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Chapter 11 The Family Still Resolve to Hold Up Their Heads.

  • MICHAELMAS-EVE, happening on the next day, we were invited to burn nuts an_lay tricks at neighbor Flamborough's. Our late mortifications had humbled u_ little, or it is probable we might have rejected such an invitation wit_ontempt; however, we suffered ourselves to be happy. Our honest neighbor'_oose and dumplings were fine, and the lamb's-wool, even in the opinion of m_ife, who was a connoisseur, was excellent. It is true his manner of tellin_tories was not quite so well; they were very long and very dull, and al_bout himself, and we had laughed at them ten times before; however, we wer_ind enough to laugh at them once more.
  • Mr. Burchell, who was of the party, was always fond of seeing some innocen_musement going forward, and set the boys and girls to blind-man's-buff. M_ife, too, was persuaded to join in the diversion, and it gave me pleasure t_hink she was not yet too old. In the meantime my neighbor and I looked on,
  • laughed at every feat, and praised our own dexterity when we were young. Ho_ockles succeeded next, questions and commands followed that, and, last o_ll, they sat down to hunt the slipper. As every person may not be acquainte_ith this primeval pastime, it may be necessary to observe that the company a_his play planted themselves in a ring upon the ground, all except one, wh_tands in the middle, whose business it is to catch a shoe which the compan_hove about under their hams from one to another, something like a weaver'_huttle. As it is impossible in this case for the lady who is up to face al_he company at once, the great beauty of the play lies in hitting her a thum_ith the heel of the shoe on that side least capable of making a defence. I_as in this manner that my eldest daughter was hemmed in and thumped about,
  • all blowzed in spirits, and bawling for fair play, with a voice that migh_eafen a ballad-singer, when, confusion on confusion, who should enter th_oom but our two great acquaintances from town, Lady Blarney and Miss Carolin_ilhelmina Amelia Skeggs! Description would but beggar, therefore it i_nnecessary to describe this new mortification. Death! To be seen by ladies o_uch high breeding in such vulgar attitudes! Nothing better could ensue fro_uch a vulgar play of Mr. Flamborough's proposing. We seemed stuck to th_round for some time, as if actually petrified with amazement.
  • The two ladies had been at our house to see us, and finding us f rom home,
  • came after us hither, as they were uneasy to know what accident could hav_ept us from the church the day before. Olivia undertook to be our prolocutor,
  • and delivered the whole in a summary way, only saying: "We were thrown fro_ur horses." At which account the ladies were greatly concerned; but bein_old the family received no hurt, they were extremely glad; but being informe_hat we were almost killed by the fright, they were vastly sorry; but hearin_hat we had a very good night, they were extremely glad again. Nothing coul_xceed their complaisance to my daughters; their professions the last evenin_ere warm, but now they were ardent. They protested a desire of having a mor_asting acquaintance; Lady Blarney was particularly attached to Olivia; Mis_arolina Wilhelmina Amelia Skeggs (I love to give the whole name) took _reater fancy to her sister. They supported the conversation betwee_hemselves, while my daughters sat silent, admiring their exalted breeding.
  • But as every reader, however beggarly himself, is fond of high-live_ialogues, with anecdotes of Lords, Ladies, and Knights of the Garter, I mus_eg leave to give him the concluding part of the present conversation.
  • "All that I know of the matter," cried Miss Skeggs, "is this, that it may b_rue, or it may not be true; but this I can assure your Ladyship, that th_hole rout was in amaze; his Lordship turned all manner of colors, my Lad_ell into a swoon, but Sir Tomkyn, drawing his sword, swore he was hers to th_ast drop of his blood."
  • "Well," replied our Peeress, "this I can say, that the Duchess never told me _yllable of the matter, and I believe her Grace would keep nothing a secre_rom me. This you may depend upon as fact, that the next morning my Lord Duk_ried out three times to his valetde-chambre: 'Jernigan, Jernigan, Jernigan,
  • bring me my garters!' "
  • But previously I should have mentioned the very impolite behavior of Mr.
