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bosom friend, because she was the ugliest girl in Hammer-
smith, or out of it

" Oh ! charming, dear. How do I ? "

"Delightful! you never looked so handsome,' 1 returned the
belle, adjusting her own dress, and not bestowing a glance
on her poor companion.

" I hope young Hilton will dome early," said another young
lady to Miss somebody else, in a fever of expectation.

" Tin sure he\i be highly flattered if he knew it," returned
the other, who was practising Tete.

" Oh ! he's so handsome," said the first.

" Such a charming person ! " added a second.

" Such a distingue air ! " said a third.

" Oh, what do you think ? " said another girl, running into
the room ; " Miss Crumpton says her cousin's coming."

" What ! Theodosius Butler ? " said everybody in raptures.

" Is he handsome ? " inquired a novice.

" No, not particularly handsome," was the general reply ;
" but, oh, so clever ! "

Mr. Theodosius Butler was one of those immortal geniuses
who are to be met with in almost every circle. They have,
usually, very deep, monotonous voices. They always persuade
themselves that they are wonderful persons, and that they
ought to be very miserable, though they don't precisely know
why. They are very conceited, and usually possess half an
idea; but, with enthusiastic young ladies, and silly young
gentlemen, they are very wonderful persons. The individual
in question, Mr. Theodosius, had written a pamphlet containing
some very weighty considerations on the expediency of doing
something or other; and as every sentence contained a good
many words of four syllables, his admirers took it for granted
that he meant a good deal.



ARRIVAL OF THE GUESTS. 387

" Perhaps that's he," exclaimed several young ladies, as the
first pull of the evening threatened destruction to the bell of
the gate.

An awful pause ensued. Some boxes arrived and a young
lady Miss Brook Dingwall, in full ball costume, with an
immense gold chain round her neck, and her dress looped up
with a single rose ; an ivory fan in her hand, and a most
interesting expression of despair in her face.

The Miss Crumptons inquired after the family, with the
most excruciating anxiety, and Miss Brook Dingwall was
formally introduced to her future companions. The Miss
Crumptons conversed with the young ladies in the most
mellifluous tones, in order that Miss Brook Dingwall might
be properly impressed with their amiable treatment.

Another pull at the bell. Mr. Dadson the writing-master,
and his wife. The wife in green silk, with shoes and cap-
trimmings to correspond : the writing-master in a white
waistcoat, black knee-shorts, and ditto silk stockings, dis-
playing a leg large enough for two writing-masters. The
young ladies whispered one another, and the writing-master
and his wife flattered the Miss Crumptons, who were dressed
in amber, with long sashes, like dolls.

Repeated pulls at the bell, and arrivals too numerous to
particularise : papas and mammas, and aunts and uncles, the
owners and guardians of the different pupils ; the singing-
master, Signer Lobskini, in a black wig ; the piano-forte player
and the violins ; the harp, in a state of intoxication ; and
some twenty young men, who stood near the door, and talked
to one another, occasionally bursting into a giggle. A general
hum of conversation. Coffee handed round, and plentifully
partaken of by fat mammas, who looked like the stout people
who come on in pantomimes for the sole purpose of being
knocked down.

The popular Mr. Hilton was the next arrival ; and he
having, at the request of the Miss Crumptons, undertaken the
office of Master of the Ceremonies, the quadrilles commenced



388 SKETCHES BY BOZ.

with considerable spirit. The young men by the door gra-
dually advanced into the middle of the room, and in time
became sufficiently at ease to consent to be introduced to
partners. The writing-master danced every set, springing
about with the most fearful agility, and his wife played a
rubber in the back-parlour a little room with five book-
shelves, dignified by the name of the study. Setting her
down to whist was a half-yearly piece of generalship on the
part of the Miss Crumptons ; it was necessary to hide her
somewhere, on account of her being a fright.

The interesting Lavinia Brook Dingwall was the only girl
present, who appeared to take no interest in the proceedings
of the evening. In vain was she solicited to dance ; in vain
was the universal homage paid to her as the daughter of a
member of parliament. She was equally unmoved by the
splendid tenor of the inimitable Lobskini, and the brilliant
execution of Miss Laetitia Parsons, whose performance of
"The Recollections of Ireland" was universally declared to
be almost equal to that of Moscheles himself. Not even the
announcement of the arrival of Mr. Theodosius Butler could
induce her to leave the corner of the back drawing-room in
which she was seated.

