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THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY

OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES



A BALLROOM EEPENTANCE



A



BALLKOOM EEPENTANCE



BY



ANNIE EDWARDES

AUTHOR OF "aKCHIE LOVELL," "OUGHT WE TO VISIT HER?"

ETC.



IN TWO VOLS.
VOL. L




LONDON
KICHARD BENTLEY & SON, NEW BURLINGTON ST.

^Pufalisfjcrs in ©riinarg to l^cc fHajrstD the ©urrn
18 81'



All rights 7-eseii'ed.



/



Printed hy R. & R. Clark, Edinburgh.






VMiT.



CONTENTS OF VOL. I.

CHAPTER I.
The Doll Tribe, Generally ... 1

CHAPTER n.
Concerning Old Violins ... 29

CHAPTER m.
A Moonlit Sonata . . . . 72

CHAPTER IV.

Asking for Trumps . . . .90

CHAPTER V.

Those Oysters . . . . . ' 98



86G95S



vi CONTENTS.



CHAPTER YI

PAGE

Too Deep for Tears . . . 115



CHAPTER VH.
Charlotte and Werther . . .139

CHAPTER VHI.
Lord Byron's Isle . . . .169

CHAPTER IX.
John Farintyre rises to Dignity . . 190

CHAPTER X.
Ether 199

CHAPTER XI.
Cats and Red Clover . . . . 211

CHAPTER XII.
Intellectual Coquetry .... 232



CONTENTS. vii

CHAPTER XIII.

PAGE

This Terrible Mrs. Pinto! . . . 257

CHAPTER XIV.
Deterioration . . . . . 265

CHAPTER XV.
She that is Kindest . . . .275

CHAPTER XVI.
To Monte Carlo . . . . .291

CHAPTER XVII.
Sold ....... .305

CHAPTER XVIII.
Between the Lines . . . .331



A BALLROOM REPENTANCE.
CHAPTER 1.

THE DOLL TRIBE, GENERALLY.

" A PAIR of portmanteaus and a shabby violin
case."

Lake Leman sleeps five hundred feet below;
a plain of sapphire, lit up by gleams of
emerald, by fitful opal shafts, that melt, Jura-
ward, into the crystalline air depths of sun-
set. In the middle distance a solitary lateen
sail cleaves the blue. The opposite Savoy
mountains, though August does but wane,
are powdered with fresh-fallen snow. The
swallows, already thinking of Africa, are
trying their wings in figures -of- eight over-

VOL. I. B



2 A BALLROOM REPENTAXCE.

head. Oleanders, magnolias, and standard
roses make sweet tlie garden of a certain
Grand Hotel Sclierer that towers among
chestnut avenues and sweeps of vineyard,
high above Clarens. And the voice of Mrs.
Scipio Leonidas P. Briggs breaks the stillness.

A j)leasant voice, despite its sing-song
drawl, a voice suggestive of hammock-swing-
ing, negro ±ly-flappers, starlit flirtations, and
every insidious mixture of ice and alcohol
that it has entered into the heart of South
American man to concoct.

" My word, yes ! That was about the
figure of Mrs. and Miss Dormer's luggage. A
pair of portmanteaus and a shabby violin case.
My maid watched them as they rode round
from the cars. I surmise their dresses are
innocent of Worth or la Ferriere. I surmise
their dresses just came out of some London
dry goods store. I spent a week in London,
last spring," goes on Mrs. Scipio Leonidas



THE DOLL TRIBE, GENERALLY. 3

mournfully, " and tlie fog so aflfected my
dyspepsia I never got round to see tlie Parks
but once. That once was enough. My dear,
there wasn't a well toiletted woman there,
except, of course, some of our people from
home and a few Parisians. A orentleman
friend of mine from New York State remarked
to me, ' The Aboriginal ladies we see around
us do not dress. They clothe themselves.
And as for their beauty — I just guess/ he
observed, ' they look strong. Solidly built up
of beef and beer. Calculated to ride fox-
chasing, and to resist the vicissitudes of wind
and rain. Climate,' my friend added, ' is not
a word for this longitude. You get a deal
of mixed weather, mostly bad, in England.
Climate there is none.' "

Mrs. Colonel Scipio Leonidas P. Briggs —
I love to register the lady's full title, although
she, herself, will not unfrequently drop the
final monosyllable — is a native of South



4 A BALLROOM REPENTANCE.

Carolina, and despite her fragile looks is inter-
viewing Europe with a will and thoroughness
that might put the whole strong - minded
sisterhood of Britain to the blush.

