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pleased from amongst the young and thoughtless, who seem ready at a moment’s warning to "obtain a settlement,” should she have selected Bruff, as the man says in the farce, “ as the hopjack of her affections" is curious—so, however, it seemed to be—and so people talked, and so Smylar heard, and that was enough.
Amongst the weapons used by such people as Mrs. Smylar, the upas-tipped arrow of the literary assassin was not wanting—the stilettoes of the Italian graced her armoury in the shape of anonymous letters, which she could forge and polish, and point and poison, according to will; and upon the manufacture of this deadly weapon she determined, unless the Behemoth came quietly under her subjection.
“ Try fair means first,” said the harpy, " but then let them look out.”
Amongst others of her friends, Mrs. Smylar entertained occasionally, and what a word it is taken conventionally, a certain Mr. Scratchley, who was—as the phrase goes-employed on a popular morning newspaper ; he had known her for several years, and used occasionally to call, and be sociable with her when the colonel was out, after she came into, or rather on the Behemoth’s establishment. Upon Mr. Scratchley, who, barring the tint of his linen towards the end of the week, was an exceedingly nice man, and wore a ring and studs—without which no person of any pretension in society can now show himself—she thought she could rely for a few paragraphs of the “we understand” and “we believe” kind, which might do her cause good; whereupon she wrote -and she wrote well and in a pretty hand—begging to see him, if he were disengaged, on one of the evenings when she knew, to her cost, Bruff would be occupied elsewhere.
And while the note is gone to Mr. Scratchley, let us for one moment recur to that conventional term which we have just noticed, and which is universally adopted by the gentlemen on the fashionable newspapers.
“Yesterday the Duke and Duchess of Woodenhead entertained a large party at dinner.” Now, if the noble Duke, who by his title may be taken for a fool, and his Duchess, for something not wiser, are placed in the condition of the roadside innkeepers, who paint up on their signboards “ Entertainment for Man and Horse," we deny the phraseology—we admit the correctness of it in the grosser sense, but that any body or any party of persons could be in the ordinary acceptation of the word-entertained by either the Duke or Duchess of Woodenhead is wholly out of the question.
Mr. Scratchley's answer to Mrs. Smylar was, that he was engaged all the week. He knew her, had known her, and was quite sure something ill was “ in the wind,” when he got her note; besides which, having been promised something which he never got-for ratting, he felt he should damage his coming dignity by enjoying himself as before in the housekeeper's-room of a house in Portland-place.
There is a story on record, which is sufficiently old to have been forgotten, which might be noticed here, as touching Mrs. Smylar's little literary attempt upon Scratchley.
Mrs. Robinson-the Mrs. Robinson—the Perdita—at one time the everything had written, amongst other extremely pretty poems, one under the title of “Sappho and Phaon.” Anxious, as all literary ladies are to have the charming effusions of their pens put in some sort advantageously before the world, Mrs. Robinson wrote a confidential note to Mr. Boaden (whose name is as well known as Shakspeare's), who was then editor of some leading newspaper, in which she said,
“ Dear Sir, “ Do let me have a few puffs for Sappho and Phaon.
“ M. R."
This note she despatched to the office in the Strand by one of her servants.
Now it so happened that at that period there lived in the said Strand, a somewhat popular pastrycook of the name of Boaden, to whom—as servants will do universally—by mistake, or rather by reading his name over the shop-door, Mrs. Robinson's man took the note; to which she received this answer :
“ J. Boaden's respects to Mrs. Robinson, having sent so late, all his puffs is gone; but he forwards a dozen gooseberry-tarts, which he hopes will do for the young ladies as well.”
This sounds absurd, but is nevertheless very near if not quite the truth; our friend Scratchley with the studs, however, fell far short of his predecessor, for he neither sent Mrs. Smylar the puffs nor the gooseberry-tarts.
Smylar was vexed and irritated by the non-compliance of her gentleman of the press, for when a tawdry, trumpery thing like Smylar feels herself, as she fancies, neglected or slighted, there is nothing on earth equal to her rage and bitterness-she had made up her mind-she knew what she would do—she knew enough of Mr. Scratchley to ruin him, and although she had sweetly bidden him to supper the night before-ruin him she would.
Thus thwarted in the paragraph line, she resolved to put the anonymous-letter scheme in force, waiting, however, till she had practically ascertained in what degree her influence over the colonel had diminished. Upon what points or topics this hateful woman proposed in the madness of her suddenly excited rage to touch, we must wait to discover- but what a woman it is !
