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a very elegant young man of large fortune, (the man and his fortune were both in the moon) but when you approached me, I totally forgot his existence, and now I see him coming to reproach me,-I tremble for the consequences, -I would not for worlds embroil you in a freecaw (fracas) on my account!”
Sir Herbert Sedley could scarce repressa smile at the extreme absurdity of Miss Matilda Williams, but as no infuriated youth approached to call him to account for his monopoly, her fears were soon appeased, and the dance ended. Sedley then hoped that his task was over, but to his cost, he found that his fair partner was of a different way of thinking. She remained tacked to bis arm, and even refused taking any refreshment, being unwilling to release her victim; she was so much accustomed to see her partners take advantage of the first moment of recovered liberty to make their escape, that, although she found Sedley less refractory in his bonds than most of his predecessors, sbe dared not make the experiment.
As poor Sedley was paraded about the rooms, he felt strongly inclined to ask the fair Matilda if she had ever read “Mazeppa," but his halfformed resolution was frustrated by Mrs. Williams, who came up to ask her daughter some question. The kind mother at length concluded by saying,
“ Do you feel tired love ?”
“Not in the slightest degree,” replied her daughter, “when the mind is deeply engaged in intellectual communion, the frame feels not the ills of life."
Just at these words a gallant son of Mars, who had come over to the ball from an adjacent garrison, to exhibit his uniform and his ferocious moustaches to the admiring belles of happened to come swaggering along, trying to look unconscious of the enormous sensation be created. Most unhappily, in passing the fair Matilda Williams, one of his spurs got entangled in the light drapery of her muslin dress, and an alarming rent was the consequence.
Matilda's sentimentality quite vanished at this catastrophe, and turning angrily towards the delinquent, who continued hopping on one leg, the other being still lovingly attached to the dress, she exclaimed, -
“Oh! Captain Melton, how could you commit such a foxpaw (faux pas.)
Poor Captain Melton apologized most humbly, and by the kind intervention of friends he was at length liberated.
Mrs. Williams had met accidentally an old friend whom she had not seen for years, and after a long and animated conversation, she brought him up to her daughter and introduced him.
The old gentleman seized her hand, and shaking it heartily, said,
“I am delighted to renew my acquaintance · with you, my dear—when I last saw you, which is now upwards of thirty years ago, you were a pretty, merry little thing of four or five years old.”
At these terrific words, Matilda nearly sank into the earth ; and turning abruptly from the
kind, warm-hearted old gentleman, she observed to Sedley,
* Really I hardly know which is most intolerable, that man's vulgarity or his sang froy! (sang froid.)
Sedley's attention was arrested by the entrance of a young couple from the refreshment-room, whom he had not before noticed, owing to their late arrival. One of them was George Dallas, who looked the personification of happiness, and the other was a fair, interesting girl, whose countenance appeared familiar to Sedley.
He found that nothing but a desperate stroke could free him from his lovely burthen; he, therefore said to her, with a gracious smile,
“ I am indebted to you, Miss Williams for a most agreeable hour; but you will now excuse me, as I see some old friends, and wish to speak to them.”
He then bowed and vanished, leaving Miss Williams au desespore (désespoir), as she would have said.
Sedley shook Dallas warmly by the hand, and was immediately presented to the young lady on his arm, who proved to be his newly-married wife. Some time after, when he was alone, he told Sedley that he had left the neighbourhood on the discovery of Lady St. John's real position, and had vainly tried to banish her image from his memory. At length the death of Sir Edward St. John had removed the only obstacle between him and happiness, and, within the last few weeks, Louisa had become his bride.
Sedley's heart was oppressed as he contrasted Dallas's happy destiny with his own dreary prospects; and the image of his beloved Teresa, more than ever beloved in spite of all his efforts to quell his feelings, arose forcibly in his mind, and threw a gloom over his spirits for the rest of the evening.
The ball terminated at last, and Sedley thoroughly weary and sick at heart, went to his solitary home.
Alas! for poor Matilda Williams! Her bright dream of fine estates, handsome jointure, and splendid equipages was at an end.