And here, for once in her life, Beatrice was perfectly agreed with her grandmamma, and she came to life again, and sat forward to join in the universal condemnation of waltzes and polkas that was going on round the table.
With this drop of consolation to her, the party broke up, and Jessie, as she walked home to Sutton Leigh, found great solace in determining within herself that at any rate waltzing was not half so bad as dressing up and play-acting, which she was sure her mamma would never approve.
Beatrice came to her aunt’s room, when they went upstairs, and petitioned for a little talk, and Mrs. Frederick Langford, with kind pity for her present motherless condition, accepted her visit, and even allowed her to outstay Bennet, during whose operations the discussion of the charade, and the history of the preparations and contrivances gave subject to a very animated conversation.
Then came matters of more interest. What Beatrice seemed above all to wish for, was to relieve herself by the expression of her intense dislike to the ball, and all the company, very nearly without exception, and there were few elders to whom a young damsel could talk so much without restraint as to Aunt Mary.
The waltzing, too, how glad she was that grandmamma had forbidden it, and here Henrietta chimed in. She had never seen waltzing before; had only heard of it as people in their quiet homes hear and think of the doings of the fashionable world, and in her simplicity was perfectly shocked and amazed at Jessie, a sort of relation, practising it and pleading for it.
“My dear!” said Beatrice, laughing, “I do not know what you would do if you were me, when there is Matilda St. Leger polka-ing away half the days of her life.”
“Yes, but Lady Matilda is a regular fashionable young lady.”
“Ay, and so is Jessie at heart. It is the elegance, and the air, and the society that are wanting, not the will. It is the circumstances that make the difference, not the temper.”
“Quite true, Busy Bee,” said her aunt, “temper may be the same in very different circumstances.”
“But it is very curious, mamma,” said Henrietta, “how people can be particular in one point, and not in another. Now, Bee, I beg your pardon, only I know you don’t mind it, Jessie did not approve of your skating.”
“Yes,” said Beatrice, “every one has scruples of his own, and laughs at those of other people.”
“Which I think ought to teach Busy Bees to be rather less stinging,” said Aunt Mary.
“But then, mamma,” said Henrietta, “we must hold to the right scruples, and what are they? I do not suppose that in reality Jessie is less— less desirous of avoiding all that verges towards a want of propriety then we are, yet she waltzes. Now we were brought up to dislike such things.”
“O, it is just according to what you are brought up to,” said Beatrice. “A Turkish lady despises us for showing our faces: it is just as you think it.”