass on the floor; and then I did not know very well how to make the bed again, and I had not a very good night, and overslept myself in the morning. So I got down late for prayers. Uncle John reads them, and Aunt Maria repeats responses whenever she thinks best, as she can't hear a word; but I suppose she counts up, and, from long habit, just says "Amen" when she gets to the end of—thirty, say—fancying that will be right; and it is generally. Only Uncle John stopped in the middle to say, "Damn that dog!" as Fido was whining and scratching outside, so that put her out and brought in the "Amen" too soon.
[Sidenote: Family Prayers]
After breakfast Aunt Maria jingled a large bunch of keys and said it was her day for seeing the linen-room, and wouldn't I like to go with her, as all young people should have "house-wifely" ideas? So I went. It is so beautifully kept, and such lovely linen, all with lavender between it; and she talked to the housekeeper, and looked over everything—she seemed to know each sheet by name! Then we went to the storeroom, all as neat as a new pin; and from there to interview all the old people from the village, who were waiting with requests, and some of them were as deaf as she is. So the housekeeper had to scream at both sides, and I was tired when we got back, and did want to rush out of doors; but I had to wait, and then walk between Lady Farrington and Aunt Maria up and down the path in the sun till lunch at one o'clock; and after that we went for a drive in the barouche, with the fattest white horses you ever saw, and a coachman just like Cinderella's one that had been a rat. He seemed to have odd bits of fur on his face and under his chin, and Aunt Maria said that he suffered from a sore throat, that was why, which he caught at Aunt Mary's wedding; and so I counted up—and as Aunt Mary is your eldest sister, it must have been more than twenty years ago. I do call that a long sore throat, don't you? and I wouldn't keep a coachman with a beard, would you?
We went at a snail's pace, and got in at four o'clock, and then there was tea at half-past, with the nicest bread-and-butter you ever tasted. And after that I said I must write to you, and so here I am, and I feel that if it goes on much longer I shall do something dreadful. Now good-bye, dearest Mamma.—Your affectionate daughter, Elizabeth.
Friday, August 5th.
Dearest Mamma,—I am glad to-morrow will soon be here, and that I can come home, but I must tell you about yesterday. First, all the morning it rained, and what with roaring at Aunt Maria and holding skeins of wool for Lady Farrington, I got such jumps that I felt I should scream unless I got out; so after lunch, while they were both having a nap in their chairs, I slipped off for a walk by myself—it was still raining, but not much; I took Fido, who is generally a little beast, and far too fat.
[Sidenote: Lord Valmond Reappears]
We had had a nice scamper, and had turned to come back not far from the Park, when who do you think came riding up?—Lord Valmond! The last person one expected to see down here! He never waited a second when he saw me, but jumped off his horse and beamed—just as if we had parted the best of friends!!! Did you ever hear such impudence? Of course I should have walked on without recognising him, if I had been left to myself, but he took me so by surprise that I had shaken hands before I knew, and then it was too late to walk on. It appears he has a place down here which he never comes to generally, but just happened to now—to see how the young pheasants were doing. He began at once to talk, as if I had never been angry or boxed his ears at all! It really exasperated me, so at last I said he had better get on his horse again, as I wanted to run on with Fido; so then he said he had just been on his way to call on Aunt Maria, and would come with me.
I said I was sure that wasn't true, as he was going the other way. So he said that he had only been going that way to give his horse a little exercise, and that he intended to go in at the other gate.
I said I was sure that wasn't true either, as there was no way round that way, unless one jumped the park palings. So he said that was what he had intended to do. Just then we came to the turnstile of the right-of-way, so I slipped through and called out, "Then I won't keep you from your exercise," and walked on as fast as I could.
[Sidenote: Lady Farrington's Nap]
What do you think he did, Mamma? Simply got on his horse, and jumped those palings there and then! I can't think how he wasn't killed. There was almost no take-off, and the fence is so high. However, there he was, and I could not get away again, because, if I had run, the horse could easily have kept up with me. But I only said "Yes" and "No" all the way to the house, so he could not have enjoyed it much. We went straight to the drawing-room, where tea was almost up, and there was Lady Farrington alone—still asleep, and her cap had fallen right back, and all the bald was showing; and just then a carriage drove up to the door, and we heard visitors and the footsteps in the hall. I had just time to cry to Lord Valmond, "Keep them back while I wake her!" and then I rushed to Lady Farrington, and shouted in her ear, "Visitors! and—and—your cap is a little crooked!" "Eh! what?" she screamed, and her teeth as nearly as possible jumped on to the carpet. She simply flew to the mirror, but, as you know, it is away so high up she couldn't see, so she made frantic efforts with her hands, and just got it to cover the bald, in a rakish, one-sided way, when the whole lot streamed into the room. Lord Valmond looked awfully uncomfortable. Goodness knows what he had said to them to keep them back! Anyway, Harvey announced "Mrs. and the Misses Clarke," and a thin, very high-nosed person, followed by two buffish girls, came forward. Lady Farrington said, "How d'ye do?" as well as she could. They were some friends of hers and Aunt Maria's, who are staying with the Morverns, I gathered from their conversation. They must have thought she had been on a spree since last they met! I could hardly behave for laughing, and did not dare to look at Lord Valmond.
They had not been there more than five minutes when another carriage arrived, and two other ladies were announced. "The Misses Clark!" The other Clarkes glared like tigers, and Lady Farrington lowered her chin and eyelashes at them (she has just the same manners as the people at Nazeby, although she is such a frump—it is because she is an earl's daughter, I suppose), and she called out to Harvey at the top of her voice, "Let Lady Worden be told at once there are visitors." The poor new things looked so uncomfortable, that I felt, as I was Aunt Maria's niece, I at least must be polite to them; so I asked them to sit down, and we talked. They were jolly, fat, vulgar souls, who have taken the Ortons' place they told me, and this was their return visit, as the Ortons had asked Aunt Maria to call. They were quite old maids, past thirty, with such funny, grand, best smart Sunday-go-to-meeting looking clothes on.
[Sidenote: An Afternoon Call]
It appears that Harvey had sent a footman up to Aunt Maria's door, to tell of the first Clarkes' arrival, and then, terrified by Lady Farrington's voice, had rushed up himself to announce the second lot, and he met Aunt Maria on the stairs coming down, and of course she never heard the difference between "Mrs." and the "Misses," and thought he was simply hurrying her up for the first set. So in she sailed all smiles, and as Mrs. Clarke was nearest the door, she got to her first, and was so glad to see her.
