Mrs. Pike lent every one her tea-gowns—she has dozens—and they did splendidly for the Queen of Sheba; and Mr. Pike played Charles I. having his head cut off, as Lady Doraine told him he had just the type of lofty melancholy face for that. I was the Old Woman in the Shoe, with all the biggest people for children; but the best of all was Dolly Tenterdown as "Bubbles." Lord Doraine and Mr. Wertz and Tom and some others played "Bridge" all the time while we were arranging them; but Lord Valmond was most useful, and in such a decent temper. After they were over we danced a little, and it was all delightful.
[Sidenote: A Game of Patience]
Yesterday, the day of the county ball in Chevenix, they shot again; and it rained just as we all came down ready to start for the lunch; so we couldn't go, and had to lunch indoors without most of the men. Mr. Pike hadn't gone shooting, because I heard Tom saying the night before to Lady Doraine that he wouldn't chance the party being murdered again, and that she must keep him at home somehow. So she did, and taught him Patience in the hall after lunch; and Mrs. Pike went and wanted to learn it too, but Lady Doraine—who was lovely to her—somehow did not make much room on the sofa, so she had to go and sit somewhere else.
[Sidenote: A Broad Hint]
Half the people were playing "Bridge," and the rest were very comfortable, and smoking cigarettes, of course; so Mrs. Pike did too. Her case is gold, with a splendid monogram in big rubies on it; but I am sure it makes her feel sick, because she puffs it out and makes it burn up as soon as she can without its being in her mouth. She had to go and lie down after that, as she said she would be too tired for the ball; but nobody paid much attention.
It was more lively at tea-time, when the guns came in. And Lord Doraine would sit by me; he talked about poetry, and said dozens of nice things about me, and all sorts of amusing ones about every one else; and Lord Valmond, who had gone to write some letters at a table near, seemed so put out with every one talking, that he could not keep his attention, and at last tore them up, and came and sat close to us, and told Lord Doraine that he could see Mr. Wertz was longing for "Bridge." And so he got up, and laughed in such a way, and said, "All right, Harry, old boy," and Valmond got crimson—I don't know what at—and looked as cross as a bear for a few minutes. We had rather a hurried dinner.
[Sidenote: The Duchess's Ball]
My white chiffon is as pretty as the tulle, and Octavia was quite pleased with me. There were omnibuses and two broughams for us to go in. Octavia took me with her alone in one. I wanted to go in one of the omnibuses—it looked so much gayer—but she wouldn't let me. It is not much of a drive, as you know, and we all got there at the same time almost, and our party did look so smart as we came in. Octavia sailed like a queen up the room to a carpeted raised place at the end, and there held a sort of court.
The Duchess of Glamorgan was already there with her three daughters, and their teeth stick out just like Mrs. Vavaseur's; only they look ready to bite, and she was always smiling. The men of their party were so young, and looked as if they would not hurt a fly, and the Duchess had me introduced to her and asked about you. And Mrs. Pike tried to join in the conversation, and the Duchess fixed on her pince-nez and looked at her for quite ten seconds, and then said, when she had retired a little, "Who is this gorgeous person?" And when I said Mrs. Pike, she said, "I don't remember the name," in a tone that dismissed Mrs. Pike from the universe as far as she was concerned; and Jane Roose says she is almost the only Duchess who won't know parvenues, and that is what makes her set so dull.
There were such a lot of funny frumpy people at the other end of the room—"the rabble," Mrs. Pike called them. "Let us walk round and look at the rabble," she said to Lord Doraine, who was standing by her. And they went.
