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    by Maria Edgeworth
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    From Tales and Novels, Volume V.


    John Hodgkinson was an eminent and wealthy Yorkshire grazier, who had no children of his own, but who had brought up in his family Almeria Turnbull, the daughter of his wife by a former husband, a Mr. Turnbull. Mr. Turnbull had also been a grazier, but had not been successful in the management of his affairs, therefore he could not leave his daughter any fortune; and at the death of her mother, she became entirely dependent on her father-in-law. Old Hodgkinson was a whimsical man, who, except in eating and drinking, had no inclination to spend any part of the fortune he had made; but, enjoying the consequence which money confers, endeavoured to increase this importance by keeping all his acquaintance in uncertainty, as to what he called his "testamentary dispositions." Sometimes he hinted that his step-daughter should be a match for the proudest riband in England; sometimes he declared, that he did not know of what use money could be to a woman, except to make her a prey to a fortune-hunter, and that his girl should not be left in a way to be duped.

    As to his daughter's education, that was an affair in which he did not interfere: all that he wished was, that the girl should be kept humble, and have no fine notions put into her head, nor any communication with fine people. He kept company only with men of his own sort; and as he had no taste for any kind of literature, Almeria's time would have hung rather heavy upon her hands, had she been totally confined to his society: but, fortunately for her, there lived in the neighbourhood an elderly gentleman and his daughter, whom her father allowed her to visit. Mr. Elmour was a country gentleman of a moderate fortune, a respectable family, and of a most amiable character: between his daughter Ellen and Miss Turnbull there had subsisted an intimacy from their earliest childhood. The professions of this friendship had hitherto been much the warmest on the part of Almeria; the proofs were, perhaps, the strongest on the side of Ellen. Miss Elmour, as the daughter of a gentleman, whose family had been long settled in the country, was rather more considered than Miss Turnbull, who was the daughter of a grazier, whose money had but lately raised him to the level of gentility. At Mr. Elmour's house Almeria had an opportunity of being in much better company than she could ever have seen at her father's; better company in every respect, but chiefly in the popular, or more properly in the aristocratic sense of the term: her visits had consequently been long and frequent; she appeared to have a peculiar taste for refinement in manners and conversation, and often deplored the want she felt of these at home. She expressed a strong desire to acquire information, and to improve herself in every elegant accomplishment; and Ellen, who was of a character far superior to the little meanness of female competition and jealousy, shared with her friend all the advantages of her situation. Old Hodgkinson never had any books in his house, but such as Almeria borrowed from Mr. Elmour's library. Ellen constantly sent Miss Turnbull all the new publications which her father got from town--she copied for her friend the new music with which she was supplied, showed her every new drawing or print, gave her the advantage of the lessons she received from an excellent drawing master, and let her into those little mysteries of art which masters sometimes sell so dear.

    This was done with perfect readiness and simplicity: Ellen never seemed conscious that she was bestowing a favour; but appeared to consider what she did as matters of course, or as the necessary consequences of friendship. She treated her friend at all times, and in all companies, with that uniform attention and equality of manner, which most people profess, and which so few have strength of mind to practise. Almeria expressed, and probably at this time felt, unbounded gratitude and affection for Ellen; indeed her expressions were sometimes so vehement, that Miss Elmour rallied her for being romantic. Almeria one day declared, that she should wish to pass all the days of her life at Elmour Grove, without seeing any other human creatures but her friend and her friend's father.

    "Your imagination deceives you, my dear Almeria," said Ellen, smiling.

    "It is my heart, not my imagination, that speaks," said Almeria, laying her hand upon her heart, or upon the place where she fancied her heart ought to be.

    "Your understanding will, perhaps, speak a different language by and by, and your heart will not be the worse for it, my good young lady," said old Mr. Elmour.

    Almeria persisted even to tears; and it was not till young Mr. Elmour came home, and till she had spent a few weeks in his company, that she began to admit that three was the number sacred to friendship. Frederick Elmour was a man of honour, talents, spirit, and of a decided character: he was extremely fond of his sister, and was prepossessed in favour of every thing and person that she loved. Her intimate friend was consequently interesting to him; and it must be supposed, that Miss Elmour's praises of Almeria were managed more judiciously than eulogiums usually are, by the effect which they produced. Frederick became attached to Miss Turnbull, though he perceived that, in firmness and dignity of character, she was not equal to his sister. This inferiority did not injure her in his opinion, because it was always acknowledged with so much candour and humility by Almeria, who seemed to look up to her friend as to a being of a superior order. This freedom from envy, and this generous enthusiasm, first touched young Mr. Elmour's heart. Next to possessing his sister's virtues and talents, loving them was, in his opinion, the greatest merit. He thought that a person capable of appreciating and admiring Ellen's character, must be desirous of imitating her; and the similarity of their tastes, opinions, and principles, seemed to him the most secure pledge for his future happiness. Miss Turnbull's fortune, whatever it might be, was an object of no great importance to him: his father, though not opulent, was in easy circumstances, and was "willing," he said, "to deprive himself of some luxuries for the sake of his son, whom he would not controul in the choice of a wife--a choice on which he knew, from his own experience, that the happiness of life so much depends."

    The benevolent old gentleman had peculiar merit in this conduct; because if he had a weakness in the world, it was a prejudice in favour of what is called good family and birth: it had long been the secret wish of his heart that his only son might marry into a family as ancient as his own. Frederick was fully sensible of the sacrifice that his father made of his pride: but that which he was willing to make of what he called his luxuries, his son's affection and sense of justice forbade him to accept. He could not rob his father of any of the comforts of his declining years, whilst in the full vigour of youth it was in his power, by his own exertions, to obtain an independent maintenance. He had been bred to the bar; no expense had been spared by his father in his education, no efforts had been omitted by himself. He was now ready to enter on the duties of his profession with ardour, but without presumption.

    Our heroine must be pardoned by the most prudent, and admired by the most romantic, for being desperately in love with a youth of such a character and such expectations. Whilst the young lady's passion was growing every hour more lively, her old father was growing every hour more lethargic. He had a superstitious dread of making a will, as if it were a preparation for death, which would hasten the fatal moment. Hodgkinson's friends tried to conquer this prejudice: but it was in vain to reason with a man who had never reasoned during the whole of his life about any thing except bullocks. Old Hodgkinson died--that was a matter of no great consequence to any body--but he died without a will, and that was a matter of some importance to his daughter. After searching in every probable and improbable place, there was, at length, found in his own handwriting a memorandum, the beginning of which was in the first leaf of his cookery-book, and the end in the last leaf of his prayer-book. There was some difficulty in deciphering the memorandum, for it was cross-barred with miscellaneous observations in inks of various colours--red, blue, and green. As it is dangerous to garble law papers, we shall lay the document before the public just as it appeared.

    Copy from first leaf of the Cookery-look.

    I John Hodgkinson of Vetch-field, East Riding of Yorkshire, Grazier and so forth, not choosing to style myself Gentleman, though entitled so to do, do hereby certify, that when I can find an honest attorney, it is my intention to make my will and to leave--

    [Here the testator's memorandum was interrupted by a receipt in a diminutive female hand, seemingly written some years before.]

    Mrs. Turnbull's recipe, infallible for all aches, bruises, and strains.

    Take a handful of these herbs following--Wormwood, Sage, Broom-flowers, Clown's-All-heal, Chickweed, Cumphry, Birch, Groundsell, Agremony, Southernwood, Ribwort, Mary Gould leaves, Bramble, Rosemary, Rue, Eldertops, Camomile, Aly Campaigne-root, half a handful of Red Earthworms, two ounces of Cummins-seeds, Deasy-roots, Columbine, Sweet Marjoram, Dandylion, Devil's bit, six pound of May butter, two pound of Sheep suet, half a pound of Deer suet, a quart of salet oil beat well in y' boiling till the oil be green--Then strain--It will be better if you add a dozen of Swallows, and pound all their Feathers, Gizzards, and Heads before boiling--It will cure all aches--[9]

    [Beneath this valuable recipe, Mr. Hodgkinson's testamentary dispositions continued as follows.]

    All I am worth in the world real or personal--

    To Collar a Pig.

    Take a young fat pig, and when he is well scalded, cut off his head, then slit him down the back, take out his bones, lay him in a dish of milk and water, and shift him twice a day--for the rest, turn to page 103.

    To my step-daughter Almeria, who is now at Elmour Grove in her eighteenth year--

    [Written across the above in red ink.]

    Mem'm--I prophecy this third day of August, that the man from Hull will be here to-morrow with fresh mullets.

    And as girls go, I believe a good girl, considering the times--but if she disoblige me by marriage, or otherwise, I hereby revoke the same.

    [Written diagonally in red ink.]

    Mem'm--Weight of the Big Bullock, 90 score, besides offal.

    [The value was so pale it could not be deciphered.]

    And I further intend to except out of my above bequest to my daughter Almeria, the sum of ...

    A fine method to make Punch of Valentia dram. v. page 7.

    Ten thousand pounds, now in Sir Thomas Stock's my banker's hands as a token of remembrance to John Hodgkinson of Hull, on account of his being my namesake, and, I believe, relation--

    * * * * * * *

    [Continuation in the last leaf of the prayer-book.]

    It is my further intention (whenever I find said honest attorney fit for my will) to leave sundry mourning rings with my hair value (blank)--one in particular to Charles Elmour, sen. esquire, and also--

    [Upside down, in red ink.]

    Mem'm--Yorkshire Puddings--Knox says good in my case.

    Hodgkinson late Hannah A Turnbull (my wife) her prayer book, born Dec'r 5th, 1700, died Jan'y 4th, 1760; leaving only behind her, in this world, Almeria Turnbull (my step daughter).

    Also another mourning ring to Frederick, the son of Charles Elmour, Esq. and ditto to Ellen his daughter, if I have hair enough under my wig.

    [Diagonal in red ink.]

    Mem'm--To know from Dr. Knox by return of post what is good against sleep--in my case--

    This is the short of my will--the attorney (when found) will make it long enough.--And I hereby declare, that I will write no other will with my own hand, for man, woman, or child--And that I will and do hereby disinherit any person or persons--male or female--good--bad--or indifferent--who shall take upon them to advise or speak to me about making or writing my will--which is no business of theirs--This my last resolution and memorandum, dated, this 5th of August--reap to-morrow, (glass rising)--1766, and signed with my own hand, same time.

    John Hodgkinson, grazier & so forth.

    * * * * * * *

    Now it happened, that Mr. Hodgkinson's namesake and relation disdained the ten thousand pounds legacy, and claimed the whole property as heir-at-law. Almeria, who was utterly unacquainted with business, applied to Mr. Elmour in this difficulty, and he had the goodness to undertake the management of her affairs. Frederick engaged to carry on her law-suit, and to plead her cause against this rapacious Mr. Hodgkinson of Hull.--Whilst the suit was pending, Miss Turnbull had an opportunity of seeing something of the ways of the world; for the manners of her Yorkshire acquaintance, of all but Ellen and the Elmours, varied towards her, according to the opinion formed of the probable event of the trial on which her fortune depended. She felt these variations most keenly. In particular, she was provoked by the conduct of Lady Stock, who was at this time the fashionable lady of York: Sir Thomas, her husband, was a great banker; and whenever she condescended to visit her friends in the country, she shone upon them in all the splendour and pride of wealth. Miss Turnbull, immediately after her father's death, went, accompanied by old Mr. Elmour, to Sir Thomas Stock, to settle accounts with him: she was received by his lady as a great heiress, with infinite civility; her visit punctually returned, and an invitation to dinner sent to her and the Elmours with all due expedition. As she seemed to wish to accept of it, her friends agreed to accompany her, though in general they disliked fine dinners; and though they seldom left their retirement to mix in the gaieties of York. Miss Turnbull was received in rather a different manner from what she expected upon this occasion; for between the sending and the accepting of the invitation, Lady Stock had heard that her title to the fortune was disputed, and that many were of an opinion that, instead of having two hundred thousand pounds, she would not have a shilling. Almeria was scarcely noticed, on her entrance, by the lady of the house; she found herself in a formidable circle, where every body seemed to consider her as being out of her place. At dinner she was suffered to go to a side-table. From the moment she entered the house till she left it, Lady Stock never deigned to speak to her, nor for one instant to recollect that such a person existed. Not even Madame Roland, when she was sent to the second table at the fermier general's, expressed more indignation than Almeria did, at the insolence of this banker's lady. She could think and speak of nothing else, all the time she was going home in the evening to Elmour Grove. Ellen, who had more philosophy than our heroine, did not sympathize in the violence of her indignation: on the contrary, she was surprised that Almeria could feel so much hurt by the slights of a woman, for whom she had neither esteem nor affection, and with whom she was indeed scarcely acquainted.

    "But does not her conduct excite your indignation?" said Miss Turnbull.

    "No: it rather deserves my contempt. If a friend--if you, for instance, had treated me in such a manner, it would have provoked my anger, I dare say."

    "I! Oh, how impossible!" cried Almeria. "Such insufferable pride! Such downright rudeness!--She was tolerably civil to you, but me she never noticed: and this sudden change, it seems, Frederick, arises from her doubts of my fortune.--Is not such meanness really astonishing?"

    "It would be astonishing, perhaps," replied Frederick, "if we did not see similar instances every day.--Lady Stock, you know, is nothing but a mere woman of the world."

    "I hate mere women of the world," cried Almeria.

    Ellen observed, that it was not worth while to hate, it was sufficient to avoid them.--Almeria grew warmer in her abhorrence; and Ellen at last expressed, half in jest, half in earnest, some fear, that if Miss Turnbull felt with such exquisite sensibility the neglect of persons of fashion, she might in a different situation be ambitious, or vain of their favour. Almeria was offended, and was very near quarrelling with her friend for harbouring such a mean opinion of her character.

    "Do you imagine that I could ever make a friend of such a person as Lady Stock?"

    "A friend! far from it. I am very sure that you could not."

    "Then how could I be ambitious of her favour? I am desirous only of the favour, esteem, and affection of my friends."

    "But people who live in what is called the world, you know, my dear Almeria, desire to have acquaintance as well as friends," said Ellen; "and they value those by their fashion or rank, and by the honour which may be received from their notice in public places."

    "Yes, my dear," interrupted Almeria; "though I have never been in London, as you have, I understand all that perfectly well, I assure you; but I only say, that I am certain I should never judge, and that I should never act, in such a manner."

    Ellen smiled, and said, "It is difficult to be certain of what we should do in situations in which we have never been placed."--Almeria burst into tears, and her friend could scarcely pacify her by the kindest expressions.

    "Observe, my dear Almeria, that I said we, not you: I do not pretend that, till I have been tried, I could be certain of my own strength of mind in new situations: I believe it is from weakness, that people are often so desirous of the notice of persons for whom they have no esteem. If I were forced to live among a certain set of company, I suppose I should, in time, do just as they do; for I confess, that I do not think I could bear every day to be utterly neglected in society, even such as we have been in to-day."

    Almeria wondered to hear her friend speak with so little confidence of her own spirit and independence; and vehemently declared that she was certain no change of external circumstances could make any alteration in her sentiments and feelings. Ellen forbore to press the subject farther, although the proofs which Almeria had this day given of her stoicism were not absolutely conclusive.

