Charles White Marianne Spencer Stanhope Hudson.

Almack's; a novel .. online

. (page 13 of 16)
Online LibraryCharles White Marianne Spencer Stanhope HudsonAlmack's; a novel .. → online text (page 13 of 16)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

laughter. At that moment Lord Dorville made
his entrie; his eye turned immediately to the re-
cess, and he was a good deal surprised to see
the sudden intimacy which had commenced
there. Lady Anne and the young Colonel
seemed to want no one. Somewliat piqued, he
advanced at once towards the upper end of the
room, where Lady Norbury eat in state, quite
in the middle of the largest sofa; yet he

Digitized byCjOOQlC


could not help listening, involuntarily, to every
fresh burst of laughter from Lady Anne. So
gay without him ! was it possible ? What a sud-
den change ! To what fair one, then, should he
devote himself for the moment ? who was there
disengaged ? Miss Louisa Mildmay was a mon-
strous fine girl, with a' foreign air and all
that sort of thing ; but then, hang it ! she was
on one of the chaises tongues near the window,
with Lord George beside her ; he seemed to be
whispering " soft nonsense" in her ear, and she
was listening and blushing in a heavenly sort of
way. How provoking ! The rest of the women
were all flats ! To be sure, there were the two
Miss Carltons, as gay as artificial roses could
make them, with their crane-like necks, stiff
stays, and rosy cheeks : the eldest was the best-
looking ; but just as his lordship had made up
his mind to say something to her, he remember-
ed that Lady Anne bad once said, she never
saw her parrot beak and vermilion lips, without

Digitized byCjOOQlC


thinking of a bird with a cherry in its mouth ;
and that her perpendicular figure always re-
minded her of a barber's block with a head at
the top of it. This unpleasant recollection
caused Lord Dorville to pass her unnoticed,
and to address some of his gentle nothings to
the plainer Miss Charlotte Augusta.

Lady Margaret was apparently in deep con-
sultation with Lady Norbury, about some new
geraniums which stood on a flower-stand near
her, but really deeply interested in Lord Dor-
ville's motions. She gave one maternal glance,
and was satisfied. * Ce que pent faire un net
retromsSy thought Lady Margaret to herself,
as she recalled MarmontePs witty tale to her
mind. Well, I should not have guessed it ; but
so Charlotte is to have the luck : he certainly
looked at them both, and most people think
ApoUonia so much the handsomest. Happy it
is that tastes difier T

Digitized byCjOOQlC

almack's. 311

Before dinner was announced, though when
all were anxiously expecting it, Lord Mordaunt,
trh mal d-propos^ asked Lady Anne if she could
find him the plates to Humboldt's Travels ; he
wanted to show them to Mr. Godfrey Mildmay :
Lady Anne had had them before luncheon;
■ where had she put them ?

How provoking ! her ladyship was obliged
to move ; and, immediately after, Lionel left his
hiding-place, — ^he had something to say to Lord
George Fitzallan : and after Lady Anne had
found the book, she had, of course, no induce-
ment to tempt her to return to the recess, so she
joined the circle. Lord Dorville instantly left
Miss Charlotte Augusta, and placed himself be^
hind Lady Anne*s chair. She turned her head,
he whispered to her something most flattering
about her dress ; she smiled, and listened as
though she heard him not. Lord Norbury cast
his scrutinizing eye upon his daughter, and

Digitized byCjOOQlC


wondered how she would extricate herself from
this unexpected dilemma. Perfectly unembar-
rassed, Lady Anne called out, ** Colonel Mon-
tague, will you bring me my shawl ? it is on the
marble table close to you/'

He obeyed, and was retreating.

" Oh, stop, stop !'' said the lady, playfully,
** you must assist to shawl me, or you will
only have half done your duty."

