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Being thus rebuked, I again looked at my book for a moment, and then, yawning, and throwing it down, I said, with considerable impertinence in my manner, 'Of all the young people I ever saw, I think you are the most steady, Miss Carrisforth.
One would think you sixty, rather than sixteen. Are you not tired of this little room and that sewing? Do come out, and walk in the verandah.'
" Amelia made no answer.
“I yawned again, still louder than before. The idea was running in my head, an idea which had been first suggested by Miss Beaumont, (for I had sense enough to think meanly of the rest of my companions,) that there was somewhat of unnecessary harshness or strictness, or I knew not what, in Amelia; and I, accordingly, resolved to try whether I could not free myself from the restraint under which she held me. On her not appearing to notice me when I yawned the second time, I jumped from the bed, slipped on my shoes, which I had taken off, and walked to the door, which I was in the act of opening, when Amelia said, “Where are you going, Clara ?'
<< To walk in the verandah,' I answered, decidedly, or, I should rather say, insolently.
“ • Lie down again, my dear,' said Amelia; ‘for I cannot go with you now.
“I can go by myself,' I answered; “I don't want you to come with me.'
“On this, she repeated her request previously made, that I would return to my tasks.
«• I choose to play now,'I answered, and was proceeding to open the door, when she calmly got up, and, with a strength superior to mine, drew my hand from the door, which she immediately closed and bolted.
“ I then asked her who gave her authority to rule me.
"Your father,' she replied; and if you dispute my authority, I will sit down this minute, and refer the case to him. Understand, Clara, that it is no advantage to me, but, on the contrary, a considerable trouble, to be charged with you as I am. But, as I have undertaken the charge, I will go through it. I will not trifle with your father; I will persevere in what I have engaged to fulfil, the Lord assisting me, not as if I were doing eyeservice, to please men, but as to the Lord.'
“On hearing this, and seeing, at the same time, her stedfastness, I threw myself down again upon my bed, . and sobbed and wept violently.
"While thus occupied about my imaginary sorrows, a person came to the door, to inform Amelia that Mrs. Patterson wished to speak with her. She immediately arose, and, charging me not to leave the room during her absence, went to her governess's apartment.
“ After Amelia had left me, I remained for a while alone, crying and sobbing violently, the noise and laughter still going on in the verandah bencath. At length, I thought I heard a soft step in the adjoining chamber, which sound was followed by a slight shaking of the jalousies near my bed. A short silence then succeeded, and I plainly saw that some one was peeping through the interstices of the wooden blinds. • Who is there?' I said: and immediately the jalousies were thrown up, and a voice answe
wered, “It is only me, Miss Clara.' “ • And who are you? I asked.
“I am Gabrielle, and I am come to offer you a tortoise-shell comb. You were enquiring for one below, to fasten up your hair; and I have now got one for you.'
««0! that is very kind of you, Gabrielle,' I answered, holding out my hand to take it, “very kind indeed!'
"Is Miss Carrisforth in your room, Miss Clara ?' whispered Gabrielle, asking a question which she no doubt could have answered as well as myself.
No,' I said, “she is gone down.'
Sweet, dear Amelia !' returned Gabrielle, how dearly do I love her! I would give all I have in the world to be loved by her in return.'
«• But do tell me, Miss Gabrielle,' I said, “what have you done to offend her?'
«•I cannot say,' she answered, with a deep sigh; • but I am sure that, if she does not love me, it is my own fault, not hers: for she is the sweetest creature in the world, and I am not worthy to wipe her shoes.'
“Yes: but she should not persecute you, Gabrielle,' I answered; "she ought not to hate you. That surely cannot be right.'
"Don't say any thing about me to her, Miss Clara, I beg,' replied Gabrielle. • I shall always love her: but
I have been used to her coldness, and I must submit to my sad fate.'
“ At that moment we heard somebody at the outer door of the room, on which Gabrielle instantly slapped down the jalousies, while I as quickly took my book in my hand; and thus closed my first conversation with this girl.
" At that instant Amelia entered the room, and I was at the same time aware of the breaking up of the party below, to which a confused noise in the chambers above, and in the verandah all around us, immediately succeeded. It was then perhaps three o'clock in the afternoon; and from that time till five, every individual in the house appeared to be engaged in the great business of dressing, with the exception only of Amelia and myself.
