Tải bản đầy đủ

Tales and novels vol 3


TheProjectGutenbergEBookofTalesandNovels,Vol.III,byMariaEdgeworth
Copyrightlawsarechangingallovertheworld.Besuretocheckthecopyright
lawsforyourcountrybeforedownloadingorredistributingthisoranyother
ProjectGutenbergeBook.
ThisheadershouldbethefirstthingseenwhenviewingthisProjectGutenberg
file.Pleasedonotremoveit.Donotchangeoredittheheaderwithoutwritten
permission.
Pleasereadthe“legalsmallprint,”andotherinformationabouttheeBookand
ProjectGutenbergatthebottomofthisfile.Includedisimportantinformation
aboutyourspecificrightsandrestrictionsinhowthefilemaybeused.Youcan
alsofindoutabouthowtomakeadonationtoProjectGutenberg,andhowtoget
involved.
WelcomeToTheWorldofFreePlainVanillaElectronicTexts
eBooksReadableByBothHumansandByComputers,Since1971
*****TheseeBooksWerePreparedByThousandsofVolunteers!*****
Title:TalesandNovels,Vol.IIIBelinda
Author:MariaEdgeworth
ReleaseDate:December,2005[EBook#9455][Yes,wearemorethanoneyear
aheadofschedule][ThisfilewasfirstpostedonOctober2,2003]
Edition:10

Language:English
Charactersetencoding:ISO-8859-1
STARTOFTHEPROJECTGUTENBERGEBOOKTALESAND
NOVELS,VOL.III***
ProducedbyJonathanIngram,SheilaVogtmannandPGDistributed
Proofreaders


TALESANDNOVELS,VOL.III
BELINDA.
BY
MARIAEDGEWORTH.
INTENVOLUMES.WITHENGRAVINGSONSTEEL.
1857.
CONTENTS.
I.Characters
II.Masks
III.LadyDelacour’sHistory
IV.Thesamecontinued
V.BirthdayDresses
VI.WaysandMeans
VII.TheSerpentineRiver
VIII.AFamilyParty
IX.Advice
X.TheMysteriousBoudoir
XI.Difficulties
XII.TheMacaw
XIII.SortesVirgilianae
XIV.TheExhibition


XV.Jealousy
XVI.DomesticHappiness
XVII.RightsofWoman
XVIII.ADeclaration
XIX.AWedding
XX.Reconciliation
XXI.Helena
XXII.ASpectre
XXIII.TheChaplain


XXIV.Peuàpeu
XXV.Loveme,lovemydog
XXVI.Virginia
XXVII.ADiscovery
XXVIII.EO
XXIX.AJew
XXX.News
XXXI.TheDènouement
BELINDA
CHAPTERI.
CHARACTERS.
Mrs.Stanhope,awell-bredwoman,accomplishedinthatbranchofknowledge


whichiscalledtheartofrisingintheworld,had,withbutasmallfortune,
contrivedtoliveinthehighestcompany.Shepridedherselfuponhaving
establishedhalfadozenniecesmosthappily,thatistosay,uponhavingmarried
themtomenoffortunesfarsuperiortotheirown.Oneniecestillremained
unmarried—BelindaPortman,ofwhomshewasdeterminedtogetridwithall
convenientexpedition.Belindawashandsome,graceful,sprightly,andhighly
accomplished;heraunthadendeavouredtoteachherthatayounglady’schief
businessistopleaseinsociety,thatallhercharmsandaccomplishmentsshould
beinvariablysubservienttoonegrandobject—theestablishingherselfinthe
world:
“Forthis,hands,lips,andeyeswereputtoschool,Andeachinstructedfeature
haditsrule.”
Mrs.StanhopedidnotfindBelindasuchadocilepupilasherothernieces,for
shehadbeeneducatedchieflyinthecountry;shehadearlybeeninspiredwitha
tastefordomesticpleasures;shewasfondofreading,anddisposedtoconduct
herselfwithprudenceandintegrity.Hercharacter,however,wasyettobe
developedbycircumstances.
Mrs.StanhopelivedatBath,whereshehadopportunitiesofshowingherniece
off,asshethought,toadvantage;butasherhealthbegantodecline,shecould
notgooutwithherasmuchasshewished.Aftermanoeuvringwithmorethan
herusualart,shesucceededinfasteningBelindauponthefashionableLady
Delacourfortheseason.HerladyshipwassomuchpleasedbyMissPortman’s
accomplishmentsandvivacity,astoinvitehertospendthewinterwithherin
London.Soonafterherarrivalintown,Belindareceivedthefollowingletter
fromherauntStanhope.
“Crescent,Bath.
“AftersearchingeveryplaceIcouldthinkof,Annefoundyourbraceletinyour
dressing-table,amongstaheapofoddthings,whichyouleftbehindyoutobe
thrownaway:Ihavesentittoyoubyayounggentleman,whocametoBath
(unluckily)theverydayyouleftme—Mr.ClarenceHervey—anacquaintance,
andgreatadmirerofmyLadyDelacour.Heisreallyanuncommonlypleasant
youngman,ishighlyconnected,andhasafineindependentfortune.Besides,he
isamanofwitandgallantry,quiteaconnoisseurinfemalegraceandbeauty—
justthemantobringanewfaceintofashion:so,mydearBelinda,Imakeita


point—lookwellwhenheisintroducedtoyou,andremember,whatIhaveso
oftentoldyou,thatnobodycanlookwellwithouttakingsomepainstoplease.
“Isee—oratleastwhenIwentoutmorethanmyhealthwillatpresentpermit—
Iusedtoseemultitudesofsillygirls,seeminglyallcutoutuponthesame
pattern,whofrequentedpublicplacesdayafterday,andyearafteryear,without
anyideafartherthanthatofdivertingthemselves,orofobtainingtransient
admiration.HowIhavepitiedanddespisedthegiddycreatures,whilstIhave
observedthemplayingofftheirunmeaningairs,vyingwithoneanotherinthe
mostobvious,andconsequentlythemostridiculousmanner,soastoexpose
themselvesbeforetheverymentheywouldattract:chattering,tittering,and
flirting;fullofthepresentmoment,neverreflectinguponthefuture;quite
satisfiediftheygotapartneratahall,withouteverthinkingofapartnerforlife!
Ihaveoftenaskedmyself,whatistobecomeofsuchgirlswhentheygrowold
orugly,orwhenthepubliceyegrowstiredofthem?Iftheyhavelargefortunes,
itisallverywell;theycanaffordtodivertthemselvesforaseasonortwo,
withoutdoubt;theyaresuretobesoughtafterandfollowed,notbymere
danglers,butbymenofsuitableviewsandpretensions:butnothingtomymind
canbemoremiserablethanthesituationofapoorgirl,who,afterspendingnot
onlytheinterest,butthesolidcapitalofhersmallfortuneindress,andfrivolous
extravagance,failsinhermatrimonialexpectations(asmanydomerelyfromnot
beginningtospeculateintime).Shefindsherselfatfiveorsix-and-thirtya
burdentoherfriends,destituteofthemeansofrenderingherselfindependent
(forthegirlsIspeakofneverthinkoflearningtoplaycards),detropinsociety,
yetobligedtohanguponallheracquaintance,whowishherinheaven,because
sheisunqualifiedtomaketheexpectedreturnforcivilities,havingnohome,I
meannoestablishment,nohouse,&c.fitforthereceptionofcompanyofa
certainrank.—MydearestBelinda,maythisneverbeyourcase!—Youhave
everypossibleadvantage,mylove:nopainshavebeensparedinyoureducation,
and(whichistheessentialpoint)Ihavetakencarethatthisshouldbeknown—
sothatyouhavethenameofbeingperfectlyaccomplished.Youwillalsohave
thenameofbeingveryfashionable,ifyougomuchintopublic,asdoubtlessyou
willwithLadyDelacour.—Yourowngoodsensemustmakeyouaware,my
dear,thatfromherladyship’ssituationandknowledgeoftheworld,itwill
alwaysbeproper,uponallsubjectsofconversation,forhertoleadandyouto
follow:itwouldbeveryunfitforayounggirllikeyoutosufferyourselftostand
incompetitionwithLadyDelacour,whosehighpretensionstowitandbeauty
areindisputable.Ineedsaynomoretoyouuponthissubject,mydear.Even
withyourlimitedexperience,youmusthaveobservedhowfoolishyoungpeople


