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I shall be quite at my ease, even at Lord Darmaya's house."
“ Are you not going to ride, Duke?” said Mrs. Montague, entering; " it is such a lovely morning for a gallop in the Park; and you promised Baptiste to meet him."
“ Did I ?-but my horse is lame, and I have so much to do this morning.” Will you drive with
Miss De Lastre?" she continued.
“ Not yet, surely,” rejoined the Duke ; “ four o'clock will be quite soon enough. Ellen hates shopping; and I have brought her the new opera, which she is just going to play. The harp is tuned, and I am desirous of hear
“Oh! very well,” Mrs. Montague repeated, with a disappointed air: “ then I must go by myself: it is so much pleasanter to have a companion when one goes shopping; and I should have been guided by Miss De Lastre’s judgment about a turban I've some idea of.”
“ Pray have it,” Lorevaine urged; “ go and secure it, for you know we all think turbans become you; and they are so much the fashion.”
“ That's true,” replied Mrs. Montague ; “ and French things are snapped up in a minute; only I wish Miss De Lastre could have have seen it ere I fully determined, as it strikes me that the tassel is too large.”
Receiving no answer, and being interrupted by the tuning of the instrument, she examined her shopping purse, and hastened away.
“ Is this music really pretty ?” Ellen enquired at the termination of a full hour, as she drew the harp towards her.
“I've done all my commissions at last,” Mrs. Montague informed them, bursting into the room, looking like a walking muff, so wrapped up in furs and shawls; “ but it takes time to execute them properly, and I was afraid you would think me beyond my hour; it is now five o'clock. Have you learnt the opera ? Is it fine ? But I see you 've come back to the same song that I left you about to try—Voce d'Angelo. Is it difficult? though you seem to decypher at sight, do you not ?"
“ The introduction to the opera is pretty," said Ellen, striking a chord as a deep blush covered her cheek. The introduction was all
she could answer for ; Lorevaine was holding the newspaper up, as if reading.
66 You must do a little commission for me, Arthur,” Mrs. Montague rejoined : you
dine with Mrs. Bredel ; mind you enforce her coming to me this evening; she is a bas bleu ; tell her she will meet only our own favourites. Say also that she guessed rightly about that poem being dedicated to me; and you can bring her early.”
“ I am not going to dine with Mrs. Bredel to-day,” Lorevaine replied.
“ Not going! Why here's your card; surely you won't send an excuse when she depends on
“ It is gone,” he subjoined ; " and I mean to go to Darmaya's instead. Ellen has never been there yet; and it is just the same to Mrs. Bredel whether I wait upon her to-day or a month hence."
“ Well !” said Mrs. Montague gravely ; I wish, as you could get off, you had given me the support of your presence; for it so happens, as I told you at breakfast, we are a complete female coterie, in want of a beau or two, and you would have been most acceptable,
particularly as Baptiste has chosen to change his day also for going to the C-'s, from whence he could have returned early : he is also going to Darmaya House. But you will perhaps oblige me by coming home very soon to my soirée, all of you ?”
“ It is such a late affair," Lorevaine said, " that I am sure we cannot come away.”
“ Well then I must be sacrificed to-night, I see !” she exclaimed with chagrin ; “ but my next party, really you shall attend. By the by, Miss De Lastre, I met at the milliner's some friends of yours, who introduced themselves to me. Really, very good-natured persons; and of some little taste. The lady gave her opinion on my cap and turban admirably; and Mr. Mac Vint called up my carriage, and put me in free from pressure. I desired them to come, thinking you would be sure to be home in time. Who are they?"
Ellen laughed, and explained their history rather favourably.
“ Oh! City persons, but very affluent, you say; and a man is useful who does not give himself airs, and is unassuming, like Mr. MacVint. Lady Delainey came in, and they in
troduced themselves to her, I hardly know how,-on her talking of Lady Belnovine, I believe; and Mr. Murphy MacVint said he had known Lord Vahl, I think, in Paris."
« Oh! do be civil to them,” Ellen said ;
they will enliven your circle, for they talk a Vast deal, and may amuse you.
But do not introduce them as my particular friends, for they are not; only, as relations of dear Fanny Wardley, of course I wish them well.”
I never patronise out of charity,” Mrs. Montague continued, “ but prefer the recherchés impossibles ; though, really, I am rather prepossessed by these two, for they were extremely gratified by my consulting them. And then Mr. Mac Vint must be intime with Vahl, for he said they had a bet together, which he wanted to discharge. Lady Delainey has asked him to dine with Vahl to-morrow."
At half past six, Lady Belnovine's vis-à-vis arrived for Ellen. “ Am I to go alone ?” she asked gravely.
Certainly," replied Mrs. Montague ; "you cannot take the Duke, and Baptiste is not come