"Now, Theodosius," said Miss Maria Crumpton, after that
enlightened pamphleteer had nearly run the gauntlet of the
whole company, " I must introduce you to our new pupil."

Theodosius looked as if he cared for nothing earthly.

" She's the daughter of a member of parliament," said
Maria. Theodosius started.

"And her name is ?" he inquired.

" Miss Brook Dingwall."

" Great Heaven ! " poetically exclaimed Theodosius, in a
low tone.

Miss Crumpton commenced the introduction in due form.
Miss Brook Dingwall languidly raised her head.

"Edward!" she exclaimed, with a half-shriek, on seeing
the well-known nankeen legs.



THEODOSIUS BUTLER. 389

Fortunately, as Miss Maria Crumpton possessed no remark-
able share of penetration, and as it was one of the diplomatic
ai'rangements that no attention was to be paid to Miss
Lavinia's incoherent exclamations, she was perfectly uncon-
scious of the mutual agitation of the parties ; and therefore,
seeing that the offer of his hand for the next quadrille was
accepted, she left him by the side of Miss Brook Dingwall.

" Oh, Edward ! " exclaimed that most romantic of all
romantic young ladies, as the light of science seated himself
beside her, " Oh, Edward, is it you ? "

Mr. Theodosius assured the dear creature, in the most
impassioned manner, that he was not conscious of being any-
body but himself.

" Then why why this disguise ? Oh ! Edward M'Neville
Walter, what have I not suffered on your account ? "

"Lavinia, hear me,"" replied the hero, in his most poetic
strain. " Do not condemn me unheard. If anything that
emanates from the soul of such a wretch as I, can occupy a
place in your recollection if any being, so vile, deserve your
notice you may remember that I once published a pamphlet
(and paid for its publication) entitled ' Considerations on the
Policy of Removing the Duty on Bees' 1 - wax. 1 "

" I do I do ! " sobbed Lavinia.

" That," continued the lover, " was a subject to which your
father was devoted, heart and soul."

" He was he was ! " reiterated the sentimentalist.

" I knew it, 11 continued Theodosius, tragically ; " I knew it
I forwarded him a copy. He wished to know me. Could
I disclose my real name? Never! No, I assumed that
name which you have so often pronounced in tones of endear-
ment. As M'Neville Walter, I devoted myself to the stirring
cause ; as M'Neville Walter I gained your heart ; in the same
character I was ejected from your house by your father's
domestics ; and in no character at all have I since been
enabled to see you. We now meet again, and I proudly own
that I am Theodosius Butler."



390 SKETCHES BY BOZ.

The young lady appeared perfectly satisfied with this argu-
mentative address, and bestowed a look of the most ardent
affection on the immortal advocate of bees'-wax.

"May I hope," said he, "that the promise your father's
violent behaviour interrupted, may be renewed ? "

"Let us join this set," replied Lavinia, coquettishly for
girls of nineteen can coquette.

"No," ejaculated he of the nankeens; "I stir not from this
spot, writhing under this torture of suspense. May I may
I hope?"

" You may."

" The promise is renewed ? "

"It is."

" I have your permission ? "

"You have."

"To the fullest extent?"

"You know it," returned the blushing Lavinia. The
contortions of the interesting Butler's visage expressed his
raptures.

We could dilate upon the occurrences that ensued. How
Mr. Theodosius and Miss Lavinia danced, and talked, and
sighed for the remainder of the evening how the Miss
Crumptons were delighted thereat. How the writing-master
continued to frisk about with one-horse power, and how his
wife, from some unaccountable freak, left the whist-table in
the little back-parlour, and persisted in displaying her green
head-dress in the most conspicuous part of the drawing-room.
How the supper consisted of small triangular sandwiches in
trays, and a tart here and there by way of variety ; and how
the visitors consumed warm water disguised with lemon, and
dotted with nutmeg, under the denomination of negus. These,
and other matters of as much interest, however, we pass over,
for the purpose of describing a scene of even more importance.

A fortnight after the date of the ball, Cornelius Brook
Dingwall, Esq., M.P., was seated at the same library-table,
and in the same room, as we have before described. He was



A DIFFICULT POSITION. 391

alone, and his face bore an expression of deep thought and
solemn gravity he was drawing up "A Bill for the better
observance of Easter Monday.""