    About a month after this conversation had passed, the suit against Miss Turnbull, to set aside Mr. Hodgkinson's will, was tried at York. The court was crowded at an early hour; for much entertainment was expected, from the oddity of old Hodgkinson's testamentary dispositions: besides, the large amount of the property at stake could not fail to make the cause interesting. Several ladies appeared in the galleries; among the rest, Lady Stock--Miss Elmour was there also, to accompany Almeria--Frederick was one of her counsel; and when it came to his turn to speak, he pleaded her cause with so much eloquence and ability, as to obtain universal approbation. After a trial, which lasted many hours, a verdict was given in Miss Turnbull's favour. An immediate change appeared in the manners of all her acquaintance--they crowded round her with smiles and congratulations; and persons with whom she was scarcely acquainted, or who had, till now, hardly deigned to acknowledge her acquaintance, accosted her with an air of intimacy. Lady Stock, in particular, recovered, upon this occasion, both her sight and speech: she took Almeria's hand most graciously, and went on chattering with the greatest volubility, as they stood at the door of the court-house. Her ladyship's handsome equipage had drawn up, and she offered to carry Miss Turnbull home: Almeria excused herself, but felt ashamed, when she saw the look of contempt which her ladyship bestowed on Mr. Elmour's old coach, which was far behind a number of others, and which could but ill bear a comparison with a new London carriage. Angry with herself for this weakness, our heroine endeavoured to conceal it even from her own mind; and feelings of gratitude to her friends revived in her heart the moment she was out of the sight of her fine acquaintance. She treated Ellen with even more than usual fondness; and her acknowledgments of obligation to her counsel and his father were expressed in the strongest terms. In a few days, there came a pressing invitation from Lady Stock; Mr. Elmour had accounts of Miss Turnbull's to settle with Sir Thomas, and, notwithstanding the air of indifference with which she read the cards, Almeria was not sorry to accept of the invitation, as she knew that she should be received in a very different manner from that in which she had been treated on her former visit. She laughed, and said, "that she should be entertained by observing the change which a few thousand pounds more or less could produce in Lady Stock's behaviour." Yet, such is the inconsistency or the weakness of human wishes, that the very attentions which our heroine knew were paid merely to her fortune, and not to her merit, flattered her vanity; and she observed, with a strange mixture of pain and pleasure, that there was a marked difference in Lady Stock's manner towards her and the Elmours. When the evening was over, and when she "had leisure to be good," Almeria called herself severely to account for this secret satisfaction, of which she had been conscious from the preference given her over her friends--she accused herself of ingratitude, and endeavoured to recover her own self-complacency by redoubled professions of esteem and affection for those to whom she had so much reason to be attached. But fresh invitations came from Lady Stock, and the course of her thoughts again changed. Ellen declined accompanying her; and Miss Turnbull regretted this exceedingly, because it would be so distressing and awkward for her to go alone."

    "Then why do you go at all, my dear?" said Ellen; "you speak as if there were some moral necessity for your visit."

    "Moral necessity! oh, no," said Almeria, laughing; "but I really think there is a polite necessity, if you will allow me the expression. Would it not be rude for all of us to refuse, when Lady Stock has made this music party, as she says, entirely on my account--on our account, I mean? for you see she mentions your fondness for music; and if she had not written so remarkably civilly to you, I assure you I would neither go myself, nor think of pressing you to go."

    This oratory had no effect upon Ellen: our heroine went alone to the music meeting. The old coach returned to Elmour Grove at night, empty--the servant brought "Lady Stock's compliments, and she would send her carriage home with Miss Turnbull early the next morning." After waiting above an hour and a half beyond their usual time, the family were sitting down to dinner the next day, when Miss Turnbull, in Lady Stock's fine carriage, drove up the avenue--Frederick handed her out of the carriage with more ceremony and less affection than he had ever shown before. Old Mr. Elmour's manner was also more distant, and Ellen's colder. Almeria attempted to apologize, but could not get through her speech:--she then tried to laugh at her own awkwardness; but her laugh not being seconded, she sat down to dinner in silence, colouring prodigiously, and totally abashed. Good old Mr. Elmour was the first to relent, and to endeavour, by resuming his usual kind familiarity, to relieve her painful confusion. Ellen's coolness was also dissipated when Miss Turnbull took her aside after dinner, and with tears in her eyes declared, "she was sorry she had not had sufficient strength of mind to resist Lady Stock's importunities to stay all night;--that as to the carriage, it was sent back without her knowledge; and that this morning, though she had three or four times expressed her fears that she should keep her friends at Elmour Grove waiting for dinner, yet Lady Stock would not understand her hints;" and she declared, "she got away the very instant her ladyship's carriage came to the door." By Ellen's kind interposition, Frederick, whose pride had been most ready to take the alarm at the least appearance of slight to his father and sister, was pacified--he laid aside his ceremony to Miss Turnbull; called her "Almeria," as he used to do--and all was well again. With difficulty and blushes, Almeria came out with an after-confession, that she had been so silly as to make half a promise to Lady Stock, of going to her ball, and of spending a few days with her at York, before she left the country.

    "But this promise was only conditional," said she: "if you or your father would take it the least ill or unkindly of me, I assure you I will not go--I would rather offend all the Lady Stocks in the world than you, my dearest Ellen, or your father, to whom I am so much obliged."

    "Do not talk of obligations," interrupted Ellen; "amongst friends there can be no obligations. I will answer for it that my father will not be offended at your going to this ball; and I assure you I shall not take it unkindly. If you would not think me very proud, I should tell you that I wish for our sakes, as well as your own, that you should see as much of this Lady Stock, and as many Lady Stocks, as possible; for I am convinced that, upon intimate acquaintance, we must rise in your opinion."

    Almeria protested that she had never for an instant thought of comparing Ellen with Lady Stock. "A friend, a bosom friend, with an acquaintance--an acquaintance of yesterday!--I never thought of making such a comparison."

    "That is the very thing of which I complain," said Ellen, smiling: "I beg you will make the comparison, my dear Almeria; and the more opportunities you have of forming your judgment, the better."

    Notwithstanding that there was something rather humiliating to Miss Turnbull in the dignified composure with which Ellen now, for the first time in her life, implied her own superiority, Almeria secretly rejoiced that it was at her friend's own request that the visits to her fine acquaintance were repeated. At Lady Stock's ball Miss Turnbull was much distinguished, as it is called--Sir Thomas's eldest son was her partner; and though he was not remarkably agreeable, yet his attentions were flattering to her vanity, because the rival belles of York vied for his homage. The delight of being taken notice of in public was new to Almeria, and it quite intoxicated her brain. Six hours' sleep afterwards were not sufficient to sober her completely; as her friends at Elmour Grove perceived the next morning--she neither talked, looked, nor moved like herself, though she was perfectly unconscious that in this delirium of vanity and affectation she was an object of pity and disgust to the man she loved.

    Ellen had sufficient good-nature and candour to make allowance for foibles in others from which her own character was totally free; she was clear-sighted to the merits, but not blind to the faults, of her friends; and she resolved to wait patiently till Almeria should return to herself. Miss Turnbull, in compliance with her friend's advice, took as many opportunities as possible of being with Lady Stock. Her ladyship's company was by no means agreeable to Almeria's natural taste; for her ladyship had neither sense nor knowledge, and her conversation consisted merely of common-place phrases, or the second-hand affectation of fashionable nonsense: yet, though Miss Turnbull felt no actual pleasure in her company, she was vain of being of her parties, and even condescended to repeat some of her sayings, in which there was neither sense nor wit. From having lived much in the London world, her ladyship was acquainted with a prodigious number of names of persona of consequence and quality; and by these our heroine's ears were charmed. Her ladyship's dress was also an object of admiration and imitation, and the York ladies begged patterns of every thing she wore. Almeria consequently thought that no other clothes could be worn with propriety; and she was utterly ashamed of her past self for having lived so long in ignorance, and for having had so bad a taste, as ever to have thought Ellen Elmour a model for imitation.

    "Miss Elmour," her ladyship said, "was a very sensible young woman, no doubt; but she could hardly be considered as a model of fashion."

    A new standard for estimating merit was raised in Almeria's mind; and her friend, for an instant, sunk before the vast advantage of having the most fashionable mantua-maker and milliner in town. Ashamed of this dereliction of principle, she a few minutes afterwards warmly pronounced a panegyric on Ellen, to which Lady Stock only replied with a vacant, supercilious countenance, "May be so--no doubt--of course--the Elmours are a very respectable family, I'm told--and really more genteel than the country families one sees: but is not it odd, they don't mix more? One seldom meets them in town any where, or at any of the watering-places in summer."

    To this charge, Almeria, with blushes, was forced to plead guilty for her friends: she, however, observed, in mitigation, "that when they were in town, what company they did see was always the best, she believed--that she knew, for one person, the Duchess of A---- was a friend of the Elmours, and corresponded with Ellen."

    This judicious defence produced an immediate effect upon Lady Stock's countenance; her eyebrows descended from the high arch of contempt: and after a pause, she remarked, "it was strange that they had not accepted of any of the invitations she had lately sent them--she fancied they were, as indeed they had the character of being, very proud people--and very odd."

    Almeria denied the pride and the oddity; but observed, "that they were all remarkably fond of home."

    "Well, my dear Miss Turnbull, that's what I call odd; but I am sure I have nothing to say against all that--it is the fashion now to let every body do as they please: if the Elmours like to bury themselves alive, I'm sure I can't have the smallest objection; I only hope they don't insist upon burying you along with them--I'm going to Harrowgate for a few days, and I must have you with me, my dear."

    Our heroine hesitated. Lady Stock smiled, and said, she saw Miss Turnbull was terribly afraid of these Elmours; that for her part, she was the last person in the world to break through old connexions; but that really some people ought to consider that other people cannot always live as they do; that one style of life was fit for one style of fortune, and one for another; and that it would look very strange to the world, if an heiress with two hundred thousand pounds fortune, who if she produced herself might be in the first circles in town, were to be boxed up at Elmour Grove, and precluded from all advantages and offers that she might of course expect.

    To do our heroine justice, she here interrupted Lady Stock with more eagerness than strict politeness admitted, and positively declared that her friends never for one moment wished to confine her at Elmour Grove. "On the contrary," said she, "they urged me to go into company, and to see something of the world, before I--" marry, she was going to say--but paused.

    Lady Stock waited for the finishing word; but when it did not come, she went on just as if it had been pronounced. "The Elmours do vastly right and proper to talk to you in this style, for they would be very much blamed in the world if they acted otherwise. You know, young Elmour has his fortune to make--very clever certainly he is, and will rise--no doubt--I'm told--in his profession--but all that is not the same as a ready-made fortune, which an heiress like you has a right to expect. But do not let me annoy you with my reflections. Perhaps there is nothing in the report--I really only repeat what I hear every body say. In what every body says, you know there must be something. I positively think you ought to show, in justice to the Elmours themselves, that you are at liberty, and that they do not want to monopolize you--in this unaccountable sort of way."

    To this last argument our heroine yielded, or to this she chose to attribute her yielding. She went to Harrowgate with Lady Stock; and every day and every hour she became more desirous of appearing fashionable. To this one object all her thoughts were directed. Living in public was to her a new life, and she was continually sensible of her dependence upon the opinion of her more experienced companion. She felt the awkwardness of being surrounded by people with whom she was unacquainted. At first, whenever she appeared she imagined that every body was looking at her, or talking about her, and she was in perpetual apprehension that something in her dress or manners should become the subject of criticism or ridicule: but from this fear she was soon relieved, by the conviction that most people were so occupied with themselves as totally to overlook her. Sometimes indeed she heard the whispered question of "Who is that with Lady Stock?" and the mortifying answer, "I do not know." However, when Lady Stock had introduced her to some of her acquaintance as a great heiress, the scene changed, and she found herself treated with much consideration; though still the fashionable belles took sufficient care to make her sensible of her inferiority. She longed to be upon an equal footing with them. Whilst her mind was in this state, Sir Thomas Stock, one morning, when he was settling some money business with her, observed that she would in another year be of age, and of course would take her affairs into her own hands; but in the mean time it would be necessary to appoint a guardian; and that the choice depended upon herself. She instantly named her friend Mr. Elmour. Sir Thomas insinuated that old Mr. Elmour, though undoubtedly a most unexceptionable character, was not exactly the most eligible person for a guardian to a young lady, whose large fortune entitled her to live in a fashionable style. That if it was Miss Turnbull's intention to fix in the country, Mr. Elmour certainly was upon the spot, and a very fit guardian; but that if she meant to appear, as doubtless she would, in town, she would of course want another conductor.

    "To cut the matter short at once, my dear," said Lady Stock, "you must come to town with me next winter, and choose Sir Thomas for your guardian. I'm sure it will give him the greatest pleasure in the world to do any thing in his power--and you will have no difficulties with him; for you see he is not a man to bore you with all manner of advice; in short, he would only be your guardian for form's sake; and that, you know, would be the pleasantest footing imaginable. Come, here is a pen and ink and gilt paper; write to old Elmour this minute, and let me have you all to myself."

    Almeria was taken by surprise: she hesitated--all her former professions, all her obligations to the Elmour family, recurred to her mind--her friendship for Ellen--her love, or what she had thought love, for Frederick:--she could not decide upon a measure that might offend them, or appear ungrateful; yet her desire of going to town with Lady Stock was ardent, and she knew not how to refuse Sir Thomas's offer without displeasing him. She saw that all future connexion with the Stocks depended on her present determination--she took a middle course, and suggested that she might have two guardians, and then she should be able to avail herself of Sir Thomas's obliging offer without offending her old friends. In consequence of this convenient arrangement, she wrote to Mr. Elmour, enclosing her letter in one to Ellen, in which the embarrassment and weakness of her mind were evident, notwithstanding all her endeavours to conceal them. After a whole page of incomprehensible apologies, for having so long delayed to write to her dearest Ellen; and after professions of the warmest affection, esteem, and gratitude, for her friends at Elmour Grove; she in the fourth page of her epistle opened her real business, by declaring that she should ever, from the conviction she felt of the superiority of Ellen's understanding, follow her judgment, however repugnant it might sometimes be to her inclinations; that she therefore had resolved, in pursuance of Ellen's advice, to take an opportunity of seeing the gay world, and had accepted of an invitation from Lady Stock to spend the winter with her in town--that she had also accepted of Sir Thomas Stock's offer to become one of her guardians, as she thought it best to trouble her good friend Mr. Elmour as little as possible at his advanced age.

    In answer to this letter, she received a few lines from Mr. Elmour, requesting to see her before she should go to town: accordingly upon her return to York, she went to Elmour Grove to take leave of her friends. She was under some anxiety, but resolved to carry it off with that ease, or affectation of ease, which she had learnt during her six weeks' apprenticeship to a fine lady at Harrowgate. She was surprised that no Frederick appeared to greet her arrival; the servant showed her into Mr. Elmour's study. The good old gentleman received her with that proud sort of politeness, which was always the sign, and the only sign, of his being displeased.

    "You will excuse me, Miss Turnbull," said he, "for giving you the trouble of coming here; it was my business to have waited on you, but I have been so far unwell lately, that it was not in my power to leave home; and these are papers," continued he, "which I thought it my duty to deliver into your own hands."

    Whilst Mr. Elmour was tying up these papers, and writing upon them, Almeria began two sentences with "I hope," and "I am afraid," without in the least knowing what she hoped or feared. She was not yet sufficiently perfect in the part of a fine lady to play it well. Mr. Elmour looked up from his writing with an air of grave attention when she began to speak, but after waiting in vain for an intelligible sentence, he proceeded.

    "You have judged very wisely for me, Miss Turnbull, in relieving my declining years from the fatigue of business: no man understands the management or the value of money better than Sir Thomas Stock, and you could not, madam, in this point of view, have chosen a more proper guardian."

    Almeria said, "that she hoped Mr. Elmour would always permit her to consider him as her best friend, to whose advice she should have recourse in preference to that of any person upon earth;" recovering her assurance as she went on speaking, and recollecting some of the hints Lady Stock had given her, about the envy and jealousy of the Elmours, and of their scheme of monopolizing her fortune; she added a few commonplace phrases about respectability--gratitude--and great obligations--then gave a glance at Lady Stock's handsome carriage, which was waiting at the door--then asked for Miss Elmour--and hoped she should not be so unfortunate as to miss seeing her before she left the country, as she came on purpose to take leave of her--then looked at her watch:--but all this was said and done with the awkwardness of a novice in the art of giving herself airs. Mr. Elmour, without being in the least irritated by her manner, was all the time considering how he could communicate, with the least possible pain, what he had further to say--"You speak of me, Miss Turnbull, as of one of your guardians, in the letter I had the favour of receiving from you a few days ago," said he; "but you must excuse me for declining that honour. Circumstances have altered materially since I first undertook the management of your affairs, and my future interference, or perhaps even my advice, might not appear as disinterested as formerly."

    Miss Turnbull here interrupted him with an exclamation of astonishment, and made many protestations of entire dependence upon his disinterested friendship. He waited with proud patience till she had finished her eulogium.

    "How far the generous extent of your confidence, madam, reaches, or may hereafter reach," said he, "must be tried by others, not by me--nor yet by my son."

    Almeria changed colour.

    "He has left it to me, madam, to do that for him, which perhaps he feared he might not have sufficient resolution to do for himself--to return to you these letters and this picture; and to assure you that he considers you as entirely at liberty to form any connexion that may be suited to your present views and circumstances."

    Mr. Elmour put into her hand a packet of her own letters to Frederick, and a miniature picture of herself, which she had formerly given to her lover. This was an unexpected stroke. His generosity--his firmness of character--the idea of losing him for ever--all rushed upon her mind at once.

    Artificial manners vanish the moment the natural passions are touched. Almeria clasped her hands in an agony of grief, and exclaimed, "Is he gone? gone for ever?--I have deserved it!"--The letters and picture fell from her hand, and she sunk back quite overpowered. When she recovered, she found herself in the open air on a seat under Mr. Elmour's study windows, and Ellen beside her.