"Dear, dear, years since we met, Honoria," she said; "and these are all your bonny girls, tut, tut!" and she looked at the fat Clarks who came next. "Ah! yes I can see! What a wonderful likeness to poor dear Arthur!"
Furious glances from Mrs. Clarke, whose daughters are my age!
"And this must be Millicent," she went on, taking the second fat Clark's hand. "Yes, yes; why, she takes after you, my dear Honoria, tut, tut!" and she squeezed hands, and beamed at them all in the kindest way. Mrs. Clarke, bursting with fury, tried to say they were no relations of hers; but, of course, Aunt Maria could not catch all that, only the word "relations," and she then caught sight of the buff Clarklets in the background.
[Sidenote: A Friendly Invitation]
"Ah, yes! I see, these are your girls; I have mistaken your other relations for them." Then she turned again to the fat Clarks, evidently liking their jolly faces best. "But one can see they are Clarkes. Let me guess. Yes, they must be poor Henry's children!" At this, Lord Valmond had such a violent fit of choking by the tea-table, that Aunt Maria, who hears the oddest, most unexpected things, caught that, and saw him, and saying, "Howd' ye do?" created a diversion. Presently I heard Lady Farrington roaring in a whisper into her ears the difference between the Clarkes and the Clarks, and the poor dear was so upset; but her kind heart came up trumps, and she was awfully nice to the two vulgar Clarks, who had the good sense to go soon, and then the others went. Then she got Lord Valmond on to her sofa, and he screamed such heaps of nice things into her ear, just as if she had been Mrs. Smith, and she was so pleased. And Uncle John came in, and they talked about the pheasants, and he asked Lord Valmond to dinner on Saturday night (to-morrow), and he looked timidly at me, to see if I was still angry with him and wanted him not to come, so I smiled sweetly, and he accepted joyfully. Isn't it lovely, Mamma? I shall be home with you by then, and Lady Farrington and Major Orwell are going too! So he will have to play dummy whist all the evening with Uncle and Aunt, and eat his dinner at half-past six! Now, good-night.—Your affectionate daughter, Elizabeth.
Tuesday, 9th August.
[Sidenote: The Horse Show]
Dearest Mamma,—There is a huge party here for the Horse Show, and I daresay I shall enjoy myself. We had no sooner got into the station at Paddington than in the distance I caught sight of Lord Valmond. I pretended not to see him, and got behind a barrow of trunks, and then slipped into the carriage and made Agnes sit by the door. We saw him walking up and down, and, just before the train started, he came and got into our carriage. He seemed awfully surprised to see me, said he had not an idea he should meet me, and apologised for disturbing me, but he said all the other carriages were full. He seemed so uppish and unconcerned that I felt obliged to ask him how he enjoyed his dinner with Aunt Maria on Saturday. He said he had enjoyed it awfully, and that Aunt Maria was a charming hostess. He asked me if I was going far down the line, or only just on the river. I said not very far. I tried to be as stiff as possible and not speak, and I did not tell him where I was going, but, do you know, Mamma, there is no snubbing him. He said at once that he was going to Hazeldene Court, to stay with his cousins the Westaways. I said, "Indeed!" and he said, "Yes, aren't they cousins of yours too?" and when I said "Yes," he said he felt sure we were related, and mightn't he call me Elizabeth!!! I just told him I thought him the rudest, most detestable man I had ever met; and if he spoke to me again at all, I should ask the guard to find me another carriage.
[Sidenote: Lord Valmond Presumes]
He was awfully surprised, and said he had not meant to be the least rude; he thought it was the custom for cousins to call each other by their Christian names, and his name was Harry. (Just as if I did not know that, after hearing Mrs. Smith calling him every few minutes!) I said in a freezing tone we were not related in any way, and I wished to read the paper, upon which he produced every imaginable kind, lots of ladies' papers that he could not possibly have wanted for himself. I don't know who he expected to meet. However, I would not have any of them, but looked at a Punch I had bought myself. You know that uncomfortable feeling one has when some one is staring at one—it makes one obliged to look up—so after a while our eyes met over the Punch, and he smiled, and his teeth are so white. All he said was, "I was thinking of the Clarkes and Clarks." And in spite of my being indignant with him I could not help laughing, when I remembered about them, and then it was hard to be very stiff again at once.
[Sidenote: The Offending Dimple]
Just about this time Agnes went to sleep in the other corner, and the moment Lord Valmond saw she was really off, he bent forward and said in such a humble voice, that he was sorry he had offended me at Nazeby; he had yielded to a sudden temptation, and he could only ask me to forgive him. He had quite mistaken my character he said, he now saw I was a serious person, but he had been deceived by the dimple in my left cheek. (Now isn't it provoking, Mamma, to have a dimple like that, that gives people the impression they may treat you with want of respect?) I said I did not believe a word of it, and, as we were only the merest acquaintances, it did not matter whether I forgave him or not, and I hoped he would not mention the subject again. He then asked me if I was going to stop at Hazeldene until Saturday. So you see, Mamma, he must have known I was going there all along; aren't men odd? You can't trust them one minute not to be deceiving you, only I think on the whole I prefer them to women, they can't copy your clothes at all events. After that he seemed to think we had quite made everything up, and went on talking in the friendliest way, but I would not thaw; he shall not have the chance of blaming my dimple again for any of his misconduct! At last I said I hated talking in the train, and pretended to go to sleep. But I could not get really off, because every time I opened my eyes just to see where we were, I found him looking at me. A huge omnibus was waiting for us when we arrived, and several more guests had come by the same train and we all drove to the house together. They were having tea on the croquet lawn—Lady Westaway and some other people, and the eldest son's wife. You remember what a fuss there was when he married, how Lady Westaway had hysterics for three days. Well, she looks as if she could have them again any moment.
