THE CHIMNEY CORNER.
HOW I BECAME THE FASHION. At this they, all laughed, and Lord, •;> Snappington said would I honor him. • by making use of ; his ? He didn’t want it for the rest of the afternoon if I liked to drive. He was so pressing that I really couldn’t refuse to go to Inverness Terrace in it, although I : hardly expected the wonderful footman to know where it was. ■ I declare when ; i found; myself in. 1 the carriage quite alone I rubbed my eyes and pinched my fingers. I .could ■' hardly help thinking that I :had fallen .-..T asleep and had dreamt all this, but just ;■!-> as I was pinching myself hard I saw ’ Charley and Matilda, standing ~ oil pavement in looking very ' hot • and uncomfortable, I put my % head out of the' window and calledtto ; j the grand coachman to stop. , The man looked at me very wickedly, r but I didn’t care. I jumped out/and' never felt more pleased than when I got hold of Charley’s arm , and the fine carriage had driven away empty. ; - Anything , like! the ' amazement .ofi ./ Charley and Matilda, when they, heard , my adventure, I never saw! They/ wouldn’t make head nor/tail of it any! ,!! more than myself ; only one thing was „ clear to me, that T must get home ‘andi t r have, something'to eat I was so faint ;V with excitement and hunger. We all
made up our minds that it was a - take of some kind. We wen; r r- filly through the catalogue, but tb r s nothing there. Charley proposed running into Mrs. Smithers at number 10 (she sets up to be artistic), but Matilda said no— not on any account —the thing was to keep our own counsel. Matilda was all for us going to the Duchess’s. She said it didn’t matter, mistake or no mistake. She had asked me to her house in my own proper person and under my own proper name, and there was no imposition or forcing myself on my side. Charley said the same, and added that at all events it would be fun—so we went. Charley burst out laughing in the carriage—he said his godfather's wife would get a fit when she had heard that we had been to Cranberry House. But I think he got nervous when he was actually inside. I know I felt ready to sink into the earth when we walked up the grand staircase through lines of powdered footmen. It seemed to me so utterly absurd. The first person I saw was Lord Snappington near the door. He seemed like an old friend : and presently Colonel Beaulieu joined us. He seemed to know Charley very well,although Charley says they haven’t done more than nod these ten years, but he was very friendly, and asked us to drive down on his coach to the Orleans next day. I was very much pleased, for Charley had been wishing to go and—so had I. After a little time Winton came up . in a great fuss, and said the Duchess was asking for me, and that I was to go into the boudoir. I didn’t, of course, know where that was, but Lord Snappingten gave me his arm and said he would take me there. As we walked along I heard a great many people whispering together : “ There she is on , Lord Snappington’s arm.” I was dying i to know what it all meant, and would have asked Lord Snappington, then and ! there, only that Matilda’s last words : had been; “ Mind you ask no questions. Just take everything as it comes.” Still : I think I would have said something, but just then we got into the boudoir, and there was the same iady I had seen in the morning, only looking much 1 grander, and with the most lovely dia- 1 monds on her head. She had about twenty other ladies and gentlemen with a her, and she was talking to a personage whom I recognized at once, and my knees knocked together with fright.
“Oh ! here is Mrs. Redcar!” cried the Duchess; " now we have her we shall be all right.” The certain person put a glass in his eye and looked at me : “ Fond of swinging, Mrs Redcar !” much in the manner Charley would have said it. And then every one began to laugh. I laughed too, - although I had no idea why. “ Do you swing much ?” the person- . age went on, still surveying me through the glass earnestly. I hadn’t swung since I was a child, ■ and I thought it a very odd question, but, before I had time to answer, the • Duchess struck in. “My swinging party comes off on the 20th, and I have given directions to have a rose colored swing put up for Mrs Redcar.” There was a general chorus of approbation, and I really began to think I - had got among a set of lunatics. J ust then some music began in the next room, and there was a move toward it. The certain person lingered a moment; “ Duchess ! I shall certainly come - to your swinging party on the 20th for ' the pleasure of seeing Mrs Redcar in . the rose-colored swing.” He smiled - pleasantly at me as he spoke, did this Great Man, and strolled lazily out of ' the boudoir. When he was gone every one crowded round me. lam sure I made twenty acquaintances and had twenty invitations in as many minutes. , All the rest of the evening was one whirl of pleasure. Charley enjoyed it ‘ quite as much as I did, and we both ; agreed that after all good company is nicer than and quite as cheap as any other. In the middle of the night Charley aiwoke me by another loud fit of laughter. “I can’t help it, Beauty,” he said, “ but I can’t get over godfather’s wife when she hears of our being on easy terms with the best in the land.” It was most surprising. There was certainly no doubt on that point. The next morning we had just done breakfast, when, to our surprise, Charley’s godfather’s wife drove up. Matilda had just time to give us a word of caution when she came in. all laces and ribbons, bangles and chains—so unlike the Duchess. She made straight at me. "My dear,” she said, and kissed me on both cheeks ; “ how sly of you! ” and then she kissed me again.
Just then there came another knock at the door, and one of Charley’s uncles (a very great manufacturer, with works at the East End) was announced. He was a good man, and I liked him, but his face was extra long this morning. He took Charley and me aside : “Is this true?” he said, and he thrust a copy of the Whitehall Review into my hand, pointing this paragraph : ' “ I am glad to tell my readers that the charming original of Monsieur Henri Masse’s famous picture of “ Love in a Swing” is among us. She is not a Frenchwoman, but English born and bred —Mrs. Redcar, wife of Captain Charles Redcar, late of the 10th Regiment ; and we may well be proud of our lovely countrywoman. This puts an end to the countless stories which have been floating about since the picture appeared. It is to the Duchess of Cranberry (Monsieur Masse’s old friend) that we owe this addition to the ranks of the Beauties. Mrs. Redcar appears under the Duchess’ wing. She made her debut at the Cranberry House soiree last night, and was hugely admired.” So much for the truth of. report. After all, then, there was no harm in it, and although at first I didn’t like sailing under false colors, still Matilda persuaded me it rvould be foolish to make a fuss: I had only to hold my tongue and let the fashionable world and the fashionable newspapers tell as many lies as they pleased. I did so. 1 became the fashion. After the Duchess’ swinging party on the 20th of June, 1879, my position was assured. No one can be more fashionable than I am. Under Matilda’s directions, lam trying hard to push Charley on. If I succeed I will tell you all about it.— Whitehall Review. ‘\Concluded.) .
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Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 213, 10 December 1880
THE CHIMNEY CORNER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 213, 10 December 1880
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