offendthosewhoarethemostnecessarytotheirinterests,byanimprudent
indulgenceoftheirvanity.
“LadyDelacourhasanincomparabletasteindress:consulther,mydear,anddo
not,byanill-judgedeconomy,counteractmyviews—apropos,Ihaveno
objectiontoyourbeingpresentedatcourt.Youwill,ofcourse,havecreditwith
allherladyship’stradespeople,ifyoumanageproperly.Toknowhowandwhen
tolayoutmoneyishighlycommendable,forinsomesituations,peoplejudgeof
whatonecanaffordbywhatoneactuallyspends.—Iknowofnolawwhich
compelsayoungladytotellwhatherageorherfortunemaybe.Youhaveno
occasionforcautionyetononeofthesepoints.
“Ihavecoveredmyoldcarpetwithahandsomegreenbaize,andeverystranger
whocomestoseeme,Iobserve,takesitforgrantedthatIhavearichcarpet
underit.Sayeverythingthatisproper,inyourbestmanner,formetoLady
Delacour.
“Adieu,mydearBelinda,
“Yours,verysincerely,
“SELINASTANHOPE.”
Itissometimesfortunate,thatthemeanswhicharetakentoproducecertain
effectsuponthemindhaveatendencydirectlyoppositetowhatisexpected.
Mrs.Stanhope’sperpetualanxietyaboutherniece’sappearance,manners,and
establishment,hadcompletelywornoutBelinda’spatience;shehadbecome
moreinsensibletothepraisesofherpersonalcharmsandaccomplishmentsthan
youngwomenofherageusuallyare,becauseshehadbeensomuchflattered
andshownoff,asitiscalled,byhermatch-makingaunt.—YetBelindawasfond
ofamusement,andhadimbibedsomeofMrs.Stanhope’sprejudicesinfavourof
rankandfashion.Hertasteforliteraturedeclinedinproportiontoherintercourse
withthefashionableworld,asshedidnotinthissocietyperceivetheleastusein
theknowledgethatshehadacquired.Hermindhadneverbeenrousedtomuch
reflection;shehadingeneralactedbutasapuppetinthehandsofothers.Toher
auntStanhopeshehadhithertopaidunlimited,habitual,blindobedience;butshe
wasmoreundesigning,andmorefreefromaffectationandcoquetry,thancould
havebeenexpected,afterthecourseofdocumentingwhichshehadgone
through.ShewascharmedwiththeideaofavisittoLadyDelacour,whomshe


thoughtthemostagreeable—no,thatistoofeebleanexpression—themost
fascinatingpersonshehadeverbeheld.Suchwasthelightinwhichherladyship
appeared,notonlytoBelinda,buttoalltheworld—thatistosay,alltheworldof
fashion,andsheknewofnoother.—ThenewspaperswerefullofLady
Delacour’sparties,andLadyDelacour’sdresses,andLadyDelacour’sbonmots:
everythingthatherladyshipsaidwasrepeatedaswitty;everythingthather
ladyshipworewasimitatedasfashionable.Femalewitsometimesdependson
thebeautyofitspossessorforitsreputation;andthereignofbeautyis
proverbiallyshort,andfashionoftencapriciouslydesertsherfavourites,even
beforenaturewitherstheircharms.LadyDelacourseemedtobeafortunate
exceptiontothesegeneralrules:longaftershehadlostthebloomofyouth,she
continuedtobeadmiredasafashionablebelesprit;andlongaftershehad
ceasedtobeanoveltyinsociety,hercompanywascourtedbyallthegay,the
witty,andthegallant.TobeseeninpublicwithLadyDelacour,tobeavisitorat
herhouse,wereprivilegesofwhichnumberswerevehementlyambitious;and
BelindaPortmanwascongratulatedandenviedbyallheracquaintance,forbeing
admittedasaninmate.Howcouldsheavoidthinkingherselfsingularly
fortunate?
AshorttimeafterherarrivalatLadyDelacour’s,Belindabegantoseethrough
thethinveilwithwhichpolitenesscoversdomesticmisery.—Abroad,andat
home,LadyDelacourwastwodifferentpersons.Abroadsheappearedalllife,
spirit,andgoodhumour—athome,listless,fretful,andmelancholy;sheseemed
likeaspoiledactressoffthestage,over-stimulatedbyapplause,andexhausted
bytheexertionsofsupportingafictitiouscharacter.—Whenherhousewasfilled
withwell-dressedcrowds,whenitblazedwithlights,andresoundedwithmusic
anddancing,LadyDelacour,inthecharacterofMistressoftheRevels,shonethe
soulandspiritofpleasureandfrolic:butthemomentthecompanyretired,when
themusicceased,andthelightswereextinguishing,thespellwasdissolved.
Shewouldsometimeswalkupanddowntheemptymagnificentsaloon,
absorbedinthoughtsseeminglyofthemostpainfulnature.
ForsomedaysafterBelinda’sarrivalintownsheheardnothingofLord
Delacour;hisladynevermentionedhisname,exceptonceaccidentally,asshe
wasshowingMissPortmanthehouse,shesaid,“Don’topenthatdoor—those
areonlyLordDelacour’sapartments.”—ThefirsttimeBelindaeversawhis
lordship,hewasdeaddrunkinthearmsoftwofootmen,whowerecarryinghim
upstairstohisbedchamber:hislady,whowasjustreturnedfromRanelagh,