[Sidenote: An Attractive Woman]
Mrs. Westaway is awfully pretty. She was lying in a swing chair, showing lots of petticoat and ankle. The ankle isn't bad, but the petticoat had common lace on it. She has huge turquoise earrings, and very stick-out hair arranged to look untidy with tongs. She smiles all the time, and wears lots of different colours. She calls every one by their Christian name, and always catches hold of the men's coats, or fixes their buttonholes or ties, or holds their arms and whispers: and every one is in love with her, and she has the greatest success. So I can't think, Mamma, why you have always told me never to do any of these things, when you want me to be a success so much. Her voice is dreadfully shrill, and such an odd pronunciation, but no one seems to mind that. I rather like her, she is so jolly but some of the women of the party won't speak to her, except to say disagreeable things. Jane Roose is here, she has been here since she left Nazeby (Violet is at the sea), and she came up to my room as we were going to dress, and I have only just got rid of her. She told me Mrs. Westaway was a "dreadful creature," and that no one would know her, if it was not for her mother-in-law receiving her, so they can't help it. And she could not understand what the men saw to admire in a low person like that. But I can see very well, Mamma, she is as pretty as can be, and probably the men don't notice about the lace being common, and all the colours, and those things. I must go down to dinner now, so good-bye, dear Mamma.—Your affectionate daughter, Elizabeth.
Thursday, 11th August.
[Sidenote: Lady Bobby's Diversions]
Dearest Mamma,—I shall be home with you almost as soon as you get this. But I must tell you about these last two days. The man I went in to dinner with the first night was so nice-looking, only he did not seem as if he could collect his thoughts enough to finish his sentences, and it left them sounding so silly sometimes, but I found out before we had begun the entrees that it was because Mrs. Westaway was sitting opposite, and he was gazing at her. She looked lovely, but not like any one I have seen yet since I stayed out. She had a diamond collar and two ropes of pearls (Jane Roose said they were imitation), and her arms quite bare and very white, but her skin must come off, because I could see a patch of white on a footman's coat where she accidentally touched when helping herself to potatoes. She had a huge tulle bow in her hair, and her earrings were as big as shillings. Lady Bobby Pomeroy said afterwards in the drawing-room to Jane Roose that she should not take any more of her meals downstairs with this "creature;" and she would not have come only that Bobby insisted, as he was showing some horses, and it is convenient. And so, do you know, Mamma, Lady Bobby has never come out of her room since, except just to go to the Horse Show, which she drove to with Mrs. Mannering in a hired fly. I don't call it very polite to the hostess, do you? This afternoon she amused herself from her bedroom window by shooting at rabbits just beyond the wire fence of the lawn with a rook rifle; she did not hit any rabbits, but she got a gardener in the leg, and the man was very angry, and bled a great deal, and had to be taken away, and I think it was very careless of her, don't you?
[Sidenote: Two is Company]
Lord Valmond was on his way to the window seat where Jane Roose and I were sitting the first night after dinner, but Mrs. Westaway caught hold of her husband's coat-tails as he passed and said quite loud, "Duckie, you must bring Lord Valmond and introduce him to me, we haven't met yet, and I want to know all your friends." So Billy Westaway, who is as obedient as a spaniel, secured Lord Valmond, and presently we saw them comfortably tucked into a small settee together, and there they stayed all the evening. She kept licking her lips as if he was something good to eat, and the next morning she fixed a rose in his buttonhole at breakfast and called him "Cousin Val," and by lunch time it was plain "Val," and now it is "Harry." I do call it bad taste, don't you, Mamma? and she isn't half so pretty in broad daylight, and I don't like her at all now. Only I can't help laughing at Lady Westaway's face when "Phyllis" (that is Mrs. Westaway's name) says anything especially vulgar; Lady Westaways shudders, and takes a huge sniff at her smelling salts. She keeps them always with her in a long gold-topped bottle, and she has to use them almost every few minutes when Mrs. Westaway is in the room.
The Horse Show was rather nice; it is held in the park fairly close, and most of us strolled there in the morning before lunch to see the judging. Lord Valmond joined us, I was walking with Lord George Lane (you remember he was one of the Eleven at Nazeby). I was in a very good temper, Mamma, and we had been laughing at everything we said. He is quite a nice idiot, but, when Lord Valmond came, of course I talked as stiffly as possibly, and presently Lord George told him that he was singularly backward in copybook maxims, and that there was one he ought to write out and commit to memory, and it began with "Two's Company," upon which Lord Valmond stalked on in a rage.
The seats at the show were very hard boards, and the sun made one awfully drowsy; but about half-an-hour before lunch Lord Valmond came up again, and asked me if I should not like to go for a turn. I thought I had better, so as not to get cramp. He said he had been afraid he would never get the chance of speaking to me, I was always so surrounded. I told him I had only come now because of the cramp. I am quite determined, Mamma, not to unbend to him at all. I was not once agreeable, or anything but stiff and snubbing, and I am sure he has never been treated like that before, but it is awfully hard work keeping it up all the time, and when we got in to lunch I was quite tired.
[Sidenote: On the Lake]
There were numbers of people at the show in the afternoon, and all in their best clothes. Lady Grace Fenton was showing two of her hunters, and she kept shouting to the grooms, and I did not think it was very attractive behaviour. She takes such strides you would think her muslin dress would split. I don't know why it is that so many people in the country are ugly and weather-beaten, and all their clothes hanging wrong.
Except the house party here, and a few from other big places, there was not a pretty person to be seen. We had a special reserved tent for tea, and Mrs. Westaway seemed to have every man in the place round her, and I heard one man come up and say, "Well, Phyllis, this is a joke to find you in this respectable hole; how do you like solid matrimony, old girl?" and I do think that sounded familiar and rude, don't you, Mamma? but Mrs. Westaway wasn't a bit angry. She calls Billy "Duckie," and continually pats and caresses him; he does look such a fool, and I should hate to be fingered like that if I were a man, one must feel like a bunch of grapes with the bloom being rubbed off. Mrs. Westaway kept Lord Valmond with her all the rest of the time at the show, and then took him on the lake while we played croquet.
Lady Bobby went straight to her room and sat by the window, and every now and then shouted advice to Lord George who was playing with me. When we had finished, Lady Westaway took me to see the conservatories, and there we were joined by old Colonel Blake and Lord Valmond, I don't know how he had torn himself away from Mrs. Westaway! Jane Roose says Mrs. Smith would be mad if she was here. He asked me why I had walked on ahead so fast on the way back from the Show as he wanted me to go on the lake with him instead of Mrs. Westaway. When he had suggested going on it he had looked at me, but I would take no notice, and so he was obliged to go with Mrs. Westaway when she offered to come, and I was very unkind and disagreeable. I just said if he found me so, he need not speak to me at all, I did not care. We looked at one another like two wild cats for a moment. I am sure he wanted to slap me, and I should like to have scratched him, and then Lady Westaway diverted the conversation by asking me if I thought I should enjoy my French visit (how every one knows one's affairs!). I said I hoped I should, and I was starting next week. Lord Valmond at once pricked up his ears, and said he would be running over to Paris about then, as he was not going to Scotland till September, and he hoped I would let him look after me on the way. I said I did not know which day I was going, probably Wednesday, so as I am starting on Monday, Mamma, there will be no chance of his coming with me, which would annoy you very much I am sure. To-day we have done nothing but loll about and play croquet. Lady Bobby and the men and some other women went to the Show again in the morning, but I was having a match with Jane Roose, and so we did not bother to go.
