Obrazy na stronie

the smile of a pair of rosy lips to the hope of winning, by means of a little judicious flattery, the entrée to Plutus Hall, and a share of all the good things that abound there?

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Ah, this is an unromantic age, my dear Gwen. A "feast of reason and a "flow of soul" are little calculated to win the suffrages of the modern young man. A dinner of herbs, though seasoned with the wit of a Maintenon, would be little appreciated nowadays. We prefer a carefully selected menu and the best of wines.

The Plutean banquets are of the most recherché description; consequently, it is worth while to play the part of toady for one evening, if by doing so an invitation can be secured. Of course Lady Plutus does not waltz so well as Miss Fetherwaite, but then, think of the honour of encircling that august waist with your arm! think of the envious eyes that will follow your gyrating form as you whirl that somewhat ungainly but gorgeously-attired lady round the room! So, no doubt, these gay bachelors argue, and, consequently, the crowd round Lady Plutus is greater than that about the belle of the ball; this is why the programme of the former can compare favourably with that of the latter; this is why Beauty is eclipsed by Wealth.

Lovelace Brayneless having secured "half a dance" with the most popular woman in the room-her ladyship rarely accords a whole one, so great is the demand for the coveted honour-is free to turn his attention elsewhere. See him assume his all-conquering swagger as he elevates that magnificent aquiline nose--which rivals in size that immortalised in "deathless" bronze by the artist-I forget his name-whose statue of the hero of Waterloo was so long an eyesore to the metropolis.

Lovelace is passing the various damsels in review before selecting a partner. See him cast a supercilious and depreciatory glance at the fair flowers ranged on those crimson-covered benches-flowers ready enough to be culled, and certainly unwilling to waste their sweetness on the desert air. The blushing débutante simpers and nervously flutters her fan as she feels his eye upon her. "Hope springs eternal in the human breast," the poet sings. Ah, my rosy-cheeked, bright-eyed Miss Seventeen, do not listen to its flattering tale you are doomed to disappointment. Lovelace's glance has passed from you to that sallow-cheeked, angular Miss Twenty-seven; you have no dower but those rosy cheeks and plump shoulders of yours, while she has a dot of twenty thousand pounds. He approaches, bows, and in a trice, Miss Twenty-seven is whirled away to join the gay throng of dancers.

Lovelace Brayneless has, as I told you, the reputation of being an accomplished valseur. And indeed, he is, compared with some of those whose saltatory efforts provoke a smile of derision from the spectators, of agony from the hapless damsel who is being victimised as a partner. Lovelace, once fairly started, dances

with tremendous vigour. Woe be to the unlucky couple who cross him in his wild career!-they will infallibly come to grief. "Steering" is an art which he disdains to cultivate-in fine he dances as if the whole room were at his orders. As he charges furiously into the thick of the mêlée (for the Bachelors' Ball is usually overcrowded) his unhappy partner is exposed to the brunt -I was going to say of the battle, until I remembered that I am describing a scene at a ball and not a college "scrimmage."

Were it not for the honour and glory of being chosen out of many as a partner by one who aspires to be the Snobton "glass of fashion and the mould of form," I imagine that a dance with Loveless Brayneless would not be so eagerly desired by the numerous young ladies who look on the Bachelors' Ball as the quintessence of fashionable festivity.

But, dear Gwen, you must not run away with the idea that Lovelace is our only representative young man. He, indeed, lays claim to the highest place in our social Valhalla; but, though of inferior grade, we have other heroes, who, having won their spurs, aspire to occupy one day the proud position Lovelace now fills with such grace and dignity.

Prominent among these ambitious youths is Narcissus Cadman, Lovelace's Fidus Achates-the Pylades to his Orestes, the Benvolio to his Romeo. Lovelace and Narcissus are sworn friends and allies; though, as in most friendships, one leads the other follows, one commands the other obeys.