[Sidenote: The Ride Home]
I had such lots of partners I don't know what any one else did; I was enjoying myself so, and I hope you won't be annoyed with me, as I am afraid I danced oftener than three times with Lord Valmond. Mrs. Smith seemed to be with the little Duke a great deal, and she glared at me whenever she passed. I like English balls much better than French, though, perhaps, I can't judge, as I was never at a real one there. But Englishmen are so much better-looking, and everybody doesn't get so hot, and it is nice having places to sit out and talk without feeling you are doing something wrong. Coming home, Octavia made Lady Doraine and Mrs. Pike go in her brougham, and she and I went in one of the omnibuses. Lord Doraine sat between me and Octavia, and I suppose he was afraid of crushing her dress, for he positively squashed me, he sat so close. Lord Valmond was at the other side of me, and somebody must have been pushing him, because he sat even nearer me than Lord Doraine, and between them I could hardly breathe; it was fortunate it was a cold night.
Before we got to the Park gates somehow the light went out, and all the way up the avenue people held each of my hands. I could not see who they were, and I tried to get them away, but I couldn't, and I was afraid to kick like I did to Charlie Carriston, as it might have been Mr. Hodgkinson who was sitting opposite, and so there would have been no good in kicking Lord Doraine, or Lord Valmond; but I just made my fingers as stiff as iron and left them alone. It is a surprise to me, Mamma, to find that gentlemen in England behave like this, I call it awfully disappointing, and I am sure they could not have done so when you were young, it seems they are just as bad as the French. I told Octavia about it when she came to tuck me up in bed; and she only went into a fit of laughter, and when I was offended, she said she would see that the next time I went to a ball with her, that I had a chaperon on each side coming home.
[Sidenote: An Awkward Situation]
I bowed as stiffly as I could in saying good-night to Lord Doraine and Lord Valmond, and they both looked so astonished, that perhaps it was Mr. Hodgkinson after all; it is awkward not knowing, isn't it? This morning all the guests are going, and on Monday, as you know, Tom and Octavia take me with them to stay at Foljambe Place, with the Murray-Hartleys for the Grassfield Hunt Ball. It will be fun, I hope, but I can never enjoy myself more than I have done here.—Now, good-bye, dear Mamma, your affectionate daughter, Elizabeth.
[Sidenote: The Murray-Hartleys]
P.S.—Octavia says the Murray-Hartleys aren't people you would know, but one must go with the times, and she will take care of me. E.
[Sidenote: The Coat of Arms]
Dearest Mamma,—We arrived here this afternoon in time for tea. It is a splendid place, and everything has been done up for them by that man who chooses things for people when they don't know how themselves. He is here now, and he is quite a gentleman, and has his food with us; I can't remember his name, but I daresay you know about him.
Everything is Louis XV. and Louis XVI., but it doesn't go so well in the saloon as it might, because the panelling is old oak, with the Foljambe coats of arms still all round the frieze, and over the mantelpiece, which is Elizabethan. And I heard this—(Mr. Jones I shall have to call him)—say that it jarred upon his nervous system like an intense pain, but that Mrs. Murray-Hartley would keep them up, because there was a "Murray" coat of arms in one of the shields of the people they married, and she says it is an ancestor of hers, and that is why they bought the place; but as Octavia told me that their real name was Hart, and that they hyphened the "Murray," which is his Christian name (if Jews can have Christian names) and put on the "ley" by royal licence, I can't see how it could have been an ancestor, can you?
They are quite established in Society, Octavia says; they have been there for two seasons now, and every one knows them. They got Lady Greswold to give their first concert, and enclosed programmes with the invitations, so hardly any of the Duchesses felt they could refuse, Octavia said, when they were certain of hearing the best singers for nothing; and it was a splendid plan, as many concerts have been spoilt by a rumour getting about that Melba was not really going to sing. Everybody smart is here. I am one of the few untitled people.
[Sidenote: A Friendly Little Party]
Mrs. Murray-Hartley doesn't look a bit Jewish, or fat and uneasy, like Mrs. Pike, but then this is only Mrs. Pike's first year. She—Mrs. M.-H.—is beautifully dressed, and awfully genial; she said it was "just more than delightful" of Octavia to bring me, and that it was so sweet of her to come to this friendly little party. "It is so much nicer to have just one's own friends," she said, "instead of those huge collections of people one hardly knows." There are quite twenty of us here, Mamma, so I don't call it such a very weeny party, do you?