passedbyhimonthelanding-placewithalookofsovereigncontempt.
“Whatisthematter?—Whoisthis?”saidBelinda.
“OnlythebodyofmyLordDelacour,”saidherladyship:“hisbearershave
broughtitupthewrongstaircase.Takeitdownagain,mygoodfriends:lethis
lordshipgohisownway.Don’tlooksoshockedandamazed,Belinda—don’t
looksonew,child:thisfuneralofmylord’sintellectsistomeanightly,or,”
addedherladyship,lookingatherwatchandyawning,“IbelieveIshouldsaya
dailyceremony—sixo’clock,Iprotest!”
Thenextmorning,asherladyshipandMissPortmanweresittingatthe
breakfast-table,afteraverylatebreakfast,LordDelacourenteredtheroom.
“LordDelacour,sober,mydear,”—saidherladyshiptoMissPortman,bywayof
introducinghim.Prejudicedbyherladyship,Belindawasinclinedtothinkthat
LordDelacoursoberwouldnotbemoreagreeableormorerationalthanLord
Delacourdrunk.“Howolddoyoutakemylordtobe?”whisperedherladyship,
asshesawBelinda’seyefixeduponthetremblinghandwhichcarriedhisteacup
tohislips:“I’lllayyouawager,”continuedshealoud—“I’lllayyourbirth-night
dress,goldfringe,andlaurelwreathsintothebargain,thatyoudon’tguess
right.”
“Ihopeyoudon’tthinkofgoingtothisbirth-night,ladyDelacour?”saidhis
lordship.
“I’llgiveyousixguesses,andI’llbetyoudon’tcomewithinsixteenyears,”
pursuedherladyship,stilllookingatBelinda.
“Youcannothavethenewcarriageyouhavebespoken,”saidhislordship.“Will
youdomethehonourtoattendtome,LadyDelacour?”
“Thenyouwon’tventuretoguess,Belinda,”saidherladyship(without
honouringherlordwiththesmallestportionofherattention)—“Well,Ibelieve
youareright—forcertainlyyouwouldguesshimtobesix-and-sixty,insteadof
six-and-thirty;butthenhecandrinkmorethananytwo-leggedanimalinhis
majesty’sdominions,andyouknowthatisanadvantagewhichiswellworth
twentyorthirtyyearsofaman’slife—especiallytopersonswhohavenoother
chanceofdistinguishingthemselves.”


“Ifsomepeoplehaddistinguishedthemselvesalittlelessintheworld,”retorted
hislordship,“itwouldhavebeenaswell!”
“Aswell!—howflat!”
“FlatlythenIhavetoinformyou,LadyDelacour,thatIwillneitherbe
contradictednorlaughedat—youunderstandme,—itwouldbeaswell,flator
notflat,myLadyDelacour,ifyourladyshipwouldattendmoretoyourown
conduct,andlesstoothers!”
“Tothatofothers—hislordshipmeans,ifhemeansanything.Apropos,Belinda,
didnotyoutellmeClarenceHerveyiscomingtotown?—Youhaveneverseen
him.—Well,I’lldescribehimtoyoubynegatives.Heisnotamanwhoever
saysanythingflat—heisnotamanwhomusthewoundupwithhalfadozen
bottlesofchampaignbeforehecango—heisnotamanwho,whenhedoesgo,
goeswrong,andwon’tbesetright—heisnotaman,whosewholeconsequence,
ifheweremarried,woulddependonhiswife—heisnotaman,who,ifhewere
married,wouldbesodesperatelyafraidofbeinggovernedbyhiswife,thathe
wouldturngambler,jockey,orsot,merelytoshowthathecouldgovern
himself.”
“Goon,LadyDelacour,”saidhislordship,whohadbeeninvainattemptingto
balanceaspoonontheedgeofhisteacupduringthewholeofthisspeech,which
wasdeliveredwiththemostanimateddesiretoprovoke—“Goon,Lady
Delacour—allIdesireis,thatyoushouldgoon;ClarenceHerveywillbemuch
obligedtoyou,andIamsuresoshallI.Goon,myLadyDelacour—goon,and
you’llobligeme.”
“Ineverwillobligeyou,mylord,thatyoumaydependupon,”criedher
ladyship,withalookofindignantcontempt.
Hislordshipwhistled,rangforhishorses,andlookedathisnailswithasmile.
Belinda,shockedandinagreatconfusion,rosetoleavetheroom,dreadingthe
grosscontinuanceofthismatrimonialdialogue.
“Mr.Hervey,mylady,”saidafootman,openingthedoor;andhewasscarcely
announced,whenherladyshipwentforwardtoreceivehimwithanairofeasy
familiarity.—“Wherehaveyouburiedyourself,Hervey,thisagepast?”cried
she,shakinghandswithhim:“there’sabsolutelynolivinginthismoststupidof
allworldswithoutyou.—Mr.Hervey—MissPortman—butdon’tlookasifyou


werehalfasleep,man—Whatareyoudreamingof,Clarence?Whylooksyour
gracesoheavilyto-day?”
“Oh!Ihavepassedamiserablenight,”repliedClarence,throwinghimselfinto
anactor’sattitude,andspeakinginafinetoneofstagedeclamation.
“Whatwasyourdream,mylord?Iprayyou,tellme,”
saidherladyshipinasimilartone.—Clarencewenton—
“OLord,methoughtwhatpainitwastodance!Whatdreadfulnoiseoffiddlesin
myears!Whatsightsofuglybelleswithinmyeyes!----Thencamewandering
by,Ashadowlikeadevil,withredhair,‘Dizen’dwithflowers;andshebawl’d
outaloud,Clarenceiscome;false,fleeting,perjuredClarence!”
“O,Mrs.Luttridgetothelife!”criedLadyDelacour:“Iknowwhereyouhave
beennow,andIpityyou—butsitdown,”saidshe,makingroomforhim
betweenBelindaandherselfuponthesofa,“sitdownhere,andtellmewhat
couldtakeyoutothatodiousMrs.Luttridge’s.”
Mr.Herveythrewhimselfonthesofa;LordDelacourwhistledasbefore,andleft
theroomwithoututteringasyllable.
“Butmydreamhasmademeforgetmyselfstrangely,”saidMr.Hervey,turning
toBelinda,andproducingherbracelet:“Mrs.StanhopepromisedmethatifI
delivereditsafely,Ishouldberewardedwiththehonourofputtingitonthe
owner’sfairarm.”Aconversationnowtookplaceonthenatureofladies’
promises—onfashionablebracelets—onthesizeofthearmoftheVenusde
Medici—onLadyDelacour’sandMissPortman’s—onthethicklegsofancient
statues—andonthevariousdefectsandabsurditiesofMrs.Luttridgeandher
wig.OnallthesetopicsMr.Herveydisplayedmuchwit,gallantry,andsatire,
withsohappyaneffect,thatBelinda,whenhetookleave,waspreciselyofher
aunt’sopinion,thathewasamostuncommonlypleasantyoungman.
ClarenceHerveymighthavebeenmorethanapleasantyoungman,ifhehadnot
beensmittenwiththedesireofbeingthoughtsuperiorineverything,andof
beingthemostadmiredpersoninallcompanies.Hehadbeenearlyflatteredwith
theideathathewasamanofgenius;andheimaginedthat,assuch,hewas
entitledtobeimprudent,wild,andeccentric.Heaffectedsingularity,inorderto
establishhisclaimstogenius.Hehadconsiderableliterarytalents,bywhichhe


