James Payn.

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poses itself to an intruding puppy-dog, with
grave faces and silence, and the spy has had
nothing to report to his employers. They
have invented stories about us, of course.
I remember one of how a very strong-minded
lady once entertained us with such very
strong-minded anecdotes that the hostess rose
(like a man) and said, '' I really think we
had better join the gentlemen." But that
is evidently a gentleman's story. No woman
has yet proved so false to her sex that when
she has married, and *' become one with her
husband " (as he thinks, poor creature !) she
has disclosed to him the history of that half
hour when the males are sipping their wine


together, and talking, let us in charity
suppose, of the vintages, and we are above-
stairs holding solemn conclave among our-

To he branded as a traitress throughout
all time is a- punishment which few would
voluntarily incur, even for much gold ; and,
for my part, neither my poverty nor my
will would consent to the act which I have
in contemplation, had not my sex — the
''gentler sex," as some still call it — in their
short-sighted arrogance and insolent folly,
outlawed me already. You shake your head,
my Public ; you rub your nose ; you are
thinking to yourself that this is a sort of
writer you had not bargained for ; you are
about to decline to read the revelation of
this ineligible ''young person" with thanks,
as being no better than she should be.
Pause, my dear Public, for you are on the
verge of a most frightful error. I have done
nothing of which I need be ashamed — nothing
which in this free and noble country ought


to he to my discredit. I am driven from
the society of my own sex because I have
become what they persist in calHng a Medical
Man ! With the general question of Woman's
Eights in this country I am not about to
trouble you, and far less with my own
private wrongs ; but since I am, forsooth,
" unsexed " throuo^h havins^ learned tlie art
of healing, and '' a disgrace to womankind "
for having earned my diploma, I accept the
position in which the cruelty of my sisters
has placed me. I make no bones (to use an
expression borrowed from my new profes-
sion) about revealing the secrets of a society
from which I have been so unhandsomely

I can easily imagine the terror which in
some female breasts these words will inspire ;
and, indeed, if I were capable of being-
actuated by feelings of revenge, some might
well tremble. But my nature, if (as it is
sneeringly entitled) masculine, is mild. It
is merely my intention to rescue from the


oblivion which would without doubt have
otherwise overtaken them certain noteworthy
and characteristic " after-dinner stories,"
told not as usual in an atmosphere of
wine and walnuts (and perhaj)3 even cigars),
but of cedar and satin-wood, and all that
is fancifid and feminine in the ladies*
chamber — the withdrawing-room. It seems
only reasonable, while I am compelled to
sit with folded hands waiting for the patieuts
that jDcrhaps may never come, to pass
that time of enforced idleness (for which,
too, I am in some sort indebted to the
ridicule of my sex) in recalling some remi-
niscences of them. They often complain that
they have nothing to talk about — though,
for my part, I have not observed that that
circumstance ever reduced them to silence —
and they ought, therefore, to be grateful
to me for providing them with a topic.
They must by this time have worn thread-
bare the subject of my so-called apostacy ;
let them now speak of my perfidy and


treason. Don't imagine tliat I am angry ;
the study of medical science lias, I am
thankful to say, so balanced my mind that
irritation is no longer possible with me.
Vanity, prejudice, malice — all the ''little-
nesses," in fact so characteristic of the female,
are totally eradicated from my system.
With the exception that I sometimes cross
my prescriptions, and am still rather too
prone to use italics, I have none of the
weaknesses of the woman left. It is not
because I am of the weaker sex that I con-
fess to a slight flutter of the heart as I
prepare, for the first time since the creation
of the world, to lift the curtain which has
hidden from the eyes and ears of man the
after-dinner proceedings of his helpmate.
A hundred generations of passee females
seem to be looking down upon me from
the past in indignation or remonstrance.
Eve — no, our first mother had no drawing-
room : she kept her husband company, after
their frugal repast was finished, over his


