THE PARVENU FAMILY;
PHCEBE: GIRL AND WIFE.
jVUTHOR of "BELLA DONNA," "NEVER FORGOTTEN," ETC.
IN THREE VOLUMES.
I^ICHARD BENTLEY AND SON,
|3ttbli3hcrs in Ovbimtrii to ^cr ciB.ijcsti! the Qncwu
CONTENTS OF VOL. II.
I. GETTING INTO SOCIETY,
II. A MORNING CALL -
III. THE GREAT NIGHT
IV. BATTLE ROYAL
V. IN PARIS -
VL PHCEBE FINDS A FRIEND
VII. "HE COMETH NOT, SHE SAID
"he COMETH NOT,"
VIII. THE truant's RETURN
IX. THE PRINGLES AT HOMBURG
X. miss L.\CR0IX - - -
XI. THE HUMOURS OF HOMBURG
XIL MISS LACROIX's FIRST SKIRMISH -
XIII. A KNIGHT- - . -
XIV. MISS LACROIX RECEIVES A PROPOSAL
XV. HONEYMOON _ _ -
XVI. "the happy pair" - - - 184
XVII. phcebe's plan - - - . iq6
XVIII. A PLAN - - - 205
XIX. THE PRINGLES AT HOME - - - 213
XX. MISS LACROIX ARRIVES - - -225
XXI. A SCENE - - - - . 235
XXII. A CLEVER MOVE - - - - 244
XXIII. A .MEETING .... 254
XXIV. NUPTIAL JARS - - . . 265
THE PARVENU FAMILY;
PHCEBE: GIRL AND WIFE.
GETTING INTO SOCIETY.
We now change the scene to London.
Who could now recognise the " ponies "
and their mamma â the plodding, pains-
taking, long-suffering trio â so amiably ob-
sequious to all, and so anxious to get on in
a modest way, and without interfering with
any one ? They were now insolent, eager,
unbounded, almost rampant. They had
hurried to town, and were set up at a great
and fashionable hotel, while a suitable
VOL. IL I
house was bcinq^ looked for. Considering
what they had come from so recently, their
nicety in siiitlntj;^ themselves was amazing; :
what would have done for persons of hij^h
and accepted fashion would hardly do for
them. Though the funeral was scarcely
over, here they were, richly appointed and
equipped, knocking at the door of society
and demanding admission. Unfortunately,
that door is chiefly opened to those who
have passed through before, while the
menials invariably say " Not at home " to
those who come like our postulants.
A lord's mansion was secured for them
in Berkeley Square, and from this coign
of 'vantage it was determined to open their
" first parallel." Ready money was supplied
in abundance ; carriages and horses secured
from the eminent Mr. Grimbush ; and rela-
tions of the most costly kind opened with
that gracious but still awful Madame Sylvie,
whose windows in Recrent Street were im-
penetrably veiled with festoons of costly
lace, and whose favour and even civility
was not to be purchased by the most lavish
orders. Mrs. Pringle, however, whose
energy had begun to develop itself in a
surprising way with her new position, had
secured an introduction from a great lad}-,
to whom she herself " had secured an intro-
duction," and thus obtained a certain defer-
ence and civiHty. She herself, therefore,
and her " ponies " were fitted out in suit-
able style, ready to begin that London
struggle to which she was looking forward
with such delight. Such were the mere
material equipments : but this was as
nothing. For there were Peris living in
a state of genteel starvation, in meagre
rooms in streets of stables, off the square
in which our ladies were dwelling â persons
on almost a bank-clerk's allowance, who
were yet allowed to enter within the magic
gate, from which they were turned back
But with such difficulties to face, Mrs.
Pringle was not without resources. Her
original lever was of course Lord Garterley,
always glad to say, when a new undertaking
of any kind was on foot, " Leave it to me
â I'll manage it for you." With all his bon-
hoinie, he could take a pretty satirical view
of human nature, and knew exactly the
description of article to suit the lady.
This was Lady Juliana Backwoods, a noble
but meagre spinster, who starved in lodt^inprs.
To Park Lane there are, as all the world
knows, a number of suckers, which thrive
and enjoy a little of its fashionable juices.