    "Pity, forgive, and advise me, my dear, my best, my only real friend," said Almeria: "never did I want your advice so much as at this moment."

    "You shall have it, then, without reserve," said Ellen, "and without fear that it should be attributed to any unworthy motive. I could almost as soon wish for my brother's death as desire to see him united to any woman, let her beauty and accomplishments be what they might, who had a mean or frivolous character, such as could consider money as the greatest good, or dissipation as the prime object of life. I am firmly persuaded, my dear Almeria, that however you may be dazzled by the first view of what is called fashionable life, you will soon see things as they really are, and that you will return to your former tastes and feelings."

    "Oh! I am, I am returned to them!" cried Almeria; "I will write directly to Lady Stock and to Sir Thomas, to tell them that I have changed my mind--only prevail upon your father to be my guardian."

    "That is out of my power," said Ellen; "and I think that it is much better you should be as you are, left completely at liberty, and entirely independent of us. I advise you, Almeria, to persist in your scheme of spending the ensuing winter in town with Lady Stock--then you will have an opportunity of comparing your own different feelings, and of determining what things are essential to your happiness. If you should find that the triumphs of fashion delight you more than the pleasures of domestic life; pursue them--your fortune will put it in your power; you will break no engagements; and you will have no reproaches to fear from us. On the contrary, if you find that your happiness depends upon friendship and love, and that the life we formerly led together is that which you prefer, you will return to Elmour Grove, to your friend and your lover, and your choice will not be that of romance, but of reason."

    It was with difficulty that Almeria, in her present fit of enthusiasm, could be brought to listen to sober sense and true friendship. Her parting from Ellen and Mr. Elmour cost her many tears, and she returned to her fashionable friend with swollen eyes and a heavy heart. Her sorrow, however, was soon forgotten in the bustle and novelty of a new situation. Upon her arrival in London, fresh trains of ideas were quickly forced upon her mind, which were as dissimilar as possible from those associated with love, friendship, and Elmour Grove. At Sir Thomas Stock's, every thing she saw and heard served to remind, or rather to convince her, of the opulence of the owner of the house. Here every object was estimated, not for its beauty or elegance, but by its costliness. Money was the grand criterion, by which the worth of animate and inanimate objects was alike decided. In this society, the worship of the golden idol was avowed without shame or mystery; and all who did not bow the knee to it were considered as hypocrites or fools. Our heroine, possessed of two hundred thousand pounds, could not fail to have a large share of incense--every thing she said, or looked, was applauded in Sir Thomas Stock's family; and she would have found admiration delightful, if she had not suspected that her fortune alone entitled her to all this applause. This was rather a mortifying reflection. By degrees, however, her delicacy on this subject abated; she learned philosophically to consider her fortune a thing so immediately associated with herself as to form a part of her personal merit. Upon this principle, she soon became vain of her wealth, and she was led to overrate the consequence that riches bestow on their possessor.

    In a capital city, such numerous claimants for distinction appear, with beauty, birth, wit, fashion, or wealth to support their pretensions, that the vanity of an individual, however clamorous, is immediately silenced, if not humbled. When Miss Turnbull went into public, she was surprised by the discovery of her own, nay even of Lady Stock's insignificance. At York her ladyship was considered as a personage high as human veneration could look; but in London she was lost in a crowd of fellow-mortals.

    It is, perhaps, from this sense of humiliation, that individuals combine together, to obtain by their union that importance and self-complacency, which separately they could never enjoy. Miss Turnbull observed, that a numerous acquaintance was essential to those who lived much in public--that the number of bows and curtsies, and the consequence of the persons by whom they are given or received, is the measure of merit and happiness. Nothing can be more melancholy than most places of public amusement, to those who are strangers to the crowds which fill them.

    Few people have such strength of mind as to be indifferent to the opinions of numbers, even considered merely as numbers; hence those who live in crowds, in fact surrender the power of thinking for themselves, either in trifles or matters of consequence. Our heroine had imagined before she came to town, that Lady Stock moved in the highest circle of fashion; but she soon perceived that many of the people of rank who visited her ladyship, and who partook of her sumptuous entertainments, thought they condescended extremely whilst they paid this homage to wealth.

    One night at the Opera, Almeria happened to be seated in the next box to Lady Bradstone, a proud woman of high family, who considered all whose genealogy could not vie in antiquity with her own as upstarts that ought to be kept down. Her ladyship, either not knowing or not caring who was in the next box to her, began to ridicule an entertainment which had been given a few days before by Lady Stock. From her entertainment, the transition was easy to her character, and to that of her whole family. Young Stock was pronounced to have all the purse-proud self-sufficiency of a banker, and all the pertness of a clerk; even his bow seemed as if it came from behind the counter.

    Till this moment Almeria had at least permitted, if not encouraged, this gentleman's assiduities; for she had hitherto seen him only in company where he had been admired: his attentions, therefore, had been flattering to her vanity. But things now began to appear in quite a different light: she saw Mr. Stock in the point of view in which Lady Bradstone placed him; and felt that she might be degraded, but could not be elevated, in the ranks of fashion by such an admirer. She began to wish that she was not so intimately connected with a family which was ridiculed for want of taste, and whose wealth, as she now suspected, was their only ticket of admittance into the society of the truly elegant. In the land of fashion, "Alps on Alps arise;" and no sooner has the votary reached the summit of one weary ascent than another appears higher still and more difficult of attainment. Our heroine now became discontented in that situation, which but a few months before had been the grand object of her ambition.

    In the mean time, as Mr. Stock had not overheard Lady Bradstone's conversation at the Opera, and as he had a comfortably good opinion of himself, he was sure that he was making a rapid progress in the lady's favour. He had of late seldom heard her mention any of her friends at Elmour Grove; and he was convinced that her romantic attachment to Frederick must have been conquered by his own superior address. Her fortune was fully as agreeable to him as to his money-making father: the only difference between them was, that he loved to squander, and his father to hoard gold. Extravagance frequently produces premature avarice--young Mr. Stock calculated Miss Turnbull's fortune, weighed it against that of every other young lady within the sphere of his attractions, found the balance in her favour by some thousands, made his proposal in form, and could not recover his astonishment, when he found himself in form rejected. Sir Thomas and Lady Stock used all their influence in his favour, but in vain: they concluded that Almeria's passion for Frederick Elmour was the cause of this refusal; and they directed their arguments against the folly of marrying for love. Our heroine was at this time more in danger of the folly of marrying for fashion: not that she had fixed her fancy upon any man of fashion in particular, but she had formed an exalted idea of the whole species--and she regretted that Frederick was not in that magic circle in which all her hopes of happiness now centred. She wrote kind letters to Miss Elmour, but each letter was written with greater difficulty than the preceding; for she had lost all interest in the occupations which formerly were so delightful. She and Ellen had now few ideas in common; and her epistles dwindled into apologies for long silence--promises of being a better correspondent in future--reasons for breaking these promises--hopes of pardon, &c. Ellen, however, continued steady in her belief that her friend would at last prove worthy of her esteem, and of her brother's love. The rejection of Mr. Stock, which Almeria did not fail to mention, confirmed this favourable opinion.

    When that gentleman was at length with some difficulty convinced that our heiress had decided against him, his manners and those of his family changed towards her from the extreme of civility to that of rudeness--they spoke of her as a coquette and a jilt, and a person who gave herself very extraordinary airs. She was vexed, and alarmed--and in her first confusion and distress thought of retreating to her friends at Elmour Grove. She wrote a folio sheet to Ellen, unlike her late apologetic epistles, full of the feelings of her heart, and of a warm invective against fashionable and interested friends. After a narrative of her quarrel with the Stocks, she declared that she would immediately quit her London acquaintance and return to her best friend. But the very day after she had despatched this letter she changed her mind, and formed a new idea of a best friend.

    One morning she went with Lady Stock to a bookseller's, whose shop served as a fashionable lounge. Her ladyship valued books, like all other things, in proportion to the money which they cost: she had no taste for literature, but a great fancy for accumulating the most expensive publications, which she displayed ostentatiously as part of the costly furniture of her house. Whilst she was looking over some literary luxuries, rich in all the elegance of hot-press and vellum binding, Lady Bradstone and a party of her friends came into the room. She immediately attracted and engrossed the attention of all present. Lady Stock turned over the leaves of the fine books, and asked their prices; but she had the mortification to perceive that she was an object rather of derision than of admiration to the new comers. None are so easily put out of countenance by airs, as those who are most apt to play them off on their inferiors. Lady Stock bit her lips in evident embarrassment, and the awkwardness of her distress increased the confidence and triumph of her adversary. She had some time before provoked Lady Bradstone by giving a concert in opposition to one of hers, and by engaging, at an enormous expense, a celebrated performer for her night: hostilities had thenceforward been renewed at every convenient opportunity, by the contending fair ones. Lady Bradstone now took occasion loudly to lament her extreme poverty; and she put this question to all her party, whether if they had it in their power they should prefer having more money than taste, or more taste than money? They were going to decide par acclamation, but her ladyship insisted upon taking each vote separately, because this prolonged the torments of her rival, who heard the preference of taste to money reiterated half a dozen times over, with the most provoking variety of insulting emphasis. Almeria's sufferings during this scene were far more poignant than those of the person against whom the ridicule was aimed: not that she pitied Lady Stock--no; she would have rejoiced to have seen her humbled to the dust, if she could have escaped all share in her mortification: but as she appeared as her ladyship's acquaintance, she apprehended that she might be mistaken for her friend. An opportunity offered of marking the difference. The bookseller asked Lady Stock if she chose to put her name down in a list of subscribers to a new work. The book, she saw, was to be dedicated to Lady Bradstone--and that was sufficient to decide her against it.

    She declared that she never supported such things either by her name or her money; that for her part she was no politician; that she thought female patriots were absurd and odious; and that she was glad none of that description were of her acquaintance.

    All this was plainly directed against Lady Bradstone, who was a zealous patriot: her ladyship retorted, by some reflections equally keen, but rather more politely expressed, each party addressing their inuendoes to the bookseller, who afraid to disoblige either the rich or the fashionable, preserved, as much as it was in the power of his muscles, a perfectly neutral countenance. At last, in order to relieve himself from his constraint, he betook himself to count the subscribers, and Miss Turnbull seized this moment to desire that her name might be added to the list. Lady Bradstone's eyes were immediately fixed upon her with complacency--Lady Stock's flashed fire. Regardless of their fire, Almeria coolly added, "Twelve copies, sir, if you please."

    "Twelve copies, Miss Turnbull, at a guinea a-piece! Lord bless me, do you know what you are about, my dear?" said Lady Stock.

    "Perfectly well," replied our heroine; "I think twelve guineas, or twenty times that sum, would be well bestowed in asserting independence of sentiment, which I understand is the object of this work."

    A whisper from Lady Bradstone to one of the shopmen, of "Who is that charming woman?" gave our heroine courage to pronounce these words. Lady Stock in great displeasure walked to her carriage, saying, "You are to consider what you will do with your twelve copies, Miss Turnbull; for I am convinced your guardian will never let such a parcel of inflammatory trash into his house: he admires female patriotism, and all that sort of thing, as little as I do."

    The rudeness of this speech did not disconcert Almeria; for she was fortified by the consciousness that she had gained her point with Lady Bradstone. This lady piqued herself upon showing her preferences and aversions with equal enthusiasm and éclat. She declared before a large company at dinner, that notwithstanding Miss Turnbull was nobody by birth, she had made herself somebody by spirit; and that for her part, she should, contrary to her general principle, which she confessed was to keep a strong line of demarcation between nobility and mobility, take a pride in bringing forward merit even in the shape of a Yorkshire grazier's daughter.

    Pursuant to this gracious declaration, she empowered a common friend to introduce Miss Turnbull to her, on the first opportunity. When people really wish to become acquainted with each other, opportunities are easily and quickly found. The parties met, to their mutual satisfaction, that very night in the waiting-room of the Opera-house, and conversed more in five minutes than people in town usually converse in five months or years, when it is their wish to keep on a merely civil footing. But this was not the footing on which Miss Turnbull desired to be with Lady Bradstone; she took the utmost pains to please, and succeeded. She owed her success chiefly to the dexterous manner in which she manifested her contempt for her late dear friend Lady Stock. Her having refused an alliance with the family was much in her favour; her ladyship admired her spirit, but little suspected that the contemptuous manner in which she had once been overheard to speak of this banker's son was the real and immediate cause of his rejection. The phrase--"only Stock the banker's son"--decided his fate: so much may be done by the mere emphasis on a single word from fashionable lips! Our heroine managed with considerable address in bringing her quarrel with one friend to a crisis at the moment when another was ready to receive her. An ostensible pretext is never wanting to those who are resolved on war. The book to which Miss Turnbull had subscribed was the pretext upon this occasion: nothing could be more indifferent to her than politics; but Lady Bradstone's party and principles were to be defended at all events. Sir Thomas Stock protested that he might be hurt essentially in the opinion of those for whom he had the highest consideration if a young lady living under his roof, known to be his ward, and probably presumed to be guided by him, should put her name as subscriber to twelve copies of a work patronized by Lady Bradstone. "The mere circumstance of its being dedicated to her ladyship showed what it must be," Sir Thomas observed; and he made it a point with Miss Turnbull that she should withdraw her name from the subscription. This Miss Turnbull absolutely refused. Lady Bradstone was her confidante upon the occasion, and half-a-dozen notes a day passed between them: at length the affair was brought to the long wished-for crisis. Lady Bradstone invited Miss Turnbull to her house, feeling herself, as she said, bound in honour to bear her out in a dispute of which she had been the original occasion. In this lady's society Almeria found the style of dress, manners, and conversation, different from what she had seen at Lady Stock's: she had without difficulty imitated the affectation of Lady Stock, but there was an ease in the decided tone of Lady Bradstone which could not be so easily acquired. Having lived from her infancy in the best company, there was no heterogeneous mixture in her manners; and the consciousness of this gave an habitual air of security to her words, looks, and motions. Lady Stock seemed forced to beg or buy--Lady Bradstone accustomed to command or levy admiration as her rightful tribute. The pride of Lady Bradstone was uniformly resolute, and successful; the insolence of Lady Stock, if it were opposed, became cowardly and ridiculous. Lady Bradstone seemed to have, on all occasions, an instinctive sense of what a person of fashion ought to do; Lady Stock, notwithstanding her bravadoing air, was frequently perplexed, and anxious, and therefore awkward: she had always recourse to precedents. "Lady P---- said so, or Lady Q---- did so; Lady G---- wore this, or Lady H---- was there, and therefore I am sure it is proper."

    On the contrary, Lady Bradstone never quoted authorities, but presumed that she was a precedent for others. The one was eager to follow, the other determined to lead, the fashion.

    Our heroine, who was by no means deficient in penetration, and whose whole attention was now given to the study of externals, quickly perceived these shades of difference between her late and her present friend. She remarked, in particular, that she found herself much more at ease in Lady Bradstone's society. Her ladyship's pride was not so offensive as Lady Stock's vanity: secure of her own superiority, Lady Bradstone did not want to measure herself every instant with inferiors. She treated Almeria as her equal in every respect; and in setting her right in points of fashion never seemed to triumph, but to consider her own knowledge as a necessary consequence of the life she had led from her infancy. With a sort of proud generosity, she always considered those whom she honoured with her friendship as thenceforward entitled to all the advantages of her own situation, and to all the respect due to a part of herself. She now always used the word we, with peculiar emphasis, in speaking of Miss Turnbull and herself. This was a signal perfectly well understood by her acquaintance. Almeria was received every where with the most distinguished attention; and she was delighted, and absolutely intoxicated, with her sudden rise in the world of fashion. She found that her former acquaintance at Lady Stock's were extremely ambitious of claiming an intimacy; but this could not be done. Miss Turnbull had now acquired, by practice, the power of looking at people without seeming to see them, and of forgetting those with whom she was perfectly well acquainted. Her opinion of her own consequence was much raised by the court that was paid to her by several young men of fashion, who thought it expedient to marry two hundred thousand pounds.