[Sidenote: Paul and Virginia]
This afternoon when Lady Bobby began her rabbit shooting it seemed so dangerous on the croquet lawn, especially after she hit the gardener, that we all went on the lake in the launch. We landed on the island, and somehow or other Lord Valmond and I got left alone in the Belvedere looking at the view. The others went off without us, which made me furious, as I am sure he did it on purpose. But when I accused him of it, he said such a thing would never have entered his head. He had a nasty smile all the time in the corner of his eye, and did not take the least pains about trying to undo the other little boat which we found at last, although I kept telling him we should be late for dinner. He said he wished we had not to go back at all, that he thought we should be very happy together on this little island like Paul and Virginia. I can't tell you, Mamma, what a temper I was in.
[Sidenote: The Hardships of a Marquis]
I wish I had never met him—or that he had not been rude at Nazeby—it is so difficult to behave with dignity when a person has a nice voice and makes you laugh, although you are awfully cross with him inside. Then I have to be thinking all the time about my dimple not to let it come out, as that is what caused his rudeness, and with one thing and another it upsets me so, that my cheeks are always burning when I am with him, and I feel as if I should like to box his ears or cry; and I hope after to-morrow I shall never see him again. He rowed so slowly when we did get into the boat that I offered to do it, but he would not let me. I would not talk to him at all. When we got to the landing I jumped out so that he should not help me, and gave my head a crack against the pole in the boat house. I fancied I heard him saying, "Darling! have you hurt yourself? What a brute I am to tease you!" but I did not wait for any more. I ran to the house as fast as I could, and as he had to tie up the boat, I was just getting into the hall when he caught me up. My head hurt dreadfully, and I was so tired and cross, and everything, that the tears would come into my eyes. I did not want him to see, but I am afraid he did, so before he could speak I rushed on again and got safely to my room. I am sure it is very rude to call people "darling" without their leave, isn't it, Mamma?
I went in to dinner with a sporting curate who lives near, and he kept making his bread into crumbs on the cloth and then sweeping them up with his knife into a heap, between every course. What strange habits people have! After dinner Mrs. Westaway took Lord Valmond and sat in the window seat, and when he did get away, and was coming over to me, I said my head was aching from the knock I gave it, and came up to bed, and as he has to catch an early train in the morning I shan't come down until he has gone. I don't want to see him any more, it is too fatiguing quarrelling all the time, and one could not forgive him and be friends I suppose after such behaviour as his at Nazeby—could one, Mamma?
Now good-night; I am sleepy.—Your affectionate daughter, Elizabeth.
P.S.—I should hate to be a marquis always having to take the hostess in to dinner no matter how old and ugly she is, just because a duke isn't present.
CHATEAU DE CROIXMARE
Chateau De Croixmare,
[Sidenote: A Formidable Godmother]
Dearest Mamma,—What a crossing we had, perfectly disgusting! The sky was without a cloud, but such a wind that every one was sick, so one could not enjoy oneself. Agnes became rapidly French too directly we landed at Dieppe, and the carriage was full of stuffy people, who would not have a scrap of window open; however, Jean was waiting for us at Paris. We snatched some food at the restaurant, and then caught the train to Vinant. Jean is quite good-looking, but with an awfully respectable expression. Any one could tell he was married even without looking at his wedding ring. He was polite, and made conversation all the time in the train, and as the engine kept puffing and shrieking I was obliged to continually say "Pardon?" so it made it rather heavy. I think he has changed a good deal since their wedding—let me see—that must be eight years ago, as I was nine then; I hardly remembered him.
Godmamma was waiting for us in the hall when we arrived. Chateau de Croixmare is a nice place, but I am glad I am not French. It was the hottest night of the year almost, and not a breath of air in the house, every shutter closed and the curtains drawn. Heloise had gone to bed with a migraine, Godmamma explained, but Victorine was there. She has grown up plain, and looks much more than five years older than me. They weren't in evening dress, or even tea-gowns like in England—it did seem strange.
Mme. de Croixmare looks a dragon! I can't think how poor papa insisted upon my having such a godmother. Her face is quite white, and her hair so black and drawn off her forehead, and she has a bristly moustache. She is also very up right and thin, and walks with an ebony stick, and her voice is like a peacock's. She looked me through and through, and I felt all my French getting jumbled, and it came out with such an English accent; and after we had bowed a good deal, and said heaps of Ollendorfish kind of sentences, I was given some "sirop" and water, and conducted to bed by Victorine. She is a big dump with a shiny complexion, and such a very small mouth, and I am sure I shall hate her, she isn't a bit good-natured-looking like Jean. The house is really fine Louis XV., and my bedroom and cabinet de toilette are delicious, so is my bed; but the attitude of Agnes—such a conscious pride in the superiority of France—nearly drove me mad.
There isn't a decent dressing-table mirror, only one in an old silver frame about eight inches square, and that is sitting on the writing-table—or what would be the writing-table, if there happened to be any pens and things, which there aren't. All the hanging places open out of the panels of the wall, there are no wardrobes, only beautiful marble-topped bureaux; but I was so tired.
[Sidenote: A French Family at Home]
I left Agnes to settle everything and jumped into bed. This morning I woke early, and had the loveliest cup of chocolate, but such a silly bath, and almost cold water. There are no housemaids, and nothing is done with precise regularity like at home, although they are so rich. Agnes had to fish for everything of that sort herself, and such a lot of talking went on in the passage between her and the valet de chambre, before I even got this teeny tiny tray to splash in. However, I did get dressed at last, and went for a walk in the garden—not a soul about but a few gardeners. The begonias are magnificent, but there is no look of park beyond the garden, or nice deer and things that we would have for such a house in England. It is more like a sort of big villa.
I saw Jean at last in the distance, going round and round a large pond on his bicycle. He did look odd! in a thick striped jersey, and the tightest knickerbockers; almost as low as a "scorcher." He jumped off and made a most polite bow, and explained he was doing it for exercise. But I do think that an idiotic reason—don't you, Mamma? It would be just as much exercise on a road. However, he assured me that, like that, he knew exactly how many miles he went on the flat before breakfast, so I suppose it was all right.
