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SCENE II. Ethel. I can't think where Madame de Montcontour has gone. How very odd it was that you should come here that we should both come here to-day! How surprised I was to see you at the Minister's! Grandmamma was so angry! “That boy pursues us wherever we go," she said. I am sure I don't know why we shouldn't meet, Clive. It seems to be wrong even my seeing you by chance here. Do you know, sir, what a scolding I had about-about going to Brighton with you? My grandmother did not hear of it till we were in Scotland, when that foolish maid of mine talked of it to her maid; and there was oh, such a tempest! If there were a Bastile here, she would like to lock you into it. She says that you are always upon our way—I don't know how, I am sure. She says, but for you I should have been-you know what I should have been: but I am thankful that I wasn't, and Kew has got a much nicer wife in Henrietta Pulleyn than I could ever have been to him. She will be happier than Clara, Clive. Kew is one of the kindest creatures in the world--not very wise; not very strong: but he is just such a kind, easy, generous little man, as will make a girl like Henrietta quite happy.
Clive. But not you, Ethel ?
Ethel. No, nor I him. · My temper is difficult, Clive, and I fear few men would bear with me. I feel, somehow, always very lonely. How old am I? Twenty-I feel sometimes as if I was a hundred; and in the midst of all these admirations and fêtes and flatteries, so tired, oh, so tired! And yet if I don't have them, I miss them. How I wish I was religious like Madame de Florác: there is no day that she does not go to church. She is for ever busy with charities, clergymen, conversions; I think the Princess will be brought over ere long
that dear old Madame de Florac! and yet she is no happier than the rest of us. Hortense is an empty little thing, who thinks of her prosy fat Camille with spectacles, and of her two children, and of nothing else in the world besides. Who is happy, Clive ?
Clive. You say Barnes's wife is not.
is very cruel to her. At Newcome, last winter, poor Clara used to come into my room with tears in her eyes morning after morning. He calls her a fool; and seems to take a pride in humiliating her before company. My poor father has luckily taken a great liking to her: and before him, for he has grown very very hot-tempered since his
baby might make matters better, but as it is a little girl, Barnes chooses to be very much disappointed. He wants papa to give up his seat in Parliament, but he clings to that more than anything. Oh, dear med who is happy in the world? What a pity Lord Highgate's father had not died sooner! He and Barnes have been reconciled. I wonder my brother's spirit did not revolt against it. The old lord used to keep a great sum of money at the bank, I believe; and the present one does so still; he has paid all his debts off ; and Barnes is actually friends with him. He is always abusing the Dorkings, who want to borrow money from the bank, he says. This eagerness for money is horrible. If I had been Barnes I would never have been reconciled with Mr. Belsize, never, never! And yet they say he was quite right; and grandmamma is even pleased that Lord Highgate should be asked to dine in Park Lane. Poor papa is there : come to attend his parliamentary duties as he thinks. He went to a division the other night; and was actually lifted out of his carriage and wheeled into the lobby in a chair. The ministers thanked him for coming. I believe he thinks he will have his peerage yet. Oh, what a life of vanity ours is !
Enter Madame de Montcontour. What are you young folks a talkin' about-Balls and Operas ? When first I was took to the Opera I did not like it--and fell asleep. But now, oh, it's 'eavenly to hear Grisi sing!
The Clock. Ting, Ting!
Ethel. Two o'clock already! I must run back to grandmamma. Good-by, Madame de Montcontour; I am so sorry I have not been able to see dear Madame de Florac. I will try and come to her on Thursday, please tell her. Shall we meet you at the American minister's to-night, or at Madame de Brie's to-morrow? Friday is your own night-I hope grandmamma will bring me. How charming your last music was! Good-by, mon cousin! You shall not come down. stairs with me, I insist upon it, sir: and had much best remain here, and finish your drawing of Madame de Montcontour.
Princess. I've put on the velvet, you see, Clive-though it's very 'ot in May. Good-by, my dear.