Lionel tried, but did not succeed to please
her ladyship : he must begin again — ^yes ! again,
and again, ^very eye was turned upon the

The men laughed aloud, all but Lord Dor-
ville ; he bit his lips : the women could not make
it out. Lord Norbury enjoyed his daughter's
stratagem extremely. Dinner was announced
ere the folds of the cachemire were decided.
Lord Norbury offered his arm to liady Mar-
garet Carlton; as he passed Lady Anne, he

Digitized byCjOOQlC

▲lhack's, 313^

smiled hig approbation. Lady Norbuty desired
Lord Mordaunt would take care of Miss CarU
ton, " What are you about, Lord Dorville ?"
said Lady Anne ; " Miss Charlotte Augusta is
really waiting for you." He could not help
himself, but the arm was taken» not offered,
" Poor Dorville !'' whispered Lord George to
Louisa, as they followed next. " Say rather,"
said she, " Poor Lionel ! to be so tormented
about a shawl — c*est trap r*

" Oh, spare your pity, fair lady ! he will know
how to extricate himself. He will not sing
' Tell me how to woo thee, love !' to Lady
Anne.'' Louisa blushed, though she hardly
knew why.

Dr. Sloper and Mrs. Metcalf, the Abb6 Le
Blanc and Miss Bevil, Godfrey Mildmay be-
tween the. two Miss Molyneux's; the hobbling
Archdeacon with Lady Norbury : such was the
order of precedence.

VOL. I. p

Digitized byCjOOQlC


Lady Anne gave one fresh turo-^-a final
grace— 4o the beautiful shawl; and then, with an
exulting smile, took Colonel Montague^s arm,
and f[dlowed in the procesdon. She had gain-
ed her point ; and the triumph of success sat
proudly on her brow, as she took her seat next
the Earl, with Lionel on har other side.

Digitized byCjOOQlC

almack's. SI5



'' The tender morsels on the palate melt^
And all the force of Cookery ift felt.*^

** Look,*" said her ladyship to LouisH^ who
sat opposite to her^ ^^ I have made Colotid
Montague understand, at last, how to fold it softs
to show the * true inimitable Turkish border.' '*

•* Vn schall a palmeSy I protest,^ replied
Louisa; " quite invaluable, my dear X/ftdy

'^ How fortunate,'" said Lord George, laugh-
ing, ^^ that it is not un schall peau de lapin. Do
you remember that ridiculous story in the ^^ Her-

Digitized byCjOOQlC


miie de la Chaussee d'jintin,'* of the lady who lost
her lover by wearing a rabbit-skin instead of a

I earners hair?**


The conversation, of course, now turned on
sckalls, and as long as the fish and soup lasted,
nay, even after the •* coup cTapris,*^ as the ^^ Alma-
nack des Gourmands*^ calla it, — cachemires conti-
nued to be the subject of discussion, and one that
was taken in all its bearings. Thibet, Russian,
Turkish, Persian, Spanish, Cachemires de Paris,
London imitations, Edinburgh ditto, nay, even
the Norwich manufacture was honoured with a
place in this distinguished list : — when the
Archdeacon, presumptuous man ! ventured to
change the subject of conversation, by bursting
forth in praise of the lobster patties — they were
delicious: " Is Monglas still your chefde cuisine f*
said he, addressing himself to Lady Norbury.

*' Oh dear, yes ! I hope he will never leave us?''
, " Is Monglas a descendant of Henri Quatre's
famous cook ?'' enquired the erudite Miss Bevil.

Digitized byCjOOQlC



No one could tell, but Dr. Sloper pronounced
a Monglas to be dn invaluable rechauffe of a

Miss Bevil immediately quoted BoiJeau*^
famous Hue : —

" Un diner r^chauff^ ne valut jamais rien.".

The Abb6 Le Blanc wished that Boileau
0ould have heard this happy d-propoa^ " // en
aurait ete charm4.'"