    How quickly ambition extends her views! Our heroine's highest object had lately been to form an alliance with a man of fashion; she had now three fashionable admirers in her train, but though she was flattered by their attention, she had not the least inclination to decide in favour of any of these candidates. The only young man of her present acquaintance who seemed to be out of the reach of her power was Lord Bradstone; and upon the conquest of his heart, or rather his pride, her fancy was fixed. He had all his mother's family pride, and he had been taught by her to expect an alliance with a daughter of one of the first noble families in England. The possibility of his marrying a grazier's daughter had never entered into his or Lady Bradstone's thoughts: they saw, indeed, every day, examples, among the first nobility, of such matches; but they saw them with contempt. Almeria knew this, and yet she did not despair of success: nor was she wrong in her calculations. Lord Bradstone was fond of high play--his taste for gaming soon reduced him to distress--his guardian was enraged, and absolutely refused to pay his lordship's debts. What was to be done?--He must extricate himself from his difficulties by marrying some rich heiress. Miss Turnbull was the heiress nearest at hand. Lord Bradstone's pride was compelled to yield to his interest, and he resolved to pay his addresses to the Yorkshire grazier's daughter: but he knew that his mother would be indignant at this idea; and he therefore determined to proceed cautiously, and to assure himself of the young lady's approbation before he should brave his mother's anger.

    The winter was now passed, and her ladyship invited Miss Turnbull to accompany her to Cheltenham;--her son was of the party. Our heroine plainly understood his intentions, and her friendship for Lady Bradstone did not prevent her from favouring his views: neither was she deterred by her knowledge of his lordship's taste for play, so ardent was her desire for a coronet. The recollection of Frederick Elmour sometimes crossed her imagination, and struck her heart; but the pang was soon over, and she settled her conscience by the reflection, that she was not, in the least degree, bound in honour to him--he had set her entirely at liberty, and could not complain of her conduct. As to Ellen--every day she determined to write to her, and every day she put it off till to-morrow. At last she was saved the trouble of making and breaking any more resolutions: for one evening, as she was walking with Lady Bradstone and her noble admirer, in the public walk, she met Miss Elmour and her brother.

    She accosted Ellen with great eagerness; but it was plain to her friend's discerning eyes that her joy was affected. After repeating several times that she was quite delighted at this unexpected meeting, she ran on with a number of commonplace questions, commencing and concluding with, "When did you come?--How long do you stay?--Where do you lodge?"

    "We have been here about a fortnight, and I believe we shall stay about a month longer."

    "Indeed!--A month!--So long!--How fortunate!--But where are you?"

    "We lodge a little out of the town, on the road to Cirencester."

    "How unfortunate!--We are at such a shocking distance!--I'm with Lady Bradstone--a most charming woman!--Whom are you with?"

    "With my poor father," said Ellen; "he has been very ill lately, and we came here on his account."

    "Ill!--Old Mr. Elmour!--I'm extremely concerned--but whom have you to attend him?--you should send to town for Dr. Grant--do you know he is the only man now?--the only man Lady Bradstone and I have any dependence on--if I were dying, he is the man I should send for. Do have him for Mr. Elmour, my dear--and don't be alarmed, above all things--you know it's so natural, at your father's age, that he should not be as well as he has been--but I distress you--and detain you."

    Our heroine, after running off these unmeaning sentences, passed on, being ashamed to walk with Ellen in public, because Lady Bradstone had whispered, "Who is she?"--Not to be known in the world of fashion is an unpardonable crime, for which no merit can atone. Three days elapsed before Miss Turnbull went to see her friends, notwithstanding her extreme concern for poor Mr. Elmour. Her excuse to her conscience was, that Lady Bradstone's carriage could not sooner be spared. People in a certain rank of life are, or make themselves, slaves to horses and carriages; with every apparent convenience and luxury, they are frequently more dependent than their tradesmen or their servants. There was a time when Almeria would not have been restrained by these imaginary impossibilities from showing kindness to her friends; but that time was now completely past. She was, at present, anxious to avoid having any private conversation with Ellen, because she was ashamed to avow her change of views and sentiments. In the short morning visit which she paid her, Almeria talked of public places, of public characters, of dress and equipages, &c. She inquired, indeed, with a modish air of infinite sensibility, for poor Mr. Elmour; and when she heard that he was confined to his bed, she regretted most excessively that she could not see him; but a few seconds afterwards, with a suitable change of voice and countenance, she made an easy transition to the praise of a new dress of Lady Bradstone's invention. Frederick Elmour came into the room in the midst of the eulogium on her ladyship's taste--she was embarrassed for a moment; but quickly recovering the tone of a fine lady, she spoke to him as if he had never been any thing to her but a common acquaintance. The dignity and firmness of his manner provoked her pride; she wished to coquet with him--she tried to excite his jealousy by talking of Lord Bradstone: but vain were all her airs and inuendoes; they could not extort from him even a sigh. She was somewhat consoled, however, by observing in his sister's countenance the expression, as she thought, of extreme mortification.

    A few days after this visit, Miss Turnbull received the following note from Miss Elmour:


    "If you still wish that I should treat you as a friend, show me that you do, and you will find my affection unaltered. If, on the contrary, you have decided to pursue a mode of life, or to form connexions which make you ashamed to own any one for a friend who is not a fine lady, let our intimacy be dissolved for ever--it could only be a source of mutual pain. My father is better to-day, and wishes to see you. Will you spend this evening with him and with Your affectionate ELLEN ELMOUR?"

    It happened that the very day Miss Turnbull received this note, Lady Bradstone was to have a concert, and Almeria knew that her ladyship would be offended if she were to spend the evening with the Elmours: it was, as she said to herself, impossible, therefore, to accept of Ellen's invitation. She called upon her in the course of the morning, to make an apology. She found Ellen beside her father, who was seated in his arm-chair: he looked extremely pale and weak: she was at first shocked at the change she saw in her old friend, and she could not utter the premeditated apology. Ellen took it for granted that she was come, in consequence of her note, to spend the day with her, and she embraced her with affectionate joy. Her whole countenance changed when our heroine began at last to talk of Lady Bradstone and the concert--Ellen burst into tears.

    "My dear child," said Mr. Elmour, putting his hand upon his daughter's, which rested upon the arm of his chair, "I did not expect this weakness from you."

    Miss Turnbull, impatient to shorten a scene which she had neither strength of mind to endure nor to prevent, rose to take leave.

    "My dear Ellen," said she, in an irresolute tone, "my dearest creature, you must not distress yourself in this way--I must have you keep up your spirits. You confine yourself too much, indeed you do; and you see you are not equal to it. Your father will be better, and he will persuade you to leave him for an hour or two, I am sure, and we must have you amongst us; and I must introduce you to Lady Bradstone--she's a charming woman, I assure you--you would like her of all things, if you knew her. Come--don't let me see you in this way. Really, my dear Ellen, this is so unlike you--I can assure you that, whatever you may think, I love you as well as ever I did, and never shall forget my obligations to all your family; but, you know, a person who lives in the world, as I do, must make such terrible sacrifices of their time--one can't do as one pleases--one's an absolute slave. So you must forgive me, dear Ellen, for bidding you farewell for the present."

    Ellen hastily wiped away her tears, and turning to Almeria with an air of dignity, held out her hand to her, and said, "Farewell for ever, Almeria!--May you never feel the want of a sincere and affectionate friend!--May the triumphs of fashion make you amends for all you sacrifice to obtain them!"

    Miss Turnbull was abashed and agitated--she hurried out of the room to conceal her confusion, stepped into a carriage with a coronet, drove away, and endeavoured to forget all that had passed. The concert in the evening recalled her usual train of ideas, and she persuaded herself that she had done all, and more than was necessary, in offering to introduce Ellen to Lady Bradstone. "How could she neglect such an offer?"

    A few days after the concert, Almeria had the pleasure of being introduced to Lady Bradstone's four daughters--Lady Gabriella, Lady Agnes, Lady Bab, and Lady Kitty. Of the existence of these young ladies Almeria had scarcely heard--they had been educated at a fashionable boarding-school; and their mother was now under the disagreeable necessity of bringing them home to live with her, because the eldest was past seventeen.

    Lady Gabriella was a beauty, and determined to be a Grace--but which of the three Graces, she had not yet decided.

    Lady Agnes was plain, and resolved to be a wit.

    Lady Bab and Lady Kitty were charming hoydens, with all the modern simplicity of fourteen or fifteen in their manners. Lady Bab had a fine long neck, which was always in motion--Lady Kitty had white teeth, and was always laughing;--but it is impossible to characterize them, for they differed in nothing from a thousand other young ladies.

    These four sisters agreed in but one point--in considering their mother as their common enemy. Taking it for granted that Miss Turnbull was her friend, she was looked upon by them as being naturally entitled to a share of their distrust and enmity. They found a variety of causes of complaint against our heroine; and if they had been at any loss, their respective waiting-maids would have furnished them with inexhaustible causes of quarrel.

    Lady Bradstone could not bear to go with more than four in a coach.--"Why was Miss Turnbull always to have a front seat in the coach, and two of the young ladies to be always left at home on her account?"--"How could Lady Bradstone make such a favourite of a grazier's daughter, and prefer her to her own children as a companion?" &c.

    The young ladies never discouraged their attendants from saying all the ill-natured things that they could devise of Miss Turnbull, and they invented a variety of methods of tormenting her. Lady Gabriella found out that Almeria was horridly ugly and awkward; Lady Agnes quizzed her perpetually; and the Ladies Bab and Kitty played upon her innumerable practical jokes. She was astonished to find in high life a degree of vulgarity of which her country companions would have been ashamed: but all such things in high life go under the general term dashing. These young ladies were dashers. Alas! perhaps foreigners and future generations may not know the meaning of the term!

    Our heroine's temper was not proof against the trials to which it was hourly exposed: perhaps the consciousness that she was not born to the situation in which she now moved, joined to her extreme anxiety to be thought genteel and fashionable, rendered her peculiarly irritable when her person and manners were attacked by ladies of quality. She endeavoured to conciliate her young enemies by every means in her power, and at length she found a method of pleasing them. They were immoderately fond of baubles, and they had not money enough to gratify this taste. Miss Turnbull at first, with great timidity, begged Lady Gabriella's acceptance of a ring, which seemed particularly to catch her fancy: the facility with which the ring was accepted, and the favourable change it produced, as if by magic, in her ladyship's manners towards our heroine, encouraged her to try similar experiments upon the other sisters. She spared not ear-rings, crosses, brooches, pins, and necklaces; and the young ladies in return began to show her all the friendship which can be purchased by such presents--or by any presents. Even whilst she rejoiced at the change in their behaviour, she could not avoid despising them for the cause to which she knew it must be attributed; nor did she long enjoy even the temporary calm procured by these peace-offerings; for the very same things which propitiated the daughters offended the mother. Lady Bradstone one morning insisted upon Lady Gabriella's returning a necklace, which she had received from Almeria; and her ladyship informed Miss Turnbull, at the same time, with an air of supreme haughtiness, that "she could not possibly permit her daughters to accept such valuable presents from any but their own relations; that if the Lady Bradstones did not know what became them, it was her duty to teach them propriety."

    It was rather late in life to begin to teach, even if they had been inclined to learn. They resented her last lesson, or rather her last act of authority, with acrimony proportioned to the value of the object; and Miss Turnbull was compelled to hear their complaints. Lady Gabriella said, she was convinced that her mother's only reason for making her return the necklace was because she had not one quite so handsome. Lady Agnes, between whom and her mamma there was pending a dispute about a pair of diamond ear-rings, left by her grandmother, observed, that her mother might, if she pleased, call jealousy, propriety; but that she must not be surprised if other people used the old vocabulary; that her mamma's pride and vanity were always at war; for that though she was proud enough to see her daughters show well in public, yet she required to have it said that she looked younger than any of them, and that she was infinitely better dressed.

    Lady Bab and Lady Kitty did not fail in this favourable moment of general discontent to bring forward their list of grievances; and in the discussion of their rights and wrongs they continually appealed to our heroine, crowding round her whilst she stood silent and embarrassed. Ashamed of them and of herself, she compared the Lady Bradstones with Ellen--she compared the sisters-in-law she was soon to have with the friend she had forsaken. The young ladies mistook the expression of melancholy in Almeria's countenance at this instant, for sympathy in their sorrows; and her silence, for acquiescence in the justice of their complaints. They were reiterating their opinions with something like plebeian loudness of voice, when their mother entered the room. The ease with which her daughters changed their countenances and the subject of conversation, when she entered, might have prevented all suspicion but for the blushes of Almeria, who, though of all the party she was the least guilty, looked by far the most abashed. The necklace which hung from her hand, and on which in the midst of her embarrassment her eyes involuntarily fell, seemed to Lady Bradstone proof positive against her. Her ladyship recollected certain words she had heard as she opened the door, and now applied them without hesitation to herself. Politeness restrained the expression of her anger towards Miss Turnbull, but it burst furiously forth upon her daughters; and our heroine was now as much alarmed by the violence of her future mother-in-law as she had been disgusted by the meanness of her intended sisters. From this day forward, Lady Bradstone's manner changed towards Almeria, who could plainly perceive, by her altered eye, that she had lost her confidence, and that her ladyship considered her as one who was playing a double part, and fomenting dissensions in her family. She thought herself bound, in honour to the daughters, not to make any explanation that could throw the blame upon them; and she bore in painful silence the many oblique reproaches, reflections upon ingratitude, dissimulation, and treachery, which she knew were aimed at her. The consciousness that she was treating Lady Bradstone with insincerity, in encouraging the addresses of her son, increased Miss Turnbull's embarrassment; she repented having for a moment encouraged his clandestine attachment; and she now urged him in the strongest manner to impart his intentions to his mother. He assured her that she should be obeyed; but his obedience was put off from day to day; and, in the mean time, the more Almeria saw of his family, the more her desire to be connected with them diminished. The affair of the necklace was continually renewed, in some shape or other, and a perpetual succession of petty disputes occurred, in which both parties were in the wrong, and each openly or secretly blamed her for not taking their part. Her mind was so much harassed, that all her natural cheerfulness forsook her; and the being obliged to assume spirits in company, and among people who were not worth the toil of pleasing, became every hour more irksome. The transition from these domestic miseries to public dissipation and gaieties made her still more melancholy.

    When she calmly examined her own heart, she perceived that she felt little or no affection for Lord Bradstone, though she had been flattered by his attentions, when the assiduity of a man of rank and fashion was new to her; but now the joys of being a countess began to fade in her imagination. She hesitated--she had not strength of mind sufficient to decide--she was afraid to proceed; yet she had not courage to retract.

    Ellen's parting words recurred to her mind--"May you never feel the want of a sincere and affectionate friend! May the triumphs of fashion make you amends for all you sacrifice to obtain them!"--"Alas!" thought she, "Ellen foresaw that I should soon be disgusted with this joyless, heartless intercourse; but how can I recede? how can I disengage myself from this Lord Bradstone, now that I have encouraged his addresses?--Fool that I have been!--Oh! if I could now be advised by that best of friends, who used to assist me in all my difficulties!--But she despises, she has renounced me--she has bid me farewell for ever!"

    Notwithstanding this "farewell for ever," there was still at the bottom of Almeria's heart, even whilst she bewailed herself in this manner, a secret hope that Ellen's esteem and friendship might be recovered, and she resolved to make the trial. She was eager to put this idea into execution the moment it occurred to her; and after apologizing to the Lady Bradstones for not, as usual, accompanying them in their morning ride, she set out to walk to Miss Elmour's lodgings. It was a hot day--she walked fast from the hurry and impatience of her mind. The servant who attended her knocked twice at Mr. Elmour's door before any one answered; at last the door was opened by a maid-servant, with a broom in her hand.

    "Is Miss Elmour at home?"

    "No, sir, she left Cheltenham this morning betimes, and we be getting the house ready for other lodgers."

    Almeria was very much disappointed--she looked flushed and fatigued; and the maid said, "Ma'am, if you'll be pleased to rest a while, you're welcome, I'm sure--and the parlour's cleaned out--be pleased to sit down, ma'am."--Almeria followed, for she was really tired, and glad to accept the good-natured offer. She was shown into the same parlour where she had but a few weeks before taken leave of Ellen. The maid rolled forward the great arm-chair, in which old Mr. Elmour had been seated; and as she moved it, a gold-headed cane fell to the ground.

    Almeria's eyes turned upon it directly as it fell; for it was an old friend of hers: many a time she had played with it when she was a child, and for many years she had been accustomed to see it in the hand of a man whom she loved and respected. It brought many pleasing and some painful associations to her mind--for she reflected how ill she had behaved to the owner of it the last time she saw him.

    "Ay, ma'am," said the maid, "it is the poor old gentleman's cane, sure enough--it has never been stirred from here, nor his hat and gloves, see, since the day he died."

    "Died!--Good Heavens!--Is Mr. Elmour dead?"

    "Yes, sure--he died last Tuesday, and was buried yesterday. You'd better drink some of this water, ma'am," said the girl, filling a glass that stood on the table. "Why! dear heart! I would not have mentioned it so sudden in this way, but I thought it could no way hurt you. Why, it never came into my head you could be a friend of the family's, nor more, may be, at the utmost, than an acquaintance, as you never used to call much during his illness."