Narcissus Cadman is the son of one of the wealthy retired tradesmen who help to make Snobton society what it is. The Cadmans have, however, "sunk the shop," to use an extremely vulgar, but expressive idiom, and launched themselves on the frothy sea of local fashionable life. I need not recapitulate the means by which nouveaux riches steer their course through the shoals and quicksands of society. I have already described how the Plutuses, the Highflyers and others of their genus have achieved a position in this little world of ours. The Cadmans have wisely followed in their footsteps and have risen, like their prototypes, from the ranks to a tolerably prominent place in the social army.

Narcissus the son and heir of the Cadmans-is a dapper little man with a "gushing" manner, and an ever-ready smile. He is not handsome, but he is a dandy of the first water, and his popularity with the fairer half of creation is second only to that of the great Lovelace himself. At the Bachelors' Ball he is in his element. He is a steward, one of the committee, ubiquitous, omnipotent. The hired waiters bow before him with abject servility, the musicians listen to his orders with obsequious respect, the very portraits on the walls seem to smile down approval as he bustles hither and thither through the gay crowd. He it is who "receives Lady Plutus at the entrance; who, his


face wreathed in welcoming smiles, ushers her into the room; who offers her coffee, ices, champagne; who holds her fan and bouquet, and is rewarded for all these attentions, and made happy by "half a dance."

Then there is Hercules Macbrag-stalwart, broad-shouldered, and athletic of figure, with the look and bearing of a prize-fighter. He too has his admirers, though his ponderous frame is unfitted for the windings of the "mazy," as Dick Swiveller would say. Still, as many young ladies think a bad partner is better than no partner, Hercules is seldom unprovided with an Omphale, who with true feminine hypocrisy smilingly assures him that "his step suits hers exactly," though her poor little toes have been sadly crushed and her dress torn to ribbons by his clumsy feet.

So much for the power of feminine endurance. I will not, however, try yours longer, lest you should lose all interest in our Snobton beaux, whom by-the-bye I have not fully enumerated as yet. "The cry is still they come," but I am too sleepy to write more to-night. Adieu.

Your always attached,


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THIS IIS sketch from the mighty South American river (the queen of rivers as it is often considered) gives a charming idea of the island-studded estuary and its labyrinthine channels, where, as Agassiz observed, "the current is hardly perceptible to the sight, and resembles rather the equable, measured, and regular flow of an ocean than that of an inland stream." The voyager finds himself sailing between shores, it is true, but they are the shores, not of the river itself, but of the almost countless islands scattered over its vast expanse. Very beautiful are these "island Edens," blooming with fresh verdure and luxuriant in the fantastic forms of tropical vegetation. Conspicuous above all their greenery rises, with the grace of a stately Corinthian column, the lofty but slender assai-palm, with its crown of light, plume-like leaves, and its clusters of berry-like fruit, drooping from a branch that shoots out almost horizontally, just beneath the wavy foliage. The dense leafy masses convey, as forest scenery always does, the idea of solitude; and yet these fairy shores are not entirely solitary. Houses are studded here and there; houses picturesque enough, with their high thatched, over-hanging roofs, to obtain a place in an artist's sketch-book.

Some idea of this majestic river may be gained by remembering that, from its sources, which are about sixty miles from the Pacific, to its mouth in the Atlantic, it measures four thousand miles. Its tidal influence extends for six hundred miles, and at the mouth it is about one hundred and fifty miles wide. Such are its volume of water and force of current that they drive back the ocean some fifty leagues.



ERR PROFESSOR HEINRICH BETTINGER had dressed himself with more than usual care when he sallied forth, one fine April morning, to pay a Kaffee-Visite to Frau Mittnacht, who lived in an old-fashioned, rambling, wooden house standing in a large garden on the high road, about a mile distant from his home in the little town of Ahnstadt, in South Germany. The Professor was a middle-aged, awkwardly-built man, slightly under middle height, and inclined to stoutness; he had high shoulders and a short neck, and he stooped as he walked. His face, spite of his long, shaggy hair, irregular features, wide mouth, and crooked teeth, was by no means devoid of attraction. The forehead, over which the untidy hair fell loosely, was broad and nobly shaped; the blue eyes which looked out from under his spectacles were full of gentleness and candour; his expression was benignity itself; and his whole manner unassuming almost childlike in its simplicity.