  • Burchell, who, during this discourse, sat with his face turned to the fire,
  • and at the conclusion of every sentence would cry out "Fudge!"-an expressio_hich displeased us all, and in some measure damped the rising spirit of th_onversation.
  • "Besides, my dear Skeggs," continued our Peeress, "there is nothing of this i_he copy of verses that Doctor Burdock made upon the occasion." Fudge!
  • "I am surprised at that," cried Miss Skeggs; "for he seldom leaves anythin_ut, as he writes only for his own amusement. But can your Ladyship favor m_ith a sight of them?" Fudge!
  • "My dear creature," replied our Peeress, "do you think I carry such thing_bout me? Though they are very fine to be sure, and I think myself somethin_f a judge; at least, I know what pleases myself. Indeed, I was ever a_dmirer of all Doctor Burdock's little pieces; for except what he does, an_ur dear Countess at Hanover Square, there's nothing comes out but the mos_owest stuff in nature; not a bit of high life among them." Fudge!
  • "Your Ladyship should except," says t'other, "your own things in the Lady'_agazine. I hope you'll say there's nothing low-lived there? But I suppose w_re to have no more from that quarter?" Fudge!
  • "Why, my dear," says the lady, "you know my reader and companion has left m_o be married to Captain Roach, and as my poor eyes won't suffer me to writ_yself, I have been for some time looking out for another. A proper person i_o easy matter to find, and to be sure thirty pounds a year is a small stipen_or a well-bred girt of character, that can read, write, and behave i_ompany; as for the chits about town, there is no bearing them about one."
  • Fudge!
  • "That I know," cried Miss Skeggs, "by experience. For of the three companion_ had this last half-year, one of them ref used to do plain-work an hour i_he day, another thought twenty-five guineas a year too small a salary, and _as obliged to send away the third, because I suspected an intrigue with th_haplain. Virtue, my dear Lady Blarney, virtue is worth any price; but wher_s that to be found?" Fudge!
  • My wife had been for a long time all attention to this discourse; but wa_articularly struck with the latter part of it. Thirty pounds and twenty-fiv_uineas a year made fifty-six pounds five shilling English money, all whic_as in a manner going a-begging, and might easily be secured in the family.
  • She for a moment studied my looks f or approbation; and, to own a truth, I wa_f opinion that two such places would fit our two daughters exactly. Besides,
  • if the 'Squire had any real affection for my eldest daughter, this would b_he way to make her every way qualified for her fortune. My wife, therefore,
  • was resolved that we should not be deprived of such advantages for want o_ssurance, and undertook to harangue for the family. "I hope," cried she,
  • "your Ladyships will pardon my present presumption. It is true, we have n_ight to pretend to such favors; but yet it is natural for me to wish puttin_y children forward in the world. And I will be bold to say my two girls hav_ad a pretty good education and capacity; at least the country can't sho_etter. They can read, write, and cast accounts; they understand their needle,
  • broad-stitch, cross and change, and all manner of plain-work; they can pink,
  • point, and frill; and know something of music; they can do up small-clothes,
  • work upon catgut; my eldest can cut paper, and my youngest has a very prett_anner of telling fortunes upon the cards." Fudge!
  • When she had delivered this pretty piece of eloquence, the two ladies looke_t each other a few minutes in silence, with an air of doubt and importance.
  • At last, Miss Carolina Wilhelmina Amelia Skeggs condescended to observe tha_he young ladies, from the opinion she could form of them from so slight a_cquaintance, seemed very fit for such employments. "But a thing of this kind,
  • madam," cried she, addressing my spouse, "requires a thorough examination int_haracters, and a more perfect knowledge of each other. Not, madam," continue_he, "that I in the least suspect the young ladies' virtue, prudence, an_iscretion; but there is a form in these things, madam, there is a form."
  • My wife approved her suspicions very much, observing that she was very apt t_e suspicious herself; but referred her to all the neighbors for a character;
  • but this our Peeress declined as unnecessary, alleging that her cousi_hornhill's recommendation would be sufficient, and upon this we rested ou_etition.