• In the chamber on the left of my bed Miss Atkins, and Miss Chatterton, and several others of the elder girls, usually slept; and Miss Chatterton's bed was separated from mine only by the jalousied door through which Gabrielle had spoken to me. I therefore, as I lay, could hear much of what was said in this next room and as this was a kind of amusement for which, at that time, I had a high relish, I took care to avail myself of this privilege, as much as possible, without letting Amelia know what I was about.
“In order, therefore, on the evening above mentioned, that I might hear these edifying discourses to the greatest possible advantage, and yet, at the same time, be unnoticed and unsuspected by Amelia, I pretended to be holding my book in my hand for the purpose of learning my lessons, when my ears and
my in fact, on the other side of the door.
".0 that vile Crawford !' said Miss Chatterton. *Only think, Atkins, of her getting my rose; and I meant this evening to have worn it in my hair with my pink sash and beads. Well, I declare now, is not it provoking?'
roo Why you will be forced to wear pea-green after all,' said Miss Atkins, to please Miss Biddy Jackson.'
"How ill-natured you are, Atkins, now!' returned Miss Chatterton; but I won't, to spite you. I shall wear my purple wreath, and you know I always look well in that.'
Sundry whisperings and titterings then followed; out of which, however, I could make nothing, though I listened with all possible attention: and these continued for some time, till one of the young ladies, I suppose, pinching the other, a loud scream brought Madame de Roseau into the room, to call the delinquents to order with her broken English, which always greatly amused me; though I afterwards had reason to think, that she was more entitled to respect than many others who were in the house.
“But, I suppose, my dear friend,” proceeded Miss Clara Lushington, “ that you are already satisfied with the specimens that I have given you of the conversations of Miss Atkins and Miss Chatterton. I shall, therefore, in future, introduce no more of them than my narrative may actually require.
* At five o'clock, a bell summoned us down to tea, which was this evening prepared in the school-room; the two halls having been got in readiness for company: and I found, that, on this occasion, those of the elder
young ladies who learned to dance were all absent, being engaged with Mrs. Patterson and her company in the inner hall.
“And now, my friend, I am about to mention to you a custom of a most extraordinary nature, at that time prevalent in almost all the schools in and near Calcutta ; a custom, which, no doubt, in a few years hence, will be considered as monstrous and incredible. This is the practice of admitting young gentlemen, who are nearly total strangers, and without any formal invitation, to frequent the schools on dancing-nights, in order that they may form acquaintance with the young ladies.
“I had heard of this custom before, and was there. fore not at all surprised, on being told that there were as many as six or eight of these gentlemen already arrived, and that it was expected they would all join in country-dances as soon as the younger children had taken their lessons.
“The only two young ladies in the house, who did not learn to dance, were Miss Carrisforth and Miss Beaumont, whose friends were, no doubt, possessed of too much delicacy to allow of their mixing in parties of such a nature as that just described. Consequently, they were
the only two elder girls who remained with us in the school-room.
Immediately after tea, Amelia introduced a pleasing little girl to me, one of the youngest of my
schoolfellows, at the same time telling me that she had engaged little Flora to dance with me, and also expressing her desire that I would make a point of choosing no other partner during the evening. So saying, she kissed little Flora, and said, “You will not deceive me; I think that you never yet have done so.'
“I was then left by Amelia to follow the rest of the young people into the hall, whither the tones of violins were at that time calling us.
We found the hall illuminated, the tables removed, and the dancing-master and the musicians assembled. As this was termed a public night, very few of the preliminary lessons were to be given, but we were immediately to enter upon our country-dances. Accordingly, the master had given us the orders to stand up, and I was actually placed opposite to my little partner, whom, by the bye, 1 heartily despised, when Mrs. Patterson, elegantly dressed, entered the hall, advancing with her usual dignity, and followed by her elder pupils, together with several female visitors, and a number of young gentlemen, some of whom were military men belonging to a European regiment lying in Fort-William, others were young gentlemen from Writer's Buildings, besides one or two officers of merchantmen at that time lying in the river.
“ These young men selected their partners from among the elder ladies of the family, and I was not a little mortified to find that not the slightest notice was taken of me, although Gabrielle, who was somewhat shorter than myself, met with a partner in a little midshipman about her own size.
“And now, my dear friend, did I not think that I had already given you sufficient specimens of the follies of Palm-Grove, which was the elegant name of this house in the Circular Road whither I was sent to finish my education, I could introduce to your notice a scene of vanity which must shock every reflecting mind; especially when it is considered that similar occurrences are daily taking place at the Upper Orphan-House, and at other seminaries for young ladies in Calcutta. But I