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CHAPTER II.

LEAVING Lord Carmansdale to repose with his various étuis and tabatières ranged round him on the night-table by the side of his bed, we must now tap lightly at the door of a neighbouring apartment, and crave admission for a short time of two young ladies, whom we shall find making their bed-toilette, and talking over the histories and the scandals of the salons of Paris. They were both tall and well made women, of the ages of seventeen and eighteen, although the eldest had considerably the advantage of her sister in the regularity of her features, and the attractiveness of their expression. Lady Emily Bazancourt, for it was no other than the destined bride of Lord Clanelly that we are describing, was one of those who had just escaped what is usually considered the misfortune of having red-coloured hair, but she was not for this the less beautiful; and the bright auburn tresses which, now released from their confinement, fell in rich luxu

riance over her marble neck, nearly as their hue approached to the forbidden tint, were as soft and as silken as the down of the cygnet. Her complexion, as is invariably the case with women who have hair of a similar colour, was fair and transparent to the last degree of perfection, and a slight embonpoint, which gave a fulness and roundness to her figure, harmonized with the peculiar character of her beauty, and invested her tout ensemble with an air of softness and loveliness, which made her with men an almost universal favourite. Whether there be some undefined and secret charm about complexions of this order, which affords a presumption of an ardent temperament and tumultuous passions, I will not now stop to inquire; the perpetual good nature, and the sunshine of the smile that played for ever about the mouth of Lady Emily, were enough to account in themselves both for the number of her worshippers, and the devotion of their idolatry. The regularity of her teeth, the smallness of her taper hand, the archness of her eye, in which there was ever a sort of sly and roguish playfulness which seemed waiting for a laugh, and, above all, the commanding air with which she trod the earth, with the prettiest little feet that ever Madame Melnotte fitted: all these things had given her a celebrity and a renown among the beauties of Paris

for the season, and no ball was complete unless it numbered her among its belles, no dancer was happy without he could contrive to make, at least, one tour with her in the cotillon.

Lady Fanny Bazancourt, her younger and only sister, who sate now by her side in a voluptuouslycushioned bergère, drawn close to the fire, and matched by the well-padded footstool beside it, was, in point of beauty, certainly not the equal of her elder companion. Her figure was not less symmetrically modelled, and her skin was scarcely less delicately white, but the colour of her hair had transgressed the fatal boundary, and was decidedly, though not disagreeably, red; and there was a certain expression of harshness and asperity about her features which did not conciliate friends, and rather made people afraid of her; she passed, indeed, in the world, not quite undeservedly, for a wit, and the wit of women is too often, though most unjustly, reputed to be unmitigated satire. She was fond and proud of her sister to the last degree, without being jealous of her in the least; for she had her own set of favourites, and even her own set of admirers, and nothing pleased her more than to form a small circle of three or four in a corner of a room, and, while her sister Emily was waltzing away to the sound of Collinet's violin, to caricature and burlesque the whole scene

before her, for the amusement of her chosen coterie. She was a decided pupil of Democritus, and divided the world into two sets, or parties, the smaller number, who are to be laughed with, and the greater number, who are to be laughed at. Even her own father, poor old gouty Lord Furstenroy, who was acknowledged to be the most violent Tory in the Carlton Club, the most steady whist-player in the Traveller's, and the most prosy story-teller in Boodle's, even he did not always escape the raillery of his entertaining daughter; but hers was no mauvaise langue, and no thought of spite or ill-nature ever entered her head; and what she said off-hand to amuse herself and others, was nothing but the result of her gaieté de cœur, and an overflow of natural spirits, combined with a lively perception of the ridiculous. We have often wondered why it is that in France une femme d'esprit is universally a person courted, followed, flattered, fêted, and beloved; that every one is desirous of making her acquaintance, and being her friend, and that every one speaks well of her, and after her last good thing has been quoted, some one always says, " Dieu ! comme elle est aimable cette petite Madame chose." But in England it is exactly the reverse; no sooner is a woman in society known to have committed the enormity of saying a brilliant thing, than a run is made upon her as if

she were a wild animal, or a Bedlamite broke loose. She is sarcastical, says one; she is ill-natured and unamiable, says another; she would sacrifice her best friend to point a witticism, exclaims a third. Now, although I am in general rather of Paul Courier's idea, who says somewhere, "je ne crois pas à bons mots, parcequ'ils sont tous mauvais," I must say that I have generally found the most witty women the most good-natured, and those that have been called satirical the most agreeable companions. Let people ask themselves, if there is a greater dread of ridicule here than on the other side of the channel, whether there may not be also a greater consciousness of gaucherie.

This evening Lady Frances happened to be in one of her severest moods, and as she listened to the roaring of the wind in the court-yard, and heard the pelting of the torrent of rain against the well-glazed windows, she drew closer still to the cheminée; and while she rolled on another block of wood

Well," said she, " my dear Emily, I hope you are as delighted as I am, that we are not going out to-night to be gené to death at old Mrs. M'Rubbers."

"My father would have liked his écarté," replied Lady Emily, "and, as there are four or five rooms always open at Mrs. M'Rubbers, I dare say we should have had a quiet waltz or a gallop."

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