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all that sort of thing," we frequently hear said, the French valet standing in the same relation to the bachelor that the French cook does to the householder.
Perhaps the importance may partly arise from a conviction that a French valet is, to all intents and purposes, a valet, a mere coat-brusher and nothing else, while an English “ John” may be required to turn his hand to many things that the aristocracy of servitude could not tolerate.
The rule of service is, the more wages the less work, upon which principle the laziest servant of course is the finest gentleman. We read in the paper
the other day of a butler who considered it beneath him to make punch, though the unfeeling magistrate before whom he appeared did not sympathise in his reasonable objection.
The second wire in Mrs. Dooey's electric telegraph was Mrs. Dripping, her housekeeper. Through her she thought to get her information in a more dispassionate reliable form than direct from the lips of a person whose own feelings might be mixed up in the matter.
In the course of its filtration through Mrs. Dripping's mind, she calculated upon its losing any little over-colouring ; accordingly, she waited until the afternoon following the ball before she made any inquiries ou the subject.
“ And what sort of a dance had Lucy last night ?” at length asked she, having toiled through all the intricacies of housekeeping and eating, by way of a blind to her eagerness.
“Oh, very nice dance, indeed, ma'm,” replied Mrs. Dripping,—“made the acquaintance of the gentleman; of that smart young gentleman,oh, dear, what's his name—shall forget my own next—who's stayin' at the Imperial.”
“ Mr. Rocket ?” eagerly inquired Mrs. Dooey.
“ Rocket's the name,” replied Mrs. Dripping ,—"danced three or four times with him-a French gentleman-very pleasant gentleman-great admirer of the English-English merchants, in particular,” added the cunning fat one, with an inward laugh at the “d-d base mechanic” story which Lucy had retailed with all its incidents.
“And what sort of a master does he say he's got ?" asked Mrs. Dooey.
“Oh, such a nice gentleman,” replied Mrs. Dripping, rubbing her hands down her apron ; “such a nice gentleman — never wears his gloves twice-pays his bills without looking at them---quite the gentleman, in short," added she, a servant's idea of gentility being strongly associated with “standing cheating well.”
“ Is he rich ?” asked Mrs. Dooey.
“ Enormously !" replied Mrs. Dripping. “I really forget the immense sum Lucy said his valet told her his master had; it was French money, to be sure, but it sounded almost impossible.”
French money certainly has that effect, and it is rather important to know whether a person talks in pence or in pounds.
The result of all this was, that new dresses were immediately written off for, to be down the day after but one ; so Mrs. Furbelow's poor apprentices were kept stitching all the Sunday, the only day of the week in which they ever get a mouthful of fresh air, and this notwithstanding Mrs. Dooey is a subscriber to the distressed needle-woman's and other fem ale protecting societies, though, like many of the subscribers, she seems to consider that her protection of them against others entitles her to persecute them herself.
The ball was to be on the Monday; and both on that and the day or two, certain “dear friends” dropped in, and drew the bait of the “smart stranger” quietly past Mrs. Dooey's nose, to see whether she would “rise at it" or not. Mrs. Dooey, however, was a marvellously prudent woman-in her own estimation, at least; and if there was one thing she prided herself on more than another, it was being able to hold her tongue, and Mrs. Bouncer and Mrs. Porker, and even Mrs. Downey herself, went away
with the full conviction that Mrs. Dooey knew nothing about him, and that they would “start fair,” at all events. Our friend, Tom Rocket, therefore, enjoyed that momentary popularity and exemption from "pulling to pieces," so rare, and generally of such short continuance ; for, let but the glove be thrown, and a man is immediately outlawed by the ladies. As it was, not an inquiry was made, not a hint hazarded, not a suspicion raised that he was not every thing that could be wished,” and we have been informed by competent calculators that there were thirty-two young ladies put into the “ slips,”—that is to say, their best dresses,—to run for so unwonted a prize. One of the advantages of watering-places undoubtedly is, that these sort of things are put into training much sooner than they can be elsewhere.
London is a good place for angling for men, for keeping two or three in tow until an anxious mamma finds out what each has; but for quick and ready returns, as Dooey would say, there is no place like a regular, idle, lounging, kill-time, meet at every turn, watering-place, where a man is almost driven into adopting some girl to protect him from the rest.
We will now pass on to the all-important evening of the ball.
Mr. Hornblower's celebrated band of eighteen performers had puffed and blown through two quadrilles and a gallope, when a noise of rustling dresses rose above the pump pattering of the promenaders, and presently the Miss Dooeys entered the room in all the pride of pink satin dresses, trimmed and flounced with an extraordinary quantity of labour, and most tastefully decorated here and there with bunches of roses of a somewhat deeper blush than the dresses. The sneers and frowns of the dowagers had hardly subsided, ere our friend, Rocket, himself was seen pulling on a pair of kid gloves at the door. The pompous Major Slooman, the all-important master of the ceremonies, was presently before him, offering his services. Our friend, like a good general, first claimed the hand of little Miss Downey - a doll-like little thing, extremely amiable, of course, but of no interest to any, save her parents.