Lord George thought that a cook's pedigree
should be made out like that of a race-horse,
and that the invention of a good dish should
entitle him to an escutcheon*

Louisa hoped^ however, that in the cook's
pedigree, no escutcheon of pretence would be

This saXly Jit fortune^ and was long and loudly
applauded. Lord Norbury'^s delicious little
Welsh mutton was next much admired at the
bottom, while a turkey, stuffed with truffles^
greatly excited the Archdeacon^s appetite at the

Digitized byCjOOQlC


top. The reverend gentleman was most busily
employed in digesting, dissecting, ai)d dis-
cussing. A dish of most exquisite coxcombs
charmed Lady Margaret Carlton ; she remem-
bered with pleasure, what a favourite ragout
this was of her brother's the Duke of Clan-

An eel reposing in pale pomona-green sorrel
sauce, was mudi to Mrs. MetcalTs taste ; she
recommended it to every body. The Ab^
observed that it was the same shade as la robe
de Madamct um belle verdure: which made
Lord Mordaunt remark, ** that Mrs. Metcalf
would always be an evergreen.'*'

CSteleites i la Maintenon, or, as she pro-
nounced it, a la Mainteuant, were patronized
by Miss Molyneux,-— ^^ They quite a
dassic dish, from the Augustan age of Louis
XIV.''— who happened to have read, that morn-
ing, for the first time in her life, the bist(»ry ^f

Digitized byCjOOQlC

ALMACK^^. 319

Ike famous Feuve de Scarron^ in Madame de
Genlis^ novel which bears h^ name.

A voi mu venit of p<mki was quickly disap-
pearing under the protection of the Abb^ ; he
had long balanced between that and a udmi de
bitasses. Dr. Sloper took up with a sauti dc
V€9Uf which he dedared was merely a new name
to an <dd English dish, commonly csdled Scotch
oollops. The worthy doctor had a long debate
with the Archdeacon, upon the derivation of a
dish near him, pigeons i la erapaudine: nor
could they settle the point at all, thoujgh Miss
Bevil lent her weighty aid. Much information
was also displayed upon the different sorts of
wines which were produced. Cite Rdtie, vin de
Grave, Tinti di pontic Barsac, old Hock, and
imperial Tokay» red and white Burgundy,
Bnglish Claret compared with French Bor-
deaux, genuine Xeres, East and West India
Madeira, Champagne, mousseun^ or still, vitux

Digitized byCjOOQlC

SSO almaokV

tindeSi, George, — a few of these were produced,
which led to discussions upon the rest. Thus
busily and happily wefe the company occupied,
eating and drinkitig, talking and laughing.

Between the courses, Mr. Godfrey M ildmay
remarked how many literary characters had
been distinguished for their love of good eat-
ing ; and he mentioned among others the cele-
brated Dr. Paley, and the noted Cyril Jackson,
formerly Dean of Christ Church.

The Archdeacon named some Bishop with
whom he was intimate, who was really a mon-
strous 6011 vivant.

' The Abb^ Le Blanc whispered to Miss Bevil,
" Le vrai Amphitryon est celui oH Von dineT

** Talking of bishops,'' said Lord Norbury,
**pray, Mr. Archdeacon, how came it that we
had not the pleasure of your company when

last the Bishop of H confirmed at Merton ?

I assure you we were all surprised that you did

Digitized byCjOOQlC


not appear among the rest of the clergy of the

" His lordship never summoned me," answer-
ed the Archdeacon, very sulkily ; " I was as-
much surprised as you could be, my lord."

" Lord Norbury has got on the wrong scent
now,'* said Dr. Sloper to Lady Anne,, in a
whisper behind Colonel Montague. "It is
suspected among the cloth, that the Bishop
purposely omitted summoning Mr. Archdeacon
Carlton : you know his lordship is very high
church, so strict and decorous, and our friend
the doctor is something of a latitudinarian, at
least in practice. It is a very sore^subject, I
assure you."

" Is it, indeed ?" said Lady Anne, " then
I '11 plague him with it a little longer." Then
raising her voice, she said, " Charming man our
new bishop is, Mr. Archdeacon; he won all the
ladies' hearts when he was here ;*-so young
p 6

Digitized byCjOOQlC


and good-looking, and with 90 little of a wig,

" He is too happy in your ladyship's appro-
bation,** said the Archdeacon sarcastically: "and
Mrs. and the Miss Skinners, I hope you like
them equally ?^*

" Oh, I have not seen them, but I hear they
are very agreeable people, so musical and hos-
pitable, that they are quite the life of H -,

when they are at the palace, with their concerts
and parties."

At the name of Skinner, Lady Margaret
Carlton evidently felt disgusted, and the Miss
Carltons exchanged looks.