wasdistinguishedatOxford;buthewassodreadfullyafraidofpassingfora
pedant,thatwhenhecameintothecompanyoftheidleandtheignorant,he
pretendedtodisdaineveryspeciesofknowledge.Hischameleoncharacter
seemedtovaryindifferentlights,andaccordingtothedifferentsituationsin
whichhehappenedtobeplaced.Hecouldbeallthingstoallmen—andtoall
women.Hewassupposedtobeafavouritewiththefairsex;andofallhis
variousexcellenciesanddefects,therewasnoneonwhichhevaluedhimselfso
muchasonhisgallantry.Hewasnotprofligate;hehadastrongsenseofhonour,
andquickfeelingsofhumanity;buthewassoeasilyled,orrathersoeasily
excitedbyhiscompanions,andhiscompanionswerenowofsuchasort,thatit
wasprobablehewouldsoonbecomevicious.AstohisconnexionwithLady
Delacour,hewouldhavestartedwithhorrorattheideaofdisturbingthepeaceof
afamily;butinherfamily,hesaid,therewasnopeacetodisturb;hewasvainof
havingitseenbytheworldthathewasdistinguishedbyaladyofherwitand
fashion,andhedidnotthinkitincumbentonhimtobemorescrupulousormore
attentivetoappearancesthanherladyship.ByLordDelacour’sjealousyhewas
sometimesprovoked,sometimesamused,andsometimesflattered.Hewas
constantlyofallherladyship’spartiesinpublicandprivate;consequentlyhesaw
Belindaalmosteveryday,andeverydayhesawherwithincreasingadmiration
ofherbeauty,andwithincreasingdreadofbeingtakenintomarryanieceof
“thecatch-match-maker,”thenamebywhichMrs.Stanhopewasknown
amongstthemenofhisacquaintance.Youngladieswhohavethemisfortuneto
beconductedbytheseartfuldames,arealwayssupposedtobepartnersinallthe
speculations,thoughtheirnamesmaynotappearinthefirm.Ifhehadnotbeen
prejudicedbythecharacterofheraunt,Mr.HerveywouldhavethoughtBelinda
anundesigning,unaffectedgirl;butnowhesuspectedherofartificeinevery
word,look,andmotion;andevenwhenhefelthimselfmostcharmedbyher
powersofpleasing,hewasmostinclinedtodespiseher,forwhathethought
suchprematureproficiencyinscientificcoquetry.Hehadnotsufficient
resolutiontokeepbeyondthesphereofherattraction;but,frequently,whenhe
foundhimselfwithinit,hecursedhisfolly,anddrewbackwithsuddenterror.
Hismannertowardsherwassovariableandinconsistent,thatsheknewnothow
tointerpretitslanguage.Sometimesshefancied,thatwithalltheeloquenceof
eyeshesaid,“Iadoreyou,Belinda;”atothertimessheimaginedthathis
guardedsilencemeanttowarnherthathewassoentangledbyLadyDelacour,
thathecouldnotextricatehimselffromhersnares.Wheneverthislastidea
struckher,itexcited,inthemostedifyingmanner,herindignationagainst
coquetryingeneral,andagainstherladyship’sinparticular:shebecame
wonderfullyclear-sightedtoalltheimproprietiesofherladyship’sconduct.


Belinda’snewlyacquiredmoralsensewassomuchshocked,thatsheactually
wroteafullstatementofherobservationsandherscruplestoherauntStanhope;
concludingbyarequest,thatshemightnotremainundertheprotectionofalady,
ofwhosecharactershecouldnotapprove,andwhoseintimacymightperhapsbe
injurioustoherreputation,ifnottoherprinciples.
Mrs.StanhopeansweredBelinda’sletterinaveryguardedstyle;sherebukedher
nieceseverelyforherimprudenceinmentioningnamesinsuchamanner,ina
lettersentbythecommonpost;assuredherthatherreputationwasinnodanger;
thatshehopednonieceofherswouldsetupforaprude—acharactermore
suspectedbymenoftheworldthaneventhatofacoquette;thattheperson
alludedtowasaperfectlyfitchaperonforanyyoungladytoappearwithin
public,aslongasshewasvisitedbythefirstpeopleintown;thatastoanything
intheprivateconductofthatperson,andastoanyprivatebrouillieriesbetween
herandherlord,Belindashouldobserveonthesedangeroustopicsaprofound
silence,bothinherlettersandherconversation;thataslongasthelady
continuedundertheprotectionofherhusband,theworldmightwhisper,but
wouldnotspeakout;thatastoBelinda’sownprinciples,shewouldbeutterly
inexcusableif,aftertheeducationshehadreceived,theycouldbehurtbyany
badexamples;thatshecouldnotbetoocautiousinhermanagementofamanof
----‘scharacter;thatshecouldhavenoseriouscauseforjealousyinthequarter
sheapprehended,asmarriagetherecouldnotbetheobject;andtherewassucha
differenceofage,thatnopermanentinfluencecouldprobablybeobtainedbythe
lady;thatthemostcertainmethodforMissPortmantoexposeherselftothe
ridiculeofoneoftheparties,andtothetotalneglectoftheother,wouldbeto
betrayanxietyorjealousy;that,inshort,ifshewerefoolenoughtoloseherown
heart,therewouldbelittlechanceofherbeingwiseenoughtowinthatof------,
whowasevidentlyamanofgallantryratherthanofsentiment,andwhowas
knowntoplayhiscardswell,andtohavegoodluckwheneverheartswere
trumps.
Belinda’sfearsofLadyDelacour,asadangerousrival,weremuchquietedby
theartfulinsinuationsofMrs.Stanhope,withrespecttoherage,&c.;andin
proportionasherfearssubsided,sheblamedherselfforhavingwrittentoo
harshlyofherladyship’sconduct.TheideathatwhilstsheappearedasLady
Delacour’sfriendsheoughtnottopropagateanystoriestoherdisadvantage,
operatedpowerfullyuponBelinda’smind,andshereproachedherselfforhaving
toldevenherauntwhatshehadseeninprivate.Shethoughtthatshehadbeen
guiltyoftreachery,andshewroteagainimmediatelytoMrs.Stanhope,to


conjurehertoburnherlastletter;toforget,ifpossible,itscontents;andto
believethatnotasyllableofasimilarnatureshouldevermorebeheardfrom
her:shewasjustconcludingwiththewords—“Ihopemydearauntwillconsider
allthisasanerrorofmyjudgment,andnotofmyheart,”whenLadyDelacour
burstintotheroom,exclaiming,inatoneofgaiety,“Tragedyorcomedy,
Belinda?Themasqueradedressesarecome.Buthow’sthis?”addedshe,looking
fullinBelinda’sface—“tearsintheeyes!blushesinthecheeks!tremorsinthe
joints!andlettersshufflingaway!But,younoviceofnovices,howawkwardly
shuffled!—AnieceofMrs.Stanhope’s,andsounpractisedashuffler!—Andisit
crediblesheshouldtrembleinthisridiculouswayaboutalove-letterortwo?”
“Nolove-letters,indeed,LadyDelacour,”saidBelinda,holdingthepaperfast,as
herladyship,halfinplay,halfinearnest,attemptedtosnatchitfromher.
“Nolove-letters!thenitmustbetreason;andseeitImust,byallthat’sgood,or
byallthat’sbad—IseethenameofDelacour!”—andherladyshipabsolutely
seizedthelettersbyforce,inspiteofallBelinda’sstrugglesandentreaties.
“Ibeg,Irequest,Iconjureyounottoreadit!”criedMissPortman,claspingher
hands.“Readmine,readmine,ifyoumust,butdon’treadmyauntStanhope’s—
Oh!Ibeg,Ientreat,Iconjureyou!”andshethrewherselfuponherknees.
“Youbeg!youentreat!youconjure!Why,thisisliketheDuchessde
Brinvilliers,whowroteonherpaperofpoisons,‘Whoeverfindsthis,Ientreat,I
conjurethem,inthenameofmoresaintsthanIcanremember,nottoopenthe
paperanyfarther.’—Whatasimpleton,toknowsolittleofthenatureof
curiosity!”
Asshespoke,LadyDelacouropenedMrs.Stanhope’sletter,readitfrom
beginningtoend,foldeditupcoollywhenshehadfinishedit,andsimplysaid,
“Thepersonalludedtoisalmostasbadashernameatfulllength:doesMrs.
Stanhopethinknoonecanmakeoutaninuendoinalibel,orfillupablank,but
anattorney-general?”pointingtoablankinMrs.Stanhope’sletter,leftforthe
nameofClarenceHervey.
Belindawasintoomuchconfusioneithertospeakorthink.
“Youwererighttosweartheywerenotlove-letters,”pursuedherladyship,
layingdownthepapers.“IprotestIsnatchedthembywayoffrolic—Ibeg
pardon.AllIcandonowisnottoreadtherest.”