“So glad !” burst from half-a-dozen faded wall-flowers, who had been watching the proceedings with intense interest.
Poor Mrs. Dooey's crimson cheeks would hardly accommodate her face with a smile.
Terrible are the trials of a chaperone! Distraction abroad, and contention at home. Mrs. Dooey, however, was a woman of quick mind and ready decision. She had seen too much of the men to believe the
lost because she did not gain the first move.
Girls,” she said, in an under-tone, pressing their arms to her side as she spoke, “ don't engage yourselves beyond this dance.” She would have added, " and, if you can, dance in the same quadrille as Mr. R. ;" but young Mr. Catlap, a very promising young gentleman, lately emerged from Doctor Cantwell's academy, full of the usual stories of school-boy pranks, that being greatly interesting to himself were presumed to be so to the world at large, claimed Maria's hand; and old Mr.
Hoppey, a demure, bald-headed gentleman, who goes dancing on from year's end to year's end, looking for all the world as if he couldn't help himself, took Amelia, bespeaking the others a vis-à-vis.
Great was Mrs. Dooey's exultation when, having returned little Miss Downey to her ecstatic mamma, she saw Mr. Rocket indicating in the
listance his desire to make the acquaintance of the ladies “under the mirror;" and delighted, indeed, was she to see all eyes fastening upon the portly major, as he steered his great stomach through the crowd to obtain her permission.
There was a visible depression of the “Rocket funds” throughout the room, especially among the holders of " stock” in the shape of daughters, though some of them tried to carry it off with a high hand-just as candidates do who lose the show of hands before the hustings. “Nothing in it,” say they, “nothing in it, all the world knows there's nothing in it.” When, however, they gain, they never fail to make a pretty
If we may judge of the ladies' disappointment by their previous exultation it must have been very considerable, and these first steps of the stranger must have been considered of much greater importance than to the uninitiated are apparent.
Having made his best Parisian bow to mamma and her daughters, Mr. Rocket selected Miss Dooey (Maria), who sat on her right, and they were presently in place at the top of a quadrille.
The new dress fitted and floated marvellously ; it was quite a beauty of a dress. Even old Mrs. Curmudgeon, who seldom said a good word for any thing, admitted that it would have been well enough if they had not forgotten to take the basting-threads out of the back. Another Miss Shallow, we believe-quoted the familiar saying that “fine feathers make fine birds,” an admission that the dress, at all events, was good. Let the unprejudiced narrator, however, declare that it was all good, dress, figure, flounce, and every thing. Maria, too, did her best to carry it off, and with head well
and arms well turned, she footed and floated, a perfect impersonification of smartness and activity. Sorely, right sorely, did her agile ease tell upon the countenances of the surrounding spectators.
Having danced her, Mr. Rocket gave Miss Porker a turn before he claimed the hand of the fair Amelia, and having in turn deposited her, he gave Miss Hogg, Miss Jane Fletcher, and Miss Kidd, each a quadrille.
At the close of the ball Mrs. Bite, the great broker's wife, declared she didn't think there was a quarter per cent. difference in any of their chances.
Mr. Rocket carried the diplomacy evinced in the ball-room into his subsequent conduct. Though extremely polite-perhaps rather attentive than otherwise-he neither evinced a stronger partiality for one sister than for another, nor yet carried his attention for the Dooeys beyond what he evinced for sundry other girls. Hence the fat horses and jaunty cockade were quite as often seen scattering the Kensington gravel within the palisades of the drive up to Woodbine House, where the Porkers lived, as pursuing the more straightforward, backwards and forwards course before Belvidere-terrace. All this was greedily noted by the gossips.
The Dooeys enormous money reputation, coupled with their own good. looks and stylish appearance-stylish, at least, when there was nothing
really stylish to contrast them with-made them much too formidable rivals to be favourites with any of the anxious mammas, and many were the calls and ingenious the stories people were good enough to invent for their special annoyance. Mrs. Downey even asserted that Mr. Rocket had offered to Jane Porker and been accepted, hoping to get Mrs. Dooey to expose her own disappointment by abusing him ; but Mrs. Dooey, as we said before, was a marvellously prudent woman, and had played the game too often to be caught in that
way. Then Miss Jaundice, the resident gossip and “know-every-body’saffairs” of the place, who Mrs. Dooey unfortunately had not been able to dine, would drop in to tease her by saying what a nice young man Mr. Rocket was, and how glad she would have been if he had taken a fancy to one of her beautiful daughters, adding, with an air of indifference, “though, to be sure, in a pecuniary point of view, it was better he should take Miss Downey, who, poor thing, had nothing,” which hurt Mrs. Dooey excessively, for, next to a title, there was nothing she was desirous of accomplishing as a man of money, as well on account of the importance wealth gives, as the éclat it confers on successful matronly management, to say nothing of the fact that if one sister marries well, the other is sure to do so also. The marriage of the one pitches the tune, as it were, to which the other is to play up.