" Was not Dr. Skinner h^ad master of Wei-
don Regis School ?"*!* enquired Lionel.

" Ye^ to be sure he was," said Dr. Sloper,
** for many years ; Dr. Warburton, whom you
must remember. Colonel Montague, succeeded

" Dr. Skinner was an excellent master," said

Digitized byCjOOQlC


Lord George; " I was a long time under him,
and I am delighted to hear he has risen so high.
Mrs. Skinner, too, is a good little soul ; she was
very kind to all us boys, and used to take such
good care of us, and wash our faces so clean,'—
only I remember she would scrub upwards, and
turn our noses the wrong way.'* ^

Lord Dorville laughed most heartily at this

"She is a rosy little woman, is not she?^
said Lord George, addressing Lady Margaret.

" For rosy, read scarlet," returned her Lady-
ship ; ** with a mouth stretching from ear to ear,
and such manners, so antediluvian ; and her
daughters — ""*

" Are such prodigious quizzes !*' said Miss
Carlton; " I believe they talk Lutin and Greek !''

" And tune their own piano-fortes !*" rejoined
Miss Charlotte Augusta.

" Lord Tresilian married the eldest daugh-
ter, did not he ?" said Lord George.

Digitized byCjOOQlC


** Yes !" said Grodfrey Mildmay, •* and a most
beautiful woman she is, and \erj highly accom-

" Grood heavens ! do you admire her ?"* said
Miss Carlton ; " the whole family do give them-
selves such airs since her marriage !'*

" Well!'* said Lady Anne maliciously, '* I am
so sorry they do not suit you ; for I assure you,
upon my honour, I hear so much of their per-
fections from various quarters — such capital
people they seem to be, from accounts my
friends have given of them.*'

" Dr. Skinner is a rising bishop, depend upon
it, Mr. Archdeacon," said Lord Norbury, pom-
pously ; " I have reason to know that the
present premier thinks — **

What these thoughts were, however, was
lost in air. Lord Norbury's attention being
suddenly so much ingrossed in dissecting
a very fine leveret, that he never finished his
speech ; and the Archdeacon, placable man !

Digitized byCjOOQlC

almack's. 826

sank his dislike to the Bishop of H at

the sight of a brace of wild ducks. The
table now again groaned under a load of good
things, disguised in the most becoming man-
ner. In the centre rose the Temple of Paestum^
formed of macaroons ; the Greater Pyramids of
Egypt graced either side, in spun sugar ; whfle
Chartreuses, Macedoines, and other composi-
tions of equal merit, filled up the other spaces.

Lord Norbury now resumed. " The Bi-
shop of H was, I think, at one time private

tutor to Lord Tresilian.^

" He was, my Lord,'* replied the doctor.
'* The Duke of Derwent^s patronage— that was,
of course, his road to promotion : nothing Uke a
patron in these degenerate days,^' endeavouring
to catch Lord Norbury'*s eye.

The comers of the EarPs mouth relaxed into
a smile, a smile of contempt, — he took no
further notice of the speech. " The Bishop
would have drudged long enough at Weldon

Digitized byCjOOQlC


school^" continued Dr. Sloper, *' unnoticed and
unknown, had not his patron luckily been 0.
staunch supporter of the then ministry/'

" But you forget," said Godfrey Mildmay,
indignantly, *' how much he was distinguished,
both for his abilities and conduct, as head master

of College, Cambridge. He is one of the

first theologians of the present day. His talents
as a writer would have brought him into notice
without any patron; but the penetration to
discover such a man, reflects credit on the
Duke of Derwent^s discernment. The Bishop
of H does him honour.**

" Bravo! Mr. Mildmay," whispered Lady
Anne to Lionel ; " Do observe how crest-fallen
the Carltons look ; it is quite a treat to watch
their countenances ; the Archdeacon's digestion
will suflfer, I fear.^

" Does your Ladyship, then,'* said he, " take
such pleasure in mortifying your friends f"

" Friends ! for Heaven^s sake don't call them

Digitized byCjOOQlC


friends !— people one is obliged to receive par
formCy and whom I should rejoice never to see

" But then, par formey should not you treat
them with courtesy ?"

