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sidered constancy as the first of human virtues, and what was merely an impulse of love in the girl was fixed as a principle in the woman; Mirabel, on the contrary, leading a life of gaiety, open to all the allurements of beauty and manners, admired by the women, envied by the men, considered constancy as a vulgar virtue ; matrimony as a rude bondage, an insufferable restraint upon his pleasures ; and though not vitiated enough to look upon infidelity as a merit, he least thought it an admissible error, a folly of youth, for which the austerity of age would make ample atonement.
Oriana was in raptures at the idea of his return; yet she was not without anxiety. Mirabel had the reputation of a rake; and, though her good sense whispered that such a character was little likely to contribute to her happiness, love induced her to hope his errors were only venial, and that his regard for her would be as a charm to allure him from all unwarrantable pleasures. Bisarre, another ward of old Monsieur Mirabel's, a lively animated girl, rallied Oriana on her passion, and would have laughed her out of it if possible.
Bisarre was a coquette, who set as little value upon men as Mirabel did upon women, save for her own especial amusement, in turning their various follies into ridicule; and she resolved on playing some of her tricks, both upon Mirabel and his absạrd friend the gallant captain.
When they paid their visit to old Mirabel, he received them with raptures; his boy, Bob, was his pride and joy, and he gazed on his blooming countenance and saucy manners with delight. It was his dear boy, Bob; and all he did or said must be charming. He halloed to the girls to come and welcome the travellers ; “ Here they are,” exclaimed the old
man, come along my wenches, come along my little filberts; look at om, Bob, ayn't they nice girls ? I say, Bob, you shall marry one of them, you yet.”
shall have your choice. Duretete, you shall have your choice too, but Robin must choose first.”
Duretete looked sheepish, and slunk back, while Mirabel eyed them through his glass, with the most provoking indifference.
“Well, Bob, ayn't they nice girls, hey ?" “Umph, yes, sir, pretty well.
“ Pretty well, you dog, ayn't they lovely ?-I say, Bob, which do you like ?”
“I like both, Sir; like 'em both, 'pon honour." “ But which will you marry
?" “ Neither, Sir, I thank you; I am not sufficiently tired
of my life, to give occasion for hanging myself
Old Mirabel was half disposed to be angry at this slight put upon his little girls ; particularly Oriana, whom he knew to be attached to his graceless son. But the archness of his merry countenance, and the elegant carelessness of his manner, disarmed him ; and thinking his “ little filberts” would manage him best, he made an excuse to go away, that he might leave them to make the trial. Oriana felt piqued at Mirabel's indifference; yet trusting it was assumed only, she addressed him, giving him a hint that she hoped he had not forgot the contract.
With the most perfect nonchalance he assured her he had not forgot the least article of her commands ; that he had executed her commissions with the ute most punctuality, and had brought her many curiosities from Italy. Oriana, offended, expressed her displeasure and left the room.
Bisarre had been a close observer of all that passed, though her attention seemed to be exclu. sively fixed on a book, which she was poring over. This circumstance caught the notice of Duretete and the gravity of her look and manner charmed him ; he longed to speak to her, but being afraid, begged Mirabel to enter into conversation : he did so, but with a freedom of allusion to Duretete's admiration which overwhelined the poor captain with confusion. Bisarre, as if unconscious of all that was passing, read aloud some axioms of Plato, to the delight of Duretete and the mirth of Mirabel : and when at length sne condescended to notice them, appeared surprised; declared she did not know any person was present ; looked very demure ; and, making a profound obeisance, left the room with awful reserve and grandeur.
When Oriana and Mirabel next met, the subject of the engagement was again renewed, and she expressed her surprise that he should be so indifferent on a matter of such import to them both. Mirabel treated her with great levity, and with so much indifference that she demanded her contract of marriage, and offered to relinquish his. Mirabel laughed, and told her he would neither marry her, nor return her contract; that she had wisely given up her freedom, and unless it was his pleasure, she should die an old maid. Oriana, provoked, exerted a degree of spirit which surprised Mirabel, and perceiving was really angry, he bid her kiss and be friends; offering to relinquish her pretty little bit of parchment, as he termed it; which, to his still greater surprise, she now positively refused, telling him that as he had roused a woman's spleen, he should feel its effects.
Oriana's pride supported her in his presence; but when alune, she drooped and was wretched. Bisarre, who really loved her, grieved to see her thus unhappy, and determined the very first opportunity to rate him soundly: she did so, but though a high spirited girl, and one who could be an absolute vixen, if occasion required, yet she was no match for Mirabel; he laughed or turned into ridicule every thing she said ; and when absolutely inflamed into rage, he spoke with the most perfect composure of his last night's dreams or of the colour of his new
doublet; and at last, taking up a book, began most vehemently to spout Latin ; she, raging at him the whole time.
But it would have been just as available to bawl against thunder : he laughed at, applauded, and praised the strength of her lungs; and, when he had completely put her out of patience and out of breath, ran and left her. There was something so whimsical, so good-humoured, and so witty in his manners and language, that Bisarre, though angry, was delighted, and could not be surprised at Oriana's infatuation. Poor Duretete, however, suffered for Mirabel's triumphs over her; for, though amused by his vivacity, her pride was a little mortified that he had overpowered her in her strongest weapon of defence, the tongue ; and she resolved to revenge her defeat on the stupid Duretete ; who was smitten by her gravity and profound learning. But be had already confessed to Mirabel, when she was concealed behind a screen, that his designs were not of a matrimonial nature; and she now expected a visit from him, the purport of which, she understood, was to break his mind, and express his admiration. She laid her plans accordingly, and when she knew him to be hid behind the screen, in order to listen to her conversation with some of her young friends, made such a jest of books that he was astonished ; then called in a fiddler, that they might have a dance, at the same time lamenting they had not a man amongst them. Duretete, terrified, was stealing away when Bisarre discovered and seized him : she and her young com
panions, as giddy and hairbrained as herself, drag.
poor captain about ; tossed him from one to another, making him dance till he stumbled and fell. Bisarre then walked him up and down the room till he panted for breath ; and to sum up his mortifications, insisted on his drinking a pint of wine, and giving various toasts, which she pointed out, though it was morning. When he begged to be excused, as drinking wine before dinner gave him a headache; she told him that was not of any consequence ; it was better to have a headache than a heartache, and a slight fit of bile would be of much service to his general health : and when she had teased him to the uttermost, she assumed a grave deportment, put him to the blush by repeating his conversation with Mirabel, where he had declared that his intentions were not honourable, and finally ordered him to quit her présence ; an order which he readily obeyed, running out of the house as eagerly as if he had just made his escape from a den of lions.