AT eighteen, Miss Murray was
to emerge from the quiet obscurity
of the schoolroom into the full
blaze of the fashionable world
- as much of it, at least, as
could be had out of London; for
her papa could not be persuaded
to leave his rural pleasures
and pursuits, even for a few
weeks' residence in town. She
was to make her debut on the
third of January, at a magnificent
ball, which her mamma proposed
to give to all the nobility and
choice gentry of O- and its neighbourhood
for twenty miles round. Of course,
she looked forward to it with
the wildest impatience, and the
most extravagant anticipations
'Miss Grey,' said she, one
evening, a month before the all-
important day, as I was perusing
a long and extremely interesting
letter of my sister's - which
I had just glanced at in the
morning to see that it contained
no very bad news, and kept till
now, unable before to find a
quiet moment for reading it,
- 'Miss Grey, do put away that
dull, stupid letter, and listen
to me! I'm sure my talk must
be far more amusing than that.'
She seated herself on the low
stool at my feet; and I, suppressing
a sigh of vexation, began to
fold up the epistle.
'You should tell the good people
at home not to bore you with
such long letters,' said she;
'and, above all, do bid them
write on proper note-paper, and
not on those great vulgar sheets.
You should see the charming little
lady-like notes mamma writes
to her friends.'
'The good people
at home,' replied I, 'know
very well that
the longer their letters are,
the better I like them. I should
be very sorry to receive a charming
little lady-like note from any
of them; and I thought you were
too much of a lady yourself,
Miss Murray, to talk about the "vulgarity" of
writing on a large sheet of paper.'
'Well, I only said it to tease
you. But now I want to talk about
the ball; and to tell you that
you positively must put off your
holidays till it is over.'
'Why so? - I shall not be present
at the ball.'
'No, but you will see the rooms
decked out before it begins,
and hear the music, and, above
all, see me in my splendid new
dress. I shall be so charming,
you'll be ready to worship me
- you really must stay.'
'I should like to see you very
much; but I shall have many opportunities
of seeing you equally charming,
on the occasion of some of the
numberless balls and parties
that are to be, and I cannot
disappoint my friends by postponing
my return so long.'
'Oh, never mind your friends!
Tell them we won't let you go.'
'But, to say the truth, it
would be a disappointment to
myself: I long to see them as
much as they to see me - perhaps
'Well, but it is such a short
'Nearly a fortnight by my computation;
and, besides, I cannot bear the
thoughts of a Christmas spent
from home: and, moreover, my
sister is going to be married.'
'Is she - when?'
'Not till next month; but I
want to be there to assist her
in making preparations, and to
make the best of her company
while we have her.'
'Why didn't you tell me before?'
'I've only got the news in
this letter, which you stigmatize
as dull and stupid, and won't
let me read.'
'To whom is she to be married?'
'To Mr. Richardson, the vicar
of a neighbouring parish.'
'Is he rich?'
'No; only comfortable.'
'Is he handsome?'
'No; only decent.'
'No; only middling.'
'Oh, mercy! what a wretch!
What sort of a house is it?'
'A quiet little vicarage, with
an ivy-clad porch, an old-fashioned
garden, and - '
'Oh, stop! - you'll make me
sick. How CAN she bear it?'
'I expect she'll not only be
able to bear it, but to be very
happy. You did not ask me if
Mr. Richardson were a good, wise,
or amiable man; I could have
answered Yes, to all these questions
- at least so Mary thinks, and
I hope she will not find herself
'But - miserable creature!
how can she think of spending
her life there, cooped up with
that nasty old man; and no hope
'He is not old: he's only six
or seven and thirty; and she
herself is twenty-eight, and
as sober as if she were fifty.'
better then - they're well
matched; but do they call
him the "worthy vicar"?'
'I don't know; but if they
do, I believe he merits the epithet.'
'Mercy, how shocking! and will
she wear a white apron and make
pies and puddings?'
'I don't know about the white
apron, but I dare say she will
make pies and puddings now and
then; but that will be no great
hardship, as she has done it
'And will she go about in a
plain shawl, and a large straw
bonnet, carrying tracts and bone
soup to her husband's poor parishioners?'
'I'm not clear about that;
but I dare say she will do her
best to make them comfortable
in body and mind, in accordance
with our mother's example.'