I saw he wanted to continue his ride, so I walked on, and presently came to a summer-house, where Victorine and the dame de compagnie were doing their morning reading. There were also the two little girls building castles out of a heap of sand, and with them the most hideous German maid you ever saw. They are queer-looking little monkeys, Yolande is like Jean, but Marie—there are three years between them—is as black as ink—but where was I? Oh, yes!—well, by this time I was so hungry I could have eaten them, German bonne and all! Fortunately Godmamma turned up, and we strolled back to dejeuner. Heloise was in the salon, and she is charming, such a contrast to the rest of the party. She was beautifully dressed and so chic. We took to each other at once, she has not picked up that solid married look like Jean, so perhaps it is only the husbands who get it in France.
There was a good deal of ceremony going in to breakfast. Jean gave his mother his arm, and we trotted behind. The dining-room is a perfect room, except there is no carpet, and the food was lovely, only I do hate to see a great hand covered with a white cotton glove, plopping a dish down on the lighted thing in the middle, so that one has to look at the next course all the time one is finishing the last one. The way in which the two little monkeys and the German maid devoured their breakfast quite took one's appetite away. There seemed to be numbers of men-servants, who wore white cotton gloves, and their liveries buttoned up to the throat, which takes away that nice clean-shirt-look of our servants at home.
[Sidenote: French Servants]
This afternoon we are going to pay a visit of ceremony to the Comte and Comtesse de Tournelle; we are going with them on their yacht down the Seine to-morrow. It is Jean and Heloise who have arranged to take me—it is kind of them, and it will be fun; and I am glad it is not considered proper for young French girls to go without their mothers, because we shall get rid of Victorine, and the voyage will be more agreeable. Agnes and the other maids and valets are going by train, and will meet us with the luggage at the different places we stop at each night, as the Sauterelle is too small to carry everything. I must go and get ready now, so good-bye, dear Mamma.—Your affectionate daughter, Elizabeth.
[Sidenote: Yacht "Sauterelle"]
Dearest Mamma,—I am writing as we float down the Seine, it is too enchanting. We are a party of ten. The Comte and Comtesse de Tournelle; her mother, the Baronne de Larnac, and her uncle, the Baron de Fremond, Jean, Heloise, and me; the Marquise de Vermondoise, and two young men, officers in the Cavalry, stationed at Versailles. One is the Vicomte Gaston de la Tremors, and the other's name is so long that I can't get it, so you must know him by "Antoine"—he is some sort of a relation of Heloise's. The Baronne is a delightful person, the remains of extreme good looks and distinction. She was a beauty under the Empire, and her feet are so small, she is just as soignee as if she was young, and so vain and human. She lives with her daughter while they are in the country—it seems the custom here, these huge family parties living together all the summer.
[Sidenote: A Visit of Ceremony]
The young people have their appartement in the Champs Elysees in Paris, and the old ones go to the family hotel in the Faubourg St. Germain. We did say a lot of polite things when we went to pay our visit yesterday, and although they know one another so well—as it was a "visit of ceremony" to introduce me—we all had our best clothes on, and sat in the large salon—(there are four Louis XVI. arm chairs, sticking out each side of the fireplaces, in all the salons here). Heloise and the Comtesse de Tournelle are great friends. The Comte de Tournelle is charming, he is like the people in the last century Memoirs, he ought to have powdered hair, and his manners have a distinction and a wit quite unlike anything in England. One can see he is descended from people who had their heads cut off for being aristocrats. Jean says he does not belong to le Sporting, and is fearfully effeminate. He can't even put on his own socks without his valet, and he never rides or bicycles or anything, but just does a little motor-carring, and fights a few duels.
The Comtesse de Tournelle is small and young and rather dull; she reads a great deal. The old boy, the Baron de Fremond (he owns the Sauterelle) is a jolly old soul, and chaffs his sister and niece, and every one, all the time, and thinks it so funny to talk fearful English. The two young men haven't looked at me much. They are in uniform! and they put their heels together and bowed deeply when they were introduced, but we haven't spoken yet. The Marquise de Vermondoise is perfectly lovely, so fascinating, with such a queer deep voice, and one tooth at the side of the front missing; and her tongue keeps getting in there when she speaks, which gives her a kind of lisp, and it is awfully attractive. I think de Tournelle would like to kiss her, by the way he looked at her when she thanked him for handing her on board.
[Sidenote: The Invaluable Hippolyte]
It is a steam yacht with a wee cabin, and a deck above that, with seats looking out each side, like old omnibuses, and in the stern (if that means the back part) are the sailors and the engines, and the oddest arrangement of cooking apparatus. You should just taste the exquisite breakfasts that Hippolyte (the Baronne de Larnac's maitre d'hotel) cooked for us this morning after we started. He is the queerest creature, with a face like a baboon, and side whiskers, and the rest a deep blue from shaving. The Baronne says she could not live without him; he is a splendid cook, and a perfect femme de chambre, and ready for anything. He is much more familiar than we should ever let a servant be in England. It was rough all the morning, quite waves. The Seine is only half a mile from the Chateau de Croixmare, and runs past the Tournelles' garden, so they have a private landing stage, and we all embarked from there. Jean and the Comte are dressed in beautiful English blue serges, and look neat enough to be under a glass case. The old Baron does not care what he wears, and this morning while he was working with the sailors had on a black Sunday coat!
The Baronne kept screaming when the boat rocked a little. "Nous ferons naufrage! Mon Dieu! Mon Dieu!" and the Vicomte tried to comfort her, but she did not stop till Hippolyte popped his head out of the cabin and said, "Pas de danger! et il ne faut pas que Mme. la Baronne fasse la Bebete!"
At dejeuner we had only one plate each, and one knife and fork. It was so windy we could not have it under the awning in the bows, and the cabin is so narrow that the seats are against the wall, and the table in the middle. No one can pass to wait, so between the courses we washed our plates in the Seine, out of the window. It was gay! They are all so witty, but it is not considered correct to talk just to one's neighbour, a conversation a deux. Everything must be general, so it is a continual sharpening of wits, and one has to shout a good deal, as otherwise, with every one talking at once, one would not be heard. I know French pretty well as you know, but they say a lot of strange things I can't understand, and whenever I answer or ask why, they go into fits of laughter and say, "Est elle gentille l'enfant! hein!"