pipe ; but all the women, except her : Semi-
ramis (I believe this ivas a woman ; but if
I am wrong, Mr. Publisher, please to ex-
punge it : my historical education was no
better than that of most of my sex, and
the " ^lateria Medica " affords me no infor-
mation) — I see Semiramis with flaming eyes
and Cleopatra looking like a termagant,
though it is my belief that both of them
would much rather have had coffee below-
stairs with the orentlemen than have souo^ht
the drawing-room at all. I see Hannah ]\Iore
and Mrs. Trimmer raising their mittened
hands in horror at the deed I am about to
do. I don't care ; they have driven me to
it with their sneers and ridicule. Why
shouldn't I be a doctor, and help poor deli-
cate women and little children, whom I
understand, and who need never feel ashamed
or afraid of my ministering presence ? It is
abominable of them, and shows a miserable,
petty spirit, for which, if I had not acquired
a perfectly-balanced mind, I should feel an


unspeakable contempt. But I will not be
betrayed into a single uncliaritable expres-
sion. Centuries hence, when they are all
forgotten, my name will be associated with
those who first burst the trammels of con-
vention, and became benefactresses of their
species ; and that reflection is more than
suflicient for me. Still my position is
a trying one. I see Queen Elizabeth
(although she would have liked to stop down-
stairs too) in her starched ruff", and with
her father's furious expression in her voice,,
and with some very strong words of her own
in her mouth, ordering me to instant execu-
tion, and Lady Jane Grey expostulating
with me from the skies in her well-meaning
classical way. But I don't care ; they
shouldn't have driven me to it.


The tale of the dra\\dng-room, whicli
has left the strongest impression on me,
arose from a conversation about servants, a
subject which is very popular there. Yes,
indeed, if you men imagine that religion
and politics are discoursed of on the first-
floor during your absence, you are excessively
mistaken. Nor is one word of medical
science, properly so called, ever uttered
there. Women talk of their children's ail-
ments. But I am digressing. With elderly

* The gentleman who some years ago communicated
the facts of this story to the author is requested to
favour him with his addi'ess.


ladies, servants is the topic. They sail into
the drawing-room — the old ones — and at
once make for the ottoman, which affords
ample room for their magnificent propor-
tions and skirts, and at once begin to com-
pare notes together about their domestics ;
while the young ones (about whom I may
have to speak at another time) make little
coteries of their own, consisting generally
but of two each, their object being to inter-
change '' confidences," some genuine, most
of them fictitious. One or two — there has
always been, as far as my experience goes,
at least one of this class — one or two
approach the table to examine the books, or
any scientific instruments, such as the
microscope, which may happen to lie there ;
but these intelligent personages are un-
popular. " We are afraid we are not clever
enough for you,'' is the remark with which
they are greeted by their young friends,
should they be so unwise as to make ad-
vances to them. But I am again digressing.


I know my own faults, you see ; crossing my
prescriptions ; italics ; digression. "Where
saiv I ? For each of the confidential couples
the lady of the house has a good-natured
word, and a piece of good advice for the
student : " Wearing out your brain, as usual,
my dear Miss Bluestocking. Why dont you
let it rest ?" And then she gravitates to-
wards the ottoman, where the Great Topic
is already being discussed.

" I am sure I don't know what we
shall do for servants next," says Number
One, " they are all getting so high and

"This notion of educating everybody is
destruction," says Number Two. "It makes
them all dissatisfied with their places."

" With that position in life," says the
rector's wife, with an air of the jmlpit, "in
which Providence has placed them."

" Just so ; and then they are so igno-
rant !" says Number Three.

" Most shockingly ignorant/' is the una-


nimous reply, except from the hostess, who,
with a dim notion that it is her place to
prevent too great inconsistencies of state-
ment, remarks, '' Ignorant or opinionated,
one or the other."

*' You may say what you like," says
Number Four, '' but what lies at the bottom,
of it all is those fly-away caps. They are
always setting them at somebody."

'' Oh, as to that, you know," says Num-
ber One, sinking her voice, and looking
round to see that the young ladies are duly
enofaofed with their confidences or their
microscope, " there is a most shocking
story afloat about poor Mr. Methuselah
and "

Here all the heads on the ottoman ap-
proach one another so closely that a collec-
tion of birds and foliage, with a turban or
two, like nests, is formed, and the remainder
of the shocking story is related in a whisper.

