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priest in the confessional was I, whom the rough sea of the God. The statement was not Irish Channel had not harmed, such that any childish imagin- fell down in an abject fit of ation could grasp.
The sick nausea that left me prostrate ness of terror overcame me, and for days.
CHAPTER XVII.—THE CHRISTMAS HAMPERS.
Nobody but a hungry and upon the snow - frost ground. excitable child, exiled from home It meant boxes of prunes, of and happiness, bereft of toys sweets, of figs, lots of oranges and kisses, can conceive the mad and apples, hot sherry and delight of receiving a Christmas water, hot port and water in hamper at school. Picture, if the dormitory of a cold night, you can, a minute regiment all sorts of surprising toys and with eager faces pasted against picture-books. But it did not the frost-embroidered window- imply by any means as much panes, watching a van drive of those good things (I speak up the Ivies' path, knowing of the eatables) for me as my that a hamper is coming for parents fancied. The some fortunate creature — but generously helped themselves to for whom?
the lion's share of fruit and wine Outside the land is all bridal and fowls. white, and the lovely snow looks But the cake, best joy of all, like deep-piled white velvet upon was left to us untouched, and the lawn, and like the most del- also the sweets. The big round icate lace upon the branches. beauty was placed in front of We see distinctly the driver, me; with a huge knife, a lay with a big good-humoured face sister sliced it up, and I, with of the hue of cochineal under a proud, important air, sent his snow-covered hat, and he round the plate among hungry nods cheerfully to his enthusi- and breathless infants, who had astic admirers. He would be each one alrea devoured her a churl indeed to remain un slice with her eyes before touchmoved by our vociferous salu- ing it with her lips. tations, as we stamp our feet, And at night in the dormiand clap our hands, and shout tory, all those bright eyes and with all the force of our infant flushed little faces, as we laughed lungs.
and shouted and danced, disFor the Christmas hamper, graceful small topers that we announced by letter from my were; drinking my stepfather's stepfather, meant for me the sherry and port—drinking ourunknown. But every Christ- selves into rosy paradises, where mas afterwards I was wiser, children lived upon plum-cake and not for that less glad. A and hot negus. hamper meant a turkey, a Oh, the joy of those Christgoose, a large plum-cake with mas excesses, after the compulAngela in beautiful pink letters sory sobriety of long ascetic
months! As each child received was subjected to revision, it a hamper, not quite so brilliantly and curiously filled as mine, for my stepfather was a “MY DEAR FOSTER-MAMMA, typical Irishman—in the matter -I am very happy here with of hospitality, of generosity, he the dear nuns. I hope I shall always erred on the right side remain with them a long while. for others, and was as popular We have such fun always. We as a prince of legend, for a learn ever so many nice things. fortnight we revelled in a land We love our dear mistress, of toffee and turkey, of sugared Sister Esmeralda. Reverend cakes and plum - pudding, of Mother had a cold, and we all crackers and sweets, and apples prayed so hard for her, and now and oranges and bewitching she is better. I want some toys. Like heroes refreshed, we money for her feast-day. We were then able to return to the are going to give her a nice frugality of daily fare—though, present. We had a play and a alas ! I fear this fugitive plenty tea - party. Lady Wilhelmina and bliss made us early ac
Osborne's little girl come over quainted with the poet's suffer- from the Abbey. I hope you ing in days of misery by the are quite well.
With love, remembering of happier things. your affectionate This was my candid epistle,
“ ANGELA." soon after Christmas, despatched to Kildare :
All our mistresses were not
like Sister Esmeralda, a Spanish “MY DERE EVRYDAY MAMA, inquisitor in a shape of insidi-i dont like skule a bit. i cant ous charm, nor a burly brute du wat i like. i dont have enuf like the lay sister, who had so tu et. Nun of us have enuf tu piously welted my naked back, et. We had enuf at crismas nor a chill and frozen despot when everyboddy sent us lots like the pallid superioress. of things. We were very glad Mother Aloysius was, of course, i had luvly things it was so far-off stained-glass vision, a nice but i dont like skule, its superlative rapture in devotion, horid, theres a horid boy here. not suitable for daily wear, i bet him when he called me a a recompense after the prosavage. Sister Esmeralda said longed austerities of virtue and it first i dont like her. She self-denial, a soaring acquaintteches me.