My bedroom is magnificent, but it hasn't all the new books as they have at Chevenix, and although the writing-table things are tortoise-shell and gold, there aren't any pens in the holders, that is why I am writing this in pencil. The towels have such beautifully embroidered double crests on them, and on the Hartley bit, the motto is "La fin vaut l'eschelle." Octavia, who is in the room now looking at everything, said Lady Greswold chose it for them when they wanted a crest to have on their Sevres plates and things for their concert. Octavia keeps laughing to herself all the time, as she looks at the things, and it puts me out writing, so I will finish this when I come to bed.
[Sidenote: A Question of Taste]
12.30.—We had a regular banquet, I sat next to Lord Doraine—I did not catch the name of the man who took me in—I forgot to tell you the Doraines and Sir Trevor and Lady Cecilia and lots of others I know are here. Mrs. Murray-Hartley does hostess herself, which Octavia says is very plucky of her, as both Lady Greswold, who gave her concert, and Lady Bobby Pomeroy, who brought all the young men, are staying in the house; and Octavia says it shows she is really clever to have emancipated herself so soon.
We had gold plate with the game, and china up to that, and afterwards Lady Greswold talked to Octavia, and asked her if she thought it would look better perhaps to begin gold with the soup, and have the hors d'oeuvres on specimen Sevres just to make a point. I hate gold plate myself, one's knife does make such slate-pencilish noises on it.
[Sidenote: Lord Valmond's Arrival]
The man who took me in kept putting my teeth so on edge that I was obliged to speak to him about it at last. We had sturgeon from the Volga, or wherever the Roman emperors got theirs, but the plates were cold. Violins played softly all the time, behind a kind of Niagara Falls at the end of the room, which is magnificent; it is hung with aubusson, almost as good as what they had at Croixmare, which has been there always.
After dinner, while we were in the drawing-room alone, a note came for Mrs. Murray-Hartley. She was talking to Octavia and me, so she read it aloud; it was from Lord Valmond, and sent from the inn in the little town. He said he had intended staying there by himself for the Hunt Ball, but that on arrival he found no fire in his room, so he was writing to ask if Mrs. Murray-Hartley would put him up. She was enchanted, and at once asked Lady Greswold if it would not be better to turn Lord Oldfield out of his room—which is the best in the bachelors' suite—as he is only a baron; but Lady Greswold said she did not think it would matter. I do call it odd, don't you, Mamma? because Lord Valmond told me, when he left Chevenix on Saturday, that he had to go to another party in Yorkshire, and was as cross as a bear because he would not be able to be at the Grassfield ball. He turned up beautifully dressed as usual, as quickly as it was possible for the brougham which was sent for him to get back. He could not have kept it waiting a moment; so I don't believe the story about there being no fire in his room, do you?
[Sidenote: Friendly Offers]
Mrs. Murray-Hartley did gush at him. Octavia says it is the first time she has been able to get him to her house, as he is ridiculously old-fashioned and particular, and actually in London won't go to places unless he knows the host and hostess personally. He stood with a vacant frown on his face all the time Mrs. Murray-Hartley was speaking, and a child could have seen he wanted to get away. It is in these kind of ways Frenchmen are more polite, because the Marquis always wore an interested grin when Godmamma kept him by her. He got away at last, and came across the room, but by that time Sir Trevor and Mr. Hodgkinson were talking to me, and there was no room for him on our sofa, and he had to speak to Lady Cecilia, who was near. She was as absent as usual, and he was talking at random, so their conversation was rather funny; I heard scraps of it.