We are going to stop at the next small village to post the letters, so good-bye, dear Mamma.—Your affectionate daughter, Elizabeth.
P.S.—I hope you won't get muddled, Mamma, with all their names, it takes so long writing the whole thing, so please remember Mme. de Larnac is the "Baronne," Monsieur de Fremond is the "Baron," Monsieur de Tournelle is the "Comte," Mme. de Tournelle is the "Comtesse," Mme. de Vermondoise is the "Marquise," Monsieur de la Tremors is the "Vicomte," and "Antoine" is the other officer. So if I haven't always time to put their names you will know now which they are.
Vernon, Yacht Sauterelle,
Dearest Mamma,—The scenery we came through yesterday is quite beautiful, but I did not pay so much attention to it as I might have done, because Jean and the Comte would talk to me. You would be amused at Vernon, where we stayed the night in such an inn! I believe it is the only one in the place, and as old as the hills. You get at the bedrooms from an open gallery that runs round the courtyard, and that smells of garlic and stables. We got here about six, and started en masse to inspect the rooms. Hippolyte had engaged them beforehand, and seemed rather apologetic about them, and finally, when there did not appear half enough to go round, he shrugged his shoulders almost up to his ears and said, "Que voulez vous!" and that "Ces Messieurs" would have to be "tres bourgeois en voyage," and that there was nothing for it but that Mme. la Comtesse de Tournelle should "partager l'appartement de Monsieur le Comte de Tournelle," and that Monsieur le Comte de Croixmare would have to extend like hospitality to Mme. la Comtesse de Croixmare. This caused shrieks of derision. Heloise said she would prefer to sleep on the dining-room table, and "Antoine" said he thought people ought to be a little more careful of their reputations even en voyage. Finally they unearthed a baby's cot in the room that Hippolyte had designed for the Croixmare menage, and de Tournelle said it was the very thing for me, but Jean replied, "Mon cher ami c'est une Bebe beaucoup trop emoustillante," which I thought very rude, just as if I snored, or something dreadful like that. Then, after a further prowl, a fearful little hole was discovered beyond, with no curtains to the windows, or blinds, or shutters, just a scrap of net. The face of Agnes when she saw it!
[Sidenote: A Necessary Precaution]
Dinner was not until seven, so Jean and I went out for a walk; as Hippolyte advised us to try and find a chemist and buy some flea powder. "Je trouverai ca plus prudent," he said. Jean is getting quite natural with me now, and isn't so awfully polite. The chemist took us for a honeymoon couple (as, of course, if I had been French I could not have gone for a walk with Jean alone). He—the chemist—was so sympathetic, he had only one packet of powder left, he said, as so much was required by the voyageurs and inhabitants that he was out of it (that did not sound a pleasant prospect for our night)—"Mais, madame" (that's me), "n'est pas assez grasse pour les attirer," he added by way of consolation.
It was spitting with rain when we got back, and they all made such a fuss for fear I had got wet, and they would not for worlds stir out of doors to see the church or anything, which I heard is very picturesque. We had such an amusing dinner, the food was wonderful, considering the place, but a horrible cloth and pewter forks and spoons. There were two officiers at another table (only infantry), and they were so interested in our party.
[Sidenote: Close Quarters]
"Antoine" sat next to me, and in a pause in the general conversation he said to me (it is the first time he has addressed me directly), "Il fait mauvais temps, mademoiselle." I have heard him saying all kinds of drole things to the others, so it shows he can be quite intelligent. It is just because I am not married I suppose, so I said that is what English people always spoke about—the weather—and I wanted to hear something different in France. He seemed perfectly shocked, and hardly spoke to me after that, but the Vicomte, who was listening, began at once to say flattering things across the table. They all make compliments upon my French, and are very gay and kind, but I wish they did not eat so badly. The Comte and the Marquise, who are cousins, and of the very oldest noblesse, are the worst—one daren't look sometimes. The Comtesse is a little better, but then her family is only Empire, and Jean and Heloise are fairly decent.
I could bear most of it, if it wasn't for the peppermint glasses at the end, which the men have. The whole party are very French, not a bit like the people we see at Cannes, who have been much with the English. It is a different thing altogether. When dinner was over the rain stopped, and after a lot of talk—as to whether the ground would be too damp or not—we at last ventured for a walk down to the bridge and back. Then we returned and commenced a general powdering of the beds, beginning with the de Tournelles' apartment; next we went to the Marquise's—she had such an exquisite nightgown laid out, it was made of pink chiffon. When we got to my room they made all kinds of sympathies for me having such a small and stuffy place. The powder was all gone before we could sprinkle the Baronne's bed. Agnes was not quite so uppish undressing me as usual. Perhaps she realised this part of her France was not so good as England.
Next morning when I got down—we had arranged to have our premier dejeuner all together, not in our rooms, as we were to make such an early start—"Antoine" and Heloise were already there. The Vicomte and the Baronne came in soon after; he at once began: "Comme Mlle. est ravissante le soir! un petit ange a son deshabille! Une si eblouissante chevelure!"
[Sidenote: A Conjugal Experiment]
The wretch had been watching me from the opposite gallery, wasn't it odious of him, Mamma? No Englishman would have done such a thing. I was angry, but Heloise said it was no use, that I must get accustomed to "les habitudes de voyage," and that she did not suppose he had really looked, it was only to tease me. But I believe he had—anyway from that moment de la Tremors has been always talking to me. Presently while we were eating our rolls, the garcon, a Parisian (who was also the ostler), came in and said: Would Madame—indicating the Baronne—come up to "Mademoiselle," who wished to speak to her? We could not think who he could mean, as I was the only "Mademoiselle" of the party. The Baronne told him so. "Mais non!" he said, jerking his thumb in the direction of upstairs, "La demoiselle dans la chambre de Monsieur."
"Mais que dites vous mon brave homme!" screamed the Baronne and Heloise together. The man was quite annoyed.
"Je dis ce que je dis et je m'en fiche pas mal! la petite demoiselle blonde, dans la chambre de Monsieur le Comte de Tournelle."
At that moment the Comtesse came in, so with another jerk of his thumb at her, "Comment! vous ne me croyez pas?" he said, "tiens—la voila!" and he bounced out of the room.
"Antoine" said it served them perfectly right, that he had warned them their reputations would suffer if husbands and wives camped together. Even a place like Vernon, he said, was sufficiently enlightened to find the situation impossible.
