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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesPelham - Volume 1 - Chapter 11
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Pelham - Volume 1 - Chapter 11 Post by :donben2002 Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Bulwer-lytton Date :May 2012 Read :2817

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Pelham - Volume 1 - Chapter 11

VOLUME I CHAPTER XI

Lud! what a group the motley scene discloses, False wits, false wives, false virgins, and false spouses.--Goldsmith's Epilogue to the Comedy of the Sisters.

Madame D'Anville kept her promise--the invitation was duly sent, and accordingly at half past ten to the Rue D'Anjou I drove.

The rooms were already full. Lord Bennington was standing by the door, and close by him, looking exceedingly distrait, was my old friend Lord Vincent. They both came towards me at the same moment. "Strive not," thought I, looking at the stately demeanour of the one, and the humourous expression of countenance in the other--"strive not, Tragedy nor Comedy, to engross a Garrick." I spoke first to Lord Bennington, for I knew he would be the sooner dispatched, and then for the next quarter of an hour found myself overflowed with all the witticisms poor Lord Vincent had for days been obliged to retain. I made an engagement to dine with him at Very's the next day, and then glided off towards Madame D'Anville.

She was surrounded with men, and talking to each with that vivacity which, in a Frenchwoman, is so graceful, and in an Englishwoman would be so vulgar. Though her eyes were not directed towards me, she saw me approach by that instinctive perception which all coquets possess, and suddenly altering her seat, made way for me beside her. I did not lose so favourable an opportunity of gaining her good graces, and losing those of all the male animals around her. I sunk down on the vacant chair, and contrived, with the most unabashed effrontery, and yet with the most consummate dexterity, to make every thing that I said pleasing to her, revolting to some one of her attendants. Wormwood himself could not have succeeded better. One by on they dropped off, and we were left alone among the crowd. Then, indeed, I changed the whole tone of my conversation. Sentiment succeeded to satire, and the pretence of feeling to that of affectation. In short, I was so resolved to please that I could scarcely fail to succeed.

In this main object of the evening I was not however solely employed. I should have been very undeserving of that character for observation which I flatter myself I peculiarly deserve, if I had not during the three hours I stayed at Madame D--g's, conned over every person remarkable for any thing, from rank to a ribbon. The duchesse herself was a fair, pretty, clever woman, with manners rather English than French. She was leaning, at the time I paid my respects to her, on the arm of an Italian count, tolerably well known at Paris. Poor O--i! I hear he is just married. He did not deserve so heavy a calamity!

Sir Henry Millington was close by her, carefully packed up in his coat and waistcoat. Certainly that man is the best padder in Europe.

"Come and sit by me, Millington," cried old Lady Oldtown; "I have a good story to tell you of the Duc de G--e."

Sir Henry, with difficulty, turned round his magnificent head, and muttered out some unintelligible excuse. The fact was, that poor Sir Henry was not that evening made to sit down--he had only his standing up coat on. Lady Oldtown--heaven knows--is easily consoled. She supplied the place of the dilapidated baronet with a most superbly mustachioed German.

"Who," said I, to Madame D'Anville, "are those pretty girls in white, talking with such eagerness to Mr. Aberton and Lord Luscombe?"

"What!" said the Frenchwoman, "have you been ten days at Paris and not been introduced to the Miss Carltons? Let me tell you that your reputation among your countrymen at Paris depends solely upon their verdict."

"And upon your favour," added I.

"Ah!" said she, "you must have had your origin in France; you have something about you presque Parisien."

"Pray," said I, (after having duly acknowledged this compliment, the very highest that a Frenchwoman can bestow) "what did you really and candidly think of our countrymen during your residence in England?"

"I will tell you," answered Madame D'Anville; "they are brave, honest, generous, mais ils sont demi-barbares."

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