“Nay—Ibeg—Iwish—Iinsistuponyourreadingmine,”saidBelinda.
WhenLadyDelacourhadreadit,hercountenancesuddenlychanged—“Wortha
hundredofyouraunt’s,Ideclare,”saidshe,pattingBelinda’scheek.“Whata
treasuretomeetwithanythinglikeanewheart!—allhearts,now-a-days,are
second-hand,atbest.”
LadyDelacourspokewithatoneoffeelingwhichBelindahadneverheardfrom
herbefore,andwhichatthismomenttouchedhersomuch,thatshetookher
ladyship’shandandkissedit.
CHAPTERII.
MASKS
“Wherewerewewhenallthisbegan?”criedLadyDelacour,forcingherselfto
resumeanairofgaiety—“O,masqueradewastheorderoftheday---tragedyor
comedy?whichsuitsyourgeniusbest,mydear?”
“Whicheversuitsyourladyship’stasteleast.”
“Why,mywoman,Marriott,saysIoughttobetragedy;and,uponthenotionthat
peoplealwayssucceedbestwhentheytakecharactersdiametricallyoppositeto
theirown—ClarenceHervey’sprinciple—perhapsyoudon’tthinkthathehas
anyprinciples;butthereyouarewrong;Idoassureyou,hehassoundprinciples
—oftaste.”
“Ofthat,”saidBelinda,withaconstrainedsmile,“hegivesthemostconvincing
proof,byhisadmiringyourladyshipsomuch.”
“AndbyhisadmiringMissPortmansomuchmore.Butwhilstwearemaking
speechestooneanother,poorMarriottisstandingindistress,likeGarrick,
betweentragedyandcomedy.”
LadyDelacouropenedherdressing-roomdoor,andpointedtoherasshestood
withthedressofthecomicmuseononearm,andthetragicmuseontheother.
“IamafraidIhavenotspiritsenoughtoundertakethecomicmuse,”saidMiss
Portman.


Marriott,whowasapersonageofprodigiousconsequence,andthejudgeinthe
lastresortathermistress’stoilette,lookedextremelyoutofhumourathaving
beenkeptwaitingsolong;andyetmoresoattheideathatherappellant
jurisdictioncouldbedisputed.
“Yourladyship’stallerthanMissPortmanbyhalfahead,”saidMarriott,“andto
besurewillbestbecometragedywiththislongtrain;besides,Ihadsettledall
therestofyourladyship’sdress.Tragedy,theysay,isalwaystall;and,no
offence,yourladyship’stallerthanMissPortmanbyhalfahead.”
“Forheadreadinch,”saidLadyDelacour,“ifyouplease.”
“Whenthingsaresettled,onecan’tbeartohavethemunsettled—butyour
ladyshipmusthaveyourownway,tobesure—I’llsaynomore,”criedshe,
throwingdownthedresses.
“Stay,Marriott,”saidLadyDelacour,andsheplacedherselfbetweentheangry
waiting-maidandthedoor.
“Whywillyou,whoarethebestcreatureintheworld,putyourselfintothese
furiesaboutnothing?Havepatiencewithus,andyoushallbesatisfied.”
“That’sanotheraffair,”saidMarriott.
“MissPortman,”continuedherladyship,“don’ttalkofnothavingspirits,you
thatarealllife!—Whatsayyou,Belinda?—Oyes,youmustbethecomicmuse;
andI,itseems,mustbetragedy,becauseMarriotthasapassionforseeingme
‘comesweepingby.’AndbecauseMarriottmusthaveherownwayinevery
thing—sherulesmewitharodofiron,mydear,sotragedyIneedsmustbe.—
_Marriottknowsherpower_.”
TherewasanairofextremevexationinLadyDelacour’scountenanceasshe
pronouncedtheselastwords,inwhichevidentlymorewasmeantthanmetthe
ear.UponmanyoccasionsMissPortmanhadobserved,thatMarriottexercised
despoticauthorityoverhermistress;andshehadseen,withsurprise,thatalady,
whowouldnotyieldaniotaofpowertoherhusband,submittedherselftoevery
capriceofthemostinsolentofwaiting-women.Forsometime,Belinda
imaginedthatthissubmissionwasmerelyanair,asshehadseensomeotherfine
ladiesproudofappearingtobegovernedbyafavouritemaid;butshewassoon
convincedthatMarriottwasnofavouritewithLadyDelacour;thatherladyship’s


wasnotproudhumility,butfear.Itseemedcertainthatawoman,extravagantly
fondofherownwill,wouldneverhavegivenitupwithoutsomevery
substantialreason.ItseemedasifMarriottwasinpossessionofsomesecret,
whichshouldforeverremainunknown.ThisideahadoccurredtoMissPortman
morethanonce,butneversoforciblyasuponthepresentoccasion.Therehad
alwaysbeensomemysteryaboutherladyship’stoilette:atcertainhoursdoors
werebolted,anditwasimpossibleforanybodybutMarriotttoobtain
admission.MissPortmanatfirstimaginedthatLadyDelacourdreadedthe
discoveryofhercosmeticsecrets,butherladyship’srougewassoglaring,and
herpearlpowderwassoobvious,thatBelindawasconvincedtheremustbe
someothercauseforthistoilettesecrecy.Therewasalittlecabinetbeyondher
bedchamber,whichLadyDelacourcalledherboudoir,towhichtherewasan
entrancebyabackstaircase;butnooneeverenteredtherebutMarriott.One
night,LadyDelacour,afterdancingwithgreatspiritataball,atherownhouse,
faintedsuddenly:MissPortmanattendedhertoherbedchamber,butMarriott
beggedthatherladymightbeleftalonewithher,andshewouldbynomeans
sufferBelindatofollowherintotheboudoir.AllthesethingsBelindarecollected
inthespaceofafewseconds,asshestoodcontemplatingMarriottandthe
dresses.Thehurryofgettingreadyforthemasquerade,however,dispelledthese
thoughts,andbythetimeshewasdressed,theideaofwhatClarenceHervey
wouldthinkofherappearancewasuppermostinhermind.Shewasanxiousto
knowwhetherhewoulddiscoverherinthecharacterofthecomicmuse.Lady
Delacourwasdiscontentedwithhertragicattire,andshegrewstillmoreoutof
humourwithherself,whenshesawBelinda.
“IprotestMarriotthasmadeaperfectfrightofme,”saidherladyship,asshegot
intohercarriage,“andI’mpositivemydresswouldbecomeyouamillionof
timesbetterthanyourown.”
MissPortmanregrettedthatitwastoolatetochange.
“Notatalltoolate,mydear,”saidLadyDelacour;“nevertoolateforwomento
changetheirminds,theirdress,ortheirlovers.Seriously,youknow,weareto
callatmyfriendLadySingleton’s—sheseesmasksto-night:I’mquiteintimate
there;I’llmakeherletmestepuptoherownroom,wherenosoulcaninterrupt
us,andtherewecanchangeourdresses,andMarriottwillknownothingofthe
matter.Marriott’safaithfulcreature,andveryfondofme;fondofpowertoo—
butwhoisnot?—wemustallhaveourfaults:onewouldnotquarrelwithsucha
goodcreatureasMarriottforatrifle.”Thensuddenlychanginghertone,she