[Sidenote: A Sense of Honour]
Mr. Murray-Hartley must be very nice, although he looks so unimportant, for all the men call him "Jim," and are awfully friendly. Lord Oldfield and Lord Doraine seem ready to do anything for him. Lord Oldfield offered to hunt about and get him just the right stables for his house in Belgrave Square; he knew of some splendid ones, he said, that were going a great bargain, on a freehold that belongs to his sister's husband. And Lord Doraine says he will choose his horses for him at Tattersall's next week, as he wants some good hunters; he knows of the very ones for him. "You leave it all to me, dear boy," he said; and at that Sir Trevor, who was listening (they were all standing close to our sofa) went into a guffaw of laughter. "Hunters," he whispered, quite loud, "beastly little Jew, he'd have to have a rocking-horse, and hold on by its mane." And when I said I did not think one ought to speak so of people when one was eating their salt, he seemed to think that quite a new view of the case, and said, "By Jove! you are right, Elizabeth. Our honour and our sense of hospitality are both blunted nowadays."
Presently Lady Cecilia called Mr. Hodgkinson to her, and in one moment Lord Valmond had slipped into his place. I asked him why he was not in Yorkshire, and he said that he thought, after all, it was too far to go, and it was his duty to be at the Grassfield ball, as he has hunted with this pack sometimes. He looked and looked at me, and I don't know why, Mamma, but I felt so queer—I almost wish he had not come. I suppose Mrs. Smith is somewhere in this neighbourhood, and that is why he did not go to Yorkshire. Sir Trevor monopolised most of the conversation, until we all got up to play baccarat. I did not want to play as I don't know it, and Lord Valmond said it would be much nicer to sit and talk, but Mrs. Murray-Hartley would not hear of our not joining in; and Octavia handed me a five-pound note and said I was not to lose more than that, so I thought I had better not go on refusing, and we went with the rest into the saloon, where there was a long table laid out with cards and counters.
[Sidenote: Playing Baccarat]
Lord Valmond said he would teach me the game, and that we would bank together; however, Lady Doraine sat down in the chair he was holding for me, and she put her hand on his coat sleeve and said in such a lovely voice, "Harry, it is ages since I have had a chat with you, sit down here by me." But he answered No, he had promised to show me how to play, and his mouth was set quite square. She looked so alluring I don't know how he could have done it, it was almost as flattering to me as the Vicomte's riding all night from Versailles. She laughed—but it was not a very nice laugh—and she said, "Poor boy, is it as bad as that?" and he looked back at her in an insolent way, as if they were crossing swords, but he said nothing more, only we moved to the other side of the table, to where there were two empty chairs together.
When we sat down he said women were devils, which I thought very rude of him. I told him so, and he said I wasn't a woman; but I remember now, Mamma, he called me a "little devil" that time when he was so rude at Nazeby, so it shows how inconsistent men are, doesn't it? I sometimes think he would like to say all the nice things the Vicomte used to, only with Englishmen I suppose you have to be alone in the room for them to do that; they have not the least idea, like the French, of managing while they are speaking out loud about something else.
Every one looks very anxious here when they play; it is not at all a joke as the roulette used to be at Nazeby; and they do put a lot on, although counters don't seem to be much to look at. It is not at all a difficult game, Mamma, and some of the people were so lucky turning up "naturels," but we lost in spite of them at our side of the table, and Lord Doraine said at last, that it was because we—Lord Valmond and I—were sitting together. Valmond looked angry, but he chaffed back. I don't know what it was all about, and I was getting so sleepy, that when a fresh deal was going to begin I asked Octavia, who was near, if I might not go to bed. She nodded, so I slipped away. Lord Valmond followed, to light my candle he said, but as there is nothing but electric light that was nonsense. He was just beginning to say something nice, when we got beyond the carved oak screen that separates the staircase from the saloon, and there there were rows of footmen and people peeping in, so he just said "Good-night."
[Sidenote: A Good-night]
And I also will say good-night to you, Mamma, or I shall look ugly to-morrow for the ball.—Love from your affectionate daughter, Elizabeth.