The Colonel — so Mrs. Scipio Leonidas
confesses when she has occasion to speak of
her absent lord — is having a beautiful time
over the other side. my, yes ! a lovely
time. He is quite an unselfish man this
accommodating Colonel; a pattern husband.
They both hold emancipated ideas of the
domesticities, Mrs. Scipio will tell you, within
five minutes of your introduction to her.
The Colonel don't want her to cross back till
she has swallowed all the different waters of
the Continent. It's the state of her gastric
organs that's her trouble, and none of the
physicians in Europe can fix her up. Homburg,
Carlsbad, Vichy, she has tried them all. Her
life has been spent going round the mineral
baths two years and more, and she is right



THE^DOLL TRIBE, GENERALLY. 5

down fagged and finished in consequence.
My dear, yes ! just look at her. And Mrs.
Leonidas will languidly extend a taper,
diamonded slip of a hand for your inspection.
What is she ? Don't deceive her. She is a sal-
low, dyspeptic bundle of nerves, now, isn't she '\
She is a fine-featured colourless invalid,
of two or three and thirty, with large, restless,
over -brilliant eyes, the foot (inadvertently,
she shows it often) of a child, and the grace
. . . of a South American. What simile
could be found to express as much ? An
invalid, more than half imaginary, precariously
existing on a regimen of French novels, rich
dishes, and mineral waters. A creature of
the great Doll tribe, unquestionably ; dressed,
jewelled, satin-slippered, here among Swiss
mountains, as she was last spring in Paris,
or will be next winter at Naples or Florence ;
and still, a doll with a brain. In England
we have dolls enow. Wax dolls, wooden



6 A BALLROOM REPENTANCE.

dolls, porcelain dolls, dolls that open and shut
their eyes, that speak, sing, dance ; some,
even, that kneel. The doll with a brain is of
foreign manufacture, chiefly American or
French. Mrs. Scipio Leonidas has mixed in
the vividest circles of Boston and New York,
is brimful of advanced social theories, some-
what crude and garish, it may be, if you sift
them finely; knows Italy like a guide-book,
and is as well versed in recent Paris gossip of
Church, senate, salon and greenroom, as a
genuine Parisian.

Dinner is her weakness, dress her passion.
She is of an organisation so sensitive that the
neighl3ourhood of a cat, the odour of certain
flowers, will cause her to faint. And she has
been known to travel from Biarritz to Madrid in
the dogdays in order to be present at a bullfight.

'' Yes, a pair of portmanteaus and a shabby
violin case." So the lady resumes, for the
benefit of such louns^ers as are drinkino- after-



THE DOLL TRIBE, GENERALLY. 7

dinner coffee in the hotel garden. "And
Mrs. Dormer, one of your aristocrats, no
doubt, a duke's daughter, or baronet's widow,
or earl's second cousin, does not condescend
to show in the public parlours." It is a
boast of Mrs. Scipio Leonidas Briggs that she
cares not enough for lineage to distinguish one
English title from the other. Yet, I suspect, if
she should cross his path, the society of a living
duke, or baronet, or even of an earl's second
cousin, would not be distasteful to her.
" Surely you can furnish us with chapter and
verse out of the Peerage, Mrs. Skelton. Who
are the owners of the portmanteaus and violin
case that they should give themselves airs
when they travel round these lakes ? "

" Dormer . . . Dormer," repeats the
personage addressed as Mrs. Skelton. " Dian,
my love, have we not heard that name before ?
yes, — I recollect !" And the speaker draws a
wisp of red shawl virtuously around her thin,



8 . A BALLROOM REPENTANCE.

angular slioulders. " It will be found, no doubt,
that this misguided young Farintyre, whom
everybody pities, is in attendance on them.
Miss Joyce Dormer's latest victim."

