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tleman there, Alaric had an excellent opportunity,
when the ladies went up to their toilets, to impress
on his cousin the expediency of his losing no time
in securing to himself Miss Grolightly's twenty
thousand pounds. The conversation, as will be
seen, at last became rather animating.

" Well, Charley, what do you think of the
beautiful Clementina?" said Alaric, pushing
over the bottle to his cousin, as soon as they
found themselves alone. " A ^ doosed' fine girl
as Captain Yal says, isn't she ?"

" A ' doosed' fine girl, of course," said Charley,
laughing. " She has too much go in her for me,
I'm afraid."

" Marriage and children will soon pull that
down. She'd make an excellent wife for such a
man as you ; and to tell you the truth, Charle}^,
if you'll take my advice, you'll lose no time in

making up to her. She has got that d

French fellow at her heels, and thouo-h I don't
suppose she cares one straw about him, it may
be well to make sure."

"But you don't mean in earnest that you
think that Miss Golightly would have me ?"

" Indeed I do — you are just the man to get
on with girls ; and, as far as I can see, you are
just the man that vrill never get on in any
other way under the sun."



208 THE THREE CLERKS.

Charley siglied as he thought of his many
debts, his poor prospects, and his passionate
love. There seemed, indeed, to be little chance
that he ever would get at all on in the ordinary
sense of the word. " I'm sure she'd refuse me,"
said he, still wishing to back out of the diffi-
culty. " I'm sure she would — I've not got a
penny in the world, you know."

''That's just the reason — she has got lots of
money, and you have got none."

"Just the reason why she should refuse me,
you should say."

" Well — what if she does ? There's no harm
done. ' Faint heart never won fair lad}^'
You've everything to back you — Mrs. Val is
led by Undy Scott, and Undy is all on your
side."

" But she has got guardians, hasn't she ?"

" Yes — her father's first cousin. Old Sam
Golightly. He is dying; or dead probably by
this time ; only Mrs. Yal won't have the news
brought to her, because of this party. He had
^a fit of apoplexy yesterda}^ Then there's her
father's brother-in-law, Tiggs ; he's bed-ridden.
"When old Golightly is off the hooks altogether,
another will be chosen, and Undy talks of
putting in my name as that of a family friend —
so you'll have everything to assist you."

Charley looked very grave. He had not been
in the habit of discussing such matters, but it



Katie's first ball. 209

seemed to him, that if Ahiric was about to be-
come in an}^ legal manner the guardian of Miss
Golightly's fortune, that that in itself was reason
enough why he, Alaric, should not propose sucli
a match as this. Needy men, to be sure, did
often marry rich ladies, and the world looked on
and regarded it only as a matter of course ; but
surely it would be the duty of a guardian to
protect his ward from such a fate, if it vrere in
,, his power to do so.

Alaric, who saw something of what was going
on in his cousin's mind, essayed to remove the
impression which was thus made. " Besides,
you know Clementina is no chicken. Her for-
tune is fully at her o^vn disposal. All the
guardians on earth cannot prevent her marrying
you if she makes up her mind to do so."

Charley gulped down his glass of Vvdne, and
then sat staring at the fire, saying nothing
further. It was true enough that he was very
poor — true enougli that Miss Grolightly's fortune
would set him on his legs, and make a man of
him — true enough, perhaps, that no other ex-
pedient of which he could think would do so.
But, then, there were so many arguments that
were " strong against the deed." In the first
place, he thought it impossible that he should
be successful in such a suit, and then again.,
it would hardly be honest to obtain such suc-
cess, if it were possible ; then, thirdly, he had



210 THE THREE CLERKS.

110 sort of affection whatsoever for Miss Goliglitly ;
and fourtlily, lastly, and chiefly, he loved, so
dearly, tenderly, loved poor Katie Woodward.

As he thought of this, he felt horror-stricken
with himself at allowing the idea of his hecom-
ing a suitor to another to dwell for an instant
on his mind, and looking up with all the reso-
lution which he was able to summon, he said—
" It's impossible, Alaric, quite impossible ! I
couldn't do it."

" Then what do you mean to do ?" said Alaric,
who was angry at having his scheme thus
thwarted ; "do you mean to be a beggar — or if
not, how do you intend to get out of your diffi-
culties ?"

" I trust not a beggar," said Charley, sadly.

"What other hope have you; what rational
hope of setting yourself right ?"

" Perhaps I may do something by writing,"
said Charley, very bashfully.

