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THE MOST UNHAPPY GIRLS IN THE WOULD.
"I Suppose, my dear," said Cicely, sometimes called Cis, which you must not pronounce Kiss — as the schoolgirls, poor things, are taught to pronounce their Latin—but like this: Siss—Siss—Siss— soft and pretty. "I suppose, my dear, that, although we are truly the most unhappy girls in all the world, that is no reason why we should make ourselves miserable?"
"Why, no," replied Christina, with a little hesitation, "we are
certainly most horribly unhappy girls, but yet it seems as if
that is all the more reason why we should get what consolation we can."
"Of course it is," said Cicely. "And yet Harry was wondering, this morning, how I could possibly have the heart to play lawn tennis, our affairs being in so desperate a condition. Why, it is the only thing to prevent brooding over our misfortunes and going melancholy mad. As for himself, he went to play off his tie with so glum a face, that my heart bled for the poor boy. He said he knew he should lose it, through thinking about me."
At that moment the poor boy was sitting behind a cool claret-cup, in a tent, rejoicing in the laurels of the victor. Yet he, too, was a most unhappy young man, as you shall see immediately.
"As for Fred," replied Christina, "the dear boy's letters every day are so woe-begone that I have no heart for anything. He says that he can think about nothing at all but the dreadful turn of things, and that his gloomy chambers are ten times as gloomy as ever. Poor dear!"
No doubt, chambers in Brick Court are gloomy, and in July they smell like stale bakehouses. That cannot be avoided, and, therefore, the young man was perfectly justified in getting away from them. In fact, at this moment he was lying in the stern of a pairoar, taking his turn to steer, and the boat was very near the Bells of Ouseley, where they proposed to halt for the night and to take copious refreshment. But he was a very unhappy young man, because he was in love with a very dainty damsel, and he was crossed in love.
"Chris," said Cicely, with a deep, deep sigh, "I saw in a book o£ verses, the other day, a song about love being a pleasing pain and a teasing smart, and that Chloe—that is, you and I, my dear—we are two very nice Chloes, I am sure—now wishes away and then wishes back the honeyed dart. There was a picture in the book as well, showing a young man in a little wig, tied up behind with a black ribbon, and with white silk stockings, red shoes, and diamond buckles. He was lying on a bank, saying pretty things to a shepherdess in green. How nice Harry would look in a wig saying sweet things! Fred, of course, will wear one in a year or two, but only in Court, poor fellow! Yes, my dear, love is a pleasing pain, you know. Yet one would not like to be without the men—-especially when other girls feel exactly the same way. But still, you
know—they really are"
"They are, Cis. They really are. And it quite destroys the pleasure of playing one's best and looking one's best, doesn't it ?— to feel that the poor boys are taking no pleasure in their lives, but are always moping and miserable."
"Don't you find that ices do you good, Chris?" "Strawberry ices. I don't think Neapolitans are so good in time of trouble."
They are two very pretty girls, and I am quite sure that they would, under any temptation, turn out to be as virtuous as they are pretty, and, therefore, in the end, as happy as they are pretty. At present the only temptation in their 'way was an unreasonable woman, about whom you will hear without much delay. This obstruction to their happiness caused them sometimes to stamp their little feet, clench their little hands, contract their brows, shake, nod, wag, and agitate their pretty heads, heave their bosoms, use strong, very strong, words, and, in church, feel that in the matter of forgiving one's enemies certain reservations must generally be allowed, for purposes of justice, without thinking of human weakness. Mrs. Branson, Miss Antoinette Baker, Mr. Valentine Vandeleur, and the Secretary, were, at present, these exceptions. At this moment the girls were on their way home from lawn tennisIt was an evening in early July; the time was nine, and there was a warm delicious twilight, with most grateful perfumes of roses, mignonette, heliotrope, and all kinds of summer flowers. They were dressed alike, yet with a difference. Likeness with points of difference betokens friendship. For both wore lawn-tennis costumes, and they had been playing, and carried in their hands the implements or tools. One of them—Chris this was—wore a white flannel frock (ought one to call it a skirt ?) with white spun-silk jersey, a white hat, with a very white feather; a bunch of yellow roses on her shoulder, and tan gloves. Cis, for her part, wore a