The Three Clerks, by Anthony Trollope

Chapter XXVI

Katie’s First Ball

In spite of Mrs. Val’s oft-repeated assurance that they would have none but nice people, she had done her best to fill her rooms, and not unsuccessfully. She had, it is true, eschewed the Golightly party, who resided some north of Oxford Street, in the purlieus of Fitzroy Square, and some even to the east of Tottenham Court Road. She had eschewed the Golightlys, and confined herself to the Scott connexion; but so great had been her success in life, that, even under these circumstances, she had found herself able to fill her rooms respectably. If, indeed, there was no absolute crowding, if some space was left in the front drawing-room sufficient for the operations of dancers, she could still attribute this apparent want of fashionable popularity to the selections of the few nice people whom she had asked. The Hon. Mrs. Val was no ordinary woman, and understood well how to make the most of the goods with which the gods provided her.

The Miss Neverbends were to dine with the Tudors, and go with them to the dance in the evening, and their brother Fidus was to meet them there. Charley was, of course, one of the party at dinner; and as there was no other gentleman there, Alaric had an excellent opportunity, when the ladies went up to their toilets, to impress on his cousin the expediency of his losing no time in securing to himself Miss Golightly’s twenty thousand pounds. The conversation, as will be seen, at last became rather animated.

‘Well, Charley, what do you think of the beautiful Clementina?’ said Alaric, pushing over the bottle to his cousin, as soon as they found themselves alone. ‘A ‘doosed’ fine girl, as Captain Val says, isn’t she?’

‘A ‘doosed’ fine girl, of course,’ said Charley, laughing. ‘She has too much go in her for me, I’m afraid.’

‘Marriage and children will soon pull that down. She’d make an excellent wife for such a man as you; and to tell you the truth, Charley, if you’ll take my advice, you’ll lose no time in making up to her. She has got that d —— French fellow at her heels, and though I don’t suppose she cares one straw about him, it may be well to make sure.’

‘But you don’t mean in earnest that you think that Miss Golightly would have me?’

‘Indeed I do — you are just the man to get on with girls; and, as far as I can see, you are just the man that will never get on in any other way under the sun.’

Charley sighed as he thought of his many debts, his poor prospects, and his passionate love. There seemed, indeed, to be little chance that he ever would get on at all in the ordinary sense of the word. ‘I’m sure she’d refuse me,’ said he, still wishing to back out of the difficulty. ‘I’m sure she would — I’ve not got a penny in the world, you know.’

‘That’s just the reason — she has got lots of money, and you have got none.’

‘Just the reason why she should refuse me, you should say.’

‘Well — what if she does? There’s no harm done. ‘Faint heart never won fair lady.’ You’ve everything to back you — Mrs. Val is led by Undy Scott, and Undy is all on your side.’

‘But she has got guardians, hasn’t she?’

‘Yes — her father’s first cousin, old Sam Golightly. He is dying; or dead probably by this time; only Mrs. Val won’t have the news brought to her, because of this party. He had a fit of apoplexy yesterday. Then there’s her father’s brother-inlaw, Figgs; he’s bedridden. When old Golightly is off the hooks altogether, another will be chosen, and Undy talks of putting in my name as that of a family friend; so you’ll have everything to assist you.’

Charley looked very grave. He had not been in the habit of discussing such matters, but it seemed to him, that if Alaric was about to become in any legal manner the guardian of Miss Golightly’s fortune, that that in itself was reason enough why he, Alaric, should not propose such a match as this. Needy men, to be sure, did often marry rich ladies, and the world looked on and regarded it only as a matter of course; but surely it would be the duty of a guardian to protect his ward from such a fate, if it were in his power to do so.

Alaric, who saw something of what was going on in his cousin’s mind, essayed to remove the impression which was thus made. ‘Besides, you know, Clementina is no chicken. Her fortune is at her own disposal. All the guardians on earth cannot prevent her marrying you if she makes up her mind to do so.’

Charley gulped down his glass of wine, and then sat staring at the fire, saying nothing further. It was true enough that he was very poor — true enough that Miss Golightly’s fortune would set him on his legs, and make a man of him — true enough, perhaps, that no other expedient of which he could think would do so. But then there were so many arguments that were ‘strong against the deed.’ In the first place, he thought it impossible that he should be successful in such a suit, and then again it would hardly be honest to obtain such success, if it were possible; then, thirdly, he had no sort of affection whatsoever for Miss Golightly; and fourthly, lastly, and chiefly, he loved so dearly, tenderly, loved poor Katie Woodward.