On these again are grafted some yet more
meagre shoots, which stretch past Audley
Street, and actually encroach on those
streets of mews behind Hill Street and
Berkeley Square. More and yet more of
these squalid and dilapidated little tene-
ments â more like corner cupboards â are
yearly reclaimed by the desperate candi-
dates for the enjoyment of living in a
fashionable quarter ; even though the
next door may be a public-house, or com-
mencement of a line of stables. The
tenement is forthwith put in order ; glass
is let into the hall-door itself, to give a
few rays of light into the miserable passage
called " the hall ;" plate-glass is adopted ; a
gaudy flower-box hung out of the parlour-
window ; and the arrangement is complete.
The den is fit for the occupation of a gen-
teel family, who, by stretching out of the
bedroom windows, can sometimes obtain
a distant view of the trees of the Park.
In one of these noisome places lived
Lady Juliana and a powdered footman,
who, when he threw open the corner cup-
board, produced a surprise akin to that
when a change in a pantomime takes place
â when, say, a pump opens and discovers
an enclosed waterman. This menial, who
was always unimpeachably correct, gave
the true air to the little mansion. Small as
it was, there was a belief that she was
merely honorary owner of the house, the
parlour and certain other rooms remaining
in the possession of the real proprietor,
another maiden lady.
" I'll give you a strong letter to old
Juliana. You'll find her the most useful
creature in the world â if," added Lord
Garterley, with a loud laugh, " you take
care to be useful to her.''
On an early day, accordingly, the new
and gorgeous carriage, with its great
horses, came rocking and rumbling up to
the door of the little house, and the
Pringle family came in state to return Lady
Juliana Backwoods' visit. That spinster
received them with a querulous gracious-
ness, and a sort of peremptoriness that was
not very agreeable. She accepted the
proposed relation quite as a matter of
" Now you must understand," she said,
*' that this sort of thino; is not to be done
in a liurry. I will, of course, see that you
know a few proper people â relatives and
connections of my own â to start you, then
you must make your own way, with occa-
sional lifts. Is that perfectly understood ?"
" Oh dear yes, Lady Juliana ; so kind of
you, Lady Juliana," etc.
" Do, please, attend," said the lady im-
patiently, " for it's all in your own interest.
That sort of old-fashioned, vulgar taking
society by storm, getting introduced right
and left, with a grande dame to stand
sponsor, is all nonsense nowadays, and
wouldn't be endured. It is too gross.
When shall I see you again } Shall it be
at your house ?"
"Oh yes, Lady Juliana; if you would
be so kind."
" Let me see. Come here to-morrow,
and I can bring you to see one or two. I
suppose you have an open barouche ?
Very well ; and then â yes, I'll dine with
you on Tuesday. I'll tell you then what
can be done."
They were delighted with Lady Juliana.
They could not sufficiently overwhelm her
with attentions and good things of all
kinds. Dinners were as a matter of
course, and not, even to her, worthy of
thanks. " The carriage " was perpetually
swino-ine and rockinor in the direction of
Lady Julianas little house, almost impeding
the access to the line of mews, so narrow
was the turn at this corner ; a service
which disgusted the newly-acquired tall
menials. The Pringle family, and all that
was theirs, became hers, and she used them,
.and what was theirs, in the most despotic
fashion â where, indeed, she showed her
wisdom. What she gave in return was
served out in a meagre and highly deliberate
fashion, with an infinite flourish of caution
and preparation. It was thus that she pre-
pared them for the Countess of Baddeley
and her ladyship's plain and unmarketable
daughters, who had been offered again and
again, time out of mind, and were now " re-
marked in plain figures," and for whom any-
thing in reason would be accepted. It was
an exciting da)- for the Pringle family when
Lady Baddeley's chariot drove up, and her
ladyship descended and came in. The other
lady, having come in charge, determined to
assert her merit as introducer.
Lady Baddele)' was a grenadier peeress
- â tall, imperious, and loud speaking; the
two daughters, who entered behind her,
were as tall and gigantic. The Pringles
were enchanted with them and their
friendly wa)s ; but, after their departure,
the patroness took care to impress them
with the importance of the distinction which
she had procured for them ; and, on the
other hand, they noticed the deference of
the introduced parties to their " bringer "
(to use an expression known in recruiting),
a circumstance which greatly raised their
opinion of the latter's importance.