[Sidenote: Bad Weather]
Dearest Mamma,—I have just come up to dress for tea, but I find it is earlier than I thought, so I shall have time to tell you about to-day. It has absolutely poured with rain and sleet and snow and blown a gale from the moment we woke this morning until now—quite the most horrid weather I ever remember. All the men were in such tempers, as it was impossible to shoot. Mr. Murray-Hartley had prepared thousands of tame pheasants for them, Tom said, although this wasn't to be a big shoot, only to amuse them by the way; and they were all looking forward to a regular slaughter.
Octavia, and I, and Lady Bobby, were among the few women down to breakfast besides our hostess, who is so bright and cheery in the morning; and when you think how morose English people are until lunch time it is a great quality. Some of the men came down ready to start, and these were the ones in the worst humour. After breakfast half of them disappeared to the stables, and the rest played "Bridge," except Lord Valmond and Mr. Hodgkinson, who wanted to stay with us, only we would not have them, so we were left to ourselves more or less.
[Sidenote: An Amusing Mistake]
Mrs. Murray-Hartley took us to see the pictures and the collections of china and miniatures; and she talks about them all just like a book, and calls them simple little things, and you would never have guessed they cost thousands, and that she had not been used to them always, until she showed us a beautiful enamel of Madame de Pompadour, and called it the Princesse de Lamballe, and said so sympathetically that it was quite too melancholy to think she had been hacked to pieces in the Revolution; only perhaps it served her right for saying "Apres moi le deluge!". Octavia was in fits, and I wonder no one noticed it. Then she said she must leave us for a little in the music-room, as she always went to see her children at this hour—they live in another wing.
By that time Lady Doraine and Lady Greswold, and most of the others were down, and some of them looked as if they had been up awfully late. It seems they did not finish the baccarat until half-past three, and that Lord Oldfield won more than a thousand pounds. Mrs. Murray-Hartley had hardly got out of the door, when Lady Doraine said what a beautiful woman she was, and Lady Greswold began "yes and such tact," and Lady Bobby said, "and so charming," and Lady Cecilia—who was doing ribbon work on a small frame that sounds like a drum every time you put the needle through—looked up and drawled in her voice right up at the top, "Yes, I have noticed very rich people always are."
Then they all talked at once, and by listening carefully one made out that they were saying a nice thing about every one, only with a different ending to it, like: "she is perfectly devey but what a pity she makes herself so remarkable," and "Darling Florrie, of course she is as straight as a die, but wearing those gowns so much too young for her, and with that very French figure, it does give people a wrong impression," and "It is extraordinary luck for dear Rosie, her husband's dying before he knew anything." I suppose it is all right, Mamma, but it sounds to me like giving back-handers. The French women never talked like this; they were witty and amusing and polite, just the same as if the men were in the room.
[Sidenote: The Gossips Rebuked]
Octavia did not join in it, but read the papers, and when they got round to Mrs. Murray-Hartley again, and this time simply clawed her to pieces, Octavia looked up and said in a downright way, "Oh! come, we need none of us have known this woman unless we liked, and we are all getting the quid pro quo out of her, so for goodness' sake let us leave her alone." That raised a perfect storm, they denied having said a word and were quite indignant at the idea of getting anything out of her; but "It's all bosh," Octavia said, "I am here because it is the nearest house to the Grassfield ball, and the whole thing amuses me, and I suppose you all have your reasons." Lady Doraine looked at her out of the corner of her eyes, and said in her purry voice, "Darling Octavia—you are so original," and then she turned the conversation in the neatest way.
[Sidenote: Octavia's Philosophy]
Octavia said to me, as we went upstairs before lunch, that they were a set of cats and harpies, and she hated them all, only unfortunately the others—the nice good ones—taken en bloc made things so dull, it was better to put up with this set. Then she kissed me as I went into my room and said; "At this time of the world's day, my little Elizabeth, there is no use in fighting windmills."