" By writing !" ha, ha, ha ! and Alaric laughed
somevvdiat cruelly at the poor navvy — " do some-
thing by writing ! what will you do by writing ?
will you make 20,000/.— or 20,000 pence? Of
all trades going, that, I should say, is likely to be
the poorest for a poor man — the poorest and the
most lieart-breaking. What have you made
already to encourage you?"

" The editor says that Crinoline and Macassar
will come to 41. lOs."



Katie's first ball. 211

" And when will you get it ?"

" The editor says that the rule is to pay six
months after the date of publication. The Daily
BeJigld is only a new thing, you know. The
editor says that, if the sale comes up to his
expectations, he will increase the scale of pay."

"A prospect of 4/. 10.^. for a fortnight's hard
work ! That's a bad look out, my boy ; you had
better take the heiress."

" It may be a bad look out," said Charley,
whose spirit was raised by his cousin's sneers, —
" but at any rate it's honest. And I'll tell you
what, Alaric, I'd sooner earn 50/. by writing for
the press, than get 1,000/. in any other way you
can think of. It may be a poor trade in one way ;
and authors, I believe, are "poor; but I am sui^e it
has its consolations."

" Well, Charley, I hope with all ni}' heart that
you may iind them. For my own part, seeing
what a place the world is, seeing what are the
general aspirations of other men, seeing Avhat,
as it appears to me, the Creator has intended for
the goal of our labours, I look for advancement,
prosperity and such rank and station as I may
be able to win for myself The labourer is wor-
thy of his hire, and I do not mean to refuse such
vrages as may come in my way."

" Yes " — said Charle}', who now that his spirit
was roused determined to hght his battle man-
fully — " Yes, the labourer is worthy of his hire ;



212 THE THREE CLERKS.

but were I to get Miss Groliglitlj^'s fortune I
should be takins: the hire without labour."

" Bah !" said Alaric.

" It would be dishonest in every way, for I do
not love her, and should not love her at the mo-
ment that I married her."

" Honesty !" said Alaric, still sneering — " there
is no sign of the dishonesty of the age so strong,
as the continual talk which one hears about
honesty !" It was quite manifest that Alaric
had not sat at the feet of Undy Scott without
profiting by the lessons which he had heard.
" With what face," continued he, " can you pre-
tend to be more honest than your neighbours ?"

" I know that it is wrong, and unmanly too,
to hunt a girl down merely for what she has got."

" There are a great many wrong and unmanly
men about then," said Alaric. "Look through
the houses of Parliament, and see how many men
there have married for money ; ay, and made
excellent husbands afterwards. I'U tell you Vvdiat
it is, Charley ; it is all humbug in you to pretend'
to be better than others, you are not a bit better ;
— mind, I do not say you are worse. We have,
none of us, too much of this honesty of which we
are so fond of prating. Wliere was your honesty
when you ordered the coat for which you know
you cannot pay ; or when you swore to the boot-
maker that he slioidd have the amount of his
little bill after next quarter day, knowing in your



Katie's first ball. 213

heart at the time that he wouldn't get a far-
thing of it. If you are so honest, why did you
waste your money to-day in going to Chiswick,
instead of paying some portion of your dehts?
Honest ! you are, I dare say, indifferently honest
as the world goes, like the rest of us. But I
think you might put the burden of Clementina's
fortune on your conscience without feeling much
the worse for it after what you have already gone
through."

Charley became very red in the flice as he sat
silent listening to Alaric's p.ddress — nor did he
speak at once, at the first pause, so Alaric went
on. " The truth, I take it, is that at the present
moment you have no personal fancy for this ghl."

" No I have not," said Charley.

" And you are so incredibly careless as to all
prudential considerations as to prefer your imme-
diate personal fancies to the future welfare of
your whole life. I can say no more. If you will
think well of my proposition, I will do all I can
to assist you. I have no doubt you would make
a good husband to Miss Golightly, and that she
would be very happy with you. If you think
otherwise there is an end of it ; but pray do not
talk so much about your honesty, — your tailor
w^ould arrest you to-morrow if he heard you."

" There are two kinds of honesty, I take it,"
said Charley — speaking with suppressed anger
and sorrow visible in his face — " that which the



214 THE THREE CLERKS.

world sees, and tliat wliicli it does not see. For
myself, I have notliing to say in my own defence.
I have made my bed badly, and must lie on it as
it is. I certainly will not mend it by marrying
a girl that I can never love. And as for you,
Alaric, all who know you and love you, watch
your career with the greatest hope. We know
your ambition, and all look to see you rise in the
world. But in rising as you will do, you shoutd
remember this ; that nothing that is wrong can
become right because other people do it."