" And future husband ?" asks Mrs. Scipio
Leonidas, with awakening interest.

" Ah, that is a very different matter. I
knew the Dormers last winter, in Nice — by
sight, only. In my position, my dear Mrs.
Scipio, no gentleman of the party, it is an actual
duty to weed one's travelling acquaintance, to
keep clear if possible of scandal. My girls, you
see, are so unsophisticated ! Pansy and Dian,
until we came abroad, never mixed in any but
the best circles of Cathedral society, and our
giddy little Aurora, of course, was still in the
schoolroom."

A young English lad, tall, bronzed, Oxford-
suited, stands, enjoying his after-dinner cigar-
ette, and the view of lake and mountain, at
some paces distant from these ladies. At the



THE DOLL TRIBE, GENERALLY. 9

touching reference to our little Aurora's giddi-
ness, a smile, somewhat doubtful in its import,
hovers around the corners of his lips.

" Miss Aurora Skelton is not exactly what
in our American circles we should call a Bud.
I should judge Miss Aurora to be near upon
my own time of life ?"

The tone of Mrs. Scipio Leonidas Briggs is
friendly. She smiles like one who makes an
amiable, but somewhat rose-coloured concep-
tion to human weakness. Yet does her voice
imply a query.

Aurora's mamma, too wary a veteran to be
provoked to battle on so dangerous a field as
age, changes the subject deftly.

She is a sharp, chirruping, altogether terrible,
little old woman, this Mrs Skelton ; an old
woman, dressed in the extreme of youthful
mode, yet, withal, so patched, so powdered,
so wizened, so shrivelled, she looks as though
she must fall to pieces at a touch. For a short



10 A BALLROOM EEPEXTANCE.

lialf-liOTir you might judge her, by reason of
her frivolity, to be harmless. Mention her in
any of the Eiviera pensions that are her winter
haunts, if you would know the depth of emotion
her name is capable of inspiring in the breast
of unwedded and unguarded man ! Per-
sistent and metallic is Mrs. Skelton's voice ;
mirthless her jerky laughter. In lieu of honest
gray hairs, a small pink cap is perched on the
summit of her head. Her hollow cheeks are
rouged ; her smile is fixed upon the very newest
principles and warranted ; a smile glistening,
adamantine, as the longest established firm in
Hanover Square can supply. She is a very
libel on old age ; a sermon — not in stones, but
paste, and whose text is the rottenness and
vanity of all human desire ! Around her, in
sallow greens, brickdust crimsons, and dull
golds, are grouped a trio of elderly girls, each
in an attitude, her daughters.

" My children are not handsome, according



THE DOLL TRIBE, GENERALLY. 11

to rule/' the Veteran will allow, ingenuously.
" As regards feature, indeed, tlicy take after
the Preljendary's family rather than my own."
This absent, never-appearing Prebendary is a
somewhat dark subject, brought forward only
when the best Cathedral societ}^ fails of effect,
as a garnish to Mrs. Skelton's tallest talk.
" But they are the delight of artists, each in
her different genre. 'The Miss Skeltons are
more than beautiful,' the great Thoreau said
to me when we were last in London. ' The
Miss Skeltons are deliciously, quaintly pictur-
esque!'"

So to the great Thoreau's charge, perhaps,
may be set down the golds, greens, and crimsons
of which we have spoken.

The eldest. Pansy, is florid, stout, short,
and in her thirtieth year. Pansy dresses in
chintz, with flame-coloured " housewife " pina-
fores, wears her hair in a tangle above a pair
of beetling brows, knits socks for the jDoor, even



12 A BALLROOM REPENTANCE.

between the courses of a table d'hote dinner,
and is ofttimes put warmly forward by the
Veteran, in the absence of the younger sisters,
or in the neighbourhood of curates, as a Home
Treasure.

The second, Diana, is tall, acidulated,
intellectual ; a Diana with a greenish com-
plexion, a tip-tilted nose, improvised eyebrows,
and the least excellent voice that ever issued
from a woman's lips. She represents the
genius of the group ; is seldom without a
Cambridge text-book in her hands, talks about
Greek particles and the Differential Calculus,
affects the First Eepublic as regards her flow
of drapery, and in feature is said, by lier
relatives, to resemble Charlotte Corday.