A delightful intimacy sprang up between
the families. Lady Baddeley soon became
" dear Lady Baddeley," and the " ponies "^
and the "dear Lady Emily " Croope, and
equally "dear Lady Florence " Croope, be-
came as sisters. The respective fathers soon
appeared on the scene, when Lord Badde-
ley, a grey and paternal old nobleman, was
found delightful, and got on so capitally
with old Sam Pringle, whose humour and
odd manner was pronounced so " fresh and
original !" They played cards together, for
his lordship liked his game, in the most
friendly manner. He agreed to put Sam
down at his own club with his own hand,
with another lord as seconder, not laying
Sam under much of an obligation, as it
would be at least ten years before he would
come up for election. Everything, in short,
was going on delightfully, and in the nicest
way. Sometimes, indeed, they show^ed a
little exultation in announcing their pro-
gress to their original patroness, who
would adroitly bring them down to the
proper stage of humility by some depre-
ciation, or else by telling them plainly that
" they mustn't run away with the idea that
they were established in society because
they knew a few people of position. That
she was very glad, of course, to have
helped them so far, but that Lady Badde-
ley was a woman of the world, without any
heart, and if she (Lady Juliana) did not
make it a point with her, it might still turn
out very differently. They would find it
I o Phcvbc.
very uphill work. She herself was very
glad to give them a start," and so forth.
Beincj- thus brought down to a proper state
of delerence, the family could only assure
their dear Lady Juliana that they knew how
much they were indebted to her kindness ;
and the " ponies " had to go out and select
a "little surprise" for her in the shape of
a sealskin cloak, or some such trifle, which
presents were always accepted with a kind
of rebuke or surly displeasure ; as thus,
" What made you do such a foolish thing ?
I assure you this sort of thing annoys me.
Well, I suppose you must s^^end your
money. So put it down there â put it down
there. Well, now about the Trelawneys.
Did they return your call ? Yes ? You'll
find them very useful people."
By-and-by arrived our hero, young
Pringle, who, after passing under the liand
of the great man of vSavile Row, and having
been thrust into one or two clubs by the
aid of Lord Adolphus Croope â the second
son â was received with much satisfaction
by the family. It had been settled before
his arrival â not in any spirit of sisterly
sacrifice, but from the proprieties of their
Phcebe. 1 1
situation â that the younger sister, Lady
Florence, should be the official candidate ;
or, as her brother, after his manner, put it,
the family should " declare to win with the
most likely horse." This being arranged,
the proceedings were conducted with a
view to the speedy consummation of the
Indeed, everything favoured it. The
Pringle family were now living in a sort
of delightful whirl. Notwithstanding the
discouraging reminders of Lady Juliana,
they were in a certain degree getting on
very fairly. A rich family, well connected,
and not vulgar, though old Sam was eccen-
tric enough, had certain attractions of its
own ; and there is a particular class ready
to come forward with kindly sympathy to
lend a helping hand. Here, for instance,
was old Phipps, who knew everybody, and
who soon made them out, as did also Pratt-
Hawkins, as soon as he had learned that
they were acquainted with the Baddeleys
and Lady Juliana, persons whom he was
anxious to know ; and it was not difficult
to renew relations with dear Lady Cecilia
Shortlands and her husband, who fed at
1 2 P/ucbe.
every dinner-table but their own, and
would dine with any one. In short, the
world of excitement and enjoyment was
opening- out before them, like the transfor-
mation scene of a pantomime; and they had
no time to think of the obscure and vulgar
past ; or, if they did, it was to put it yet
farther back with a pitying smile of con-
Into the category of associations thus
dismissed naturally fell the little Phoebe
episode. There was nothing deliberate or
heartless in the view which they took of
it ; it was the fault of the episode itself,
which was trifling, and even paltry,,
especially when viewed through the glare
and brilliance which now interposed be-
tween it and those comparatively squalid
old days. They had really, and without
affectation, all but forgotten the transac-
tion. As for the hero himself, the figure
and face of Phoebe had gradually grown
fainter and fainter. He had no time for
deliberate reminiscences ; and though he
felt in honour bound, still he had an idea
that there was nothing pressing, and that
it was one of those little episodes, a little
Pliosbe. 1 3
"hurried and foolish, which both parties
might put aside good-humouredly, and re-
main the best of friends.
This view was encouraged by the be-
haviour of Phoebe and her mother, who
had only just come to town, to some un-
pretending rooms at the meaner end of
Ebury Street, where the hall exacts the
stern necessity of observing precedence,
and requires Indian file for visitors.
