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The Visits of Elizabeth by Elinor Glyn

Part 2 out of 3

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Heloise and Victorine have just been here. Heloise even has got an ugly
dress on, and Victorine has scrubbed her face with soap--I suppose to
get that greasy look off--until it shines like an apple, her nose is
crimson, and her eyes look like two beads. They have gone downstairs.
More talking--I am sure he is putting his heels together. I'll finish
this after they have gone, so as to tell you what happens.

_Evening_.--Such a day! After I had heard mumbling talking for quite a
while--the windows were all open, and the salon is under me--suddenly
the piano began. Victorine plays really well generally--that is, she
has brilliant execution--but you should have heard the jumble! hardly a
note right, and in the middle of it up rushed Heloise to me and sank
into a chair. It was going as badly as it possibly could, she said.
Victorine was so nervous that her voice was like a file, and her face
so crimson that the Marquis must think she has erysipelas! And then, to
complete matters, when she is told by Godmamma to show her
accomplishments, to think that she should play like this! Especially as
the Marquis is very musical! Heloise said she could see he was quite
"degoute," and the only thing for it now, was for me to change my frock
instantly, and to put on a becoming one, and to go down and talk. Then
he would go away having enjoyed his visit, he won't reason why, and
will come again; and then when I am gone, he can be pushed into the
marriage with Victorine!

She rang for Agnes while she spoke, and I was simply pitched into the
blue _batiste_, and hustled downstairs.

Such a scene in the salon! The Baronne seated on the large sofa with
Jean; Godmamma and the mother of the young man in two of the armchairs;
while Victorine fumbled with some music on the piano with the _dame de
compagnie_, whom Heloise calls "_le Remorqueur_," because she looks
like a teeny tug pulling along a coal barge (Victorine). The Marquis
was standing up by himself--with his hat and gloves in his hand--first
on one foot, then on the other; and Marie and Yolande were making
horrid, shuffling, squeaking noises, sliding on the _parquet_ by the

[Sidenote: _Wandering Glances_]

When I was introduced and had made a reverence to the old ladies, the
Marquis was presented, and when we had done bowing, he said: "Vous etes
anglaise, mademoiselle?" and, even for that, Victorine's eyes shot two
yellow flames at me! Heloise nipped my arm to tell me to talk, so of
course everything went out of my head, and I could only think of "Oui,
monsieur." Just then breakfast was announced, and we all went in
arm-in-arm, Godmamma and the Marquis together. It is a huge round
table, and I had done the flowers, because they wanted to be shown how
we have tables in England. I was next but one to the Marquis, with
Heloise between. We had scarcely sat down, when he began. How beautiful
the table looked, and what taste in the flowers! Upon which Heloise
said, that they _were_ lovely, and were the arrangement of her "_chere
petite belle-soeur!_" and she smiled angelically at Victorine, who
looked down with conscious pride. Then Heloise said that it was a great
joy in life to have the absorbing love of flowers as Victorine had! and
I could not help laughing, because Victorine doesn't know one from
another, and would not even help me this morning. The Marquis looked
and looked at me when I laughed, and then lifting his glass of _vin
ordinaire_, he said: "Les belles dents rendent gai." Wasn't it nice of
him? I think it is hard he should be tied to Victorine. He talked to me
all the time after that, across Heloise, and considering she told me to
be agreeable to him, I don't see why she should have been annoyed.

After breakfast--which we left as usual arm-in-arm--we sat in the
salon, while the Marquis and Jean went back to smoke. It was appalling!
If Victorine had been a four-legged cat, she would have spit at me, but
fortunately the two-legged ones can't spit in drawing-rooms, so I
escaped. The Baronne, after a good deal of manoeuvring, got by me near
the window, and then said in a distinct voice, "Ma petite cherie j'ai
trop chaud, donnez-moi votre bras un instant;" and so we got outside on
the terrace, where the huge orange trees in pots stand.

[Sidenote: _A Lecture on Duty_]

As soon as we were out of earshot, she began to scold me. Why had I
attracted the Marquis? how naughty of me, when it was essential his
debts should be paid, etc., etc. If she had not been so nice, I should
have been furious, and you can see, Mamma, how impossible to understand
them it is; to be told one moment to be nice, and then, when one is, to
be scolded! I just said as respectfully as I could, that I had done
nothing, and that Heloise had told me to do it, and the reason why.
That made the Baronne think a little. I am sure she wished for the
advice of Hippolyte; but the end of it was, that she asked me how much
_dot_ you were going to allow me! I said I did not know, and that
seemed to stump her. At last she said she supposed, as we were people
of consideration, and that I was the only child, it would be something
considerable. I do believe, Mamma, she was thinking that I might do
for the Marquis! It was only a question of having his debts paid--any
one who could do that would answer. It did make me _cross_, just as if
I would dream of marrying into a nation that eats badly, and doesn't
have a bath except to be smart. Think of always having to shout across
the table, day after day, and never to be able to do anything except by
rules and regulations; and the stuffy rooms and the eight armchairs! I
saw myself! and probably ending up with a moustache, or an
_embonpoint_, or something like that.

The Baronne at last patted my hand, and said: Well, well, she supposed
I had not meant anything, but that I _must_ leave the Marquis alone,
and turn my attention to "Gaston" (the Vicomte), who was really in love
with me. Then if I made him sufficiently miserable, he would be willing
to fall in with another plan of hers, when I was gone, through sheer
_desoeuvrement_. So you see, Mamma, they look upon me as a regular
catspaw, and I won't put up with it. I shall just talk to the Marquis
or "Gaston" whenever I like, I was quite polite to the Baronne,
because she is such a dear; but I am afraid, if Godmamma had said it
all, I should have been impudent.

[Sidenote: _An Alternative Plan_]

By this time the others had joined us on the terrace. They had all been
up to fix their hats on, because even if you have been out, and are
running out again just after, you always have to take your hat off, and
make a _toilette_ for _dejeuner_; it does seem waste of time. The
Baronne is considered quite eccentric because she keeps hers on
sometimes. I had not even a parasol. Godmamma looked as if she thought
it almost indecent. Presently Jean and the Marquis came out of the
smoking-room and joined us. The Marquis at once began to pay
compliments about the sun on my hair, and was really so clever in
getting in little things, while he was talking to Godmamma, that I
quite took to him. Victorine had to converse with her future
_belle-mere_ all the time, and finally the carriage came round, and
they went.

They were no sooner out of sight, than Godmamma said, with a long
rigmarole, that she felt it her duty to you to look after me, and she
must tell me that it was _inconvenant_ for a young girl to smile or
speak to a man as much as I had done to the Marquis. I was so furious
at that, that I said, as I found it impossible to understand their
ways, I would ask Agnes to pack my things at once, if she would kindly
spare a servant to go with a telegram to you, to say I was coming home
immediately. She was petrified at my answering her! It appears no one
else ever dares to; and she at once tried to smooth me down, especially
when I said I should just like time to write and tell the Baronne why I
was leaving, as she had been so kind to me. After that they all tried
to cajole me, except Victorine, who left the room and slammed the door.
And so I have consented to stay, and here I am finishing my letter to
you.--With best love, from your affectionate daughter, Elizabeth.


Champs Elysees,

_Friday, 26th August_.

[Sidenote: _A Visit to the Dentist_]

Dearest Mamma,--You will be surprised to see this address, but Heloise
and I are only staying here for the night, and go back to Croixmare
to-morrow. Early this morning she had bad toothache, and said she must
go to Paris to see her dentist Godmamma and Jean made as much fuss
about it as if the poor thing had suggested something quite unheard of;
and one could see how she was suffering, by the way she kept her
handkerchief up to her face. Godmamma said she could not possibly
accompany her, as she had to pay some important calls; and Jean had
promised to be at St. Germain to see some horses with the Vicomte, so
Heloise suggested I should go with her; and that we should stay the
night at the _appartement_ in the Champs Elysees, so that she could
have two appointments with M. Adam, the dentist. She has such beautiful
teeth, it seems hard that they should ache, and I felt very sorry for
her. After a lot of talking it was arranged that we should go up by
the 11 o'clock train, and accordingly we started with as much fuss as
if we had been departing for a month. We had no sooner got to Paris
than Heloise felt better. She left me to go on with the maids and
luggage to the Champs Elysees, while she went to see M. Adam.

Paris looked out-of-seasonish and full of Americans as we drove
through. I am sitting in the little salon now, waiting for her to come
in, and I have got awfully tired just looking out of the window.
Everything is covered up with brown holland, but I dare say it is nice
when they are here. The tapestries are beautiful, so is the furniture,
judging by the piece I have lifted the coverings from. If she does not
come in soon I shall go for a walk with Agnes.

[Sidenote: _Paris in August_]

_9 p.m._--Heloise came in just as I was writing this morning, and we
had a scrappy kind of _dejeuner_ on the corner of the dining-room
table. Then she said we had better go to her _couturier_ in the Rue de
la Paix. She seemed all right now, and said M. Adam had not hurt her
much, and that she was to go to him again to-morrow morning. I always
like Paris even out of the season, don't you, Mamma? it is so gay. We
had a little victoria and rushed along, not minding who we ran into, as
is always the way with French cabs. When we got to Paquin's there were
nobody but Americans there, and every one looked tired. Heloise tried
on her things, and we went to Caroline's for some hats. They were too
lovely, and Heloise gave me a dream; it's an owl lighting on a
cornfield, which perhaps is a little incongruous as they only come out
at night, but the effect is good.

After that she said she felt she should like to go and see her
_confesseur_ at the Madeleine, and we started there on the chance of
finding him. She kept looking at her watch, so I suppose she was afraid
he would be gone. We stopped at the bottom of the big steps, and she
said if I would not mind waiting a minute she would go in and see. I
always thought one only confessed in the morning, but she seemed so
anxious about it that perhaps if you have anything particular on your
mind you can get it off in the afternoon; it might have been the
stories she told about Victorine's liking flowers. I thought she would
never come back, she was such a time, quite three-quarters of an hour;
and it was horrid sitting there alone, with every creature staring as
they passed.

Directly after she went in I caught a glimpse of "Antoine" in a
_coupe_, going at a great pace, but I could not make him see me before
he had turned down the street that goes to the back of the Madeleine. I
wish he had seen me, for, although I never like him very much, he would
have been better than nobody to talk to. I believe I should have even
been glad to see Lord Valmond. At last I got so cross, what with the
people staring, and the heat and the smells, that I jumped out and went
to look for Heloise in the church. She was nowhere to be seen, and I
did not like to peer into every box I came to, so at last I was going
back to the cab again, when from the end door that leads out into the
other street at the back, the rue Tronchet, she came tearing along
completely _essoufflee_. So I suppose there must be some confessing
place beyond. She seemed quite cross with me for having come to find
her, and said it was not at all proper to walk about a church alone,
which does seem odd, doesn't it, Mamma? As one would have thought if
there was any place really respectable to stroll in, it would have been
a church.

[Sidenote: _Church Etiquette_]

I told her how bored I was, and about "Antoine" passing, and how I had
tried to make him see. She seemed more annoyed than ever, and said I
_must_ have made some mistake, as "Antoine" was not in Paris. She was
awfully shocked at the idea of my wanting to speak to him in the street
anyway, and said I surely must know it was the custom here for the men
to bow first. She was altogether so cross and excited and different
that I felt sure her _confesseur_ must have given her some disagreeable
penance. We went for a drive in the Bois after that, and Heloise
recovered, and was nice to me. We met the Marquise de Vermandoise and a
young man walking in one of the side _allees_, and when I wanted to
wave to them Heloise pinched me, and made me look the other way; and
when I asked why, she said it was not very good form to "see" people in
Paris out of the Season--that one never was sure what they were there
for--and that I was certainly not to mention it either at Tournelle or
Croixmare! Isn't this a queer country, Mamma?