At luncheon Lord Valmond sat next to me; he said we had been horrid not to have wanted him to spend the morning with us, and would I let him teach me "Bridge" afterwards? I said I really was not a bit interested in cards, but he said it was a delightful game, so I said All right. After lunch in the saloon I overheard Mrs. Murray-Hartley say to Lady Greswold that she feared this awful weather would make her party a failure, and what was she to do to amuse them this afternoon? So Lady Greswold said: "Leave 'em alone with plenty of opportunities to talk to their friends, and it will be all right." And so she did.
[Sidenote: An Afternoon at Cards]
Lord Valmond and I found a nice little table in a corner by the fire, and we began to turn over the cards, and presently every one disappeared, except Lady Doraine and Mr. Wertz, who played Patience or something, beyond one of the Spanish leather screens; and Lady Bobby and Lord Oldfield, who were smoking cigarettes together on the big sofa. We could just hear their voices murmuring. You can't play "Bridge" with only two people, I find, and when Lord Valmond had explained the principles to me, I was none the wiser. I suppose I was thinking of something else, and he said I was a stupid little thing, but in such a nice voice, and then we talked and did not worry about the cards. But after a while he said he thought it was draughty for me in the saloon, and it would be cosier in one of the sitting-rooms, but I would not go, Mamma, as I did not find it at all cold.
[Sidenote: Lord Doraine intrudes]
Then Lord Doraine came in, and went over and disturbed everybody in turn, and finally sat down by us, and Lady Bobby laughed out loud, and Lady Doraine peeped round the screen with her mischievous tortoise-shell cat expression, so I just said I would go and dress for tea, and came upstairs. I am sure they were all trying to make me feel uncomfortable, but I didn't a bit. I heard them shrieking with laughter as I left, and I caught a glimpse of Lord Valmond's face, and it was set as hard as iron.
Octavia wants me to wear my only other new ball dress to-night, the white gauze, so I suppose I must, and I do hope the rain will stop before we start.—With love from your affectionate daughter, Elizabeth.
P.S.—Agnes says she won't sup downstairs, as there was so much champagne in the "room" last night that several of the valets got drunk, and she thinks it is not distingue.
[Sidenote: Sir Hugh d'Eynecourt]
Dearest Mamma,—Octavia is writing to you, and we have such a piece of news for you! I will tell you presently.
Part of the ball last night was quite delightful, and fortunately the rain had stopped before we started, in fact, I saw the stars shining when I looked out on my way down to tea. A new man had arrived, Sir Hugh d'Eynecourt, I remember you have often spoken of him. He is nice-looking though quite old, over forty, I should think. It appears he has been away from the world for more than two years; he has only come to this party now because Lady Bobby made him; he met her lately, and is a great friend of hers. The other men, Lord Doraine, &c., were chaffing him by the fireplace—no one else was down—and they did say such odd things. Tom asked him why he had disappeared for so long, and he said, Time was, when—if one stuck to one's own class—to live and love was within the reach of any gentleman, but since the fashion of the long strings of pearls came in, it had become more expensive than the other class, and he could not compete with Jews and financiers, so he had gone to live quietly in Paris. I don't know what it meant, but it seemed to amuse them all awfully.
[Sidenote: The Perfect Height]
When they saw me sitting on the sofa they stopped talking at once, and then began about how horrid the day had been; and Sir Hugh was introduced and asked about you. He said I was not nearly so pretty as you had been at my age, but I should do, he dared say. Then when I stood up, and he saw my height, he said that he had always thought five foot seven a perfect measure for women, so I said I did feel disappointed, as I was only five foot six and three-quarters; he laughed and whispered, "Oh yes, I am sure you will do—very well indeed." He is charming, and he says he will be an uncle to me.
At tea Octavia and he and I sat on the big sofa, and Lady Bobby did not like it a bit. She tried to talk to Lord Valmond, who was fidgeting about, looking as cross as a bear; but he would not stay still long enough to have any conversation.
