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"Miriam, dear Miriam, do restrain yourself," said her companion gently "you are attracting the attention of the whole house."
"Oh look, Gerald, look, he has let the books fall again."
By Jove," cried one gentleman who had been observing her closely, "she is nature itself. Who can she be ?"
"Some raw country-girl, I should say,'
"No indeed!" retorted the gentleman with a sigh. "Ladies are all alike, modelled on the same pattern. This girl has some heart, some life, some individuality."
"Oh indeed!" replied his wife, "then I suppose you would have ladies laugh out loud like this young person!"
"Why not? if it came from the heart, as her merriment evidently does: it is far better than that wretched stereotyped smile you see on the faces of all drawing-room belles."
"I understand the meaning of that taunt, sir.
The insinuation is levelled at your wife, who
happens to be a lady!"
"I am well aware of that fact, Bella! but
I meant no personality.
I merely meant to imply, that I had long since ceased to expect anything like freshness of feeling, or originality of conduct in fashionable women."
"Oh, I know we are full of faults. Don't you think you have stared long enough in one direction now, or do you want to make your infatuation evident to all observers ?"
After this last shot, the lady was silent, probably meditating a renewal of the topic, under somewhat advantageous circumstances to herself, when they should have retired for the night.
But Miriam's mirthful mood changed when Miss Cushman rushed upon the stage, and stood perfectly still, as she holds Harry Bertram with her glittering eye, and makes that fine dramatic point, which never fails to electrify the audience. For the space of a minute, you might have heard a pin drop, as the
spectators gazed in breathless silence on that veritable gipsy clothed in rags. One might have fancied that the Meg Merrilies of Sir Walter Scott had risen from the grave. Then burst forth a perfect roar of acclamation. Miriam sat spell-bound, but her eye followed every motion and gesture; her ear drank in every word spoken by Meg Merrilies, as at one time, she crouched and mumbled like a decrepit old woman, and the next, stood erect and towering, while she enunciated her words with the sublimity of an inspired prophetess.
Wonderful power of art which can thus resuscitate and interpret genius for the many How forcibly the actress displayed the touching beauty and grandeur of the following passage, which combined so eloquently the feeling nature of the woman with the supernatural character of the Sybil:
"Do you see that blackit and broken end of a shieling? There, my kettle boiled for forty years-there, I bore twelve buirdly sons and daughters.
Where are they now?
"Ah, Gerald Lindor! Is that Gerald Lindor with her?"
"Yes; don't you recognise him? Wears his hair long eccentric fellow, Lindor. They say he's heir to a baronetcy and an estate of thirty thousand a year, and writes books."
"What, Gerald Lindor appearing in public with a mistress? Who'd have thought it? I thought he went in for virtue and morality, and all that sort of thing."
"Are you sure she's his mistress?"
"What else can she be?"
"Nothing of the kind, Loosefish.
sure you, they're privately married. I had it from Philander, who knows the whole story."
"I beg your pardon; she's his mistress.
"I must contradict you. I have it on the best authority. She's his wife."
"I'll lay you two to one in ponies, she's his mistress."
"What can be the attraction in that box which makes the people stare so ?" said Lady Veneer to Lady Augusta Welborne.
"I can't tell, I'm sure," said Lady Augusta, who had not yet recognised Gerald, who sat back in the box. "Oh, here comes that muff, Mr. Sapling; he will tell us."
'My love," said Lady Veneer, "you should not speak so, of a young man of family and connections. Mr. Sapling is very well up in the Treasury List, and has excellent interest. He will doubtless soon be an attaché, and may be eventually a Secretary of State."
Here the Honorable Mr. Sapling, a fop of the first water, who had the face, figure, dress, air, mien, and understanding of a cadet of noble family, entered the box, and bowed to both ladies.
Pray, Mr. Sapling, can you inform us