[Sidenote: _Morals and Manners_]

We drove until quite late, and just as we were arriving at the door,
who should pass but the Marquis? He stopped at once and helped us out.
Heloise told him directly that we were only up seeing the dentist, and
seemed in a great hurry to get into the _porte cocher_; but he was not
to be shaken off, and stopped talking to us for about five minutes. He
is quite amusing; he looked at me all the time he was talking to
Heloise. I am sure, Mamma, from what the people at Nazeby talked about,
he would have asked us to dine and go to a play if he had been an
Englishman, and I told Heloise so. She said no Frenchman would dream of
such a thing--us two alone--it was unheard of! and she only hoped no
one had seen us talking to him in the street as it was! I said I liked
the English way best, as in that case we should be going out and
enjoying ourselves, instead of eating a snatchy meal alone.

It is now nine o'clock, and all the evening we have had to put up with
just sitting on the balcony. It has been dull, and I am off to bed, so
good-night, dear Mamma. I shan't come up to Paris with French people
again in a hurry!--Your affectionate daughter, Elizabeth.


Chateau de Croixmare,

_Monday, 29th August_.

[Sidenote: _The Sights of the Foire_]

Dearest Mamma,--Oh, we had such fun yesterday! After Mass the Baronne
sent over to ask if Jean, Heloise, and I would go with them to the
_Foire_ at _Lavonniere_, a village about ten miles off. It is a very
celebrated _Foire_, and in the last century every one went from
Versailles, and even now lots of people who spend the summer there
attend. You go in the evening after dinner, and there are no horrid
cows and things with horns rushing about, or tipsy people. Godmamma
looked awfully severe when she heard of the invitation; but since the
row, when they had to cajole me, she has been more civil, so she said I
might go if Heloise would really look after me, although if I was
Victorine she would not have permitted it for a moment.

[Sidenote: _On a Motor Car_]

We left here about six, and then picked up the party at Tournelle. They
all went--the old Baron, and every one, except the Marquis's mother. We
dropped the brougham there, and went on with them in a huge motor car
(that is another fad of the Baron's). It is lovely motor-carring; you
get quite used to the noise and smell, and you fly along so, it takes
your breath away; even with your hat tied on with a big veil, you have
rather the feeling you have got to screw up your eyebrows to keep it
from blowing away. We seemed to be no time doing the ten miles. The
Baronne and Heloise hate it, and never go in it except under protest.
The _Foire_ is just one very long street, with booths and
merry-go-rounds, and _Montagnes Russes_, and all sorts of amusing
things down each side. There are rows of poplar trees behind them, and
evidently on ordinary occasions it is just the usual French road, but
with all the lights and people it was gay.

We stopped at the village inn, the "_Toison d'Or_" which is famous for
its restaurant and its landlady. In the season the Duc de Cressy's
coach comes here from Paris every Thursday. Hippolyte was there
already; he had been sent on to secure a table for us. We had no sooner
sat down under the awning than the Vicomte and "Antoine" and two other
officers turned up. They had ridden from Versailles, which is near.
Such extraordinary people sat at some of the tables! Families of almost
peasants at one, and then at the next perhaps two or three lovely
ladies, with very smart dresses and big hats, and lots of pearls, and
some young men in evening dress. And then some respectable _bourgeois_,
and so on. I could hardly pay attention to what the Marquis, who sat
next me, was saying, the sight was so new and entertaining.

The tables had cloths without any starch in them, and the longest bread
rolls I have ever seen. One of the beautiful ladies with the pearls
used hers to beat the man next to her before they had finished dinner.
We did not have fresh forks and knives for everything, but the famous
dish of the place made up for it. It is composed of _poussins_--that
is, very baby chickens--raw oysters, and cream and truffles. You get a
hot bit of chicken into your mouth and think it is all right, and then
your tongue comes against an iced oyster, and the mixture is so
exciting you are stimulated all the time; and you drink a very fine old
Burgundy with it, which is also a feature of the place. I am sure it
ought to poison us, as oysters aren't in for another month, but it is
awfully good.

[Sidenote: _Chevaux au Galop_]

One of the strange officers is so amusing; he looks exactly like the
young man the Marquise de Vermandoise was walking in the Bois with, but
it could not be he, as she seemed so surprised to see him at the
_Foire_, and said they had not met for ages. The Comte sat on my other
side; he said I would be greatly amused at the booths presently, and
was I afraid of _Montagnes Russes_? That is only an ordinary
switchback, Mamma, so of course I am not afraid. There were Tziganes
playing while we dined, and it was all more amusing than anything I
have done here yet. When we had drunk our coffee we started down the
_Foire_. There were hundreds of people of every class, but not one
drunk or rude or horrid.

The first entertainment was the _Chevaux au Galop_, a delightful
merry-go-round with the most fiery prancing horses, three abreast, and
all jumping at different moments. The Marquis helped me up, and Jean
got on the other side; we all rode except the Comtesse and the old
Baron. It was _too_ lovely; you are bounced up and down, and you have
to hold on so tight, and every one screams, and the band plays; and I
wish you could do it, Mamma. I am sure the thorough shaking would
frighten your neuralgia away. I could have gone on for an hour, but
there was such a lot to see, we could not spare the time for more than
one turn. The Marquis whispered when he helped me off that his walk
down the Champs Elysees had indeed been fortunate, as he had seen me,
and that it was he who had suggested to the Baronne to come to the
_Foire_. So of course I felt grateful to him. We walked all together
more or less, but Jean kept glued to my side, which was rather a bore,
only the Marquis or the Vicomte were always at the other side.

[Sidenote: _The Ennui of the Lions_]

The next place we came to was a huge menagerie of clever animals, with
their _Dompteurs_--cages of lions, bears, tigers, &c. There were sets
of seats before the cages where anything interesting was going on, and
the audience moved up as each new Dompteur came in to the animals. We
sat down at first in front of the tigers' cage, the Baronne next to me
this time. The creatures went through astonishing tricks, and looked
such lazy great beautiful cats. The _Dompteur_ was a handsome man, just
the type they always are, with a wide receding forehead and flashing
eyes. They positively blazed at the brutes if they did not obey him
instantly. I wonder why all "tamers" have this shape of head? I asked
the Vicomte, but he did not know. The bears came next, horrid cunning
white things, and turning in their toes like that does give them such a
frumpish look.

The attraction of the show was to see the great _Dompteur_, Pezon. He
had been almost eaten by his lions a few months ago, and was to make
his reappearance accompanied by a beautiful songstress who would charm
the beasts to sleep. Pezon was just like the other _Dompteurs_, only
older and fatter, and the beautiful lady was such a pet! _Enormously_
stout, in pink satin, with quite bare neck and arms; the Vicomte said
that the lions had to be surfeited with food beforehand, to keep them
from taking their dessert off this tempting morsel. She began to sing
through her nose about "_l'amour_," &c., and those lions did look so
bored; the eldest one simply groaned with _ennui_. His face said as
plainly as if he could speak, "At it again to-night!" and "Oh! que cela
m'embete." When the song was finished, the _Belle Chanteuse_ stretched
herself on two chairs, making herself into a sort of bridge for the
animals to jump over. From our position we could only see mountains of
pink satin _embonpoint_, and the soles of her feet. The lions had the
greatest difficulty in jumping not to kick her. What a life, Mamma!
Then Pezon put his head right into the old lion's mouth, and so ended
the performance.

[Sidenote: _Inspecting the Machinery_]

When we got outside, a man was ringing a bell opposite, to invite every
one in to see a woman with only a head; she could speak, he said, but had
no body. The Baronne insisted upon going in. It was a tiny cell of a
place and crammed full. Presently a head appeared on a pedestal and spoke
in a subdued voice. All the others said it was a fraud, but I thought it
wonderful. "Antoine" wanted to go beyond the barrier and touch it, which
was mean of him, I think. Presently a villainous-looking old hag, who was
exhibiting the creature, came over, and whispered in "Antoine's" ear. I
only caught "_cinq francs_," but his face looked interested at once, and
he and Jean disappeared behind the curtain and the head disappeared too,
so we went outside, and bought "farings" at the next booth. There they
joined us. "Alors, mes amis?" demanded every one. "Pas la peine, tres mal
faite," said "Antoine"; so I suppose it was the machinery they had been
examining. The next thing we came to was a sort of swing with flying
boats, but no one was brave enough to try it except the Marquise and me,
though all the men wanted to come with us. You sit opposite one another,
and they are much higher than the ones in England. Jean would come with
me, though I wanted the Vicomte--so I was glad it made him look quite

It chanced that "Antoine" was beside me as we walked to the pistol
booth, so I asked him if he had been in Paris on Friday, and he looked
so hard at me, you would have thought I was asking a State secret; but
he said that alas! no, he had been detained at Versailles. So it could
not have been him after all; there must be a lot of French people
exactly alike, I never keep making these mistakes in England.

Have you ever fired off a pistol, Mamma? it is simply horrid. The
pistol booth was next after the "farings" shop, and the prizes were
china monsters and lanterns, &c. The Comtesse is a splendid shot, and
hit the flying ball almost each time; she is such a quiet little thing,
one would not expect it of her. The Baronne made a lot of fuss, and
said she knew it would kill her, until Hippolyte, who was behind the
party with her cloak, said: "Madame la Baronne doit essayer c'est
necessaire que toutes les belles jeunes dames sachent comment se
defendre." And she fired off the pistol at last with her eyes shut,
and it was a mercy it did not kill the attendant, the ball lodged in
the wall just beside him, so we thought we had better leave after that!

[Sidenote: _The Montagnes Russes_]

Next came the _Montagnes Russes_. How I love a switchback, Mamma! If I
were the Queen I would have a private one for myself, and my particular
friends, round Windsor Castle; I could go on all day. The Marquis and
the Vicomte kept so close to me that Jean could not take the seat
beside me, as I saw he intended to, and then the other two made quite a
shuffle, but the Vicomte won. The person who sits next you is obliged
to hold your arm to prevent your tumbling out. I looked round to see,
and every one was having her arm held, but I don't believe the Vicomte
need have gripped mine quite so tight as he did. We had three turns;
next time the Marquis was beside me, and he was more violent than the
Vicomte. So when it came to the last, and Jean scrambled in, and began
to hold tighter than either of the others, I just said my arm would be
black and blue, and I would rather chance the danger of falling out,
in a seat by myself, than put up with it. That made him sit up quite
straight. I can't see why people want to pinch one; can you, Mamma? I
call it vulgar, and I am sure no Englishman would do it. It seems that
Frenchmen are awfully respectful, and full of ceremony and politeness,
and then every now and then--directly they get the opportunity--they do
these horrid little tricks.

The next entertainment was really very curious. It was a marble woman
down to her waist, and as you looked, the marble turned into flesh, her
eyes opened, and she spoke; then her colour faded, and she turned into
marble again, and was handed round the audience; wasn't it wonderful,
Mamma? I can't think how it was done, and as "Antoine" and Jean did not
go behind the curtain to examine the machinery, I suppose we shall
never know.

[Sidenote: _The Fun of the Fair_]

After that there were endless shows--performing dogs, fortune-telling,
circuses, etc.--but the nicest of all was another merry-go-round, with
seats which went up and down like a boat in a very rough sea. Hardly
one of them would venture, but I made the Vicomte come with me for two
turns; he looked so pale at the end of it, and when I wanted to go a
third time, he said we must be getting on, and no one else offered to
come. Wasn't it stupid of them, as it was by far the most exciting part
of the _Foire_? It was half-past twelve before we got back to the
"_Toison d'Or_," and there had supper, with "_Punch a l'Americaine_."
It _is_ good, and you do feel so gay after it. One of the ladies with
the pearls, who was also supping, was so friendly to the man next her;
Pezon was of their party, and he did look common in clothes, while he
was quite handsome in spangled tights.

We were obliged to go slowly in the motor car returning, there were
such heaps of people and carts and things on the road, but we got back
to Croixmare about two; and I have slept so late this morning, so now,
good-bye, dear Mamma.--Your affectionate daughter, Elizabeth.

Chateau de Croixmare,

_Wednesday, August 31st_.

[Sidenote: _Back at Croixmare_]

Dearest Mamma,--To-day is the dinner and _cotillon_ at the de
Tournelles'. The Marquis and the Vicomte and "Antoine" and every one
will be there, and I am sure it will be fun. The Vicomte can't get
leave for the night, so the Baronne--who was here yesterday on her
bicycle--told us. He will have to ride back to Versailles, as there are
no trains at that time, to be there for some duty at six in the
morning. I can't tell you how many miles it is; he will be tired, poor
thing. These last two days have been just alike, that is why I have not
written--the same tiresome ceremony about everything, and the same
ghastly evenings.