    This was the most cutting reproach, and the innocence with which it was uttered made it still more severe. Almeria burst into tears; and the poor girl, not knowing what to say next, and sorry for all she had said, took up the cane, which had fallen from Almeria's hands, and applied herself to brightening the gold head with great diligence. At this instant there was a double knock at the house-door.

    "It's only the young gentleman, ma'am," said the maid, as she went towards the door.

    "What young gentleman?" said Almeria, rising from her seat.

    "Young Mr. Elmour, ma'am: he did not go away with his sister, but stayed to settle some matters. Oh, they have let him in!"

    The maid stood with the parlour-door half open in her hand, not being able to decide in her own fancy whether the lady wished that he should come into the room or stay out; and before either she, or perhaps Almeria, had decided this point, it was settled for them by his walking in. Almeria was standing so as to be hid by the door; and he was so intent upon his own thoughts, that, without perceiving there was any body in the room, he walked straight forward to the table, took up his father's hat and gloves, and gave a deep sigh. He heard his sigh echoed--looked up, and started at the sight of Almeria, but immediately assumed an air of distant and cold respect. He was in deep mourning, and looked pale, as if he had suffered much. Almeria endeavoured to speak; but could get out only a few words, expressive of the shock and astonishment she had just felt.

    "Undoubtedly, madam, you must have been shocked," replied Frederick, in a calm voice; "but you could not have reason to be much astonished. My father's life had been despaired of some time--you must have seen how much he was changed when you were here a few weeks ago." Almeria could make no reply; the tears, in spite of all her efforts to restrain them, rolled down her cheeks: the cold, and almost severe, manner, in which Frederick spoke, and the consciousness that she deserved it, struck her to the heart. He followed her, as she abruptly quitted the room, and in a tone of more kindness, but with the same distant manner, begged to have the honour of attending her home. She bowed her head, to give that assent which her voice could not at this instant utter; and she was involuntarily going to put her arm within his; but, as he did not seem to perceive this motion, she desisted, coloured violently, adjusted the drapery of her gown to give employment to the neglected hand, then walked on with precipitation. Her foot slipped as she was crossing the street; Frederick offered his arm--she could not guess, from the way in which it was presented, whether her former attempt had been perceived or not. This trifle appeared to her a point of the utmost importance; for by this she thought she could decide whether his feelings were really as cold towards her as they appeared, whether he felt love and anger, or contempt and indifference. Whilst she was endeavouring in vain to form her opinion, all the time she leant upon his arm, and walked on in silence, a carriage passed them; Frederick bowed, and his countenance was suddenly illuminated. Almeria turned eagerly to see the cause of the change, and as the carriage drove on she caught a glimpse of a beautiful young lady. A spasm of jealousy seized her heart--she withdrew her arm from Frederick's. The abruptness of the action did not create any emotion in him--his thoughts were absent. In a few minutes he slackened his pace, and turned from the road towards a path across the fields, asking if Miss Turnbull had any objection to going that way to Lady Bradstone's instead of along the dusty road. She made no objection--she thought she perceived that Frederick was preparing to say something of importance to her, and her heart beat violently.

    "Miss Turnbull will not, I hope, think what I am going to say impertinent; she may be assured that it proceeds from no motive but the desire to prevent the future unhappiness of one who once honoured my family with her friendship."

    "You are too good--I do not deserve that you should be interested in my happiness or unhappiness--I cannot think you impertinent--pray speak freely."

    "And quickly," she would have added, if she dared. Without abating any of his reserve from this encouragement, he proceeded precisely in the same tone as before, and with the same steady composure.

    "An accidental acquaintance with a friend of my Lord Bradstone's, has put me in possession of what, perhaps, you wish to be a secret, madam, and what I shall inviolably keep as such."

    "I cannot pretend to be ignorant of what you allude to," said Almeria; "but it is more than probable that you may not have heard the exact state of the business; indeed it is impossible that you should, because no one but myself could fully explain my sentiments. In fact they were undecided; I was this very morning going to consult your sister upon that subject."

    "You will not suppose that I am going to intrude my counsels upon you, Miss Turnbull; nothing can be farther from my intention: I am merely going to mention a fact to you, of which I apprehend you are ignorant, and of which, as you are circumstanced, no one in your present society, perhaps no one in the world but myself, would choose to apprize you. Forgive me, madam, if I try your patience by this preface: I am very desirous not to wound your feelings more than is necessary."

    "Perhaps," said Almeria, with a doubtful smile, "perhaps you are under a mistake, and imagine my feelings to be much more interested than they really are. If you have any thing to communicate to Lord Bradstone's disadvantage, you may mention it to me without hesitation, and without fear of injuring my happiness or his; for, to put you at ease at once, I am come to a determination positively to decline his lordship's addresses."

    "This assurance certainly puts me at ease at once," said Frederick. But Almeria observed that he neither expressed by his voice nor countenance any of that joy which she had hoped to inspire by the assurance: on the contrary, he heard it as a determination in which he was personally unconcerned, and in which pure benevolence alone could give him an interest. "This relieves me," continued he, "from all necessity of explaining myself further."

    "Nay," said Almeria, "but I must beg you will explain yourself. You do not know but it may be necessary for me to have your antidote ready in case of a relapse."

    No change, at least none that betrayed the anxiety of a lover, was visible in Frederick's countenance at this hint of a relapse; but he gravely answered, that, when so urged, he could not forbear to tell her the exact truth, that Lord Bradstone was a ruined man--ruined by gaming--and that he had been so indelicate as to declare to his friend, that his sole object in marrying was money. Our heroine's pride was severely hurt by the last part of this information; but even that did not wound her so keenly as the manner in which Frederick behaved. She saw that he had no remains of affection for her lurking in his heart--she saw that he now acted merely as he declared, from a desire to save from misery one who had formerly honoured his family with her friendship. Stiff, cold words--she endeavoured to talk upon indifferent subjects, but could not--she was somewhat relieved when they reached Lady Bradstone's door, and when Frederick left her. The moment he was gone, however, she ran up stairs to her own apartment, and looked eagerly out of her window to catch the last glimpse of him. Such is the strange caprice of the human heart, that a lover appears the most valuable at the moment he is lost. Our heroine had felt all her affection for Frederick revive with more than its former force within this last hour; and she thought she now loved with a degree of passion of which she had never before found herself capable. Hope is perhaps inseparable from the existence of the passion of love. She passed alternately from despair to the most flattering delusions: she fancied that Frederick's coldness was affected--that he was acting only from honour--that he wished to leave her at liberty--and that as soon as he knew she was actually disengaged from Lord Bradstone, he would fly to her with all his former eagerness. This notion having once taken possession of her mind, she was impatient in the extreme to settle her affairs with Lord Bradstone. He was not at home--he did not come in till late in the evening. It happened, that the next day Almeria was to be of age; and Lord Bradstone, when he met her in the evening, reminded her of her promise not "to prolong the torments of suspense beyond that period." She asked whether he had, in compliance with her request, communicated the affair to Lady Bradstone? No; but he would as soon as he had reasonable grounds of hope. Miss Turnbull rejoiced that he had disobeyed her injunctions--she said that Lady Bradstone might now be for ever spared hearing what would have inevitably excited her indignation. His lordship stared, and could not comprehend our heroine's present meaning. She soon made it intelligible. We forbear to relate all that was said upon the occasion: as it was a disappointment of the purse and not of the heart, his lordship was of course obliged to make a proportional quantity of professions of eternal sorrow and disinterestedness. Almeria, partly to save her own pride the mortification of the repetition, forbore to allude to the confidential speech in which he had explained to a friend his motives for marrying; she hoped that he would soon console himself with some richer heiress, and she rejoiced to be disencumbered of him, and even of his coronet; for in this moment coronets seemed to her but paltry things--so much does the appearance of objects vary according to the medium through which they are viewed!

    Better satisfied with herself after this refusal of the earl, and in better spirits than she had been for some months, she flattered herself with the hopes that Frederick would call upon her again before he left Cheltenham; he would then know that Lord Bradstone was no longer her lover.

    She fell asleep full of these imaginations--dreamed of Frederick and Elmour Grove--but this was only a dream. The next day--and the next--and the next--passed without her seeing or hearing any thing of Frederick; and the fourth day, as she rode by the house where the Elmours had lodged, she saw put up in the parlour window an advertisement of "Lodgings to be let." She was now convinced that Frederick had left Cheltenham--left it without thinking of her or of Lord Bradstone. The young Lady Bradstones observed that she scarcely spoke a word during the remainder of her morning's ride. At night she was attacked with a feverish complaint: the image of the beautiful person whom she had seen in the coach that passed while she was walking with Frederick, was now continually before her eyes. She had made all the inquiries she could, to find out who that young lady might be; but this point could not be ascertained, because, though she described the lady accurately, she was not equally exact about the description of the carriage. The arms and livery had totally escaped her observation. The different conjectures that had been made by the various people to whom she had applied, and the voices in which their answers were given, ran in her head all this feverish night.

    "Perhaps it was Lady Susanna Quin--very likely it was Lady Mary Lowther--very possibly Miss Grant; you know she goes about with old Mrs. Grant in a yellow coach--but there are so many yellow coaches--the arms or the livery would settle the point at once." These words, the arms and the livery would settle the point at once, she repeated to herself perpetually, though without annexing any ideas to the words. In short, she was very feverish all night; and in the morning, though she endeavoured to rise, she was obliged to lie down again. She was confined to her bed for about a week: Lady Bradstone sent for the best physicians; and the young ladies, in the intervals of dressing and going out, whenever they could remember it, came into Miss Turnbull's room to "hope she found herself better." It was obvious to her that no one person in the house cared a straw about her, and she was oppressed with the sense of being an encumbrance to the whole family. Whilst she was alone she formed many projects for her future life, which she resolved to execute as soon as she should recover. She determined immediately to go down to her own house in the country, and to write to Ellen a recantation of all her fine lady errors. She composed, whilst she lay on her feverish pillow, twenty letters to her former friend, each of them more eloquent and magnanimous than the other: but in proportion as her fever left her, the activity of her imagination abated, and with it her eloquence and magnanimity. Her mind, naturally weak, and now enfeebled by disease, became quite passive, and received and yielded to the impressions made by external circumstances. New trains of ideas, perfectly different from those which had occupied her mind during her fever, and in the days preceding her illness, were excited during her convalescence. She lay listening to, or rather hearing, the conversation of the young Lady Bradstones. They used to come into her room at night, and stay for some time whilst they had their hair curled, and talked over the events of the day--whom they had met--what dresses they had worn--what matches were on the tapis, &c. They happened one night to amuse themselves with reading an old newspaper, in which they came to an account of a splendid masquerade, which had been given the preceding winter in London by a rich heiress.

    "Lord! what charming entertainments Miss Turnbull might give if she pleased. Why, do you know, she is richer than this woman," whispered Lady Bab; "and she is of age now, you know. If I were she, I'm sure I'd have a house of my own, and the finest I could get in London. Now such a house as my aunt Pierrepoint's--and servants--and carriages--and I would make myself of some consequence."

    This speech was not lost upon our heroine; and the whisper in which it was spoken increased its effect. The next day, as Lady Bab was sitting at the foot of Almeria's bed, she asked for a description of "my aunt Pierrepoint's house." It was given to her con amore, and a character of "my aunt Pierrepoint" was added gratis. "She is the most charming amiable woman in the world--quite a different sort of person from mamma. She has lived all her life about court, and she is connected with all the great people, and a prodigious favourite at court--and she is of such consequence!--You cannot imagine of what consequence she is!"

    Lady Gabriella then continued the conversation, by telling Miss Turnbull a great secret, that her aunt Pierrepoint and her mother were not on the best terms in the world: "for mamma's so violent, you know, about politics, and quite on a contrary side to my aunt. Mamma never goes to court; and, between you and me, they say she would not be received. Now that is a shocking thing for us; but the most provoking part of the business is, that mamma won't let my aunt Pierrepoint present us. Why, when she cannot or will not go to the drawing-room herself, what could be more proper, you know, than to let us be presented by Lady Pierrepoint?--Lady Pierrepoint, you know, who is such a prodigious favourite, and knows every thing in the world that's proper at court, and every where: it really is monstrous of mamma! Now if you were in our places, should not you be quite provoked? By-the-bye, you never were presented at court yourself, were you?"

    "Never," said Almeria, with a sudden feeling of mortification.

    "No, you could not--of course you could not, living with mamma as you do; for I am sure she would quarrel with an angel for just only talking of going to court. Lord! if I was as rich as you, what beautiful birthday dresses I would have!"

    These and similar conversations wrought powerfully upon the weak mind of our poor heroine. She rose from her bed after her illness wondering what had become of her passion for Frederick Elmour: certainly she was now able to console herself for his loss, by the hopes of being presented at court, and of being dressed with uncommon splendour. She was surprised at this change in her own mind; but she justified it to herself by the reflection, that it would show an unbecoming want of spirit to retain any remains of regard for one who had treated her with so much coldness and indifference, and who in all probability was attached to another woman. Pride and resentment succeeded to tenderness; and she resolved to show Frederick and Ellen that she could be happy her own way. It is remarkable that her friendship for the sister always increased or decreased with her love for her brother. Ambition, as it has often been observed, is a passion that frequently succeeds to love, though love seldom follows ambition. Almeria, who had now recovered her strength, was one morning sitting in her own room, meditating arrangements for the next winter's campaign, when she was roused by the voices of Lady Bab and Lady Kitty at her room door.

    "Miss Turnbull! Miss Turnbull! come! come!--Here's the king and queen and all the royal family, and my aunt Pierrepoint--come quick to our dressing-room windows, or they will be out of sight."

    The fair hoydens seized her between them, and dragged her away.

    "Mamma says it's horribly vulgar to run to the windows, but never mind that. There's my aunt Pierrepoint's coach--is not it handsome?--Oh! everything about her is so handsome!--you know she has lived all her life at court."

    The eulogiums of these young ladies, and the sight of Lady Pierrepoint's entry in to Cheltenham in the wake of royalty, and the huzzas of the mob, and the curiosity of all ranks who crowded the public walks in the evening, to see the illustrious guest, contributed to raise our heroine's enthusiasm. She was rather surprised afterwards to observe that Lady Pierrepoint passed her sister and nieces, on the public walk, without taking the slightest notice of them; her head was turned indeed quite another way when she passed, and she was in smiling conversation with one of her own party.

    Lady Gabriella whispered, "My aunt Pierrepoint cannot know us now, because we are with mamma."

    Miss Turnbull now, for the first time, saw Lady Bradstone in a situation in which she was neglected; this served to accelerate the decline and fall of her ladyship's power over her mind. She began to consider her not as a person by whom she had been brought into notice in the circles of fashion, but as one by whom she was prevented from rising to a higher orbit. Lady Bradstone went to see her sister the day after her arrival, but she was not at home. Some days afterwards Lady Pierrepoint returned her visit: she came in a sedan chair, because she did not wish that her carriage should be seen standing at Lady Bradstone's door. It was incumbent upon her to take every possible precaution to prevent the suspicion of her being biassed by sisterly affection; her sister and she were unfortunately of such different opinions in politics, and her sister's politics were so much disapproved of, where Lady Pierrepoint most wished for approbation, that she could not, consistently with her principles or interest, countenance them, by appearing in public with one so obnoxious.

    Miss Turn bull observed, with the most minute attention, every word and gesture of Lady Pierrepoint. At first view, her ladyship appeared all smiling ease and affability; but in all her motions, even in those of her face, there was something that resembled a puppet--her very smiles, and the turns of her eyes, seemed to be governed by unseen wires. Upon still closer observation, however, there was reason to suspect that this puppet might be regulated by a mind within, of some sort or other; for it could not only answer questions by a voice of its own, and apparently without being prompted, but moreover it seemed to hesitate, and to take time for thought, before it hazarded any reply. Lady Pierrepoint spoke always as if she thought her words would be repeated, and must lead to consequences; and there was an air of vast circumspection and mystery about her, which appeared sublime or ridiculous according to the light in which it was considered. To our heroine it appeared sublime. Her ladyship's conversation, if a set of unmeaning phrases be deserving of that name, at length turned upon the concern she felt that it had not been in her power to procure an increase of pension for a certain Mrs. Vickars. "Such a respectable character!--the widow of a distant relation of the Pierrepoints." There was no probability, after all the interest and influence she had used, she said, that Mrs. Vickars could ever be gratified in the line she had attempted; that therefore it was her ladyship's advice to her to look out for some situation of an eligible description, which might relieve her from the distressing apprehension of appearing burdensome or importunate.