As he thought of this, he felt horror-stricken with himself at allowing the idea of his becoming a suitor to another to dwell for an instant on his mind, and looking up with all the resolution which he was able to summon, he said —‘It’s impossible, Alaric, quite impossible! I couldn’t do it.’

‘Then what do you mean to do?’ said Alaric, who was angry at having his scheme thus thwarted; ‘do you mean to be a beggar? — or if not, how do you intend to get out of your difficulties?’

‘I trust not a beggar,’ said Charley, sadly.

‘What other hope have you? what rational hope of setting yourself right?’

‘Perhaps I may do something by writing,’ said Charley, very bashfully.

‘By writing! ha, ha, ha,’ and Alaric laughed somewhat cruelly at the poor navvy —’ do something by writing! what will you do by writing? will you make £20,000 — or 20,000 pence? Of all trades going, that, I should say, is likely to be the poorest for a poor man — the poorest and the most heart-breaking. What have you made already to encourage you?’

‘The editor says that ‘Crinoline and Macassar’ will come to £4 10s.’

‘And when will you get it?’

‘The editor says that the rule is to pay six months after the date of publication. The Daily Delight is only a new thing, you know. The editor says that, if the sale comes up to his expectations, he will increase the scale of pay.’

‘A prospect of £4 10s. for a fortnight’s hard work! That’s a bad look-out, my boy; you had better take the heiress.’

‘It may be a bad look-out,’ said Charley, whose spirit was raised by his cousin’s sneers —‘but at any rate it’s honest. And I’ll tell you what, Alaric, I’d sooner earn £50 by writing for the press, than get £1,000 in any other way you can think of. It may be a poor trade in one way; and authors, I believe, are poor; but I am sure it has its consolations.’

‘Well, Charley, I hope with all my heart that you may find them. For my own part, seeing what a place the world is, seeing what are the general aspirations of other men, seeing what, as it appears to me, the Creator has intended for the goal of our labours, I look for advancement, prosperity, and such rank and station as I may be able to win for myself. The labourer is worthy of his hire, and I do not mean to refuse such wages as may come in my way.’

‘Yes,’ said Charley, who, now that his spirit was roused, determined to fight his battle manfully, ‘yes, the labourer is worthy of his hire; but were I to get Miss Golightly’s fortune I should be taking the hire without labour.’

‘Bah!’ said Alaric.

‘It would be dishonest in every way, for I do not love her, and should not love her at the moment that I married her.’

‘Honesty!’ said Alaric, still sneering; ‘there is no sign of the dishonesty of the age so strong as the continual talk which one hears about honesty!’ It was quite manifest that Alaric had not sat at the feet of Undy Scott without profiting by the lessons which he had heard.

‘With what face,’ continued he, ‘can you pretend to be more honest than your neighbours?’

‘I know that it is wrong, and unmanly too, to hunt a girl down merely for what she has got.’

‘There are a great many wrong and unmanly men about, then,’ said Alaric. ‘Look through the Houses of Parliament, and see how many men there have married for money; aye, and made excellent husbands afterwards. I’ll tell you what it is, Charley, it is all humbug in you to pretend to be better than others; you are not a bit better; — mind, I do not say you are worse. We have none of us too much of this honesty of which we are so fond of prating. Where was your honesty when you ordered the coat for which you know you cannot pay? or when you swore to the bootmaker that he should have the amount of his little bill after next quarter-day, knowing in your heart at the time that he wouldn’t get a farthing of it? If you are so honest, why did you waste your money today in going to Chiswick, instead of paying some portion of your debts? Honest! you are, I dare say, indifferently honest as the world goes, like the rest of us. But I think you might put the burden of Clementina’s fortune on your conscience without feeling much the worse for it after what you have already gone through.’

Charley became very red in the face as he sat silent, listening to Alaric’s address — nor did he speak at once at the first pause, so Alaric went on. ‘The truth, I take it, is, that at the present moment you have no personal fancy for this girl.’

‘No, I have not,’ said Charley.

‘And you are so incredibly careless as to all prudential considerations as to prefer your immediate personal fancies to the future welfare of your whole life. I can say no more. If you will think well of my proposition, I will do all I can to assist you. I have no doubt you would make a good husband to Miss Golightly, and that she would be very happy with you. If you think otherwise there is an end of it; but pray do not talk so much about your honesty — your tailor would arrest you tomorrow if he heard you.’