We went for a drive on Monday, and Godmamma did nothing but question me
as to what we had done every minute of the time while we were in Paris.
This is the first chance she has had with me alone. So I would not tell
her a scrap, even a simple thing like Heloise going to the Madeleine.
She thinks I am fearfully stupid, I can see. I forgot to tell you about
the morning we left Paris; Heloise went to see Adam again, and I went
shopping with Agnes, but I would not even tell Godmamma that! Victorine
says spiteful things to me whenever she can, but Jean and Heloise are
so charming that I don't mind the rest. We are to wear sort of
garden-party dresses and hats at the entertainment to-night. Dinner is
to be at eight, in a large pavilion, where they have had a beautiful
parquet floor laid down, and then when the tables are cleared away, we
shall begin the _cotillon_. As I have never danced in one before, I
hope I sha'n't make an idiot of myself.

[Sidenote: _Etiquette of the Bathroom_]

This morning I very nearly had another row with Godmamma--you will
never guess what for, Mamma! She knocked at the door of my room before
I was quite dressed, and then came in with a face as glum as a church.
She began at once. She said that she had heard something about me that
she hoped was a mistake, so she thought it better to ask me herself.
She understood that I went down to the Salle de Bain every day, instead
of just washing in my room. (I _have_ done so ever since Agnes
discovered there really was water enough for a decent bath there, and
that no one else seemed to use it.) I began to wonder if she was going
to accuse me of tampering with the taps--but not a bit of it! After a
rigmarole, as if she thought it almost too shocking to mention, she
said she understood from her maid, who had heard it from the _valet de
chambre_ who clears out the bath after I leave, that there never were
any wet chemises, and that she was therefore forced to conclude that I
got into my tub "_toute nue_!"

I had been so worked up for something dreadful, that I am sorry to say,
Mamma, I went into a shriek of laughter. That seemed to annoy Godmamma
very much; she got as red as a turkey-cock, and said she saw nothing to
cause mirth--in fact, she had hoped I should have been ashamed at such
deplorable immodesty, if, as she feared from my attitude, her
accusation was correct. I said, when I could stop laughing, of course
it was correct, how in the world else _should_ one get into a bath?

[Sidenote: _The Marquis Again_]

Her eyes almost turned up into her head with horror; she could only
gasp, "Mais si quelqu'un ouvrait la porte?" "Mais je la ferme toujours
a clef," I said, and then I asked her if in France they also dried
themselves in their wet chemises? But she said that that was a childish
question, as I must know it would be an impossibility; and when I said
I could not see any difference in washing or drying, she was so stumped
she was obliged to sit down and fan herself. I smoothed her down by
assuring her it was the English custom, and that I was sorry I shocked
her so. At last I got rid of her, evidently thinking our nation
"_brulee_," as well as "_toquee_". Now aren't they too odd, Mamma? I
suppose a nice big bath is such a rare thing for them that they are
obliged to make as much fuss as possible over it. One would think they
received company there, dressing up like that! Heloise and the smart
people wash all right; it is only the girls and the thoroughly goody
ones like Godmamma who are afraid of water.

5.30 _p.m._--The Marquis came over from Tournelle with a note from the
Baronne after _dejeuner_ to-day. I happened to be getting some music
out of the big salon for Heloise when he arrived. Louis, the valet, who
showed him in, did not catch sight of me as I was behind the piano, or
he would certainly have taken him somewhere else. He began at once
(after putting his heels together) to say a lot of compliments and
things. This was a fortunate chance--more than he had dared to
hope--would I promise to dance the _cotillon_ with him to-night? etc.,
etc. You would not believe, Mamma, the amount he got into the five
minutes before Heloise came into the room. She knew it was her own
fault for sending for the music that I was alone with him, or I should
have got a scolding; as it was, she talked without ceasing until at
last he got up to go. I had not answered about the _cotillon_, so as I
have half promised the Vicomte I don't know which I shall take; perhaps
I could manage both, as I believe one only has to sit on a chair and
every now and then get up and dance. However, I will see when I get
there. Now good-bye, dear Mamma.--Your affectionate daughter,

Chateau de Croixmare,

_September 1st_.

[Sidenote: _A Proposal of Marriage_]

Dearest Mamma,--I have had a proposal! Isn't it too interesting? It all
happened at the de Tournelles' last night, but I never blushed or did
any of the things they used to in Miss Edgeworth's novels that you have
allowed me to read; but I must go straight on. We were quite punctual
at Chateau de Tournelle, and got there as the clock struck eight.
Heloise looked perfectly lovely, she does hold herself and walk so
beautifully, and her head is such a nice shape. I am going to be like
her, and not like the women at Nazeby (who all slouched) when I am
married. Victorine looked better than usual too, and Heloise had put
some powder on her face for her, but afterwards it came off in patches
and made her look piebald; however, to start she was all right, and
everybody was in a good temper. There were lots of people there
already, and the Baronne and the Comtesse received us in the hall.

I wore the white silk and my pink tulle hat. The Marquis and the
Vicomte both flew across when we arrived, and the Vicomte got to me
first, as Godmamma detained the Marquis; and this is where Frenchmen
shine, for although he told me afterwards that he wanted to murder her,
he stood with a beautiful grin on his face all the time. The Vicomte at
once began to assure me I had promised him the _cotillon_, but I would
not say; and as he could only get words in edgeways, with Victorine
listening all the time, it made it rather difficult for him. Then the
Comte and Rene, his little boy, came round with a silver basket full of
buttonholes and little cards with names, and by the kind of flower we
got we were to know which table we were to sit at, as they were to be
decorated with the same.

[Sidenote: _Les Jeunes Filles_]

Of course the Baronne had arranged for the Vicomte to take me in; and
our table was pink and white carnations. Presently the whole company
had arrived, and we started--a huge train, two and two, arm-in-arm--for
the pavilion. It was pretty; all the trees hung with electric lights
and Chinese lanterns, and the pavilion itself a fairyland of flowers.
There were about twelve tables, three of different coloured carnations
for the "_jeunes filles_," and the rest with roses for the married
people. Godmamma thought it most imprudent separating them like that,
and would hardly let Victorine sit down so far away from her until she
saw the daughter of the Princesse d'Hauterine at the same table.
Victorine went in with another officer from Versailles, in the same
regiment of _Chasseurs_ as the Vicomte; he was like a small black
monkey. The Marquis sat with the Comtesse at her table, and Godmamma
and the other bores had a table with the old Baron, etc. The Baronne
had quite a young man next her. I expect she could not do with the
chaperons and the old gentlemen.

Most of the girls at our table were either ill-at-ease or excited at
the unusual pleasure of being without their mothers, and at first no
one talked much. The French country people are almost as frumpy as the
English, only in a different way, but many of the guests were very
smart, and of course had come from Paris.

The Vicomte did say such a lot of agreeable things to me, and the
others were so occupied with their one chance of talking to a young man
that they did not listen as much as usual. He said he had never spent
such an agitated night as the one at Vernon. So I said No, the fleas
were horrid. He said he had not meant _them_; he meant that the sight
of my beautiful hair hanging down had caused him "_une grande emotion_"
and "_reves delicieux_."

There was an oldish girl next to him whom he knew; she has coiffed St.
Catherine for several years now, and was put at our table, I believe,
to be a kind of chaperon. She happened to be listening just then, as
her partner would talk to Victorine's friend--the pretty one with the
dirty nails--who was at his other side. She caught the word "fleas,"
and at once asked what we were talking about. "Un sujet si
desagreable," she said. I said it was about our journey on the
_Sauterelle_, where, at Vernon, Monsieur de la Tremors had been so
badly bitten by the fleas that they had given him silly dreams. He said
his dreams were as beautiful as those produced by the Hachis of Monte
Cristo (whatever that is), so the old girl exclaimed, "Quel pouvoir
pour une puce!" She thought we were mad; and I overheard her presently
telling her partner--when she could get him to listen--that no one
would believe the _bizarre_ conversations of the _toques_ English
unless they actually heard them!

[Sidenote: _The Cotillon_]

I would not say I would dance the _cotillon_ with the Vicomte. I told
him I had half promised it to the Marquis; and when he seemed offended,
I said if he was going to be disagreeable I would certainly dance it
with Monsieur de Beaupre (the Marquis's name, which I forgot to tell
you before). I remember hearing Octavia say once that it never did to
make oneself easy to young men, that the more capricious one was the
better; and you know how nice Octavia is, and I meant to be like her.
He went on imploring; so I told him that I had come there to enjoy
myself, not to amuse him, so I should just dance with whom I pleased,
or not at all if I happened not to want to. He said I was "_tres
cruelle_," and looked perfectly wobbly-eyed at me, but I did not mind a

As dinner went on all the girls began to talk and to get excited, and
laugh, and every one was so gay; but I could see Godmamma craning her
neck with anxiety and disapproval, and I am sure, if it had not been
for the Princesse d'Hauterine being at her table, she would have jumped
up and clawed Victorine away. It came to an end at last, and we
returned arm-in-arm to the house, while the servants arranged the
pavilion for the _cotillon_. Godmamma collected Victorine and me, and
made us stay by her; and that horrid old Mme. de Visac--the one who
called me a "_jeune femme_"--came up, and they had a conversation.
Godmamma said it was "_tres imprudent_" having the dinner first, that
the champagne would go to the young men's heads, and with all the care
in the world no one could foresee the consequences! The garden, too! If
they should dance the _farandole_! what opportunities! It was all the
fault of the _chere Baronne_, so sadly giddy for her age. She never
thought of the anxieties of other mothers, having married her only
daughter so young! I don't know what Godmamma feared, but I should hate
to think you could not trust me to behave like a lady, Mamma, if I was
out of your sight a moment.

[Sidenote: _Nearly a Duel_]

I saw the Marquis talking to a very young youth; he seemed pleading
with him about something, and presently the youth crossed over and
kissed Godmamma's hand, then asked Victorine for the _cotillon_. She
looked furious, but she was obliged to say yes, as no one else had
asked her; it was getting late, and the Marquis was busy speaking to
some other ladies. Presently he came up to us, and the young youth said
before he could speak: "N'ai-je pas de la veine, mon cher, Mlle. de
Croixmare m'a promis le cotillon." Upon which the Marquis asked me to
dance it with him--right out loud before Godmamma! and when I said I
had half promised it to Monsieur de la Tremors, he looked so cross and
offended, that I thought it was better to be firm with him, as I had
been with the Vicomte. He--the Vicomte--came up just then, and they
looked as if they wanted to fight each other; so I said if they would
stop frowning, I would dance it with both of them, but if they were
nasty, I should not dance it with either; and so that is how it ended,
I was to have one on each side.

Godmamma said to me that it was unheard of conduct, and might have
produced a duel, and when I tried to explain to her that that was just
what I had avoided, she looked angrier than ever, and would not
understand. Wasn't it stupid of her, Mamma?

[Sidenote: _The Two Partners_]

At last we got to the pavilion, and all sat round, and having both the
Vicomte and the Marquis to talk to, I did have fun. They arranged that
our chairs should be against the wall, and not in the row that the
chaperons were behind. Godmamma tried to make signs to me to come and
sit by Victorine in front of her, but I pretended not to see, until all
the chairs were filled up. The Marquise de Vermandoise was next me,
with the Vicomte between; she was dancing with the Comte. We _were_
gay! The first set of presents were big brocade bags, and we called one
our "_pot au feu_" and pretended it was for the ingredients to make
_bon menage_, and so all the presents that were small enough afterwards
we put in there to keep for me. I did have _lots_! A _cotillon_ is very
easy, Mamma, as you have often told me, and it was fun dancing with all
sorts of strange people that one did not even know. In one figure a
huge Russian prince got hold of me, and squeezed me until I very nearly
screamed; you see, Mamma, how dreadful foreigners are like that. It was
like being hugged by a bear in the Zoo; and after it, he kept giving me
flowers or presents if I dared to sit down for a moment, but he did not
say a word except once or twice a mumble of "Adorable mademoiselle."