    As well as her ladyship's meaning could be made out, cleared from the superfluity of words with which it was covered, she wished to get rid of this poor widow, and to fasten her as an humble companion upon any body who would be troubled with such a respectable character! Miss Turnbull foresaw the possibility of obliging her ladyship by means of Mrs. Vickars: for as she proposed to purchase a house in town, it would be convenient to her to have some companion; and this lady, who was of a certain age, and who had always lived in the best company, would be well suited to serve as her chaperon. To do our heroine justice, considering that she was unpractised in manoeuvring with court ladies, she conducted her scheme with a degree of address worthy of her object. Through the medium of Lady Bab and Lady Gabriella, she opened a correspondence with Lady Pierrepoint. Mrs. Vickars was introduced to Miss Turnbull--liked her prodigiously; and Lady Pierrepoint was most happy in the prospect of her relation's being so eligibly situated. In proportion as Miss Turnbull advanced in the good graces of Lady Pierrepoint, she receded from Lady Bradstone. This lady's indignation, which had been excited against Almeria by her not siding with her against her daughters, now rose to the highest pitch, when she perceived what was going on. No crime could in her eyes be greater than that of seceding from her party. Her violence in party matters was heightened by the desire to contrast herself with her sister Pierrepoint's courtly policy. Lady Bradstone, all the time, knew and cared very little about politics, except so far as they afforded her opportunities for the display of spirit and eloquence. She had a fine flow of words, and loved to engage in argument, especially as she had often been told by gentlemen that her enthusiasm became her extremely, and that, even if a man could resist the force of her arguments, he must yield to the fire of her eyes. It happened that Miss Turnbull was present one day when Lady Bradstone had been unusually warm in a political argument, and Lady Pierrepoint as cool and guarded as her sister was eager. Almeria was appealed to, and gave judgment in favour of Lady Pierrepoint, who happened to be in the right. Regardless of right or wrong, Lady Bradstone became more and more vehement, whilst Lady Pierrepoint sat in all the composed superiority of silence, maintaining the most edifying meekness of countenance imaginable, as if it were incumbent on her to be, or at least to seem, penitent for a sister's perversity. She sighed deeply when the tirade was finished, and fixed her eyes upon her beautiful niece Gabriella. Lady Gabriella immediately filled up the pause by declaring that she knew nothing of politics and hoped she never should, for that she did not know of what use they were to women, except to prevent them from going to court.

    Lady Bradstone expressed high indignation at perceiving that her daughters thought more of dancing at a birthnight ball than of the good of the nation.

    Mrs. Vickars, who was present, now interposed a word as mediatrix, observing, that it was natural for the young ladies at their age: and Miss Turnbull, catching or imitating something of the tone of Lady Pierrepoint, ventured to add, that "it was a pity that Lady Bradstone's daughters did not enjoy all the advantages of their high rank, and that she really wished Lady Bradstone could be prevailed upon to enter into conciliatory measures."

    On hearing this speech, Lady Bradstone, no longer able to restrain her anger within the bounds of politeness, exclaimed, "I am not surprised at receiving such advice from you, Miss Turnbull; but I own I am astonished at hearing such sentiments from my daughters. High sentiments are to be expected from high birth."

    How Lady Bradstone contrived to make her aristocratic pride of birth agree with her democratic principles, it may be difficult to explain; but fortunately the idea of preserving consistency never disturbed her self-complacency. Besides, to keep her ladyship in countenance, there are so many examples of persons who live as royalists and talk as republicans.

    Almeria could not brook the affront implied by Lady Bradstone's last speech; and matters were now brought to a crisis: she resolved not to remain longer in a house where she was exposed to such insults. She was of "age, and, thank Heaven! independent."

    Lady Bradstone made no opposition to her determination; but congratulated her upon the prospect of becoming independent."

    "I agree with you, Miss Turnbull, in thanking Heaven for making me independent. Independence of mind, of course," added she, "I value above independence of purse."

    Whatever vexation our heroine might feel from this speech, and from the perfect indifference with which Lady Bradstone parted from her, was compensated by the belief that she had by her conduct this evening ingratiated herself with Lady Pierrepoint. She was confirmed in this opinion by Mrs. Vickars, who said that her ladyship afterwards spoke of Miss Turnbull as a very judicious and safe young person, whom she should not scruple to protect. She was even so condescending as to interest herself about the house in town, which Miss Turnbull talked of purchasing: she knew that a noble friend of hers, who was going on a foreign embassy, had thoughts of parting with his house; and it would certainly suit Miss Turnbull, if she could compass the purchase. Almeria felt herself highly honoured by her ladyship's taking a concern in any of her affairs; and she begged of Mrs. Vickars to say, that "expense was no object to her." She consequently paid a few hundred guineas more than the value of the house, for the honour of Lady Pierrepoint's interference. Her ladyship saw into the weakness of our heroine's character, and determined to make advantage of it. It was a maxim of hers, that there is no person so insignificant, but some advantage may be made of them; and she had acted upon this principle through life, sometimes so as to excite in the minds of the ignorant a high admiration of her affability. It is said, that when Lady Pierrepoint was asked why she married, she replied, "To increase my consequence, and strengthen my connexions."

    Perhaps this speech was made for her by some malicious wit; but it is certain that she never upon any occasion of her life neglected an opportunity of acting upon this principle. She was anxious with this view to have as many dependents as possible: and she well knew that those who were ambitious of a curtsy from her at the playhouse, or a whisper at the opera, were as effectually her dependents as the mendicants at her door, who are in want of a shilling. The poor may be held in the iron fetters of necessity, but the rich are dragged behind the car of fashion by the golden chains of vanity.

    The summer in the life of a fine lady is a season comparatively of so little consequence, that the judicious historian may pass over some months of it without their being missed in the records of time. He hastens to the busy and important season of winter.

    Our heroine took possession of her magnificent house in town: and Mrs. Vickars was established as arbitratrix elegantiarum.

    This lady deemed herself a judge in the last appeal of every thing that became a person of fashion; and her claim to infallibility upon those points was established by her being fourth cousin to Lady Pierrepoint. Almeria soon discovered in her companion an inordinate love of power, and an irritability of temper, which misfortunes and ill health had increased to such a degree that it required more than the patience of a female Job to live with her upon good terms. Martyrs in the cause of vanity certainly exhibit wonderful, if not admirable, fortitude, in the midst of the absurd and extravagant torments which they inflict upon themselves. Our heroine endured for a whole season, without any outward complaint, but with many an inward groan, the penance which she had imposed upon herself: the extent of it can be comprehended only by those who have been doomed to live with a thoroughly ill-tempered woman. The reward was surely proportioned to the sufferings. Miss Turnbull received a smile, or a nod, or something like a curtsy from Lady Pierrepoint, whenever she met her in public; her ladyship's cards were occasionally left at the Yorkshire heiress's door; and she sometimes honoured Miss Turnbull's crowded rooms, by crowding them still more with her august presence. There was further reason to hope, that her ladyship might be induced to present Almeria at court before the next birthday. All these advantages were to be attributed to Mrs. Vickars, for she was the connecting link between two beings of inferior and superior order. We forbear to describe, or even to enumerate, the variety of balls, suppers, dinners, déjeunés, galas, and masquerades, which Miss Turnbull gave to the fashionable world during this winter. The generous public forget these things the week after they are over; and the consequence they bestow endures no longer than the track of a triumphal chariot.

    Our heroine was never fully convinced of this truth till it was confirmed by her own experience. She found it necessary continually to renew her expensive efforts, to keep herself alive in the memory of her great acquaintance. Towards the time when she expected to be presented at court by Lady Pierrepoint, a sudden coolness was apparent in her ladyship's manner; and one morning Almeria was surprised by a note from her, regretting, in the most polite but positive terms, that it would be absolutely out of her power to have the honour of presenting Miss Turnbull at St. James's. In the utmost consternation, Almeria flew for an explanation to Mrs. Vickars. Mrs. Vickars was in a desperate fit of the sullens, which had lasted now upwards of eight-and-forty hours, ever since her advice had not been taken about the placing of certain bronze figures, with antique lamps in their hands, upon the great staircase. It was necessary to bring the lady into a good humour in the first place, by yielding to her uncontrolled dominion over the candelabras. This point being settled, and an unqualified submission in all matters of taste, past, present, or to come, declared or implied on the part of our heroine, Mrs. Vickars on her part promised to set out immediately on an embassy to Lady Pierrepoint, to discover the cause of the present discontent. After making sundry ineffectual attempts to see her noble relation, she was at last admitted; and after one hour's private audience, she returned to the anxious Almeria with a countenance lengthened to the utmost stretch of melancholy significance.

    "What is the matter, Mrs. Vickars?"

    It was long before this question was answered; but after many friendly lamentations, Mrs. Vickars could not help observing, that Miss Turnbull had nobody to blame in this business but herself. This, or any thing else, she was willing to admit, to get at the point, "But what have I done? I dare say it is, as you say, all my own fault--but tell me how?"

    "How!--Can you, my dearest Miss Turnbull, forget that you did the most imprudent and really unaccountable thing, that ever woman did?--Lady Pierrepoint had it from Stock the banker. Now you must be certainly conscious to what I allude."

    Almeria still looked innocent till Mrs. Vickars produced the book dedicated to Lady Bradstone, for twelve copies of which Miss Turnbull had subscribed. Her name was printed among the list of subscribers, and there was no palliating the fact. When her companion saw that she was quite overwhelmed with the sense of this misfortune, she began to hint, that though the evil was great, it was not without remedy; that in her own private opinion, Lady Pierrepoint might have passed over the thing, if she had not heard it at a most unlucky moment. The provoking banker mentioned it to her ladyship just after he had disappointed her of certain moneys, for which she was negotiating. From her situation and means of obtaining secret and early intelligence, she had it frequently in her power to make money by selling in or out of the stocks. Such an opportunity at present occurred; and "it was a great pity," Mrs. Vickars observed, "that the want of a little ready money should preclude her from the possibility of profiting by her situation." Miss Turnbull, who was not deficient in quickness of comprehension, upon this hint immediately said, "that her ladyship might command some thousands which she had in Sir Thomas Stock's bank." Lady Pierrepoint the next day found that it would be best to hush up the affair of the subscription to the fatal pamphlet. She said, "that she had with infinite satisfaction ascertained, that the thing had not been noticed in the quarter where she feared it would have created an insuperable prejudice--that there were other Turnbulls, as she was happy to understand, in the world, besides Mrs. Vickars's friend; and that as, in the list of subscribers, she was mentioned only as Miss Turnbull, not as Almeria Turnbull, all was safe, and nobody would suspect that a lady presented at court by my Lady Pierrepoint could be the same person that subscribed to a book of such a description."

    This affair being adjusted, the league was tacitly formed between interest and vanity. Miss Turnbull was presented at court by Lady Pierrepoint, and her ladyship bought into the stocks with the Yorkshire heiress's money. The gratification of Almeria's ambition, however, did not complete her happiness. When she was at the summit of the Alps of fashion, she saw how little was to be seen.

    Though she liked to have it to say that she was a great deal with Lady Pierrepoint, yet the time always passed most heavily in her company; nor was the inferiority of this lady's understanding compensated by an affectionate heart. Her smoothly polished exterior prevented all possibility of obtaining any hold over her. She had the art at once to seem to be intimate with people, and to keep them at the greatest distance; as, in certain optical deceptions, an object which appears close to us, eludes our hand if we attempt to grasp it. Almeria felt the want of that species of unreserved confidence and friendship which she had formerly enjoyed with Ellen. In judging of what will make us happy, we are apt to leave time out of the account; and this leads to most important errors. For a short period we may be amused or gratified by what will fatigue and disgust us if long continued. The first winter that she spent in dissipation she was amused; but winter after winter passed; and the recurrence of the same public diversions, and the same faces, and the same common-place conversation, wearied instead of interesting her. But as the pleasure of novelty declined, the power of habit increased; and she continued the same course of life for six years--six long years! against both her judgment and her feelings, the absolute slave of an imaginary necessity. Thus the silly chicken remains prisoner in a circle of chalk: even when the hand by which it was held down is removed, it feels an imaginary pressure, from which it dares not even attempt to escape.

    Almeria, however, was now arrived at an age when she could no longer, with any propriety, be called a chicken: she was seven-and-twenty; and the effect of keeping late hours, and the continual petty irritations to which she had been subject, were sufficiently visible in her countenance. She looked in a morning so faded and haggard, that any one not used to the wear and tear of fashionable faces would have guessed Almeria's age to be seven-and-thirty instead of seven-and-twenty. During her six campaigns in London, she or her fortune had made many conquests; but none of her London captives had ever obtained any power over her affections, and her ambition could not decide upon the pretensions of her several suitors. Lady Pierrepoint, who was her prime adviser, had an interest in keeping her unmarried; because during this time her ladyship employed most advantageously certain moneys, which she had borrowed from our heiress. This female politician made some objection to every proposal; continually repeating, that Miss Turnbull might do better--that she might look higher--that with her pretensions, there could be no doubt that she would have a variety of advantageous offers--and that her play should be to raise her value by rejecting, without hesitation, all pretenders but those of the first distinction. Lady Pierrepoint, who usually spoke with all the ambiguity of an oracle, seemed on this subject more than usually mysterious. She dropped half sentences, then checked herself, hinted that she was not at liberty to speak out; but that she had her own private reasons for advising her friend Miss Turnbull not to be precipitate in her choice. Her ladyship's looks said more than her words, and Almeria interpreted them precisely as she wished. There was a certain marquis, whom she sometimes met at Lady Pierrepoint's, and whom she would have been pleased to meet more frequently. He was neither young, nor handsome, nor witty, nor wise. What was he then?--He was a marquis--and is not that enough?--Almeria saw that he was looked up to as a person of great influence and importance, and she now had the habit of trusting to the eyes and ears of others. She now considered what people were thought of, not what they really were; and according to this mode of estimation she could not fail to form a high opinion of this exalted personage. He paid her distinguished, but not decisive attention; and perhaps the uncertainty in which she was kept as to his views increased her interest upon the subject. There was always some obstacle, which seemed to prevent him from declaring himself:--at one time he was suddenly obliged to go ambassador to some foreign court; he went, and stayed a year; at his return he was immersed in politics, and deplored his hard fate in terms which Almeria thought it was impossible not to construe favourably to her wishes. She thought she was upon the point of becoming a marchioness, when his lordship was again sent into what he called banishment. Lady Pierrepoint had constantly letters from him, however; passages from which she from time to time read to Almeria, in whose weak mind this kept alive an indistinct hope, for which she had no rational foundation. She was confirmed in her belief that the marquis had serious thoughts of her, by the opinion of Mrs. Vickars, who she thought was in the secret, and who certainly would not speak decidedly without sufficient reason. Indeed, nothing but the pleasure she received from Mrs. Vickars's favourable prognostics upon this subject could have in any degree balanced the pain she daily endured from this lady's fretful temper. Almeria submitted to her domineering humour, and continued to propitiate her with petty sacrifices, more from fear than love--from fear that her adverse influence might be fatal to her present scheme of aggrandizement. Weak minds are subject to this apprehension of control from secret causes utterly inadequate to their supposed effects; and thus they put their destiny into the hands of persons who could not otherwise obtain influence over their fate.

    The time at length arrived when our heroine was to be confirmed in her expectations, or wakened from her state of self-delusion. The marquis returned from abroad, and Lady Pierrepoint wrote a note more mysteriously worded than usual, signifying that she "wished to have a conference with Miss Turnbull on a subject of some importance; and begged to know at what hour in the morning she might be secure of the pleasure of finding her at home." Almeria named her hour, and waited for its arrival with no small impatience. Lady Pierrepoint's thundering knock at the door was heard; her ladyship was shown up stairs; and she entered the room with a countenance that seemed to promise well. She preluded with many flattering phrases--declared that ever since she had been first acquainted with Miss Turnbull at Cheltenham, she had always considered her with sentiments of esteem, of which she had since given indeed the most convincing proofs, by accepting of obligations from her.

    "Obligations!" exclaimed Almeria, with an air of polite astonishment.

    "Yes, my dear Miss Turnbull," continued her ladyship, with still more polite humility, "I am under obligations to you assuredly. Things of a pecuniary nature ought not to be named, I confess, in the same sentence with friendship; yet for the sake of one's family it is, whilst we remain in this world, the duty of every one to pay a certain degree of attention to such points; and a person who has, like me, advantages of situation and connexions, would not be justifiable in neglecting, under due limitations, to make use of them."