I don't know what it all meant, but the Comtesse de Tournelle is now called "la demoiselle!"
The two young men leave us for the day, to do their duty at Versailles, but are to meet us again at Rouen in the evening, with leave for a few days. We are just going on board, so I will finish this presently.
5 p.m.—The scenery is too beautiful after you pass Vernon, and it was so interesting getting in and out of the locks. The Baronne and I and Jean talked together on the raised deck, while de Tournelle read to the Marquise in the bows. The old Baron is mostly with the sailors, and Heloise slept a good deal. Every now and then Hippolyte came out from his cooking place, and one saw his baboon face appearing on a level with the deck floor, and he would explain all the places we passed, and it always ended with: "Il ne faut pas que Mme. La Baronne pionce c'est tres tres interessant."
I can't tell you what a drole creature he is. Heloise woke up presently and talked to me; she said if it was not for the Tournelles she could not stand the Chateau de Croixmare and Victorine. It appears too, that when in Paris, Godmamma always drives in the Bois at the wrong times, and will have her opera box on the nights no one is there, and that irritates Heloise.
I can't think why papa and she were such friends. I don't believe if he had been alive now, and accustomed to really nice people like you and me, he would have been able to put up with her.
I shall post this directly we land, I am writing on the cabin table, and now good-bye.—Your affectionate daughter, Elizabeth.
Saturday, 20th August.
[Sidenote: A Visit to Rouen]
Dearest Mamma,—To-day has been the loveliest I ever remember, not a cloud in the sky. We landed at Rouen the day before yesterday about six, and the hotel we stopped at was quite decent, and although the windows of my room looked upon the inner courtyard they at least had shutters. I wanted to go and see the marks the flames of Joan of Arc's burning had made on the wall, but every one was so hungry, we had to have dinner so early, there wasn't time. Canard a la Rouennaise is good, it is done here with a wine called Grenache. I had two helpings, and just as we were finishing, the Vicomte and "Antoine" came in from the station. They aren't in uniform now, but their hair does stick up so, and somehow their clothes don't look comfortable. I liked them in uniform best. Madame de Vermandoise talked to "Antoine" across the table quite a lot. That is the only way one may speak directly to a person, it seems. After dinner we went in search of some place of amusement, but there was no theatre open, so we had to content ourselves with a walk along the quay, and then we came back and drank sirop. It is sweet and nice, and you can have it raspberry, or gooseberry, or what you like, and I am sure if the people in England who drink nasty old ports and things could have it they would like it much better. The Baronne calls all the men by their end names like "Tournelle," "Croixmare," "Tremors," &c., and every one is very devoted to her, and I daresay she is even older than you, mamma; isn't it wonderful? Jean now always sits beside me, I suppose he thinks he is my host, but I would rather have the Vicomte de la Tremors, who is very amusing. But to go back to Rouen. It was a treat to sleep fearlessly in a clean bed after Vernon, and I actually had a bath in the morning. I don't know where Agnes retrieved it from.
[Sidenote: "Coiffer St. Catherine"]
You can see Joan of Arc's flames quite plain, we went there as soon as we were dressed. "Antoine" would insist it was only the black from a smoky chimney, but I paid no attention to him. The Horloge is nice, and we did a lot of churches, but they always look to me just the same, and any way they all smell alike, and I don't think I shall bother with any more. We had breakfast on the Sauterelle, but it was so fine after we left Vernon, and yesterday, that we could have it each day in the bows under the awning, and so had not to wash our forks and plates. The Chateaux are so picturesque, and such woods! after you leave Rouen. Heloise did not sleep yesterday. "Antoine" talked so much, no one could really have had a comfortable nap. In the afternoon the Marquise told us our fortunes; she said Heloise would marry twice, which made her look as pleased as Punch, but Jean did not think it at all funny, though every one else laughed She told me I should probably be an old maid ("Coiffer St. Catherine"), and so I said in that case I should run pins into the horrid old saint's head: I simply won't be an old maid, Mamma, so they need not make any more predictions. However, it would be worse to be one here than at home, because even up to forty, if you aren't married, you mayn't go to the nice theatres, or talk to people alone, or even speak much more than "Yes" and "No," and you generally get a nasty moustache or something. We saw a whole family of elderly girls at our hotel at Rouen, and they all had moustaches or moles on the cheek.
We got here (Caudebec) yesterday soon after four. Our inn looks right on to the Seine, and is as old nearly as the one at Vernon, but fortunately beautifully clean. Only you have to get at your room through somebody else's. Mine is beyond the Baronne's and Madame de Vermandoise gets at hers through the Comtesse de Tournelle's. Hers is the most ridiculous place, with a red curtain hanging across so that sometimes it can be turned into two; and such a thing happened last night. "Antoine" went in with the Comte de Tournelle to help him to shut the window, as Madame de Tournelle couldn't, when a gust of wind blew the door shut, and whether there was a spring lock or not I don't know, but any way nothing would induce it to open again. So there they were. We had stayed up rather late; the landlord and the servants were in bed. They rattled and shook and pushed, but to no purpose.
[Sidenote: A Misadventure]
There was only a board partition between my room and Madame de Vermandoise's, so I could hear everything, and Tournelle said there was nothing for it but that "Antoine" would have to sleep in the other bed in her room. She screamed a great deal, and they all laughed very much, and all talked at once, so I suppose that was why I could not understand quite everything they were saying. At last the Baronne rushed into my room to discover what the noise was. She looks perfectly odd when going to bed; a good deal seemed to have come off; she is as thin as a lath; and on the dressing table was such a sweet lace nightcap, with lovely baby curls sewed to its edge, and when she put that on she did look sweet. It isn't that she has no hair herself, it's thick and brown; but she explained that having to wear a nightcap because of ear-ache, she found it more becoming with the curls. I suppose it is on account of the waiters coming in with the breakfast that they have to be so particular in France how they look in bed.
But to go on about the door. We sent the Baronne's maid and Agnes to try and find the landlord; but, after exploring untold depths below and above, they only succeeded in unearthing Hippolyte. He came up from his bed looking just like that very clever Missing Link that was at Barnum's, do you remember?—the one that sometimes was an Irishwoman, and could do housework in a cage by itself. I don't know exactly what Hippolyte had on, but it ended up with a petticoat of red and black plaid, and a pair of grey linen trousers over his shoulders; his whiskers and hair were standing straight on end, and his shaved bits were bluer than ever at night. He said a good deal of the French equivalent of, "Here's a pretty kettle of fish," and shrugged so that I was afraid the petticoat would slip off; and finally, when all the pushing and pulling had no effect on the door, he said people must resign themselves to the accidents of travel, and as there were four beds, he did not see that they had too much to complain of.