Aurora, aged twenty-six, is peony-cheeked,
laughing, indiscreet ; the hoyden, the irre-
pressible, gushing, spoilt child of the family.
On the present occasion Aurora wears a
short white frock, a sash, and very brilliantly-



THE DOLL TRIBE, GENERALLY. 13

coloured stockings. Her sleeves are tied, baby-
fashion, on her shoulders with crimson knots ;
Ijuttercups and daisies, in a wreath, are twined
amidst her dishevelled locks. "The cottage
maid of AVordsworth, who had a rustic wood-
land air," so Diana A\'ill whisper to you in
sisterly confidence, " is thought by painters to
be well embodied in our little wild Aurora."

" Yes, if we were at our own place at home,
the naughty child would be in the schoolroom
still," runs on Mrs. Skelton archly ; " but we
manage, Di and I between us, to coax her
sometimes to her lessons. Aurora is sadly
backward at her French verbs, — you are not
a mother, Mrs. Scipio Leonidas, you know
nothing about these minor worries, — and her
arithmetic still falls short of the mark. On
the other hand, her proficiency in music is
beyond her years. Rora, my sweetest, don't
you see that Mr. Longmore is hojDing for his
after-dinner song ! "



14 A BALLKOOM REPENTANCE.

To other eyes than those of maternal
affection it might look as though Mr. Long-
more were hoping for nothing ; with so nnex-
pectant an air does the young Oxonian enjoy
his after-dinner smoke.

•' Not brought down your notes ? Now,
Eora, that is only shyness, and, indeed, after
the sums your poor papa and I have spent on
your music, you ought to be able to sing with-
out a book at all. Don't you remember the
bishop's daughters in our charming Auchester
circle? No, it was before your introduction
into society. Pansy and Dian will recollect
them. How quite too delightfully they were
able to give us song after song without notes !
On one occasion, when we were dining at his
Lordship's, I can recall Mr. Archdeacon Pretty-
man observing "

*' I know it would bore Mr. Longmore into
fits to have to listen," interrupts Aurora, roll-
ing her black eyes deprecatingly in the young



THE DOLL TRIBE, GENERALLY. 15

Oxonian's direction. "Mr. Longmorc knows
my songs by heart from beginning to end.
He has told me so, often. And then the men
are such horrid inconstant creatures ! ' One

foot on shore, and one ' Don't listen, Mr.

Longmore, I won't allow you to listen, of
course we are not talking of you — they care
for nothing but change and novelty. I declare
I'll never sing to please a man again while I
live. I vowed so only last night, didn't
I, Di?"

Mr. Longmore, at this pathetic declaration,
throws away the end of his cigarette, and
crosses the terrace. He glances down, as
admiringly as he may, at the peony-cheeks
and shoulder-knots, the brilliant stockings,
the dishevelled locks, the withered daisies and
buttercups of poor Aurora.

" You don't w^ant me to repeat what I have
so often said — that it gives me pleasure to
hear you sing. Miss Skelton?"



16 A BALLROOM EEPENTANCE.

A certain tenderness is in his voice, or his
hearer thinks so. Aurora Skelton bridles,
hangs down her head, then moves away towards
the salon window. The girl is really prettyish,
despite the exceeding vulgarity that comes to
her by education and inheritance ; has, at
least, the negative charm of being fresher,
fairer than her sisters. She has also fallen in
love, of an easy kind, with the good-looking-
undergraduate, who, during the past fortnight,
has been vainly endeavouring to " read " in
the Grand Hotel Scherer !

And Hugh Longmore is weak enough to
feel flattered.