    Miss Turnbull readily assented to these guarded truisms, but wondered to what all this was to lead.

    "The money which you have had the goodness to trust in my hands," continued her ladyship, "has, without in the least impoverishing, or, I hope, inconveniencing you, been of the most material advantage to me."

    Almeria comprehended that her ladyship referred to her speculations in the stocks, and she congratulated her upon her success; and added assurances, that for her own part she had not been in the slightest degree inconvenienced. Whilst Miss Turnbull uttered these assurances, however, she was not sorry to see Lady Pierrepoint take out of her pocket-book bank notes to the amount of her debt; for in plain truth, the interest of this loan had never been punctually paid; and Almeria had often regretted that she had placed so much of her fortune out of her own power. "Let me now return these to you with a thousand thanks," said her ladyship. "Indeed, my niece Gabriella has more reason even than I have to thank you; for you must know, my dear Miss Turnbull, that all my speculations have been for her. From the time that she came to live with me, I was determined that she should be properly established; and you must be sensible that, for a young lady's establishment in our days, money is as essential as beauty. La belle Gabrielle is now provided for as she ought to be, and of course the consequence will be a suitable alliance." Miss Turnbull expressed her satisfaction at finding that her money had been instrumental in attaining so happy a purpose, and presumed to ask if her ladyship had any immediate alliance in view.

    "It is a secret as yet; but I have no secrets for you, my dear Miss Turnbull: indeed, I came here this morning by our dear Gabriella's particular desire to communicate it to you. I flatter myself you will approve of her choice--our favourite marquis."

    Almeria was so much astonished and shocked by these words, that she turned as pale as if she were going to faint. "Our favourite marquis!" she repeated in a faltering voice; "I thought----"

    The fear of becoming ridiculous restrained her anger, and she paused.--"You thought, perhaps," resumed the perfectly-composed Lady Pierrepoint, "you thought, perhaps, my dear, that there was too great a disparity of age between Gabriella and the marquis."

    "Oh! no."

    "Why, that is an objection, I confess; at least it would be to some young ladies: but as Gabriella is satisfied, we may waive that."

    "Oh! yes, certainly."

    "One cannot help being interested for him; he is such a respectable character--and so much in love! It would really surprise you, my dear; for you know he was a man, one would have imagined, so much immersed in politics--I protest I never had a suspicion of his having a thought of Gabriella, till the proposal was absolutely made."

    "I am sure I never suspected the marquis's attachment to Lady Gabriella," said Miss Turnbull: "on the contrary--"

    "On the contrary," pursued Lady Pierrepoint, "he paid her always, as I remember, less attention than to twenty others, who were indifferent to him."

    The struggle was still violent in our heroine's mind between rage and the dread of exposing herself to ridicule. Lady Pierrepoint saw this, and coolly held her in this dilemma.

    "Now," continued her ladyship, "men are such unaccountable creatures, one never can understand them. Do you know, my dear Miss Turnbull, I had, till his lordship explained himself unequivocally to me, a notion that he was in love with you."

    "Really!" said our heroine, forcing a laugh.

    "Did your friend Mrs. Vickars never tell you so?"

    "Yes, she did--frequently."

    "Both of us mistaken, you see, my dear. Mortifying! to find one's judgment so fallible. I tell the marquis, he might absolutely have been privately married to Gabriella without my finding him out--it is so easy now, the easiest thing in the world, to impose upon me. Well, I must bid you adieu for the present, my dear Miss Turnbull--you may imagine I have a world of business on my hands."

    With the utmost appearance of cordiality Lady Pierrepoint shook our heroine's receding hand; and, without seeming to notice the painful emotions visible in Almeria's countenance, departed smiling, and perfectly composed.

    The moment that her ladyship had left the room, our heroine retired to her own apartment, and hastily bolted the door to prevent the intrusion of Mrs. Vickars, whose curiosity and condolence, whether real or affected, she was not in a humour to endure. She walked up and down the room in great agitation, by turns angry with Lady Pierrepoint, with the marquis, with Lady Gabriella, with Mrs. Vickars, and with herself. After her anger had spent itself, the sorrowful certainty that it was unavailing remained; the disappointment was irremediable, and her mortification was the more poignant, because she had no human being to sympathize in her feelings, no one to whom she could complain.

    "So this is fashionable friendship!" said she to herself. "This is the end of all Lady Pierrepoint's and Lady Gabriella's professions of regard for me!--Fool that I have been, to become their dupe!--With my eyes open I saw nothing that was going forward, though now I can recollect a thousand and a thousand circumstances, by which I might have been undeceived. But I trusted implicitly--idiot that I was!--to the friendship of this treacherous, unfeeling courtier. Once I had a friend, to whom I might trust implicitly--I never, never, shall find her equal."

    A transient recollection of former times crossed her mind--but those times could not be recalled; and the present pressed upon her most forcibly. Frustrated in all her ambitious schemes, she was sensible that all that now remained for her was to conceal her disappointment, and to avoid the contempt to which she would be exposed in the world, if it were whispered that Miss Turnbull had fancied that the Marquis of ---- was in love with her, whilst he was all the while paying his addresses to Lady Gabriella Bradstone. This powerful fear of ridicule conquered, or suppressed, all other feelings. With all the resolution she could assume, Almeria went to Mrs. Vickars, and congratulated her upon the happy event which was soon likely to take place in her family: she even constrained herself so far, as, without expressing either suspicion or resentment, to hear her companion disclaim all knowledge of the affair, and declare that she had, that morning, for the first time, heard of it from Lady Pierrepoint, with a degree of astonishment from which she had not yet recovered.

    In a few weeks afterwards Lady Gabriella's marriage took place. Our heroine's mortification was much increased by the splendour in which the bride appeared, and by the great share of the public attention which the fair marchioness seemed for some days to engross. Miss Turnbull was weary of hearing the praises of her equipages and dress; and the dissimulation she was continually obliged to practise towards Mrs. Vickars became intolerable. Nothing but a pretext for quarrelling with this lady was wanting to Almeria, and nothing but an excuse for leaving Almeria was now desired by Mrs. Vickars, who had received an invitation from the marchioness, which she was impatient to accept. The ladies one morning after breakfast fell into a dispute upon the comparative merits of blue and green. It was not to all appearance a very dangerous subject, but in certain situations every subject becomes dangerous.

    "This riband is a beautiful blue," said Miss Turnbull.

    "I confess I do not think so," said Mrs. Vickars; "it is a very unbecoming shade of blue."

    "Unbecoming!--I have been told by twenty people, that it is remarkably becoming to me. Mrs. Ingoldsby told me yesterday, that she never saw so beautiful a blue."

    "Mrs. Ingoldsby's taste is not infallible, I imagine," said Mrs. Vickars, with a contemptuous smile.

    "It may not be infallible," replied our heroine, "but it is at least as much to be relied upon as other people's."

    "I am sure I do not pretend to compare my taste to Mrs. Ingoldsby's; but I may be permitted to have an opinion of my own, I hope: and in my opinion it is a frightful blue, and shockingly unbecoming. And at all events I like green infinitely better than blue; and I beseech you, Miss Turnbull, not to wear this hideous riband."

    "I am sure I don't pretend to set my taste in competition with Mrs. Vickars's, but I must confess I cannot think this a frightful blue, or shockingly unbecoming; nor can I agree with any body in preferring green to blue; and for once I shall take the liberty of following my own fancy."

    "For once!--I am sorry I ever presumed to offer an opinion upon this or any other subject to Miss Turnbull--I shall be more cautious in future; but I candidly own I did think I might prefer green to blue without giving offence."

    "It gives me no offence, I assure you, Mrs. Vickars, that you should prefer green to blue; I am not so ridiculous. But people who cannot bear to be contradicted themselves are always apt to fancy that others have the same strange sort of domineering temper."

    "People who can bear nothing but flattery, Miss Turnbull, should have such a friend as Mrs. Ingoldsby, who would swear that blue is green, and black white, I make no doubt," said Mrs. Vickars; "for my part, I am sorry I cannot get rid of my troublesome sincerity."

    "Sincerity! Sincerity!--To do you justice, Mrs. Vickars, whatever I may have felt about trifles, in affairs of importance I have never found your sincerity troublesome."

    The ironical accent upon the word sincerity sufficiently marked Miss Turnbull's meaning.

    The irritable temper of Mrs. Vickars put it out of her power to act a part with that "exquisite dissimulation," for which some of her sex have been celebrated by the judicious Davila. Thrown off her guard by the last sarcastic insinuation, Mrs. Vickars burst into an angry defence of her own sincerity with respect to the affair of the marquis and Lady Gabriella. Almeria observed, that this "defence was quite unnecessary, as she had not made any accusation; and these apologies could be prompted only by Mrs. Vickars's own tenderness of conscience." Mrs. Vickars replied with increasing acrimony. She said, that her "conduct needed no apologies, and that she should not stoop to make any, to soothe the disappointed ambition of any person whatever." Reproach succeeded reproach--sarcasm produced sarcasm--till at last Mrs. Vickars declared, that after what had passed it was impossible she should remain another day in Miss Turnbull's house. This declaration was heard by Almeria with undisguised satisfaction. The next day Mrs. Vickars accepted of an invitation from the marchioness; and our heroine afterwards protested that she was as much rejoiced to be freed from the encumbrance of such a companion as Sinbad the sailor was to get rid of the old man of the sea, who fastened himself upon his shoulders with such remorseless tenacity.

    She resolved to be more cautious in choice of her next companion. There were many candidates for the honour of supplying the place of Mrs. Vickars; amongst these was Mrs. Ingoldsby, a lady who was perfect mistress of the whole art of flattery, by means of which she had so far ingratiated herself with Miss Turnbull, that she felt secure of a preference over all competitors. Almeria had indeed almost decided in her favour, when she received a note from a Mrs. Wynne, an old lady with whom she had formerly been acquainted in Yorkshire, and who, being just come to town, was eager to renew her intimacy with Miss Turnbull. She was a woman of an excellent heart, and absolutely incapable of suspecting that others could be less frank or friendly than herself. She was sometimes led into mistakes by this undistinguishing benevolence; for she imagined that all which appeared wrong would prove right, if properly understood; that there must be some good reason for every thing that seemed to be bad; that every instance of unkindness or insolence was undesigned; and that every quarrel was only a misunderstanding. Possessed by this good-natured kind of wrong-headedness, she frequently did the most provoking, by way of doing the most obliging things imaginable.

    Upon this principle she would place contending parties by surprise in the very situation which of all others they most wished to avoid, and then give the signal for a pitched battle, by begging the enemies would shake hands with one another. Now she had heard it reported in Yorkshire that there was some coolness between the Elmours and Miss Turnbull; but she was morally certain there could be no truth in this report, for a variety of the very best reasons in the world.

    "In the first place," argued Mrs. Wynne, "to my certain knowledge, Miss Turnbull was, from her infancy, always the greatest favourite at Elmour Grove, the pupil of the good old gentleman, and the intimate friend of the daughter. During that odd Hodgkinson's lifetime, Almeria was always with Miss Ellen Elmour, who treated her quite like a sister. I am sure I remember, as if it was yesterday, her introducing Miss Turnbull to me, and the affectionate way in which she spoke of her--and I particularly recollect hearing Almeria Turnbull, amongst other grateful things, say, that she should wish to live and die with her friends at Elmour Grove. Then she had stronger reasons afterwards for being attached to them--you know it was Mr. Frederick Elmour who gained her large fortune for her. I was in the court-house in York the very day the cause was decided, and I never heard a man speak with more energy and eloquence than Frederick Elmour did in her defence. It was plain, indeed, that the eloquence came from his heart--as to the law part of the business, I know my nephew, who understands those things, said it was a very nice question, and that if her cause had not been managed as ably as it was, she would not have gained her fortune. Now of course this was a thing that never could be forgotten. I own, I expected that there would have been a match between Miss Turnbull and Mr. Elmour; but Sir Thomas Stock, her guardian, took her away from us, and Mr. Elmour fell in love with another lady. But all this time Miss Turnbull has never married, though she has been so much in the great world, and from her large fortune must have had so many offers. I heard it said yesterday, that she had refused Sir Thomas Stock's eldest son, and my Lord Bradstone, and some others; now it is plain she would not marry merely for money or title. My nephew, who is so amiable and sensible, is just the man for her, and he had used to admire her very much in former times, when he met her at Elmour Grove." Mrs. Wynne hinted her wishes to her nephew, but he seemed not much inclined towards Miss Turnbull, "because," said he, "though Frederick and his sister never uttered a syllable to her disadvantage, I cannot, from circumstances, help imagining, that she has not behaved well to them; and besides, after five or six years spent in the great world, and in all the dissipation in which she has lived, her disposition cannot probably be the same as it was when I knew her in the country."

    Mrs. Wynne could not, with her good-natured eyes, see the force of any of these objections, and she was determined to convince her nephew of their futility. With this view she formed a scheme which was to be kept a profound secret from the parties concerned, till the moment when it should be ripe for execution. She heard that Miss Turnbull was in want of a companion; and she knew that Mrs. Henry Elmour, a very amiable young widow, distantly related to the Elmour family, and who had formerly been a friend of Almeria's, was at this moment in great distress. She had no doubt that Miss Turnbull would be delighted with an opportunity of serving any one connected with a family to whom she owed such obligations. Mrs. Wynne fancied that this would be the finest occasion imaginable to prove to her nephew, that, notwithstanding Almeria had lately lived so much in the fashionable world, she had the same grateful heart as formerly.

    Eager to come to this demonstration, Mrs. Wynne wrote immediately to the distressed widow, begging her to come to town with all possible expedition; "for I have found, or at least I am morally sure of finding, the most charming situation your heart can desire. I say no more, that I may not deprive you of the pleasure of the surprise."

    The same day that she sent this letter to the post, she despatched the following note to Almeria:


    "I am too well persuaded of the goodness of your heart to fear that you should think my present interference impertinent. We used to be very good friends in Yorkshire, and I am sure shall be just the same in London; therefore I write without ceremony, as friends should. I called upon you twice, but found you were, unluckily, not at home. Now I have a matter very near my heart to speak to you about, that perhaps will turn out as much to your satisfaction as to mine. I cannot express myself so well as I could wish in writing, but am sure you will not repent your kindness, if you will do us the honour of dining with us in a family way on Friday next; and in the mean time, let me beg you will not decide your choice of a companion. I cannot be more explicit, lest (as I have said once before to-day) I should deprive you of the pleasure of the surprise. Dear madam, forgive this freedom in one who most sincerely wishes you well (as Friday will prove). My nephew, Henry Wynne (whom you may remember a great admirer of yours), desires his best respects; and with every good wish I remain, Dear Miss Turnbull's

    "Affectionate humble servant,

    "M. WYNNE."

    This letter at first surprised our heroine, and afterwards afforded subject for much ridicule to Mrs. Ingoldsby, to whom Almeria showed it. She laughed at the odd freedom of the Yorkshire dame, at the old-fashioned plainness of the style--parenthesis within parenthesis--at last concluding with respects and best wishes, and remaining dear Miss Turnbull's humble servant. She opined, however, upon the third perusal of the letter, that Mrs. Wynne was anxious to present her nephew to Miss Turnbull, and that this was the real meaning of her curious note--that probably she wished to surprise her with the sight of some Yorkshire damsel, who had formed the reasonable expectation, that because Miss Turnbull had done her the honour to notice her ages ago in the country, she was to be her companion in town. Mrs. Ingoldsby further observed, that Mrs. Wynne, though she had not practised at court, was no bad politician in thus attempting to recommend a companion to Miss Turnbull, who would, of course, be entirely in her nephew's interests. Almeria's vanity was indirectly flattered by these insinuations, which tended to prove her vast consequence, in being thus the object of plots and counterplots; and she the more readily believed this, from the experience she had had of Lady Pierrepoint's manoeuvres. "It is really a dreadful thing," said she, "to be a great heiress. One must be so circumspect--so much upon one's guard with all the world. But poor Mrs. Wynne shows her cards so plainly, one must be an idiot not to guess her whole play."

    To "mistake reverse of wrong for right" is one of the most common errors in the conduct of life. Our heroine being sensible that she had been ridiculously credulous in her dealings with Lady Pierrepoint, was now inclined to be preposterously suspicious. She determined with her next admirer to pursue a system diametrically opposite to that which she had followed with the marquis; she had shown him attractive complaisance; she was now prepared to display the repulsive haughtiness becoming the representative of two hundred thousand pounds: she had completely adopted Lady Pierrepoint's maxim. That a lady should marry to increase her consequence and strengthen her connexions. Her former ideas, that love and esteem were necessary to happiness in a union for life, seemed obsolete and romantic; and the good qualities of her admirers, though they were always to be mentioned as the ostensible reasons for her choice, were never in reality to influence her decision.