tell Mary Jane to ance with ecstatic admiration. give my black dog 6 kisses. i But on a lower plane there want to go home i like yu
some younger nuns Louie and Mary Jane and Bessy found tolerable and sympathe apel woman i want to clim thetic. There was Sister Anne, tres like Johny Burke your who taught us to play at snowaffecshunat little girl
balls, and took a ball on her “ANGELA.” nose with companionable hum
our in the midst of our shriekWhen this frank outpouring ing approbation. There was
Sister Ignatius, who inspired especially when I watched her us with terpsichorean ambition dance the “Varsovienne," and by dancing a polka with one of fling her head over her shoulders the big girls down the long in a most laughable way, just study hall, to the amiable mur as I imagined a bear would do mur of
if he took to dancing the dance
of Poland. “Can you dance a polka? Yes, I can. Up and down the room with a nice
Mother Catherine is a less young man ”;
I see her or upon a
still, a tall gaunt woman in coif more imaginative
and black veil, with austere grey flight
eyes. She used to watch us in “My mother said that I never should the refectory, and whenever a Play with the gypsies in the wood; greedy infant kept a rare toothIf I did, she would say,
some morsel for the wind-up of Naughty girl to disobey."
a frugal meal, Mother Catherine Her great feat was, however, would sweep down and confisthe Varsovienne, which she told cate the reserved luxury. “My us was a Polish dance, and that child, you will make an act of Poland was a bleak and unfor- mortification for the good of tunate country on the confines your soul.” I leave you to of Russia. Ever afterwards I imagine the child's dislike of associated the sprightly Sister her immortal soul, as the goody Ignatius with a polar bear, was carried off.
CHAPTER XVIII.—MR PARKER THE DANCING-MASTER.
The joy of my second year Queen Anne was his weakness. at Lysterby was Mr Parker the I wonder why, since she was dancing-master. Was he evoked neither the queen of grace nor from pantomime and grotesque of beauty. legend by the sympathetic I recall the gist of his first genius of Sister Ignatius? We speech : “We are now, young were all solemnly convened, in ladies, about to study one of our best shoes and frocks, to a the most necessary and the great meeting in the big hall to most serious of arts, the art of make the acquaintance of our dancing. It is the art of dancdancing-master, and learn the ing that makes ladies and polite steps of society. A wizen gentlemen of us all. In a ballcross - looking little creature room the awkward, those who stood at the top of the long cannot dance, are in disgrace. room, and as we entered in file, Nobody minds them, nobody all agog, and ready enough, admires them. They have not heaven knows, to shriek for the tone of society. They are nothing, from sheer
sheer animal poor creatures, who, for all spirits, he bowed to us, as I society cares, might never have suppose they bowed in the good been born. What it behoves old days of Queen Anne. For you, young ladies, is to acquire
the tone of society from your tion; but whenever he soared earliest years, and it is only by aloft on the wings of imaginaa steady practice of the art of tion, he stood in the glory of dancing that you may hope to the fifth. In that position he acquire it. Practice, young never failed to recite to us the ladies, makes perfect—remem- imposing tale of his successes ber that.”
in the “reception halls” of the Ever afterwards, his first Duchess of Leamington and the question, before beginning each Marchioness of Stoke. Once he week's lesson, was: “What does went so far as to exhibit to us practice do, young ladies?” and a new dance he had composed we were all expected to reply in expressly for his illustrious friend a single ringing voice: “Makes the duchess. perfect, Mr Parker.” Children “My dears, that dance will are heartless satirists, and the be all the rage next spring in follies of poor little Mr Parker London, you will see.” filled us with wicked glee.