The footman tapped at the door the legislator started
from his reverie, and " Miss Crumpton " was announced. Per-
mission was given for Miss Crumpton to enter the sanctum ;
Maria came sliding in, and having taken her seat with a due
portion of affectation, the footman retired, and the governess
was left alone with the M.P. Oh ! how she longed for the
presence of a third party ! Even the facetious young gentle-
man would have been a relief.

Miss Crumpton began the duet. She hoped Mrs. Brook
Dingwall and the handsome little boy were in good health.

They were. Mi's. Brook Dingwall and little Frederick were
at Brighton.

" Much obliged to you, Miss Crumpton," said Cornelius, in
his most dignified manner, " for your attention in calling this
morning. I should have driven down to Hammersmith, to
see Lavinia, but your account was so very satisfactory, and
my duties in the House occupy me so much, that I determined
to postpone it for a week. How has she gone on ? "

" Very well indeed, sir, 11 returned Maria, dreading to inform
the father that she had gone off.

" Ah, I thought the plan on which I proceeded would be
a match for her."

Here was a favourable opportunity to say that somebody
else had been a match for her. But the unfortunate gover-
ness was unequal to the task.

" You have persevered strictly in the line of conduct I
prescribed, Miss Crumpton ? "

"Strictly, sir."

"You tell me in your note that her spirits gradually
improved."

"Very much indeed, sir."

"To be sure. I was convinced they would."

" But I fear, sir," said Miss Crumpton, with visible emotion,



392 SKETCHES BY BOZ.

" I fear the plan has not succeeded, quite so well as we could
have wished."

" No ! " exclaimed the prophet. " Bless me ! Miss Crumpton,
you look alarmed. What has happened ? "

" Miss Brook Dingwall, sir "

" Yes, ma'am ? "

" Has gone, sir" said Maria, exhibiting a strong inclination
to faint.

Gone ! "

"Eloped, sir."

" Eloped ? Who with when where how ? " almost
shrieked the agitated diplomatist.

The natural yellow of the unfortunate Maria's face changed
to all the hues of the rainbow, as she laid a small packet on
the member's table.

He hurriedly opened it. A letter from his daughter, and
another from Theodosius. He glanced over their contents
"Ere this reaches you, far distant appeal to feelings love
to distraction bees'- wax slavery," &c., &c. He dashed his
hand to his forehead, and paced the room with fearfully long
strides, to the great alarm of the precise Maria.

" Now mind ; from this time forward," said Mr. Brook
Dingwall, suddenly stopping at the table, and beating time
upon it with his hand ; " from this time forward, I never will,
under any circumstances whatever, permit a man who writes
pamphlets to enter any other room of this house but the
kitchen. I'll allow my daughter and her husband one hundred
and fifty pounds a-year, and never see their faces again : and,
damme ! ma'am, I'll bring in a bill for the abolition of finish-
ing-schools."

Some time has elapsed since this passionate declaration.
Mr. and Mrs. Butler are at present rusticating in a small
cottage at Ball's-pond, pleasantly situated in the immediate
vicinity of a brick-field. They have no family. Mr. Theo-
dosius looks very important, and writes incessantly; but, in
consequence of a gross combination on the part of publishers,



FAILURE OF THE DIPLOMATIC PLANS. 393

none of his productions appear in print. His young wife
begins to think that ideal misery is preferable to real un-
happiness ; and that a marriage, contracted in haste, and
repented at leisure, is the cause of more substantial wretched-
ness than she ever anticipated.

On cool reflection, Cornelius Brook Dingwall, Esq., M.P.,
was reluctantly compelled to admit that the untoward result
of his admirable arrangements was attributable, not to the
Miss Crumptons, but his own diplomacy. He however con-
soles himself, like some other small diplomatists, by satisfac-
torily proving that if his plans did not succeed, they ought
to have done so. Minerva House is in statu quo, and "The
Misses Crumpton" remain in the peaceable and undisturbed
enjoyment of all the advantages resulting from their Finishingr
School.



END OF VOL. I.



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Online LibraryCharles DickensThe works of Charles Dickens (Volume 26) → online text (page 31 of 31)