‘There are two kinds of honesty, I take it,’ said Charley, speaking with suppressed anger and sorrow visible in his face, ‘that which the world sees and that which it does not see. For myself, I have nothing to say in my own defence. I have made my bed badly, and must lie on it as it is. I certainly will not mend it by marrying a girl that I can never love. And as for you, Alaric, all who know you and love you watch your career with the greatest hope. We know your ambition, and all look to see you rise in the world. But in rising, as you will do, you should remember this — that nothing that is wrong can become right because other people do it.’

‘Well, Charley,’ said the other, ‘thank you for the lecture. I did not certainly expect it from you; but it is not on that account the less welcome. And now, suppose we go upstairs and dress for Mrs. Val;’ and so they went upstairs.

Katie’s heart beat high as she got out of the carriage — Mrs. Val’s private carriage had been kept on for the occasion — and saw before and above her on the stairs a crowd of muslin crushing its way on towards the room prepared for dancing. Katie had never been to a ball before. We hope that the word ball may not bring down on us the adverse criticism of the Morning Post. It was probably not a ball in the strictly fashionable sense of the word, but it was so to Katie to all intents and purposes. Her dancing had hitherto been done either at children’s parties, or as a sort of supplemental amusement to the evening tea-gatherings at Hampton or Hampton Court. She had never yet seen the muse worshipped with the premeditated ceremony of banished carpets, chalked floors, and hired musicians. Her heart consequently beat high as she made her way upstairs, linked arm-inarm with Ugolina Neverbend.

‘Shall you dance much?’ said Ugolina.

‘Oh, I hope so,’ said Katie.

‘I shall not. It is an amusement of which I am peculiarly fond, and for which my active habits suit me.’ This was probably said with some allusion to her sister, who was apt to be short of breath. ‘But in the dances of the present day conversation is impossible, and I look upon any pursuit as barbaric which stops the “feast of reason and the flow of soul.”’

Katie did not quite understand this, but she thought in her heart that she would not at all mind giving up talking for the whole evening if she could only get dancing enough. But on this matter her heart misgave her. To be sure, she was engaged to Charley for the first quadrille and second waltz; but there her engagements stopped, whereas Clementina, as she was aware, had a whole book full of them. What if she should get no more dancing when Charley’s good nature should have been expended? She had an idea that no one would care to dance with her when older partners were to be had. Ah, Katie, you do not yet know the extent of your riches, or half the wealth of your own attractions!

And then they all heard another little speech from Mrs. Val. ‘She was really quite ashamed — she really was — to see so many people; she could not wish any of her guests away, that would be impossible — though perhaps one or two might be spared,’ she said in a confidential whisper to Gertrude. Who the one or two might be it would be difficult to decide, as she had made the same whisper to every one; ‘but she really was ashamed; there was almost a crowd, and she had quite intended that the house should be nearly empty. The fact was, everybody asked had come, and as she could not, of course, have counted on that, why, she had got, you see, twice as many people as she had expected.’ And then she went on, and made the same speech to the next arrival.

Katie, who wanted to begin the play at the beginning, kept her eye anxiously on Charley, who was still standing with Lactimel Neverbend on his arm. ‘Oh, now,’ said she to herself, ‘if he should forget me and begin dancing with Miss Neverbend!’ But then she remembered how he had jumped into the water, and determined that, even with such provocation as that, she must not be angry with him.

But there was no danger of Charley’s forgetting. ‘Come,’ said he, ‘we must not lose any more time, if we mean to dance the first set. Alaric will be our vis-à-vis — he is going to dance with Miss Neverbend,’ and so they stood up. Katie tightened her gloves, gave her dress a little shake, looked at her shoes, and then the work of the evening began.

‘I shouldn’t have liked to have sat down for the first dance,’ she said confidentially to Charley,’ because it’s my first ball.’

‘Sit down! I don’t suppose you’ll be let to sit down the whole evening. You’ll be crying out for mercy about three or four o’clock in the morning.’

‘It’s you to go on now,’ said Katie, whose eyes were intent on the figure, and who would not have gone wrong herself, or allowed her partner to do so, on any consideration. And so the dance went on right merrily.

‘I’ve got to dance the first polka with Miss Golightly,’ said Charley.

‘And the next with me,’ said Katie.

‘You may be sure I shan’t forget that.’

‘You lucky man to get Miss Golightly for a partner. I am told she is the most beautiful dancer in the world.’