said,“Notahumanbeingwillfindusoutatthemasquerade;fornoonebutMrs.
Frekeknowsthatwearethetwomuses.ClarenceHerveyswearsheshould
knowmeinanydisguise—butIdefyhim—Ishalltakespecialdelightin
puzzlinghim.HarriotFrekehastoldhim,inconfidence,thatI’mtobethe
widowBrady,inman’sclothes:nowthat’stobeHarriot’sowncharacter;so
Herveywillmakefineconfusion.”
AssoonastheygottoLadySingleton’s,LadyDelacourandMissPortman
immediatelywentupstairstoexchangedresses.PoorBelinda,nowthatshefelt
herselfinspiritstoundertakethecomicmuse,wasrathervexedtobeobligedto
giveupherbecomingcharacter;buttherewasnoresistingthepoliteenergyof
LadyDelacour’svanity.Herladyshipranasquickaslightningintoacloset
withinthedressing-room,sayingtoLadySingleton’swoman,whoattemptedto
followwith—“CanIdoanythingforyourladyship?”—“No,no,no—nothing,
nothing—thankye,thankye,—Iwantnoassistance—Ineverletanybodydo
anythingformebutMarriott;”andsheboltedherselfinthecloset.Inafew
minutesshehalfopenedthedoor,threwouthertragicrobes,andcried,“Here,
MissPortman,givemeyours—quick—andlet’sseewhethercomedyortragedy
willbereadyfirst.”
“Lordblessandforgiveme,”saidLadySingleton’swoman,whenLady
Delacouratlastthrewopenthedoor,whenshewascompletelydressed—“butif
yourla’shiphasnotbeendressingallthistimeinthatden,withoutanythingin
theshapeofalooking-glass,andnottoletmehelp!Ithatshouldhavebeenso
proud.”
LadyDelacourputhalfaguineaintothewaiting-maid’shand,laughed
affectedlyatherownwhimsicalities,anddeclaredthatshecouldalwaysdress
herselfbetterwithoutaglassthanwithone.Allthiswentoffadmirablywell
witheverybodybutMissPortman;shecouldnothelpthinkingitextraordinary
thatapersonwhowasobviouslyfondofbeingwaiteduponwouldneversuffer
anypersontoassistherathertoiletexceptMarriott,awomanofwhomshewas
evidentlyafraid.LadyDelacour’squickeyesawcuriositypaintedinBelinda’s
countenance,andforamomentshewasembarrassed;butshesoonrecovered
herself,andendeavouredtoturnthecourseofMissPortman’sthoughtsby
whisperingtohersomenonsenseaboutClarenceHervey—acabalisticalname,
whichsheknewhadthepower,whenpronouncedinacertaintone,ofthrowing
Belindaintoconfusion.


Thefirstpersontheysaw,whentheywentintothedrawing-roomatLady
Singleton’s,wasthisveryClarenceHervey,whowasnotinamasqueradedress.
Hehadlaidawagerwithoneofhisacquaintance,thathecouldperformthepart
oftheserpent,suchasheisseeninFuseli’swell-knownpicture.Forthispurpose
hehadexertedmuchingenuityintheinventionandexecutionofalengthof
coiledskin,whichhemanoeuvredwithgreatdexterity,bymeansofinternal
wires;hisgranddifficultyhadbeentomanufacturetheraysthatweretocome
fromhiseyes.Hehadcontrivedasetofphosphoricrays,whichhewascertain
wouldcharmallthefairdaughtersofEve.Heforgot,itseems,thatphosphorus
couldnotwellbeseenbycandlelight.Whenhewasjustequippedasaserpent,
hisrayssetfiretopartofhisenvelope,anditwaswiththegreatestdifficultythat
hewasextricated.Heescapedunhurt,buthisserpent’sskinwasutterly
consumed;nothingremainedbutthemelancholyspectacleofitsskeleton.He
wasobligedtogiveupthehopesofshiningatthemasquerade,butheresolvedto
beatLadySingleton’sthathemightmeetLadyDelacourandMissPortman.The
momentthatthetragicandcomicmuseappeared,heinvokedthemwithmuch
humourandmockpathos,declaringthatheknewnotwhichofthemcouldbest
singhisadventure.Afterarecitalofhismisfortunehadentertainedthecompany,
andafterthemuseshadperformedtheirpartstothesatisfactionoftheaudience
andtheirown,theconversationceasedtobesupportedinmasqueradecharacter;
musesandharlequins,gipsiesandCleopatras,begantotalkoftheirprivate
affairs,andofthenewsandthescandaloftheday.
Agroupofgentlemen,amongstwhomwasClarenceHervey,gatheredroundthe
tragicmuse;asMr.Herveyhadhintedthatheknewshewasapersonof
distinction,thoughhewouldnottellhername.Afterhehadexercisedhiswitfor
sometime,withoutobtainingfromthetragicmuseonesinglesyllable,he
whispered,“LadyDelacour,whythisunnaturalreserve?Doyouimaginethat,
throughthistragicaldisguise,Ihavenotfoundyouout?”
Thetragicmuse,apparentlyabsorbedinmeditation,vouchsafednoreply.
“Thedevilawordcanyougetforyourpains,Hervey,”saidagentlemanofhis
acquaintance,whojoinedthepartyatthisinstant.“Whydidn’tyoustickto
t’othermuse,who,todoherjustice,isasarrantaflirtasyourheartcouldwish
for?”
“There’sdangerinflirting,”saidClarence,“withanarrantflirtofMrs.
Stanhope’straining.There’sakindofelectricityaboutthatgirl.Ihaveasortof