My two partners _were_ nice, we had a perfectly beautiful time, they
laughed at everything I said; and Madame de Vermandoise leant over and
whispered--while they were both away doing a figure--that never had any
one had such a _succes_ as me, and that all the old ladies would be
ready to tear my eyes out. Heloise did not dance with "Antoine," but he
sat next her, and they talked while his partner was away with other
people. It is much better to have two partners, Mamma, because then one
is not left to oneself at all, and they are each trying to be nicer
than the other all the time. The Comtesse led the _cotillon_ with a
cousin of hers; he does do it well, and does nothing else in Paris, the
Baronne told me. At last we got on towards the end, and they began the
_farandole_. You know it, Mamma? A lady and a gentleman take hands,
then she beckons some one, and he has to come; and then he calls
another lady, and so on. It goes on until the whole company are
hand-in-hand; and the leader runs about everywhere with this chain of
people after him, dancing a long sliding step, to such a lovely
go-ahead tune. The leader tears all over the garden, and one is obliged
to follow in and out. It is too exciting, and just as we got to the
furthest end of the illuminated paths, and had rushed round into the
dark, some one let go, and in the confusion of trying to catch on
again, the Marquis and I were left behind.

[Sidenote: _To Elope with the Marquis_]

It was _then_ the proposal happened, he did not wait a moment; he
talked so fast I could hardly understand him. He said he had heard that
it was the custom of our country to speak directly to the person one
loved, without consulting the parents; so he hoped I would believe he
meant me no disrespect, but that he _adored_ me. He had fallen in love
at first sight, when he went to review Victorine--that he implored me
to fly with him, as his mother would never consent to his marrying an
English woman! Think of it, Mamma! me flying with the Marquis! without
a wedding cake, or bridesmaids, or pages, or trousseau, or any of the
really nice bits of getting married--only the boring part of just
going away and staying with one man, without any of the other things to
make up for it. I nearly laughed at the ridiculousness of it, only he
was so deadly in earnest, and would hold my hand. I said I could not
think of such a thing, and would he take me back to the pavilion? He
became quite wild then, and said he would kill himself with grief; and
such a lot of things about love; but I was so wanting to join in the
_farandole_ again--we heard them coming nearer--that my attention was
all on that, and I did not listen much.

Anyway, I am sure runaway matches aren't legal in France, from what I
heard Jean saying two nights ago at dinner; and I told him so at last,
and that pulled him up short. And just then the train passed, and I
stretched out my hand to the last man, and was whirled away back to the
pavilion and the people. I _was_ glad to get away from the Marquis,
because he looked desperate, and you can't trust foreigners, they have
pistols and things in their pockets, and he might have shot me. When
we got back to our seats, the _defile_ began and I took the Vicomte's
arm to go and make our curtsey to the Comtesse and the Baronne. It was
just as well the Marquis was away, because they might have quarrelled
as to which one's arm I was to take.

[Sidenote: _Godmamma's Friends_]

Just before the supper tables were brought in, Monsieur de Beaupre
turned up again. His face was green; he came up behind me, and
whispered through his teeth that I had broken his heart, and that he
should marry Victorine! So you see, Mamma, nothing could have turned
out better, and they ought to be very grateful to me.

We had the gayest supper, all at little tables; and it was arranged
that we should go with the de Tournelles, and the Baronne, to a _Ralli
de Papier_ to-day, given by the _75th Cuirassiers_ at the Foret de

While we were going to the house to get our wraps, I overheard two
ladies talking of Godmamma. They said she gave herself great airs, and
considering that every one knew that years ago she had been the _amie_
of that good-looking Englishman at the Embassy these high stilts of
virtue were ridiculous. I suppose to be an _amie_ is something wicked
in French, but it doesn't sound very bad, does it, Mamma? And, whatever
it is, I wonder if poor papa knew, as he was at the Embassy, and it
might have been one of his friends, mightn't it? I expect she had not a
moustache then.

I am dreadfully afraid the Vicomte won't be able to be at the _Ralli_
to-day, although he did whisper when he was putting on my cloak that
nothing should keep him away, and that then I would believe the extent
of his devotion. He won't have gone to bed at all, if he does turn up,
as he will only have got back to Versailles just in time for his duty
at six, and how he is to be in the Foret de Marly by ten I don't know,
but we shall see. It is just time to start, the brake is at the door,
so good-bye, dear Mamma, with love from your affectionate daughter,

Chateau de Croixmare,

_Thursday Night, September 1st_.

[Sidenote: _The "Ralli de Papier"_]

Dearest Mamma,--I wonder if you have ever been to a _Ralli de Papier_?
It is fun. We got to Marly at last after a long drive. The _rendezvous_
was in the middle of the forest, in such a lovely glade, and although
it rained for the last twenty minutes of our drive, the sun came out
when we got there, and the lights through the trees on the wet green
were so beautiful. There were quantities of carriages already arrived,
every sort--victorias, coaches, pony carts, charabancs, motor cars, and
a few of the really odd kinds of shandrydans that one sees coming to
country garden parties in England. There were also numbers of officers
riding in uniform--_cuirassiers, chasseurs, dragons_--and they were to
take part in the chase. There was one officer who was to lead the
carriages in a procession through the short cuts, so that we might not
miss any of the jumps, and he had a horn slung over his shoulder. I do
think it such a sensible plan; and if we could have the foxes trained
in England to go just where they should, and then always drive to where
the jumps are, like that, how much nicer hunting would be--wouldn't it,

[Sidenote: _Better than Fox-hunting_]

Well, at last every one seemed to be arrived, and it was gay. I was
glad Godmamma had been too tired to come, so Victorine was actually
trusted with Jean and Heloise and me. We had picked up the Baronne and
the Comte and the Marquise de Vermandoise at Tournelle on our way. The
brake was not quite like an English one; it had seats facing, and then
an extra one behind for the grooms, and Jean drove with Heloise beside
him; but he does look like a trussed pigeon, and if the horses were not
as quiet as mice, I am sure the Baronne would never have trusted
herself with him.

[Sidenote: _The Vicomte up to Time_]

They all began to chaff about the Vicomte; "Il ne chevauchera jamais si
loin, pas meme pour vos beaux yeux," the Marquise said. Victorine
seemed annoyed that any one should expect he would do anything for me.
"Evidemment Monsieur de la Tremors ne viendra pas," she said. I saw a
beautiful black horse being led about by a groom, apart from the crowd,
and I wondered who would ride it. Just before the horn sounded for the
carriages to start, from the farthest end of the _allee_ we saw an
officer galloping as hard as he could. "Mon Dieu! C'est Gaston!"
screamed the Baronne. "C'est pour vous, Enchanteresse," said the Comte.
"Que c'est ridicule," snapped Victorine, while the Marquise laughed and
put her tongue into her gap. "Oh! la belle jeunesse!" she said.

Meanwhile the Vicomte had dismounted, jumped on to the fresh black
horse, and was bowing beside us. "Vous voyez je suis venu," he said,
and he looked only at me. I don't know why, Mamma, but I felt the blood
rushing all over my cheeks; it was nice of him, wasn't it? He had
arranged it all yesterday, and by changing horses and galloping the
whole way, he had managed just to get to the _rendezvous_ in time. I
don't believe any Englishman that I know would do so much for me, and
I was touched. We were fortunate in being almost the first carriage
behind our leader, the officer with the horn, and he took us across
roads, and we halted at last, where we could see the whole hunt
advancing to some hurdles which had been erected at a few yards'
distance from each other down the _allee_. Such an excitement! every
one encouraging them at the top of their voices, their uniforms
glittering in the sun.

The jumps were not very high, and most of the officers got over all
right, only one _cuirassier_ fell, and every one shrieked, but he
wasn't a bit hurt. We clapped those who jumped especially well, and
cried "Bravo!" It _was_ fun. Then, when they had all passed, we were
conducted through some more short cuts to another set of hurdles
covered with green boughs, and these were a little higher. It did sound
lively, with horns blowing and people shouting all the time. The
Vicomte was among the last, as he passed us following the paper, but he
waved gaily. We had to drive very quickly to be in time for the next
"_obstacles_" and so it went on. When we watched the last ones, the
Vicomte was among the very front four.

[Sidenote: _Rewards of Gallantry_]

Then the exciting part began, as they had to race for the ribbons,
white for the winner and blue for the second; but it was quite a long
way, so we had time to get to the winning-post, the flat place near
where the Chateau stood formerly. There were long tables laid out with
_gouter_, and the bands of the regiments playing nice tunes. Victorine
began to be disagreeable directly we saw them coming, the Vicomte well
to the front. "Comme c'est cruel de Monsieur de la Tremors, de presser
son cheval a ce point," she said, while even the Comte became excited,
and shouted, "Bravo, Gaston!" I _was_ pleased when he came in first,
and really he rides quite nicely, Mamma.

Then every one got out of the carriages and there was a ceremony. The
wife of the Colonel of the 75th chasseurs (young and nice looking)
placed a white ribbon with gold fringe ends round the neck of the
Vicomte, while he knelt and kissed her hand on the damp grass, and when
he got up there was quite a wet stain on his knees. The second man--a
great lumbering _cuirassier_--got a blue ribbon, and as he was heavier
the stain showed worse on his red trousers. After that, we all began to
eat cakes and drink drinks (I don't know what they were made of, that
is why I say "drinks," anyway they were sweet and nice), and as the
rain had stopped we danced on the green, after we had finished. Now you
know, Mamma, we could never have any fun like this in England. What
Englishman would think of dancing the Lancers on sopping grass, quite
gravely, with a white ribbon round his neck like a pet lamb, and his
trousers wet through at the knees? They would simply laugh in the
middle, and spoil the whole thing. The Vicomte danced with me, of
course, and while we were advancing to our _vis-a-vis_ in the first
figure, he managed to whisper that he adored me, and now that he had
ridden all night, and won the white ribbon for me, I ought to believe
him. I did not answer because there was not time just then, and he
looked so reproachfully at me for the rest of the Lancers.

[Sidenote: _The Whispered Declaration_]

It began to rain again before we finished, and we got into the brake as
quickly as we could. It was a perfect wonder that they were not all
exclaiming at their wet feet, and catching cold; but it seems that
dancing on the green and these sort of _fetes champetres_ are national
sports, and you don't catch cold at them. It is only washing, and
having the windows open, and the house aired, and things like that,
that give cold in France. The Vicomte came back with us, and, as he was
one too many for the brake, we had to sit very close on our seat. He
was between the Baronne and Victorine, who made room for him when he
was just going to sit down by me. She kept giggling all the way home,
and the Vicomte looked so squashed and uncomfortable. I was next,
beyond the Baronne, and as both of them could not keep up their
umbrellas, Victorine was obliged to put down hers, and the drips from
the Baronne's umbrella got on to the roses in Victorine's hat. At last
they ran in a red stream right down her nose, and she did look odd, and
each time she said anything to the Vicomte, he nearly had a fit to
keep from laughing, and when we got back and she found how she was
looking she _was_ cross.

The Vicomte took hold of my hand when he helped me out, it wasn't in
saying good-bye, as of course unmarried people only bow and don't shake
hands. Somehow his spur caught in my dress, and we had to stop a minute
to disentangle it, the others had bolted into the house, as they were
afraid of the rain, so we were alone for an instant. The Vicomte at
once kissed my hand and said, "_Je vous adore._" It was done so quickly
that even Hippolyte, who had come out with an open umbrella to help us,
did not see--at least I hope he didn't. We went in to Tournelle to have
something to drink, while the horses were being rubbed down, as we had
had such a long drive; and it was at the first mirror Victorine
discovered her red striped nose.

While I was sipping my punch, I heard the Baronne telling Heloise that
her nephew, the Marquis, had consented to marry Victorine; and that the
Baron would go over to Croixmare the next day to make the formal
demand for her hand. Then she whispered something, and they looked at
me, and Heloise laughed, while the Baronne said, "Pauvre garcon. C'est
dommage qu'il ne puisse pas combiner le plaisir avec les affaires." And
when we got back to Croixmare, Heloise came to my room and kissed me,
and thanked me; she had heard, she said, from the Baronne, how I had
broken the Marquis's heart, and so got him to consent to take

I am glad, Mamma, that getting married is differently arranged with us.
I should hate to have some one because somebody else that he wanted
would not have him. However, Victorine is as pleased as can be, and has
been smiling to herself all the evening.