[Exit ETHEL. As far as we can judge from the above conversation, which we need not prolong-as the talk between Madame de Montcontour and Monsieur Clive, after a few complimentary remarks about Ethel, had nothing to do with the history of the Newcomes--as far as we can judge, the above little colloquy took place on Monday, and about Wednesday, Madaine la Comtesse de Florac received a little note from Clive, in which he said, that one day when she came to the Louvre, where he was copying, she had admired a picture of a Virgin and Child, by Sasso Ferrato, since when he had been occupied in making a water-colour drawing after the picture, and hoped she would be pleased to accept the copy from her affectionate and grateful servant, Clive Newcome. The drawing would be done the next day, when he would call with it in his hand. Of course Madame de Florac received this announcement very kindly; and sent back by Clive's servant a note of thanks to that young gentleman.
Now on Thursday morning, about one o'clock, by one of those singular coincidences which, &c. &c., who should come to the “ Hótel de Florac” but Miss Ethel Newcome? Madame la Comtesse was at home, waiting to receive Clive and his picture; but Miss Ethel's appearance frightened the good lady, so much so that she felt quite guilty at seeing the girl, whose parents might think--I don't know what they might not think-that ·Madame de Florac was trying to make a match between the young people. Hence arose the words uttered by the Countess, after awhile, in
CONVERSATION III. Madame de Florac (at work). And so you like to quit the world, and to come to our triste old hotel. After to-day you will find it still more melancholy, my poor child.
Ethel. And why?
Madame de F. Some one who has been here to égayer our little meetings will come no more.
Ethel. Is the Abbé de Florac going to quit Paris, Madame?
Madame de F. It is not of him that I speak, thou knowest it very well, my daughter. Thou hast seen my poor Clive twice here. He will come once again, and then no more. My conscience reproaches me that I have admitted him at all. But he is like a son to me, and was so confided to me by his father. Five years ago, when we met, after an absence of how many years l_Colonel Newcome told me what hopes he had cherished for his boy. You know well, my daughter, with whom those hopes were connected. Then he wrote me that family arrangements rendered his plans impossible—that the hand of Miss Newcome was promised elsewhere. When I heard from my son Paul how these negotiations were broken, my heart rejoiced, Ethel, for my friend's sake. I am an old woman now, who have seen the world, and. all sorts of men. Men more brilliant, no doubt, I have known; but such a heart as his, such a faith as his, such a generosity and simplicity as Thomas Newcome's-never!
Ethel (smiling). Indeed, dear lady, I think with you.
Madame de F. I understand thy smile, my daughter. I can say to thee, that when we were children almost, I knew thy good uncle. My poor father took the pride of his family into exile with him. Our poverty only made his pride the greater. Even before the emigration a contract had been passed between our family and the Count de Florac. I could not be wanting to the word given by my father. For how many long years have I kept it! But when I see a young girl who may be made the victim--the subject of a marriage of conve
nience, as I was my heart pities her. And if I love her, as I love you, I tell her my thoughts. Better poverty, Ethel-better a cell in a convent, than a union without love. Is it written eternally that men are to make slaves of us? Here in France, above all, our fathers sell us every day. And what a society ours is ! Thou wilt know this when thou art married. There are some laws so cruel that nature revolts against them, and breaks them-or we die in keeping thenı. You sinile. I have been nearly fifty years dying-i'est-ce pas ?--and am here an old woman, complaining to a young girl. It is because our recollections of youth are always young; and because I have suffered so, that I would spare those I love a like grief. Do you know that the children of those who do not love in marriage seem to bear an hereditary coldness, and do not love their parents as other children do? They witness our differences and our indifferences, hear our recriminations, take one side or the other in our disputes, and are partisans for father or mother. We force ourselves to be hypocrites, and hide our wrongs from them; we speak of a bad father with false praises; we wear feigned smiles over our tears, and deceive our children-deceive them, do we? Even from the exercise of that pious deceit there is no woman but suffers in the estimation of her sons. They may shield her as champions against their father's selfishness or cruelty. In this case, what a war! What a home, where the son sees a tyrant in the father, and in the inother but a trembling victim! I speak not for myself whatever ir.ay have been the course of our long wedded life, I have not to complain of these ignoble storms. But when the family chief neglects his wife, or prefers another to her, the children too, courtiers as we are, will desert her. You look incredulous about domestic love. Tenez, my child, if I may so surmise, I think you cannot havc seen it.