The young fellow, in very truth, has over-
high ideals of womanly grace and refinement.
Aurora Skelton, educated partly on the pave-
ment of an English cathedral town, and partly
in the public rooms of foreign hotels, is a flirt
in the fullest acceptation of that most odious
word. As well ask grapes from thistles as



THE DOLL TRIBE, GENERALLY. 17

look for modest feminine charm in the daughter
of such a mother ! From her maiden bower
on the second floor, Aurora casts down eye-
shots at young Longmore, while her hair is
still en i^apillote of a morning. She intercepts
him on his way to breakfast, pursues him from
terrace to terrace, breaks in upon his morning's
reading in the remoter corners of the gardens,
informs him, half a note flat, during the after-
noon hours that she is "weary," "alone,"
"fading away," or "owre young to marry;"
and she jars upon every finer sense the lad
possesses, at all times.

But Aurora has bold black eyes, a pair of
ruddy lips, white teeth, and a dimple in her
left cheek. She has also a mother. And
Longmore, unguarded by sister, cousin, oi-
friend, is in greater peril than he suspects.

Refined, fastidious youths, fresh from the
cloisters, of taste the most conservative, have
ere this been seen to form lifelono- alliance

VOL. I.



18 A BALLROOM REPENTANCE.

with coarseness, possibly through chivalrous
inaptitude at repulsion ; possibly through some
mysterious physical affinity hard to understand.

The rosemary, we know, wdll not live with
the laurel, nor the laurel with the vine, nor
the cabbage with the olive. Yet does garlic
planted in the neighbourhood of the rose
supply the flower with a richer fragrance ?

" If Mr. Longmore wishes for his song,
Aurora, run for your notes at once. . . . That
dear girl's diffidence must positively be got
over," whispers Mrs. Skelton into Longmore's
ear when Aurora has obediently tripped away.
" You cannot think what it costs her, Mr.
Longmore, even to sing before you. ' I know
Mr, Longmore is a finished critic,' the child
will often declare to her sisters. ' Such exqui-
site classic taste, such knowledge, such culture !
If I could only feel sure of his approval ! ' "

"Of my approval — madam," stammers
Longmore, looking wretched.



THE DOLL TRIBE, GENERALLY. 19

" In my singing days I was in the light
and comic style," cries the Veteran, skittishly
tapping the young man's arm with her fan.
"Indeed, there are some who still care to hear
me in ' Misthress Malone.' " But Aurora is all
for the pathetic. You know, Mr. Longmore,
I am quite a believer in community of soul,
and I must say you seem to have the same
tastes in everything. . . . Ah, Kora, my dear,"
the young lady at this moment peeping forth
from the salon window, a music book under
her arm, " be sure you give Mr. Longmore
something good and serious — ' The Lost Chord,'
say, to lead off with."

And Aurora gives it him ; out of time from
first to last, and thumping a heated accom-
paniment, every third bar of which contains at
least one wrong note. But Longmore, although
a passionately keen lover of music, is not a
stern judge to-night. The critical faculty, at
two-and-twenty, is apt to be partial when a



20 A BALLROOM REPENTANCE.

show}- girl, more than half in love with one-
self, heaves palpitating sighs and flings upward
melting glances through her eyelashes as she
sings.

" The Lost Chord" (how often do Aurora's
hearers wish that chord had been lost indeed ! )
is ruthlessly murdered. Then follows a mas-
sacre of Schubert's " Ave Maria " and of the
" Serenade " of Gounod. Hajjpily, there are
states of mind in which a man can be distinctly
possessed by two sets of impressions at once.
Leaning over Aurora's shoulder, patiently
turning the pages of her book and enduring
alike her wrong notes and her ogles, Hugh
Longmore catches a reflected glimpse of Leman
in an opposite mirror ; can imagine himself on
the lake's blue breast half a dozen miles away,
the dip of the sculls, the light lap of the waves,
the trickle of mountain rivulets for music ; his
pipe, his iEschylus, and the delicious sense of
being alone and unbored for companionship.



THE DOLL TRIBE, (iENEKALLY. 21

By the time they return to the terrace the
sun has sunk over Jura's purple crest ; Venus
shines tremulously in his wake ; the light-for-
saken mountains have gone from amber to
crimson, from crimson to ashen gray. Already
a few faint points of light stud the deep vault
of heaven.

