“The hunter of red deer
now ceases to number
The lonely gray stones on the field of our slumber.—
Fly, stranger! and let not thine eye be reverted.
Why should’st thou see that our fame is departed?”
“Pray, do you play on the harp,” asked the volatile lady, scarcely waiting till the first stanza was ended; “and, apropos, have you a good harp here?”
“We’ve a very sweet spinnet,” said Miss Jacky, “which, in my opinion, is a far superior instrument: and Bella will give us a tune upon it. Bella, my dear, let Lady Juliana hear how well you can play.”
Bella, blushing like a peony rose, retired to a corner of the room, where stood the spinnet; and with great, heavy, trembling hands, began to belabour the unfortunate instrument, while the aunts beat time, and encouraged her to proceed with exclamations of admiration and applause.
“You have done very well, Bella,” said Mrs. Douglas, seeing her preparing to execute another piece, and pitying the poor girl, as well as her auditors. Then whispering Miss Jacky that Lady Juliana looked fatigued, they arose to quit the room.
“Give me your arm, love, to the drawing-room,” said her Ladyship languidly. “And now, pray, don’t be long away,” continued she, as he placed her on the sofa, and returned to the gentlemen.
“You have displaced the mirth,
broke the good meeting,
With most admired disorder.”
THE interval, which seemed of endless duration to the hapless Lady Juliana, was passed by the aunts in giving sage counsel as to the course of life to be pursued by married ladies. Worsted stockings and quilted petticoats were insisted upon as indispensable articles of dress; while it was plainly insinuated that it was utterly impossible any child could be healthy whose mother had not confined her wishes to barley broth and oatmeal porridge.
“Only look at thae young lambs,” said Miss Grizzy, pointing to the five great girls; “see what pickters of health they are! I’m sure I hope, my dear niece, your children will be just the same—only boys, for we are sadly in want of boys. It’s melancholy to think we have not a boy among us, and that a fine auntient race like ours should be dying away for want of male heirs.” And the tears streamed down the cheeks of the good spinster as she spoke.
The entrance of the gentlemen put a stop to the conversation.
Flying to her husband, Lady Juliana began to whisper, in very audible tones, her inquires, whether he had yet got any money—when they were to go away, etc. etc.
“Does your Ladyship choose any tea?” asked Miss Nicky, as she disseminated the little cups of coarse black liquid.
“Tea! oh no, I never drink tea. I’ll take some coffee though; and Psyche doats on a dish of tea.” And she tendered the beverage that had been intended for herself to her favourite.