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VICTIMS OF SOCIETY.
MISS MONTRESSOR TO LA MARQUISE
MA Chere Delphine, I promised in my last to make you au fait of the scene at the theatre, and sit down to perform that promise. Eh bien donc, we went to Drury Lane in the evening; and you may judge my astonishment when, in the box vis-à-vis to us, we discovered Lord and Lady Vernon, Lady Annandale, and Lord Nottingham.
Ah, la voilà!” said the comtesse ; voyez que j'avais raison. Milord Nottingham est avec eux, pour tenir compagnie au papa, comme je l'avois predit.”
This remark produced a peal of laughter from all but Lord Annandale and myself: he looked furious, because he felt the ridicule of his position, and the comtesse had no mercy on him ; while I used my utmost endeavours to put a good face on the business, by discoursing on the attachment of Lord Nottingham for Lord and Lady Vernon, with whom, I added, he had been staying in the country since Lady Annandale's marriage.
This statement, implying an ancient friendship, gave a better colour to the affair; and, though it by no means imposed on Lord Annandale, his looks thanked me for it. The comtesse pertinaciously observed Lord Nottingham's box all the evening, for it was in it they sat; and shewed as much ill breeding as any fine lady in London could display, though they all are, in general, remarkable for this quality — thinking themselves, I suppose by virtue of their vocation, privileged to be disagreeable.
Our opposite neighbours left the theatre some time before we did ; and, when we arrived at Annandale House, the comtesse was so indelicate as to ask the porter if miladi had returned, and with whom?
“ With Lord Nottingham,” was the answer; which brought the blood to Lord Annandale's face, and elicited a spiteful observation from the comtesse, as to the freedom from gêne of any
kind with which les dames Anglaises managed their love affairs.
I can see that Lord Annandale begins to detest sa seigneurie, and no wonder; for she, to avenge her pique at his having married, hesitates not to say things that you or I, with all the malice possible, could not bring our. selves to utter. Mais tant mieux, for her brusquerie saves me the necessity of making disagreeable disclosures.
When the party separated, Lord Annandale begged me to indulge him with a few minutes' conversation. I displayed some hesitation and reluctance, which made him still
more anxious to retain me.
“ I wish to speak to you on a very important subject, my dear Miss Montressor ; and, consequently, this is no time to stand on idle ceremony, so let me request you will be seated. You must have observed," he added, “ the frequency of Lord Nottingham's visits here ; they are daily and long - too long not to give rise to idle and ill-natured comments. I have been too much, and lived too many years, in the world, to attach importance to trifles; but when I see Lady Annandale commit her reputation and my honour, it is time I should look to her conduct.”
Here I attempted some futile excuses for her; but he checked me, saying, “ I am aware that, from your friendship for her, and your extreme good-nature” (the first time I ever was considered good-natured !), "you would wish to conceal or palliate her offences ; but, I am sorry to say, they admit of neither excuse nor palliation.”
“ You surely cannot imagine, my lord,” interrupted I, “ that, blessed with a husband so every way superior to Lord Nottingham,” (and here I affected to look confused at my own warmth), “ Augusta could possibly bestow a thought on him.”
“You are too good, too indulgent, my dear Miss Montressor, to think so favourably of me,” and his eyes positively sparkled with pleasure. “ It is a fact, of which you, perhaps, are not aware, but with which I have been some days acquainted, that Lady Annandale's position with Lord Nottingham has furnished a topic of scandal in the fashionable world; and we must admit that her conduct must