" Well, Charley," said the other — '' thank you
for the lecture. I did not certainly expect it
from you, but it is not on that account the less
welcome. And now suppose we go up stairs and
dress for Mrs. Yal ;" and so they went up stairs.

It must not be supposed from all this that
Alaric had inured himself to unjust conduct ; that
his conscience was blunted, and his desire for
rectitude all quenched. Oh, no ! He still wished
to be an honest man ; but he imagined that he
could best shov/ his abhorrence of the humbug of
the mock honesty of the age by sailing near the
wind; he would not, so he said to himself, be
frightened by shadows ; and, alas ! by degrees
solid substances became shadovv^s in his sight.

Charley had at any rate made up his mind to
this, that he would not enter the lists as one of
Clementina's suitors ; and Alaric, perceiving that
such was the case, had to look about and see how



Katie's first b^vll. 215

his own object miglit be attained in another way,
It would be very desirable that lie should for a
while have the fingering of Miss Grolightly's
money, and as his cousin was so stubborn and
stupid some other method must be devised.

Katie's heart beat high as she got oiit of the
carriage — Mrs. Yal's private carriage had been
kept on for the occasion — and saw before, and
above her on the stairs a crowd of muslin crush-
ing its way on towards the room prepared for
dancing. Katie had never been to a ball before.
We hope that the w^ord ball may not bring down
on us the adverse criticism of the " Mornino;
Post." It was probably not a ball in the strictly
fashionable sense of the word, but it was so to
Katie to all intents and purposes. Her dancing
had hitherto been done either at children's par-
ties, or as a sort of supplemental amusement to
the evening tea gatherings at Hampton or Hamp-
ton Court. She had never yet seen the muse
w^orshipped with the premeditated ceremony of
banished carpets, chalked floors, and hired musi-
cians. Her heart consequently beat high as she
made her way up stairs, linked arm in arm with
Ugolina Neverbend.

" Shall you dance much ?" said Ugolina.

" Oh, I hope so," said Katie.

" I shall not. It is an amusement of which I
am peculiarly fond ; and for which my active
habits suit me." This was probably said with



216 THE THREE CLERKS.

some allusion to her sister who was apt to be
short of breath. " But in the dances of the pre-
sent day conversation is impossible, and I look
npon any pursuit as barbaric v/hich stops 'the
flood of reason and the flow of soul.' "

Katie did not quite understand this, but she
thouo-ht in her heart that she would not at all
mind giving up talking for the whole evening if
she could only get dancing enough. But on this
matter her heart misgave her. To be sure she
was engaged to Charley for the first quadrille
and second waltz ; but there her engagements
stopped, Yvdiereas Clementina, as she was aware,
had a whole book full of them. What if she
should get no more dancing when Charley's good
nature should have been expended? She had an
idea that no one would care to dance with her
when older partners were to be had. Ah, Katie,
you do not yet know the extent of your riches, or
half the wealth of your own attractions !

And then they all heard another little speech
from Mrs. Yal. " She was really quite ashamed —
she really was — to see so many people ; she could
not wish any of her guests away, that would be
impossible, — though, perhaps, one or two might be
spared," she said in a confidential whisper to
Grertrude. Who the one- or two might be it
would be difficult to decide, as she had made the
same whisper to every one ; — '' but she really was
ashamed ; there was almost a crowd, and she had



Katie's first ball. 217

quite intencled tliat the house should be nearly
empty. The fact was everybody asked had come,
and as she could not, of course, have counted
on that, why she had got, you see, twice as many
people as she had expected." And then she went
on, and made the same speech to the next arrival.
Katie, who wanted to begin the play at the
beginning, kej^t her eye anxiously on Charley,
who was still standing with Lactimel Neverbend
on his arm. '' Oh, now," said she to herself, " if
he should forget me and begin dancing vdth
Miss Neverbend !" But then she remembered
how he had jumped into the water, and deter-
mined that, even with such provocation as that,
she must not be angry with him.

But there was no danger of Charley's forget-
ting. "Come," said he, "we must not lose any
more time, if we mean to dance the first set.
Alaric will be our vis a vis — he is going to dance
with Miss Neverbend," and so they stood up.
Katie tightened her gloves, gave her dress a
little shake, looked at her shoes ; and then the
work of the evening began.