"Well, I never!" "You don't say sol"
*' There is no fool like an old fool ! " are the


observations with wliicli the news of Mr.
Methuselah's approaching " marriage beneath
him " is received.

'' I have only known one case of that
description ever turn out well," observes a
voice which has hitherto been unheard. It
proceeds from Miss Flutter, a country cousin
-of the hostess, a lively, dapper little woman,
who may be any age, from thirty-five to
fifty. "The exce23tion only proves the rule,
you know," adds she, apologetically ; '"' Ijut
I have known an instance where such a
match proved a success."'

The other ladies turn inquiringly towards
the hostess. Is her cousin (whom they have
understood to be but a poor relation) to be
credited ? One of them shakes her head
{with an ostrich feather on it) and smiles
satirically, in token that she Avill not believe
such an outraoe on common-sense, althouo;h
the woman that should narrate it had ten
thousand a year.

" I have often heard Cousin Jane tell the

VOL. m. N


story," says the liostess, prudently ; " and it
is certainly a very curious one."

" I should like to hear it," says Lady
Stalkingham, the only titled person present,
and whose wish is law. Whereupon followed
Cousin Jane's story :

" At Bath, where I used to live, good
servants were as hard to procure as they are
here in London. When you did happen to
get one you called her a ' perfect treasure,'
and flouted her in your friends' faces as a
model of what their servants ought to be,
till in time she grew to be your mistress,
and no servant at all. When you got a
bad one you put up with her, for fear that
in the exchange you might chance to get a
worse. My own position was singularly un-
fortunate in this respect, since most of my
neighbours kept a footman, and I had not
even a page-boy ; and you all know what
an objection young persons in service have
to coming to a place where there is no
gentleman's society. Under these unpleasant


(•ircumstances, I once found myself for six
weeks without a parlour-maid. It is a more
difficult situation to get filled than my cousin
here, with her butler and footman, has any
idea of; for a young woman must have
strength to bring up the dinner-tray from
the kitchen, and dexterity to lay the cloth
and wait, and a good address when answer-
ing the door. I once lost my best china
dinner-service (all but the butter-boat)
through a slip on the stairs, and my best
friend through a slap on the face, which
Matilda Jane, being in liquor, administered
to her in the hall. After which it was that
the interregnum of which I have sj^oken
took place. I really didn't dare advertise
for another parlour-maid, lest I should get
that dreadful young woman's counterpart,
but made my want known to my acquaint-
ances, and waited till I should hear of some
one elio;ible throuo^h them. And at last I
did so. The husband of an old school
friend of mine being appointed to a colonial

N 2


bishopric, she wrote to me to say that their
establishment in England was to be broken
lip, and that one of the pieces was a ' per-
fect treasure ' of a parlour-maid. She had
tried to prevail upon the girl to accompany
her to the Caribbean Islands, which were
situated in her husband's see ; but Emily
had heard some foolish stories about canni-
balism, and preferred to remain in England,
for which one could hardly blame her. ^ I
have no fault whatever to find with Emily
Seton,' wrote my friend, ' except that she
is absurdly afraid of being like Hood's school-
fellow, " scraped to death with oyster-shells
among the Caribbees.'" My friend's husband
tvas afterwards killed and eaten alive, and
the whole family 'potted,' by-the-by, though
that is neither here nor there, and I only
mention it as an incidental proof of Emily's

" Let me attempt to describe to you
that admirable young woman. She had
beautiful brown hair, always kept in perfect


order, but witliout the least attemjDt to imitate
her betters by the addition of frisettes or
chignons ; her eyes were brown also, and
very soft and pleasing ; her features, though
far from regular, were well shaped ; and her
expression bright and intelligent. Her dress,
which would, of course, have been the index
(^f her character, told nothing, because she

was m mournmg.

" ' I am afraid you have been in trouble,
Emily Seton,' said I, at our first meet-

" 'Yes, madam, I have had the misfortune
to lose a friend,' replied she.