Ethel (blushing, and thinking, perhaps, how she esteenis her father, how her mother, and how much they esteem each other). My father and mother have been most kind to all their children, madam; and no one can say that their marriage has been otherwise than happy. My mother is the kindest and most affectionate mother, and—Here a vision of Sir Brian alone in his room, and nobody really caring for him so much as his valet, who loves him to the extent of fifty pounds a year and perquisites; or, perhaps, Miss Cann, who reads to him, and. plays a good deal of evenings, much to Sir Brian's liking-here this vision, we say, comes, and stops Miss Ethel's sentence).
Madame de F. Your father, in his infirmity-and yet he is five years younger than Colonel Newcome-is happy to have such a wife and such children. They comfort his age; they cheer his sickness; they confide their griefs and pleasures to him-is it not so? His closing days are soothed by their affectior.
Ethel. Oh, no, no! And yet it is not his fault or ours that he is a stranger to us. He used to be all day at the bank, or at night in the House of Commons, or he and mamma went to parties, and we young ones remained with the governess. Mamma is very kind. I have never, almost, known her angry; never with us; about us, sometimes, with the servants. As children, we used to see papa and mamma at breakfast; and then when she was dressing to go out. Since he has been ill, she has given up all parties. I wanted to do so too. I feel ashamed in the world, sometimes, when I think of my poor father at home, alone. I wanted to stay, but my mother and my grandmother forbade me. Grandmamma has a fortune, which she says I am to have: since then they have insisted on my being with her. She is very clever, you know; she is kind too in her way; but she cannot live out of society. And I, who pretend to revolt, I like it too; and I, who rail and scorn flatterers-oh, I like admiration! I am pleased when the women hate me, and the young men leave them for me. Though I despise many of these, yet I can't help drawing them towards me. One or two of them I have seen unhappy about me, and I like it; and if they are indifferent I am angry, and never tire till they come back. I love beautiful dresses; I love fine jewels; I love a great name and a fine house-oh, I despise myself, when I think of these things! When I lie in bed and say I have been heartless and a coquette, I cry with humiliation; and then rebel and say, Why not ?-and to-night-yes, to-night-after leaving you, I shall be wicked, I know I shall.
Madame de F. (sadly). One will pray for thee, my child.
Ethel (sadly). I thought I might be good once. I used to say my own prayers then. Now I speak them but by rote, and feel ashamed -yes, ashamed to speak them. Is it not horrid to say them, and next morning to be no better than you were last night? Often I revolt at these as at other things, and am dumb. The Vicar comes to see us at Newcome, and eats so much dinner, and pays us such court, and “ SirBrians” papa, and “ Your-ladyships" mamma. With grandmamma I go to hear a fashionable preacher-Clive's uncle, whose sister lets lodgings at Brighton; such a queer, bustling, pompous, honest old lady. Do you know that Clive's aunt lets lodgings at. Brighton ?
Madame de F. My father was an usher in a school. Monsieur de Florac gave lessons in the emigration. Do you know in what ?
Ethel. Oh, the old nobility! that is different, you know. That Mr. Honeyman is so affected that I have no patience with him!
Madame de Fi (with a sigh). I wish you could attend the services of a better church. And when was it you thought you might be good, Ethel ?
Ethel. When I was a girl. Before I came out. When I used to take long rides with my dear Uncle Newcome; and he used to talkato me