He was quite aware that we I see him still, unconscious never would see, having nothing tiny clown, gathering up in a on earth to do with the London delicate grasp the tails of his
But the assertion mysblack coat to show us how a tified us, and enchanted him. lady curtseyed in the remote “Thus my hand lightly redays of Queen Anne. And poses on the waist of her Grace, mincing across the polished her fingers just touch my shoulfloor, he would say, as he ders, and, one, two, threedaintily picked his steps : “The boom!” he was gliding round lady enters the ball-room on the the room, clasping lightly an tip of her toes—so!” Picture, imaginary duchess in his arms, I pray you, the comic appear in beatific unconsciousness of ance of any woman who dared the exquisite absurdity of his to enter a ball-room as Mr Par- appearance and action, and we ker walked across our dancing- children followed his circumvohall! Society would stand still lutions with glances magnified
He minced to right, and brightened by mirth and he minced to left, he minced in wonderment. and out of the five positions, The irresistible Mr Parker had and then with eyes ecstatically a knavish trick of keeping us on closed, he would seize his violin, our good behaviour by a delusive and play the homely air of promise persistently unfulfilled. “Nora Creina,” as he chasséed Every Tuesday, after saluting up and down the floor for our us in the fashion of the eightdelectation, singing the while— eenth century and demanding
from us an immense simultan“ Bend and rise-a-Nora Creina, Rise on your toes-a-Nora Creina,
eous curtsey of Queen Anne, Chassez to the right-a-- Nora Creina, holding our skirts in an And then to the left-a-Nora Creina." travagant semicircle and trail
ing our little bent bodies backIn his least inspired moments, ward and upward upon the most he addressed us in the first posi- pointed of toes, he would rap the
table with his bow, clear his
, and, with a
Sure enough he always throat, adjust his white tie, pounced on the bungler, and
never failed to switch round hideous grin he doubtless deemed
his bow violently and hit her captivating, he would address us
toes. How was it done? Simply inclusively
enough, one of us discovered “Young ladies, it is my in- quite by accident.
There was tention to bring you a little
a big mahogany press, as finely confectionery next Tuesday ; polished as
polished as a mirror, and in and now, if you please, atten
front of this the master planted tion! and answer. What does
himself. The rows of dancers, practice do ?”
from crown to heel, were In vain we shouted our cus clear to him as in a glass. By tomary response with more than
such simple means may a terour customary conviction; the rible reputation be acquired. confectionery was always for For months had Mr Parker next Tuesday, and never, alas! shabbily usurped the fame of for to-day. With longing eyes a magician. we watched the slightest move In his quality of master he ment of the master towards his could permit himself a brutalpocket. He never produced ity of candour not usually shown anything but his handkerchief, by his sex to us without the and when he doubled in two to strictest limits of intimacy. wish us “O reevoyer,” he never
a big girl of sixomitted to say
teen, very stoutvery tall, “To-day I did not pass by squarely built, with poultry the confectioner's shop; but it yard writ in broad letters over will certainly be for next Tues- her whole dull and earthy form. day.”
An excellent creature, I have no For a long time he took us doubt, though I knew nothing in, as other so-called magicians whatever about her, being half have taken in simpletons as her age, which in school congreat as we. We believed he stitutes a difference of some had a secret understanding with thing approaching half-a-centhe devil, for only to the power tury. Her name was Margaret of evil could we attribute a Twycross, and she came from quickness of apprehension such Shakespeare's town. As befits as he boasted. He would stand a master of the graceful art, with his back to us, playing Mr Parker's preference away at his violin, while we given to the slim and lovely chasséed and croiséd and heaven nymph, and such a square emknows what else
blem of the soil as Margaret “Now, my senses 80 Twycross would naturally proacutely alive to the impropriety voke his impatient contempt. of a false step, young ladies, that Possibly she merited all the even with my back turned to vicious rage he showered on you, I shall be able to tell which her poor big feet, pathetically of you has erred without seeing evident, emerging from skirts her.”
that just reached her ankles.