" I shouldn't have liked to have sat down
for the first dance," she said confidentially to
Charley, " because it's my first ball."

" Sit down ! I don't suppose you'll be let to
sit down the whole evening. You'll be crying
out for mercy about three or four o'clock in the



morning."



VOL. II. L



218 THE THREE CLERKS.

"It's you to go on now," said Katie, whose
eyes were intent on the figure, and who would
not have gone wrong herself, or allowed her
partner to do so, on any consideration. And so
the dance went on right merrily..

"I've got to dance the first polka with Miss
Grolightly," said Charley. ^

" And the next with me," said Katie.

" You may be sure I shan't forget that."

" You lucky man to get Miss Grolightly for a
partner. I am told she is the most beautiful
dancer in the vv^orld."

" Oh no — Mademoiselle • is much better,"

said Charley, naming the principal stage per-
former of the day. " If one is to go the whole
hog, one had better do it thoroughly.

Katie did not quite understand then what he
meant, and merely replied that she would look
at the performance. In this, however, she was
destined to be disappointed, for Charley had
hardly left her before Miss Golightly brought
up to her the identical M. Delabarbe de I'Em-
pereur, who had so terribly put her out in the
gardens. This was done so suddenly, that
Katie's presence of mind was quite insufficient
to provide her with any means of escape. The
Prenchman bowed very low, and said nothing.
Katie made a little curtsey, and was equally
silent. Then she felt her own arm gathered up
and put within his, and she stood up to take her



KATIES FIRST BALL. 219

share in the awful performance. She felt herself
to be in such a nervous fright that she would
willingly have been home again at Hampton,
if she could ; but as this was utterly impossible
she had only to bethmk herself of her steps, and
get through the work as best she might.

Away went Charley and Clementina leading
the throng ; away went M. Jaquetanape and
Linda; away went another Frenchman clasping
in his arms the happy TJgolina. Away went
Lactimel with a young Weights and Measures, —
and then came Katie's turn. She pressed her
lips together, shut her eyes, felt the tall French-
man's arm behind her back, and made a start.
'Twas like plunging into cold water on the first
bathing day of the season — ' ce nest que le pre-
mier pas que coitt! When once off Katie did
not find it so bad. The Frenchman danced well,
and Katie herself was a wicked little adept. At
home, at Surbiton, dancing with another gM,
she had with great triumph tired out the fingers
both of her mother and sister, and forced them
to own that it was impossible to put her down.
M. De I'Empereur, therefore, had his work before
him, and he did it like a man — as long as he could.

Katie, who had not yet assumed the airs or
will of a grown-up young lady, thought that she
was bound to go on as long as her grand partner
chose to go with her. He, on the other hand,
accustomed in his gallantry to obey all ladies'



2



220 THE THREE CLERKS.

wislies, considered himself bound to leave it to Iier
to stop wlien she pleased. And so they went on
with apparently interminahle gyrations. Charley
and the lieiress had twice been in motion, and
had tvf ice stopped, and still they were going on ;
Ugolina had refreshed herself with many deli-
cions observations, and Lactimel had thrice paused
to advocate dancing for the million, and still they
went on; the circle was gradually left to them-
selves, and still they went on; — people stood round,
some admiring and others pitying ; and still they
went on. Katie, thinking of her steps and her
business, did not perceive that she and her partner
were alone ; and ever and anon others of course
joined in — and so they went on and on — and on.

M. Delabarbe cle I'Empereur was a strong and
active man, but he began to perceive that the
lady was too much for him. He was already
melting away with his exertions, while his part-
ner was as cool as a cucumber. She, with her
active young legs, her lightly filled veins, and
small agile frame could have gone on almost for
ever; but M. D. I'Empereur was more encum-
bered. Gallantry was at last beat by nature, his
overtasked muscles would do no more for him,
and he was fain to stop, dropping his partnei*
into a chair, and throwing himself in a state of
utter exharustion against the wall.

Katie was hardly out of breath as she received
the congratulation of her friends; but at the



Katie's first ball. 221

moment slie could not understand why tliey
were quizzing her. In after times, however,
she v/as often reproached with having danced a
Frenchman to death in the evening, in revenge
for his having; bored her in the morninp". It
was observed that M. Delabarbe de I'Empereur
danced no more that evening. Indeed he very
soon left the house.