" Oh ! I hate those common courtesies, they
spoil all the acuter pleasures of life. Love me
or hate me, but pray don't be indiflFerently civil.
I wish always to live with those from whom I
may learn something, or whom I could teach :
I must either worship, or be worshipped by my
friends; but in a mere acquaintance I dearly
love a butt."

Her Ladyship fixed her sparkUng eyes on
Lionel : she was all fire and animation ; but her
beauty had ceased to charm him, he was con-
trasting in his mind the difierence between her
and the gentle Barbara. As if his thoughts had
been guessed at, he was roused from his reverie
by hearing Lord George whisper something
about the Birminghams to his neighbour

Digitized byCjOOQlC

328 almack's^.

Louisa. He was asking if they were all gone
to town : then, affecting to sigh, ** I wonder,"
scud he, ** if your fair friend has ever cast, one
thought upon me since the ball.'^

"What vanity!" replied Louisa, "to sup-
pose such a thing possible ; but I imagine you
mean to be in attendance upon her after

" Faith ! I shall think about it ; no bad spec,
I am told. My lady, the mamma, will haye a
famous house ; and getting oneself invited to her
balls, will be no bad thing : half my acquaintance
will, I have no doubt, be there. * And then she
has always opera tickets at a younger brother's
service : oh, she 's a famous patroness to have !
And really, your friend the daughter is a mon-
strous fine girl, many good points about her;
wants a little fashion and dash, and a new dress-
maker, and then she'll be perfect. The plaits
of her gown behind are always too much spread,
they never sit so well as yours do by half;'' and

Digitized byCjOOQlC


he added^ in a lower tone, ** Some French
corsets would improve her figure; don't you
think so ?''

This unexpected confidence set Louisa off
laughing. Lionel was uneasy, trying t6 catch
what they were saying, but in vain ; just as he
had caught the name of Birmingham, he Was
disturbed by a footman with a plate.

" Some of the cream in the inside of the
Temple for my lady, if you please, Sil* ?""

Then he heard Lord George say, ** Why, she
has devilish good eyes, if she knew how to use
them — le doux langage des yeux^ which a fair
friend of mine understands so well."" Then
another whisper, and another laugh^ a saucy
look, and a pleased blush, followed.

"Colonel Montague," said Lord Dorville,
" will you send me some of the spun sugar from
the base of the Pyramid ?**

'* la not your Lordship afraid of disturbing
the mummies ?" enquired Miss Bevil.

Digitized by VjOOQIC


Lord Dorvine seemed bardlj to comprehend
what she meant ; perhaps he had ueYer beard ^f
mummies: and, as Louisa would hi^ve sttd.

Lady Anne had beeh silent for some miautes ;
she had be^ observing Lionel; she had detected
him watching Lord Greorge and Louisa, trying
to catch their conversation.

*' Jealous, by all that's good P diought she ;
'' then I was right, and this girl has touched
his heart; an oM Paris flirtation, I dare say.
Now will I encourage my saucy cousin; and
Louisa is just a sort of girl to be delighted with
the idea of having a marqids^s younger son at
her feet, particularly when her prudent sister is
not in the way, to keep her in order. George
means nothing, a mere passo tempo flirtation ;
and then, mon cher colonel, it will be hard if I
cannot touch you a little."

So thought the enterprising Lady Anne ; and
in this spirit she addressed her naghbour, wkh

Digitized byCjOOQlC


" I see, Colonel Montague, that the name of
Birmingham has struck your ear as weB as
mine. Some of my Irish cousin's nonsense.*

Lionel absolutely started with surprise.

^ Yes," continued her ladyship, ** it is not
difficult to suppose what your feelings must be ;'*
and she softened her vdice. Lionel, more and
more astonished, fixed his eyes fuU upon her.

** Pray don't look such unutterable things,
lest all the ni^orld should guess your thoughts,
as I have done. For, really, it does not require
the penetration of a conjuror to imagine what
you must suffer, at seeing such a noble place as
Atherford Abbey inhabited by such people."