[Sidenote: "Not Much to Complain of"]
At this moment Heloise came out of her room to see what the commotion was. She understood it was her husband locked in the room, and she laughed too very much, and said they must just stay there; but when she heard the voice of "Antoine" she seemed to think the situation grave—I suppose because he is not married—and she also did everything she could to open the door. Of course if they had been Englishmen they would have simply kicked it down, and got out without more ado, but the French aren't strong enough for that.
Heloise became quite disagreeable about it, though as it wasn't Jean I can't think what business it was of hers. She said it was because "Antoine" did not really try, and she was sure he had done it on purpose, upon which Madame de Vermandoise gurgled with mirth. I could hear both sides you see, because of the wooden partition. "Antoine" came into the inner room and said he was "Doux comme un petit agneau," but the Marquise said that he was "Un loup dans une peau de mouton," and must go away. Finally the whole of the rest of the party in different stages of deshabille got collected outside the door. No landlord was to be found anywhere. Then the old Baron suggested quite a simple plan, which was for Madame de Tournelle to share Madame de Vermandoise's room, and to leave the Comte and "Antoine" in her room.
No one seemed to have thought of this before; and that is what they finally did, and at last we got to sleep. In the morning no landlord could still be found, and we had no coffee, but presently he arrived accompanied by two gendarmes and goodness knows what other rabble armed with sticks, and they wanted to proceed upstairs. We heard every sort of "Sacres!" going on between them and Hippolyte, and eventually the landlord almost crawled up apologising, and opened the door with his key.
[Sidenote: A Cautious Landlord]
It appears that hearing the noise of the door being tried to be opened and Madame de Vermandoise's screams, he had thought it wiser to decamp for the night, as two years ago there had been a murder there, and he had had "beaucoup d'embetement," he said, on account of it, and was determined not to be mixed up in one again, "En ces affaires la, il est bien assez tot d'arriver le lendemain," he said.
Everybody was still laughing too much over the situation to be angry with him; and the coffee, which we got at last, was so good it made up for it; but you should have heard the plaisanteries they made over the night's adventure!
Caudebec is an odd place; it used to be inhabited by hundreds of Protestant beaver hat-makers, who fled from there after the Edict of Nantes' affair, and so there are streets of deserted houses still, and so old, one has a stream down the middle. I would not go into the church: the usual smell met me at the door; so the Vicomte and Jean and I went for a walk, and now we are just going to start on the Sauterelle again, and this must be posted. I have managed to write it on my knee, sitting on a stone bench outside the inn door.—Good-bye, dear Mamma, with love from your affectionate daughter, Elizabeth.
HOTEL FRASCATI, HAVRE
Hotel Frascati, Havre,
Sunday, 21st August.
[Sidenote: Havre to Trouville]
Dearest Mamma,—I am sorry our nice voyage is nearly finished, for we go over to Trouville this evening, and from there by train back to Vinant. The river is not nearly so pretty after you leave Caudebec, but Tancarville is fine, and looks very imposing sitting up so high. The Vicomte has been talking to me all the time, but Jean stays by. We were dusty and sun-burnt by the time we got to Havre, and Heloise and the Marquise and I started at once for the big baths. They do not quite join the hotel, so we covered a good deal of absence, in the way of dress, by our faithful mackintoshes and trotted across. On the steps we met de Tournelle just coming out from the baths; he laughed when he saw us, and said he had never before realised that garments of so much respectability could have such possibilities! Oh! how nice to have a real bath again!
[Sidenote: A Gay Dinner]
Agnes hasn't enjoyed this trip much, I can see. Heaven knows where she has slept! I thought it wiser not to ask. We had such a gay dinner. I am getting accustomed to shouting across the table at every one; it will feel quite queer just talking to one's neighbour when I get back to England. The restaurant at Frascati isn't at all bad, and it was agreeable to have proper food again.
Hippolyte thinks we are awfully greedy; he was heard yesterday grumbling to the Baronne's maid, "Mais ou diable est-ce que ces dames mettent tout ce qu'elles mangent? Elles goblottent toute la journee!"
After dinner we drank our coffee on the terrace and listened to the band. Heloise would hardly speak to "Antoine" all day, and he looked perfectly miserable, and Madame de Vermandoise every now and then laughed to herself—I don't know what at. However we took a walk on the pier presently, and as there was such a crowd we weren't able to walk all together as usual, but had to go two and two. "Antoine" walked with Heloise, and I suppose they made it up. I just caught this: "N'oubliez jamais, bien chere Madame, qu'une eglise a deux portes." Heloise said she would not forget, and he thanked her rapturously; but what it meant I don't know. They have both smiled often since so I expect it is some French idiom for reconciliation.
The crowd on the pier was common, and we returned to Frascati's garden. It was so fearfully hot, that beyond wondering if the dew was falling, no one suggested we should get cold, as they always do. It really has been a delightful trip, and I have enjoyed it so. They are all charming. They seem to have kinder hearts than some of the people at Nazeby, but what strikes one as quite different is that every one is witty; they are making epigrams or clever tournures de phrases all the time, and don't seem to talk of the teeny weeny things we do in England. They have most exquisite manners, and extraordinarily unpleasant personal habits, like eating, and coughing, and picking their teeth, etc.; but they do have nice under-clothes, and lovely soaps and scents and things.
[Sidenote: Views for Victorine]
The Frascati beds were comfortable, and I could not wake in the morning, in spite of Agnes fussing about. The Vicomte has awakened every one each day by rapping at their doors, but this morning I was at last aroused by Heloise, who had the next room, and we had our coffee together. She says she does hope soon to get Victorine married, and that they have a nephew of the Baronne's in view, but he has not seen her yet. It appears it is easier to get them off if they are quiet looking and dowdy, but not so aggressive as Victorine. You haven't much chance if you are very pretty and lively; as she says, the men only like you to be that when you are married to some one else. Heloise wishes to have everything smart as the Tournelles have, but Godmamma and Victorine are always against her. She says life there is for ever eating galette de plomp, which I suppose means a suet pudding feeling. We all went to High Mass at eleven; it was very pretty, and such a good-looking priest handed the bag. I should hate to be a priest; shouldn't you, Mamma? You mayn't even look at any one nice.