‘O no — Mademoiselle. . . . . . . is much better,’ said Charley, naming the principal stage performer of the day. ‘If one is to go the whole hog, one had better do it thoroughly.’

Katie did not quite understand then what he meant, and merely replied that she would look at the performance. In this, however, she was destined to be disappointed, for Charley had hardly left her before Miss Golightly brought up to her the identical M. Delabarbe de l’Empereur who had so terribly put her out in the gardens. This was done so suddenly, that Katie’s presence of mind was quite insufficient to provide her with any means of escape. The Frenchman bowed very low and said nothing. Katie made a little curtsy, and was equally silent. Then she felt her own arm gathered up and put within his, and she stood up to take her share in the awful performance. She felt herself to be in such a nervous fright that she would willingly have been home again at Hampton if she could; but as this was utterly impossible, she had only to bethink herself of her steps, and get through the work as best she might.

Away went Charley and Clementina leading the throng; away went M. Jaquêtanàpe and Linda; away went another Frenchman, clasping in his arms the happy Ugolina. Away went Lactimel with a young Weights and Measures — and then came Katie’s turn. She pressed her lips together, shut her eyes, and felt the tall Frenchman’s arms behind her back, and made a start. ’Twas like plunging into cold water on the first bathing day of the season —’ce n’est que le premier pas que coute.‘ When once off Katie did not find it so bad. The Frenchman danced well, and Katie herself was a wicked little adept. At home, at Surbiton, dancing with another girl, she had with great triumph tired out the fingers both of her mother and sister, and forced them to own that it was impossible to put her down. M. de l’Empereur, therefore, had his work before him, and he did it like a man — as long as he could.

Katie, who had not yet assumed the airs or will of a grown-up young lady, thought that she was bound to go on as long as her grand partner chose to go with her. He, on the other hand, accustomed in his gallantry to obey all ladies’ wishes, considered himself bound to leave it to her to stop when she pleased. And so they went on with apparently interminable gyrations. Charley and the heiress had twice been in motion, and had twice stopped, and still they were going on; Ugolina had refreshed herself with many delicious observations, and Lactimel had thrice paused to advocate dancing for the million, and still they went on; the circle was gradually left to themselves, and still they went on; people stood round, some admiring and others pitying; and still they went on. Katie, thinking of her steps and her business, did not perceive that she and her partner were alone; and ever and anon, others of course joined in-and so they went on — and on — and on.

M. Delabarbe de l’Empereur was a strong and active man, but he began to perceive that the lady was too much for him. He was already melting away with his exertions, while his partner was as cool as a cucumber. She, with her active young legs, her lightly filled veins, and small agile frame, could have gone on almost for ever; but M. de l’Empereur was more encumbered. Gallantry was at last beat by nature, his overtasked muscles would do no more for him, and he was fain to stop, dropping his partner into a chair, and throwing himself in a state of utter exhaustion against the wall.

Katie was hardly out of breath as she received the congratulations of her friends; but at the moment she could not understand why they were quizzing her. In after times, however, she was often reproached with having danced a Frenchman to death in the evening, in revenge for his having bored her in the morning. It was observed that M. Delabarbe de l’Empereur danced no more that evening. Indeed, he very soon left the house.

Katie had not been able to see Miss Golightly’s performance, but it had been well worth seeing. She was certainly no ordinary performer, and if she did not quite come up to the remarkable movements which one sees on the stage under the name of dancing, the fault was neither in her will nor her ability, but only in her education. Charley also was peculiarly well suited to give her ‘ample verge and room enough’ to show off all her perfections. Her most peculiar merit consisted, perhaps, in her power of stopping herself suddenly, while going on at the rate of a hunt one way, and without any pause or apparent difficulty going just as fast the other way. This was done by a jerk which must, one would be inclined to think, have dislocated all her bones and entirely upset her internal arrangements. But no; it was done without injury, or any disagreeable result either to her brain or elsewhere. We all know how a steamer is manoeuvred when she has to change her course, how we stop her and ease her and back her; but Miss Golightly stopped and eased and backed all at once, and that without collision with any other craft. It was truly very wonderful, and Katie ought to have looked at her.