Now I must go to bed, so good-bye, dear Mamma, with love from your
affectionate daughter, Elizabeth.

Chateau de Croixmare,

_Saturday, September 3rd_.

[Sidenote: _In Due Form_]

Dearest Mamma,--I am sure what I am going to tell you will surprise you
quite as much as it has done me. Victorine is really engaged! The day
after the _Ralli de Papier_ it rained again, and as we were sitting in
the little salon after breakfast the old Baron was announced. He was
dressed in a frock coat and a tall hat, just as if it was Paris and the
height of the season. They made conversation for about ten minutes, and
then he got up and, putting his heels together, he said he had come to
request a private interview with Mme. la Comtesse Douairiere de
Croixmare, and Monsieur le Comte de Croixmare, son fils; upon which
Victorine looked coy, and began scrabbling with her toes on the paquet.
Heloise was not in the room, and Godmamma said to me that it was time
for our walk, as the rain had stopped, and Mdlle. Blanc ("the Tug")
would be waiting. So we bundled out of the room, and Victorine for the
first time became affectionate as we went upstairs.

"Il est venu pour demander ma main, pour son neveu, Monsieur de
Beaupre," she said, putting her arm round my waist; "J'espere que cela
ne vous chagrine pas, cherie?" And when I asked her why in the world it
should grieve _me_ she said that, as every one had noticed how I had
flirted with the Marquis, she supposed his preferring another girl
could not be quite pleasant! I could have screamed with laughter, if I
had not been so angry; I felt dreadfully tempted to tell her of the
Marquis's proposal to me, and why he was marrying her--only that would
have been playing down to her level of meanness. So I said that the
English idea of flirting and the French were different; that the
Marquis seemed to me to be quite an agreeable Frenchman, and no doubt
she would be very happy; and far from it grieving me, I was delighted
to think she would be settled at last, as twenty-two was rather on the
road to fixing St. Catherine's tresses. She dragged her arm away in
such a hurry that she scratched her hand on a pin that Agnes had
stupidly left in my belt. "Voyez! vous avez fait saigner ma main," she
said almost crying with fury. All I said was, "Qui s'y-frotte s'y
pique," and as we had got to the door of my room, I went off in fits of
laughter--she looked so like a cross monkey I could not help it!

[Sidenote: _Girlish Amenities_]

Well, you can think, Mamma, we did not have an agreeable walk. Victorine
talked in her most prudish goody style to "the Remorqueur," and never
addressed me; while poor Mademoiselle Blanc was so nervous trying to speak
to both. As we got to the turn into Vinant, Monsieur Dubois--Victorine's
music-master--came up the street. He is a rather vulgar looking person,
with a black moustache, and lemon yellow gloves, and _horrid_ if you have
to be quite close to him. Just then we stopped to give some sous to a
beggar-woman, so as he passed he said, with a great flourish of the hat:
Was he to come on Saturday as usual for the lesson? Victorine looked down
all the time modestly, and "the Tug" answered: Of course; so he said it
would be a never-to-be-sufficiently-thanked kindness, if Mademoiselle
would take back with her this roll of music he had been on his way to
deliver _chez elle_, as it was much out of his road, and he was pressed
for time at his next lesson. Victorine at once seized it, and he bowed
again and walked on. Mademoiselle Blanc had already a parcel in each hand
she was taking to the embroidery shop.

After that Victorine was _distraite_, and seemed in a great hurry to
get home; she even spoke to me, and while "the Tug" was looking at
wools in the shop she fidgeted so with the music that it came undone. I
offered to carry it, as I had no parcels, but she snatched it up as if
it was gold, and in doing so a bit of paper fell out of it, and as I
picked it up I could not help seeing it began "_Ma cruelle adoree_."
She said, in a great rage, that it was only the words of a song, as she
put it in her pocket; so I don't see why she should have been so
furious with me seeing it, do you, Mamma?--but she had not got over
the pin in my belt, I suppose. Anyway she made us trot home with
seven-leagued boots.

[Sidenote: _The Music-master_]

Godmamma met us in the hall, radiant, and, clasping Victorine to her
breast, said she must announce to her the joyful news that M. le Baron
de Fremond had made the _demande_, on the part of his sister, the
Marquise de Beaupre, for the hand of her peerless Victorine, for her
son and his nephew, the Marquis de Beaupre, and that she--Godmamma--had
consented to relinquish to them this treasure. Jean came out of the
smoking-room just then and they all began kissing--it was awful.

I got upstairs as quickly as I could, and Heloise soon joined me there.
She was enchanted at the idea of really getting rid of Victorine, and
she said Godmamma's rheumatism was growing so bad she would soon have
to spend the summer at German baths, and so they would fortunately at
last have Croixmare to themselves; and she could not thank me enough
for having assisted at this _denoument_.

All the evening Victorine played the tunes the music-master gave her,
and once or twice broke into a song of joy; but when I asked her to try
the one beginning "_Ma cruelle adoree,_" she looked green, and said she
was tired, and would go to bed.

[Sidenote: _A Game of Billiards_]

Then Jean and I had a game of billiards--we often do now after dinner.
The _salle de billard_ opens out of the salon, and there is a glass
like a window over the mantelpiece, so that you can see into the two
rooms from each other. It always reminds me of Alice, in "Through the
Looking Glass"--you expect to find a mirror, and you see into another
room. Godmamma generally accompanies us into the billiard-room, and
sits bolt upright in an armchair watching us, but to-night she was too
excited to pay us so much attention, and stayed talking to Heloise
about the engagement. Jean seemed nervous and sad, and knocked about
the balls aimlessly, not trying a bit. It is only French billiards, but
still one has to play properly, so at last I said that evidently the
good news of Victorine's engagement had so distracted him that he
could not pay attention to the game. He seemed quite startled. "Ma foi!
le jeu!" he said vacantly. I put down my cue and asked him quite gently
what was the matter?

Just then the bangle you gave me last Christmas came undone, so Jean
put his cue down too, and offered to fasten it. It is difficult to do
oneself, so I thanked him and handed him my wrist; his hands trembled
so he could not do it. I thought he was ill, and bent over him to see.
Fortunately at that moment we happened to be at the one part of the
table which can't be seen from the other room; because Jean behaved so
queerly--I feel sure Godmamma would have been horrified. He did not
worry about the bangle, but just began kissing my hand; simply _dozens_
of kisses. I pulled and pulled to try and get it away, but he would not
let go, and kept murmuring that at last, at last, he was alone with me!

Now wasn't it too annoying, Mamma? I could not call out or make a fuss,
because there would have been _such_ a scene, and you would never
think a Frenchman could be so strong. For although I wrenched and
dragged I could not get my hand away, and it was making me crosser and
crosser every minute. At last, when he began to kiss my wrist, it
tickled so I was afraid I should laugh, and then he would think I was
not serious; so I seized my cue with the other hand, and just told Jean
in a firm voice that if he did not let go that instant I would break it
over his head! That stopped him!

He pulled himself together and said "Oh! pardon, pardon," and that he
was awfully sorry, and that it was because I was going away soon and he
was mad. And that is what I believe it was, Mamma--a fit of some kind.
Did you ever hear there was anything odd in the Croixmare family?
Anyway it shows foreigners are not to be trusted, for, even if they
haven't pistols ready to shoot you, they are doing something queer like

[Sidenote: _Indigestion!_]

Presently he took up his cue and began playing again, and Heloise came
in from the salon. She noticed he looked different and said at once,
"Qu'avez-vous, mon ami?" "Une mauvaise digestion," replied Jean, and he
went and drank _sirop_ at the side-table. I think I should perhaps tell
Heloise what it really was, and warn her to keep an eye on him, but
then it might worry her, and he may not have another attack for a long
time. No one would suspect him of being cracked, he looks as quiet and
respectable as the pony that mows the lawn. The post is starting, and I
must go to breakfast, so now good-bye, with love from your affectionate
daughter, Elizabeth.

_P.S._--The day after to-morrow there is to be a dinner-party here for
the _fiances_ to meet. All the Tournelle party, and his mother and a
couple of cousins will be here, besides the Vicomte and "Antoine," and
the Marquise, who are staying at Tournelle.

Chateau de Croixmare,

_Tuesday, September 6th._

[Sidenote: _Victorine's Indisposition_]

Dearest Mamma,--The dinner for the _fiances_ came off last night. It
was the first time we have had real evening dresses on since I have
been here. I wore the pink silk, and Heloise was delighted with it, she
says you could not possibly improve upon the style you dress me in--it
is ideal for a young girl.

The day after Jean behaved so queerly, he was not at breakfast; he went
to Paris and I did not see him until the evening, when he was as stolid
and quiet as usual, so it must have been a fit, and perhaps he went up
to Paris to see his doctor.

Victorine had her music lesson, and I don't know what could have upset
her; but "the Tug," who always sits in the room with her, came flying
out, saying Victorine was faint and she must get her a glass of water;
so I ran into the _salle d'etude_ to see if I could help her. There she
was flopping on the music-stool, with Monsieur Dubois kneeling by her,
looking cross and reproachful, and just like the villain in the
pantomimes. I heard her say, "Cela doit etre completement oublie entre
nous a present que je vais etre Marquise." I don't know what it was
about, but if she was telling him she would not be friendly with him
any more, I do call it snobbish, don't you, Mamma? just because she is
going to be a _Marquise_. It isn't as if he was an English Marquis
even, like Lord Valmond, that would be of some importance--but a
trumpery French title, without any land or money, it is ridiculous. Of
course, here no one has his own land really since the Revolution, I
mean like "Tournelle," they only call the new house that; I believe the
real "Tournelle" is down in Touraine somewhere and belongs to some one
else now. This _is_ Chateau de Croixmare, but then Jean's
great-grandfather bought it back again.

Now I have wandered from what I was telling you--oh! yes, about
Victorine and M. Dubois. He got up from his knees when he saw me, and
began fanning her, while she flopped more than ever, but I don't think
she felt very faint, her face was so red. And when "the Tug" returned
with the water I came away, as they both looked as if they wanted to
murder me. The excitement had made Monsieur Dubois' collar quite give
way, and he looked a dirtier and more pitiable object than usual.

[Sidenote: _The "Diner des Fiancailles"_]

Such an affair the "_Diner des fiancailles!_" Victorine wore a pink
dress too, with horrid bunches of daisies on her shoulders and in her
hair; and, as that is dark and greasy, and dragged off her face, and
done in the tightest twist at the top, it does not look a suitable
place for daisies to be sprouting from. I hate things in the hair
anyway, don't you, Mamma? However she was delighted with herself, so it
was all right.

We waited in the big salon, standing behind Godmamma to receive the
company. First arrived the old Baron and the Baronne, and the Marquis
and his mother. The Marquis kissed Victorine's hand as well as
Godmamma's and Heloise's, and you should have seen her bridling! When
he got to me he made the stiffest bow; and just then the Comte and
Comtesse de Tournelle, the Marquise de Vermandoise, and the Vicomte
were announced, and immediately following, "Antoine" and two cousins of
Godmamma's. To finish the party there were a batch of the Marquis's
relations, who had come specially from Paris. We were spared Yolande
and Marie, who usually sit up to dinner with their German _bonne_, and
eat everything that they shouldn't, and then scream in the night.

There was a buzz of conversation, and the Vicomte talked to me, but I
could not help hearing what the Marquis said to Victorine--

"Vous aimez la bicyclette, mademoiselle?"

"Oui, monsieur."

"Moi j'aime mieux l'automobile."

"Mais il y a toujours de la poussiere!"

And they are going to be married in a month!