Hitherto, a letter would reach Phoebe,
first, on every second day, then on every
fourth, and then at longer intervals ; each
erowinof shorter and more business-like,
and full of such excuses as " I cannot write
more to-day, I am so dreadfully busy/' and
the like. As a matter of course, Phoebe's
sensitiveness noted the very first of these
changes, and augured that something was
wrong ; but her mother, who fancied herself
a woman of finesse, had her own plans in
" We must not worry him now, as they
really must be full of business. Just let us
give them time to get settled and accus-
tomed to their new condition. He is a
little dazzled at first. It is only natural."
1 4 PJiwbc.
It was in pursuance of this policy that
Mrs. Dawson and her daughter had waited
at Brighton, where there was a Httle gaiety
going on, for about a month, and then re-
paired to London to the Ebury Street lodg-
ings, as aforesaid.
A MORNING CALL
It was with some trepidation that Mrs.
Dawson found herself at the Pringle
mansion, confronted by a row of powdered
menials, and was conducted to the presence
of Mrs. Pringle. That lady had already
gained the affable hauteur of the " grande
dame," and received her guest with tranquil
cordiality. As we have said, the incident
with which the visitor was connected had,
by force of contrast with her present
splendid condition, already faded into a
trivial indistinctness. So the visit brought
no uneasiness. It must be added also that
she felt that she was " secured" by yet
another resource, which. In case of pres-
sure, would conclude the matter in their
1 6 PJucbc.
favour. Hut Mrs. Dawson, seeing in a
moment how the matter was to be ignored,
at once collected herself for business,
and felt that she must strike there and
then for her Phoebe, or the day would
"And how," she asked, "is Mr.
Pringle, and, above all, Mr. Francis ? I
shall have to brinof back the fullest news
about him. Of course you know why ?"
she added, with a forced smile.
" Oh," said Mrs. Pringle, also smiling,
"you are surely not going back to that
little foolish business â "
" Foolish business !" repeated Mrs. Daw-
son ; " your son asked my daughter to
marry him, and she consented. Surely
you don't call that a trifle, or foolish â at
least for her ?"
" There are often misunderstandings
about these things ; young men say such
things to every girl they meet. But, how-
ever," she added carelessly, " I will say
nothing on the point. It may be as you
say. It does not concern me, of course; it
rests with the young man himself He
Phcebe. 1 7
can do as he pleases, and is quite inde-
pendent of us."
This was somethincr o-ained. So Mrs.
Dawson glided away from the rather
hostile tone she had taken up. " That
is, of course, the way to look at it," she
said ; " we leave it to the young people
" But how odd â forgive me for saying
it â that all this time you should not have
mentioned it. It is more than a month
now since we were at Garterley, and no
communication has been made to us on so
important a matter."
Mrs. Dawson felt a pang as this result
of her generalship was brought home to
" We did not like to trouble you when
we knew you were so taken up."
" Well, as I say, it rests with Francis
himself He is five-and-twenty, and we
can neither restrain him nor hinder him
from taking any step he may fancy."
Here entered Sam Pringle with papers
in his hands, and with a bustling pompous-
ness. He gave a careless nod. " See,"
he went on, " Baddeley" â and he added,
VOL. II. 2
1 8 Phoebe.
" Lord Baddeley," to let the visitor know
the quaHty of the person he was speak-
incr of â " has sent about tliose invita-
" Never mind them now, Samuel," his
lady said sweetly ; " Mrs. Dawson has
been saying something about her daughter
and Francis, and a proposal of marriage. I
really know nothing of it."
" Oh, my good lady, that's all rubbish."
" No, no. Not at all! As I say, it is a
matter for Francis himself. I suppose he
will act according to his discretion. By-
the-way, you did not let us know that you
were in town, so wc could not send to
you ; but we are having some friends to-
morrow niofht. You and Miss Dawson
had better come ; it's very short notice, I
know â "
" A few friends indeed," said old Sam.
" You mean a big ball, and can't you say so?
This is by way of fine-ladyism, I suppose ;
never giving things right names."
There was something so secure and even
careless in Mrs. Pringle's proposal, that
her visitor felt a sort of chill, as though
she was already worsted. She was tempted
Phoebe. 1 9
haughtily to decline this invitation : but
she thought it might throw away poor
Phoebe's chance. Accordingly, putting
on a beaming face, she said they would
be " delighted ;" and thus the ladies left
the unpleasant subject, and entered upon
more indifferent topics. Mrs. Dawson
was astonished at the change in this
nouvellc riche â the dowdy, subservient
aofent's wife was transformed into the p;rand
patronising lady, with a tranquil and assured
air of superiority. It was with serious
misgivings, and with a sad heart, that she
returned home. She determined, however,
to say not a word of what had taken place
to Phoebe : it would only reduce her to
despair, and unfit her for the part she in-
tended her to play on the morrow night.