'"The Ram, the Bull, the Heavenly Twins,'"
quotes Mrs. Skelton playfully. " I don't
know how the young ones feel, Mrs. Scipio
Leonidas, but to me the air strikes chilly.
Pansy, Dian, my loves, why not take a last
turn round the gardens while you have still
light ? Coax some flowers out of Monsieur
Scherer, if you can find him, for to-night's
ball."

Thus craftily does the Veteran ever dis-
pose of her contingent forces. Pansy and
Diana have had, or have not had, each her day ;
they must leave Aurora an open field when
Aurora's star chances to be in the ascendant.



22 A BALLROOM REPENTANCE.

" As for you two delinquents," she cries,
kissing the tips of her fingers with gruesome
gaiety to Longmore and his companion, " I do
not doubt you have some mischief still to plot
together. Aurora, sweetest child, be steady !
Don't let your spirits run away with you. I
am sure Mr. Longmore would like a description
of that last Au Chester Festival, and the delight-
ful county people you and your sisters met at
the Palace."

Aurora replies by a burst of discordant Skel-
ton laughter ; and Longmore, with nerves abso-
lutely set on edge by the sound, gives a moral
shiver. Hopeful sensation for a man on the
brink of folly ; impossible sensation for a man
on the brink of love ! .

"Ma does go on so about that dull old
Auchester. As if I cared a fig for square-toed
canons and musty bishops' Palaces." Thus
Aurora, dancing with infantine vivacity,
shoulder -knots, buttercup wreath and all,



THE DOLL TRIBE, OENERALLY. 23

along the terrace. " For my part, I never
want to set foot in an English cathedral town
again. Do I look suited for stiff parties, Mr.
Longmore, for clerical society, in general, and
bishops' breakfasts in particular 1 "

"You ask me, honestly. I am afraid I
must answer : ' no.' "

" A place like Auchester did all very well
for Dian. Di is so awfully clever. Not a
book you mention but she is up in it, and as
to the maojazines — Di can read eleven serials
at once, and keep the eleven different love
affairs clear in her head. Pansy, of course,
was in her element, because of the curates.
I am not clever, as you, Mr. Longmore, must
have found out, and with regard to cur-
ates "

" With regard to curates 1 " repeats Long-
more, as Aurora Skelton pauses.

The young lady is taken afresh with a fit
of laughter, somewhat more hysterically dis-



24 A BALLROOM REPENTANCE.

cordant tlian the last. Bad creature that he
is ! What does, what can, Mr. Longmore
mean ? Curates, indeed ! He will be asking
her opinion of barristers next. A shame, that
it is, to chaff her like this, but she, Aurora,
knows what he is hinting at. Mr. Longmore
is to be a barrister himself before very long, is
he not ?

An alarming depth of meaning is in her
voice. Young Longmore glances away to-
wards the valley of the Rhone, away tow^ards
the mountains, upon whose topmost peaks the
fairy-like pink after-glow has once more shone
forth. Abruptly, the thought flashes on him
that a train will leave Clarens Station for
Aigle at seven thirty-five to-morrow morning.
At Aigle a man has only to buckle his knap-
sack across his shoulder, start for the moun-
tains, and

" The one place on earth for me is
London," says Aurora, shrewdly translating



THE DOLL TRIBE, GENERALLY. 25

for herself the expression of the lad's face,
and becoming cured of hysterics on the
instant. " We have quite a legal connection
in London. Aunt Julia, a sister of my papa's,
is married to Sir Joseph Sweeting's cousin.
The great Q.C., you know."

Longmore knows. How often has that
apocryphal legal connection been tantalis-
ingly waved, like the matador's red flag,
before the embryo barrister's sight ?

" And next season I hope to pay Aunt
Julia a visit. You will come and see me,
won't you, Mr. Longmore, if you are in
town ? "

" I should be delighted at all times, in all
places, to do that. Miss Skelton."

" And we can look back to these happy
Clarens days," says Aurora, speaking with
the. stereotyped little glow and little shiver,
and punctuating the sentence with sighs.
'' We shall have sjrown wis"fer, both of us.



26 A BALLROOM REPENTANCE.

We shall wonder, I dare say, how we could
ever have been so foolish ! "

" We . ,. . you . . . will have abundant
opportunity for hearing good music in
London," answers Longmore, returning with


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