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clare for the superb, without any hesitation upon this occasion; and, indeed, I think I could give some authority for it. You remember how gorgeously Judith and Esther arrayed themselves when their purpose was to catch the hearts of those they feared ;-but I cannot say that all my grandmother's gettings off helped me forward much in the article of dress. We read, indeed, of a party-coloured garment, but that is now become the appropriate mark of a fool ; and also a great deal about needle-work and embroidery, but not a word to enable one how to apply them to the modern modes; so, my dear, we must think more of Madame Lambert in these matters, than of the Bible. And now let us go to your dressing-room, and decide between the “bleu celeste" and the “ bleu foncée."
In this decision Isabella took little part, and Mrs. Nesbitt and Adams carried all before them, and Isabella descended from her toilette, to use Mrs. Nesbitt's expression,
" extrémament parée."
She descended also with a heavy heart; although not able to tax Mr. Willoughby with actual unkindness in so long delaying his return from his dinner party, she felt a consciousness of being neglected, and while she suggested a thousand excuses for the negligence, she felt her eyes fill with tears, and her heart tremble with apprehension. Mrs. Nesbitt saw nothing of all this, so wholly was she engrossed with admiring her own performances, and in anticipating the wonderful effects that they were to produce on the wandering affections of a fickle husband.
The apartments now began to fill, but Isabella was scarely conscious that
she was not alone - with her eyes fixed upon the entrance, she thought only of Mr. Willoughby, and not seeing him, she saw nobody. When her attention for a few moments had been forcibly diverted from this only point of interest, on recovering the power of renewing it, she cast an eager glance on the accumulating crowds, to discover if, among the multitude, she could discern that single countenance which she so longed to see. Her feverish impatience magnified minutes into hours, and to her it seemed as if half the evening was gone, and she had nearly consigned herself to despair, when at length Mr. Willoughby appeared.
He came, and he came with Lady Charlotte ! his dinner engagement had been with Mr. Dunstan, and the groupe that now entered was composed of the company who had been guests at his table. Never did Lady Charlotte look
more commandingly beautiful ; and as if she had disdained to owe any of her attractions to external ornament, she was this evening, contrary to her usual custom, dressed with a marked simplicity — a simplicity, which, if it were unsuited to the splendour of the gala where she was to make her appearance, rendered her the most distinguished figure there, and formed a striking contrast to the display and magnificence of Isabella's dress. Isabella's heart smote her! how willingly would she have deposited her jewels in their boxes, and have exchanged her gorgeous robe for the simplest garment ever worn by village maiden!
How vain! how ostentatious will Willoughby think me - this odious ball has occasioned me nothing but mortification ! were the painful thoughts that passed through her mind as the gay and happy party led by Lady Charlotte and Mr. Willoughby approached her.
“My dear Isabella,” said Mr. Willoughby, “ you must have thought me a sad truant."
“But it is I whom you must put into the corner,” said Lady Charlotte, gaily; “it is all my fault. I protest I do not know how the hours few; but my goods friends here were all so agreeable that I had no notion that it was so late — it was quite abominable not to remind me; and now I recollect, this naughty Willoughby was worse than any body, for he would have another song, another air, till I am half dead with squalling."
The covert impertinence of this pretended apology was of use to Isabella ; instead of humbling her, it gave her spirit to reply.
“You do yourself injustice; it is not so late as you seem to imagine ;