" I'll beat them yet," said the mother. " I
have a trick or two worth all theirs."
Phoebe had been waiting anxiously to
hear the news.
" All right, dear," said the mother, whose
theory it was that the code of morality
might always be suspended when the
occasion needed. " Nothino; could be
better. They are giving a ball to-morrow
2 â 2
niglu where you are to be the l:)elle ; so
come off with me till I choose you a dress."
" And did )ou see â him ?" asked Phoebe
" Oh no, but )Ou shall see him to-
morrow night, when you will eclipse them
all. Come with me now."
This fillincr Phoebe's little soul with a
whirl of anticipated delights, the prudent
mother thought would be the best course.
She knew Phoebe's character well : that if
she entered the field with a knowledcre
that there was danger to be faced, or a
battle to be fought, her heart would sink,
and she would be without spirit or energ)-.
With feelings, therefore, of joy and antici-
pation Phoebe was taken off to choose
dresses and flowers â always a delightful
occupation, especiall}'- when the eminent
mistress of robes promised to make the
fly-wheels and pistons of the millinery
engines work at extra pressure, for the
time was short. At such an hour it was to
be " blocked out" on the young lady's own
person ; at another hour formally tried on ;
w^hile the finishing touches were to be
applied at another period.
Phacbc. 2 1
During these two eventful days Phoebe's
â¢eyes sparkled tenfold more brightly, and
there was a flush in her cheeks. It was
â¢all an era of anticipation, though still it
was a little surprising that he did not
come. Still, the great and dramatic night
would settle all happily, just as that other
great and delightful night at Garterley
had begun it all. She had no misgivings ;
all was certainty, exactly as her mother
intended that it should be.
The Sam Pringles' ball was, indeed, to
be a remarkable event from another point
of view. No one could conceive the vast
amount of labour, anxiety, and expense
that had been invested in the enterprise.
By the exertions of the Baddeleys much
had been done, those ladies exerting them-
selves seriously and heartily, on the ground
that the two families were to be so inti-
mately connected ; though the Baddeleys
themselves had hardly the pure guinea-
stamp of fashion. Still, they did very well
for beginners like the Sam Pringles. The
worst was the uncertainty â the torturing
anxiety â ^for, to the last day or two, none
of the great persons who had been invited
2 2 P/ud)C.
had declared whether they would attend or
not ; and the " nice men," who were, all in
all, the spine or backbone of the party, were
specially exasperating. The faces of the
Pringle family grew perceptibly worn and
anxious under the strain. Still there was
every reason to believe it would be suc-
On the other hand, it was astonishing,
to find that various noble persons were
actually asking for invitations through male
friends â Pratt- Hawkins, in particular,
having come especially to convey a desire
that they should invite Lady Mary Some-
body ; on which one of the " ponies" flew to
the desk, and filled up a card, which the
visitor carried off in his pocket. In other
matters, the expense and magnificence were
enormous. Indeed, so eager were they to
expend any amount of treasure, that, had
some one offered to contract to supply noble
guests at (say) twenty pounds a head, they
miij-ht not have been disinclined to close
with the arrangement. One great work
had been undertaken, namely, the enclosing
nearly the whole garden as a kind of Eastern
ball-room â lit with a vast number of lamps
Phoebe. 2 3
â with a raised orchestra at one end ;
while new doors were broken in the
walls to suit this arrangement. Flowers,
in enormous profusion and at a cost as
enormous, had arrived from what the
Court paper described as â the "premier"
florist ; while, as a matter of course, Tootle
and Dinney's orchestra were to furnish
The " notice" had been long enough,
and Mrs. Prin^le had selected the date
after anxious consultations with the Bad-
deleys, who had promised in the kindest
way to find out if there was another
** fixture," as racing men call it, for that
night. The distance was so great that
there was really no need for such investi-
gation. But rights of previous occupation
or seizure are held as nothing in such
cases. On the hieh seas of fashion the
right of the strongest prevails, and the
great argosy often takes from the smaller
and helpless vessel what it has chosen
for itself. Thus Lady Colley, of Leighton,