[Sidenote: The Quarrel]
As we were going upstairs afterwards, he ran after me and said he must tell me that Sir Hugh was not at all the kind of man I ought to talk so much to, and would I promise him the first dance to-night? I said No, that I was going to give it to Sir Hugh, and that he had better mind his own business or I would not dance with him at all. I was not really angry, Mamma—because he is so nice-looking—but one is obliged to be firm with men, as I am sure you know. He turned round and stamped down the stairs again, without a word, in a passion. At dinner, which I went in to with Mr. Wertz, Sir Hugh was at the other side, and you can't think how friendly we got. He says I am the sweetest little darling he has seen in a month of Sundays. I kept catching sight of Lord Valmond's face between the flowers—he had taken in Mrs. Murray-Hartley—and it was alternately so cross and unhappy looking, that he must have had violent indigestion.
We went to the ball in omnibuses and broughams, the usual thing; but Octavia took care that I sat between her and Lady Cecilia. Mrs. Murray-Hartley was so beautifully dressed, and her jewels were superb, and everything in very good taste. She is really a very agreeable woman to talk to, Mamma, and one can't blame her for wanting to be in Society. It must be so much nicer than Bayswater, where they came from, and Octavia says it proves her intelligence; it is easier to rise from the gutter than from the suburbs.
Everybody had arrived when our party got to the ball. The Rooses are staying at Pennythorn, and Jane came and said to me at once how sorry she was to see me looking pale, and she hoped I would be able to enjoy myself—I wasn't pale, Mamma, I am sure, but I did feel just a teeny bit sorry I had quarrelled again with Lord Valmond. He never came near me, and everything seemed to be at sixes and sevens; people got cross because I mixed up their dances quite unintentionally, and, I don't know why, I did not enjoy myself a bit, in spite of Sir Hugh saying every sort of lovely thing to me. I had supper with him, and Lord Valmond was near with Lady Doraine, and she was being so nice to him, Mamma, leaning over and looking into his eyes, and I don't think it good form, do you? Two or three dances afterwards, when we went back to the ballroom, there was a polka; I danced it with some idiot who almost at once let yards and yards of my gauze frills get torn, so I was obliged to go to the cloak-room to have it pinned up.
[Sidenote: An Unpleasant Incident]
It was a long way off, and when I came out my partner had disappeared, and there was no one about but Lord Doraine, and the moment I saw him I hated the look in his eyes, they seemed all swimming; and he said in such a nasty fat voice: "Little darling, I have sent your partner away, and I am waiting for you, come and sit out with me among the palms," and I don't know why, but I felt frightened, and so I said, "No!" that I was going back to the ballroom. And he got nearer and nearer, and caught hold of my arm, and said, "No, no, you shall not unless you give me a kiss first." And he would not let me pass. I can't imagine why, Mamma, but I never felt so frightened in my life; and just then, walking aimlessly down the passage, came Lord Valmond.
He saw us and came up quickly, and I was so glad to see some one, that I ran to him, as Lord Doraine let me pass directly he caught sight of Harry—I mean Lord Valmond—and he was in such a rage when he saw how I was trembling, and said, "What has that brute been saying to you?" and looked as if he wanted to go back and fight him; but I was so terrified that I could only say, "Do come away!"
[Sidenote: The Engagement]
We went and sat in the palm place, and there was not a soul there, as every one was dancing; and I really don't know how it happened, I was so upset about that horrid Lord Doraine, that Harry tried to comfort me, and we made up our quarrel, and—he kissed me again—and I hope you won't be very cross, Mamma; but somehow I did not feel at all angry this time. And I thought he was fond of Mrs. Smith; but it isn't, it's Me! And we are engaged. And Octavia is writing to you. And I hope you won't mind. And the post is off, so no more.—From your affectionate daughter, Elizabeth.
P.S.—I shall get married before the Drawing Room in February, because then I can wear a tiara.
[Sidenote: Victorine is outdone]
P.S. again.—Of course an English marquis is higher than a French one, so I shall walk in front of Victorine anywhere, shan't I? E.