The Vicomte kept bending over me and looking silly, and the Marquis
fidgeted so that he could not go on talking to Victorine--one eye was
always fixed on us. That seemed to please the Vicomte, for he got more
and more _empresse_, and I could not help laughing in return. At dinner
he took in Mme. de Vermandoise, but sat next me, and on my other hand
was one of the cousins, a harmless idiot too timid to speak much, and
with all kinds of horrid baby fluffs growing on his face. If men are to
wear beards (which I should forbid if I were the Queen) they ought to
be shut up till they are really grown.

[Sidenote: _A Contretemps_]

Opposite to us were Victorine and the Marquis, and Godmamma and the
Baron, and Jean and the Marquis's mother. They did look a dull lot, and
the Marquis's mother eats worst of all! We had the greatest fun at our
side, Mme. de Vermandoise was delicious with gaiety, the Comte was on
her other hand, and we four never stopped joking and laughing the whole
of dinner. It was such a big party, so the conversation could not be
quite as general as usual.

The Marquis got gloomier and gloomier as time went on. I could not look
up that I did not find his angry eyes fixed on me. Even Victorine's
aggressive joy at having caught him was damped when she could not get
him to pay attention to what she was saying. At last when he was
straining his ears to try and hear my conversation with the Vicomte,
she got absolutely exasperated with him, and addressed a question to
him in a loud, sharp voice. It made him jump so that he bounced round
in his seat; and as she had lowered her head to put the piece of
_becassine_--which had been poised on her fork while she spoke--into
her mouth, his jumping round, and her raising her head suddenly, made
her daisies catch on his beard; and you never saw such a funny sight,
Mamma! It was a nasty little wired dewdrop that got fixed in poor
Monsieur de Beaupre's fur, and there they were: she still grasping her
fork and he looking ready to eat her with annoyance. Their two heads
were fastened together, and there they would have remained, only
Hippolyte (who always goes everywhere with the Baronne) came to the
rescue, and untangled them. But it hurt the Marquis very much, as some
of the hairs had to be pulled out, and it did not mend matters
Hippolyte muttering, "Cela doit etre que Monsieur le Marquis doit faire
plus attention a l'affaire qu'il a en main, s'il desire garder ses
cheveux intacts."

[Sidenote: _The Vicomte's Proposal_]

The affair made quite a commotion at the table, and Victorine so nearly
cried with rage that the Marquis's mother had to give her smelling
salts. Mme. de Vermandoise was overcome with laughter, and her tongue
was hardly ever out of her gap, while the Marquis sat, white with fury.

When we left the table, arm-in-arm, things cleared up, and, while we
were alone when the men went back to smoke, Victorine was made to "play
something," and she really plays very well. It was so stiflingly hot
that at last some one--the Comtesse, I believe--asked to have the
windows opened on to the terrace. There was a fair-sized moon, and we
all went out there, even Godmamma for a few moments. The men came out
of the smoking-room windows and joined us, and for the first time since
I have been in France we talked to the persons we wanted to, without
either shouting across some one else or making a general conversation.

"Antoine" and Heloise leant over the balustrade; the Comte and the
Marquise stayed by the window, while the Vicomte whispered to me by the
steps; and Victorine and her Marquis stood like two wax figures, not
saying a word, by the orange trees. I don't know whether it was owing
to the moon or not, but the Vicomte did say such a lot of charming
things to me. He said he loved me, and would I marry him; he would
arrange it all, as fortunately he has no parents to consult.

I seem to be getting quite used to proposals now, because it did not
excite me in the least. But I don't think I want to marry any one yet,
Mamma; so I told him you would never let me marry a Frenchman, and he
had better forget all about me. He said as much about love as he could
in the ten minutes we were left talking together, and put it so
nicely--not a bit that violent want-to-eat-one-up-way the Marquis has.
I felt once or twice quite inclined to say yes, if only it had been an
affair of a week; but unfortunately, even in France, you have to stay
on with people longer than that, and that is the part I could not have

I made him understand at last that I really meant not to have him, and
he was very miserable. But you can't tear your hair or cry, with every
one looking on, and, as it all had to be done in a voice as if one was
talking about the weather, he did not show much. Only he looked very
white when we came into the lights again, but he whispered as he said
good-night that he did not despair; he would always love me, and when I
married some one else his day would come, which I did not think kind of
him, as I don't want to be a widow.

The Marquis had not a chance to say a word to me; he tried often, but I
avoided him, he looked so out of temper. I am sure it would have been
something disagreeable. He and the Vicomte nearly came to blows going
out of the door, just over a silly thing like the Vicomte's sword
knocking against the Marquis's boot. I hope they won't really fight.
When they had all gone, and we were going up to bed, I thought Jean
looked as if his fit was coming on again, so I bolted into my room;
and on the whole I am rather glad to be coming back to England on

To-day we go over to Tournelle, a visit of ceremony for me to say
good-bye, and they are all dear people there, and I shall always hope
to see them again.--Now good-bye, dear Mamma, with love from your
affectionate daughter, Elizabeth.

_P.S._--I wish his hair wasn't cut _en brosse_. But of course one
couldn't marry a Frenchman anyway.

Chateau de Croixmare,

_Wednesday, September 7th._

[Sidenote: _Hippolyte's Testimonial_]

Dearest Mamma,--It was really quite sad saying good-bye to all the
people at Tournelle. The Baronne almost wept over me, and said that
they would be dreadfully dull without me. They all kissed me on both
cheeks, and even Hippolyte as he put us into the carriage after I
tipped him, remarked, "Mieux vaut epouser un francais et rester
toujours chez nous, vous etes trop belle demoiselle pour le brouillard

I wonder after all if the Marquis will ever marry Victorine, as it
seems, when he got back last night, he was in such a temper that he
made a scene with the Baronne and his mother. He said that Victorine
made him look ridiculous, that she was unappetising, without wit, and
ugly enough to have tranquillised St. Anthony at his worst moment of
temptation--whatever that means. (I overheard the Baronne tell all this
to Heloise while the old Baron was making me compliments in his fearful
English.) The Marquis stamped his foot, and finally, bursting into
tears, announced that he would go to Paris, back to Adele--whoever she
is--and find consolation! So off he started this morning the first
thing. What a man, Mamma! crying like a child!

His mother and the Baronne are very anxious about him, as if he really
decides to "_jeter le manche apres la cognee_," who is to pay his
debts! The Baronne also said, that if "Elisabet" (that's me) had only
been married, it would have been all a simple matter; because then
there would be no cause for him to despair, and he would not have
occupied himself about an ordinary subject, like who they married him
to in the meantime. But, as it is, the contrast between us--Victorine
and me--whom he cannot obtain--is too great, and the sooner I am out of
his sight the better! It does sound all Greek, doesn't it to you,
Mamma? I repeat it just as the Baronne said it.

[Sidenote: _Etiquette for the Fiances_]

We went into the garden presently, and the Marquise and the Comte and I
walked together; she had not got over the affair at dinner, and did
nothing but laugh and joke about it. She said that Victorine at all
events will give the Marquis no anxieties in the future, but she is
sure he will have to "_se griser_" to get through the wedding.
Fortunately Victorine was not with us, as Godmamma was too tired to
accompany her; it would not have been proper for her to come with only
her brother and sister-in-law, as her _fiance_, being supposed
to be at Tournelle, she might have had private conversation with him
not under Godmamma's eye!

Oh! mustn't it be awful to be French! Heloise says it isn't so bad as
this in the smart set in Paris; they speak to one another there quite a
lot before getting married, and do almost English things, but Godmamma
is of the old school.

Before we left, the Marquis turned up, he looked thoroughly worn out
and as _piano_ as a beaten dog. He was awfully polite to Jean and
Heloise, and hardly looked at me, but as I did not want to leave with
him still feeling cross with me, I got the chance at last to tell him I
hoped he would be happy, and to congratulate him. He bowed deeply and
thanked me, and then under his breath, as he stooped to pick up a
flower I had dropped, he said, "Vous avez brise mon coeur, et cela
m'est egal ce qui arrive,"--but I don't believe it, Mamma, he has not
got a heart to break, he is only a silly doll and worthy of Victorine.

I saw the Baronne talking to him seriously while we were having "five
o'clock;" and just as we were starting, she came up and said low to
Heloise, who was beside me, "J'espere que tout va bien, Adele l'a
remplace, et ne veut plus de lui! Oh! la bonne fille!" So whoever
"Adele" is, I suppose she has done Victorine a good turn. I asked
Heloise on our way home if "Adele" was a relation of the Marquis's, and
she went into fits of laughter and said, "Oui, une tres proche," but I
can't see anything to laugh at, can you, Mamma?

[Sidenote: _A Country Dinner Party_]

In the evening there was a _ghastly_ dinner party at Croixmare. Three
sets of provincial families. They are really awful these
entertainments, and so different to English ones! Nobody bothers about
even numbers. You feel obliged to ask the X's, the Y's, and the Z's
from duty, and so you do. It doesn't in the least matter if they are
mostly females; you have to ask the family, because if the daughters
are grown up they can't be left at home alone--they would be getting
into mischief. This is the kind of assortment that arrives: Papa X,
Mamma X, and two girl X'es; Papa Y, Mamma Y, and Master and Miss Y;
Papa Z, Mamma Z, Aunt Z, and Mdlle. Z--such a party!

Godmamma just revels in these frumps; they make Heloise furious, and
the airs of Victorine, her coyness and giggling, nearly drove me wild.
I sat next to Monsieur Y, and although he is a Baron of very old family
he ate like a _pig_. The food was extraordinarily good, but the proof
of good service here is to get the whole dinner--of I don't know how
many courses--over under the hour. So one has no sooner swallowed a
mouthful, when one's plate is snatched away, and one begins to devour
something else. But with this awful man gobbling at my side, and those
foolish girls giggling beyond, even the forty minutes seemed ages.

Afterwards in the salon the "_jeunes filles_" were sent to talk at the
other side of the room, supervised by "the Tug," who did not dine, but
was in waiting. If you had heard their conversation, Mamma! It was
worse than the day the two came to breakfast. Just one endless string
of questions to Victorine about the Marquis, with giggles over
possibilities of their own _fiancailles!_ It is so extraordinary that
they can ever turn into witty, fascinating women like Heloise and the
Marquise. Of course, these are just provincial nobodies, whom Heloise
would not dream of knowing in Paris; perhaps the girls there are

[Sidenote: _A Cure for a Fit_]

Victorine told them the Marquis was "Beau comme l'Archange Michel," and
had for her "une brulante devotion!" What will she say if after all he
refuses to come to the scratch! Jean is to accompany Agnes and me up to
Paris to-morrow to see us safely off to Dieppe. I hope he won't have
another fit in the train, I shall tell Agnes to take plenty of salts
and brandy in her bag, and a bottle of soda water, because I have
always heard that a sudden shock is best for people in fits, and one
could pop the soda water over him if the worst came to the worst.--Now,
good-night, dear Mamma, your affectionate daughter, Elizabeth.

_P.S._--An awful wind is blowing. I hope I shan't be drowned crossing
the Channel.--E.

Chateau de Croixmare,

_Thursday night_.

[Sidenote: _The Emotion of the Marquis_]

Dearest Mamma,--I hope you got the telegram all right to-day saying I
would not leave. The storm became really so fearful they would not hear
of my starting, and as it has turned out I am very glad, for to-night
we dined at Tournelle to celebrate the Baronne's birthday, and we had
such an amusing time. All the usual lot were there, as well as those
two officers who came to the _Foire_ with us, and about three or four
more people from Paris, so we were quite a large party. Everybody gave
the Baronne a present, and _such_ baskets of flowers as she had in the
salon! "Assez pour tourner la tete," as Hippolyte said.

The Baronne was dressed in pale mauve and looked lovely, only such a
funny thing happened at dinner. The Vicomte, who sat next to her, made
her laugh dreadfully, just as she was eating her soup, and she choked,
and suddenly one cheek quite fell in, while the other stuck out as if a
potato was in it. One could not _think_ what had happened; but it
appears that she wears "plumpers," of a kind of red guttapercha, to
keep her face nice and round, and in choking the right cheek's one got
jerked across into the left cheek, and that is how she got the
toothachy look. Mustn't it be a bother, Mamma, to have to do all that?
but the Baronne is such a dear that one did not even laugh.