" And I asked no more questions about
it. By her making use of the word ' friend,
I naturally understood her to mean her lover,
and though I pitied her, poor soul, I could
not help congratulating myself on the cir-
cumstance ; for when such a misfortune
happens, one is generally certain of retaining
even a good-looking young person's services
— so far, that is, as mankind are concerned —


for six montlis or so at least. In these
days one can scarcely hope for more. How-
ever, Emily remained with me much longer
than that, and never once put off her
mourning, whether because black wears well,
or because she knew that it became her, you
shall judge for yourselves when you have
heard all.

" To all my questions she gave the most
satisfactory replies, and I was about to
signify that our interview was at an end,
when, with a little hesitation, she observed,
' By-the-by, madam, I suppose Mrs. Quiver-
full gave you to understand about my hour
to myself ? '

'''Your hour to yourself? What do
you mean, my good girl ? Mrs. Quiverfull
never said a word about it ! '

" ' She always allowed it to me, ma'am :
one hour, in the middle of the day — or at
all events by daylight — to myself; that is
absolutely indispensable.'

" ' I never heard of such a singular pro-


position, Emily Seton/ was my reply. ' You
will have your Sunday out, of course.'

" ' I don't care at all about that, ma'am,
thank you,' interrupted she. 'I don't wish
to go out on Sundays ; but one hour every
day to myself is what I must have.'

^^'Oh, I see,' thought I; ^ this is a
Methodist. She won't go out on Sunday,
which is a self-abnegation I have never
known in one of her class ; and she wants
an hour a day for prayer and meditation.
She must, indeed, be a perfect treasure, for
Mrs. QuiverfuU, with her High-Church notions,
to have kept such a girl in her service.'

'"Well, Emily Seton,' said I, 'this is
an arrangement which I had not expected,
and will certainly be very inconvenient, but
nevertheless you shall have your hour.'

" As I had done without a parlour-maid
for the whole day for six weeks, I could
surely do without one, was my reflection,
for a single hour ; and then she was in all
other respects so exceedingly suitable. My


only fear was that, l)eiiig a Methodist, I
should not keep her for six months certain,
because of the men. I need not, however,
have disturbed myself with any such appre-
hensions. So far from encouraging the other
sex, she kept them at a great distance, and
when I gave my little dinner-parties — which,
after six weeks of inaction, during which my
friends had been very hospitable, it became
necessary for me to do — she steadily refused
all offers of male assistance at the table.
She begged me neither to ask my guests to
bring their footmen nor to hire our green-
grocer, though a very handy man, and whom
you would never know from a regular butler
except for his thumbs coming through his
Berlin gloves. She could wait on half-a-
dozen persons loell, she said, and with the
housemaid's help — ^wliom, by-the-by, she
taught so excellently that, after Emilys de-
parture, she took her place — even on eight,
which was the largest number that my dining-
room would accommodate. No ' cousin ' ever


called to see Emily Seton ; nor did she
ever ask for a day's holiday, nor for those
few hours in the evenino; 'to visit an ao-ed
relative/ with which touching request we
are all of us so familiar. She was a
favourite in the household, though she kept
herself to herself in an unusual degree : she
never gossiped ; never retailed below-stairs
the conversation she had heard above, and
this was the more singular since not a word
and scarcely a look escaped her. Her eyes,
her ears, were everywhere, so that no one
had to ask for anything to drink or eat.
As to talk upon general subjects, I knew
that nothing was lost upon her, because she
would guide herself both with respect to
myself and others by any hint let fall
respecting attendance or service, though by
no means addressed to or even intended for
herself. In a word, then, Emily Seton would
have been just perfection as a parlour-maid
but for that inconvenient stipulation of hers
— the one hour to herself, from three till


four — wliicli slie never waived, no matter
what the stress upon her services, nor in-
termitted for a single day. At three precisely,
immediately after the kitchen dinner, she
went up to her own room and locked the
door, and at four precisely she came out
again and resumed her business as if there
had been no intermission of it. Visitors
might call in the meanwhile, or her bell
might be rung by some guest staying in
the house, but they did not in the least
disturb this irrevocable arrangement. She
could not be a Methodist, because she went
to church, did not mind bringing up hot
dinners on a Sunday, and took in one of
Mr. Dickens's novels (as I was told by the
cook) in monthly parts ; and what she did
with herself during that mysterious hour
was a question that was ivearing my heart

"" I should rather think it was," said all
the ladies on the ottoman but two.