Now as regards the hasty voyage of Sir George Grindle to France, and his mean and abject submission to his enriched son-we have much to say ; but meanwhile what happens at home? The decencies of society have been satisfied by the seclusion of the baronet and his son during the period devoted to the obsequies of Mr. Leeson—that period is over--and Sir George is gone.
“ Emma,” said Amersham to his wife, “it seems to me quite out of the question, under all the circumstances, intimate as we are with the family, and Jane Bruff domesticated here, that we should not send an invitation to Mr. George Grindle to come and stay with us; here we have under our roof his betrothed left in our charge. It seems that even she herself is not averse from his visit, and—”
or if you
-“My dear Amersham," interrupted Emma, “why not wait till we hear from Miles Blackmore ?"
“What upon earth, dear Emma,” said Amersham, “have we to do with anything more than the main question? It is true I have written to Miles, and Miles will write to me, and we may hear more, or we may hear less; but the plain simple fact is, that Jane is to be married to a particular man in a week or ten days—she is living under our roof, his father is gone to France, and he is alone at Brighton : now surely if we regard and esteem, as I am sure I do, this charming girl, under her circumstances, or rather under all the circumstances of the case, we ought to invite her intended husband here."
“Why?" said Mrs. Amersham, doubtingly.
“Come, Emma," said her husband, “suppose it were your own case ?”
“Why? then,” replied Emma, “I could give you a plain, clear, distinct, and straightforward answer—inasmuch as no power on earth would ever induce me to marry a man whom I did not love, and with whom I was not sure of being happy through life.”
• Bravo, Emmy!” said Amersham. “I really did not try for so flattering a speech'; but our case, dear love, was different from this here is something like compulsion on the side of old Bruff'; but the question is, whether we should, by excluding the accepted man while we shelter the affianced woman, become partisans in the discussion-I should say no—and more especially because we really know nothing of the intended. You never saw hiin,
did" —“ No, no,” said Emma; “ but wait till we hear from Miles Blackmore.”
My dear child,” said Amersham, “ whatever we hear from Miles Blackmore can have nothing to do with the great question. Suppose, Emmy-now don't be cross—but suppose there is a Mrs. Grindle in Paris or at Versailles—not that we have more than Lady Cramly's version of it—but suppose there should be a lady so calling herselfwhy, don't you see?—these things will happen-and—”
“Yes," cried Emma, so they will: and men are the most cruel, heartless, and—”
Stay, stay, my Emmy,” said Amersham, “the lady to complain of that, is the lady herself, if there be one at Versailles, Jenny has nothing to do with it-ought never to have known of it, and never would have known of it, if it had not been for our dreadful diary-keeper.”
“ Amersham,” said Emma, “ you are as bad as the worst of them-I have no patience with you—in fact, I declare—”
“Luncheon is served," said a servant, opening the door most opportunely.
“Very well," said Amersham, affecting the most perfect calmness -Emma felt flushed at being, as it were, detected in her animation.
The man retired.
“ I shall write to Mr. Grindle by this post, Emma,” said Amersham, resuming the dialogue and reverting to his point.
"I do not see why he is to be excluded, nor do I see why we are to make ourselves partisans."
" Well, dear,” said Emma, “may I ask Jane before write?”
“ You may, certainly,” replied Amersham: “but placed as we are, I do think and feel that if it is unpleasant for her to meet Mr. George Grindle here, this is not a fit place for her residence; and loving her as I do—as sincerely as if she were my sister—let her understand that painful as it will be to me to yourself she knows it will I must, if she declines receiving the man to whom in ten days she is to be married, under my roof, I must--Emma, I am bound in honour and duty as a gentleman to do so-restore her to the care and protection of her father." “ But
will not wait,” said Emma. “I have told you, my dear girl," answered he, “ why I will not wait -I have nothing to do with any fact but the one—that our dear girl is about to be married that her intended husband is shut out from her society so long as she stays here, and he is not a guest in my house with all the other details we can have nothing to do."
“Well,” said Emma, “ come to luncheon- I suppose they are waiting; but do not write till I have spoken to her.”