The Marquis had to sit by Victorine, and I saw him looking at the pink
rosebuds in her hair with a cautious eye; and he sat up as straight as
anything in case she should get caught in him again.

But it is all right, he means to go through with it--the Baronne told
Heloise directly we got there. So I thought, as it was finally settled,
there would be no harm in talking to him a little. He looked at me at
dinner, I smiled, and it was so quaint, Mamma, his whole face seemed to
flush until his forehead was even pink, with the veins showing at the
side. He lifted his champagne glass and kissed the edge of it, and
bowed to me, and no one saw but the Comte, and he went into a chuckle
of laughter, as he whispered to me that if Victorine had seen she would
certainly tear my eyes out on the way home.

[Sidenote: _Elizabeth Sandwiched_]

Afterwards, in the salon, the Vicomte managed to stand behind me while
I was talking to the old Baron, and he said in a low voice: Why had I
come back? He was at peace waiting till his day came, and here I had
upset everything, and he should have to go through endless more
restless nights! I said that I was sorry the storm had prevented my
starting, especially as I was unwelcome. So he threw prudence to the
winds, and said out loud before the Baron that I knew it was not that,
and he looked so devoted and distressed that the dear old Baron patted
him on the back, and turning away said, "Mon brave Gaston, moi aussi
j'etais jeune une fois." And he left us alone by the window, while he
stood a sort of sentry in front.

The Vicomte did whisper a lot of things; he said just for one evening I
might make him happy and pretend I loved him, and let him call me
"_cherie_." So I said "all right;" I did not think it _could_ matter,
as I am coming home to-morrow, Mamma, and shall probably never see him
again, and you said one ought always to be kind-hearted and do little
things for people. When I said "all right," his forehead got pink, and
the veins showed just like the Marquis's had done at dinner, and he
said, "_Cherie--ma cherie, ma bien-aimee_" in such a voice! It made me
feel quite as if I wanted to listen to some more, only, unfortunately
at that moment, Godmamma came up; she brushed the Baron aside, and said
I should certainly catch cold by the window, and must come with her,
while she annihilated the Vicomte with a look.

There I was, taken off to a sofa at the other side of the room, and
stuffed down between Godmamma and the Marquis's mother. You can think I
was cross. However, I paid her out, for I just looked at the Marquis,
who was seated by his Victorine almost silent and like a dummy (they
are allowed to talk together now, as long as they are not alone in the
room). It made him fidget so, he could not attend to what she was
saying. And when finally he got up and came over to us and said, had I
seen the new "Nattier" the Comte had just bought, which was in the
other salon, and would I come and look at it?--I think Godmamma wished
she had left me safe with the Vicomte. She could not say anything, as
half the party had already gone to look at the picture, so I got up at
once and went with him. His mother is years older than the Baronne, and
not a bit gay like her. I saw them--her and Godmamma--nodding their
heads anxiously as we left; no doubt they were deploring the bad
bringing-up of the English.

[Sidenote: _The Fiances Together_]

The Marquis said it was awful what he was going through; and when the
dancing began presently would I give him the first valse? I said
Certainly, and by that time we were in the other salon, and beside the
Marquise. She smiled her dear little smile, which always seems to mock
at everything, and put her tongue into her gap and whispered: "Quelle
comedie! c'est bien petite espiegle, amusez-vous!" _And so I did!_ I
can't tell you what fun it was, Mamma. I was in wild spirits, and the
Marquis answered back, and we were as gay as larks, until I overheard
the Marquis's mother, who had followed us, say to him, in an acid
voice, that he seemed to have forgotten that it was arranged for him to
give Victorine the engagement ring that evening and say a few
appropriate words to her, and he must take her to see the flowers in
the conservatory, and get it over there. So off he had to go, looking
black and peevish, and supervised by the two mothers--who stood at the
risk of catching their deaths of cold by the door--he and Victorine
went arm-in-arm into the conservatory, and disappeared behind some pots
of palms.

It appears Mme. de Vermandoise and the Comte were in there too, and saw
what happened, and she told Heloise and me afterwards. The _fiances_
came and stood quite close to them, with only a bank of flowers
between; and they said the palms were pretty and were growing very
tall, and the Marquis coughed, and Victorine began scrabbling with her
toes on the marble floor in that irritating way she has, and they
neither of them spoke. At last the Marquis dashed at it, and said, as
she already knew, their parents had arranged they should marry, and he
hoped he would make her happy. At that moment the piano struck up very
loud in the salon, and prevented Victorine from quite catching what he
said; he got very red and repeated it again, but he mumbled so she
still was not sure, and had to say "_Pardon?_" for the second time.
That upset the Marquis to such a point that he said "Damn," which is
the only English word he knows, and when Victorine looked horribly
surprised, he dived into his waistcoat pocket and fished out the ring.
Then he took her hand, pulled off her glove backwards, and pushed it on
to the first finger he came to, which happened to be the middle one! He
just said he hoped she would wear it for his sake; and when she
exclaimed, "Mais, monsieur! ce n'est pas sur ce doigt que vous devez
mettre la bague!" he hardly waited to apologise or put it right before
he dragged her back to the salon and deposited her with the anxious

[Sidenote: _The Baronne's Diplomacy_]

Mme. de Vermandoise said she and the Comte nearly had a fit to keep
themselves from laughing out loud. Wasn't it too comic, Mamma? How I
should hate to be betrothed like that! However, Victorine seems to
think half a loaf is better than no bread, for she kept her glove off
all the rest of the evening, and looked at her ring with conscious
pride. It is a very nice one, a ruby and a pearl heart connected by a
diamond Marquis's coronet. They ought to have added a money-bag
representing the dot, and then the symbol would have been complete.

We had begun to dance when they got back, and, as the Marquis had not
been there to claim me, I was valsing with Jean. The Baronne kept the
Vicomte close to her side all the rest of the evening--she told me, as
she kissed me in saying good-bye, that she had done it for peace sake,
as she knew he and the Marquis would have had a quarrel otherwise, they
were both so madly in love with me. "Petite embrouillante d'heureuses
familles va!" she said--"Mais je t'aime bien quand meme!"--She is a
darling, the Baronne! The Marquis stood there glowering, and never
offered to dance with Victorine; she must have been cross!

We had another farewell all round when the valse was over--Godmamma
would not stay for another, and even "Antoine" seemed sorry to say
"_Adieu._" "Depechez-vous de vous marier," he said, "et ensuite revenez
aupres de nous. J'ai envie de vous faire la cour, mais vous etes
beaucoup trop dangereuse pour le moment."

"Ca, c'est vrai!" said the Comte and Jean together, and every one

Now that the betrothal ring is really on Victorine's finger, and
Heloise knows she will be got off, she does not mind a bit about the
Marquis looking at me. She kept laughing to herself over it all the way
home; she really detests Victorine. Godmamma and the bride-elect hardly
spoke a word, and I am sure if a perfect hurricane blows to-morrow,
they won't suggest my waiting another day, so I shall be glad to be

Good-night, dear Mamma; you will see me almost as soon as you get this,
as I shall only sleep the night in London at Aunt Mary's.--With love
from your affectionate daughter, Elizabeth.



_September 20th_.

[Sidenote: _Lady Theodosia's Pets_]

Dearest Mamma,--You might have prepared me for what Lady Theodosia
looks like, because when I arrived yesterday and was shown into her
boudoir, and found her lying on the sofa, covered with dogs and cats, I
as nearly as possible laughed out loud, and it would have been so rude.
She had evidently been asleep, and it looked like a mountain having an
earthquake when she got up, and animals rolled off her in all
directions. A poodle, two fox terriers, a toy Spitz, and a cat and
kitten, had all been sleeping in the nooks her outline makes. They all
barked in different keys, and between saying, "Down, Hector!" "Quiet,
Fluff!" "Hush, hush, Fanny!" "Did um know it was a stranger?" etc.,
etc., she got in that she was glad to see me, and hoped you were
better. When she stands up she is _colossal_! Her body dressed in the
last fashion, and then the queerest face with no neck, and
lemon-coloured hair parted down the middle, and not matching a bit with
the chignon of thick plaits at the back. It looks as if it were
strapped on with a black velvet band that comes across her forehead,
like in the pictures on the nursery screen at home that the Great-aunts
made when they were children. She seems as kind as possible, and has
the fattest wheezy voice.

[Sidenote: _"Clever Darlings"_]

Her room is appalling; it is full of Early Victorian furniture, and
horrid alabaster statuette things, under glass cases, and then a few
modern armchairs covered in gorgeous brocade, but it is all clawed by
the cats, and soiled by the dogs' muddy feet, and you are unable to
make up your mind where it will be safe to sit. When tea came in, which
it did immediately, you can't think what it was like! A St. Bernard and
another poodle joined the party, and while we were trying to get
something to eat and drink, they all begged or barked or pushed their
noses under the muffin dish lid, or took cakes from the side table; and
Lady Theodosia kept saying, "Clever darlings; see, they know where
their favourite bits are." It is impossible to have a connected
conversation with her, because between every few words she puts in
ejaculations about the dogs. I was obliged to simply bolt my crumpet
like a Frenchman, to keep it from being snatched from me. Just as we
were finishing tea, Mr. Doran and three men came in. He is a
teeny-weeny man with a big head and rather weak eyes, and he and she do
look odd together. What could it have been like when they trotted down
the aisle after getting married!

It is a mercy Lady Theodosia is only your second cousin, and that her
shape has not descended to our branch of the family. All the
"children"--as she calls the animals--barked again when the men came
in. There was only a _miserable_ tea left, and, when Mr. Doran ventured
to say the dogs had made things rather messy, Lady Theodosia
annihilated him. It was as if he had insulted her nearest and dearest!
But one of the men got quietly to the bell, and when the footmen came
they grasped the situation and brought some clean things, so tea
finished better than it had begun. Just before they went to dress Lady
Theodosia remembered to introduce them. The only young one is Mr.
Roper, the great shot, and the other two are Sir Augustus Grant and
Captain Fieldin; they are oldish.

When they had gone, Lady Theodosia said to me that men were a great
nuisance as a rule, but that she had a pet friend, a "dear docile
creature, so useful with the dogs," and he was coming back by the 6.30
train. You would have laughed, if you could have seen him when he did
arrive! A fair humble thing, with a squeaky voice and obsequious
manners. He had been up to town to get the dogs new muzzles, as the
muzzling order has just been put in force in this county. It appears
Lady Theodosia has him always here, and he attends to the dogs for a
home, but I would rather be a stable--boy, wouldn't you, Mamma? His
name is Frederick Harrington, and Lady Theodosia calls him "Frederick"
when she is pleased, and "Harrington" if anything puts her out. And as
she says it, "Harrington" sounds the fattest word you ever heard. I was
glad to get to my room!

Most of the house that I have yet seen, which was not refurnished when
she married in 1870, is really fine, with beautiful old furniture and
china; only everything within reach is scratched and spoilt by the
"children." It must make the family portraits turn in their frames to
see Fluff eating one of their tapestry footstools, or the cats clawing
the Venetian velvet chairs.

[Sidenote: _Feeding the Aborigines_]

There was a dinner party in the evening. As we went upstairs to dress,
Lady Theodosia told me about it. She said she was obliged to entertain
all the Aborigines twice a year, and that most people gave them garden
parties; but she found that too fatiguing, so she had two dinners in
the shooting season, and two at Easter, to which she asked every one.
She just puts all their names in a bag, and counts out twelve couples
for each party, and then she makes up the number to thirty-six with
odd creatures, daughters and old maids, and sons and curates, &c., and
she finds it a capital plan. She said, "I give 'em plenty to eat and
drink, and they draw for partners, and all go home as happy as possible
feeling there has been no favouritism!"

She explained that the lawyers and doctors enjoyed having their food
with the earls and baronets much more than just prancing about lawns.
And when I asked her how the earls and baronets liked it, she said
there were only three or four, and they had to put up with it or stay
at home; she had done it now for thirty years, and they were accustomed
to it; besides, she had the best _chef_ in England, and anyway it was a
nice change for people not knowing who they were going to be put next
to. It took her such a long time to tell me all this, and to see me to
my room, that I was almost late, and she did not get into the state
drawing-room until all the guests had arrived.

