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voured candidate to the hustings ; and Celestina chose to be of their party.
At one o'clock doctor Hargrave's coach was announced; and the four ladies set out in it to the Priory, for Mrs. Hargrave to pay her compliments to lady Gaythorn.
“ Does her ladyship never call upon you, Matilda ?” asked Mrs. Goodwin.
“ I wonder, then, she has not called upon your female guests, knowing my lord has invited them to dinner at the Priory, or at least seconded his invitation.”
“ La, Harriot! she never thinks of such forms. She is a charming creature, but very odd. Strangers sometimes think her rude and ill-bred; but people who know her don't mind her, as it is her way.”
“ To be rude!” said Mrs. Goodwin, smiling “ Well, was I a resident here, I would not go to the Priory upon lord Gaythorn's invitation solely: but as Miss De Clifford and myself are only birds of passage, it matters not, and we will have as much amusement as we can.”
“Were lady Gaythorn's singularities solely comprised in her inattention to the forms of good-breeding ?” Julia inquired.
“ No, no,” replied Mrs. Hargrave" she is eccentric in every thing she says and does. She is very beautiful, and only four and twenty. She is my lord's second wife, and cares as little for him, as he now does for her, though he married her for love two years ago. She was an honourable, without fortune: but she is a sweet creature, although she seems to have no ideas about even the common forms of society. But she is very amiable; and when in a gay humour, she is as lively and wild as Celestina.”
“ That must be very delightful, indeed,” said Mrs. Goodwin.
They now arrived at the Priory : Mrs. Hargrave was admitted, and the rest of the party remained in the carriage. Mrs. Hargrave's visit was pretty long, and wearied the patience of the ladies in waiting ; but her ladyship was in high spirits, “ and so agreeable and so droll!” Mrs. Hargrave reentered her carriage quite exhausted by laughter.
They now proceeded to pay several visits in the neighbourhood, but were not admitted anywhere, as the ladies were all gone to the hustings.
" How vulgar the people all are!" cried Mrs. Hargrave, “ to run in such a wonderful hurry to see the rareeshow the first day! We shall all go to-morrow, as it will then be style; for lady Gaythorn goes to-morrow.”
At length they completed their morning visits and airing, returned home, got something to eat, to enable them to wait for the evening's dinner; and in due time they all retired to dress. At the toilet of our heroine Mrs. Goodwin failed not to preside, lest Biddy O'Connor should not succeed in her department, and that one of the beautiful new muslin dresses should not be put on to every advantage. At length Julia's toilet was finished, and Mrs. Goodwin thought, in her own mind, that Fitzroy must this day be completely vanquished.
pure country air, the exercise she had taken, the constant amusement and change of scene, by withdrawing her thoughts from gloomy retrospections, with two nights of tranquil, undisturbed repose, had all com
bined to improve our heroine's looks in an astonishingly-visible degree ; and most strikingly elegant and lovely she entered the drawing-room at the Priory, where numerous guests were already assembled-for Mrs. Hargrave thoughtit stylish always to be last—but upon this day she seemed to have lost her charter, for, late as she came, number of the company arrived after her party; nor was lord Gaythorn himself in the room.
Fitzroy was standing near the door, telling the high sheriff and Mr. Smith (one of his brother-candidates) something of consequence, as the rectory party entered, when suddenly he lost the thread of his discourse --he hesitated-he stammered ;--the sheriff listened attentively. Mr. Smith (who was a little longer than a fashionable fan) raised himself on tiptoe to peer in his face, to see if he was taken ill, and beheld the eyes of Fitzroy fascinated by, and with his whole thoughts fixed upon, the beautiful Julia De Clifford, as she moved to her seat, about half-way up the room, where Mrs. Hargrave placed herself and party,
Well, sir,” said the sheriff, “ I am all attention."
“ So is Mr. Fitzroy,” said Mr. Smith, archly.
This remark brought Fitzroy to himself, and he gravely went on with the subject he was before engaged in.
Matilda,” said Mrs. Goodwin, “ are we not to be presented to the lady of the mansion?”
“ No," replied Mrs. Hargrave: “it is not the way of the house.
of the house. She knows not half the company here, nor desires to know them. She only notices her guests as she is in the humour, and her guests are not to notice her.–At present I see she is dozing.”
Mrs. Goodwin and Julia now looked to the upper end of the room, and saw, leaning back on a sofa, with her feet upon a Turkish cushion, a very beautiful young woman (extremely pale), carelessly dressed, with her eyes closed, and a book lying open on her lap.
“ Is this the new school?” said Mrs. Goodwin : “ if it is, I have lived long enough out of the world to be amazed at it.”
“ Not absolutely," returned her sister ; “ but ease without ceremony is the present mode.”