    To stoop at once from a marquis to a private gentleman would be terrible; yet that private gentleman was worthy of some little consideration, not because he was, as Almeria remembered, a man of excellent sense, temper, and character, but because he had a clear estate of eight thousand pounds a-year, and was next heir to an earldom.

    Miss Turnbull cannot properly be called a female fortune-hunter; but, to coin a new name for our heroine, which may be useful to designate a numerous class of her contemporaries, she was decidedly a female title-hunter.

    She accepted of the invitation to dinner, and, accompanied by a proper supporter in Mrs. Ingoldsby, went to Mrs. Wynne's, dressed in the utmost extravagance of the mode, blazing in all the glory of diamonds, in hopes of striking admiration even unto awe upon the hearts of all beholders. Though she had been expressly invited to a family party, she considered that only as an humble country phrase to excuse, beforehand, any deficiency of magnificence. She had no doubt that the finest entertainment, and the finest company, Mrs. Wynne could procure or collect, would be prepared for her reception. She was somewhat surprised, especially as she came fashionably late, to find in the drawing-room only old Mrs. Wynne, her nephew, and a lady, who, from her dress and modest appearance, was evidently nobody. Miss Turnbull swept by her, though she had a disagreeable recollection of having somewhere seen this figure in a former state of existence. Mrs. Wynne, good soul! did not believe in wilful blindness, and she therefore said, with provoking simplicity, "Miss Turnbull, this is your good friend, Mrs. Henry Elmour--poor thing! she is sadly altered in her looks since you saw her, a gay rosy lass at Elmour Grove! But though her looks are changed, her heart, I can answer for it, is just the same as ever; and she remembers you with all the affection you could desire. She would not be like any other of her name, indeed, if she did otherwise. The Elmours were all so fond of you!"

    The name of Elmour, instead of having that irresistible charm, which Mrs. Wynne expected, over Almeria's heart, produced a directly contrary effect. It recalled many associations that were painful to her pride; she was vexed to perceive that obligations and intimacies which she had forgotten, or which she wished to forget, were remembered so obstinately by others. All this passed in her mind whilst Mrs. Wynne was speaking. With a look of ill-humoured surprise, Almeria half rose from her seat, and, as Mrs. Henry Elmour was presented to her, uttered some phrases in an unintelligible voice, and then sunk back again on the sofa. Mrs. Wynne made room for the widow between her and Miss Turnbull--Mr. Wynne kept aloof--a dead silence ensued--and Miss Turnbull, seeing that in her present position there was nothing else to be done, condescended to hope that all Mrs. Henry Elmour's friends in Yorkshire were well when she left them. Mrs. Wynne's countenance brightened up, and she now addressed her conversation to Mrs. Ingoldsby, in order to leave the pair, whom she had destined to be friends, at perfect liberty to talk over "old times."

    Mrs. Henry Elmour naturally spoke of the happy days which they had spent together at Elmour Grove; but Miss Turnbull was so much occupied in clasping one of her diamond bracelets, that half of what was said to her seemed not to be heard, and the other half to create no interest. She looked up, when she had at length adjusted her bracelet, and with an insipid smile (learnt from Lady Pierrepoint) seemed to beg pardon for her fit of absence. The unfortunate Mrs. Elmour recommenced all she had said; but though Miss Turnbull's eyes were at this time directed towards the widow's face, they wandered over her features with such insolent examination, that she was totally abashed. Having gained her point, our heroine now looked round as the door opened, in expectation of the entrance of some persons who might be worthy of her attention; but, lo! it was only a servant, who announced that dinner was served. Miss Turnbull's surprise could be equalled only by her indignation, when she found that it was literally to a family party she was invited. "Miss Turnbull," said Mrs. Wynne, as they were sitting down to dinner, "I have been much disappointed in not having the company of some friends of yours, who I expected would dine with us to-day; but they will be with us, I hope, to-night--they were unluckily engaged to dine with the Duchess of A----."

    Miss Turnbull vouchsafed to appear interested, when the name of a duchess was mentioned; but her countenance again changed to an expression of almost angry vexation, when Mrs. Wynne explained, that these friends were Mr. and Mrs. Elmour, and Mr. Charles Wynne and his lady. "Miss Ellen Elmour, you know: she was----"--"Very true, I saw her marriage in the papers, I remember, some time ago," replied Miss Turnbull; "a year, if I'm not mistaken."

    "Two years ago, madam," said Mrs. Wynne.

    "Was it two?--I dare say it might--you know it is so impossible to keep a register of deaths and marriages in one's head. Pray, are you at all acquainted, Mrs. Wynne, with the Duchess of A----? She was always a prodigious friend of the Elmours, as I remember. How is that?--Are they any way related, I wonder?"

    "Yes; they are now related by marriage," said Mr. Wynne; "Mrs. Elmour is a niece of the duchess."


    "She is a charming woman," said Mr. Wynne; "so beautiful and yet so unaffected--so sensible, yet so unassuming."

    "Pray," interrupted Mrs. Ingoldsby, "has not her grace conversaziones, or reading parties, or something in that style every week?--She is quite a learned lady, I understand. There was always something odd about her, and I cannot help being afraid of her."

    "I assure you," said Mrs. Wynne, "that there is nothing odd or strange about the Duchess of A----. She has always the most agreeable society that London can afford."

    Miss Turnbull and Mrs. Ingoldsby interchanged looks of affected contempt: but Mr. Wynne added, "Her grace has, you know, a taste for literature and for the arts; and the most celebrated literary characters, as well as those who have distinguished themselves in active life, assemble at her house, where they can enjoy the most agreeable conversation--that in which a knowledge of books and of the world is happily blended."

    "And as to being afraid of her grace," resumed Mrs. Wynne, "that is quite impossible; she has such affable, engaging manners. I am sure, even I am not in the least afraid of her."

    "But you know," said Miss Turnbull, with a malicious look of mock humility, "there is a difference between you and me.--I would not meet her grace for the world, for I am persuaded I should not be able to articulate a syllable in her classical presence--I have not been used to that style of company, by any means. I assure you I should be, as Mrs. Ingoldsby says, horribly afraid of your witty duchess."

    "She has none of the airs of a wit, believe me," said Mrs. Wynne, growing more and more earnest; "and if you will not believe me, ask your friend Ellen."

    "Oh, excuse me, I beseech; I shall ask no questions--I only beg leave to keep myself well when I am well. The Elmours who are so clever, and have such merit and so on, are all vastly better suited to her grace than I am."

    No contradiction ensued--our heroine was mortified beyond the power of concealment.

    After dinner, when the ladies retired, Mrs. Wynne, though somewhat alarmed and puzzled by Miss Turnbull's behaviour, summoned all the resolution which benevolence could inspire, and resolved at once to come to the point with our heroine. She flattered herself that all in Miss Turnbull that appeared inauspicious to her hopes was only her manner, that sort of manner which people, who live much in high life, catch and practise, without meaning to give themselves airs, or to humble their neighbours.

    Many persons will perhaps think good Mrs. Wynne almost an idiot: but she was a woman of abilities; and if she did not exert them in discovering with promptitude the follies of others, she enjoyed much happiness in her benevolent scepticism. This evening, however, she was doomed to be absolutely convinced, against her will, that she had formed too favourable an opinion of one of her fellow-creatures.

    She was eager to explain herself to Almeria before Ellen and Mr. Frederick Elmour should arrive; she therefore took her aside, and began without any preface:--"My dear Miss Turnbull, here is a charming opportunity for you to do a kind, and generous, and grateful action. This poor Mrs. Henry Elmour!--She has told you how she has been reduced to distress without any imprudence of hers. Now you could not, I am sure, prove the goodness of your own heart better to your friends (who will be here in half an hour) than by showing kindness to this unfortunate widow. I cannot presume to say more than that I think she would make a most agreeable companion to an amiable, sensible young lady--and you have not decided your choice, have you?"

    "Pardon me, I have decided, beyond a possibility of retracting," replied Miss Turnbull, haughtily.

    "I am very sorry," said Mrs. Wynne, with an expression of real concern in her countenance. "I have been very imprudent."

    "Really I am infinitely distressed that it is out of my power to oblige her; but the lady who is with me now, Mrs. Ingoldsby, has a prior claim."

    Prior claim!--prior to that of the Elmour family! thought Mrs. Wynne.

    The decisive manner in which Miss Turnbull spoke precluded all further hope.

    "Well, I did think it would have been such a pleasure to Miss Turnbull to meet Mrs. Henry Elmour, and all her old friends the Elmours here to-day; and I fancied, that if there had been any little coolness or misunderstanding, it would quite have passed off, and that I should have had the joy of seeing you all shake hands--I thought it would have been such an agreeable surprise to you to see all the Elmour family, and Ellen's charming little girl, and Mr. Frederick Elmour's boy!"

    A more disagreeable surprise could scarcely have been imagined for our heroine. She informed Mrs. Wynne, coldly, that there was not the slightest quarrel between her and any of the Elmours; and that therefore there was no necessity, or possible occasion, for any shaking of hands or reconciliation scenes: that undoubtedly the style of life she had been thrown into had entirely separated her from her Yorkshire acquaintance; and time had dissolved the sort of intimacy that neighbourhood had created: that she should always, notwithstanding, be most particularly happy to meet any of the Elmour family; though, from her situation, it was a good fortune she had not often enjoyed, nor indeed could in future expect: but that she wished it to be understood, and repeated, that she always in all companies properly acknowledged the obligations she had to Mr. Frederick Elmour as a lawyer. Her cause, she believed, was the first in which he had distinguished himself; and she was rejoiced to find that he had since risen so rapidly in his profession.--As to Miss Ellen Elmour, she was a very charming, sensible young woman, no doubt; and Miss Turnbull assured Mrs. Wynne she was delighted to hear she was so suitably married in point of understanding and temper, and all that sort of thing--and besides, to a gentleman of a reasonable fortune, which she was happy to hear Mr. Charles Wynne possessed.

    Here she was interrupted in her speech--the door opened, and the Duchess of A----, Mr. and Mrs. Elmour, and Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wynne, were announced. Our heroine was not prepared for the sight of the duchess; and her grace's appearance made her receive her old friends in a manner very different from that in which she had determined to meet them. Practised as she was, she stood irresolute and awkward, whilst Ellen, with easy, graceful kindness, accosted her, and immediately introduced her to the Duchess of A----. As Mr. Frederick Elmour approached, and as his beautiful wife was presented to Miss Turnbull, not all her efforts could conceal the mortification she endured, whilst she pronounced that she was vastly happy--quite delighted--that all this was really such an agreeable and unexpected surprise to her--for she did not even know any of her Yorkshire friends were in town.

    Mrs. Ingoldsby came up to her assistance. Miss Turnbull rallied her spirits, and determined to make her stand upon the exclusive ground of fashion. Those who comprehend the rights of the privileged orders of fashion are aware that even a commoner, who is in a certain set, is far superior to a duchess who is not supposed to move in that magic circle, Almeria, upon this principle, began to talk to the duchess of some of her acquaintance, who were of the highest ton; and then affectedly checked herself, and begged pardon, and looked surprised at Mrs. Ingoldsby, when she found that her grace was not acquainted with them. Much as Miss Turnbull had reason to complain of Lady Pierrepoint and the young bride the marchioness, she now thought that their names would do her honour; and she scrupled not to speak of them as her best friends, and as the most amiable creatures existing.--Such is the meanness and insufficiency of vanity!

    "Poor Lady Pierrepoint," said the Duchess of A----: "with her independent fortune, what could tempt her to enslave herself, as she has done, to a court life?"

    "Her ladyship finds herself suited to her situation, I believe," said Miss Turnbull. "Lady Pierrepoint is certainly formed, more than most people I know, to succeed and shine in a court; and she is in favour, and in power, and in fashion."

    "Does it follow of course that she is happy?" said Ellen.

    "Oh! happy--of course; I suppose so."

    "No doubt," said Mrs. Ingoldsby; "she has every reason to be happy: has not she just made her niece marchioness?"

    Miss Turnbull repeated "Happy! to be sure Lady Pierrepoint is happy, if any body in the world is happy."--A short sigh escaped from our heroine.

    Ellen heard the sigh, and attended to it more than to her words; she looked upon her with compassion, and endeavoured to change the conversation.

    "We spend this winter in town; and as I think I know your real tastes, Almeria," said she, taking Almeria's hand, "we must have the pleasure of introducing you to some of her grace's literary friends, who will, I am sure, please and suit you particularly."

    Mr. Frederick Elmour, who now really pitied Almeria, though in his pity there was a strong mixture of contempt, joined his sister in her kindness, and named and described some of the people whom he thought she would be most desirous of knowing. The names struck Miss Turnbull's ears, for they were the names of persons distinguished in the fashionable as well as in the literary world; and she was dismayed and mortified by the discovery that her country friends had by some means, incomprehensible to her, gained distinction and intimacy in society where she had merely admission; she was vexed beyond expression when she found that the Elmours were superior to her even on her own ground. At this instant Mrs. Wynne, with her usual simplicity, asked Mrs. Elmour and Ellen why they had not brought their charming children with them; adding, "You are, my dears, without exception, the two happiest mothers and wives I am acquainted with. And after all, what happiness is there equal to domestic happiness?--Oh! my dear Miss Turnbull, trust me, though I am a silly old woman, there's nothing like it--and friends at court are not like friends at home--and all the Lady Pierrepoints that ever were or ever will be born, are not, as you'll find when you come to try them, like one of these plain good Ellens and Elmours."

    The address, simple as it was, came so home to Almeria's experience, and so many recollections rushed at once upon her memory, that all her factitious character of a fine lady gave way to natural feeling, and suddenly she burst into tears.

    "Good heavens! my dear Miss Turnbull," cried Mrs. Ingoldsby, "what is the matter?--Are not you well?--Salts! salts!--the heat of the room!--Poor thing!--she has such weak nerves.--Mr. Elmour, may I trouble you to ring the bell for our carriage? Miss Turnbull has such sensibility! This meeting, so unexpected, with so many old friends, has quite overcome her."

    Miss Turnbull, recalled to herself by Mrs. Ingoldsby's voice, repeated the request to have her carriage immediately, and departed with Mrs. Ingoldsby as soon as she possibly could, utterly abashed and mortified; mortified most at not having been able to conceal her mortification. Incapable absolutely of articulating, she left Mrs. Ingoldsby to cover her retreat, as well as she could, with weak nerves and sensibility.

    Even the charitable Mrs. Wynne was now heard to acknowledge that she could neither approve of Miss Turnbull's conduct, nor frame any apology for it. She confessed that it looked very like what she of all things detested most--ingratitude. Her nephew, who had been a cool observant spectator of this evening's performance, was glad that his aunt's mind was now decided by Almeria's conduct. He exclaimed that he would not marry such a woman, if her portion were to be the mines of Peru.

    Thus Miss Turnbull lost all chance of the esteem and affection of another man of sense and temper, who might even at this late period of her life have recalled her from the follies of dissipation, and rendered her permanently happy.

    And now that our heroine must have lost all power of interesting the reader, now that the pity even of the most indulgent must be utterly sunk in contempt, we shall take our leave of her, resigning her to that misery which she had been long preparing for herself. It is sufficient to say, that after this period she had some offers from men of fashion of ruined fortunes; but these she rejected, still fancying that with her wealth she could not fail to make a splendid match. So she went on coquetting; and coquetting, rejecting and rejecting, till at length she arrived at an age when she could reject no longer. She ceased to be an object to matrimonial adventurers, but to these succeeded a swarm of female legacy-hunters. Among the most distinguished was her companion, Mrs. Ingoldsby, whose character she soon discovered to be artful and selfish in the extreme. This lady's flattery, therefore, lost all its power to charm, but yet it became necessary to Almeria; and even when she knew that she was duped, she could not part with Mrs. Ingoldsby, because it was not in her power to supply the place of a flatterer with a friend.--A friend! that first blessing of life, cannot be bought--it must be deserved.

    Miss, or as she must now he called, Mrs. Almeria Turnbull, is still alive--probably at this moment haunting some place of public amusement, or stationary at the card-table. Wherever she may be, she is despised and discontented; one example more amongst thousands, that wealth cannot purchase, or fashion bestow, real happiness.

    "See how the world its veterans rewards-- youth of folly, an old age of cards!"

    Edgeworth's-Town, 1802.

    [9] Literally copied from a family receipt-book in the author's possession.

    THE END.

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