" I think / can guess what was her occu-


pation," said Lady Stalkingham, severely.
*' Your piece of perfection kept a bottle of
spirits in her bed-room."

" Lor' bless you, my lady, nothing of the
kind ; my Emily bated the very smell of

" Xo, no ; it was dress," said the rector's
wife, " not drink. Your perfect treasure was
doing her beautiful hair, and arranging her
spotless cuffs and collar against the time when
her ']\Ir. Right ' should come."

" Both wrong," answered Miss Flutter,
€urtly, a little put out, I think, by these
commonplace elucidations of a mystery which
had baffled her for so many months; "you
would never guess it if you guessed from
now till doomsday. The girl was under
my own roof, remember — under my own eye
— and all the household were equally curious
to get at her secret. Drink and dress, of
course, occurred to us, but each of those
would have had its results : she was as grave
and sober after her hour's retirement as before,


and there was not the least alteration in her

For my part, I began to think that
the poor girl was a poetess, or something
(peer of that sort ; but when I taxed her
with writing verses she only replied, with
her quiet smile, ' Indeed, ma'am, I wish I
could/ which, although not a sensible re-
joinder, was so far satisfactory, that it showed
she didn't.

"Well, ladies, I don't mind owning to
you, since we are all of the same sex here,
that my excessive curiosity at last got the
better of my feelings as a gentlewoman. I
was resolved at all hazards to get to the
bottom of this mystery, and "

"You looked through the key-hole, of
course !" exclaimed Lady Stalkingham, greatly

" I tried to look through the key-hole,,
your ladyship, but she had stopped it up.
I listened outside the door, and heard voices-


''Ah, that was it, was it?" said the
rector's wife. " Well, to tell you the truth,
I suspected it from the first."

'' But it was nothing of the kind, madam,"'
•continued Miss Flutter, drily. " Emily Seton
was incapable of an impropriety, and both
the voices were her o^ii. Unhappily, from
the same cause that prevented my seeing
what she was at, I was unable to catch
what she said, and my curiosity was whetted
to such a pitch that I determined upon a
course of action which I blush to relate.
There was a cupboard in the room."

"And you hid there!" ejaculated the
rector's wife. " Well, it was very natural."

" It was absolutely necessary, madam ;
if I had not done so I should have had
brain-fever. Yes ; I went softly upstairs to
the attics at two-forty-five and hid myself
in Emily's cupboard, and at three o'clock
she came into her room as usual and locked
the door.

"By that time I was thoroughly ashamed


of myself. If slie liad opened the cupboard
she might, I am sure, have knocked me down
with a feather, and I felt that I deserved to
be knocked down with something much
harder. But still, since I was there, it was
no use to shut my eyes ; and I stared through
a crack in the panel at the proceedings I
am about to relate as hard as I could stare.
'' In the first place she took down her
bonnet and shawl, and put them on before
the looking-glass with the greatest care.
Then she drew on her gloves, and took up
a parasol and a little church-service I had
given her, and began to walk slowly round
the room. Of course I then thought she was
mad — some sort of relictions fanatic, that
always prayed with a bonnet and shawl on
— and you may conceive my terror when
she knocked at the cupboard door with her
parasol, and inquired whether / was at home
there. Yes : she asked, just as a lady asks
of a footman, ' Is Miss Flutter at home V
and I felt my heart in my mouth and my


brains nowhere as she did so. To mj intense
relief, however, she did not open the door,
but sat down just outside (imagine my
feelings !) and began to carry on a conver-
sation with me — only she did it all herself
— in the followino; fashion :


" ' What lovely weather we have been
having lately. Miss Flutter '/

" * Yes, indeed ; it makes me quite long
for the countrv. When are you o-oino- out
of town ? '

'•'Then, after a pause, * The Larkinses'
(these were friends of mine) 'are going to
Brighton, I hear. Where do you think of
spending the autumn V

"'At Torquay, if I can get reasonable
lodgings. Everything is so very dear there,
however. What a beautiful shawl you have !
Is it Indian V

" ' Yes ; it was a present from dear old
General Mulligatawny,' &c., &c.

"It was not until she had been going

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