Katie soon found occasion to cast off her fear that her evening’s happiness would be destroyed by a dearth of partners. Her troubles began to be of an exactly opposite description. She had almost envied Miss Golightly her little book full of engagements, and now she found herself dreadfully bewildered by a book of her own. Some one had given her a card and a pencil, and every moment she could get to herself was taken up in endeavouring to guard herself from perfidy on her own part. All down the card, at intervals which were not very far apart, there were great C’s, which stood for Charley, and her firmest feeling was that no earthly consideration should be allowed to interfere with those landmarks. And then there were all manner of hieroglyphics — sometimes, unfortunately, illegible to Katie herself — French names and English names mixed together in a manner most vexatious; and to make matters worse, she found that she had put down both Victoire Jaquêtanàpe and Mr. Johnson of the Weights, by a great I, and she could not remember with whom she was bound to dance the lancers, and to which she had promised the last polka before supper. One thing, however, was quite fixed: when supper should arrive she was to go downstairs with Charley.

‘What dreadful news, Linda!’ said Charley; ‘did you hear it?’ Linda was standing up with Mr. Neverbend for a sober quadrille, and Katie also was close by with her partner. ‘Dreadful news indeed!’

‘What is it?’ said Linda.

‘A man can die but once, to be sure; but to be killed in such a manner as that, is certainly very sad.’

‘Killed! who has been killed?’ said Neverbend.

‘Well, perhaps I shouldn’t say killed. He only died in the cab as he went home.’

‘Died in a cab! how dreadful!’ said Neverbend. ‘Who? who was it, Mr. Tudor?’

‘Didn’t you hear? How very odd! Why M. de l’Empereur, to be sure. I wonder what the coroner will bring it in.’

‘How can you talk such nonsense, Charley?’ said Linda.

‘Very well, Master Charley,’ said Katie. ‘All that comes of being a writer of romances. I suppose that’s to be the next contribution to the Daily Delight.’

Neverbend went off on his quadrille not at all pleased with the joke. Indeed, he was never pleased with a joke, and in this instance he ventured to suggest to his partner that the idea of a gentleman expiring in a cab was much too horrid to be laughed at.

‘Oh, we never mind Charley Tudor,’ said Linda; ‘he always goes on in that way. We all like him so much.’

Mr. Neverbend, who, though not very young, still had a susceptible heart within his bosom, had been much taken by Linda’s charms. He already began to entertain an idea that as a Mrs. Neverbend would be a desirable adjunct to his establishment at some future period, he could not do better than offer himself and his worldly goods to the acceptance of Miss Woodward; he therefore said nothing further in disparagement of the family friend; but he resolved that no such alliance should ever induce him to make Mr. Charles Tudor welcome at his house. But what could he have expected? The Internal Navigation had ever been a low place, and he was surprised that the Hon. Mrs. Val should have admitted one of the navvies inside her drawing-room.

And so the ball went on. Mr. Johnson came duly for the lancers, and M. Jaquêtanàpe for the polka. Johnson was great at the lancers, knowing every turn and vagary in that most intricate and exclusive of dances; and it need hardly be said that the polka with M. Jaquêtanàpe was successful. The last honour, however, was not without evil results, for it excited the envy of Ugolina, who, proud of her own performance, had longed, but hitherto in vain, to be whirled round the room by that wondrously expert foreigner.

‘Well, my dear,’ said Ugolina, with an air that plainly said that Katie was to be treated as a child, ‘I hope you have had dancing enough.’

‘Oh, indeed I have not,’ said Katie, fully appreciating the purport and cause of her companion’s remark; ‘not near enough.’

‘Ah — but, my dear — you should remember,’ said Ugolina; ‘your mamma will be displeased if you fatigue yourself.’

‘My mamma is never displeased because we amuse ourselves, and I am not a bit fatigued;’ and so saying Katie walked off, and took refuge with her sister Gertrude. What business had any Ugolina Neverbend to interfere between her and her mamma?

Then came the supper. There was a great rush to get downstairs, but Charley was so clever that even this did not put him out. Of course there was no sitting down; which means that the bashful, retiring, and obedient guests were to stand on their legs; while those who were forward, and impudent, and disobedient, found seats for themselves wherever they could. Charley was certainly among the latter class, and he did not rest therefore till he had got Katie into an old arm-chair in one corner of the room, in such a position as to enable himself to eat his own supper leaning against the chimney-piece.

‘I say, Johnson,’ said he, ‘do bring me some ham and chicken — it’s for a lady — I’m wedged up here and can’t get out — and, Johnson, some sherry.’

The good-natured young Weights obeyed, and brought the desired provisions.

