The Actress in High Life eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 372 pages of information about The Actress in High Life.

“What!” said Lady Mabel.  “Would you have me go scolding and gesticulating at every foreign fellow I meet with, and become notorious throughout Elvas as the British virago?”

“There is no danger of that,” said L’Isle.  “They would only say that you have as much vivacity as a native, and soon begin to understand you.”

“I have made the acquaintance of some ladies of Elvas.  As yet our intercourse has been limited to a few formal visits, and a few set phrases mingled with pantomime.  But some of them are disposed to be very sociable, and, through their teaching, I hope to be able soon to bear my part in the most sprightly and sentimental conversation.  You shall see what an apt scholar I am under the tuition of my own sex.”

“I trust you will be on your guard against cultivating too great an intimacy with these people,” said L’Isle.  “You do not know what Portuguese and Spanish ladies are.”

“What are they?”

“A thorough knowledge of them would only satisfy you that they are gross in language, particularly the Spaniards, indelicate in their habits, careless of propriety, lax in morals, and, with all their grace, vivacity, and elegance, very unfit companions for you.  In short, the purity of mind, true refinement of manners, and scrupulous propriety of conduct we look for in a lady, are almost unknown among them.”

“What a shocking picture you paint of our friends here.  You must know them exceedingly well,” added Lady Mabel, in innocent surprise, “to justify your abusing them so roundly.”

“By report—­only by report,” said L’Isle hastily.

“But I have had many opportunities of judging of the grossness of their conversation and manners.  The Portuguese ladies are not gross in language, like the Spaniards; but are quite on a par with them in essentials, or rather the want of essentials.”

“They are not at all indebted to your report, which has used them very roughly.  You, perhaps, have been unfortunate in the samples you have met with; and, at least, do not know my new friends here in Elvas.”

“I confess that I do not.”

“Yet I must own that you have damped my ardor to cultivate an intimacy with them.  Yet such is the situation of the two or three of our own ladies here, that these allies of ours afford the only female society at my command.”

“In that respect your situation here must seem very strange to you.”

“Strange, indeed, at first—­but now I am getting accustomed to it.  I begin to feel as if I held an official position in the brigade.  I make great progress in knowledge of military affairs—­am quite familiar, as you may perceive, with the details of the last campaign, and begin to understand both the technical language and the slang of our comrades; who give me plenty of their company, and right merry companions they are.  But, perhaps,” said she, looking at him doubtingly, “you may be able to understand me, and excuse my weakness, when I confess that there is still so much of the woman left in me that I do often long to slam the door in the face of the brigade, and have a good long confidential chat with some of my own sex.”

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The Actress in High Life from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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