Colonel Montague breathed more freely than
he bad done for some minutes. ^^ Good hea^-
vcns ! how it must hurt you ! I really have
aoine sentiment in my composition, though
you, perhaps, like the rest of the world, have
piHMiouiiced me incorrigibly flighty ; but I am
not quite so thoughtless as I appear.^'

Digitized byCjOOQlC

S3S 'almack''s.

Lionel again looked surprised.

The second course was now removing, «nd
the cheese bustle began. Who would have
Parmesan ? and who would venture on Gru-
yere, Wiltshire, or Chedder? Norman-cress,
water-cress, salad, German salad, pronounced
to be most excellent. Ale, Norbury home-
brewed, justly celebrated; biif^ 6f course, few
were found so old-fashioned as not to pre-
fer Port wine after cheese. At \length all
was over. The gay dessert was pl^ed upon
the tablecloth; for Lady Norbury's nerves
could not bear the clatter of the knives and
forks upon the bare mahogany — ^it was so vul-
gar, so thoroughly John Bullish. The ice had
been carried round, and the last, lingering foot-
man had left the room. Nothing remained to be
done of all the grand ceremonial, but ** Which
wine do you take ? the claret is coming.** At
length the claret came ; at length all the com-

Digitized by VjOOQIC


pany were helped^ and every one was again at
liberty to address his neighbour, and resume
the interrupted tete-a-teie.

. Lady Anne had not forgotten the object of
her conversation, though there had been so long
a pause : she was anxious to resume it ; so, turn-
ing to her neighbour, she said, " Of course, when
you were at BishopVCourt, you were intro-
duced to Lady Clarke Birmingham."

'* I saw her several times when I was there,**
said Liond*

" Oh, then, of course you would hear how she
meant to go to pay a visit at Norbury» to tell
my lord how her head director of the gardens
had told her second inspector of the flowers to
explain to the principal under-kitchen-gardener
something of no manner of consequence, which
was to go through ten or a dozen deputies ; and
all this trouble taken merely to inform you
that she keeps nearly twenty gardeners, of all

Digitized byCjOOQlC


degrees and qualities, at Atherford Abbej*
Her vanity is so ingenious that it is someti^^es
quite entertaining.*'

Colonel Montague could not but allotr tbat
Lady Birminghani was ridiculous in the ex*

" We are infinitely obliged to her,'' €0nti*
nued the young lady, ^^ for supplying us all
with constant amusement. She is the gea&Xil
subject of conversation for all the neighbotirn
hood ; fair game for laughter ; a k^tful prissy
such as cHie meets in smne shape or other in
every county. We should all go to sleep vdih*
out the dear Birmis^ams to talk over.^'

^^ But the daughter,'' smd C<donel Montague
in a low voice ; ^^ surely nothing can be said
against her ?*'

'* Oh, no ! poiH* dear ! no harm in' her at all :
she is really a fine-looking girl ; has been edu-
cated at a coimtry parson's, and so is very good
and domestic, and all that sort of thing, now ;

Digitized byCjOOQlC


but watt iSXL next year, and then we shall see
what this famous heiress will turn out. With
a certain set she will hi^ every thing, and every
needy foitune-hunter will be at her feet ; she
wiH i^obably be one of the greatest heiresses, if
not the greatest, in the kingdom ; and who do
you thmk wiH care whether her mcmey came by
a i^ioeblack or a Jew ? Depend upon it, we shall
alMiTe to see this very demure, gentle-lookkig
Bairbara Birmingham at the head of ton. She
lo<dc«i now like milk and water in the act of
freezmg; insijidd innocence: but gold to a
ycmifl^ lady is ki ihete dajrs the true, the only
touchstone of merit, much mcHre than love.
Who ever' hears of love now ?*'

Colonel Montague felt inexpressible pain as
her ladyship rattled on, anxious to captivate
him with her wit, and quite unconscious of the
feehngs which made him continue to peel wal-
nuts widi sudi wonderful assiduity.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 13 15 16

Online LibraryCharles White Marianne Spencer Stanhope HudsonAlmack's; a novel .. → online text (page 13 of 16)