cobwebfeeling,animaginarynetcomingalloverme.”
“Fore-warnedisfore-armed,”repliedhiscompanion:“amanmustbeanovice
indeedthatcouldbetakeninatthistimeofdaybyanieceofMrs.Stanhope’s.”
“ThatMrs.Stanhopemustbeagoodcleverdame,faith,”saidathirdgentleman:
“there’snolessthansixofhernieceswhomshehasgotoffwithinthesefour
winters—notoneof‘emnowthathasnotmadeacatch-match.—There’sthe
eldestoftheset,Mrs.Tollemache,whathadshe,inthedevil’sname,tosetup
withintheworldbutapairofgoodeyes?—heraunt,tobesure,taughtherthe
useofthemearlyenough:theymighthaverolledtoalleternitybeforethey
wouldhaverolledmeoutofmysenses;butyouseetheydidTollemache’s
business.However,theyaregoingtopartnow,Ihear:Tollemachewastiredof
herbeforethehoney-moonwasover,asIforetold.Thenthere’sthemusicalgirl.
Joddrell,whohasnomoreearthanapost,wentandmarriedher,becausehehad
amindtosetupforaconnoisseurinmusic;andMrs.Stanhopeflatteredhimthat
hewasone.”
Thegentlemenjoinedinthegenerallaugh:thetragicmusesighed.
“EvenweresheattheSchoolforScandal,thetragicmusedarenotlaugh,except
behindhermask,”saidClarenceHervey.
“Farbeitfromhertolaughatthosefollieswhichshemustforeverdeplore!”
saidBelinda,inafeignedvoice.—“Whatmiseriesspringfromtheseill-suited
marriages!Thevictimsaresacrificedbeforetheyhavesenseenoughtoavoid
theirfate.”
ClarenceHerveyimaginedthatthisspeechalludedtoLadyDelacour’sown
marriage.
“DamnmeifIknowanywoman,youngorold,thatwouldavoidbeingmarried,
ifshecould,though,”criedSirPhilipBaddely,agentlemanwhoalwayssupplied
“eachvacuityofsense”withanoath:“but,Rochfort,didn’tValletonmarryone
ofthesenieces?”
“Yes:shewasamightyfinedancer,andhadgoodlegsenough:Mrs.Stanhope
gotpoorValletontofightaduelaboutherplaceinacountrydance,andthenhe
wassopleasedwithhimselfforhisprowess,thathemarriedthegirl.”


Belindamadeanefforttochangeherseat,butshewasencompassedsothatshe
couldnotretreat.
“AstoJennyMason,thefifthofthenieces,”continuedthewittygentleman,“she
wasasbrownasmahogany,andhadneithereyes,nose,mouth,norlegs:what
Mrs.StanhopecoulddowithherIoftenwondered;butshetookcourage,rouged
herup,setheragoingasadasher,andshedashedherselfintoTomLevit’s
curricle,andTomcouldn’tgetheroutagaintillshewasthehonourableMrs.
Levit:shethentookthereinsintoherownhands,andIhearshe’sdrivinghim
andherselftheroadtoruinasfastastheycangallop.AsforthisBelinda
Portman,‘twasagoodhittosendhertoLadyDelacour’s;but,Itakeitshehangs
uponhand;forlastwinter,whenIwasatBath,shewashawkedaboutevery
where,andtheauntwaspuffingherwithmightandmain.Youheardofnothing,
whereveryouwent,butofBelindaPortman,andBelindaPortman’s
accomplishments:BelindaPortman,andheraccomplishments,I’llswear,were
aswelladvertisedasPackwood’srazorstrops.”
“Mrs.Stanhopeoverdidthebusiness,Ithink,”resumedthegentlemanwho
begantheconversation:“girlsbroughttothehammerthiswaydon’tgooffwell.
It’strue,ChristiehimselfisnomatchfordameStanhope.Manyofmy
acquaintanceweretemptedtogoandlookatthepremises,butnotone,youmay
besure,hadathoughtofbecomingatenantforlife.”
“That’sanhonourreservedforyou,ClarenceHervey,”saidanother,tappinghim
upontheshoulder.—“Giveyejoy,Hervey;giveyejoy!”
“Me!”saidClarence,starting.
“I’llbehangedifhedidn’tchangecolour,”saidhisfacetiouscompanion;andall
theyoungmenagainjoinedinalaugh.
“Laughon,mymerrymenall!”criedClarence;“butthedevil’sinitifIdon’t
knowmyownmindbetterthananyofyou.Youdon’timagineIgotoLady
Delacour’stolookforawife?—BelindaPortman’sagoodprettygirl,butwhat
then?DoyouthinkI’manidiot?—doyouthinkIcouldbetakeninbyoneofthe
Stanhopeschool?DoyouthinkIdon’tseeasplainlyasanyofyouthatBelinda
Portman’sacompositionofartandaffectation?”
“Hush—notsoloud,Clarence;hereshecomes,”saidhiscompanion.“The
comicmuse,isnotshe—?”


LadyDelacour,atthismoment,camelightlytrippingtowardsthem,and
addressingherself,inthecharacterofthecomicmuse,toHervey,exclaimed,
“Hervey!myHervey!mostfavouredofmyvotaries,whydoyouforsakeme?
‘Whymournsmyfriend,whyweepshisdowncasteye?Thateyewheremirth
andfancyusedtoshine.’
Thoughyouhavelostyourserpent’sform,yetyoumaypleaseanyofthefair
daughtersofEveinyourown.”
Mr.Herveybowed;allthegentlemenwhostoodnearhimsmiled;thetragic
musegaveaninvoluntarysigh.
“CouldIborrowasigh,oratear,frommytragicsister,”pursuedLadyDelacour,
“howeverunbecomingtomycharacter,Iwould,ifonlysighsortearscanwin
theheartofClarenceHervey:—letmepractise”—andherladyshippractised
sighingwithmuchcomiceffect.
“Persuasivewordsandmorepersuasivesighs,”
saidClarenceHervey.
“AgoodboldStanhopecastofthenet,faith,”whisperedoneofhiscompanions.
“Melpomene,hastthouforgotthyselftomarble?”pursuedLadyDelacour.“Iam
notverywell,”whisperedMissPortmantoherladyship:“couldwegetaway?”
“GetawayfromClarenceHervey,doyoumean?”repliedherladyship,ina
whisper:“‘tisnoteasy,butwe’lltrywhatcanbedone,ifitisnecessary.”
Belindahadnopowertoreplytothisraillery;indeed,shescarcelyheardthe
wordsthatweresaidtoher;butsheputherarmwithinLadyDelacour’s,who,to
hergreatrelief,hadthegoodnaturetoleavetheroomwithherimmediately.Her
ladyship,thoughshewouldsacrificethefeelingsofothers,without
compunction,tohervanity,wheneverthepowerofherwitwasdisputed,yet
towardsthosebywhomitwasacknowledgedsheshowedsomemercy.
“Whatisthematterwiththechild?”saidshe,asshewentdownthestaircase.
“Nothing,ifIcouldhaveair,”saidBelinda.Therewasacrowdofservantsinthe