You never saw anything so funny as it was, Mamma. Mr. Doran was trying
to be polite to the odd collection, evidently not quite knowing which
was which. Old Lord and Lady Devnant were glaring at the rest of the
company from the hearth-rug, with a look of "You invade this mat at
your peril!" Sir Christopher Harford paying extravagant compliments to
the parson's wife (I knew which they were because I heard them
announced), and the "Squire" and Mrs. de Lacy--who came over with the
Conqueror--standing apart with their skinny daughters, all holding
their noses in the air. Everybody seemed to be in their best clothes,
and most of the women had flowers and tulle or little black feathers
sticking up in their hair, and bare red arms, and skirts inches off the
ground in front; you know the look. But everything seemed to be going
beautifully after Lady Theodosia rolled in (she does not walk, like
ordinary people)!

[Sidenote: _Drawing for Partners_]

Mr. Doran did the handing round of the drawing-papers, and they were
"Marshall and Snelgrove," and "Lewis and Allenby," and "Debenham and
Freebody," &c., and if you drew "Lewis" you went in with whoever drew
"Allenby," and so on; it was a capital plan, only for one incident. I
was near Lady Theodosia when Mr. Harrington rushed from the other end
of the room, and whispered to her in an agitated voice that the
"Dickens" of Lady Devnant's "Jones" was Dr. Pluffield. She was not on
speaking terms with him, having quarrelled with him for sending her
teething powders by mistake, when it ought to have been something for
her nerves. All Lady Theodosia said was--

"Harrington, you're a fool. What are their little differences to me? I
give 'em the best dinner in England, and they must settle the rest

So poor Mr. Harrington had to go back and smooth down Lady Devnant as
best he could; and presently we all started for the banqueting-hall.
There were several really decent county people there, of course, but
they all looked much the same as the others, except that they had
diamonds on. Old Admiral Brudnell, who has a crimson face, was taking
in the younger Miss de Lacy, and just in front of him were Dr.
Pluffield and Lady Devnant, whom the Admiral hates. I heard him say,
getting purple like a gobbler, "Come on, come on, I don't mean to let
that old catamaran get in front of me!" And he dragged Miss de Lacy
through the doorway, bumping the others to get past; and she told me
afterwards her funny-bone had got such a knock that she could hardly
hold her soup spoon!

[Sidenote: _Marshall and Snelgrove_]

It was quainter even than the frumps' dinner that Godmamma gave. I had
a very nervous young man with red hair and glasses to take me in; I
drew "Snelgrove," so he was "Marshall." He evidently had not understood
a bit about the drawing, and kept calling me "Miss Snelgrove," until I
was obliged to say to him, "But my name is not Snelgrove any more than
yours is Marshall."

"But my name _is_ Marshall," he said, "and I was told to find a lady of
the name of 'Snelgrove,' and I wondered at the strange coincidence."

He looked so dreadfully distressed that I had to explain to him; and he
got so nervous at his mistake that he hardly spoke for the rest of

The dishes were exquisite, and Lady Theodosia enjoyed them all, in
spite of "Fanny" (that is the Spitz) constantly falling off her lap,
and having to be fished for by her own footman, who always stands
behind her chair, ready for these emergencies. I call it very plucky of
the dog to go on trying; for what lap Lady Theodosia has is so steep it
must be like trying to sleep on the dome of St. Paul's. Mr. Roper sat
at my other side, and after a while he talked to me; he said he came
every year to shoot partridges, and it was always the same. On the
night he arrived there was always this dinner party, and some years the
most absurd things had happened, but Lady Theodosia did not care a
button. He thought there were a good many advantages in being a Duke's
daughter; they don't dare to offend her, he said, although they are
ready to tear one another's eyes out when they are put with the wrong
people. Lady Theodosia puffed a good deal as dinner went on, I could
hear her from where I sat. She is in slight mourning, so below her
diamond necklace--which is magnificent, but has not been cleaned for
years--she had a set of five lockets, on a chain all made of bog oak,
and afterwards I found each locket had a portrait of some pet animal
who is dead in it, and a piece of its hair. You would never guess that
she is Lady Cecilia's sister, except for the bulgy eyes. Towards the
end of dinner Mr. Doran got so gay, he talked and laughed so you would
not have recognised him, as ordinarily he is a timid little thing.

[Sidenote: _After Dinner_]

When we returned to the great drawing-room, it was really comic. Lady
Theodosia did not make any pretence of talking to the people. Her whole
attention was with the "children," who had just been let loose from her
boudoir, where her maid had been keeping them company while we dined.
They were as jealous as possible of Fanny, who never leaves any part of
Lady Theodosia she can stick on to. She is so small that she gets lots
of nice rides asleep on the folds of her velvet train. Most of the
company were terrified at this avalanche of dogs, and kept saying, when
they came and sniffed and barked at them, "poor doggie," "nice doggie,"
"good doggie," etc., in different keys of nervousness. I felt glad
Agnes had insisted that I should not put on one of my best dresses. She
highly disapproves of this place. As well spend the time in the Jardin
des Plantes with the cage doors undone, she says!

Now and then, when Lady Theodosia could bring herself to remember she
had a party, she would make a dash at some one, and as likely as not
call them by a wrong name. Lady Devnant and Mrs. de Lacy and the few
more county people made a little ring with her by themselves, and
gradually the doctors', and parsons', and lawyers' families got
together, and so things settled down, and we were getting on quite
nicely when the men came in. It did all seem queer after the extreme
ceremony and politeness in France. When she had fed them, Lady
Theodosia seemed to think her duty to her guests had ended.

Mr. Doran was still as gay as possible, and insisted upon Mrs.
Pluffield singing; it was a love-and-tombstone kind of song, and
sounded so silly and old-fashioned. And after that lots of people had
to sing, and I felt so sorry for them; but soon their carriages came,
and they were able to go home; if I were they nothing would induce me
to come again.

I got up early to write this as the post goes at an unearthly hour, so
now I must go down to breakfast.--Good-bye, dear Mamma, your
affectionate daughter, Elizabeth.


_September 22nd_.

[Sidenote: _Settling Down_]

Dearest Mamma,--I was surprised yesterday when I got down to breakfast
to find Lady Theodosia already there. She is awfully active, and puffs
about everywhere like a steam-engine. She will pour out the tea and
coffee herself, and there is just the one long table, not a lot of
little ones like at Nazeby; but our party is quite small, the four
other guns were to come from the neighbourhood. Lady Theodosia asks you
if you take sugar and cream, and then perhaps a dog takes off her
attention, and as likely as not, when she remembers the pouring out,
you get just what you have said you don't take. I wonder she does not
leave it to the servants.

Mr. Doran was as quiet as a mouse, and said he had a bad headache. The
three other men had enormous breakfasts, and did not speak much, except
that Captain Fieldin asked if we were not coming out to lunch; and Lady
Theodosia said of course we were--she intended to drive me in her pony
carriage. When they had all started, she took me back to the boudoir,
as it was a Wednesday, and the state apartments were on show, and she
hates meeting the tourists from Bradford. I think it must be dreadful
having to let everybody look through your home, just because you have
fine pictures, and it is historical, and a prince got murdered there a
hundred years ago. Mr. Doran inherited it through his mother, I think
you said, as there are no Lord Retbys left.

[Sidenote: _A Show Place_]

I went to get the photograph of you I always have on my dressing-table,
to show it to Lady Theodosia, and I met quite a troop of tourists on
the stairs, and all the place railed off with fat red cords, and
everything being explained to them by a guide who has the appearance of
a very haughty butler, and lives here just to do this, and look after
the things. The tourists stared at me because I was inside the rope,
just as if I had been a Royalty, and whispered and nudged one another,
and one said, "Is that Lady Theodosia?" and I felt inclined to call out
"No, not by twelve stone." It was funny seeing them. The housekeeper
hates it; she says it takes six housemaids the rest of the day removing
their traces, and getting rid of the smell. And as for the Bank Holiday
ones, they have no respect for the house at all. Lady Theodosia told me
the housekeeper came to her nearly weeping after the last one. "Oh, my
lady," she said, "they treats us as if we was _ruins_."

Mr. Harrington had not been allowed to shoot, because the St. Bernard
and Fluff hated their muzzles so, when they were tried on, that he had
to go in to the local harness-maker and have them altered under his own
eye. He got back just as we were starting for lunch, and Lady Theodosia
made him come with us, and sent the groom on with the lunch carts. She
drives one of those old-fashioned, very low pony-shays, with a seat up
behind for the groom, and two such ducks of ponies. There hardly seemed
room for me beside her, and the springs seemed dreadfully down on her
side. She generally sits in the middle when alone, Mr. Harrington told
me afterwards. She noticed about the springs herself, and said,
"Frederick, you must lean all your weight on the other side." We must
have looked odd going along; I squashed in beside her with a poodle and
Fanny at my feet, and poor Mr. Harrington clinging to one side like
grim death, so as to try and get the balance more level. It seemed
quite a long drive, and lunch was laid out on a trestle table in a
farmhouse garden, and was a splendid repast, with hot _entrees_, and
Lady Theodosia had some of them all.

[Sidenote: _Mr. Doran's Philanthropy_]

It appears Captain Fieldin and Sir Augustus Grant are constantly
staying here; they help to ride Mr. Doran's horses and shoot his birds.
They are all old friends, and rather hard up, so Mr. Doran just keeps
them. He--Mr. Doran--seems different after meals; from being as quiet
as a lamb, he gets quite coarse and blunt. The rest of the party were
just the kind of neighbours that always come to shoot. Mr. Roper told
me they never have smart parties, with only the best shots, and heaps
of beautiful ladies. Mr. Doran asks just any one he likes, or he
happens to meet, and the shooting is some of the best in England, and
awfully well preserved.

Lady Theodosia had a very short tweed skirt on, a black velvet jacket
with bugles, and a boat-shaped hat and cocks' feathers; but she always
wears the black velvet band round her forehead. Her ankles seemed to
be falling over the tops of her boots, and as she only walked from the
carriage to the lunch table, I don't think her skirt need have been so
short; do you, Mamma? But although she was got up like an old gipsy you
could not help seeing through it all that she really is well-bred; I
don't think even Agnes would dare to be uppish with her. They live here
at Retby all the year round. The town house is only opened for three
days, when Lady Theodosia comes up for the Drawing-room. And they seem
to have a lot of these rather dull, oldish men friends who make long

Going home after lunch Lady Theodosia took several of the pies and
joints to poor people in the cottages near, and she was so nice to
them, and so friendly; she knows them all and all their affairs, and
never makes mistakes with their names, or is rude and discourteous as
she was to the people at the dinner party. They all adore her. She
hates the middle classes, she says, she would like to live in Russia,
where there are only the upper and lower.

[Sidenote: _Croquet under Difficulties_]

When we got back, Lord and Lady Tyneville had arrived with their two
daughters. They are about my age, and quite nice and pretty; but their
mother dresses them so queerly, they look rather guys. I am glad,
Mamma, that you have none of those silly ideas, and that I have not got
to have my hair in a large bun with ribbons twisted in it for dinner.
They seem quite accustomed to stay here, and know all the dogs and
their ways. They are much nicer than French girls, but not so
attractive as Miss La Touche. We had an early tea in the hall, and
after tea we played croquet until it got dark, though one could not get
on very well as the dogs constantly carried off the balls in their
mouths, and one had to guess where to put them back, and in that way
Lady Theodosia, who was my partner, managed to get through three hoops
she wouldn't have otherwise. It isn't much fun playing so late in the
year, as it gets so cold.

I think the elder Miss Everleigh is in love with Mr. Roper, because she
blushed, just as they do in books, when he came in, and from being
quiet and nice, got rather gigglish. I hope I shan't do that when I am
in love.

We had quite a gay dinner; Lady Tyneville talks all the time, and says
such funny things.

I am really enjoying myself very much in spite of there being no
excitements, like the Marquis and the Vicomte. To-day we are going to
make an excursion into Hernminster to see the Cathedral, and to-morrow
they shoot again.--Good-bye, dear Mamma, with love from your
affectionate daughter, Elizabeth.

RETBY, _Thursday_.

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