The Professor was, as we have said, dressed with more than usual care. It was true that his broadcloth suit was ill made, and that it had worn white at the seams and bright at the elbows; it was true, too, that his wide flapping, linen collar was frayed at the edges, limp, and innocent of starch, and that his clumsy boots betrayed unskilled country workmanship; but he had brushed his clothes-an unwonted concession to the proprietieshad applied some precision to the lying of his black cravat, which was generally fastened in a loose knot under one ear, and had substituted a soft black felt hat for the sun-scorched straw one, whose dilapidated condition in the region of the brim was palpable even to his short-sighted eyes.

Herr Bettinger trotted briskly down the stone staircase leading from his rooms, which were at the top of a tall corner house in the main street of Ahnstadt. As he passed out of the open front door he knocked against his servant Ricke, a country girl in a nondescript dress of short blue petticoat, colourless loose print jacket, and clattering wooden shoes, who was entering with a pitcher of water poised upon her head. Calling a genial "Pardon" after him he turned the corner, into the Canzlei Strasse a picturesque narrow street, with shops and tall irregular houses, many of them of wood; the character of the street, as of all the town, was pre-eminently studious. A polytechnic school, a gymnasium, and a music school stood in close proximity to

Students in eccentric caps

each other in the Canzlei Strasse. and shawls, and with sparingly combed hair, were to be seen, rushing in little companies of twos and threes, to keep scholastic appointments at one or other of these institutions. Outside the town was the Lust Garten, where sunburned fair-haired soldiers, elderly pedants, tastelessly dressed "housewives "-their everlasting knitting in their hands-nurses and children were to be seen taking the air at all hours of the day.

The Professor saluted many acquaintances as he hurried along. Students several of whom were pupils of his own-doffed their caps in respectful greeting. His most intimate friend, generally known by the high-sounding title of the Herr Consistorialrath Eisenlohr-a stout, breathless little man, with grey hair, keen grey eyes, and a shrewd clever face, was smoking an immense meerschaum in a door-way; he looked up, with a nod and cordial "Guten Tag," as the Professor went by.

At length Herr Bettinger entered a bookseller's shop; after a brief colloquy with the proprietor he issued therefrom, a gaily bound edition of Georg Eber's latest novel in his hand. He had one more visit to pay--to a flower-stall, where he bought a bunch of violets-before striking into the long dusty road running between vineyards to Frau Mittnacht's house.

Frau Mittnacht had enjoyed business and social intercourse with the Professor for more than fifteen years. She kept a thriving ladies' school; and the Professor gave instruction in German literature, two afternoons every week, to the more advanced among her scholars. The lessons were generally succeeded by short periods, devoted to coffee and conversation, in Frau Mittnacht's own sanctum, a little first-floor room overlooking a patch of ground, half vineyard, half garden, with a rough grass plot, a number of walnut trees, some cider apple trees, and a long, moss-grown gravel walk, with an old stone bench and sundial at the end. The borders were full of vegetables and perennial flowers, mixed together with little regard to effect, cabbages for sauerkraut, holding the most conspicuous, and not least honoured, place. At the Professor's interview with his hostess there was often present Miss Janet Kirby, a lady who was English governess at Frau Mittnacht's school. Sometimes, on occasions of exceptional leisure, Miss Kirby would return with the Professor to Ahnstadt, and pay a flying visit to his niece, Clara Bettinger, an orphaned girl who till lately had lived with him, and between whom and herself there existed an intimate friendship.

Clara's parents had both died in her early childhood; for many years the cost of her board, clothing and liberal education had been defrayed from her uncle's slender purse. Now, however, she had reached the age of eighteen years, and had obtained a situation as music teacher in a school at Geneva. Herr Bettinger, left to his lonely home and to his lessened expenses, began to

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