The common observation “she needn't mind money, she can afford to marry
for love,” is meant to apply to our friends and not to ourselves. Mrs. Dooey, we say, was hurt at the observation-or rather at the intimation that a “ desirable" had slipped through her fingers, and in the agony of the moment she inquired if “ Miss Jaundice was acquainted with Mr. Rocket ?"
“Why, yes-no-yes-not personally, that's to say I've a half-cousin who was particularly intimate with his family."
“And what does she say about it ?" inquired Mrs. Dooey, unable to restrain her anxiety,
“Oh, most respectable family," replied Miss Jaundice.
Respectable may mean any thing; there cannot be a more vague description than simply saying a man is respectable. Why a chimneysweeper is respectable if he sweeps our chimneys properly and does not steal the spoons. A young man is respectable who pays his tailor and walks arm-in-arm with his sisters to church.
Mrs. Dooey felt all this, and though dreading the answer, she could not refrain from uttering the all-important word "rich ?”
“ Enormously!” exclaimed her tormentor ; "in fact, they say he's the richest commoner in England,” added she.
STATE OF THE DOOEY HEART-MARKET-CHARLES SUMMERLEY.
It is now time that in the exercise of our peculiar privilege, we should let the reader a little more into the state of the Dooey heart-market at this interesting period. Market, we may well call it, for it was a good deal a matter of money.
Maria-Miss Dooey—had had thirteen sweethearts of one sort or another, eleven of whom had yielded offers, and three out of the eleven had been passed on to Dooey and rejected.
Of the remaining two, one was still in “ tow," and the other was one of those hopeless sort of spooneys that no girl can make any thing of, even in Leap-year. The one in tow, however, was of the troublesome order ; and therefore, though Maria had two more men through her hands than Amelia, which, even making allowance for seniority of birth, was more than she was fairly entitled to, Mrs. Dooey was extremely anxious to let her have the run at the Richest Commoner, were it only for the sake of " shaking t’other chap off.” As we have already said, Mr. Rocket had not shown any decided preference for either, and as they were both pretty equal in point of attractions, both fat, fair, and about twenty, Mrs. Dooey calculated, not unreasonably, perhaps, that one would suit Mr. Rocket as well as the other.
Independently of the pertinacity of the youth in tow, Mrs. Dooey had another strong reason for wishing to get rid of him quietly. She had encouraged him unknown to Dooey, and was afraid if she gave him his congé herself, he might appeal to the higher powers ; while if he was supplanted, he would just die out like a flower, whose hour of existence is spent, and be no more heard of.
Maria, following the bright example of her mother, had established a secret correspondence with him through the medium of her maid, our friend Lucy Green, unknown to either parent, so that altogether things were rather in a tangled state at the Dooey country house at Glauberend.
Despite all the assertions of Miss Jaundice and other callers to the contrary, Mrs. Dooey had satisfactorily established to her own mind that Mr. Rocket was still in the market. That he called at other houses where there were girls, was true, but she had it from Mrs. Dripping, who had it from the servants of the respective families, that in no case had the mammas begun to leave the room when he appeared.
That being the case, our fair readers will readily admit that he was clearly any body's game.
Maria, we need hardly say, was desperately in love with Charles Summerly, for such was his name-as desperately, at least, as a girl can be who has been equally attached to a dozen others, and who is perfectly ready to resign the thirteen at her mother's bidding in favour of a fourteen, should the fourteen appear more eligible, but not otherwise. Charles was one of those vivacious, idle, good-looking youths, the delight of the young
and the terror of the old, with which London abounds. Some men are made by their good looks, others are ruined by them—the men who are made by them being generally those who lay the foundation for the superstructure of success in the way of a profession, and not as many suppose, those who rush indiscriminately upon the world with no recommendation but fine features, fine clothes, and agreeable conversation. Women are not caught that way. The most elegant and fascinating man stands no chance whatever if a great molten image of a golden calf of a fellow intrudes himself alongside.
But even without a rival, the mere good-looking idler is liable to rejection at
time. Papa gives mamma a hint-“it won't do—the young man has nothing-never will—no profession either.” Mamma then tries a little banter-asks her daughter what they mean to live upon-how she'll like to sweep the passage-whether she thinks she'll be able to cook a dinner, &c., winding up, perhaps, with some bright illustration of unappropriated