Katie had not been able to see Miss Go-
lightly' s performance, but it had been well worth
seeing. She was certainly no ordinary per-
former, and if she did not quite come up to the
remarkable movements which one sees on the
staga under th^ name of dancing, the fault was
neither in her will nor her abihty, but only in
her education. Charley also was peculiarly well
suited to give her ' ample verge and room
enough' to sliov/ off all her perfections. Her
most peculiar merit consisted, perhaps, in her
power of stopping herself suddenly, while going
on at the rate of a hunt one way, and v/ithout
any pause or apparent difficulty going just as.
fast the other way. This was done by a jerk
v/hich must, one would be inclined to think, have
dislocated all her bones, and entirely upset her
internal arrangements. But no ; it was done
without injury, or any disagreeable result either
to her brain or elsewhere. We all know how a
steamer is mancBuvred when she has to change



222 THE THREE CLERKS.

her course, liow we stop her and ease her and
back her ; but Miss Golightly stopped and eased
and backed all at once, and that without collision
with any other craft. It was truly very wonder-
ful, and Katie ought to have looked at her.

Katie soon found occasion to cast off her fea^r
that her evening's happiness would be destroyed
by a dearth of partners. Her troubles began to
be of an exactly opposite description. She had
almost envied Miss Golightly her little book full
of engagements, and now she found herself dread-
fully bewildered by a book of her own. Some
one had given her a card and a pencil, and every
moment she could get to herself was taken up in
endeavouring to guard herself from perfidy on
her own part. AR down the card, at intervals
which were not very far apart, there were great
Cs, which stood for Charley, and her firmest feel-
ing was that no earthly consideration should be
allowed to interfere with those landmarks. And
then there were all manner of hieroglyphics —
sometimes, unfortunately, illegible to Katie her-
self — French names and English names mixed
together in a manner most vexatious ; and to
make matters worse, she found that she had put
down both Victoire Jaquctanape and Mr. John-
son of the Weights, by a great I, and she could
not remember with whom she was bound to dance
the lancers, and to which she had promised the



KATIE S FIRST BALL. 223

last polka before supper. One tiling, however,
was quite fixed; when supper should arrive she
was to go down stairs with Charley.

"What dreadful news, Linda 1" said Charley,
"did you hear it ?" Linda was standing up -with
Mr. Xeverbend for a sober quadrille, and Katie
also was close by with her partner — " dreadful
news indeed !"

"What is it?" said Linda.

" A man can die but once to be sure ; but to
be killed in such a manner as that, is certainly
very sad."

" Killed! w^ho has been killed?" said Neverbend.

"Well, perhaps I shouldn't say killed. He
only died in the cab, as he went home."

"Died in a cab 1 how dreadful!" said Never-
bend. "Who? who was it, Mr. Tudor?"

" Didn't you hear ? how very odd ; why M.
De I'Empereur, to be sure. I wonder what the
coroner A\ill bring it in."

" How can you talk such nonsense, Charley,"
said Linda.

"Very well, Master Charley," said Katie.
" All that comes of being a VvTiter of romances.
I suppose that's to be the next contribution to
the ' Daily Dehght.' "

Neverbend went off on his quadrille not at all
pleased with the joke. Indeed he was never
pleased with a joke, and in this instance he ven-
tured to suggest to Iris partner that the idea of a



224 THE THREE CLERKS.

gentleman expiring in a cab was mucli too liorrid
to be langlied at.

" Oh, we never mind Charley Tudor," said
Linda ; ''he always goes on in that way. We all
like him so much."

Mr. Neverbend, who, though not very young,
still had a susceptible heart within his bosom, had
been much taken by Linda's charms. He already
began to entertain an idea that as a Mrs. IN^ever-
bend would be a desirable adjunct to his estab-
lishment at some future period, he could not do
better than offer himself and his vf orldly goods to
the acceptance of Miss Woodward ; he there-
fore said nothing further in disparagement of the
family friend ; but he resolved that no such alli-
ance should ever induce him to make Mr. Charles
Tudor v/elcome at his house. But what could
he have expected ? The Internal Navigation had
ever been a low place, and he was surprised that
the Hon. Mrs. Yal should have admitted one of
the navvies inside her drawing-room.

And so the ball went on. Mr. Johnson came
duly for the lancers, and M. Jaquetanape for the
polka. Johnson w^as great at the lancers, know-
ing every turn and vagary in that most intricate


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