hall.
“WhydoesLadyDelacouravoidmesopertinaciously?WhatcrimehaveI
committed,thatIwasnotfavouredwithoneword?”saidClarenceHervey,who
hadfollowedthemdownstairs,andovertooktheminthehall.
“Doseeifyoucanfindanyofmypeople,”criedLadyDelacour.
“LadyDelacour,thecomicmuse!”exclaimedMr.Hervey.“Ithought—”
“Nomatterwhatyouthought,”interruptedherladyship.“Letmycarriagedraw
up,forhere’sayoungfriendofyourstremblingsoaboutnothing,thatIamhalf
afraidshewillfaint;andyouknowitwouldnotbesopleasanttofainthere
amongstfootmen.Stay!thisroomisempty.O,Ididnotmeantotellyouto
stay,”saidshetoHervey,whoinvoluntarilyfollowedherintheutmost
consternation.
“I’mperfectlywell,now—perfectlywell,”saidBelinda.
“Perfectlyasimpleton,Ithink,”saidLadyDelacour.“Nay,mydear,youmustbe
ruled;yourmaskmustcomeoff:didn’tyoutellmeyouwantedair?—What
now!ThisisnotthefirsttimeClarenceHerveyhaseverseenyourfacewithouta
mask,isit?It’sthefirsttimeindeedhe,oranybodyelse,eversawitofsucha
colour,Ibelieve.”
WhenLadyDelacourpulledoffBelinda’smask,herfacewas,duringthefirst
instant,pale;thenextmoment,crimsonedoverwithaburningblush.
“Whatisthematterwithyeboth?Howhestands!”saidLadyDelacour,turning
toMr.Hervey.“Didyouneverseeawomanblushbefore?—ordidyouneversay
ordoanythingtomakeawomanblushbefore?WillyougiveMissPortmana
glassofwater?—there’ssomebehindyouonthatsideboard,man!—buthehas
neithereyes,ears,norunderstanding.—Dogoaboutyourbusiness,”saidher
ladyship,pushinghimtowardsthedoor—“Dogoaboutyourbusiness,forI
haven’tcommonpatiencewithyou:onmyconscienceIbelievetheman’sin
love—andnotwithme!That’ssal-volatileforyou,child,Iperceive,”continued
shetoBelinda.“O,youcanwalknow—butrememberyouareonslippery
ground:rememberClarenceHerveyisnotamarryingman,andyouarenota
marriedwoman.”


“Itisperfectlyindifferenttome,madam,”Belindasaid,withavoiceandlookof
proudindignation.
“LadyDelacour,yourcarriagehasdrawnup,”saidClarenceHervey,returningto
thedoor,butwithoutentering.
“Thenputthis‘perfectlywell’and‘perfectlyindifferent’ladyintoit,”saidLady
Delacour.
Heobeyedwithoututteringasyllable.
“Dumb!absolutelydumb!Iprotest,”saidherladyship,ashehandedherin
afterwards.“Why,Clarence,thecastingofyourserpent’sskinseemstohave
quitechangedyournature—nothingbutthesimplicityofthedoveleft;andI
expecttohear,youcooingpresently—don’tyou,MissPortman?”Sheordered
thecoachmantodrivetothePantheon.
“TothePantheon!Iwasinhopesyourladyshipwouldhavethegoodnesstoset
medownathome;forindeedIshallbeaburdentoyouandeverybodyelseat
themasquerade.”
“IfyouhavemadeanyappointmentfortherestoftheeveninginBerkleysquare,I’llsetyoudown,certainly,ifyouinsistuponit,mydear—for
punctualityisavirtue;butprudenceisavirtuetoo,inayounglady;who,asyour
auntStanhopewouldsay,hastoestablishherselfintheworld.Whythesetears,
Belinda?—oraretheytears?forbythelightofthelampsIcanscarcelytell;
thoughI’llswearIsawthehandkerchiefattheeyes.Whatisthemeaningofall
this?You’dbesttrustme—forIknowasmuchofmenandmannersasyouraunt
Stanhopeatleast;andinoneword,youhavenothingtofearfromme,andevery
thingtohopefromyourself,ifyouwillonlydryupyourtears,keeponyour
mask,andtakemyadvice;you’llfinditasgoodasyourauntStanhope’s.”
“MyauntStanhope’s!O,”criedBelinda,“never,nevermorewillItakesuch
advice;nevermorewillIexposemyselftobeinsultedasafemaleadventurer.—
LittledidIknowinwhatalightIappeared;littledidIknowwhatgentlemen
thoughtofmyauntStanhope,ofmycousins,ofmyself!”
“Gentlemen!IpresumeClarenceHerveystandsatthisinstant,inyour
imagination,astherepresentativeofallthegentlemeninEngland;andhe,
insteadofAnacharsisCloots,isnow,tobesure,l’orateurdugenrehumain.Pray


letmehaveaspecimenoftheeloquence,which,tojudgebyitseffects,mustbe
powerfulindeed.”
MissPortman,notwithoutsomereluctance,repeatedtheconversationwhichshe
hadheard.—“Andisthisall?”criedLadyDelacour.“Lord,mydear,youmust
eithergiveuplivingintheworld,orexpecttohearyourself,andyouraunts,and
yourcousins,andyourfriends,fromgenerationtogeneration,abusedeveryhour
inthedaybytheirfriendsandyourfriends;‘tisthecommoncourseofthings.
Nowyouknowwhatamultitudeofobedienthumbleservants,dearcreatures,
andverysincereandmostaffectionatefriends,Ihaveinmywriting-desk,andon
mymantel-piece,nottomentionthecardswhichcrowdthecommonrackfrom
intimateacquaintance,whocannotlivewithoutthehonour,orfavour,or
pleasureofseeingLadyDelacourtwiceaweek;—doyouthinkI’mfoolenough
toimaginethattheywouldcarethehundredthpartofastrawifIwerethis
minutethrownintotheRedortheBlackSea?—No,Ihavenotonerealfriendin
theworldexceptHarriotFreke;yet,youseeIamthecomicmuse,andmeanto
keepitup—keepituptothelast—onpurposetoprovokethosewhowouldgive
theireyestobeabletopityme;—Ihumblythankthem,nopityforLady
Delacour.Followmyexample,Belinda;elbowyourwaythroughthecrowd:if
youstoptobecivilandbegpardon,and‘hopeIdidn’thurtye,’youwillbetrod
underfoot.Nowyou’llmeetthoseyoungmencontinuallywhotooktheliberty
oflaughingatyouraunt,andyourcousins,andyourself;theyaremenof
fashion.Showthemyou’venofeeling,andthey’llacknowledgeyoufora
womanoffashion.You’llmarrybetterthananyofyourcousins,—Clarence
Herveyifyoucan;andthenitwillbeyourturntolaughaboutnetsandcages.As
toloveandallthat—”
ThecarriagestoppedatthePantheonjustasherladyshipcametothewords
“loveandallthat.”Herthoughtstookadifferentturn,andduringtheremainder
ofthenightsheexhibited,insuchamannerastoattractuniversaladmiration,all
theease,andgrace,andgaiety,ofEuphrosyne.
ToBelindathenightappearedlonganddull:thecommonplacewitofchimneysweepersandgipsies,theanticsofharlequins,thegracesofflower-girlsand
Cleopatras,hadnotpowertoamuseher;forherthoughtsstillrecurredtothat
conversationwhichhadgivenhersomuchpain—apainwhichLadyDelacour’s
railleryhadfailedtoobliterate.
“Howhappyyouare,LadyDelacour,”saidshe,whentheygotintothecarriage


Tài liệu bạn tìm kiếm đã sẵn sàng tải về

Tải bản đầy đủ ngay

×