‘And Johnson — upon my word I’m sorry to be so troublesome — but one more plateful if you please — for another lady — a good deal, if you please, for this lady, for she’s very hungry; and some more sherry.’

Johnson again obeyed — the Weights are always obedient — and Charley of course appropriated the second portion to his own purposes.

‘Oh, Charley, that was a fib — now wasn’t it? You shouldn’t have said it was for a lady.’

‘But then I shouldn’t have got it.’

‘Oh, but that’s no reason; according to that everybody might tell a fib whenever they wanted anything.’

‘Well, everybody does — everybody except you, Katie.’

‘O no,’ said Katie —‘no they don’t — mamma, and Linda, and Gertrude never do; nor Harry Norman, he never does, nor Alaric.’

‘No, Harry Norman never does,’ said Charley, with something like vexation in his tone. He made no exception to Katie’s list of truth-tellers, but he was thinking within himself whether Alaric had a juster right to be in the catalogue than himself. ‘Harry Norman never does, certainly. You must not compare me with them, Katie. They are patterns of excellence. I am all the other way, as everybody knows.’ He was half laughing as he spoke, but Katie’s sharp ear knew that he was more than half in earnest, and she felt she had pained him by what she had said.

‘Oh, Charley, I didn’t mean that; indeed I did not. I know that in all serious things you are as truthful as they are — and quite as good — that is, in many ways.’ Poor Katie! she wanted to console him, she wanted to be kind, and yet she could not be dishonest.

‘Quite as good! no, you know I am not.’

‘You are as good-hearted, if not better; and you will be as steady, won’t you, Charley? I am sure you will; and I know you are more clever, really more clever than either of them.’

‘Oh! Katie.’

‘I am quite sure you are. I have always said so; don’t be angry with me for what I said.’

‘Angry with you! I couldn’t be angry with you.’

‘I wouldn’t, for the world, say anything to vex you. I like you better than either of them, though Alaric is my brother-inlaw. Of course I do; how could I help it, when you saved my life?’

‘Saved your life! Pooh! I didn’t save your life. Any boy could have done the same, or any waterman about the place. When you fell in, the person who was nearest you pulled you out, that was all.’

There was something almost approaching to ferocity in his voice as he said this; and yet when Katie timidly looked up she saw that he had turned his back to the room, and that his eyes were full of tears. He had felt that he was loved by this child, but that he was loved from a feeling of uncalled-for gratitude. He could not stop to analyse this, to separate the sweet from the bitter; but he knew that the latter prevailed. It is so little flattering to be loved when such love is the offspring of gratitude. And then when that gratitude is unnecessary, when it has been given in mistake for supposed favours, the acceptance of such love is little better than a cheat!

‘That was not all,’ said Katie, very decidedly. ‘It never shall be all in my mind. If you had not been with us I should now have been drowned, and cold, and dead; and mamma! where would she have been? Oh! Charley, I shall think myself so wicked if I have said anything to vex you.’

Charley did not analyse his feelings, nor did Katie analyse hers. It would have been impossible for her to do so. But could she have done it, and had she done it, she would have found that her gratitude was but the excuse which she made to herself for a passionate love which she could not have excused, even to herself, in any other way.

He said everything he could to reassure her and make her happy, and she soon smiled and laughed again.

‘Now, that’s what my editor would call a Nemesis,’ said Charley.

‘Oh, that’s a Nemesis, is it?’

‘Johnson was cheated into doing my work, and getting me my supper; and then you scolded me, and took away my appetite, so that I couldn’t eat it; that’s a Nemesis. Johnson is avenged, only, unluckily, he doesn’t know it, and wickedness is punished.’

‘Well, mind you put it into the Daily Delight. But all the girls are going upstairs; pray let me get out,’ and so Katie went upstairs again.

It was then past one. About two hours afterwards, Gertrude, looking for her sister that she might take her home, found her seated on a bench, with her feet tucked under her dress. She was very much fatigued, and she looked to be so; but there was still a bright laughing sparkle in her eye, which showed that her spirits were not even yet weary.

‘Well, Katie, have you had enough dancing?’

‘Nearly,’ said Katie, yawning.

‘You look as if you couldn’t stand.’

‘Yes, I am too tired to stand; but still I think I could dance a little more, only —’

‘Only what?’

‘Whisper,’ said Katie; and Gertrude put down her ear near to her sister’s lips. ‘Both my shoes are quite worn out, and my toes are all out on the floor.’

It was clearly time for them to go home, so away they all went.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:01