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music-stool, with her hands in her lap,
and said, "Eh bien! who will dance?" Mr.
Bentley came up, "Excuse me, Madame
Floriani," he said rather nervously, for
the widow looked so arch and lovely, that it
required all Langthwaite severity to resist
her. "You are a stranger to our customs,
and you do not understand us yet. I hope
that after you have been among us for a little
time we shall be good friends and be able to
work together. But we have banished all
these frivolities from Langthwaite. My flock,
I am happy to say, does not dance."

"Not dance, Monsieur! and why?" cried
Rosa, with a burst of laughter, real southern
laughter, such as you never hear in polite
society in England now.

"I look on dancing, Madame Floriani, as
an invention of the enemy."

"What enemy?—the Russians? Oh no,
I assure you, les Russes did not introduce
the dance. That is drôle; I did not know
you were such good patriots down here!"
And she laughed again.

"But Madame Floriani," said Miss Grandville,
coming to the rescue; "we don't
ourselves think dancing proper."

"Not proper! " said Rosa, flushing to her
temples, "what monstrous ideas! What
impropriety can there be in a party of young
people amusing themselves with dancing or
anything else convenable?"

"It is a worldly amusement," said Miss
Grandville stiffly.

"And a degradation of the immortal
nature," said Mr. Bentley.

Madame Rosa looked from one to the other
as if they had been Aztecs or Red Indians, or
any other unusual specimens of humanity;
then, utterly unable to find any sort of answer
to such sentiments, turned back to the
piano and rattled off a brilliant fantasia,
which no one understood and every one
thought noisy.

It was the same with the games that
Madame Rosa proposed. For, when dancing
was forbidden, she thought she would enliven
her society by games. At first every one
refused to take part in them. They were
dull, childish, uninteresting, a waste of time;
but at last she gained over some of the
younger girls to a stray Cantab or two, whom
she had managed to get hold of somehow, no
one knew how. "She must have fished them
out of the lake," said Miss Grandville; for,
indeed, Cantabs were rare animals in
Langthwaite, owing to the character for dullness
and cant which that beautiful vale had
gained in the university. A few used to
come, certainly: generally pale young men
wearing spectacles and afflicted with colds;
but Madame Floriani soon learnt to distinguish
the various types, and to fly this type as
she would poison. Yet even when she had
gone so far as to positively establish games
at her soirées, the Miss Grandvilles and the
Bentleyites used to sit by grimly, and protest
in loud whispers against the downward course
of things in Langthwaite.

Madame Floriani was almost disheartened.
Had it not been for that strange little bit of
principle in her, that she owed it to the
society of her place to do something pleasant
for it, she would have given up the attempt
of amusing it in despair. But it was a matter
of conscientiousness, and she did not like
to be defeated. Fortunately, just at the
moment when she was most dispirited, she
found that she had really made some way.
Her fascinating manners, her beauty, her
grace, her knowledge of the world, the
purity and innocence of her mind, her tact;
and her imperturbable good-humour, at
last had their weight. Added to which
exterior circumstances, that great want of the
human heartthat want of life, of pleasure, of
sensation, which no ascetic folly can destroy,
however it may distortbegan to make
itself felt. The Miss Winters and many of the
younger girls ranged themselves on Madame
Floriani's side. They helped her in her soirées;
they played at her games; they shared her
picnics; they shot at her archery meetings, nay,
they even danced to her waltzes; though Mr.
Bentley was so angry that he did not speak
to Miss Laura when he met her the next
day, because he said, as the eldest, she ought
to have known better, and was leading her
younger sisters to destruction. Which made
Laura cry, poor girl; but Helen called
their incumbent a detestable little fellow;
though she felt as if she had spoken
blasphemy when she said it. Altogether
Langthwaite was decidedly divided into two
parties, because of the waltzing that went
on at Madame Floriani's Wednesday
evenings.

No one could understand Mr. Bentley. He
was the bitterest enemy Madame Floriani
had; at least to judge by his conversation;
and, yet, if it were so, why did he go so
constantly to Whitefield House? and why, if he
disapproved so highly of her conduct, did he
still continue to attend her evening parties?
He never missed one, by any chance, though
the Miss Grandvilles and others were only
waiting for his lead to follow him to open
secession. And why did he turn pale when
he saw her coming down the lane, and
why did he turn red when he shook her
hand? Miss Augusta Grandville, the youngest
she was thirty-fourwho had been the
beauty of the family and gave herself still
the airs of a juvenileMiss Augusta who
had always been his fast ally, his most
indefatigable district visitor, his head class
teacher, his unfailing satellite, who would
not have missed a missionary meeting nor a
bible class for all the worldMiss Augusta
was uneasy. She did not like these
symptoms; she did not like Mr. Bentley's
leniency in still continuing to visit Madame
Rosa; her voice was for war, an open
declared right honest war, and she would be

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