Upon which I was folded fondly against a mosaic brooch containing a lock of hair of the late Mr. Gurrage.
It says a great deal for the unassailable dignity of grandmamma that she did not share the same fate. She, however, escaped with only numerous hand-shakings.
“He is, indeed, to be congratulated, votre fils, madame,” the Marquis said, on being presented.
“And the young lady, too, me dear sir. A better husband than me boy’ll make there is not in England—though his old mother says it.”
Grandmamma behaved with the stiffest decorum. She suggested that we—the young girls—should walk in the garden, while she had some conversation with Mrs. Gurrage and Augustus.
Miss Hoad and I left the room. Her name is Amelia. She looked like a turkey’s egg, just that yellowish white with freckles.
“I hope you will be good to Gussie,” she said, as we walked demurely along the path. “He is a dear fellow when you know him, though a bit masterful.”
“Gussie’s awfully spoony on you,” she went on. “I said to aunt weeks ago I knew what was up,” she giggled.
I bowed again.
“I say, he’ll give you a bouquet for the ball to-night; we are going into Tilchester now to fetch it.”
I could not bow a third time, so I said:
“Is not a bouquet rather in the way of dancing? I have never been to a ball yet.”
“Never been to a ball? My! Well I’ve never had a bouquet, so I can’t say. If you have any one sweet on you I suppose they send them, but I have always been too busy with aunt to think about that.”
Poor Miss Hoad!
When they had gone—kept behind grandmamma’s chair, and so only received a squeeze of the hand from my betrothed—grandmamma told me she would be obliged to forego the pleasure of herself taking me to the ball to-night, but the Marquis would accompany me, and Mrs. Gurrage would chaperon me there. So, after all, I am going with Mrs. Gurrage! Grandmamma also added that she had explained the circumstances of her health to them, and that Augustus had suggested that the wedding should take place with the shortest delay possible.
“I have told them your want of dot,” she said, “and I must say for these bourgeois they seemed to find that a matter of no importance. But they do not in the least realize the honor you are doing them. That must be for you as a private consolation. I have stipulated, as my time is limited, that I shall have you as much to myself as possible during the month that must elapse before you can collect a trousseau.”
For that mercy, how grateful I felt to grandmamma!
It is difficult to judge of a thing when your mind is prejudiced on any point. Balls may be delightful, but my first ball contained hours which I can only look back upon as a nightmare.