Nobody can doubt the rectitude of Amersham's views, or the justice of his proceedings, however soothed, moderated, and even counteracted by the sensitiveness of his wife's feelings. The real truth was, that Mrs. Amersham, knowing nothing of Mr. George Grindle but by hearsay, was convinced that with Frank, Jane's happiness as a wife would be secure then ; but, as Amersham said to himself, and indeed to her, what was that to them? At one time Emma was satisfied that no man could make Jane happy as a wife but Miles Blackmore; that went off—and why should she now, without knowing anything of his halfbrother George, pronounce Frank Grindle the only man calculated to ensure her comfort through life ? Amersham was right in exhibiting such firmness, and although Emma generally carried her point, this was decided against her, and that even with Jane's partial concurrence, and a letter was accordingly despatched, inviting Mr. George Grindle to pay the Amershams a visit, and pass a few days until the return of Sir George from Paris.
A new difficulty arose hereabouts. Lady Cramly and her dear Seraphine were to take leave the next morning after breakfast; and then what would be the state of the establishment? One pair of lovers is a dreadful contingency in a country-house ; two or three indifferent people stroll about, and leave the fond couple accidentally to themselves; but in this case there would be nobody but the nymph and swain, and the master and mistress of the house. Emma thought of pressing--a performance generally very successful with her ladyship-Lady Cramly and her daughter to stay a little longer; but the horrid certainty that she would come out with the whole history of the pretty Mrs. Grindle at Versailles, rendered that a matter of impossibility, and so she resolved upon gathering in some of the neighbours as reliefs-the clergyman's two accomplished and charming daughters, and the village physician, not to speak of some stray man or two whom Amersham might get down from town, who, from caring for neither smoke, smell, noise, whirl, rattle, or
“ All the perils that environ
The man that meddles with cold iron,
would unquestionably adopt the use of the railroad, which reducesmost satisfactorily to the feelings of a suburban resident like Amersham—the distance, calculating by time, of his house, from twenty miles in the country, to four from the metropolis ; thus, under the influence of modern improvements, putting him happily and gloriously exactly in the position of a pipe-smoking cockney by the roadside at Clapham Common or Peckham Rye. These, however, are the blessings derivable from new institutions, and to which, above all, Mrs. Amersham was to be indebted for a supply of dandies for her next day's dinner, if she happened to want them.
Ít was now time for Jane to consider, deeply and seriously, the position in which she was placed--she had consented (how could she refuse ?) to the invitation of George Grindle to the Amershams' he was coming there under her sanction. She was, as far as both fathers felt, and as far as certain awkward-looking papers and signatures went, his wife-and-she hated him! A few days would only elapse before she was to be united to him for the rest of her existence--to love, honour, and obey him-to perform a thousand duties of tenderness, which she felt he never could excite, and of affection which she was certain she never could feel. Yet the curse of a father, with which she was threatened, weighed heavily in the opposite scale to that in which were poised her earthly hopes and affections; she felt that matters had gone too far-she felt even that she could not trust her dear, her affectionate Emma upon this subject she was ashamed, as it were, of her own weakness, and turned with something like anxiety to what will the reader think?-the advice of Mrs. Smylar!
Yes, such is the influence of practical active vice over pure and genuine minds ; such, too, the smirking plausibility of this particular woman, varied with an affectation of sensibility and tenderness of disposition, well plated with mock affection for her present victim, that Smylar, the stroller, had actually superseded Emma in Jane's estimation as a councillor.
She recollected—as how could she forget ? the readiness and anxiety which Smylar had expressed to rescue her from the match; she recollected for they still rang in her ears--Smylar's words when she said, “ Trust to me when the time comes;" the time had come, or very nearly so, and Smylar was not near her to write to her, was what Jane could not undertake; she knew that she and Harris were in the habit of correspondence, and did not know that she herself was surrounded by spies, all intriguing and playing their own games against her ; but here, brooding over Smylar's suggestion of flying from her father's house, even on the eve of the wedding, sat poor Jenny, in the only house to which she could in such an emergency fly, having (as Emma, satisfied of the propriety of her husband's views upon the subject, had told her she must do) permitted the visit of her betrothed on the morrow.
The morrow came, and with it the packing of Lady Cramly's carriage, which was that in which she went her tours, and was furnished with all sorts of drags, chains, pans, hammers, and tongs, as if it were to be started at that moment for Switzerland. The innumerable bags, boxes, sketch-books, camera-lucidas, telescopes, little chairs, umbrellas,